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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.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

This little creek runs through the woods not terribly far from where my wife grew up.  Although it cuts through the pines for quite a distance, it never gets much wider than a little stream.  And, as you can see from the picture, it can be quite murky and rather nasty looking.  It’s just a dirty little creek in the woods.  It has no significance whatsoever.  Or does it?

For the occasional fox or deer that fill those woods, it provides a cool drink.  For the wild hog, it provides a muddy place to “root.”  For the bob cat or, yes, the rare black bear that comes roaming through, it provides a place to play and relax a bit.  For the hawks and many other birds, it provides a nice place for bathing and feather washing.

That dirty old neglected and overlooked stream to us is just the opposite for the forest creatures.  God provides.

As we wrap up yet another year and look forward to the next one, should the Good Lord see fit to bring it, I pray that you will remember those two words in that very simple phrase — “God provides.”

As murky, ugly, and cold as 2020 was for so many, it also provided the necessary means to continue on, to provide for our family, to meet our needs.  All because God provides.

Ever doubt those two words?  I know a place in the woods where you can take a stroll, see a dirty stream, and prayerfully change your mind.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I took this picture of what I’m calling God’s writing in the sky.  He left a giant exclamation point in the clouds.  Amidst the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and the beginning of a brand new year, many of us have had several questions for God.  Some of those may have been doubts, but I’m not even talking about doubting the love, the wisdom, or the grace and mercy of God.  I’m referring to questions we can’t help but have right now, such as…

Lord, why did my best friend (neighbor, parent, grandparent, etc.) have to suffer through (and perhaps pass away from) this corona virus?

Lord, why have those we love been “quarantined” or simply shut away from and cut off from the only ones of us they still remember?

Lord, why does this thing keep going, and going, and going…?

Oh, Lord, why?

We ask those questions, and we may seem as if we get no answer.  Remembering that God operates upon God’s time schedule, not ours, we re-focus and take a deep breath, knowing that, just as the Scriptures remind us, all things (every thing, every disappointment, every struggle) will eventually work out to glorify the Father.  By coming through the year 2020, every single one of us will have something to add to our list of things we can witness and testify about to the goodness of God!  — Even if the only thing you can come up with is, “Thank God it’s over!”

But, in all of our thoughts, every one of them listed above ends with a question mark.  God ends His response to us, not with a question mark, but with a giant exclamation point!  He reminds us He is in charge!  He is still God!  Good will ALWAYS reign over evil!  Yes, an exclamation point just like the one I saw painted in these clouds!  An exclamation point!  “Sit still, My child!  Look to Me!  Question Me if you must, but learn to lean on Me!”

Look, listen, and learn as the Lord exclaims His love for His children!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Have you ever visited a lighthouse?  Have you ever climbed to the top of one?  The historic Tybee Island Lighthouse sights on Tybee Island, Georgia, the eastern terminus for U.S. Highway 80.  The island is filled with little shops and beach homes and condos.  And of course, the lighthouse still stands.  Once used to warn vessels at sea, the lighthouse can be visited as a tourist attraction now, along with the nearby museum.

On one such visit, I climbed to the top of the lighthouse.  One of the views I had from up there is the one you see here.  I was looking east over those homes to the Atlantic Ocean.  

The lighthouse is such a simple example of what the Christian is to be in this world.  Especially now, in this holiday season of one of the weirdest years many of us have yet to experience, we need to shine the light of Christ to warn others of the impending doom of continuing in the darkness.

Just as a keeper once made sure the lights were always operational atop that old lighthouse, we are to keep the light of Christ and of the Christmas season burning all year long.  Lives depend upon being able to see the light!  One of my late father-in-law’s favorite songs was one called “The Lighthouse”.  A southern gospel favorite, the song spoke about that old lighthouse that still stands up there on the hill.  

Stand strong.  Shine brightly.  Choose to make a lasting difference in the lives of those you meet this holiday season.

Just a thought.