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  • Developing A Positive Attitude

    Dr. Lester Spencer|Jun 1, 2024

    Most of us have heard or read many a message about the importance of having a positive attitude. However, if you are like me, I need to be reminded regularly in my life journey about the powerful impact my attitude has on myself and others around me! To a great degree, your attitude will determine your impact, your peace and your legacy. My absolute favorite quote about the importance of a positive attitude is from Chuck Swindoll: " The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude...

  • Dressing In Our Sunday Best

    Michael J. Brooks|Jun 1, 2024

    It was a church conflict in my early days over something that’s a “back burner” issue now. We had a college student helping on an interim basis with our music. One Sunday she came to church dressed casually. I asked her in the following week to dress more formally for the pulpit. She grew angry and asked what dress had to do with worship. I gently explained I believed that we represented God and needed to dress accordingly. When I was in college our pastor, Bill Jackson, took several of us “p...

  • On Being In Step

    Michael J. Brooks|Jun 1, 2024

    Somehow the Kyoto Tachibana SHS Band found me on Facebook, and it’s been a good thing. This Japanese group plays beautiful music while making dance moves, and they’re fun to watch. However, this is not what I remember from my years with the Minor High School Tigers Marching Band. I do remember a “two-step” we did while playing Herb Alpert’s “The Lonely Bull.” Our bass drummer had trouble with these steps, so we joked maybe he could be the bull and remain stationary! Our greatest challenge was...

  • A Blast From The Past

    Michael J. Brooks|Jun 1, 2024

    Our pianist played a beautiful offertory arrangement a few weeks ago, as she always does. I found myself singing along in my heart with the familiar melody. On a lark, when I came to the pulpit for the message I asked with a show of hands how many people recognized that song. About half the congregation did. I suppose it was only us “children of the 70s” who remembered “He’s Everything To Me” by Ralph Carmichael, originally written for a Billy Graham film entitled, “For Pete’s Sake.” ‘Til b...

  • He Will Make A Way

    Michael J. Brooks|Jun 1, 2024

    U.S. Minister to France, Benjamin Franklin, read the Old Testament book of Ruth to court patrons who delighted in this love story and were often surprised to discover it was from the Bible. Ruth is preeminently a love story and demonstrates the hand of God through the adversities of life. The book contains three tragedies. First, Elimelech and wife Naomi left Israel for Moab during a famine, and Elimelech died there. Their two sons married Canaanite women, contrary to the Jewish law (and to Paul...

  • A Real Nowhere Land

    Michael J. Brooks|Jun 1, 2024

    I was territory I’d not seen before—the mountains of North Carolina. The mapping app took me via interstate the entire route to Asheville, but I decided I’d take my time on the way home and drive the backroads. Little did I realize how isolated these backroads would be. I remember the intersection where I messed up. I should’ve turned left on highway 74, but I turned right on highway 28. I’m not sure why. It was a winding road in the middle of nowhere. I lost cell service and couldn’t follow the...

  • A Hero Remembered

    Michael J. Brooks|Jun 1, 2024

    I enjoyed O.S. Hawkins’ new biography of legendary pastor W.A. Criswell, a role model for my generation of pastors. Criswell served 50 years at First Baptist, Dallas, and was an itinerant preacher and an avid writer. Hawkins is remarkably honest about Criswell’s successes and failures. Criswell taught young preachers to devote Saturday nights to rest, and weekday mornings to time alone in study and prayer (he maintained a home office for his study). I tried to follow this guidance for many years...

  • Reflections.... Dressing In Our Sunday Best

    Michael J. Brooks|May 1, 2024

    It was a church conflict in my early days over something that’s a “back burner” issue now. We had a college student helping on an interim basis with our music. One Sunday she came to church dressed casually. I asked her in the following week to dress more formally for the pulpit. She grew angry and asked what dress had to do with worship. I gently explained I believed that we represented God and needed to dress accordingly. When I was in college our pastor, Bill Jackson, took several of us “p...

  • On Messing Up

    Michael J. Brooks|May 1, 2024

    “What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve said from the pulpit?” he asked. It was a strange question, but a pastor friend asked privately at lunch, so I felt it was fine to respond. I didn’t have to think long, and it was a word not even in scripture. I was preaching about the different postures of prayer, the point being that whether we’re standing, walking, sitting, driving or kneeling, many postures are acceptable in prayer. Two classic hymns have lines about “falling prostrate at...

  • We've Never Done It That Way Before

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2024

    A property committee member complained some “knucklehead” installed the wrong bulbs in a room at church. I had to confess the knucklehead was me. I mistakenly took LED tubes from the supply closet and tried to insert them in fluorescent fixtures. No damage, but no light, either. This reminded me of the old joke about how many Baptists it takes to change a light bulb. In this case, the correct answer is “two.” But the traditional answer to the pun is, “Change? What’s that?” Thom Rainer of Chu...

  • O Death, Where Is Your Sting?

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2024

    It’s been my experience that funeral home directors generally have a great sense of humor. I asked a gentleman about this once and he explained that a sense of humor is the only thing that saved him from awful depression. I can imagine these men and women deal with the greatest of tragedies. But on the other hand, I’ve heard some interesting stories from them. One funeral home employee told me about trying to salvage a graveside service after several pallbearers were drunk, and one fell into the...

  • No Turning Back

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2024

    We planned a dream vacation several years ago to Las Vegas where we heard Barry Manilow and The Temptations (these are acts loved by old people). Part of the trip was my taking the short flight to the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif. and the short drive to spend a day at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The library acquired the retired Air Force One in 2004, and the Air Force One Pavilion is a grand site. It’s been featured several times in Republican presidential debates. I r...

  • No Turning Back

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2024

    We planned a dream vacation several years ago to Las Vegas where we heard Barry Manilow and The Temptations (these are acts loved by old people). Part of the trip was my taking the short flight to the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif. and the short drive to spend a day at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The library acquired the retired Air Force One in 2004, and the Air Force One Pavilion is a grand site. It’s been featured several times in Republican presidential debates. I r...

  • Blessed Are The Peacemakers

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2024

    The Jimmy Carter administration faced a number of challenges, but arguably the high-water mark of achievement was the Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel. Carter invited Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat to the presidential retreat to discuss some 50 issues remaining from the war of 1967. The anticipated several days became nearly two weeks and was beset with problems. Both men grew angry and threatened to leave. Carter summoned Vice President Mondale to Camp...

  • These Things Have I Learned

    Michael J. Brooks|Apr 1, 2024

    The way Baptists do it probably isn’t best, but nobody yet has made us change. Some denominations require an apprentice program for fledgling ministers. But when a Baptist young person declares a call to ministry, the pastor says, “Great! You can preach next Sunday.” This is like throwing someone in the lake to teach them how to swim. I know this because I was once cast into the ecclesiastical lake. Heaven holds great reward for patient church members who’ve listened to 16-and 17-year...

  • The National Day of Prayer was celebrated on Thursday

    Brandon Moseley|Apr 1, 2024

    On Thursday, national and state leaders paid their respects to God or whatever supreme being they honor in their religious tradition. Kate Cohen wrote in the Washington Post that the day should be abolished, though that opinion was ignored by virtually everyone including the Biden Whitehouse. "The right to practice our faiths freely and openly is enshrined in the Constitution and remains at the core of our American spirit," said President Joseph R. Birden (D) in a statement. "For centuries,...

  • Fair Winds and Following Seas

    Dr. Lester Spencer|Mar 1, 2024

    Sailors have often used this phrase as toast or a nautical blessing for many years. Some say it originated in the Hawaiian Islands as a wish for safe travels on the sea and still others say it came from a poem or literary work. Either way, we know it came from sailors or people very familiar with voyaging upon the oceans. I do know this nautical phrase is often used in the US Navy. “Fair Winds” is a nautical blessing or a prayer for good weather with the winds blowing your sails in the dir...

  • We Don't Want Your Money

    Michael J. Brooks|Mar 1, 2024

    I was the new pastor still learning my way around when Jim came to see me. He was chair of the budget and finance team. He wished me well, then shared a concern. “The committee met lately, and we have an issue with the visitor’s envelopes you’re using,” he said. “We believe we shouldn’t ask visitors for money.” Churches used to welcome visitors and give them a card requesting contact information and sometimes a ribbon to wear. This was before we learned to call them “guests” and since learned mo...

  • The Night Is Coming

    Michael J. Brooks|Mar 1, 2024

    She sat next to me at the hair salon. She leaned over and said, “Mister, has anyone ever told you that you have a striking resemblance to Harrison Ford?” Of course, I was pleased with my introduction to her, and immediately felt gratified that she thought I looked like a movie star. I told a friend about this later and he deflated me. “Well, Harrison Ford is a bit ‘long in the tooth’ now!” he said. Ouch. Anyway, this was my introduction to Cherry Starr, wife of legendary quarterback Bart Starr....

  • Build Your Hopes On Things Eternal

    Michael J. Brooks|Mar 1, 2024

    The college I worked for asked me to go to Washington, D.C. for a seminar with the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. I didn’t have to be asked twice! It was a great several days on the CCCU campus a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. I met with 30 or 40 college students who were interning in government that semester. We later invited a CCCU rep to our campus in Marion to explain the “Best Semester” program, and as result, had a number of our students to attend one of the three...

  • A Friday To Remember

    Michael J. Brooks|Mar 1, 2024

    The wind in my face was bitterly cold in downtown Dallas a few years ago since the winter weather was yet lingering. My continuing education classes had ended at the seminary in nearby Ft. Worth, so the afternoon was free for some sightseeing. A chill came over me independent of the temperature when I walked onto Dealey Plaza and saw firsthand those sights emblazoned in my memory from childhood: Elm Street, the triple overpass and the sixth-floor window. I thought back to that terrible Friday...

  • Governor's Easter Message

    Governor Kay Ivey|Mar 1, 2024

    Today, on Good Friday and as we approach Easter Sunday, I am reminded of the profound message of hope and redemption found in Matthew 28:5-6. It reads, "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen." These two short verses are powerful and resonate deeply with me – as I am sure it does with many of y'all. It reminds us of the sacrificial love of our Savior, Jesus Christ As we gather with our l...

  • The Serenity Prayer

    Dr. Lester Spencer|Feb 1, 2024

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever and ever in the next. Amen The...

  • Happy New Year "Adventures" In 2024 (Instead of Wasting Time on New Years Resolutions)

    Dr. Lester Spencer|Jan 1, 2024

    Let 2024 be the year of new adventures! Plan out new adventures instead of wasting time on New Year's Resolutions. Did you know that for 92% of people, New Year's resolutions fail? The result is often discouragement, and we end up feeling like "New year, same me." Try something different this year. Try planning New Year Adventures. So, what are some New Year Adventures you can plan for 2024? Plan Fun Adventures With True Friends "Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkien, The...

  • The CHRIST of Christmas… Why Christmas Is Such A Wonderful Season For Christ Followers!

    Dr. Lester Spencer|Dec 1, 2023

    The Relevance: Through CHRIST God came to earth! “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” -John 1:14 NIV “ The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,,and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) -Matthew 1:23 NIV Christmas is relevant for you and me, because Jesus Christ came to earth on that first Christmas to reveal God’s heart towards us. The wonder of Christmas is just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago, because Jesus is still walking...

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