Seeking Early

Location: Camden, Maine, United States

Saturday, June 02, 2007

What A Wonderful Creation!

Good Morning Everyone! Isn't wonderful to awaken to a new day of service for the King?

I have been thinking of Creation. Moses begins to tell us of the history of all things with these words; "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth!" That is a startling statement. Nothing existed, and before any beginning began, God spoke, and out of nothing, He created the heavens and the earth.

Of course, as you continue to read you find the creative work of God during the 6 days of creation. Day 1 - heavens and earth, light and darkness; Day 2 - The Sky; Day 3 - Dry land, the sea and vegetation; Day 4 - The sun, the moon, and the stars; Day 5 - living creatures in the water, birds in the air; Day 6 - Land animals and people. And of course it was good, even very good, so on Day 7 God rested.

Consider this with me, on this still, calm, peaceful morning, and I trust it will remain that way; we accept and even fight for this creative work of God. We argue that God spoke and all things came into being. God did it all. Nothing in creation had anything to do with it’s being created. Nothing oozed into existence. Praise the Lord!

Now in Ephesians 2:8-10 Paul says:

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them

Why is our salvation by grace through faith, and not of ourselves? Because we are created in Christ. Salvation is the creative work of our Savior and Lord. To the Corinthians he wrote in 2 Cor. 5:17
Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature (or new creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Know this my friend, just as the bird, that is singing sweet praise to the Creator outside my window this morning, had NOTHING to do with his creation, I have had nothing to do with being a new creature in Christ Jesus! He stirred my heart, he convicted me of sin, he opened my ears and heart to the Gospel message, and brought me to faith so that I would believe. And ALL that I can say about it is “GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST! Praise the name of Jesus! Thank you Lord for saving my soul!”

If you have never trusted the Savior, you need to. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” The Bible says the only remedy for sin is Christ - “Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me!” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” And when you do come to the Savior with faith believing know this, it is all of HIS grace!

I love Charlotte Homer‘s old hymn “He Lifted Me!” Here are a couple of verses and the chorus that speak of our Savior Creator.

In lovingkindness Jesus came
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Through grace he lifted me.

He called me long before I heard,
Before my sinful heart was stirred,
But when I took him at his word,
Forgiv'n he lifted me.

From sinking sand he lifted me,
With tender hand he lifted me,
From shades of night to plains of light,
Oh, praise his name, he lifted me!

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Notoriety and Decorations"

What a beautiful morning here in Coastal Maine, as I consider the blessings of the Lord! It is calm, it is pleasantly warm, it is clear. But isn’t He just marvelous! Every time I look out upon the beauty of creation, I pause . . . what I see is effected by the curse! God‘s creation was terribly marred by sin. Oh my, what must it have been before sin entered? Just think of picking a rose without thorns?

Well at any rate, good morning!

My family and I had a grand experience this past Memorial Day, along with many of our towns patriots! Not only were there parades, picnics, memorials offered on land and at seaside, and grave-side services, but, our town also dedicated it’s Veterans Memorial in the Town Green. There were dignitaries of government there, and Soldiers, Sailors, Guardsmen, Airmen, and Marines, both retired and active. Uniforms and flags, shinning sabers, a community band, the high school symphonic band, news teams recording the events, all lent to set the atmosphere! It was stirring! Town was shut down for an hour, nothing interfered with the service, except for a short glitch in the sound system.

I think the most significant statement made was by a retired Navy Captain, a man by the way who attends our church. He was introduced with a very impressive, and long list of accomplishments from investigating the Submarine Thresher incident, being project manager for research, development and conceptual designer of the Attack Class Submarines at Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, to Aide to the Director of Navy Program Planning; and the list goes on.

But above all of this you have to get to know this man to appreciate him fully. He is one of the most humble men I have met. He said, with a quiver in his voice, in effect, that having visited the memorial and read all the names, that he felt he accomplished little in comparison to the greatness of the other men and women whose names appeared on the wall.

Speak with him and you will see tears in his eyes and hear a quiver in his voice, with great humility, when he speaks of his Lord.

My Dad is one of the WWII vets who are bending at attention when the flag passes by. Any introduction by him would not include much notoriety. His great claim to fame is to have worked at Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation in Brackenridge, PA, where stainless steel was formulated.

He served in the Pacific during the war. I remember going to an Army reunion with him several years ago. He was the one who organized their companies first reunion, many years after their South Pacific hiatus. As I sat at the table with some of my dad’s old buddies, whose language was not the best, I learned of his notoriety. I saw their eyes focus on My Dad, with a sparkle as Dad began the festivities. As he was speaking the guys each looked at each other with smiles and back and forth to Dad, and one guy with a sense of teenage-glee and even delight said, “He is going to pray, Austin is going to pray.” I saw those hardened men with tears begin to come down their cheeks. After my Dad had prayed another fellow said, “I knew he’d pray, I knew he would!”

And just like the Captain, listen to my Dad speak, you will see tears and hear a quiver in his voice when he talks about his Lord. You see the Lord is who is great in the lives of these men. It is grace that decorates their hearts.

So I wonder this fine, beautiful morning, what kind of notoriety will decorate your life? May it be the kind that decorates the hearts that beat for the Savior like these two fine men of God.

“Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last!”

But better yet the words of the Apostle Paul: But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: Phil 3:7-9

May this kind of humility decorate our lives of service for our Lord.

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Favorites!

Our Christmas series for this year has been "Christmas is about Believing!" We have been challenged by the opening message to "Embrace Your King." Then each succeeding message has been another point of substance we should embrace and believe; "Embrace Your Need," "Embrace Your Bible," "Embrace Your Joy," and this Lord's Day will be "Embrace God's Promises." The annual Christmas series of messages has become a Christmas favorite for me. I look forward to the study of the Lord's Word and then preaching it to our dear ones at Cornerstone.

My favorite Christmas treat to hand out is the candy cane. We give one out to everyone in town, at least until we run out, at the town's annual Christmas by the Sea celebration. Our choir selects some strategic places in town to sing, and we have a company of people who hand out our annual Christmas message and invitation to services. Of course attached to each one is a candy cane. They get Good News and something good and sweet to eat too. My wife and I give them to our kids at church the Sunday before Christmas too.

Wikipedia says: The candy cane was originally a straight, hard, and all-white candy stick. The cane shape is traditionally credited to a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany, who, legend has it, in 1670 bent straight sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff, and gave them to children at church services. Whether the choirmaster had the "Good Shepherd" in mind is unknown. Another theory is, as people decorated their Yule trees with food, the bent candy cane was invented as a functional solution. Peppermint candy with red stripes first appeared in the mid-19th century in the Swedish town of Gränna, and striped candy canes in the early 20th century.

I like the legend that has developed. It is a good object lesson to use. It is said that its shape is like the letter “J” in Jesus’ name. It is also in the shape of the shepherds’ crook, symbolic of how Jesus, like the “Good Shepherd” watches over his children like little lambs. It is a hard candy, solid like a “rock”, the foundation of the Church. The flavor of peppermint is similar to another member of the mint family, hyssop. In the Old Testament hyssop was used for purification and sacrifice, and this is said to symbolize the purity of Jesus and the sacrifice he made.

Some say the white of the candy cane represents the purity of Jesus and his virgin birth. The bold red stripe represents God’s love. The three fine stripes are said by some to represent the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While others say it represents the blood of He shed on Calvary
. From “The History of the Candy Cane,” author unknown.

My favorite Christmas song, at least for this year, is "That Beautiful Name!" I like Christmas songs that describe something about our Lord's character and reason for His coming. This is one of my favorite lines from this Christmas hymn; ". . . my sins nailed Him there, my burdens He bare, He suffered all this for me."

My favorite Christmas Card is one sent to Barbara and I by some dear friends from her childhood. It is a picture of a Christmas tree with a nail hanging on it. Isn’t that picture of what Christmas is really about? Our loving God sent His only begotten Son to die by being nailed to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. That is why we are passing out nails to our church family tomorrow with a scarlet thread, as a reminder of His shed blood in our behalf. With the scarlet thread they can hang them in their homes as a Christmas reminder of the Lord‘s purpose for coming.

From Barbara and myself, Do, indeed, have a very Blessed Christmas!

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, By Grace Alone!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Faithful Through the Years!

My parents, Austin and Madeline Gillam, celebrated 65 years of marriage today! That in itself says quite a bit, doesn’t it?

As a tribute to my parents and with a desire to glorify God only, I share some thoughts.

Both of my parents come from obscure backgrounds, growing up during the Great Depression. They struggled like everyone from that era did. I have heard the stories of supper consisting of nothing but beans and bread for day, after day, after day. Thankfully they grew up in a rural area of western Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh, so gardens helped out as did a milk cow and some chickens. Hunting added some much needed meat to the table.

My Dad was not a believer when he and Mother met, but being a believer and having a mother who was a believer (my grandma) it was essential to my Mom, that my Dad would hear the Gospel. And hear it he did. Pastor L. B. Greaser of the Old Union Baptist Church in Kittanning, PA was an old time Gospel preacher who held back nothing, and my Dad came to faith in Christ under his ministry.

Shortly after their marriage, Dad was drafted into World War II. He served in the South Pacific safely, praise the Lord. And after the war went to work at the Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation along the Allegheny River in Brackenridge. My Mom was a homemaker most of her life, until she became a Nurses’ Aid at the local hospital.

Those early years were difficult financially. I remember Dad saying that of the first 20 years he worked in the Steel Mill, he was laid off a total of 10 sporadic years. You have to be from Mill country or Coal country to understand that.

On a special day, like today, there are so many precious memories. It would take a book to write it all. Let me share some of the most important to their preacher boy son, who by the way has been a grandfather for 9 years.

I remember love in our home. While we never had much financially we had the riches of love in our home. My parents often went without so that my sister and I could have everything necessary. We never lacked for encouragement, hugs, kisses, or security.

I remember extended family. I had the privilege of knowing, intimately, 7 living grandparents when I was growing up. And my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were extremely close. My parents honored their parents and their grandparents and it was demonstrated to my sister Linda and I. Not only were we close geographically, but we were close in philosophy and faith. My Mother’s family all worshipped together, until age refrained my great-grandparents from attending. My Dad’s parents were as old as my great-grandparents and lived in the next township and did not worship with us, but they knew the Lord.

I remember honor in our home. My parents honored the Lord, honored the Word of God, honored their Country, and honored the Flag. We were an “old fashioned family!”

I remember challenge. We were taught, not only by words, but by example, to work hard, to be honest, to be faithful, to do our best not matter what! And believe me it wasn’t always easy learning those lessons, but my folks “drove” them home when necessary, thank the Lord.

But above all I remember faithfulness. When the doors of “Old Union” were open, we were there! It didn’t matter if my Dad had to work the night shift. I remember many times coming home from night church in time for Dad to get ready to go off to the steel mill to work his shift. That is so different than today. It seems faithfulness today is something that we will perform if it is convenient. Not my folks! They were faithful!

My folks were faithful to the Word of God. It was read in our home and it was lived in our lives. I remember the day my Dad taught me about tithing. He and I were in the Montgomery Ward Store where my Dad needed to by some kind of hardware for some reason. We walked up to the counter with the items to find that Dad did not have enough money. But I looked at his wallet as he opened it and saw several dollar bills in the bill fold. I said, “Dad you have enough.” He said, no son, that money is the Lord’s. He had tucked his tithe in his wallet behind a note to separate that money from other money, and to remind him. The note, written in my Dad’s hand said, “This money is the Lord’s.” We walked out of the store without the hardware until he saved up what he needed, and I learned that tithing is very, very, very important!

I talked with my folks today, and the last thing that was said, after the “I love you’s,” came from my Mom. She reminded me to be praying for a family member who was having difficulty.

My Mom and Dad have been blessed with long, not easy, life, and 65 years of marriage. But most of all the have been blessed by the Grace of our Loving Lord. And because they are faithful they were certain to pass the message of God’s lovely grace on to my sister, to me, to my children, and now even my grandchildren.

Thank you Lord, for Mom and Dad, choice servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, By Grace Alone!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

How Great Thou Art

How Great Thou Art is one of the most beloved hymns of the Christian Church. It has ministered to believers since it was written. But best of all it ministers to us when we are in times of distress. Why not sing this wonderful song as your read the words.

Originally a Swedish folk melody, "O Store Gud" by Carl Boberg (1859-1940) was translated by Stuart K. Hine in 1899.

O Lord my God! when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed:

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul! my Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

None of us enjoy the difficulties of life, especially when we, or other believers are the source of the difficulty. We can either be the source of so much good or so much harm if we are not careful to be following after Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. It grieves my spirit so very much when I am the source of distress to a fellow believer, how about you? This is when the last line of the third verse is so very blessed - “He bled and died to take away my sin.”

There are, of course, other sources of distress that can come to our lives. Illness, financial set backs, loss of loved ones, even the whole process of growing older can bring it’s share of challenges and even heart ache.

When the hardships come it is wonderful to rely upon the Great One! He created and controls all things by the word of His power. He is the One who gave songs to the birds, thunder and lightening to applaud His greatness in the heavens. But even greater, this Great God, did not spare His Son but sent Him to die for our sins. That third verse again says that, on the cross He gladly bore my burdens.

Since our Lord did all that for us, how can we but help to sing from our souls “How Great Thou Art!”

There is more. Not only does He bless and help us in this life, our dear Lord is coming again to take us to be with Himself for all eternity. What a day that will be!

So how great is He? Greater than all of creation. Greater than all of the mighty storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Greater than all the power that mankind has developed. Greater than all the difficulties that have ever come your way. Greater than the illnesses. Greater than all the financial difficulties. He is so very great!

But, of all the wonderful greatness of our God, He is above all Greater than all of my sin! Oh, how can our souls help not to sing, “how very, very Great Thou art!”

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Heaven. . . .

I have been thinking much about something Piper wrote. It essence he penned, “Would you be satisfied with heaven if only God were there?” Please do not misunderstand, I am no different than anyone else. I have often thought of heaven with the streets of gold, pearly gates, no more pain, no more tears. But it burdens me when my thoughts are more about these kind of real things, rather than of being in the presence of the Holy One.
Granted there are streets of gold, there is no-mores there. Heaven is going to be more than we can try to describe, but I guess what is capturing my attention is Heaven is more about Who than it is about What.
The “blessings of Heavenly things” is real, it is biblical, but they are the results of Who God Is! We get these things because we have become God’s children through faith in Christ. As a child of God I receive an inheritance from God, a heavenly mansion, the wonderful benefits of His place!
Even the old song writers tried to capture it but failed. And perhaps the reason we fail in our understanding of heaven is because it is so unlike anything we can relate to that we just plain fail to communicate it properly.
We sing about the "Mansion over the Hill Top", "The Land of Endless Days", "No Night There." And, perhaps we come a bit closer to it when we try words like these, “In heaven there are many things I’m longing for to see. It’s beauty will my ransomed soul enthrall. But when I’m ushered to the realm of blessed eternity, I long to see my Savior first of all. I long to see my Savior first of all, before on any others I will call, and then through countless days, on His dear face I’ll gaze, I long to see my Savior first of all.”
How can we capture the essence of this future place of the redeemed? I honestly do not know. But I do know that it is real.
God has promised dwelling places for us prepared by the Lord Jesus Himself. He has told us what it is going to be like, at least John wrote down words of his experience that try to paint a picture of this place called perfection - crystal river, golden streets, gates made of solid pearl, foundation walls made of solid jewels, no night, no need for light, no pain, no tears, no former things, no sin!
Oh, I know it is real for His Word, Jesus said, Is Truth!
But more specifically our Lord and God is going to be there! What will it be, to finally see the face of the lover of my soul? What will it be, to stand in the presence of sinless perfection? What will it be, to be overcome by the Majesty of Holiness? What will it be, to tremble at the singing of His Name by the Seraphim?
I cannot begin to tell you! I have no words to describe the touch of His hand that was nailed to the cross. No words to express the Light of His eyes. No words to drip with the goodness of His smile. No words to communicate the tenderness of His welcoming voice. I have no words.
But what I can say is, "Believe!" The Bible not only promises Heaven for the redeemed, it promises Hell for the unsaved. It says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Saved from sin, and the results of sin, eternal death in the Lake of Fire! It is time for you to believe and be saved.
Come to Christ today, Believe on Him, Trust the Savior, and yield to His Lordship over your life! He will indeed save you and give you Heaven too.

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lessons from a Broken Foot - Needs

It is very interesting what pain can do for us. It certainly gets our attention.

I awoke this morning praying. It was interesting, I didn't awake and start to pray but was praying when I woke up. My foot was throbbing as I was praying. I praised the Lord and sought His healing and grace, and then began to think about "needs."

At that moment I needed the grace of God to be able to take that pain and some other wonderful manifestations of our dear Lord. But as I continued to think about it, my mind ran to the thought of how many times we expect our "needs" to be met but do not look to the only One who ever promised to meet our needs?

Having been involved in the ministry of the Local Church for awhile I can identify with these words. . . "my needs aren't being met." Somehow people have the idea that every need social and physical is to be met by the Local Church. I have averaged one phone call per week, over the last 6 weeks, from folks looking for financial help, and these were from people who have never attended our church. If they did they would find a very good Adult Bible Class being offered right now on finances, which would go along way to "meeting the need."

But then I got to thinking is the church to meet all the needs. Has it been called to that? I am thinking of the teaching ministry of the church, because that is usually what is referred to when people say "my needs aren't being met." The worship and teaching hour of the church is not about me, it is about God!

I believe in most churches we would find that “needs” can be met if we would take advantage of getting to know one another. There are tremendous resources in the membership of a local church.

It is my contention that "needs" are met through the people of the church doing the work of the ministry. The exercise of the talents and abilities that the Lord has given to each of us are tremendous. Of course there must be a willingness to exercise those skills.

I guess that it all comes down to this. There is but One who ever promised to meet or “supply every need.” He will do it however He chooses. He may even use a doctor to heal a broken foot. After all, did He not give that good doctor his skill?

Think of these words of Annie S. Hawks, written in 1872, as you are trying to slug through the mine field of you needs.

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!