From Pastor Johnny

If You Were the OnlyOne

Jenny Brown is a grandmother who lives in Great Britain and likes to cook. She also enjoys entering her recipes in baking contests. World Magazine reported that one such competition was held several summers ago and was sponsored by the Wilmblington Sports Committee. Jenny entered her Victoria sponge cake in the contest.

After careful scrutiny and inspection, the judges rendered their decision. Jenny did not win first place. She was told that her cake had imprints from the oven rack. This would not allow her the first-place prize. Surely she came in close second….right? Poor Jenny missed second place too.

Third place is not so bad, so one might hope that this sweet grandmother received that prize. Unfortunately she did not win that either. What ranking did sweet grandmother Jenny receive? There was an article about her cake baking competition in World Magazine, so surely she won some type of prize. As confusing at it seems, Jenny won no prize at all…even though she was the only entrant into the contest. That’s right. She won nothing in a contest with no one else.

In the article a spokeswoman from the Wimblington Sports Committee remarked, “The judges had an expectation and I suppose they didn’t feel as though it qualified for the first place.” Jenny, as the only one in the contest, received no prize and no award at all. That might be bad enough, except for the fact that this is not the first time something like this has happened to her.

Jenny reported to the BBC that she entered a contest eleven years ago with some fruit scones. According to her interview, she was “the only entrant but I came in third.”

It must be tough to know that you are the only one in the event, but you get nothing for it. That begs the question: How would God have responded to you if you were the only one on earth who needed forgiveness from sin and salvation? If you were the only person on this earth, and you were in need of salvation and eternal life, would God have still allowed His precious Son to come to earth and die for you alone? The answer can be found in the pages of the Bible.

In 2Peter 3:9 the Scriptures read, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” While the Bible teaches that many will reject God’s offer of salvation, it does not please God that even one person dies without Him and spends eternity in hell.

In what might be the most famous verse in the world, John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever may believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This well known, and well stated verse indicates that God has a love and concern for the world as a whole.

Taking both verses, among many others, we learn that God has a love for the world, but He also has a specific type of care for individuals. My conclusion is that God, unlike the judges of the Wimblington Sports Committee, would have

offered you the great gift of salvation – even if you had been the only one in the world.

The Invisible Man is a Hero...Or is he?

When I was a child one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons was Superfriends.  This cartoon showed the exploits of all the collective superheros as they worked together to combat evil.  Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman & Robin, Spider Man and the Incredible Hulk were just a few of the heros.  One character I seem to remember in particularly was a superhero who could make himself invisible.  Unfortunately, I cannot recall this hero's name (maybe his name was invisible too.), but I recall that his greatest weapon was making himself invisible.  This invisible man went around using his powers of disguise to fight evil and uphold justice. 

 Little boys would see the invisible man and pretend that they were him.  These boys would pretend to fight evil, catch criminals and do good as the invisible men. Imagine that?? An invisible man who made the world a much better place to live?

You may not realize it, but there are plenty of invisible men today.  Men who still like to be invisible.  Men who never really grew up and are still playing the role of invisible men.  Yet, unlike their childhood fantasies, their roles as invisible men no longer make the world a better place to live.  In fact, these modern-day invisible men make the world a more difficult place to live.  As children, they pretended they were able to be physically invisible, and as adults they continue to be invisible – sort of.

The new generation of invisible men are physically present.  The fact that these men are physically present yet still invisible is what makes them dangerous.  These men are present in homes yet invisible when it comes to taking their roles as spiritual and moral leaders.  These men are present in families yet become invisible when it comes to caring for, disciplining and nurturing their children.  These men are present in marriages yet become invisible when it comes to the hard work of making their relationships to their wives dynamic and growing.  These men are present in communities but become invisible when called to act on the basis of spiritual and moral principles, because these stands may hurt their reputation or wallet. 

In Genesis 3:6 the Bible relays the famous account of the very first sin, as Eve eats of the forbidden fruit.  Scripture says that "...the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Notice that, though Eve initiated the first sin, Adam was with her.  In this verse we have a picture of the first invisible man.  Adam was present but had no positive influence on the direction his family was going.  The invisible man was destructive then, even as he is today.

Though invisible men have been around for a very long time, the situation may be even worse than it once was.  More and more invisible men seem to be showing up on the scene, and it is destroying families, communities and a nation. 

Men, this is a call to you to stop being invisible. Just because you are physically present in your home, does not necessarily mean you are advancing a positive influence in your family or community.  Examine yourselves and ask the question, "Am I an invisible man?"





A Roadmap for our Kids

People like to have accurate road maps, mapping software or map apps on their smart phones. Most everyone has encountered the difficulty of being out on the road and attempting to follow the verbal directions of a local person. It is much easier to have a map application before me that I can see rather than trying in vain to remember confusing directions that someone spoke (“...go to the old Evans house on the left and turn on Smith Rd. where there is no street sign. Next, turn right at the corner where Jimmy Jo had his car wreck last year...”). God has created us as visual people, so we like to be able to see where we are going. Our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and kids in our church are no different.

Did you know that parents, grandparents and adults are visual road maps for our children? We draw an intricate and detailed map of life for our children who follow. This map is not the audio version, so the things we say do not hold a lot of weight. This map is not a mental map, so what we think in our minds is not extremely powerful for them. The map we draw for our children is a visual map. It is a map they can see and follow. The life of a parent becomes a visual road map for the life a child is to lead.

If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or have any children around your life at all (especially including those in your church), ask yourself the following question, "If the children around me follow the road map my life is drawing, what will his or her life look like?"

In a story by writer JoEllen Johnson, she tells about her friend named Davida Dalton,

"It was a busy day in our Costa Mesa, California, home. But then, with 10 children and one on the way, every day was a bit hectic. On this particular day I was having trouble doing daily chores - all because of one little boy.

"Len, who was three at the time, was on my heels no matter where I went. Whenever I stopped to do something and turned back around, I would trip over him. Several times, I patiently suggested fun activities to keep him occupied. 'Wouldn't you like to play on the swing set?' I asked again.

"But he simply smiled an innocent smile and said, 'Oh, that's all right, Mommy. I'd rather be in here with you.' Then he continued to

bounce happily along behind me.

"After stepping on his toes for the fifth time, I began to lose my patience and insisted that he go outside and play with the other children. When I asked him why he was acting this way, he looked up at me with sweet green eyes and said, 'Well, Mommy, in Sunday school my teacher told me to walk in Jesus' footsteps. But I can't see him, so I'm walking in yours.'"

 In Matthew 5:14-15 Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

These are the words of Christ Himself. His point is that those who have the light of Christ in their lives do not live in a vacuum where no light can escape. If a person has confessed his sin, repented towards Christ and been forgiven, he or she now has the light of Christ in their lives. The purpose of this light is not for self illumination, but it is for lighting the path for oneself and all those around him. This includes children and grandchildren.

Parents, grandparents and future parents should ask yourselves that question one more time. "If my children, grandchildren, or future children, follow the directional course my life sets, what will their lives look like?"

Someone once said, “What you do is so loud I cannot hear what you say.” If you are a parent or grandparent, what you say is not as important as what you live before those who follow. The lives we live before our children and grandchildren lay out maps for their lives.