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This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I snapped this photo a few years ago at a local festival.  Part of the festivities included a car show, and these are two of the vehicles that were shared with the crowds.  These are two beautiful old antique cars.

One might argue that they aren’t antiques.  They are classics.  And sometimes these classic old cars are babied, polished, and shown off, but are never cranked up and ridden through the neighborhood.  The cars were built to run and be used, and yet too many times they sit idle in some parking lot with folks oogling over them.

I can’t help but wonder how many times we do the very same thing with our older generation, a generation that is growing in greater numbers each and every day.  How often do you visit (or call, in today’s socially destitute world) your elderly neighbors or even family members?  How often have you prayed for or even thought of the countless older folks who have spent nearly a year now completely isolated inside their retirement homes and facilities?

Proverbs 16:31 tells us that “the silver head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.”  Those elder saints who have the wisdom of many years of experience long for someone who will simply sit and listen.  The righteous have gone before, and they have stories to tell.

Are you listening?  Do you care?  Remember that, by the grace of God, you will one day (much sooner than you realize) be that older antique (ok, classic!), and you will be the one longing for someone, anyone, to come strolling by and glance your way, if only for a moment.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Have you ever been so tired that you could have slept standing up?  This horse was doing just that, and was sleeping soundly enough that his bottom lip had actually dropped.  That’s good sleep.  On one most recent Sunday afternoon I sat in my recliner to watch tv and woke up an hour later with my chin on my chest.  We had experienced a good church worship service, had a good weekend visit by our grown children, and I was more tired than I realized.  I didn’t intend to take a nap, but a nap overtook me!

In today’s world, regardless of our daily activities, it is sometimes quite easy to get tired and also “tired of it.”

The good Lord reminds us that we can bring Him our burdens and find rest.  Even the most energetic Christian can sometimes find themselves wishing for a break.  This is not necessarily a break from the work of Christian life, but a break from the ruts in which we may find ourselves, the difficult days of mask-wearing and distancing ourselves from friends and loved ones, and the dreariness of the winter months.

What are your burdens today?  Some may be small and simple compared to others, but they are burdens anyway.  Some may be large enough for carrying on horseback.  And whatever burdens we carry can make us weary and tired.

Before you make the mistake of falling asleep standing up, gather this week’s burdens and difficulties, worries and anxieties, illnesses and hurts, and bring them to the Master.  But don’t just bring them to Him, just show them to Him, or just tell Him about them.  Instead, lay them all down at His feet.

And find rest.  It’s good for the soul.

Weekly Inspiration – Don’t Read the Comments!

By Ryan Kelly –

I know you’ve done it. At some point recently, you read a post on social media and viewed the comments, only to discover a multitude of angry posts and off-the-wall opinions. Don’t feel bad, we all do it and it affects almost all of us the same way. It makes us sad, mad, and creates a vengeance wanting to fight back. Am I right?

I am convinced that the comment section of social media is like a pool of honey for a swarm of bees…people who want to sting others just can’t resist. It is the one single place where we can see the true heart of many people and the worst of most. It’s a bad place.

So this begs the question – why? I think there are probably several reasons why this is such a bad place. First, it is often anonymous and it allows a semi-non direct way for people to release built up anger. Second, it’s easy. You don’t have to search for controversy or a way to share your opinion, rather you can take your time, see your text, and not have an immediate response to sway the blow that you are about to throw. Third, it’s a snowball. Most do not go into the comments section looking for a fight, but once people read the comments they begin thinking that the fight is upon them and feel compelled to fight back.

rust me, I have fallen into all three of these buckets, so I know!

So what do you do? I recommend that if you cannot resist the comments section, get off of social media. For the most part, this is what I have done. I have no social media on my phone, and I only check what few sources I have once per week for mostly work purposes. I cut it out because it was infecting me. I recommend that you do the same.

Above all, I urge you to speak words of encouragement only. If you can’t be positive, say nothing. If that means that you have nothing to say, then be grateful that you have more of your day given back to you!

There are so many verses that are appropriate for controlling our tongue (or in this case fingers) and controlling our anger. Here are a few good ones.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention”. Proverbs 15:18

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” Romans 12:19

“If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.” Proverbs 29:9

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

A talking tree!  Well, not exactly.  This particular tree can be found in the wonderful little Orr Park in Montevallo, Alabama.  It stands there along with many other tree carvings.  Most are faces.  Some are animals.  But each is unique, carved by hand, according to the imagination of the artist.

Have you ever taken a walk through nature, a park, or even the woods and truly listened to all you hear?  There are usually animal sounds, either birds chirping or something scurrying along underneath the ground cover.  There may be a breeze blowing through the trees and leaves.  And there may only be the sound of pure peaceful calm.

God has ways of speaking to us through other individuals, of course.  We may hear His voice through that of a preacher in the pulpit, a friend with some advice we need to heed, or a neighbor shouting a friendly hello as he waves from his pickup truck window.  We may hear the Lord speak through the love of a pet that somehow knows to cuddle up and rub against us at just the moment we feel as if no one cares.  We can hear Him pretty much anywhere.

But in and through God’s creation of nature, especially, He speaks with the beauty of it all.  He can be found in the simplest of things and places like an old tree trunk in a small city park, or in the woods you may wander.  But He speaks.

This old tree obviously isn’t offering any audible words through the face carved into it.  But, because that face is there, because someone took the time to create it, this tree now speaks to everyone who will listen — “Hello, out there!  Smile!  God loves you!”  And that, He does.

As you go about your week ahead, I pray you will listen as He speaks, wherever and however it is you may find Him.

Just a thought.

Majoring on the Minor

By Ryan Kelly –

Have you ever been a part of a silly argument? One in which you know there is no actual value, but you feel so wrapped up in the problem that you dig in your heels and refuse to concede? This is often the case with defending sports teams, schools, car brands, and even food. Essentially, it’s the result of us developing artificial “teams” and defending your team even when it makes no sense. I have done it, so I get it!

Throughout the the world, but particularly in America, we love to pick a team and defend it to the end. The problem is that we pick frivolous battles that have no meaning, but then we are too tired or weary to then fight the battles that DO have meaning.

The meaningful battle is with our faith. If there was a battle to fight, it would be defending the Gospel and standing up for Jesus. But if we are so tired of fighting battles over race, class or other eternally meaningless things, we will lose sight of the only battles that need to be fought. And furthermore, if we divide ourselves into meaningless teams for meaningless battles, then we will not be on the same team for the spiritual battles that we need to fight.

The term “majoring on the minor” is related to a collegiate academic focus on the lesser degree over the primary degree. Let’s not major on the minor, but let’s focus on our battles against sin and for Christ, and focus less on everything else. This is how we unify. This is how we act as the body of Christ.

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

1 Corinthians 1:10

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I tend to get a little sentimental from time to time.  I was scanning through several old vacation photos and ran across this one of our girls from several years ago.  At the time, our eldest was our only teenager.  The girls were in one of their all-time favorite places — the beach.

The Gulf Coast, where our eldest actually now lives, has always been one of their choice places to visit, and this trip was no exception.  Later in the day, sun not so hot, wind blowing through their hair, and the waves coming up to meet them on the shore, the girls waded in water cool and soothing enough to make anyone forget the troubles of their day.

Waves come and waves go, but they are always there.  Each one is different, some more powerful than others, but all having the potential ability of washing away anything in their path.

As you face another week ahead, you probably cannot take off for a quick beach get-a-way, but you can “wade out a little bit deeper.  Step into the water of His love,” as the old song goes. It has the power to wash away all your sins and make you new once again.

One particularly neat thing about the waves is that they will always be there.  Our youngest is barely 8 in this photo.  This spring, she will graduate from college.  The waves keep rolling, always there.  The water is always cool.  Always soothing.  Always with the potential to wash away your every care.  Give your cares to the Master of the Sea today.

Just a thought.

Fearless

By Ryan Kelly –

Have you ever been afraid of something? Perhaps as a child you were afraid of a monster in your closet or afraid of a dark room. Maybe now you are afraid of losing a loved one, or afraid of losing a job or home. Fear is common in this world, but it shouldn’t be.

Fear is a key tool of Satan to place a wedge between believers and our Lord. Fear causes us to seek immediate relief, and often this does not involve the great faith that we are urged to have in God. Fear is evil, and we must reject it.

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Our spirit is not designed to be afraid, but to be at peace as we have faith in the Lord.

In Isaiah 41:10, God tells us to “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

If the Lord of all creation tells us to place our faith in Him and not to fear or worry, then we need to listen. The fact is that life is hard and things go wrong. But these are not a surprise to God and He never lacks a plan fir us through these challenges. Although we may be anxious about the future, we should never fear anything. Because God is for us, so who can be against us?

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I’m sure there are signs like this all over our nation, but I saw this one just outside Carson City, Nevada.  The sign warns of the possibility of bears crossing the road at this location.  Now for those of us who would rarely see such wildlife, the possibility of seeing bears is exciting, especially if you see them from inside your safe vehicle!

This sign, like others you see and others I’ve shared, is a warning.  We are warned that we might see bears.  A railroad crossing sign warns you that there might be a train.  A weather forecast like the one we had where I live warns that we might have some snow.

We might.  We might see a bear, but we drive on.  We might encounter a train, and yet we ride the road anyway.  We might have to stop along the way, but we drive while we can.  We might get some snow, but we don’t sit and wait for it.

Do you turn off the television because you might hear an ugly word?  Do you go to one store instead of another because of who you might see there?  Do you skip out on life because you might run into a problem along the way?  Are we missing out because we might have to face a difficulty?

May I encourage you to keep on keeping on?  Smile at someone today.  You might get one in return.  Visit a neighbor today.  You might drive down a road full of God’s precious scenery.  Go to church.  You might receive a blessing.  Get up off the couch.  You might feel better.  Live your life today.  You just might find out it’s a great day to be alive!

Don’t stress out just because something “might” happen.  Trust in the “might” and power of God to get you through!

Just a thought.

Weekly Inspiration – Rasically Blameless

By Ryan Kelly –

It seems that we now live in a nation that, through media and subsequently public opinion, we are now guilty until proven innocent. Although this is the opposite of how our legal system is supposed to work, it’s much easier to sell a story when you can paint an individual as guilty and tell a one sided story.

For many, this should be a scary reality. But for Christians abiding in God’s Word, we should have no worry about being seen as guilty when we are innocent. 1 Peter 2 shows how we will be seen as blameless in the eyes of others based on the history of our righteousness.

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:11-12‬

When you are radically blameless, no one will be able to tell lies about you. In fact, Scripture says that they will even look foolish when they do tell lies about you, because your righteousness is so well known that no one against you will be seen as credible!

We serve an awesome God that will have His light shine from within you. Continue to follow close to our Lord, and He will protect you from all evil.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Hey!  How are you?  A glorious new year has begun!  You read that correctly.  I said, “Hey!”  And almost immediately in my own mind I heard the response, “Hay is for horses!”

Two words with two spellings but the same pronunciation.  My photo shows several hay bales.  They are lined in preparation for the winter’s feeding of the cows and horses.  You see, the grass doesn’t grow as much (and certainly not as green) in the winter time.  But with the supplemental hay bales, the animals can still munch to their heart’s content.

As we begin this January, we certainly still face many challenges from the previous year and all that it entailed.  However, we can’t continue to live in the past year.  We must live today.  One thing I miss the most in today’s “socially distanced” world is our daily interactions (fellowship!) with one another.  I imagine that most of you feel the same.

So, I have a very simple challenge for each of us.  Practice saying “hey.”  That’s “hey,” not “hay.”  (he he, ha ha).  Every person you meet in your brief but necessary outings has the same longings as you — to be noticed, to be loved, to be acknowledged, to simply hear a friendly voice saying, “Hey, how are you today?”

If all I can say is “hey,” and all I manage to do is put a smile on someone’s masked face, then it has been a good day.

So, Hey, my friend!  You are loved and prayed for.  Thank you for sharing with others.  It WILL be a good year.

Just a thought.