Why Me & Why Now?

It felt like a pop in my left calf muscle. A new year, feeling good, a new lease on life with a one-year building project completed, and enjoying my first real try at Pickleball and enjoying it! Reaching forward to hit the ball, pushing off with my left foot, I felt the pop. Amazingly very little physical pain resulted. But the mental anguish hit immediately. I knew instantly what had happened. My Achilles tendon had completely severed.

You hear some people say their life flashed before their eyes, well, the next six months flashed before my eyes. I saw surgery, cast, inconvenience, and months of recuperation. My lifestyle changed January 12, 2018. I am sidelined a bit from the pace I have been keeping the past three years of trying to keep up with an amazing group of Christ-followers called Balboa Baptist Church.

And then I read, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.” (Jude 24-25).

The word “stumbling” jumped out at me! Medical professionals and those who have experienced this same injury have repeatedly warned me, “Be careful and don’t do anything that might reinjure it!” I have heeded that advice and laid low for almost two weeks now.

I’m thankful for an understanding congregation who laugh with me. I’m thankful for a wonderful wife taking care of me. I’m thankful for church members stepping up to take care of each other. I’m thankful for a God who promises to bring good out of the bad when we love him and work according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

This “stumbling” does not mean we will be void of life’s difficulties. It means the Holy Spirit empowers us not to sin in the middle of our messes. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond your ability, but will provide a way of escape that you may endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

But why me and why now?! God is more interested my character, than my comfort. I want God to change my circumstance, but God wants to change me.

Going through a tough time in life? Me too. But let’s keep the faith, find great joy in our hope, trust God’s grace to make us blameless, look forward to heaven, and constantly give glory to Jesus Christ our Lord, now in the pain, and forever.

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.

What Are the Odds?

Haley traveled thousands of miles across several continents to discover his genealogy. Many Americans today also have an incredible yearning for tracking down their linage. This helps us understand the amazing popularity of the most popular television miniseries in history, Alex Haley’s Roots.

Jewish citizens in the first century could determine their ancestors without traveling far. Temple records carefully noted the Jewish people’s ancestry preserving their identity in a history of turmoil in the ancient world. No missing ancestry problem existed in first-century Israel.

A crucial prophecy of the Messiah is that he would be a descendant of David and his kingdom would last forever. So in the Bible, Matthew traces Jesus’ legal father Joseph and Luke outlines the linage of Jesus’ birth mother Mary back to King David. When we read the Bible, we often skip over these lists.

About 300 prophesies detail the coming Messiah’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. Some prophecies refer to the same detail, so about sixty prophecies are unique. Jesus fulfilled them all. The chances of one man completing forty-eight prophecies are one in ten to the 157th power, that’s a one with 157 zeros. Just to fulfill eight prophecies, the odds are 1 in 10 multiplied by itself twenty-one times.

Matthew 1:22-23 says, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”

Finding another person with your same DNA is 1 in 70 trillion when there are only about 7 billion people in the world. Experts say those numbers make it impossible. So you are more likely to find someone with your DNA than someone to fulfill the prophecies Jesus fulfilled.

But numbers do not give you faith. Rather “… faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Hear the word of God, “But as he (Joseph) considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’” (Matthew 1:20).

What a leap of faith, Jesus is the literal son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. What are the odds?! Will you believe in the Lordship and resurrection of Jesus as your Savior?

Worship with us Christmas Eve at 9am and a special candlelight service at 5pm. Find Pastor Denny’s messages at BalboaBaptist.Church, click “Media.” Contact him at DWrightBalboa@gmail.com. Our mission is to bring all people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and help them grow toward Christian maturity.

Turning On The Light

And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” (Genesis1:4)

God announced the birth of His Son with a light show on that dark night! “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.” (Luke 2:9)

Jesus announced, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

God’s offer of salvation comes in words of light, “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” John12:36

First, we have a temporary reprieve, “While you have the light.” The offer of salvation’s light has an expiration date. While you have the opportunity, you must take it. You have received from businesses discount coupons with an expiration date. You must use it before it expires. God has given you a temporary reprieve.

Second, we have a command to believe, “Believe in the light.” The light of salvation offered to each of us comes with a condition, we must believe. To believe is to wholeheartedly accept Jesus as God’s perfect Son who died on the cross paying the penalty of our sin, and then proving it all true by rising from the dead. Believe while you have a reprieve.

Third, we have adoption papers into God’s family if we will receive the light, “That you may become sons of light.” Churches who worship Christ are not clubs who initiate pledges into a religion, but are midwives who assist in the new birth into the family of God. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

This Saturday we are having a birthday party for our daughter’s twins who turn six. I can’t imagine shipping the twins off to a baby sitter and having the party without them! But millions will enjoy a tree, ornaments, presents, food, fun, family, and football and yet never mention the name Jesus. This year, don’t let the real meaning of Christmas get lost in the shuffle. Turn “The Light” on! While you have a reprieve, believe and receive so you may become a child of God.

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. Contact Dr. Wright at DWrightBalboa@gmail.com.

No Worries

I held my three-month-old granddaughter one afternoon while she slept for about an hour and a half.

There is something special about holding a baby. The warmth of her body against by chest felt so peaceful.

  • She had no worries.
  • She had no frets.
  • She had no critics.
  • She had no bills to pay.
  • She had no meetings to attend.

Who knows what she will become, whom she will influence, or how she will live her life.

But even more amazing is the baby Mary held that first Christmas who came with such an important agenda for His life!

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

The name Jesus simply means “he saves.” And indeed he does! Each year we celebrate the sacred and holy birth of the Son of God, our Savior and Lord.

It is difficult to comprehend all the implications of that birth! But here are a few.

  • The God of the universe became one of us!
  • God wants a personal relationship with each of us!
  • He came specifically to die as the perfect sacrifice for sinners’ sins.
  • He and the Father are one, if you know the Son, you also know the Father.
  • He came to bring God’s peace and grace to those who will believe and receive Him.
  • We really don’t have to be anxious about anything.

… and the list could go on and on.

Oh, to be a little child again with no worries, frets, or pressures. Oh, that’s right, I can! I must become like a child in order to trust Him. Pray and relax in Him. Don’t worry, be anxious, or fret.

If God can send a baby to perfectly accomplish such an agenda as saving the world from sin, surely he can handle my little worry too!

I hope you know or come to know the Christ child personally this December.

Worship with us this Sunday, December 10 at 9am or 3pm

for Balboa’s Celebration Choir Cantata “Our Light Has Come.”

Find sermon videos and audios 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. Contact me at DWrightBalboa@gmail.com.

 

I Did It My Way

Few have not heard or can forget Frank Sinatra’s huge hit song “I Did It My Way.” It is one of those songs along with the mellow, unique voice of Sinatra that sticks in your mind and causes you to hum along.

The opening lines are: “And now, the end is near; And so I face the final curtain; My friend, I’ll say it clear; I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.” Of course he then repeats the title throughout, “And I did it my way.”

General William Booth, founder of the great organization The Salvation Army, that has helped millions, said that many were more intelligent, many were better preachers, and many were more qualified, but “God has had all there was of me.”

What a contrast! “I did it my way,” or “God has had all there was of me.” The Bible says in James 4:8, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

One thing Sinatra was right about, “And now, the end is near and so I face the final curtain.” Every one of us is only one heartbeat away from facing our Creator. Our lives are on loan from God. We will answer to Him for what we did with the life he loaned us for a few years.

Sinatra’s opening line reminds us of what the Bible says: “You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” James 4:14-15

Sinatra entertained us and had an audience with the wealthiest people in the world. Booth grew up poor, served the poor, and became known as “The Prophet of the Poor.”

God sacrificed His own Son, Jesus Christ, so you could have eternal life. The first and most important question when you stand on judgment day is: What you did do with Jesus? Then the next question is: How did you live for Him? “I did it my way,” or “God has had all there was of me”?

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. Contact Dr. Wright at DWrightBalboa@gmail.com.

 

Throwing Money Away

The tired, battle-weary soldier picked up a burning hundred dollar bill and used it to light a cigarette, saying, “I always wanted to do that.” During World War II, as American soldiers evacuated Corregidor, that famous rock in the Philippines, everything that would be of value to the enemy had to be destroyed, including neatly stacked bundles of U.S. currency. Money had very little meaning in the face of the approaching enemy.

I thank God, our veterans, and those who paid the ultimate price that I live in America! I am thankful I have lived in a country with freedom to practice my faith, freedom of speech, and freedom to travel. I am thankful I am blessed with an extended family that loves each other and shares the same faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I am thankful for a church focused on obeying the command of Jesus to make disciples.

The hundred dollar bill symbolizes what many believe brings happiness and health. But the story above reveals that the more important things in life are not things.

Refugees streamed from Burma to India during World War II. Survival was all that mattered. It was more important to carry a given weight in food than the same weight in gold. They threw their money away. Riches were worthless.

As we again give thanks this Thanksgiving holiday, let us remember what really matters in this life. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 ESV

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. Contact Dr. Wright at DWrightBalboa@gmail.com.

 

Mammoth Falls into Pit

The limestone cavern collapsed forming a steep-sided pit. Fifty-eight Columbian and three Wooly mammoths fell in, died, and their remains are preserved to this day in the hardened mud! My wife and I visited the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota, a pit now completely enclosed by a building and climate controlled. Meticulous excavation is ongoing.

The pressures on this spaceship called earth can cause all of us to slip into a pit ourselves. Cancer, bankruptcy, divorce, and depression, just to name a few, can cause us to slip into a physical or emotional pit.

There’s another kind of pit that is much more subtle. It is not the world we live in, but the world that lives in us. The Bible says, “If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God” James 4:4 NLT. It is one thing to be at war with a neighbor, relative, or another nation. But to be an enemy of God Himself is incalculably worse.

So what is a “friend of the world?” It does not mean enjoying nature with all its beauty, unless you become worshipper of the moon, a tree, or a rock. It is not being friends with people, even Jesus was a “friend of sinners.” So what is it? It is living a life as if God does not exist or does not matter. Most of the world lives a prevailing “without-God” attitude.

This pit has four mammoth missteps in James 4:1-6: selfishness: self-gratification results in disaster (vv.1-2); prayerlessness: not praying or praying selfishly brings frustration (vv.2b-3); worldliness: a “without God” lifestyle declares war against God (4-5); and pridefulness: a position of arrogant opposition to God (v.6).

“But he (God) gives more grace” (v.6). What good news! God provides a way out of this “world-in-us” pit. The grace of Jesus Christ provides salvation, but also daily power to live out-of-the-pit.

In James 4:6-12 are seven biblical bombshells to blow you out of this pit: 1) Submit yourselves to God (v.7); 2) Resist the devil, he will flee from you (7b); 3) Draw near to God, he will draw near to you (v.8); 4) Purify your hearts from double-mindedness (v.8b); 5) Let your fake laughter be turned to mourning and your false joy to gloom (v.9); 6) Humble yourselves before the Lord, he will exalt you (v.10); 7) Judge yourself, not someone else. (vv.11-12).

When God excavates your soul at the end of your life, will he find you spiritually dead or alive?

Worship with us this Sunday at 9am. Find this message 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. Email me at DWrightBalboa@gmail.com

 

What’s Your Story?

Darkness came with the setting sun. The rain came down in sheets. The town festival started the next day. I was the new young pastor in town of Bradley, Arkansas. The town’s “Governor Conway Days” (the first Governor of Arkansas is buried at Bradley) director charged me with placing the arriving vendors in their designated places.

One vendor parked his small camper in the right spot next to the pole with electrical outlets in metal boxes. I stood outside the camper in the pouring rain, armed only with a raincoat and flashlight. The camper’s owner inside the dry camper motioned for me to plug the campers’ electrical cord in.

I am standing in water in a pouring rain. I envisioned electrocution on the spot! I thought, “Let them do it!” and “No way am I going to risk my life!”

But I prayed for safety, reaffirmed my salvation was secure, and I thrust the plug in. No bolt of lightning went through my body, lights came on in the little camper, the owners smiled gratefully, and I went to my next vendor.

Driven by gale force winds, the one hundred foot long grain ship lunged into the cove, sticking on a sand bar. Waves began breaking the ship apart. Everything was lost except the 276 people on board who made it ashore on planks of wood.

In the Bible, Acts 27, Luke spends forty-four verses describing the shipwreck! Why would the brief New Testament contain such a lengthy story about a shipwreck? Couldn’t he have just said their ship crashed and then given the moral of the story?

Vivid stories live bright in our minds. I just told you one of mine. Luke tells a harrowing experience of his and the apostle Paul. You have stories too. Stories often teach us and sometimes encapsulate how our life changed in that moment.

Read Acts 27-28, it’s a great story. What did I learn from my story and Luke’s story?

One, God is always in charge. No matter how bad life gets, God is still Lord and can be trusted.

Two, God is always personal, he is concerned about me and you no matter what our circumstances may be saying to us.

Three, God is powerful. He can deliver me in a rainstorm and 276 people in a shipwreck.

And four, God has a purpose for our lives. Here I am forty years later still pastoring and preaching. Luke and Paul went on to Rome and the gospel of Jesus Christ penetrated even the house of Caesar.

We are not here by some evolutional accident. We will stand before our Creator and explain what we did with His Son Jesus Christ. What will be your story?

Worship with us this Sunday at 9am. Find 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.

One of the Scariest Things I Know

A former seminary professor told of the wisest man he had known, his name was C.T. Sharp. Uneducated, semi-retired rancher, turned mortician, former professional boxer, cattle-truck driver, and hotel pastry cook. For years he was a Deacon of a small, rural Texas church. A lake develop project exploded the community with newcomers. The congregation grappled with changes not seen in its 100 year history. He literally held the church together with gentle wisdom through the physical and financial decisions. He spoke with humble gentleness and God’s presence!

The scariest thing I can imagine is not ghosts and goblins, but guys and gals who act foolishly.

Can wisdom be defined? Mr. Sharp had it and everyone knew it. It is one of those things you know when you see it. Do you have it? Are you wise?

“Who is wise and understanding among you?” (James 3:13 ESV) This question begs us to self-assess. The root word for wise, sophisticated, and sophomore is Sophos. Remember those dumb things you did as a freshman in college? Remember as a sophomore being a little wiser? To be wise means to be skilled, learned, and able to settle disagreements.

Do you have “understanding?” This is knowledge built on previous knowledge which is built on previous knowledge. It is literally standing upon what is under you. It is long-term, personal experience able to give expert advice.

It is one thing to get an exercise bike or treadmill, but quite another to exercise on it! If you have wisdom, prove it! “By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13 ESV) By the way you behave every day exercise your works of humbling yourself with godly wisdom.

Again, the question, “Can this wisdom be defined?” In the Bible, James defines both worldly wisdom and godly wisdom. Here’s a snapshot of each.

Worldly wisdom is having a boiling, bitter temper; a mercenary, selfish ambition; devil-like cutthroat tactics; and loud put-downs of others while bragging about selfish conquests.

Godly wisdom is having uncontaminated motives; promotes peaceful solutions; enforces the spirit of the law, not the letter; predisposed to reconcile using reason, instead of fighting; full of mercy out of loyalty to God; truly fruitful or productive; whole-heartedly impartial; not hypocritical or phony; and does the right thing whether anyone is looking or not.

Scary to self-assess, huh? Note the two areas these characteristics become obvious: in your relationships and what comes out of your mouth.

Worship with us this Sunday at 9am. Find 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. Contact Pastor Denny at DwrightBalboa@gmail.com

 

Falling Forward – by Steve Butler

Guest Article by Steve Butler – Associate Pastor/Administrator, Balboa Baptist Church

When I was in grade school, I remember reading a story about Robert Bruce, also called Robert the Bruce. Robert was king of Scotland from 1306-29. In those days, the English dominated the Scots and defeated them in one battle after another. The Scottish cause looked bleak and the leaders of the land, including Robert Bruce, had to go into hiding.

Legend has it that one day while hiding, Robert Bruce observed a spider trying to connect the strands of his web together. The spider would fail to connect the web time and time again, but the spider would not give up. Finally, as Robert looked on, the spider was able to join his web to two beams and spin his web to his heart’s desire.

Robert Bruce learned a valuable lesson that day. The spider persisted in trying to spin his web until he was successful. It dawned on Robert that only persistence and God’s grace could lead the Scots to ultimate victory and liberty. That is exactly what happened.

A few years ago, John Maxwell wrote an encouraging book entitled, Failing Forward. His point was that our failures can be steps to success when we learn from them.

Robert Bruce and John Maxwell have learned what Christ has already taught: “My grace is sufficient for you. For my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV)

Failures can be overcome and can make us better Christians as well. So, don’t give up. Trust in the Lord, and remember the lesson of the spider.

Want to know more? Worship with us this Sunday at 9 a.m.

Find us at BalboaBaptist.Church

Our mission is to bring all people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and help them grow toward Christian maturity through love, prayer, worship, teaching, and service.