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This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

 Just a thought to help start your week.

Once in a while, I do something I’ve never done before.  This past weekend was one of those occasions.  We celebrated the wedding of our middle daughter to the love of her life!  I snapped this picture Saturday afternoon before any of the official photos were made, before any of the guests arrived, and before the prospective bride and groom had experienced their “first look” moments.

The location was quiet, the weather was beautiful, and all of these chairs sat empty, facing a large beautiful arrangement of her requested flowers.  Now, firstly, as her father, I will remind you that none of my three are any more special than the others.  However, the middle one has a little different story to tell.  She entered the world three months too early and tipped the scales at only 2 pounds, 4 ounces before losing a few ounces to just below that two pound mark.  That whirl wind of time in our lives was one we will never forget.  And one of the main reasons that is true is that we were reminded daily that God was in control.  He showed up and showed out in many ways over our little one’s first months.  —  And He has continued to do so in her life.

One of my mother’s first comments was that “God has something special in store for her!”  She has pursued her dreams in education and employment.  She has fallen head over heels, not just for the boy, but for his calling and ministry, which we all believe has become hers as well.  And Saturday she married the man to whom we witnessed her engagement exactly one year earlier to the day.  The wedding, from decorations, people involved, food, music, and excitement, was all exactly what the two of them wanted, and, oh, it showed!  What an great time.

Why am I sharing all this?  Those chairs went from empty to nearly three hundred in a short time.  The venue went from quiet to rattling with music and dancing in no time (yes, she got her old Daddy out there on the floor!)  And even though some of our dear folks got stuck in traffic miles away and never made it, the show went on.

Stumbles come in our lives.  Sometimes we show up too early.  Sometimes, perhaps, we never show up at all.  And yet, God always does!  No matter how the situation looks or is perceived by others, God has His plan in store – a plan that is certainly “something special.”  My challenge to us this week is to take a deep breath, let go of all those things we cannot control, and let God show out.  I’ve mentioned in some of my online writing already that the one song sung at the wedding was “The Goodness of God.”  We worshipped Him as our family gained a son.  We will continue to worship Him until the day He calls His bride home for the wedding celebration!  Wow, what a party that will be!  You’ve been invited.  Have you returned your R.S.V.P.?

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

This pink rose and a red one on another bush are the first two blooms of the year in our yard.  I was thrilled to see them and even posted pictures of each on social media.  Our roses are usually some of the first flowers around us to spring to life each year.  Red ones and two or three shades of pink adorn my scraggly looking bushes.

Shakespeare is the one who reminded us that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  My “Nanny” loved her rose bushes, and I remember being fascinated by how many and how pretty they were.  My late father-in-law’s favorite flower was the red rose, which we make a point to share on his grave from time to time.

The Bible book of Song of Solomon is a conversation between Solomon and his love, a woman simply known as a Shulamite.  The beauty of the flowers in the wild fertile plane of Sharon was apparently something to behold, and Solomon’s lover describes herself as the “rose of Sharon.”  Many folks have come to recognize Jesus as the “rose of Sharon” because of the beauty of His love for us, although He is never actually called by that name in the Scriptures.  It is a description of the loving relationship God desires for us to have with His Son.

Roses.  They are lovely.  They smell heavenly.  They come in all colors of the rainbow.  We use them to denote love and friendship and to show we care.

While I won’t have enough roses on my bushes to share with everyone I care about, I can certainly share with them about the love of One whose love grows sweeter and sweeter as the days go by.  I look forward to seeing my rose bushes in full bloom.  And I look forward to the day when I shall see Him in His full glory.

Take time to stop and smell the roses this week.  Breathe Him in.  Share the love.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Spring is in the air – quite literally.  Pollen gives our shiny black car a sick greenish color.  If my eyes and nose aren’t itching, my ears and throat are.  The bird nest so craftily built on the porch light outside my office window is now host to a new brood of baby birds.  Can’t you hear that constant chirping in the background?  We’ve had more than enough rain and tornado-like activity across our area week after week lately, and the ground is saturated.

The azaleas and hydrangeas have been in full bloom, and the rose bushes are covered in buds just waiting to pop wide open with bursts of color.  The grass is growing, and the weeds need trimming.  The flower beds need attention, and the porch needs painting.

Get my point yet?  I love spring time and the newness of life that it seems to portray.  But spring time also brings with it those many reminders of things that need to be done.  And most of them needed doing yesterday.  We don’t have time to sit still, because we have too many things to accomplish and so little time to get them done.

Sitting still is good sometimes, but if we sit still too long, we get stiff.  Those bones and joints pop more than they did last year.  And we need to stay active.  If we don’t, we become stagnant.  We get stiff and sore.  We waste time.  

“A rolling stone gathers no moss.”  How about, “a moving structure grows no ivy.”  This building on the banks of San Antonio’s River Walk is being covered with creeping ivy because nothing is being done to keep it away.  The more it is left alone, the more the ivy will cover that building’s facade, and the more that building “disappears” behind the greenery.

Don’t disappear into the background of this crazy world.  Get busy.  God expects it.  The pollen can’t keep us down.  We’ve got to keep going, keep flying, keep chirping — constantly.  I think it’s a reminder to those around us that God is still at work too!

Just a thought.

Death Could Not Hold Him!

By Ryan Kelly –

Easter Sunday is not just another day.  It is a day where we celebrate the greatest gift that has ever been given, the gift of eternal life for everyone who believes and worships our Lord and Savior Jesus.

The Bible describes many miracles that Jesus performed.  He turned water into wine, He walked on water, He healed many and drove out demons.  He did many miraculous things while He ministered here on Earth.  But in the end, someone can always try and justify how such a miracle could have occurred.  

However, something that can never be explained away is the empty tomb.  Even the religious leaders and Roman soldiers knew their half-baked explanation was as empty as the tomb itself, yet to save face they still tried to explain it away.  History has shown, though, that anyone who studies the resurrection of Jesus will always come to absolute faith in our Lord, as the evidence of its truth is undeniable.

By conquering both sin (on the cross) and death (with the resurrection) it means that you and I too are able to follow Jesus in conquering sin and death.  His blood washes away each sin that we commit, and His rising from death means that we too will rise with Him once we die from this Earth.  This is truly the only priceless gift that has ever existed, and it is one given to us because of the great love that the Lord bestows on us.

Praise to the Lord for Jesus is Risen!  Death could not hold Him, and for all who believe and worship Jesus, it will not hold us either!  

Happy Easter everyone.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

As we drove through Ohio and Pennsylvania, we did a little random searching for Amish-related communities or some such place.  What we discovered was that many were quite a ways off of our planned route, and most of them were heavily commercialized, so we chose not to pursue any of them.  Then traveling back into North Carolina, we saw many signs in Hickory, NC, advertising Amish furniture.  

I exited the highway and we assumed we would head to a quiet rustic place where we could wander and look around.  Instead, we were directed right into town where we located a very large furniture mall, composed entirely of many different furniture stores, very few of which actually claimed to carry Amish items.  Since we’d made it a point to go, we took some time to wander in and take a look for ourselves.

One place of business did indeed have many very outrageously overpriced pieces which we carefully observed.  And there, in the middle of the large store, was this Amish buggy, up on a pedestal-like perch out of reach of our curious hands.

This buggy was well away from the farm where it was once used, away from the Amish family who once rode in it to church and community events, and well away from anything we saw that resembled the simple Amish life.  And yet, it retained its identity as an Amish buggy, easily recognizable as created by the Amish.

As we wander through our world this week, are we still recognizable as the Christians we claim to be?  We can be far from church and family and still stand true to the life we are called to live as we serve the Lord.  Will the world see me and instantly recognize me as one created by The Master?

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.  One of our brief stops on last summer’s road trip was the downtown historical area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  After leaving our car in a strangely odd parking facility, we walked a couple of blocks up to Independence Square and across to the museum where the famed Liberty Bell is housed.  It was just after closing time, and therefore we couldn’t go inside, but we quickly discovered that the Liberty Bell sits in a glassed corner of the building.  This allowed us to get a view and take a few pictures.

As you look at this photo and inspect the bell, you will realize that you don’t see the crack – the one thing that makes the Liberty Bell famous.  You see, the bell has been positioned so that one must be inside the museum to see the crack.  From the building’s outside, you can only see the other side of the bell.  We got to see the Liberty Bell, but we didn’t get to see the cracked part.

The world looks at the Christian, and they watch us and “inspect” us much more than we would dare to imagine.  They see the outside, the part that we present to the rest of the world.  They see who we are, but do they really see what makes us different?

My Mom used to remind us kids when we went out to “Remember who you are and whose you are.”  And I’ve never forgotten that sage advice!  Those really are two different things while also being the very same thing.  I am Brad, a preacher’s kid, a preacher myself, a husband and father.  That tells you who I am.  But I’m also a Bible-believing, Christ-following servant of the King.  And that tells you to Whom I belong.  Does everyone see that side of me?  I pray so!

We saw one side only of the Liberty Bell.  Maybe one day we can see what made it so famous.  I’ll have to look twice.  May the world around us only have to look once to see who we are and Whose we are!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help you start your week.

I want to share another picture I took last summer.  Some of you might even recognize the buildings and skyline.  You are seeing another shot of New York City.  The buildings shine, and you can almost hear the traffic noise and the people running to and fro.  As a fan of Neil Diamond, I can’t see this without hearing him sing “Beautiful Noise” inside my head.  I see New York.  I hear New York.  And yet, I’m not even there.

This picture wasn’t taken in New York, but on the opposite side of New York Harbor, in the state of New Jersey.  You see, I didn’t want to drive in the New York City traffic, so we detoured into Jersey City, New Jersey.  On that day, we could see New York, but we weren’t actually there.

Where do you stand this week?  Perhaps your view is good.  You see good things, have a good job, enjoy a good family or church family, but you aren’t really there.  You are a hundred miles away, thoughts taking you to a far-away land.  Your focus has become distracted, and although you enjoy the view, you aren’t enjoying the benefits.

Sometimes, we enjoy not having to be a part of life’s rat race.  And at times, we miss out on all that life offers.  It’s like looking at the museum relics and artifacts but not bring able to touch them.  However, one great thing about being a child of God is that we don’t have to just stand and watch.  We don’t have to enjoy it from afar.  We can be a part of His family, and we can experience first-hand His will and way in our lives.  Just be willing to show up.  Venture into the traffic.  Explore His plan for you.  It’s worth the risk, and He will never disappoint.

Just a thought.

Till later,

Brad

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Stairs.  Steps.  Whatever you choose to call them, they are a necessary part of life.  Some are found inside office buildings, some inside homes, and some, like these in my picture, are built on the side of a West Virginian mountain.  We find stairs when we shop, when we go on vacation, when we attend church.  So what is so special about them?

I think the main thing that stairs cause us to do is to make a choice.  We can either go down, or we can up.  Sometimes if we are already at the bottom, our only choice is up.  If we are at the top, we can only go downward.  Walk up to a landing where steps can take you in either direction, and you certainly have a choice to make there.  It’s all about choice.

Where will I choose to go this week?  Will I look at all that lies ahead this week (and all the steps that I must take in order to make it happen) and then determine it isn’t worth the climb?  Will I look down the stairwell into the darkness below and determine it would be better to stay off of the steps this week?

I took this photo from the bottom.  If you look closely, you can’t even see the top level through the trees.  I had already made the long trek down.  The easy part was over.  I enjoyed the beautiful scenery from the side of the mountain.  But then, it was time to go.  And my only way out to my waiting vehicle was to make the long haul back up the steps — every single step, every single landing, every single turn.  

I must admit I stopped several times on the way up to lean on the railing and catch my breath and to let my screaming leg muscles rest a moment.  Eventually I made it back up to the top step, but only because I took one at a time along the way.

You see, that’s the key.  One step at a time.  You can go anywhere and be anything the Lord wants by just taking it one step at a time.  Regardless of the direction you’re heading, the view in and of His Will at the end is beautifully amazing.  Long trek ahead?  Take that first step this week!  Each one after comes just a little easier until before long, you’ve made it, and all the steps were worthwhile.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Have you ever gone somewhere and then immediately realized you shouldn’t have?  This photo is one my wife quickly snapped of the Pentagon just before I drove up to the gate of an “employees only” entrance of that sprawling place last summer.

No, we had no intention of visiting the Pentagon.  As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure the average person would be allowed access under normal circumstances.  But, alas, as I have often done in the past, and I’m sure will continue to do in the future, I made a wrong turn.  I took an exit off of the interstate highway, mistakenly thinking we were headed toward Arlington and very quickly found myself driving into unknown territory.

Thankfully it was fairly easy to navigate our way back out of the Pentagon property and back onto a public road, but we certainly were startled when we suddenly found ourselves where we shouldn’t have been.  I’ve seen the Pentagon building from a distance and have taken photos of it from an airplane, but this was different.  It was much closer.  Much larger.

I can’t help but think we each wander into places and perhaps situations in which we have no business.  Sometimes we do it quite on purpose.  Sometimes we actually get too close too quickly, not realizing exactly how we’ve arrived at such a spot in life.  But, thankfully, the Lord always has His Way, and He always offers us a way out.

From every difficult situation, there is access to an exit.  Sometimes those difficulties aren’t escaped until He takes us out of this world into His heavenly presence.  But He always, always is watching out for and caring for His children when they get themselves into spots where they have no business!

I don’t know what situation you feel the need to escape this week, but quit panicking, span your surroundings, spot the Lord waiting and waving His hand, and take hold.  You might just look back at where you’ve been, thankful that you were allowed a glimpse, but even more thankful that you don’t have to remain there!  I pray for safe travels through your week ahead.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I’m fascinated by church buildings, especially those that stand out architecturally and seem to make a statement of some kind in their neighborhoods.  I’ve wandered through little one-room chapels and magnificent cathedrals, and the one thing that, for me, has remained constant in them all is the overwhelming sense of awe and reverence.

This particular church, First and Franklin Presbyterian Church, stands tall in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.  Although I didn’t go inside, I stopped and took pictures from several angles as we walked along.  Each angle and sharp point, each spire and each tower represent many many hours of painstaking labor by those who cared enough to see that God’s house stood out as something different and glorious.

Of course, the magnificence of the building certainly doesn’t guarantee the presence of God.  And, likewise, the building’s simplicity guarantees nothing either.  We as Christians many times make the mistake of assuming that just because we show up for church, that God has too.  That just because eleven a.m. brought us in the door, He must have followed.  Be careful when you assume.
When is the last time you invited God to your time of worship?

A church is a church is a church, but it’s also just a building without the presence of God to fill it!  God doesn’t show up based on the condition or decoration or architecture of our church building.  He shows up based on the condition of the church itself — us, His people.  The building isn’t the church.  His people are.

“Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)  God wants our best, and sometimes our best is broken, dirty, and in a terrible state of disrepair.  Yet, that condition is what brings us into a state of worship in the presence of God.  May our personal houses of worship bring glory and honor to God in the week ahead.

Just a thought.