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.

 

 

 

Who’s your Favorite?

It is innocent enough to say who your favorite football player is, or your favorite preacher, or your favorite doctor.

But it changes the picture completely when someone radically states their favorite economic group by demeaning the poor, or favorite race despising others with a different skin color, or favorite pretty face by dismissing an unattractive person as worthless.

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the ultimate ends of favoritism, partiality, and discrimination become obvious.

To shun or demean someone because they are black, white, poor, or unattractive is just dead wrong. I don’t have to list every fringe group and condemn each. The great majority of us don’t agree with the actions or attitudes at either end of the spectrum.

This past Sunday the Scripture passage I had scheduled to preach was providentially, “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” James 2:1 ESV

The man-made gospel of “I’m better than you” devalues another human life. The God-made Gospel of Jesus Christ puts everyone on level ground in this way: we are all sinners in need of a Savior. God valued you so much He sent His Son to die for you.

Instead of holding on to your prejudices, grab hold of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Why? Because those who accept the Gospel are given the freedom to live where, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 NLT)

Are believers in the Gospel sometimes prejudiced? Yes. So I call on every believer to confess this hypocrisy, ask forgiveness, and fill your behavior with the mercy Jesus Christ gave to you without prejudice! Bill Hybels said, “We of faith do not get to choose who we respect.”

Here is an acrostic of the word Gospel: The GOD of mercy, forgives our OFFENSES, through Christ’s SUFFICIENCY, requiring our PERSONAL choice, resulting in ETERNITY in heaven, and LIFE transformed here and now. (See Ephesians 2:1-10.)

This Sunday at 9am, Pastor Denny will continue the series from James, “A Faith that Works.” 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.