Spears of Hatred vs. Harps of Peace

Many years ago I studied in Spain and had the privilege to visit the famous Prado Museum, in Madrid. There was a painting there that fascinated me. It portrayed a scene in King Saul’s palace. Seated on the carpeted floor was young David, his fingers gliding over the strings of his much-loved harp. Sitting on an elevated seat was King Saul gazing down into the innocent face of the shepherd boy. For the time being Saul’s agitated mind was soothed by the melody of David’s harp. Yet the jealous king held in his hand a spear of death, ready to hurl at any moment.

The contrast jumped off the canvas at me in startling fashion. In the hand of young David was his lovely harp. In Saul’s large, strong hand was his spear. The lesson of the picture was obvious. While the gifted harpist played his instrument Saul’s anger was appeased and his deadly spear was at rest. The scripture tells us in I Samuel that as David strummed his harp, and sang his Psalms, the evil spirit departed from the unhappy king.

Are there not times when we all need the ministry of the minstrel? Times when the harp conquers the spear, melody triumphs over murder, peace over war, good over evil?

We are told that we will reap what we sew. That is true whether it be with harps or with spears. The writer of I Peter tells us, “Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing” (I Peter 3:9). In other words, meet the spear with a harp. How assuring is that beatitude of Jesus, “Blessed are you when others shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad” (Matthew 5:11-12). Take up your harp and meet reviling with rejoicing.

There will always be those who are “speary” in nature…always with their dagger drawn. It is hard to play on the harp when we deal with such persons, yet this is the only way to deal with them with integrity. God helps us to be kind to the unkind, loving toward those who are hard to love, and gracious to the ungracious. So, hang up your spear, pick up your harp and play the beautiful music of peace.

Peace to you all,

Tim Hobbs, Pastor

Serving Others is Hard Work

Awhile back, a Los Angeles police officer came across a brown El Dorado Cadillac illegally parked next to the curb on street-sweeping day. The officer dutifully wrote out a ticket. He ignored the man who was seated at the steering wheel. He reached inside the open car window and placed the $30 citation on the dashboard.

The driver of the car made no excuses. No argument ensued—and with good reason. For you see, the driver of that car had been shot in the head ten to twelve hours before. He was sitting up, slumped slightly forward with blood on his face and he was dead. The officer who was preoccupied with writing his ticket didn’t even notice that anything was out of the ordinary. He just got back into his car and drove away.

My guess is that that happens to us sometimes as well. We see people whom Paul called “dead in their sins” and we are not even aware of it. In other words, we see people whose lives are empty, people who don’t even know that God loves them, people who are wandering around with no purpose or sense of meaning. They are lost in every sense of the word—and yet we fail to see the need in these people’s lives.

It is hard to get out of our comfort zone and get involved in the lives of others—especially when these “others” bring with them a load of troubles. It means that we will have to invest our time, energy, finances and emotions to help their troubled lives. But these are the people for whom the Gospel was intended. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12).

We, as followers of Christ, have been called to live out the love of Jesus Christ within our families, in the workplace, in our community and in our church. Let us commit to serve the world as Jesus served the world. “If anyone would be first of all, let that person be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

Blessings,

Tim Hobbs, Pastor

Soaring Like an Eagle is a Matter of Who You Trust

In every airplane there are instruments that give a true reading of how the airplane is flying, even if a pilot’s mind may tell him differently. On a clear, sunny day a pilot may not need these instruments because he or she is able to see the ground and find landmarks and get his or her bearings. But at night or in poor visibility these instruments become vital to survival.

Lt. Col. Jeff Patton flew as a pilot in an F-15 fighter in Desert Storm. The first night of the war was chosen because the absence of moonlight and the high clouds kept the attacking fighters from being detected by enemy forces. And so, flying in total darkness, the pilots were completely dependent upon their instruments.

Shortly after crossing into Iraqi airspace, Col. Patton’s jet was “locked on” by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile. And so, he violently maneuvered his aircraft trying to break the radar’s lock on him. He successfully broke the lock, but his radical movements threw off all sense of balance and he was disoriented. His mind was telling him that his plane was climbing and making a right turn, but his instruments indicated that he was in a 60 degree dive going toward the ground. He was sure that he was in a climb instead of a dive, and his mind was screaming for him to lower the nose to halt his climb. But his instruments were telling him to do just the opposite. Because he was flying in total darkness, he had to decide quickly whether he was going to trust his mind or his instruments. His life totally depended on making the right decision.

Even though it took everything within him to overcome what his mind was telling him, he decided to trust his instruments. He rolled his wings level and pulled his F-15 upward, pulling the aircraft out of its dive. It only took a few moments to realize that he had made the right decision. If he had lowered his nose, like his mind had been telling him to do, he would have crashed his plane.

When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, we are trusting him to become the guiding instruments of our lives even though our minds may tell us to do just the opposite. To be honest, much of what Jesus teaches us runs totally contrary to what we human beings think is proper. We continue to vacillate between God’s instruction and our logic trying to decide which one we are going to believe.

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to follow me, they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.” Self-denial is about handing the controls of our lives over to Jesus. Do not wait too late to put your trust totally in Christ. Too many people’s lives have “Crashed and burned” because they put their trust in themselves rather than God.

Blessings,

Tim Hobbs, Pastor

The Family of God

When Anne Lamott was twenty-five years old, her father died after a long struggle with brain cancer. Over the next few years Anne began to suffer from an overwhelming sense of desperation and fear which she tried to suppress with alcohol and pills. Although she was managing to write and publish successful novels at the time, it was clear that her life was spinning out of Anne Lamott Traveling Mercies Book Cover control. In her memoir, Traveling Mercies, she writes about this dark period of her life. And most importantly she tells how a community of Christian faith, a neighborhood church called St. Andrew, came to her rescue.

In her book she tells the story of a little girl who was lost. This girl ran up and down the streets of the big town where her family lived, but she couldn’t find a single landmark. She was frightened. Finally, a policeman stopped to help her.  He put her in the passenger seat of his car, and they drove around until she finally saw her church. She pointed it out to the policeman, and then she told him, “You can let me out now.  This is my church, and I can always find my way home from here.”

Anne writes, “That is why I have stayed so close to my church—because no matter how bad I am feeling, how lost or lonely or frightened I am, when I see the faces of the people at my church, when I hear their tawny voices, I can always find my way home.”

Home is such a wonderful way to describe church. It is a place we can come knowing that we will always be accepted and loved. It is a place where our friends will protect us, and encourage us and help us through the hardships of life. It is a place where we can be the family of God together. Jesus once asked, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Then, answering his own question he said, “My mother and my brothers are those who do the will of my Father.”

I am so happy to be a part of a church family that truly seeks to do the will of our Father. May we always be a place of physical, spiritual and emotional security for all.

Your Brother in Christ,

Tim Hobbs, Pastor

Dirty Hands or Clean Hearts

When Clarence Jordan was a small child, he lived within 100 yards of the Talbot County Jail in Georgia. One hot summer night during a revival meeting Jordan was looking at the warden of the Jail’s Chain Gang and noted how carried away he became while singing, “Love Lifted Me.” Jordan was inspired by how deeply the spiritual atmosphere impacted this man. However, later that same night, Jordan was awakened by the agonizing groans and screams coming from the direction of the chain gang camp. He knew what was happening. Someone was being placed on the “Stretcher.” He was being tortured. He also knew that only one person could be responsible for this torture and it was the same man who had been singing “Love Lifted Me” with great emotion only a few hours before.

This realization tore at Clarence’s heart. He identified with the man who was in agony and as a result became angry with the church as he understood it. He did not reject his faith or launch a protest. Instead, he stuffed his anger deep down inside until such time as he could make a difference, which he certainly did in writing the Cotton Patch Versions of the New Testament and founding Koinonia Farms…a communal, interracial farm designed to help especially the down and out.

You and I may be able to relate to Jordan’s anger. And so can Jesus. To Jesus, there was no one more repulsive than the person who loves religion but hates people. And we all know that happens sometimes. Religion is the perfect place to hide a heart that is filled with condemnation and hatred. Some may even use their religion as a weapon against those they despise or fear or do not understand. The word that Jesus uses for this kind of attitude and activity is “Hypocrite.”

To truly be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul strength and mind. And we must love our neighbor as ourselves. If either end of this equation is missing then our faith is incomplete. Let us all resist the urge to hypocrisy. Let us live our lives in love.

Blessings,

Tim Hobbs, Pastor

Forgiveness and Kindness = A Christ-Like Life

In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (vss. 31-32).

There are some folks who hear those words about living a life of love and think to themselves, “What mush. That’s too soft. Don’t you know that you have to be tough to survive in the real world? Compassion and kindness are for wimps, not for real life.” That was pretty much the attitude of most of the people in Paul’s culture.

But if you take a long, hard look at the life of Paul and Jesus, you will see that neither of them were wimps. They were men of courage. They knew how to stare danger, and even death in the face. And yet, they also knew that little is to be gained by escalating anger and malice into a more serious situation. They knew that if you live by an “Eye for an Eye” philosophy, it can only produce a downward spiral of revenge and resentment. In fact, someone has said that if the world adopted the “Eye for an Eye, and Tooth for a Tooth” philosophy, we would all be toothless and blind.

The best way to defeat a perceived enemy is to make them your friend. That is precisely what Christ has done for us. Though we have done wrong against him, he forgave us and calls us his friend. This is not a justification for being a wimp. It is not a call to be soft. It is simply a recognition that hatred breeds hatred. Anger breeds anger and it is very possible for us to turn a minor disagreement into a major conflict simply by the way we handle our anger.

So, let us not “Grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (vs. 30) by handling our anger wrongly. Instead, let us “be imitators of God and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us” (5:1-2).

Tim Hobbs, Pastor

“it’s a God thing”

Mary Wrye Our own Rev Mary Wrye is featured in a cover story article in the Henderson Gleaner today.   Be sure to read the entire article written by Judy Jenkins.

She preached for us on July 19, 2009.   Listen and read about that service.

Merciful Grace

Robert Orben once made an interesting observation. He noted that after all these years the formulas for making Coca-Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken are still secrets. However, the recipe on how to make a hydrogen bomb can be found on the Internet.

People have always had secrets, and sometimes for good reason. It’s interesting that often after Jesus did something spectacular, like healing someone of a disease, he told them, “Don’t tell anybody.” I suspect that Jesus did this because he didn’t want people coming to him for the wrong reasons.

Our lesson for today comes immediately after Jesus has performed the remarkable miracle of feeding 5000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. The result of this miracle was that people started coming to him in droves. But for what? For more bread and fish.

Jesus did not come merely to provide food for the body. He did that. And that was a very important part of his work, as it is ours. But he also came to provide eternal spiritual food that flows from our relationship with God. So, the people who sought Jesus that day were missing the real miracle that he came to bring.

An extensive survey was conducted all across America recently with the key question: “What are you looking for most in life?” Most expected that the results would have material needs at the top of the list, but the top three things people wanted in life were love, joy and peace. This points to the fact that the deepest needs we have cannot be satisfied with material goods.

The people who sought Jesus out wanted a repeat of his feeding miracle. They were treating his ministry like a circus sideshow. “Do it again! Do it bigger!” But the food that he provided in his miracle was just a sign. What Jesus was really trying to communicate to them was the love that motivated the miracle. He was trying to tell them that he had so much more to offer than simply temporary security. Indeed, he was offering them himself. The real miracle of Jesus was the merciful grace that brings us salvation and offers us a chance at a whole new life. Christ is the bread of life and we should “not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life” (John 6:27).

Blessings, Tim Hobbs, Pastor

Men’s Quartet Performed

image On Sunday Morning, July 26, 2009.  The men’s quartet performed two selections.   You can listen the clip from the worship experience here.

The Men’s quartet consists of Bob Crafton, Jim McElwain, Jerry Martin & Mark Hobson.  They were accompanied on the piano by Jica Crafton.

Listen Now “Break Thy Bread of Life”  or “Just a Little Talk with Jesus”

Faith Based Thinking

There are a lot of people who will tell you why you “cannot” do something. But as Henry Ford once said, “I am looking for a lot of people who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.” So the question is not what cannot be done…but what can be done. This was the test Jesus had for his disciples when they were faced with what seemed to be an insurmountable problem.

Thousands of people were gathered to hear Jesus teach, and it was dinner time. So Jesus turned to his disciple Phillip and asked, “Where can we buy some food for these people?” Then we are told that he asked this “only to test him.” He wanted to know if his disciples would be Faith-based thinkers or Fact-based thinkers.

Phillip’s reaction was, “Eight month’s wages would not buy enough bread for each person to have a little bite.” Phillip knew right away what “could not be done.” The facts were in. They didn’t add up. There was nothing he could do.

Andrew saw the problem and offered a limited solution. “Here’s a boy with five loaves of bread and a couple of fish, but that won’t go far.” Andrew’s solution was limited because it was based on his own resources. So, he was moving toward faith-based thinking…but he was hedging a bit.

However, Andrew did a very wise thing. Even though he didn’t know how this problem would be solved, he took the problem to Jesus. As Robert Shuller used to say, “We should shift our focus from the problem to the power.”

When we get Jesus involved we are shifting our thinking from Fact-based to Faith-based thinking. And when we do that, we have the awesome privilege of seeing the power of God at work. Faith-based thinkers are forward looking people, knowing that “God will meet our every need according to God’s glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). So, think about that the next time you face a big test in your life. Bring your problems to Jesus, faithfully follow God’s lead, and watch the power of God at work in ways that are beyond our greatest imaginations.

Blessings—Tim Hobbs, Pastor