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This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

One of my favorite sights in New Orleans would be the trolleys running up and down Canal Street.  Although I’ve never ridden one, I’ve watched many.  They are identified by the red paint color and the ringing bells.

New Orleans can provide a sensory overload of sorts.  There is so much to see.  Now, granted, I have seen some things there that should never be seen.  There are so many sounds, too, especially the loud jazz music played on the street corners or by a group of individuals marching down the middle of the street, oblivious to the vehicles trying to make their way through the mobs.  But I’ve also heard some things and had some things said to me there that should never be said.

I’ve witnessed the throwing of the beads during the parades, I’ve felt the downpour of drenching rains while caught walking through the French Quarter, I’ve seen the public drunkenness and all states of dress or lack thereof.  I’ve also been witness to the smells of New Orleans, from the wafting odors of fresh beignets, very strong coffee, and fried alligator to the very unpleasant smells of public nastiness unworthy of mention.  And yet, through it all, it is such a fascinating place to visit.

Our lives are full.  Parts are pleasant, but some are far from it.  There is the sweet smelling blessing but also the nose burning smell of sin.  There are the beauties in our world, such as the ornate St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square, and then there are the unpleasantries of the bums sprawled out in the middle of the public walkways.  Life brings a variety of experiences to us.  And each and every one of them make us who we are today.

New Orleans wouldn’t be New Orleans without every single one of the things I mentioned above.  Every one of those things enhances the experience.  Every one of the things we go through, or even step in, in our lives enhances our witness.  The nastiness helps us appreciate the beauty.  The sour smells help us appreciate the sweet aromas.

As you meander through the back alleyways of your week ahead, be ever mindful of the sounds you hear, the sights you see, and the places you step.  You just might not truly appreciate the beauty of life without them.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Because of a meeting my wife was attending, I got to spend some time in New Orleans last week.  While she worked, I walked.  She later calculated that I had roamed probably eleven miles by foot in a forty-eight hour period, all within one square mile.

I walked the paths along the Mississippi River and around Jackson Square, the aisles between the pews in the St. Louis Cathedral, the streets in and around the French Quarter, the sidewalks of Canal Street, and the nearby storefronts.  But one place I did a lot of walking was inside the Audubon Aquarium, where I met the little fellow pictured here.

This penguin and his buddies are used to the crowds, and they love to dance around in the water and entertain.  This one nosed up to the glass to get a good look at me.

Funny.  I paid to enter the place, to roam its halls and exhibits, staring at every creature within its walls.  And yet the tables were turned here.  The penguins seemed to be the ones staring at us.  I wonder if I had the experience backward.  Were the animals there to entertain me, or was I there to entertain them?

We get life backwards like that as well.  For some reason, we seem to think that God’s purpose is to be here for me.  He’s to be at my beck and call, to speak when I ask, to provide me with what I want, and to keep me entertained.  Actually, we are here for His purposes.  We are to serve Him, to worship Him, to bless Him, to walk and talk and live for Him.

As long as I remain here on this earth, along with all of its other creatures, I am here to do all I do for my God, Who watches me constantly, cares for me always, and will never leave me behind.

Enjoy this new perspective on your aquarium of life this week.  Oh, and keep your noses off the glass.  Somebody has to clean up behind the penguins.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

When is the last time you were truly excited to go to church?  When is the last time you dressed in your “Sunday best” and headed to the church house for worship?  When is the last time you focused on the privilege it truly is to be able to gather in God’s house, without fear, and sing praises to Him with a church full of others who were just as excited?

I don’t normally share photos of people, but the ones in this picture have long since been gone, as has the photographer, so I can’t lay claim to this one.  This photo happens to be of a Sunday morning gathering of the church family of Siloam Baptist Church near York, Alabama, where I get to serve as pastor.  These folks are posing at the first service in the brand new church building on that hallowed hill one bright Sunday morning in 1908.

They are excited to be there!  They are dressed in their best, not because they owned a lot or had much money, but because they revered the Lord enough to gather with other community believers to worship Him together!  We are told in Hebrews to not forsake the gathering of ourselves together.  Sometimes things prevent us from attending, but it seems quite odd that the same things that prevent us from getting to church somehow never prevent us from getting to work or to the dollar store.

God gave His best for us.  He expects us to give Him our best.  Part of that is gathering for worship in His house.  There truly is nothing like it.  Every church congregation is different and worships in their own way.  All God asks is for our best.

Oh, to drive up that narrow road toward the church house on Sunday morning and see people excited to be there.  Maybe you’re not excited to go, but once you get there, you hear God’s Word, sing praises to His name, and speak with others who have come to do the same, that feeling you were missing before creeps up on you!

Get excited for Jesus this week.  He deserves it.  Give Him your best.  And when the appropriate time comes this week, gather with others to do the same.  There’s nothing like it!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I do enjoy photography somewhat.  That’s one of the reasons why you see one of my pictures with these words each week.  So as I scan back through the photos I’ve saved, looking for another one to share, I sometimes run across some photos I’ve forgotten, like this one.

I give each photo a name of some kind as I save it.  It makes it easier for me to find later, or at least that’s what I tell myself!  This particular picture, I had labeled as “Jefferson ducks.”  Perhaps you have heard of wood ducks, pekin ducks, whistling ducks, and yes, rubber ducks.  But maybe you’ve not heard of the infamous Jefferson ducks.  Of course, if you look at the photo, then you can see why I gave them that name.

These particular ducks are at home in what is known as the tidal basin nearing the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., and in front of the Jefferson Memorial.  I gave the ducks that name because of what I saw when I looked at them.

If your name today was assigned to you based on what those around you saw, who would you be?  Sorry Sam?  Mad Melissa?  Alcoholic Adam?  Speed demon Dan?  Or perhaps others would look your way and see Angelic Amy or Brave Bob.  You and I could all probably admit that we’ve been called names we would rather not repeat.  But what name — Whose Name — will I be given this week?

As a Christian, then I have already taken His name upon myself.  The name Christian literally means to be Christ-like.  But is that what those around me will see this week?  Will my name reflect who I am and Whom I represent?  Or will my name this week come about because of somewhere I should not have been or something I should not have said or done?

Those ducks in front of Thomas Jefferson’s memorial have no idea I gave them the name “Jefferson ducks.”  We may never know the names our neighbors have for us.  But we can live so that whatever name we are given, it will not only represent us as a person, but also represent us as the Christ-follower we claim to be.

What’s your name?

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

My wife and I recently hosted our thirty-third annual July 4th cookout for our family at our house.  We started when it was just the two of us, our parents, and three siblings.  This year there were twenty of us able to attend, with at least six or eight missing.  Enjoying time with our family members is something we greatly cherish.  

There are different age brackets, occupations, and school grades represented.  Opinions are expressed and shared.  Our conversations vary as greatly as the food items we have each provided.  And we love it.  Even with the backyard slap-your-sibling-with-a-tortilla game, we laugh and have a great time together before it’s time for us all to return to our separate lives, locations, and jobs.

The goose, pony, and cat in my picture somewhat represent our family.  Diverse, yet all getting along, all loving and supporting one another.  A goose, a cat, and a pony have virtually nothing in common except for the space they occupy.  Some families are like that.  God’s family is sometimes like that as well.

I believe God loves diversity.  After all, he made us this way.  If every crayon in the box was the same color, it wouldn’t paint a very pretty picture, would it?  If every barnyard animal was alike, they wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining.  What a wonderful family we all are because of our differences.

We celebrate our great country’s birthday this month.  If only we all got along as well as these three critters.  What a wonderful world that would be.

You animals behave yourselves this week.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Progress is hard sometimes, isn’t it?  I believe that a major part of the difficulty is that progress means change.  And we don’t all adapt to change at the same rate or in the same way.

Only once or twice in all these years have I shared a photo that I did not take.  This is one of those, but it was shared with me to use.  What you see, of course, is a house.  When this photo was taken not too long ago, this house was already in the demolition process.  The 3-bedroom 2-bath home with double carport has since been torn down.  Huge oak trees, hundreds of years old, cut down and cleared away.  This is half of a city block that is being cleared off in order to build another building.

What does this matter?  It is progress, after all.  Well, as I remind us from time to time, it’s all in your perception.  You see, I have a very different vantage point here than the rest of you do with this house.  This is where my brother and I grew up.  This is where our little sister spent her first 8 years or so.  This home was the church’s pastorium, provided for my dad, the pastor, and his family.  This was home.  Seeing these photos, shared with me by another preacher’s kid who happened to live in this very house just before we did, brought a lump to my throat.  Sometimes just seeing progress is difficult.

The neighboring church, which will always hold a very special place in my heart, is preparing for their future.  They are in the plans to build a multi-purpose activity building for their growing congregation.  This means excitement is in the air for them!  And that’s wonderful!  

So, with the difficulty for some, comes excited anticipation for others.  It’s all in our perspective.  You see, God always sees things more clearly than we do.  And whatever difficulties may come this week, whatever destruction, whatever bulldozers may head our way simply represent the progress, growth, and resurgence coming right along behind!

I don’t like seeing my past erased.  But I do love to see the future grow brighter!  And that’s the perspective I choose to have this week.

Just a thought.

Celebrate a Victory for Life While Focusing on Those in Need

Brothers and sisters,

Today is a day that I have prayed for since the mid 1990’s.  

When I was young and first learned about Roe vs. Wade and the consequence of legal abortion of unborn children in our nation, my heart broke.  I was only a young teenager at that time, but I knew that this was something that was far from the Lord’s intent.  

When I worked toward my bachelor’s and masters’ degrees in Medical Biology years later, I took a number of courses respective to genetics, human embryology and development.  The calculated precision of the beginnings of life were fascinating to me and only further cemented my belief and worship of our Creator for His amazing design.  Yet at this same time, I learned of the horrors of what abortion actually is and the exact procedures by which these unborn children were killed and removed from their mothers.  It is enough to sicken even the most fervent of horror movie watchers.  

In the last decade, I have had the opportunity to speak to women who have either had an abortion or thought heavily about having one, and the emotional and spiritual pain that they faced with this decision.  There is no question in my mind, abortion is not an easy decision for the vast majority.  But, so many are misled into believing it to be a viable ‘way out’ after being pregnant.  The short term decision nearly always creates a lifelong struggle of mental anguish and regret.  It is enough to bring any of us to tears.

As I said, I have been praying for the Lord’s hand to reverse the allowance of abortion via the 1973 Supreme Court ruling known as Roe vs. Wade, and upheld and somewhat strengthened in the 1992 ruling known as Casey vs. Planned Parenthood.  I know that many of us have especially been praying in earnest since the filing of Dobbs vs. Jackson.

Today, June 24, 2022, is a day where the Lord has answered many of our prayers.  With this decision, tens of thousands of abortions will not take place.

HOWEVER – this is not the finish line.  In fact, I would argue that today is a starting line for a new race.  This new race is not to overturn a fault Supreme Court decision, but it is a race to fight for the mothers, fathers and children that will be affected by this law and ensure the most positive outcomes.

Our new fight must be to strengthen families, support mothers who are looking to deliver, and support the many young families that will be created.  We must support them with all that we have as the Lord instructs us to support those less fortunate than us.  We must celebrate the choice of life, while coming alongside those who make this choice by helping them to build the life that we know they need and want.  

In addition, I believe there must be a renewed fight to show that sex before marriage is not what the Lord intends, and that abstinence before marriage is the ideal path toward purity and proper reflection of God’s intent for each of us, male and female alike.  To this extent, we have a huge mountain in front of us…driven largely by mass media, social media, and our culture.  

When we can fight for the viability and sustainability of the family, we do so as a direct reflection of the relationship of Jesus and the Church.  We must fight for loving, positive, nuclear families where the child is loved and all are supported by fellow brothers and sisters who want the best for them.

This starts with each of us.  The effort will take all of us.  But praise the Lord for the opportunity to show love and compassion on those around us!  And lastly, please be in prayer for our nation in the wake of this Supreme Court ruling.  God bless you all.

Ryan Kelly
President
American Christian Association

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Notice first of all the attached photo.  You probably have dandelions in your yard, too.  These wildflowers (or weeds, if that’s what you prefer to call them) can pop up anywhere.  Some are in the middle of the yard, and some grow in the tiniest of cracks in the sidewalk concrete.  They are hearty, they provide some sustenance for the bees, and the puffy ones can provide a bit of entertainment for a kid making a wish and blowing bits into the air.

What I want you to notice most of all is that both pictures are dandelions.  The yellow flower comes first, then it transforms into the white/fluffy one.  Each of those tiny parts can then be scattered to the wind and settle in another place to bloom at a later time.  These two pictures are merely different stages of the exact same plant.

Are you ever guilty of comparing your Christian life, your Bible knowledge, your worship style, or your daily walk with that of another believer?  Perhaps we are arrogant enough to think we are much more seasoned than a new Christian.  But more times than not, I think, we look at those around us and believe we aren’t nearly the good Christian that our neighbor or fellow church member is.  When, in fact, we are simply two stages of the exact same plant.

Thank God not all Christians are alike!  It would be a mighty dull place if we were.  We grow at different stages, and we bloom at different stages.  Later, when our growth has matured us to God’s desired level in our lives, we scatter our witness to the winds and allow it to be planted elsewhere.  Isn’t it amazing how God works?

I don’t know whether you would consider yourself a wildflower or a weed today.  But, as a child of God, remind yourself that we’re just growing and blooming at different stages, becoming all He wants us to be, in His way, and in His timing.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Although Sunday is the first day of the week, most of us feel like Monday is the day that begins our week officially.  Every week has a Monday.  Sometimes those Mondays hit harder than at other times.  Think of it this way – without the storms, we wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine.  Without the bad days, we might not be thankful for the good ones.  Without those Mondays, we would never get to the Fridays.

Many folks look forward to Monday because it’s the beginning of something new, a new challenge, a new unknown.  Many others dread Mondays for those very same reasons.  Many folks spend their weekends this time of year on the water or in the woods, and Monday can seem like a let down.  Mondays also bring with them the realities of what was in the week past and what must now be dealt with again this week, and we cringe at the thought.  It’s probably true for other professions as well, but I’ve read that many pastors and church leaders resign on Mondays, having barely recovered, if at all, from the responsibilities or burdens of the previous day.

I’ve shown you pictures of our family cat, Patches.  She rules our roost, albeit outside the house.  Here she sits, eyes closed, shutting out the world.  I think she spends 22 of her 24 daily hours asleep.  The other two hours are either spent eating or begging for dinner.

Have you ever wanted to close your eyes and shut out the world?  Certainly you have.  We all have.  But then what?  Sooner or later we must open our eyes and get back to reality.  I think that’s what Monday is really about.  Opening our eyes, getting back to the reality of a world that is lost and going to hell without Jesus.  We’ve worshipped together, prayed together, and encouraged one another.  Now it’s time to open those eyes wide, face Monday (or whatever day you’re reading this), and get busy.

There’s no time to drag around and belly ache about last week and its problems.  If they’re important enough, they’ll follow us into this week.  If not, then leave them right where they fell.  And remember that Mondays are easier to face when we do it together!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I remember as a small boy being encouraged by my “Nanny” and my Momma to pay attention to the birds, flowers, sky, and all of nature.  I’ve tried to remember that, and I pay attention to the animals around me as well.  One hot afternoon recently as I stopped by our church building to drop off some things, there sat this beautiful blue lizard.

Sunning itself at the top of the outside stairwell, it never moved as I walked past it headed down to the basement fellowship hall.  I was only in the building a few minutes and came back up to discover the little fellow still in the same position.  Naturally, I reached into my truck, grabbed my phone, and snapped a picture, all the while hoping the lizard didn’t decide to run off before I got a photo of it.

Well, as it turns out, I could have waited all day, and the lizard would have never moved.  Four days later, that same blue lizard still sits in the same place, shrunken some and dried out from the heat of the sun.  You see, the lizard was dead.  It had apparently been dead before I spotted it a few days earlier.  Pretty, yes.  Interesting, yes.  A beautiful creation of God, yes.  But dead.  

I was fooled.  I was fooled by the beauty, its colors, and scaly design.  I was fooled into thinking the lizard was alive and well and ready to scamper off at any given moment, when in fact, it was dead and drying out even as I snapped its picture.

Be careful this week.  All that sparkles isn’t true.  All that glitters isn’t gold.  Satan disguises himself as a beautiful creature, hiding out in plain sight in the hearts of those we know and love, when in fact, those dear folks are dead on the inside.

Pay attention to those around you.  Do a better job than I did with the lizard.  See the beauty in others, but also see the need for God’s light – and life – in their lives.  If we miss our opportunities to share the love of God, we might just find out later that it’s too late.

Just a thought.