Surprise Visitor

Today, I was sitting in my office when I received a call from Tom, one of our maintenance workers who wanted to come to see me.  He arrived and explained that he wanted to encourage me and pray with me.  He knew the first of the semester had been difficult and he has sensed the pressures I was carrying.  He read Matthew 11:28 which says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  He then prayed and left the office to attend to his daily work.

I was blessed by that visit.  He reminded me that in following the Lord it is all about Him and not about me.  I had just given a devotional the day before concerning this very thing.  Psalm 147: 10 – 11 reads, “He doesn’t take pleasure in the strength of horses, He doesn’t take delight in the strong legs of men.  The LORD takes delight in those who have respect for HIM.  They put their HOPE in HIS Faithful Love.”  More than the things we have or possess and more that the abilities that we have, GOD WANTS US TO TRUST HIM.  He wants us to love Him and put our trust in HIM, not in what we have or what we can do on our own.  God, through this passage and through this visit from Tom, was calling me again to love and trust Him completely.  

Think of the following four men, and think about what the Bible tells us about them:  Moses – God defended Moses by saying that He spoke with him, not in dreams and visions, but face to face.  David – A man after God’s own heart.  Job – God says there was no one like him; upright and blameless.  John – The disciple who Jesus Loved. 

These men knew the Lord and they respected Him and loved Him and trusted Him.  Jesus Christ desires our obedience, our fruitfulness in all things.  May that be the prayer of my heart each day, that I trust the Lord in all things and that every interuption is an interuption from the Lord to draw me closer to Him.

 

 

God Does Provide Through Medical Technology

 

 

We have seen how the Lord has made an impact in the lives of our alumni and through them impacted their world.  I want to share with you how the Lord used the foundation provided here at TFC to impact me and build a foundation of trust in the Lord.

 

It was 3 a.m. on the morning of January 29, 2004.  I had gone to sleep several hours before knowing that my daughter was in the hospital ready to deliver her third child and my fifth grandchild.  The phone rang, and on the other end of the line I heard the voice, she’s out but there is a problem.  I asked what it was.  She has a heart block and must be taken immediately to The Children’s Hospital in Atlanta.  Donna and I came to the hospital and saw our newest granddaughter, pretty and pink and so full of life.  The ambulance would arrive by 7 a.m. and she was on her way.  After several hours of tests she underwent surgery and at 25 hours old had a new pace maker implanted in her side with leads to her heart.  When I walked into the Neonatal ICU there she was, all hooked up with all the wires and the pace maker was causing her heart to be in perfect rhythm. 

 

What now was the next question.  Well, she could live with a pace maker for her entire life.  Surgeries would need to occur from time to time to lengthen the leads, replace the battery, and replace the pace maker with a new model.  But she was alive. 

 

As we have come those three years and seven months she has had a problem or two but she is doing well.  Almost two years ago my daughter was told that Nikki would be pacemaker dependant for her entire life.  She was scheduled to have another surgery that month, but when she was checked the last time the family was told by the doctors that they thought she can go another few months before surgery.  She is alive today because of the transplant of a device that kept her from dying.  Through all of those tense moments our faith was not in the doctors, it was in Jesus Christ.  And Toccoa Falls College provided that foundation for me several years ago as a student.  The professors, staff, and other students implanted in my life the knowledge that Jesus is the only way to heaven.  And as I accept Him as my savior I can trust Him with my life and the lives of my family.

 

More recently she has had the surgery to replace the pace maker and leads to the heart.  She has come through that well and is now a student in pre-kindergarten.  She continues to experience the blessing of the Lord and the wonders of modern medicine.  We are continuing to trust the Lord that one day she will experience the healing of the Lord in her heart. 

 

As new students come to Toccoa Falls College not only for the best academic education they can receive anywhere, but they also come to receive a strong spiritual, character building foundation on which to build your life.  And that foundation is strong Christian character and integrity modeled in the classroom and on this campus. 

 

Today, you and I have also had a transplant.  We accepted JC who lives within our heart and now we will live forever.    May we now take that which we have received and impact the world with the love and message of Jesus.

 

 

 

When Jesus Came In People were Changed

This summer I asked Aaron Prosser to find examples of “When Jesus Came into places or situations.” He sent me 91 instances of which I want to just use three as an example.

When Jesus Came In Lepers were Healed. Mark 1:40 – 45. We see often that When Jesus came in physical needs were met and people were encouraged because Jesus had been there.

When Jesus Came In He placed people in places of ministry and service. Mark 1: 14 – 20 Fishermen leaving their nets, Mark 3:13 – 19 the apostles were appointed, Luke 9:1 – 6 He sent out the twelve disciples to preach and teach.

When Jesus Came in He many Samaritans believed, John 4:39 – 42, Doubt was turned to faith, John 20:24 – 31, Sins were forgiven, Matthew 9:1 -3.

When Jesus Came in things changed for the good. There was no complaining, no passing the blame to someone else, no protecting ourselves. There was forgiveness, peace, contentment and love. The Lord made a difference in lives of real people and today, as Christians, His followers, may we make a difference in people this year. I want to share a presentation with you that was given at the First Engstrom Leadership Institute this year By Ken Blanchard. He was using an illustration by Barbara Glanz entitled Johnny the Bagger.

Every one of us can make a difference and create meaningful memories for our students attending Toccoa Falls College. And that will motivate them to stay, complete their education, and recommend the college to their friends and others.

We need to go home tonight and think about something you can do for students at TFC that will make them feel special—a memory that will make them enjoy their time here and share it with others.

There are a lot of ways you can give your own personal signature to your work. A baggage attendant for an airline decided that instead of throwing away luggage tags that fell off customers’ suitcases, he would write them a note and say, “Thank you for flying with us” and send it back to them.

A motivational speaker, Barbara Glanz, shares this story with us. About a month after I had spoken to supermarket folks, I received a call from a frontline customer contact person, a nineteen year old bagger named Johnny. The caller, who proudly informed me that he was a Down Syndrome youngster and told me his story. He said “Barbara, I liked what you talked about but I didn’t think I could do anything special for our customers. After all I’m Just a Bagger.”

Then I had an idea. He decided that every night when he came home from work, he would find a thought for the day. “If I can’t find a saying I like, Johnny proudly said, I think one up.”

When Johnny had a good saying his dad helped him enter his “Thought for the Day” six times on a page in the computer. Each night he printed out fifty pages, cut them apart and put his name on the back of each one. When I finish bagging someone’s groceries, I put my thought for the day in their bag and say, “Thanks for shopping with us.”

Here is a young man, doing a job that most people would say is not important, but he had made it important by creating precious memories for all his customers.

A month later the store manager called me. He said, “Barbara, you won’t believe what happened today. When I was making my rounds and got up from where the cashiers are, I found the line at Johnny’s checkout was three times longer than anyone else’s. It went all the way down the frozen food aisle. I was concerned, and so I announced, “Get more cashiers out here, get more lanes open.” All the while trying to get people to change lanes. But on one would move. They all said, “No, it’s okay, we want to be in Johnny’s lane, we want his ‘Thought for the day’.” It was a joy to watch Johnny delight the customers. One woman came up and grabbed my hand and said, “I used to shop at your store only once a week, but now I come in every time I go by because I want to get Johnny’s Thought for the Day.

Who do you think is the most important person in our whole store now. Johnny of course. And that spirit of service began to spread throughout the store, and all because of one young man with Down Syndrome, who decided he could make a difference. Every one of you can make a difference, an impact in our students lives. Our Mission Statement is that we “develop Christian Servant Leaders who will impact their world with the love and message of Jesus Christ.” That just doesn’t mean our students, that means all of us.

No matter what your job or position in this college, the real question is “are we going to be a Johnny today.” Are we going to change our surroundings as Johnny did.

And when we look at the Word of God where Jesus came into people’s presence, we find that Jesus is our true example of impacting our world. For when Jesus entered the place, nothing was ever the same again.

May we, this year, go forth and let others see Jesus in our lives. May He be our focus, not our circumstances or situations, but Jesus, and may we reflect that to our students and to each other this entire year.

A Nation Under God

This month I traveled from the shores of Hawaii to the coast of Maine and then to Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. In Colorado this past week, I was reminded of our country’s heritage and how God has certainly blessed this great land. The mighty Rocky Mountains and the Pueblo Indian Cave Dwellings—the four corners monument and Pike’s Peak all speak of His glory. His goodness is evident in the United States of America. In seeing these sights, I also recalled a sermon I preached on July 4th two years ago at the First Baptist Church in Cornelia, Georgia. I would like to share some of that with you as we again celebrate God’s blessings on the United States this July 4, 2008.

This week we celebrate the founding of our beloved United States of America. Many of us will pledge our allegiance to our flag and to our country. I like the statement: one nation under God. Some of what I am about to say came from Michael W. Smith’s booklet about America.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that our country was founded on faith in God? Pericles founded the Greek civilization based on culture, and it failed. Caesar founded the Roman Empire based on power and it failed. But our founding fathers based America on “faith in God” and it will continue as long as our faith in God remains the foundation of our great country. I want to share two quotes with you from our founding fathers.

Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

As a nation under God we have freedom, we are free to choose, free to act, and free to speak. These freedoms are ours because we are a nation under God, and in God is our trust. As we look to our past, we realize that we have a firm foundation of biblical teaching and Christian faith. And as we look to the future, we must maintain that strong faith in the Lord and look to Him for our direction. Our focus cannot be on our culture or human power and might. It must be on Jesus Christ and His Spirit within us.

Psalm 33:12 states, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” God blesses the people and the nation who follows Him. In America, we will continue to see the blessing of God as long as He dwells in our midst. And as the Lord blesses America, we in turn must bless other nations. The American people are said to be the most generous people in the world. Surely, God has blessed other nations because of our obedience to His Word and truth.

Psalm 41 tells us; “Blessed is he who considers the poor, the Lord delivers him in the day of trouble. The Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land. The Lord does not give him up to the will of his enemies.” As Americans, we must continue to share with the people of the world so that they too might see the Lord, come to know Him, and be blessed by Him.

President Andrew Jackson said in his farewell address in 1837, “May He who holds in His hands the destinies of nations make you worthy of the favors He has bestowed and enable you with pure hearts and pure hands and sleepless vigilance, to guard and defend to the end of time the great charge He has committed to your keeping.” The Lord has committed unto us His Word to preach to the peoples of the earth. As we follow Jesus, He will bless others through our efforts and the kingdom of God will be increased.

As the greatest nation on earth we have the influence of a nation under God. That which began small in the beginning has increased in size through the courage of men and women of the past and a strong faith in God. Today, over 300 million people live in our country and it is still growing. We have influence around the world. We look to every continent, and we see missionaries at work proclaiming the gospel message. And these missionaries are not giving their lives in service in the international arena for money or power, or honor. They are doing this work for the Lord. Our country was founded upon faith in God and in order to stay strong, it cannot depart from its founding principles. If our people remain faithful to Him, our country will grow even stronger.

God’s influence is seen in our actions as well as our words. At the end of World War II as in other wars, the United States has gone back and rebuilt countries destroyed by war. Our nation contributed more than any other to the Tsunami Relief and other natural disasters around the world. The graduates of Toccoa Falls College have gone as relief workers, missionaries, teachers and soldiers to share the influence of freedom to other nations. Roy Thaxton and other Toccoa Falls College students responded when called by their country to serve in World War II.

On July 4, 1993, I was flying with a music group from one island to another in Indonesia. Our missionary partner who was traveling with us asked the flight attendant if we could sing the American National Anthem. We were on an Indonesian airliner and we were flying over the Pacific Ocean. She asked the pilot and he agreed and then announced to all the passengers what was about to happen. There—while flying over the middle of the Pacific—we sang The National Anthem. When we finished, there was great applause. We shared a little of the freedom of our great country on that flight. God opens up many ways for us to share His message to our world.

As Americans and as Christians, we have a responsibility to reach out to those around the world. To remain strong we must reach out and touch others for Jesus Christ. When we do, God will continue to bless this great country. May we today guard that freedom to worship the Lord in our influence in our neighborhoods and around our nation. May we celebrate the goodness of God and help ensure that the United States of America continues to be built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

James Madison, our fourth president, said, “No people ought to feel greater obligation to celebrate the goodness of God, the great disposer of events and destiny of nations than the people of the United States…and to the same God, the divine author of every good and perfect gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.”

As we celebrate again on July 4, may we remember that Jesus is the foundation of our country and the blessings He bestows. May we stay true to His Word and may we work to share that message across our nation and around the world.

May God bless you this week and May God Bless America. II Chronicles 7:14.