Sunday, May 27, 2012

How Soon We Forget

How Soon We Forget
A Memorial Day Message
A year has passed since Japan suffered its worst disaster; a tsunami swept across the land, killing thousands and destroying the homes, cars and personal belongings of hundreds of others.  In one town, 15,000 people lost their lives.  As we viewed the devastation on our television sets, we thought we would never forget what we saw.  BUT SOON WE FORGOT.
Our hearts and emotions were deeply touched when we learned about the shooting spree at Chardon’s high school.  Five young teens were shot, three of them died.  We found ourselves weeping and praying for the other young lives affected by the experience, and also for the families of all involved.  We almost felt the pain ourselves.  BUT SOON WE FORGOT.
We prayed and contributed to the physical needs of people living in South Carolina as hurricane Irene descended on that area.  It was one of the biggest and most dangerous storms ever to visit the southern coastal state.  Millions of dollars in destruction, and many lost lives.  We sympathized and expressed our sincere concern.  BUT SOON WE FORGOT.
What seemed like a senseless and unnecessary accident took the lives of three young, vibrant college girls.  Someone driving the wrong way on a one-way road, hit their car head-on.  We felt the pain of the parents who received that late night call, telling them of the fatal accident.  We felt genuine sadness at what seemed so unnecessary.  BUT SOON WE FORGOT.
Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods, wars and accidents make us tremble as we share the distraught feelings of others.  BUT SOON WE FORGET.
We need to remember those who suffer in one way or another, and be grateful and “Forget not the benefits of the Lord” (Ps. 103:2) in our own lives. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Merle Pearson

A Man of Service

Many of us recognize Merle Pearson, moderator of the Ambassador class, as the one who lightens up our Sunday morning moods with a joke or two; but there is a lot more to Merle than this.  He leads us in our opening hymn, and reminds us of various schedules we might otherwise forget. 
Merle was born in Malvern, Ohio, and even though he came from a Christian home, he did not accept Christ as Savior until he was 16 years old.  It took place in the Malvern Methodist Church where he and his family attended.
Merle has lived in Ohio all of his life, except for two years in the military service which took him to Kentucky, Texas, and Indiana.  He attended Malone College here in Ohio.
It was during his high school days that he met Athnee Cole, better known to us as “Tee.”  They were married on June 16, 1956.  The Pearsons have three grown children, none of them living in Ohio at the present time.
Merle and Athnee joined Canton Baptist Temple in 1970.  He has served in a number of capacities: deacon, trustee, song leader, a member of the church choir, for 20 years, a member of the missions committee, and for one year before Pastor Henniger became class teacher, Merle taught the lesson each week.
Today he represents Canton Baptist Temple in the Haven of Rest ministry, and is also active in Forever Young, scheduling and preparing activities for seniors and others.  On occasions, he helps with the church’s busy hospital visitation program.
If class members still wore hats, we would take them off and salute Merle Pearson for his active and often behind-the-scenes role in the work of the Ambassador class of Canton Baptist Temple.
Thanks, Merle!  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Ambassador Bunch

The Ambassador Bunch

I am glad to be one of "the bunch", aren't you?
Some people mistakenly think of the Ambassador class as a group of “oldsters,” but one look around the chapel-classroom shows a different story.  Most Sundays the crowd will be varied; everyone from a young teen, to people well into their 90’s, and every age in between.  WE ARE A UNIQUE BUNCH!
You will find that we often sit in the same sections, not because we insist they are “our seats,” but because we are creatures of habit, and we seem to be drawn to the same pews every Sunday.   WE ARE A FAITHFUL BUNCH!
When it comes to music, some of us readily admit that most of our talent has slipped away.  Our vibratos have widened considerably, and as for pitch, there is definitely something to be desired.  While we open our hymnbooks, we seldom glance at the words.  We have sung these wonderful songs so often that they have become an indelible part of our memories.  WE ARE A JOYFUL BUNCH!
We do not apologize for the fact that canes and walkers, knee and hip replacements, and pacemakers and defibrillators are vital parts of some of us.  They are blessings, not embarrassments.  They make it possible for us to attend church.  WE ARE A GRATEFUL BUNCH!
Our Bibles and offering envelopes are almost a part of our Sunday wardrobes; they go together.  Shaking hands with people who enter the classroom is a part of our welcoming ministry.  WE ARE A FRIENDLY BUNCH!
We read the prayer requests like a book.  We are deeply concerned as we see new names added regularly.  We pray for those on the list.  WE ARE A CARING BUNCH. 
Yes, we are the Ambassador bunch; unique in our ministry, faithful in our attendance, joyful in our singing and grateful for every blessing.  We are a caring, praying bunch of people who look forward to meeting every week in God’s house.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Matching The Reputation

Matching the Reputation

Almost anyone who has ever played the violin is familiar with the name, Stradivarius.  It has the reputation of being “top of the line” in violins.  Because there are so few of them available today, and because the price is so high, not many violinists have ever held one in their hands.
Last year a 1721 Stradivarius was put up for auction, and brought in sixteen million dollars.
Some months ago, a professional musical group decided to compare other well-known violins with the famous Stradivarius.  Twenty-one musicians were invited to the testing, blindfolded and each was given an instrument to play; no one knew who had the Stradivarius.  From these 21, five were picked as possible Stradivarius violins, judging them solely on tone quality.  When the blindfolds were removed, the group learned that only one violin was judged to be something other than the famous instrument—the real Stradivarius!!  It had carried the reputation of being the best, but when put to the test, it was unable to produce the proof. 
Revelation 3 tells us about the church of Sardis.  It had the reputation of being alive, but when put to the test, it was said of the church, “Thou hast a name (a reputation) that thou livest, and are dead.”  In reading that passage, we have to wonder if we too have a reputation of being kind, honest, generous and thoughtful, but under scrutiny, would fail the test.
The dictionary describes reputation as “The general estimation in which a person or a thing is held by others.”  As believers, we are to be Christ-like in all of our actions, so that others can see that we are “the real thing.”  If our reputations say one thing, but our actions say something else, how can we serve the Lord effectively?  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Change By The Number

Change By the Number

Many changes take place during our lifetime.  At age 55, we are unofficially recognized as seniors.  We can find special housing, and are kindly offered “senior discounts” at many eating places.  While we may resent the title, we gratefully accept the discounts. 
As we approach 65, the contents in our mail boxes change too.  Items we once ignored, we now read: social security and medicare information, as well as supplement insurance notices.  Our appointment calendars look different with fewer activities and more medical appointments listed.  We begin to admit that we have aches and pains; some where we didn’t even know we had parts.
As we reach 70, our medical appointments come up more often, and we listen carefully as the doctor talks to us about heart disease, strokes and other serious illnesses. 
And then there’s 80!  We stay at home more than we go out; the joints give us a little more trouble and our medicine cabinets seem to be filling up with strange pills and ointments.
And what can be said of 90?  Not much except that it does not need to be depressing if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Who is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).  He cares for our every need.
When our energy dwindles, He is our Strength, when we are lonely and feel forgotten, He is our Friend; when we are discouraged and frustrated, He is our Help.  His watchful eye is always focused on His children.  If “His eye is on the sparrow,” then we can be thankfully confident that He also watches over us.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stripped of All Honor

Stripped of All Honor

What a feeling of pride and accomplishment Fred Goodwin must have felt when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for “his service in banking, transforming the Royal Bank of Scotland into a profitable international player.”
Friends and workers began to call him “Sir Fred,” and his pension increased in accordance with his position.  But then things changed for the 53 year old knight.  He made some “risky deals” that produced one of the worst recessions since World War II.  The bank only survived after a $71 billion dollar bailout was made by United Kingdom tax payers.  Sir Fred was stripped of his knighthood, losing much of his annual pension, as well.
In the book of Judges we read of another stripping incident.  Samson had judged Israel for 20 years (Judges 16:31).  But his reckless living finally caught up with him.  He was captured by the Philistines, imprisoned, where they “put out his eyes,” stripping him of all power and popularity.  God in His goodness finally allowed Samson to conquer one last time (Judges 16:30). 
As Christians, you and I have also been given an honorable title: Child of God.  We did nothing to earn or deserve it, and for that reason we can do nothing to have it stripped away.  Jesus said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).  What God’s Son has given us, no one can take away.  “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
There’s no chance of anyone stripping that from us.  Aren’t you glad?

—Ruth Jay 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mary's Story

Mary’s Story
(from John 16-20)
There were a number of Jesus’ friends standing near the cross when He died.  I was there with Mary, His mother.  It had to be hard for her to see wicked men put her first-born to death.  She had watched Him grow up, heal sick people and even give life to some who had died.  And now, He was dying.
I heard as He called out to John, asking him to care for His mother.  He was concerned about her to His dying hour.  Together we watched as Joseph, a quiet follower, took our Master to a nearby garden grave.  I saw where they buried Him.
It was still dark that early morning when I decided to go to the tomb.  Much to my surprise, the stone that had covered the grave entrance was gone.  I quickly went to tell Peter and John about it, and they ran to the garden grave to check it out for themselves.  After they left, I took one last look into the tomb and there I saw two angels.  I broke into a sob and one of them asked why I was crying.  As I began to explain, another person stood nearby.  He too asked, “Why are you crying?”  I quickly explained that someone had taken Jesus and I didn’t know where they had taken Him.  Quietly the Stranger spoke just one word.  “Mary,” He said with tenderness.  It was Jesus; my Master, my Lord, my Friend.  He was alive!  He was alive!
I ran as fast as I could to tell His disciples.  “I have seen Jesus,” I cried excitedly.  “He is alive.”
Yes, Jesus is alive.
Rejoice, rejoice O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the king;
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind.


—Ruth Jay

Words from the hymn I Serve a Risen Savior by Alfred Henry Ackley (1887-1960)