Bill Campbell

Thoughts of Life and Ministry

A SNAKE ON THE LOOSE!!

Does the thought of snakes frighten you like it does me? I shudder at the very thought of snakes. Perhaps tremble is even a better word.

Someone once sent me a video of a huge snake crawling and eventually striking right at the camera. The strike was quick and sudden. Unexpected. I did a backward flip out of my chair. Made a move toward safety. Wow!! That was one of the most unforgettable and downright frightening experiences of my life!!

Speaking of snakes, the Bronx Zoo has had a strange happening of late. Are you ready for this? Hold on to your seat. I’m told an Egyptian Cobra has someway escaped from its cage in the reptile house.

Can you believe that? How could such a think possibly happen? The announcement was made because the Egyptian Cobra is not just any kind of snake. It is formidable. Extremely poison. A bite could put you six feet under in very few minutes.

Due to the colder weather, however, the zoo workers think the cobra has remained inside the reptile house. Thus, they’ve temporarily closed the facility to the public. Whewwww!!! Thank goodness. It brings a sigh of relief. That is at least one bit of encouraging footage they offer. But the warning is still out there. The snake is definitely not a pet made to be petted.

Allow me to shift gears. Make a transition. Snakes are indeed dangerous. Frightening. Formidable. To be avoided at all costs. But there’s a far worse serpent on the loose. A most dangerous predator. Furthermore, this enemy has been on the loose since the dawn of human history.

“Who or what is this serpent,” you ask? It can be spelled out in three letters: S I N!! The hiss of this serpent began in the Garden of Eden with our first parents, Adam and Eve. It invaded their lives then. And it has been invading the lives of the human community ever since.

The Egyptian Cobra can kill your body instantly with a bite. That is a fearsome thought. To be sure. But S I N is much worse. Far more dangerous. The cobra can snuff out your present life. But S I N can destroy you for eternity. Take away the gift of life eternal that God offers freely.

Romans puts it this way: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

You need to be clear here. This death is not just physical death. Not at all. It is eternal separation from God. To be victimized by sin is to live a life of separation from God. To ignore Him completely. Additionally, it is to be addicted too one selfish indulgence after another, and to disregard one’s own eternal welfare, as well as the eternal welfare of others.

The church is in the world to lift persons out of sin, and into a dynamic relationship with the Savior, Christ Jesus. Healthy congregations are committed to this rescue operation. Unhealthy congregations have fallen asleep. They are insensitive to the danger S I N poses to human life.

Beware of the serpent S I N!!!

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March 31, 2011 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Ministry, Church Health, Church Leadership, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Heaven, Outreach, Preaching, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Spirituality, The Devil | Leave a comment

WE’RE ALMOST THERE!

Last night Sue and I received some free tickets to attend the Tulsa State Fair. So guess what? You’re right! We went to the opening night spectacular. It took a while to finally arrive at the entry gate in our vehicle; and then more time to identify a place to park in the parking area. Furthermore, it took like what seemed forever to stand in line to be able to show our ticket so that we could walk inside the fairgrounds. People were everywhere. Loads of them all around us.

I learned something when I was once inside the exhibit area. The world is a small place. Smaller than I had ever imagined before. For at one of the exhibit booths I made conversation with a man. He had a product to sell. And I liked the product he was selling. It wasn’t long into our conversation before I realized that I knew several people he knew.

For half an hour I talked to this man. Laughed with him. Kidded with him. I enjoyed sharing about the connections that had made our conversation possible. Moments like these are what thrill me most about being a Christian and sharing in the Lord’s great work. You entwine your life with many over the years. People who’ve influenced you. And people who you’ve directly or indirectly influenced yourself.

My mind moved from the fair to heaven. I thought about what heaven is going to be like? Much like the fair ” … a great multitude which no one could number” (Revelation 7:9) will be there. But something much different will contrast heaven from the fair. It’s this: no one will be a stranger in heaven. Absolutely no one. We will know why we are there. Who it was that got us there. And we will all be in absolute awe before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! 

Persons will be there I have missed on earth. Grieved over their absence. Family members. Friends. Those who’ve made an indentation on my life. And those I’ve helped make an indentation on while they were still here on earth. We will reunite. Embrace. Hold each other tight. Smile. Feel the thrill of having arrived. Having reached our destination. Being home at last. Home at last. The land for which we’ve yearned and have greatly anticipated. For this is where our real citizenship lies.

Note John’s great vision of heaven: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ ”

That day is coming soon. It’s almost here. Close at hand. It will be like the snap of a finger. Like the twinkling of an eye. I can hear its sounds. Its music. Its joy. Its luscious provisions. I’m literally enraptured with its promises. With the heavenly rest it will provide. But I’m still on my way. Still traveling. Making some headway on the journey. Getting closer to its gates. Will you go with me?

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Heaven | Leave a comment

ONE MORE DIFFICULT DAY

On July 29th I conducted the funeral for Peter and Julie Forrest’s baby, Henry Franklin Forrest. That was a difficult day for me. Henry was barely over a pound in weight at birth, and only lived for half a day. I grieved with the parents, grandparents, and other family members.

Yesterday I had the funeral for his twin brother, Samuel Michael Forrest. “Super Sam,” they had called him, because of his gallant battle to live. But Sam was only able to cling to life for barely over two weeks.

Once again I saw the sight of the little white casket. So tiny. Small. Little, when compared to an adult casket. But it contained Sam’s precious remains. We buried Sam right next to his brother Henry.

During my message I focused attention on a song by Fanny Crosby: SAFE IN THE ARMS OF JESUS. I learned that she wrote that hymn for those who had experienced the loss of loved ones. But she wrote it especially for grieving mothers like Julie. That’s why the visual of the baby in the arms of Jesus meant so much as we focused on Sam’s passing.

During the service I presented Peter and Julie with a very beautiful little figurine. The figurine pictured an infant safely resting. Our dear friends, Kerry and Glenn, were given the precious figurine some years before in the loss of their own baby. They wanted Julie and Peter to have the figurine, as it had brought special healing to their lives amidst their experience of loss.

In my devotional thoughts I reflected on the hymn, SAFE IN THE ARMS OF JESUS. I pointed out that Sam was safe because Jesus knew him better than any one of us. Why is this true? Because He made Sam. Formed his precious little body. Knew all his inward parts. Jesus knew Sam even better than the medical people had known him. 

Sam is also safe in the arms of Jesus because He knows best how to take care of Him. I have five children. Each of them very precious to me. I did my best to raise them. Wanted to bring them up in a perfect fashion. Yet, there were many instances in which I failed. Made mistakes. Faltered. But our Lord will make no mistakes with Sam. Never.  He will care for him in perfect fashion. 

One final thought. Sam is safe in the arms of Jesus because He will hold him tight and secure. One can be certain of this fact. Sam is in eternal and perfect care with Jesus. Thus, Sam is in the best arms in which he could ever be held.

I grieved with Peter and Julie again today. Thoughts of them and Sam stayed with me as I went about my other responsibilities. But in my weakness I discovered once more the strength that is ever available in the everlasting arms of Christ Jesus!

August 11, 2010 Posted by | Heaven | Leave a comment

A DIFFICULT DAY

Yesterday was a difficult day for me. It was a typical hot summer day. That’s for sure. Yet, the difficulty surrounded the conducting of a funeral. I’ve done many funerals before. These have been conducted in different places and for different ages. But todays funeral was different. It was the funeral of an infant.

Henry was alive for less than a day. His twin brother, Samuel, is still hanging on to life. Making the effort to continue. And Sam is experiencing gradual improvements. Yet, he has a lot of trying days in front of him to hold on to life.

The parents are a beautiful young couple named Peter and Julie. I’ve known Julie and her brother Chris since they were small children. They grew up with my own children. I’ve followed Julie’s life since then. She has become an educator. One who focuses on the needs of special students. Julie’s parents, Mike and Donna, have been Christian friends for several years.

Today I saw their tears. Pained faces. Doing their best to communicate. Trying to face the ordeal of Henry’s loss with bravery. They held up well. Very well. But my heart was touched deeply. It is difficult to see anyone hurt. But when dear friends are hurt, I hurt also. The brief service was conducted, and we buried Henry in a small white casket.

All day I carried the familys pain and tears around inside of me. Yet, I couldn’t shake the emotions loose. I tried.  They lingered inside me like an agonizing tooth ache. At the graveside I attempted to offer hope to relieve the hurt. Faith to offset the seeming finality. Encouragement to address the persistent discouragement that prevailed.

But it soon was clear that I couldn’t work magic. Wave a wand and see the darkness suddenly become sunshine. It is not that simple. Instead, I let Peter and Julie know that I was praying for them as soon as I had heard the announcement of Henry’s death. God can do what no one around them, myself included, can do: provide inner healing and hope. “God has done this in my life. And He will do the same in your life”, I told them. 

My next thought focused on imperfection. Life on earth is lived daily in the context of imperfection. You cannot act like imperfection isn’t there: escape it. Life’s imperfections brings unanswerable questions; uncertainty; anguish and pain. This is because life on earth allows a partial view of reality, to see things only in part, while the full picture isn’t yet fully in view.

I shared one more thought. Persons view death differently than God does. Death seems to individuals on earth like the end. The final curtain. There is nothing more to look forward to. Yet, Scripture reveals God’s special view of death: “The death of one that belongs to the Lord is precious in His sight” (Psalm 116:15).

Never forget the following: when we die the imperfect will become perfect. Furthermore, we will arrive at preferring God’s view of death to our own. For heaven will have been experienced and enjoyed. Sherwood Eliot Wirt has written: “The true goal of life is heaven: nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.”

July 30, 2010 Posted by | Heaven | 3 Comments

THE GREAT FAMILY REUNION!

Have you ever attended a family reunion? I did over the weekend. As a result, I was able to see some people I had not seen for a while. And I saw a few persons I had never seen during my lifetime. I laughed. Smiled. Listened. Asked questions. Learned a lot about my larger earthly family.

I left the gathering full of joy. Full of gratitude. Appreciating my family heritage. Thinking about all the various ones with whom I had shared. Those present represented various ages. Sisters and brothers. Aunts and uncles. Grandparents and great grandparents. Children and grandchildren. Even great grandchildren. There were so many present it was difficult to visit with each one. But it was a wonderful experience.

As I reflect on the family reunion, my thoughts turn to heaven. Our final home. The place for which we’ve longed. Yearned. Anticipated. Hoped for. Heaven will be the final gathering place for all God’s family. There will be some in heaven we’ve known down here on earth. Others we’ve never known on earth will be there. But the known ones, and the unknown ones will all be fully enjoyed.

There will be no disliking anyone there. Petty quarrels will end. No one will be shunned. Pushed aside. Neglected. Avoided. All who are there will be appreciated. Accepted. Included. Church politics will end. Church cliques will be over. The focus will not be on me. Furthermore, it will not be on us and what we want. Every one and every thing will be focused on the regal One who sits enthroned. Together we will sing His praises. Celebrate His grandeur. Worship Him forever and ever. Nothing will interfere or get in the way. Why? Because perfection will wipe out all the imperfections of earth.

Getting ready for heaven is why I’m obsessed today with church health: having a happy and healthy church family. It is time for all of us who wear the name of Christ to get focused on heaven, our final residence. Our place of eternal peace and tranquility. The place of the great family reunion. We won’t be ready for heaven, however, if we continue to hate and hinder our brethren here on earth. It is time to remove the fighting spirit, and to develop that special divine love we’ve been taught in Scripture. For in heaven love will be perfect and complete. There will be no opportunity there to be disgruntled. Disgusted. Disagreeable. To find someone with whom we can debate.

I can’t wait to get there. How about you? If anything is obstructing this coming destination from your sight, you need to get rid of it. Now. Instantly. While there’s yet time. For everything else will soon pale into insignificance when we reach that glorious realm prepared for the reconciled and redeemed.

Anticipating heaven is growing stronger in my heart and soul. I pray this anticipation is doing the same with you. Listen to the words of Scripture about heaven: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). This will be the greatest of all family reunions!

June 22, 2010 Posted by | Heaven | Leave a comment