My Canoe Trip

The canoe rolled. I got dunked. I went alone on a two-day canoe trip on the Buffalo River. In a rapid that turned sharply left under limbs jutting out over the water, I leaned to miss the limbs shifting my weight just enough to capsize the canoe with all my gear.

I had prepared for this with tie down straps, packing items in heavy duty garbage bags, and making sure my tackle box was locked. A few things floated away, but I caught them. But I did lose a reel and rod into the swift water.

By walking up to the head of the rapids, then getting into the water which pushed me quickly down the river. I felt along the bottom of the river as best as I could searching. Although I repeated this process at least two dozen times, I never found it. The rest of the trip was great! It is a memory I relive repeatedly. But the dunking is burned into my memory.

Our spiritual quest to find peace and assurance of life after death can only be found by trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus commands us to be baptized when this happens. Why? We are obeying Christ’s command and publicly confessing Him. Just as a wedding ceremony marks the public beginning of an inner commitment to your spouse, so too baptism is to be an outward mark of the inner transformation of coming to God through His Son Jesus.

Jesus set the example for us and was baptized Himself. When he came out of the water, Matthew writes that God spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Since God is pleased with His Son’s baptism, He will also be pleased with yours. Confess Jesus as your Lord, believe in His resurrection, and be baptized. Going under the water symbolizes being buried with Christ and being raised out of the water symbolizes being resurrected with Christ to a new of life. It is a dunking you will remember forever.

This is part-two of my sermon series: Amazing Encounters with Jesus. Come this Sunday for our Classic service at 9am or the Celebration service at 10:30am for the rest of the story. See you Sunday!

A Missing Child

Pastor Denny 1965 at Glenwood Public School

My child is missing. Too many parents today experience the flood of grief that wrings their hearts out like a wet dish cloth. Sometimes they find the child asleep in the woods the next morning, but others only experience extreme loss.

In one case they looked for the child for three days. After a long trip, tired and weary, the child goes missing. Then the long search compounded the fatigue, questions, and anxiety. Lost, not in the woods with dozens of volunteers combing the area, but in a big city where they knew few people. They searched.

I can only imagine the tidal wave of emotions that hit them as they traveled back to look for their twelve-year-old. Surprised, Mary and Joseph finally found Jesus in the temple area sitting among the most prestigious theologians of the day discussing deep questions about God and faith.

First, all who heard this twelve-year-old expressed amazement. “And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:47). Second, Mary and Joseph dropped their jaws in astonishment. “And when his parents saw him, they were astonished” (Luke 2:48) Third, his mother’s distress broke through when she exclaimed, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress” (Luke 2:48b).

If the Bible was a fabrication of someone’s imagination, all of this would have been glossed over. But the raw, precise terms a physician like the writer Luke uses is evidence of the authenticity of the story.

Luke indicates Jesus knew exactly who he was even as a young boy. Jesus not only had an extremely high IQ but claimed even then to be the Son of God. Jesus replied to Mary, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

People today still respond to Jesus in amazement, astonishment, and distress. The question you must answer is, “Do you believe Jesus is a liar, lunatic, or Lord?” I confess with my whole heart, Jesus is Lord!

Come this Sunday to hear the rest of the story. I’m beginning a 5-part series: “Amazing Encounters with Jesus,” Young Jesus in the Temple is part 1.

The Classic service is in the Sanctuary at 9:00am. The Celebration service is in the Outreach Center at 10:30am. Visit www.BalboaBaptist.Church.

His Name is Wooly Willy

An invisible force worked right there in front of me. Obvious it was! As a child, I played with these pieces of metal that either repelled each other or snapped together by an unseen power by magnetic force.

His name I could not recall, so I googled “magnet man toy.” I found “Magnetic Personality Wooly Willy!” Remember the cardboard toy with a bald man’s face, covered with a plastic bubble filled with metal shavings? You used the pencil to drag the metal shavings around to give Willy hair or a beard.

If you are a believer in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, then you are daily repelling or attracting others to Him. Each day you decide if your own Mr. Magnetic Personality Wooly Willy will have a joyful or grumpy face. Your attitude pushes others away from or toward Him.

The Bible says, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12 ESV).

Keep your conduct honorable. Honorable mean to be attractively good. It inspires, even motivates, others to embrace what is lovely. Live for Christ in such a winsome way that you win some.

Ever wondered what American tourists in another country look like to those who live there? One American can be brash, arrogant, and demanding which gives the impression that we are all jerks. Or the tourist can be respectful, honor customs, and be polite.

Followers of Christ are aliens in a world that is no longer our home. We are on a pilgrimage in a strange land. How do others see us?

In the few days you have left on earth, are you attractively good, inspiring, and motivating others to want a relationship with Jesus? As a tourist, what impression are you giving to the natives?

Keep your conduct honorable so they may see your good deeds and glorify God. Will you today be honorable or ornery? Are you repelling or attracting others to our beautiful, resurrected, and glorified Christ?

How? The command is clear. But you cannot do it! The only way is let the beautiful, resurrected, and glorified Christ live in and through you.

Worship with us this Sunday at 9am. On Easter Sunday, worship at 9am or 11:15am. Find Pastor Denny’s messages at BalboaBaptist.Church, click “Media.” Our mission is to bring all people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and help them grow toward Christian maturity.

An Alternative to the Blame-Game

Someone has done someone wrong. A hero came and got revenge on the evildoers. Writers and moviemakers have made millions of dollars creatively portraying this storyline.

I watched again for the umpteenth time the movie The Count of Monte Cristo. Alex Dumas tells of a pure hearted man, Edmond Dantes, betrayed by his best friend and exiled to the Alcatraz-like prison, the Chateau D’if, for 13 years. Solitary confinement and an annual beating led him to despair. A fellow prisoner tunneling to escape, emerges into Edmond’s cell. He educates Edmond and tells him of a hidden treasure. When his cellmate dies, Edmond escapes by putting himself into the body bag and is thrown over the cliff into the sea. He discovers the treasure hidden on the isle of Monte Cristo. He returns to his home town wealthy beyond imagination, full of hate and set on revenge. But eventually all the hate sickens him, he changes his heart, and becomes a man dedicated to doing good things with his wealth.

In another story, he was betrayed by leaders blinded by selfishness, friends who misread their instructions, a spy with a hidden agenda, and a close friend who let him down three times. Jesus knows how it feels to be betrayed. He knows how you feel in your betrayal. Read Luke 22.

We have all been done-wrong, lied-to, cheated, scammed, betrayed, stolen from, or deeply hurt by someone. How we react to the cheaters and liars is important to our sanity, peace and joy.

You could go into revenge-mode: get even, watch Charles Bronson in Death Wish or Mel Gibson in Payback or Russell Crowe in The Gladiator, or devise some diabolical passive-aggressive way of getting-even with that person who betrayed you. Not a good choice.

You could go into regret-mode: beat yourself up, go through life with overwhelming guilt, or sink into depression suppressing your anger so deep into your soul you cannot cope with normal life. Some even to go as far as Judas Iscariot and commit suicide. Please don’t go this route.

You could go into repent-mode: do as Peter did when he denied Jesus three times, he went out and wept bitterly. Later Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. Three times Jesus told Peter to go back to work feeding His sheep. Jesus forgave and restored the repentant Peter. Read John 21.

Quit blaming. Blame means be-lame. Quit blaming religion, an enemy, or a close friend who let you down. Start trusting the perfect Savior who offers perfect forgiveness, and becomes your perfect advisor and friend who gradually restores those damaged emotions.

You can play the blame-game & never get over it. Or you can play the name-game and trust the Name that is above every name – Jesus!

Worship with us this Sunday at 9am. Find Pastor Denny’s messages at BalboaBaptist.Church, click “Media.” Our mission is to bring all people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and help them grow toward Christian maturity.

Extraordinary Neck-ware

Mike Tomlin, coach of the Pittsburg Steelers, wears a necklace. On that necklace is a cross expressing his faith in Jesus Christ. Some men wear an expensive gold-braided necklace. Many women wear valuable necklaces made of gold, silver, or platinum. Of course then there are the beautiful and cherished diamonds that often accompany these beautiful pieces of jewelry.
What you put around your neck usually means something important to you. Perhaps someone important loves you, or you want to display a symbol significant to you, or that you have success in life producing the ability to purchase such an expensive item.

The Bible tells us to bind around our necks the merciful loving-kindness and faithful love of God. Proverbs 3:3 says “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.”

The implications of what Jesus said are the two greatest commandments are indeed extraordinary! He said to love God with your entire being and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus’ followers must love him more than they love their own family, their business, their hobbies, and even more than their own lives.
The writer in Proverbs 3:3 says that not only are you to bind this kind of love around your neck but also write it on the tablet of your heart. So it is to be both external and internal.

The Scriptures says that this internal love is to be fervent, compelling, speaking the truth, and demonstrated by sharing with others your earthly possessions

So since what you wear around your neck is something usually highly valued, is this kind of extraordinary love highly valued by you? Do you bind around your neck and write on the tablet of your heart this love?
The only way to be able to produce this kind of love is to be totally stunned by the extraordinary love of God for you through his son Jesus Christ. Please believe him and receive him.
Worship with us this Sunday at 9am. Find Dr. Wright’s messages at BalboaBaptist.Church, click Media. Our mission is to bring all people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and help them grow toward Christian maturity.

Whatever Life Throws at You

Painted in large letters on the side of an old building are the words “GOD IS LOVE.” Seeing it caused me to ask myself whether these oft quoted words are just a cliché or an overused platitude. For many people, I am sure it is.

But since these three famous words appear in the Bible in 1 John 4:17 and I take the Bible as the highest authority for what I believe, then it must be much more than an overworked phrase. If God is love, the question becomes, “So what?”

The most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, gives a profound answer. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (NKJV)

God loves you with a perfect love, “For God so loved the world.” God is flawless and infinite. Living in an imperfect world warped by every imaginable evil, let the perfect God perfectly love you. You are loved right now perfectly. It’s a scary world, but perfect love casts out fear.

God loves you with a sacrificial love, “… He gave His only begotten Son.” God is so serious about loving you and punishing sin, he sacrificed His only, one-of-a-kind Son for you. In this world of so many selfish humans, allow the sacrificial God who loves you to love you right now.

God loves you with an impartial love, “… that whoever believes in Him.” God is completely impartial. He loves “whoever.” The rich or powerful do not influence Him. The poor and abused are not rejected by Him. All people, including you, can come to Him through Christ because He loves you with an impartial love.

And God loves you with an eternal love, “… should not perish but have everlasting life.” God is eternally past, present, and future. His love for you wholeheartedly wants to give you eternal life. An eternal place of mansions, banquets, and no more tears await those who receive His eternal love in His Son Jesus.

Whatever life throws at you, God’s love meets your need. Permit God to love you today perfectly, sacrificially, impartially, and eternally.

Worship with us this Sunday at 9am. Find Pastor Denny’s messages at BalboaBaptist.Church, click “Media.” Our mission is to bring all people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and help them grow toward Christian maturity.

Jogging through Life

Jogging bores me to tears. To play a vigorous game of Basketball or Pickleball with a goal to win thrills me. High school sports required me to do a lot of running to build stamina. Line drills, laps, and tromping up bleachers seemed to be my coaches’ favorite things.

I think what made it so difficult was not the physical exertion, but the lack of an obvious goal. We just kept running sprints or laps with no idea when the end would come.

But running with purpose changes everything. We don’t think of the drudgery of running if we are escaping an angry bear or gladly sprinting to the finish line to win a gold medal. Fleeing the bear or pursuing the gold are great motivators!

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” 1 Tim. 6:11

First, flee! Get as far away as you can. Don’t see how close you can get without getting burned. Run away!

Flee from any belief that contradicts what Jesus said in the Bible. The first test for any cult or false teacher is who they say Jesus is.

Flee pride. Conceit is vividly described as a “puffed up” or a “blowing smoke” attitude that leads to ignorance, quarreling, and controversy by minds clouded with selfishness.

Flee materialism. At the heart of the love of money is discontentment. How much is enough? Just a little bit more. But more never satisfies.

Fleeing is just half of it. The second half is pursue! This means to chase or hunt aggressively. Go for it!

Pursue righteousness. Live out the righteousness of God implanted into you when you trusted Christ, not just trying hard to do the right thing.

Chase godliness. The above mentioned three thing to flee leads to ungodliness.

Hunt for faith. Boldly step out and live on the promises of God’s word.

Earnestly love. Nothing matters without love. For God so loved you, he gave his only Son! Pursue love by loving others.

Run after steadfastness. Never give up, endure and be patient!

Be aggressively gentle. The meek are those very powerful people who humbly and gently use their power to help others.

Don’t just jog through life. Flee! Pursue!

Worship with us this Sunday at 9am. Find Pastor Denny’s messages at BalboaBaptist.Church, click “Media.” Our mission is to bring all people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and help them grow toward Christian maturity.