Nothing but the Best

by Pastor Ryan Haddox

It’s not easy being queen. So it should come as no surprise that monarchs like Queen Elizabeth like to escape from London sometimes. On one such occasion, the queen asked her chauffeur to take her for a ride in the country. Then she asked him to pull over so she could just take a little walk by herself. No crown, no gown – dressed down. So for those golden moments, the queen was just an ordinary lady, taking a walk in the country. She had gone about a mile down the road when this sudden rain shower opened up. The queen knocked on the door of a small hut that was nearby and she asked the lady if she had an umbrella. The lady actually had two umbrellas – a tattered, battered old umbrella and a brand new one. She gave her beat up umbrella to the queen. The queen promised it would be returned the next day. Well, you’ve got to imagine the scene as a uniformed chauffeur pulls up in this royal limousine. He goes to the door of the hut and he announces, “I’m returning this for the queen.” Needless to say, the woman was in shock. All she could say was, “If I had known it was for the queen, I would have given her my best!”

It’s amazing how many people give their least, not their best – to the King, that is. The King. The one an ancient hymn calls the “High King of Heaven.” The one the Bible calls the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Oh, we’ll stand when they sing that in the “Hallelujah Chorus.” We’ll really get into singing praise songs to Him, but when it comes to the stuff that really matters in our life, we hold onto the best and give what’s left to the King of all kings.

Hanging onto our best – giving the King less than our best is not a new thing. In our word for today from the Word of God in Malachi 1:13-14, God rejects the offerings that His people have been bringing. He had commanded them from the beginning to bring the best of their flocks to Him as an expression of their love for Him. He says: “‘When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?’ says the Lord. ‘Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great King,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and My name is to be feared among the nations.’”

Later in this same book, God poses this shocking question, “Will a man rob God?” Then He gives the answer. “Yet you rob Me.” When God’s people ask how they have robbed Him, He says, “In tithes and offerings.” That’s one example of withholding your best from the King – by giving Him the money you have left over after you’ve spent what you really want to spend on yourself. But there are many ways to rob our King. By giving Him your leftover time; by making Him Lord of the things that don’t matter that much to you and holding onto the things that you really care about – that relationship, that child, that dream, that favorite thing – that sin. You can rob God by taking on a work for Him and just doing it halfheartedly, by being lazy or irresponsible in getting it done.

This is heavy on my heart in this season of mine and Anna’s life. We are so grateful for the ministry of this church and the opportunity to share Jesus with these young students and children, but also the whole church and the community! God is moving in big ways in this community and state and I’m excited to see where He can take this church!

Grace and Peace,

Ryan

Doing Our Best

by Pastor Ryan Haddox

Tere’s a story that goes like this:

Many years ago in a textile factory there was a sign on the wall which read: “If your threads get tangled, send for the foreman.” One woman who was fairly new was a diligent worker, but her threads got tangled one day. She tried to disentangle them, but her efforts only made matters worse. Finally, she gave up and called the foreman. He came and looked for a few moments and then asked: “You have been trying to untangle them yourself, haven’t you?” “Yes,” she replied. “Why didn’t you send for me, according to the instruction?” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I did my best.” With much tact, yet, with great insight, he quietly said, “Remember that doing your best is sending for me.”

How often in life have we tried to straighten out our own messes, only to make things worse, and certainly not to solve things? We think that a little more human effort, a bit more human wisdom, and a touch of human ingenuity are the solution. But mankind in general and individuals in particular tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. Bad habits remain in place. Errors are repeated. We may even excuse our conduct by saying: “I did my best.” Then God gently, yet firmly, reminds us: “Doing your best is calling for me.”

Paul did the best that he could do, but it was not good enough. He mused: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate….I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do….Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:15-24). But Paul had learned that to call on the name of Jesus was the best he could do and the solution to his problem (Rom. 10:9-13)

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Ryan

I Don’t Like Leftovers

by Ryan Haddox

At the risk of appearing snobbish or ungrateful, I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t like leftovers, i.e. cold food that is in need of being reheated. I always have the best of intentions to pull last night’s meal out of the refrigerator, throw it in the microwave, nuke it, and consume it, but I fail to do so time and time again. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve eaten my fair share of leftovers, but I can’t honestly say that I enjoy eating leftovers. The food never seems to taste or look the same. It lacks something.

With respect to your Christian walk, do you realize that God is not interested in your leftovers? In fact, Jesus says that we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33, emphasis added). Among other things, this means that God should come first in every aspect of our lives. Indeed, we should NOT give God our leftover love (Matt. 22:37-38), time (Eph. 5:18), thoughts (Phil. 4:8), service (Gal. 5:13-14), or money (Prov. 3:9; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8-9). In the mind of God, such leftovers lack something.

Being content with giving God the leftovers reveals something about the person who has this attitude. John said, ”We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:9, emphasis added). God loved us all so much in the midst of our sin that He took the initiative by sending His Son into the world to die in our place (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). God gave us His very best; in return, He expects the same. Indeed, contentment in giving God the leftovers exposes an ungrateful, selfish attitude.

Leftovers are fine when it comes to nourishing our physical bodies. At times, leftovers are unavoidable, even necessary. However, with respect to God and our spirituality, life of leftovers is unacceptable, especially when we take into account the example of His Son (cf. Phil. 2:5-11).

Grace and Peace,

Ryan Haddox

Parents Must Teach and Encourage Their Children

by Ryan Haddox

We in the Lord’s church are losing 75% of our children who fall away from the Lord and become lost  when they leave home.  This is a tragedy!  The main reason we are losing our children to the world is a lack of teaching of God’s word at home by the parents.  Parents are commanded to teach their children the word of God.  “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).  Can we as parents be pleasing to God if we fail to teach our children the word of God?  The lack of Bible knowledge will cause our children to go off into atheism, agnosticism, denominationalism, and unfaithfulness, which will cause them to be eternally lost.

One 40-minute Bible study class each week at church or two if they attend Wednesday evening Bible study does not give our children enough spiritual food to fight off the world’s influence they receive at school, TV, etc.  Our children spend 30 hours per week in public school preparing for life in this world, but less than 2 hours per week in trying to prepare for eternity.  Which is the most important?  We become upset if our children make bad grades on their report cards, but it doesn’t seem to bother us if they fail to study their Bible class lessons.  We closely watch their scholastic and athletic progress, but what about their spiritual progress?  We have become passive about allowing our children to grow up without a soul saving knowledge of the Bible.  We need to know that the greatest thing we can do for our children is to instill in them a lasting faith in God and the Bible so they can be eternally saved.  There is nothing greater we can do for our children.

We should help our children with their school subjects at home, but studying the Bible with them is of much greater importance than their school subjects.  Why do children fall away and become lost when they leave home?  God’s word says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).  If our children are lacking in a knowledge of God’s word they will most likely be eternally lost in hell.  If they are lost, we as parents will have to give an account to God for our failure to teach them (Romans 14:12).

Bible study with our children will increase their faith in God, because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  God’s inspired word says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

We have a good example in the Bible of a young person who was instilled with a genuine saving faith by his mother and grandmother.  Paul says to Timothy, “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).  Here we see that Timothy had become a faithful Christian because his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice had instilled in him a genuine faith in God.  It did not happen by accident.  If it wasn’t for their teaching Timothy would probably not have become a faithful Christian.

To save our children we must be much more serious to help them prepare for eternity. We must set aside a certain time each day for Bible study with them.  This teaching must begin at birth and continue as long as we have influence on them.  We must teach our children to have proper spiritual values and this can only be done by teaching them God’s word.  God has commanded us, “And these words which I command today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

Our teaching is a 24/7 task.  We must demonstrate by our lives that God and His word are the most important things in our lives.  Our children are watching and being taught by our example.  Actions speak louder than words. We must not expect our children to “do as I say, not as I do”.

It is not if our children are going to be taught.  It is who will teach them and what they are going to be taught?  If we don’t teach them, someone else will.  Let’s take parenting seriously and bring our children “up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) so we and they can be together in heaven.

Grace and Peace,

Ryan Haddox

Vacation Bible School – Walk Like a Disciple

Come join the youth of Beckley First Baptist, as we “walk like a disciple” for Jesus on August 4th from 4:00 – 600 p.m. All activities will be held at the YMCA Soccer Complex, where we will be taking a journey to become a disciple of Jesus, but we must make stops along the way to receive guidance from some very important men and women of the Bible—all of whom had an important role in the story of Jesus, whether it was leading up to his birth or the continuation of spreading the Good News. Feel free to contact Ryan Haddox or one of the Christian Ed. Board members with any questions or concerns, and we hope to see you there!

Be all that you can be — Aim High!

You can be anything you set your mind to be! These are but a few examples of nice-sounding slogans intended to build up our self-esteem, or self-concept. While it is true that we live in a nation of vast opportunities, it is not factual to say we can always be anything we want to be.

We all have limitations with which we must learn to deal. These limitations can be physical and/or mental. What each of us needs to do is come to grips with our own personal situation. This does not, in any way, mean that we cannot overcome obstacles by striving to improve our life, but in all our efforts we must remember who is providing our abilities, and watching over our lives.

We do not have to ride the wave to the top in order to find happiness. Very often happiness is right under our noses, yet we fail to smell the roses. We may have the highest of ambitions, but if God has other plans (see Proverbs 16:9) we must find happiness where we are, and give it our all, and our all to the Lord.

If we place our trust in God, nothing else is of much consequence. We can make the most of what we have been given. In this way, we will learn many valuable lessons, including patience. So frequently, we look around and see what others have acquired or accomplished, and wonder why the same has not fallen into our lives. We must be willing to grow at our own pace, the pace God has set for us. At the same time, we must not fail to do our part. We are in this race together with God, and He will be there for us, if we are there for Him.

Be all you can be for Him!

Grace and Peace,

Ryan Haddox

Cultivate your life in Him

by Ryan Haddox

Matthew 13:3-9

3“He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

At any time, how receptive your heart is will determine your response to God’s word. If your heart has been trampled, and harden by bitterness and unforgiveness, then receiving God’s message for you will become more difficult. If your heart is like shallow soil on top of a rock, then your mind comprehends God’s truths, yet these truths do not penetrate your heart to make a real difference in your actions. Or if you are concerned about the riches of this life, then your focus is on the here and now, and these pursuits prevent God’s Word from taking hold and producing quality fruit. But a heart that is on good soil, receives the Word, applies the Word, and in due time bring forth abundant fruit! This is God’s desire for you — to have a heart cultivated on good soil!

How do you cultivate a heart on good soil? Repent of any bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, or any other sin that is hardening your heart! Seek the power of God to search your heart thoroughly and completely to root out all the weeds that hinder cultivating good soil. Cultivating good soil is a daily task — weeds spring up out of nowhere to hinder our growth. But , you are not ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11). So break up your fallow ground, sow yourself in His righteousness, and soon you will bring forth abundant fruit fit for the kingdom!

Cultivate your life in Him — and He will produce His fruit through you!

Thoughts from Our Youth Pastor…

Throughout the Bible we read about the great joy we can have in the Lord –

“…the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.” (Psalm 5:11)

“… in your presence there is fullness of joy…” (Psalm 16:11)

“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous…” (Psalm 32:11)

“Then I will go to … God my exceeding joy…” (Psalm 43:4)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy … in believing” (Romans 15:13)

“The fruit of the Spirit is… joy” (Galatians 5:22)

“Rejoice in the Lord always…”  (Philippians 4:4)

But what exactly is this joy?

Pleasure and Satisfaction in Christ

Many passages show that this joy is an emotional feeling of pleasure and satisfaction (Psalm 4:7, for example).

But this joy is not pleasure and satisfaction in our circumstances; it’s pleasure and satisfaction in God as he is revealed in Jesus Christ (Habakkuk 3:17-18 and 1 Peter 1:8, for example).

So why is it that many Christians don’t experience this joy?

Why so Little Joy?

One answer dawned on me yesterday as I was praying about my lack of joy.

God does promise to give this joy to every believer (Psalm 63:7;Psalm 68:3; Luke 2:10; John 16:20,22; for example).

But he also tells us how he will give it to us – through faith.

Notice how joy and faith are connected in these verses –

  • “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.” (Psalm 13:5)
  • “You make him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the LORD (Psalm 21:6-7)
  • “For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.” (Psalm 33:21)
  • “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13)
  • “I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:25)
  • “Though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8 New American Standard Version)

So there is a cause-effect relationship between faith and joy.  God promises to pour out this joy when we turn to him in faith.

So maybe one reason we don’t experience this joy is because we don’t pursue it by faith.

Getting There by Faith

If someone told you that the way to get to your destination was by bicycle, what would you do?

You would not start walking, or get in the car.  You would hop on your bicycle, and start peddling.

So when God tells us that the way to get to joy is by faith, what should we do?  We should turn to him in faith.

But so often, when I lack joy, I don’t turn to God in faith.

Instead, I languish in spiritual dullness, or busy myself with activity, or complain to my wife.

But what I should do is turn to God in faith.

But How?

Faith means trusting all that God promises to be to us in Christ Jesus.

So how do I turn to God in faith?

First — I turn to God just as I am, in my dullness and sinfulness, knowing that because of Christ’s death I will be loved and welcomed.

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

Second – I confess all known sin to the Father.  I confess whatever I am seeking joy in besides Christ, and ask him to help me turn my heart back to him.  I am assured that through Christ I am completely forgiven.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Third — I look to God, trusting him to give me what I need.  All that I bring to the table is neediness.  But in Christ God promises to give me everything I need.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Fourth — I earnestly ask God to give me joy in him by strengthening my faith, overcoming my sinful blindness, and showing me his glory.

Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” (Exodus 33:18)

Fifth – I notice whatever worries or desires are keeping me from joy in the Lord, and work on slaying those with promises from the word of God — the sword of the Spirit.

… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God … (Ephesians 6:17)

Sixth – I pray over passages describing God’s glory until I experience the Spirit enlightening the eyes of my heart so I once again see and feel the all-satisfying glory of God in Christ.

… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened … (Ephesians 1:17-18)

Try This

As soon as you can, set everything else aside, and take time to turn to God by faith.

As you do, notice how the Holy Spirit strengthens your faith, shows you God’s glory, and gives you joy in beholding Christ.

And notice how that happened — by faith.

It’s by faith that God promises to give us joy in him.

So seek him — by faith.

 

Grace and Peace,

Ryan Haddox

Peek-a-boo Bunny

When I was a little boy I had a stuffed animal called Peek-a-boo Bunny. You would squeeze his stomach and he would fling his ears from off of his eyes and shout with a cheerful sound “Peek-a-boo! Happy Easter!” This bunny, along with the song “Here Comes Peter Cotton-tail” created and fueled my love of Easter and all the candy that came with it! I would destroy boxes of Whoppers and Butterfingers weren’t safe, but I wouldn’t come near the peeps. This momentous occasion that I looked forward to as a child because of the copious amounts of candy I would consume, I look forward to it as an adult for a much greater reason; however, I do still consume said candy.

As an adult and as an observer and follower of Christ I can say that Easter, while ever so slightly, edges out Christmas for me. I say that because Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is beyond comprehension!

No one today would willingly go to prison and be killed if they were a king or from some type of royalty.

Yet Jesus, GOD, took on flesh and came to dwell amongst us. He not only suffered and died on the cross. He not only was wrapped in grave clothes and thrown in a tomb. He not only was stuck behind a boulder to ensure His death and captivity. More than ALL of that; Our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ arose from His grave and that tomb became the stage for Heaven’s Glory!

We take heart in the knowledge that our sins are forgiven because a King decided to leave His throne and die in our place. Although it seems beyond comprehension, we are to always seek deeper and deeper to understand and comprehend our Heavenly Father. We will never be finished doing so, but we are always to seek wisdom.

May God Bless you this Easter and open your eyes even wider or maybe for the first time to the sacrifice and love of God the Father and God the Son over us. May that knowledge be ever pervasive in our thoughts and may we, in return, be willing to spread the love of God and make disciples. Amen.

Grace and Peace,

Ryan Haddox

It’s Almost Spring Time!!!

by Ryan Haddox

It’s almost Spring time!!! This time of year is exciting because not only does the sunshine and warmth visit us a bit more, but also because it means Summer is just around the corner!! Summer being around the corner means that our ministry for the youth goes into full time! Camps are going on, trips are being taken, and our youth don’t have as many outside influences around them.

While this is an exciting time for youth ministry, this can also be a patience testing time for our parents out there. The kids are home from school and expect lunch to be fixed, want you to drive them everywhere, and the dreaded “I’m bored” come three days after school ends! Although the summers can seem to drag on, we as adults are actively discipling our youth. Whether we’re their parents, youth pastor, head pastor, or just a friendly face in the church, we are discipling these youth!

Summer should be viewed as a time to rejuvenate our youth’s spirits, spur on their relationship with Christ, and strengthen the foundation of their lives. We do this in many ways, but the best way is just being there as a beacon for our youth. Parents; You have more time with your children so make those moments count! Make Christ evident to them and give them every opportunity to meet God. As a youth pastor I have more time with them as well and I have to be intentional about how I share Christ with them. The hope is to build them into better students…better Christians then they were the school year previously.

We must take a vested interest in the lives and minds of our youth. The world is a dark, dark place and we MUST be the light for them to find and follow. If we don’t set the standard of life in Christ for them,  then they will find other standards from the world. Our time with them is precious and we must use every moment we can to reach them.