Don’t Grow A Church, GROW PEOPLE!

20140602-151701-55021099.jpgWritten by Reverend Art Hodges
** Notations by Reverend Fred Parker

The following is an excerpt of the article “Don’t Grow A Church, GROW PEOPLE” written by Reverend Art Hodges in the January-February 2004 edition of the FORWARD magazine. I have inserted some of my own personal comments in italics. I pray that the Lord will bless you as you read these things.

1. Believe in the people. (It is won¬derful when the people believe in their leader; but it is more wonderful when the leader believes in the people! This really pays off!)
** I just want to tell each of you that I believe in you. You each have your unique callings and talents and I am indeed thankful to be able to say, “I believe in you!”

2. People grow at different rates and to different degrees. (Be patient, under¬standing, and even long-suffering.)
** As we grow and experience the revival God has for us it is vitally important that we allow for these differences when dealing with one another. While one may be consuming the “meat of the Word” another may still be devouring the “milk.” What we must realize is that both are making forward progress and as long as they are moving in the right direction let us be slow in judging another’s spirituality and relationship with God. Remember the tale of the “Hare and the Tortoise!”

3. Be willing to let others do a worse job than you are capable of doing.(Grin and bear it.)
** This is probably the hardest thing for me to do. I am for the most part a perfectionist and it really irritates me when things are less than perfect. I have come to realize that not everyone sees things through my eyes therefore they may not do things as well as I think they should. However let me encourage you to always do your best when you are working for the Lord.

4. Give people space to fail. (They will learn more from their failure than from your success.)
** I have observed numerous times in my ministry the advantages of allowing some to fail in what they are attempting. Some of us would refer to this method as the “School of Hard Knocks.” I assure you there is no greater teacher. I have learned through the years that education always cost us something, whether we pay tuition or just simply have to expend energy performing a task differently than before, it always costs us something.

5. Allow people to succeed. (What are you afraid of?)
** When others succeed under your leadership then you are a success as well. We must learn not to be intimidated by the success of others but rejoice because you have led them to succeed.

6. Brag on the people. (Do not publicly talk about your ministry suc¬cesses, talk about the people’s min¬istry successes. What gets rewarded, gets done.)
** I heard a man once say, “A frog that won’t croak in his own pond ain’t much of a frog.” A person who has done a good job should be publicly commended. Every man’s leadership ability is reflected in the successes of those under his tutelage.

7. Leadership is not appointed, it is recognized. (Cream always rises to ‘ the top. The wise are the ones who see the work that needs to be done and they do it. They seek the high ¬calling of servant hood.)
** While there are those who desire positions to feed their personal ego, there are others who attain positions due to lack of ego. A humble leader is one who digs in when others walk away. He will be recognized because of his service…he does not serve to be recognized.

8. Every born-again believer is a minister. (Not a pastor, or even a preacher, but called to do the work of the ministry.)
** There are no exceptions! Whether a person has just recently been born again or he has been “saved” for years he must engage himself in the harvest of souls. If we are to be saved we must first of all teach others what to do to be saved. We understand this can only be done by consistent study, prayer, and fasting.

9. Focus less on how many are at church on Sunday, and more on how many have done ministry Monday through Saturday.
** This is where many churches have failed. We must not be so enamoured by our attendance as we are by those who attend to the needs of others. Ministry is more than teaching and preaching…it is serving with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

10. Be open to new ways of doing ministry in these last days. (Methods are not sacred, God said He would do a new thing.)
** It is certain that we could still travel from the east coast to the west coast in a covered wagon if we so desired. If we chose this method of travel it would take literally months for us to complete our journey not to mention the fatigue and exhaustion that we would certainly experience. I for one would much rather step onto a tarmac and board a jetliner from New York and be in Los Angeles in about four hours much more alert and ready to do what needs to be done. God help us to realize that we must allow our methods to be innovative and fresh if we are to reach out effectively to those who are reaching in.

These are just some of the many lessons learned along the way.

What! Me Worry?!

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Mat_6:27)

Jesus shows in the simplest of terms the total waste of time and energy that occurs when we worry.

First He shows that worry is irreverent – for it fails to acknowledge God’s love for us and His faithfulness to His Word. When we worry, we dismiss God from the equation of our circumstances and elevate other things which have no power whatsoever to make any difference at all.

This brings us to the second thing Jesus shows us. Worry is irrelevant. It does not change a single thing, and it does not help us in any way.

The Old Church in the Wildwood

And then Jesus shows us that worry is irresponsible. It consumes our energy, distracts our focus, marginalizes God, and accelerates our fears and frustrations. Talk about squandering one’s wealth!

When we follow His words we find a peace that prevails in the face of the storm that assails.

The birds of the air and the lilies of the field illustrate the freedom from anxiety that is ours in Christ.

Nothing good ever comes from an anxious mind or a hurried spirit. When we let fear, anxiety and worry crowd our thoughts, we diminish our capacity for recognizing and responding to the work that God is doing in us, to us, for us, and through us during trying times.

This one fact is uncontested – we always find our greatest treasures in life somewhere in the depths of our greatest trials. Diamonds, they say, are made as the direct result of the most intense of all pressures.

Rather than fret and flit about with a scrambled soul during times of personal challenge and difficulty, may we each find that place of unshakable confidence in the Lord. That place where we may rest secure and immovable, knowing that He is totally in charge – and is always thinking about us, and watching everything that concerns us!

A Pastor’s Prescription for a Heart Condition

Isn’t it amazing that a cardiologist can look at a bunch of squiggly lines on a piece of adding machine tape and determine the condition of our heart? Many of us have experience even greater heart problems after we have heard the doctor’s diagnosis.

You know! I wonder what they really see when they look at that little piece of adding machine tape? Does it really show them something or are they just putting on a show? I know, I have looked at them time and again, and I have never seen anything that would alarm me about that little piece of adding machine tape either. That is except the bill I receive promptly after I have returned home. (I think they plan it that way so that you can be sitting down when we read their bill.) If I didn’t have a heart problem before I sure do after reading the doctor bill. (Oh! By the way, when was the last time you received a bill from a preacher for his services?)

I have never figured out why we will believe a doctor without question and obey his every request, but when the preacher tells us something; we question his reasoning and often refuse to do what he suggests. The real irony of this is that the doctor is trying to save the physical while the preacher is doing his best to save the eternal. While the doctor practices, the preacher meddles. While the doctor is prescribes the preacher is unqualified. When a doctor tells us to get up on the examination table on all fours and bark like a dog we do it without questioning his motives, but when the preacher asks us to kneel in repentance and pray, he needs to mind his own business. When the doctor tells us to fast, it’s for our own good, but when the preacher asks us to fast he is way out of line.

Yep! There is no doubt in my mind that there is a severe heart condition here but it isn’t revealed on a piece of adding machine tape. It shows through without any electronic devices or stethoscopes. It is easily seen without x-rays or sonograms because it shows in everything we do and say. The things we say and do as well as the places we go will reveal what kind of person we really are. If we speak things of faith and believe that we shall have them without a doubt then we are manifesting a heart that is in tune with the divine will of God. However, if we minimize all that God blesses us with and continually murmur and complain we are suffering from a severe heart aneurism. If we are guilty of talking negative regarding the promises God has given us, then we without a doubt have a severe case of the hardening of the arteries. This condition will slowly but surely begin to affect our spiritual stamina and leave us gasping for spiritual breath. If this is apparent in our lives then we must not wait…we must immediately get help for our heart or we may die spiritually.

Something To Think About
S2TA

New and Improved?

“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” KJV Matthew 26:41

I heard somewhere several years ago that discipline is simply “mind over matter.” However, many have changed the intent of this phrase to mean, “I really don’t mind so therefore it really does not matter.”

I just realized this morning how undisciplined we are. We look for quick fixes for everything from car repairs to losing weight. It seems to me that the whole world is leaning this way but I am sure there are still some who are truly committed to finishing the race without the “New and Improved” energy drinks that will surely give them the boost they need to cross the finish line.

The truth is many are guilty of looking at life through rose colored glasses. We see only things that we want to see. While life is wonderful we need to quit looking for the latest and greatest potions, lotions and quick remedies for our shattered emotions. We are fixated by claims of the miraculous. “New and Improved,” is the anthem of our time. Marketers know that if they say this it will entice us to purchase anything from “Captain Crunch®” to “Simple Green®.”

Recently, my wife pulled out a “New and Improved” bottle of a widely recognized all purpose cleanser. This cleanser has been one of her favorites for many years. However, as she attempted to use it after it being “New and Improved” it would not remove a small smudge. She told me this stuff is no good anymore as she pulled out a bottle of Dollar Store cleanser which immediately removed the smudge. I don’t know what made her favorite cleanser “New and Improved,” but I do know that it was apparently watered down so much that it no longer had the strength to remove the stains that it once had.

We need to realize that just because something is labeled “New and Improved” doesn’t mean that it is better. As a matter-of-fact I have noticed that many times when something says “New and Improved” what they are simply saying is, “The Federal Government has refused to allow us to use some of our previous ingredients that really worked any longer.” Others may say, “We have improved our formula by cutting production cost .” Which means they have taken one of their active ingredients out so that it does not cost as much to produce the new product.

While the world is looking for the latest and greatest, the church should realize that the gospel is the same today as it has always been. We can not offer a “New Improved” version because the formula for salvation is the same now as it was in 33 A.D. when the apostles first heard the teachings of Jesus. “New and Improved,” will never describe the soul cleansing, life changing message of Acts 2:38. Genuine repentance is still required. We must be baptized by emersion in the all-powerful name of Jesus Christ. Speaking in other tongues as God gives us the ability is still the evidence that we have received the Holy Spirit.

So, regardless of what the religious world says, if these steps of faith are not fulfilled in us we are not fully “Born Again.” No, friends, there are no “New and Improved” versions of salvation. The Word of God is sure and so is our salvation when we have obeyed the command of Jesus in being “…born again…of the water and the Spirit.” Some may look elsewhere for a “New and Improved” method of making themselves pure before God but nothing else is sufficient.

Friends, don’t be duped by the devil’s “New Improved” schemes. Hold on to what you have and walk in the power of the “Old Rugged Cross” and the “New Birth.” (See St. John 3:1-10)

Something to Think About–S2TA
Copyright 2014 (c) All Rights Reserved by E. Fred Parker

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Sowing and Reaping

Galatians 6:7-10
Be not deceived; God is not mocked:for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing:for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
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It’s almost as if Paul; the writer of Galatians, is attempting to help the Galatians know the power with which God rules the church. Like many of the early Christians; I know there are times when I feel I have been deceived because things don’t stack up the way I feel they should. I question God, His motives, His actions, His wisdom and in my weakest moments I may question His existence. After pastoring for over thirty-five years, I know that I am not alone in these experiences. In fact, if we all would be honest with ourselves we would admit that we get disgusted with life in the “Christ lane”. Paul, however; exhorts us to not be deceived. He in just three dynamic words declares victory. He said, “Be not deceived!” Don’t give in to the deceptive ways of the devil. Don’t allow him to whisper negative, life killing hope into your heart! Recognize the deception has come simply to distract us from God’s plan and purpose. Don’t listen to him and expect to walk with God because you will never be successful in living for Him.

Then as though Paul was lifted up onto some “soap box” he says to the Galatians, “God is not mocked,” It’s almost as If he knows what happens after a person is “deceived”. Often, their first step is they choose to be deceived by the devil and then not very far behind that, they become mockers of the things of God.

No! I don’t believe that Paul was speaking of the multitudes who are incessantly chanting their mantras of skepticism. There will always be those who will join in the cadence of the crowd simply because they do not have any idea that when they involve themselves in these actions; they too, become guilty of the same things. (See Romans 1: 28-32; Matthew 7:13-14) Let me assure you that following the crowd is sure to bring you misery and heartache.

I have noticed that there are those who may not stand with the chanting masses but will “mock” God by living their life as though they have been risen to the lofty heights of deity themselves. (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6-8; Romans 1:20-25) Simply stated. “God is not mocked!” It is after Paul emphatically makes this statement that he begins to use a simple analogy to assist mankind in knowing God’s gracious nature, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

I’m almost sure that the Apostle Paul would use modern computer terminology if he were preaching this message today. Some time during his exhortation to the church of this millennium, I’m sure we would hear him say “If you put garbage in, you are sure to get garbage out!” Christians we must use our PPE (personal protection equipment) to insure that we are not contaminated with the things of this world. The Word of God clearly states that we should “abstain from every appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; see also 1 Peter 2:11)

Something To Think About – S2TA

God’s Piercing Light

imageExodus 34:29-30; 33-35
29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
34 But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him. KJV

Philip Yancey wrote about the danger of peering at the sun in his book Disappointment With God. He wrote, “Once, as an experiment, the great scientist Isaac Newton stared at the image of the sun reflected in a mirror. The brightness burned into his retina, and he suffered temporary blindness. Even after he hid for three days behind closed shutters, still the bright spot would not fade from his vision. “I used all means to divert my imagination from the sun,” he writes, “But if I thought upon him I presently saw his picture though I was in the dark.” If he had stared a few minutes longer, Newton might have permanently lost all vision. The chemical receptors that govern eyesight cannot withstand the full force of unfiltered sunlight.”

As I read this story I was reminded of the great light that Jesus shines in our lives. His light does not just effect our flesh it pierces the darkest place in the very soul of every person. Many have turned away from Him because they have been burned by God’s piercing light as it revealed their past failures. Guilt and shame have been indelibly etched into their spirits. It seems the farther they try to get from Him…the more they attempt to hide from His light, the more they are reminded of their inadequacies and sins. It is certain that when we view Jesus without the filter of His grace the light of his countenance burns into our spirits. If his precious blood does not shield us, the condemnation that comes to us will burn our souls leaving us to live with the marks of pain and guilt for the remainder of our lives.

When Moses returned from his communion with God on Sinai his face glowed with the power of God. Even the reflected light of God’s presence on Moses’ face brought conviction and shame to the children of Israel. God helps us to understand that there is no way we may hide from his presence. The Psalmist said in Ps 139:7-10 “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” KJV

Friend, God knows where you are even when you try to hide from his presence. You may not attend church, pray or seek Him, but if you have ever been filled with his Spirit He has burned His mark in your Soul. Rest assured that no matter where you go or what you do the Lord God of all creation is still allowing His light to pierce the darkness you think is concealing you. Have you made your bed in hell? He is there! Are you running to the uttermost parts of the earth in attempting to forget His presence in your life? He is even there! Friend you may run but you can’t hide! His light has left his mark on you.

The only way to have peace and assurance is to allow His light to remove the dark places of your life. Only after His light has overcome the darkness will we feel His compassion rather than His condemnation. He longs to reach us through His passion so that the veil may be torn in our relationship with Him. Because the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom at His death we now have ready access into His presence without fear of instant judgement and destruction. He has become our savior. He is love and He cares for you. Surrender to His will today as His light is revealed in your soul. Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus in Ephesians 5:14-16 and said, “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” KJV As the Light of Jesus shines through us we embrace His divine grace and live with eternal hope rather than condemnation and eternal damnation. Let’s redeem the time as we allow the light of Jesus Christ to pierce the darkness of our souls preparing us for that Heavenly land.

Just S2TA
Something To Think About

Your Words Were Heard the First Day

Daniel 10:12-13
12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. KJV

Today many of us may be wondering how long it will take for us to know that God is moving on the souls we have focused our thoughts and prayers on during our “Forty Day Experience.” We may say, “I have called them, sent them letters and cards, invited them to services, had them over for dinner and they still have not made any move toward the church or God it seems.” Then as if we expect God to move like some puppet on a string we begin to loose our focus on the purpose of our prayers.

As we all know God doesn’t want anyone to die lost. He wants the person you have been praying for to repent and experience his love and joy more than you do. If we understand this then we should also realize that God heard your prayer the first day you prayed. Not only did he hear you he also responded by immediately sending the angels of heaven to fight for that soul. I firmly believe that the reason some individuals never come to the knowledge of the truth is because we have not interceded enough for them. If we genuinely desire for God to save then we must also be genuinely prepared to submit ourselves as a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1) I wonder sometimes why we think that we are able to make people respond to the purpose of God for their lives. The scripture is almost redundant in allowing us to see that if the Lord doesn’t do the work—regardless of what it is—it will not get done.

Yes! The Lord did call us into the harvest field to reap the harvest, but; we know if we are to reap the fruit of the field, it must be mature and ready to harvest. What good will it do if we thrust in the sickle knowing that the grain is not fully developed? We cannot force the grain to mature…we cannot make the fruit develop. All of these things are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest. However, when the fruit is matured…when it is time to harvest …we must be standing ready and waiting for the directives of God so that we will be able to reap the harvest at just the right time—not too early and not too late. That is the reason God calls us to prayer and commands us in his word to “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5:17) He knows how important it is for both His angels and His servants to be standing ready so that when an individual gets “just right” for salvation we will thrust in the sickle to harvest their soul.

He heard our prayers the first time we prayed but there are all kinds of spirits that interfere with His divine order. There is a war raging for the souls for which you have prayed. We must keep our prayers going up until His glory comes down. We must pray the Word of God to help enable the angelic warriors who are engaged in spiritual warfare on our behalf. The battle will be won but it probably will not be won on our terms…in our time frame…or by our carnal methods. Only after we understand that the Lord is the only strong and mighty one who is able to overcome every evil thought and principality will they come. We are simply His vessels. His instruments. His intercessor’s. So let’s get out of our pity parties and get to praying.

He is working right now to bring victory and deliverance but He is waiting for us to get our thoughts, opinions, and selfish desires out of the way so that he may show himself strong and mighty in these situations. Twenty-one days seem like eternity when you are engaged in spiritual warfare especially if you are not focused on the real purpose of the battle.

Let’s realize today that these battles are not about me but about others being delivered and healed by Jesus Christ. Some of us are thinking, “how many more days in this do i have to pray and fast?” The truth is this, our prayers and fasting should never end as long as there are souls who have never heard and responded to the Acts 2:38 message. Let’s just keep keepin’ on. We must continue our praying and fasting and believing until Jesus catches us away. Let’s continue although at times we feel our prayers are not getting anywhere. Even when we are not seeing things happening; we may rest assured that “He heard us the first time we prayed.” Let us not be weary in well doing, for we shall reap if we faint not.” (Gal 6:9)

Dedication

This book is dedicated first of all to the one who has made the most difference in my life…Jesus Christ. While I was still muddled in my own ignorance and rebellion he loved me enough to deliver me from the enemy who was constantly attempting to destroy me–body, mind, soul and spirit. I would have never had the strength or discipline to move forward in my life if he had not given me hope in my hopelessness and help in my ignorance. Thank you Jesus for reaching me and designing a life through which others may be able to break away from their own bondage.

This book is not only the fruit of over 40 years of pastoral ministry but over 40 years of walking with the most beautiful woman in the world. Becky has laughed with me, cried with me, hurt with me, but most importantly, she has lived with me and still finds it in her heart to love me. Thank you, Baby, for standing beside me when it seemed the earth would open to devour us. Thank you for believing in me when I could not believe in myself. Thank you for your continuous song and expressive love for God. Thank you for loving me even when I was unlovable. Thank you, for giving me the most wonderful children that have ever inhabited and graced this terra firma. But most of all thank you for your dedication to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I dedicate this book, to my wonderful daughter who has loved and supported my decisions through her own personal tragedies including the loss of her brother and husband. I also want to dedicate these writings to the most beautiful grand daughter a man could ever pray for. Mitze and Kaylee, I am so grateful you understand and live a life of godly love that ministers to others.

I would be remiss if I were not to mention those who have been so much a part of my life. Thank you, Pastor J.T. Pugh for instilling in me a love for people and souls that has driven me to raise up churches, educate the sinner and understand how “grace” is really supposed to work. Thank you for teaching me about God and how to love people unconditionally.

Thank you Reverend G.R. Travis and Bishop James Carney for your strong influence in our pastoral life. You were our solid anchors as you guided us through the darkest days of our lives.

Thank you Sidney L. Poe, Danny Robbins, and Lloyd Adcock for being our friends and confidants as we fought for our spiritual lives.

Thank you J.D. Notgrass, Glenn Howard, Dennis Witkus, Gary Hogan, Terry Baughman, James Pence, Tommy Hudson and many, many more who helped to mold us into who we are today. You each have imparted your wisdom, love, and deep devotion to mold us and shape us in our younger years of ministry. Because of these godly men and many, many more whom I have been able to share my life with throughout my Christian life, I can look at men and women through the eyes of our Savior, Jesus Christ and understand how valuable God’s true love is to each.

In HIS Service,

E. Fred Parker
Author

I Don’t Understand

Hebrews 11:1-3
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. KJV

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Isn’t it amazing how many people will tell you that they believe in something and yet never produce anything that would indicate they do. Let’s say that someone tells us that they believe in Jesus but they use profanity, drink, and cuss and never go to church. Somehow I have a problem with anyone that does this. The scripture tells us that “…faith is the substance of things hoped for…” and they show no real substance in their confession of Jesus Christ. It goes on to say that faith is , “…the evidence of things not seen.”

I guess that is why they do not show the life of Jesus working within. They must want the world and Jesus to believe that they have given their heart and life to Him without them showing any fruit. I suppose some of them may say they are in the “Secret Service” of God. We never see them at church…we never hear them talking about God except when they use his name in vain…we never feel their concern for others because they have hidden themselves under the camouflage of self.

We may not see it but somehow in their personal theology they have claimed salvation by faith. When we view salvation as they do we see that it is like faith that cannot be seen except through their own eyes. Those who follow this lifestyle must be totally ignorant of God’s written Word. There must be no regard at all for truth in their life. They have established their beliefs of God on their own philosophies and have denied His deity because of their own vain deceit. (Colossians 2:8) They are living a lie and will be damned (2 Thessalonians 2:11) if they do not turn to the truth of the Bible that speaks plainly of repenting of sin…being washed in his blood through baptism by immersion in the all-powerful name of Jesus Christ.

Finally, they must allow the Spirit of God to come inside for the purpose of directing their thoughts and lives. When the Holy Ghost comes they will begin to speak with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them the ability to speak.

When Paul wrote about faith in Hebrews 11, he said in verse 3 he said, “Through faith we understand…” If the sinner is to fully repent and allow the Spirit of God to lead his life he must allow faith to be manifest in his life. He must bear the fruits of repentance if he is genuinely repentant. He must walk circumspectly before the Lord (as well as our families and the rest of the world).

This is the problem with some who have never received the Holy Ghost. They have tried to figure it all out. They have tried their best to rationalize all these things rather than just walking by faith. If they would just grasp “faith” and not let go the Lord would fill them to overflowing and all of their self-will would die out to His divine providence. Those who are led by faith “…understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

I suppose that is the reason that some would rather just continue in their evil lifestyle because they have never really gotten a glimpse of God’s divinity. They do not really believe in him! They believe more in themselves and their own abilities than in His divine providence inn their lives. I guess what they are saying is “Don’t bother me because I AM GOD.” Only through faith will we truly allow Jesus to be our Lord and God in our lives and follow him.

I don’t understand how any man could possibly turn his back on the greatest opportunity in life. I cannot comprehend how someone may walk away from the creator of all things and become so self-righteous that they are not subject to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The truth is…”I DON”T UNDERSTAND!”

S2TA-Something to Think About

DADDY! PRAY FOR ME! (The devil is trying to kill me!)

Written by E. Fred Parker

(Author’s note: This is the beginning of a book I am attempting to write about my son’s brutal murder and disappearance for twelve months and four days, the emotions, questioning, and realization in the midst of it all that God is still on His throne. I may get really emotional as I share the most intimate details of what we experienced during the search, investigation and trial. I ask that you pray as I share this with you, especially those of you who are going through your own life difficulties and trials. God bless!)

It was fifteen years ago this past week when we finally found the remains of our only son, Dustin. It had been a long twelve months and four days since he had been missing but our hope was always to find him regardless of if he were dead or alive. Unfortunately, closure in a situation like ours has not truly ever come. We had spent the past twelve months searching In swamps, under bridges, along creek banks or anywhere else we thought he may be without success, however; we would find out later that we had walked with in feet of his makeshift grave.

My wife and I said our last farewells to Dustin on Sunday night, February 8, 1998 not knowing that we would never see or hear from him again. We had gone to eat pizza with several of our church members after church which was our usual custom. We laughed and had such a great time of building long lasting relationships. Dustin was in love with a young lady from church and was always the stand up comedian in the crowd. He had ridden to Brandon with his mother and I so when we returned to the church parking lot to let him get his car. As he got out of the backseat he came to his mothers window and leaned down and kissed her good night and said, “I’ll see you tomorrow night for supper.” Those words would never be heard again because sometime around midnight on the eighth of February, Dustin Sean Parker was called to his forever home in Heaven with God.

THE CALL
It was sometime around nine the next morning that my phone rang. The voice on the end of the line was Dustin’s boss, Brother Tim Blakney. He inquired, “Brother Parker, have you seen or heard from Dustin this morning? There was a urgency in his voice as he went on to say, “Dustin has always been real good about calling in if he sick or needs time off but I haven’t heard a word from him. Would you mind going by his house to see if he overslept or something?” This one call was about to set in motion the most tragic event of our lives.

After receiving the call from Tim, I called and asked a lady in our church to swing by if she would and check on Dustin. She was going to be going that way anyway and my wife and I were both at work. A few minutes later she called back to let us know that Aaron, Dustin’s room mate at the time, said he was not at home and that he had not seen him all night. She said when his roommate came to the door that she could hear the shower running in the bathroom. She stated later that Aaron had a wash cloth in his hands and was acting very nervous.

Little did we know what we were going to experience would literally leave us speechless and unable to comprehend the cold hearted brutality of base humanity. Shortly after we received the call that Dustin had not been home all night we hurriedly drove to his house? It was only after my wife and I had arrived that we realized the seriousness of what was happening. We had a key so we waited until his roommate was gone to work and went in hoping to find some clue of Dustin’s whereabouts.

To be continued….