Running a Race with a Girl

The bell rang for recess to be over. I started my run from the playground to the classroom. Suddenly running beside me was a girl in my fifth-grade room. She was gaining on me. My ego shifted me to the next gear.

The coach entered me in the 440-yard hurdles and the 880-yard race. I never did like track and field in high school. I preferred basketball, football, and baseball. Two big reasons I probably found track distasteful is that I was slow and usually came in last or near last.

They heard the tomb of Jesus was empty. Peter and John responded with a footrace to the location. “Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first” (John 20:4).

Is it possible to lose the race but be a winner? It certainly turned out that way for Peter. Even though John outran him, Peter went into the tomb first. John and Peter not only found out that the tomb was empty, but Jesus had risen from the dead. They became some of the first of the hundreds of eyewitnesses to the living Jesus.

This made all the difference in the world and for eternity, to them and to all other losers. We have all lost the race. None of us can make it to the finish line without falling. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans3:23). We all need someone to run the race to the finish line for us.

So how does a loser in life become a winner for eternity. Trust Jesus Christ, the ultimate winner by resurrection. His gold medal will be yours if you simply trust Him by faith and receive the gift of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.

What about those daily loses? Jesus, the Winner of all winners, promises to be with us always, to never leave us, and to never forsake us. He is the One on whom we can constantly cast our cares because He cares for us.

Did I outrun the girl? Of course not. She was too fast. But just a few months later I received Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and I’ve been a winner ever since and will be for eternity.

This is part-four of the sermon series: “Amazing Encounters with Jesus.” Come Sunday for our Classic service at 9am or the Celebration service at 10:30am. Sermon videos are posted on Facebook and at BalboaBaptist.Church.

Running a Race with a Girl

The bell rang for recess to be over. I started my run from the playground to the classroom. Suddenly running beside me was a girl in my fifth-grade room. She was gaining on me. My ego shifted me to the next gear.

The coach entered me in the 440-yard hurdles and the 880-yard race. I never did like track and field in high school. I preferred basketball, football, and baseball. Two big reasons I probably found track distasteful is that I was slow and usually came in last or near last.

They heard the tomb of Jesus was empty. Peter and John responded with a footrace to the location. “Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first” (John 20:4).

Is it possible to lose the race but be a winner? It certainly turned out that way for Peter. Even though John outran him, Peter went into the tomb first. John and Peter not only found out that the tomb was empty, but Jesus had risen from the dead. They became some of the first of the hundreds of eyewitnesses to the living Jesus.

This made all the difference in the world and for eternity, to them and to all other losers. We have all lost the race. None of us can make it to the finish line without falling. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans3:23). We all need someone to run the race to the finish line for us.

So how does a loser in life become a winner for eternity. Trust Jesus Christ, the ultimate winner by resurrection. His gold medal will be yours if you simply trust Him by faith and receive the gift of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.

What about those daily loses? Jesus, the Winner of all winners, promises to be with us always, to never leave us, and to never forsake us. He is the One on whom we can constantly cast our cares because He cares for us.

Did I outrun the girl? Of course not. She was too fast. But just a few months later I received Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and I’ve been a winner ever since and will be for eternity.

Would you like to hear the rest of this story? Check out the video on Facebook at Balboa Baptist Church for part-four of the sermon series “Amazing Encounters with Jesus.” Come this Sunday for part-five at our Classic service at 9am or the Celebration service at 10:30am .

Flipped Out and Gasping for Air

Have you flipped a quarter off your thumbnail to see if it lands on heads or tails? Our raft high-centered on a rock in the middle of the most treacherous part of the Arkansas River in Colorado. The roar was almost deafening. The seven of us quickly did as instructed, but the foaming water pinched the end of the raft and flipped it like that quarter.

Suddenly we are gasping for air bobbing in the sloshing current. I grab the back of my daughter’s life preserver and yell to my wife that I have her. The wild ride finally ends in calmer water to be picked-up by one of the other rafts.

We had just finished a four-day mission trip teaching children’s Bible schools. We went from the high of spiritual victory to the defeat of a powerful river.

Jesus fed 5,000 with a boy’s lunch in Matthew 14. He then sends his disciples to cross the sea of Galilee by boat. Jesus goes to pray up on a mountain. Jesus sent them from this mountaintop experience right into a ferocious storm. Terrified, the 12 men lose control of the boat.

About 3 a.m. their terror grows as they see a ghost, they think. But it is Jesus walking on the water. He speaks: “Take heart. It is I. Do not be afraid.” Or … be encouraged, I am here, be fearless!

Peter asks to walk to Jesus if its really Him. Jesus tells Peter to come on. Peter walks on water. But fear of the wind and waves overwhelms Peter’s faith. He sinks. Jesus rescues Peter and exclaims, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” They both get into the boat. The wind ceases. The twelve worship Jesus.

Jesus knows when you are going into a storm. When you get there or maybe you already are there, remember, “be encouraged, Jesus is here, be fearless!” Jesus can enable you to walk above it and can reach down to rescue you from it. Jesus expects you to trust Him and not doubt His power over the greatest of life’s storms. Worship Him. He is greater than the storm.

This is part-three of my sermon series: Amazing Encounters with Jesus. Come Sunday for our Classic service at 9am or the Celebration service at 10:30am. Sermon videos are posted on Facebook and at BalboaBaptist.Church, click “Media”.

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.