Pastor's Pen
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September 19, 2013, 2:36 PM

Words from Rick

             

                                                                                         

 

 

 

 

 

A Note of Joy

                                                                             

I have often said and strongly believe that the central note of the Christian faith is joy...and the central expression of that note of joy is gratitude!  The distinctive note of the Christian faith is joy!  "Joy to the World, the Lord Has Come," we sing at Christmas.  "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee", "Rejoice the Lord is King."  You find it everywhere in the great hymns of the Church.  And this joy that we sing about and talk about in the church is not going around saying "Ho, Ho, Ho".  It is the living of life in the quiet assurance of our faith...with a positive joy about it.

But research is showing that so many Christians in so many churches lack a sense of joy.  Robert Louis Stevenson said, "To miss the joy is to miss everything".  I agree!  He also reported to a friend one day, "I have been to church today, and I am not at all depressed.."  That is worth thinking about.  Would a casual visitor to your church service be depressed, or would he/she be lifted up with a sense of joy and vitality experienced in your service?

Ibsen had the Emperor Julian make this comment about the Christians of his time:  "Have you looked at these Christians closely?  Hollow-eyed, pale-cheeked, flat-breasted all...they brood their lives away, unspurred by ambition; the sun shines for them, but they do not see it; the earth offers them its fullness, but they do not deserve it; all their desire is to renounce and suffer that they might come to die" (Lloyd J. Ogilvie, God's Best For My Life).  My Gosh!  What a grim picture that is.  Not a very appealing group to be around.  Perhaps the most biting comment in American history was that made by Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, "I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and actged like undertakers.

That might be a bit unfair, but really now, how much joy and sparkle do others observe in our lives because of our faith in Christ?  I know a great many Christians who have just enough religion to make themselves miserable...and everyone else around them!  They are judgemental and critical.  Heck, I know churches that are that way!  I know a lady who is always talking to me and others about the joy that her faith brings to her...yet you see none of that joy in her face, or hear any of it in her voice, and she has the ability to depress people around her.  She reminds me of the lady who shook hands with me one day after church and said, "Dr. Baggett, I had to take two pain pills in order to come and listen to you preach today."

The note of joy needs to be sounded in our lives and in our churches!  There will be little contagion to our faith unless those who do not believe sense in us the joy that it brings and can bring in their lives as it has in ours.

September 22, 1913

 

 

 

 




September 19, 2013, 11:42 AM

Words from Rick

But I Won't Do That

We are taught from an early age that we are to love:  "Beloved let us love one another, because love is from God...God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them"  (1 John 4:7, 16b).  But loving everyone is not always easy, or should I say that some people are harder to accept than others, and it takes more of an effort to love them.

When I lived in South Carolina we were about two hours from Atlanta, Georgia.  I was born in the small town, at the time, of Winter Park, Florida where I played mostly in orange groves and learned how to throw an orange before a baseball.  Well, one day I had to go down to Atlanta to visit a member of the church who was in a large hospital in the heart of the city.  It was crowded in the parking lot.  I was nervous because I had just given a man from somewhere in the Middle East my keys and eight dollars to park my car.

I began walking toward the hospital when this "gentleman" approached me and told me that he needed $25.00 "right away".  Now $25.00 is a lot of money for me to have in my wallet.  I must have looked rich to him or stupid.  He was very nice, at first, spoke of being a Christian and how he had left his wife out on the expressway with the broken down car and $25.00 would fix it.  I questioned him on how he knew this amount would fix the car and in the next few moments, I thought I was going to die.  I concluded that he probably was not a Christian and told him that he was putting a damper on my day.  But still we must accept those people!

Your church is a fellowship of acceptance!  We are to take one another as we are!  We all need to accept each other.  That, I believe, is at the heart of community, the acceptance of one another in love.  Edwin Markham described the acceptance of community when he wrote these words:  "He drew a circle that shut me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.  But love and I had the wit to win:  We drew a circle that took him in."

You know that commercial on television with the little jingle that goes, "But I won't do that"?  I guess I can accept that fellow in the parking lot over there in Atlanta, but I'm NOT going to give $25.00!

September 15, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




September 19, 2013, 11:12 AM

Words from Rick

 

 

 

Boat Potatoes

"So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus" (Matthew 14:29).

Anytime you receive a gift you must choose to respond in one of two ways.  You may say, "This gift is so valuable it can't be risked."  If you do,the gift may never be used; or if taken out of the box, there may be risks.  the secondond way says, "this gift is so valuable it must be risked."  If you follow this way of thinking, you understand that if the gift is not bnrought out of the box, it will never be used at all.

You and I have been given a gift which may or may not have been opened.  The question is:  Is your life following the first way or the second mentioned above? Most folks would agree that Peter chose the second way.  Theologian and author Dale Bruner writes, "It is important to see that Peter did not ask jesus for a promise (Lord, promise me I won't sink) but specifically for a command:  "Lord, if it is you, command me."  Peter didn't ask for a guarantee, just an opportunity.  You could say that the disciples who stayed in the boat favored safety over growth!

Max DePree writes that unrealized potential is a sin...a very serious sin.  Some Folks lives end up being a tragedy of the unopened gift,this is why one of the great temptations most of us face that could block us from getting out of the boat is comfort.  Comfort will often keep us from growth.

Sixty years ago, we began to orient our lives around one of the great growth avoidance inventions of all time, the television.  You didn't have to think, focus your attention or follow any chain of thought when you watched "The Lone Ranger" or "Leave it to Beaver".  But you did have to get out of your chair and slam the side of the television if it got fuzzy lines, or if you wanted to change the channel.  That was exhausting, so someone invented the remote control.  Now I can change the channels from my LaZBoy, as God intended.

When a teacher wants student to grow, they do not give them answers - they give them problems: (If a train leaves Oklahoma City at 3:00 going 50 mph.......).  It iis only in the process of accepting and solving problems that our ability to think creatively is enhanced, our persistence is strengthened and our self-confidence is deepened!  If someone gives me all the answers to a test, I may get a good grade, but I will not have grown.  Just as our bodies simply will not grow stronger without being challenged to the point of exertion, so it is with our mind and spirit.  Comfort is not an adequate excuse for an unopened gift.

You and I have been given a gift, your spiritual gift. Is it opened?  Is it being used?  Is it producing a positive effect on ;your loved ones..your community?

September 8, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




August 23, 2013, 11:02 AM

Words from Rick

 

 

You Are What You Wear

Well, for most of our reading area, the schools are now open and students are back in class, in the gym and on the fields. Those students, who can afford it, have new $100.00+ shoes and the brand clothes to match. For those who don’t “have it”, just to get a sharpened pencil and the promise of two school-offered meals a day is gracious. But, as we begin another school year, I have some opening thoughts (don’t know if teachers or administrators ever read this article) on “you are what you wear”. Here are some questions of great importance to students: “Who am I?” “Do I fit in?” One way students cope with anxieties about identity and belonging is by dressing in ways that signal their desire to be a part of a group! At times, what they wear identifies who they want to be and with whom they wish to spend their time. You see students who drove to Dallas or Oklahoma City to buy the best advertised items for the new school year. Some students wear black from top to bottom to show their own individuality, and still others wear what didn’t rip from last year and made it through the summer, even wearing big brother’s or sister’s tennis shoes. I always thought it amusing to see preschoolers with top dollar logo golf shirts on, some they will outgrow in six months (please, only amusing not judging). When I teach a confirmation class to students, usually in the six grade and up, I ask an array of questions about identity and one goes like this: “Would you rather eat stinky cheese or mushy vegetables?” We all belong to something, even if it is temporary, like the “stinky cheese” group. One of the most basic human needs is the need to belong, to be with other people. We were created to be in communion, with God and with one another. I believe that our baptism offers a true and lasting alternative to this struggle for identity in students’ lives. Some students may not be baptized yet and may think they missed out on something. All of them should know that no matter when they are baptized, “...they were all chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). Baptism gives us a new identity and tells us to whom we belong, no matter what, no matter what we wear. 8.25.2013

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at: rbgoodnews@yahoo.com




August 15, 2013, 11:28 AM

Words from Rick

 

 

 

 

                                Time  Away ...........Part 2

I am writing today from the cool mountains of north Georgia, sitting on my mother’s porch sipping a cup of coffee. It is quiet, veryquiet! The cool breeze makes the leaves in thehickory trees sing and, with the exception of a barking dog around the corner, that is about the only sound I hear.Yesterday, mother and I drove over the mountains to Highlands, N.C. where we had lunch Time Away and visited with a dear, old friend, Mae, a lady who wears a paintedon smile, loves the Lord,and her beloved mountains. We had a delightful 30-minute visit with this homebound saint and I enjoyed hearing their old stories of how it used to be on Main Street, Highlands. On the way back to Main Street, we passed a small church and just outside my driver’s window I saw, in the church parking lot, a mother bear and two little cubs moving from one wooded area to another. Beautiful, black bears with mother moving ahead and the two little ones following close behind, Very quiet, they were very quiet. About 5 p.m. once again reading on the porch, mother came out to see what I was doing. Shesaid, “LOOK, LOOK, over the railing, just down from your left, about 20 yards on your left, a bear.” She said that it was about 80-100 pounds. We watched it waddle down to a blueberry bush, stand up and pull branches down to eat. It was very quiet, very quiet. Two bear sightings (four bears total) in one day. One could get used to the quiet of the mountains! It has caused me to ponder a lot about life. Questions like, “Must we be distracted every minute of the day?” “How much of our day is bombarded with noise — traffic, leaf blowers, music that drowns out the sounds my car is making, people who speak exceptionally loudly.” The silence we seek is more than absence of noise; silence is a stillness, a unity of conscious ness that gives focus. True silence, I believe, touches every aspect of life — body, soul and spirit. Our Scriptures have commended silence for thousands of years. Here are a few verses I have gone back to while sitting on the porch: “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10); “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he (Jesus) got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35); “For God alone my soul waits in silence from Him comes my salvation.” (Psalm 62:1-2); “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

 Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at: rbgoodnews@yahoo.com


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