January 2010

Pastor Bob Alderman

First Baptist Church

How do we find God in the midst of tragedy?  Well, we need to know where to look and listen.

1 Kings 19:9-14 “There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and  stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” ESV

When bad stuff happens, whether it be a tornado, earthquake, wildfire, or any other type of disaster, we often focus all our attention on the problem.

We want to know how big the storm was, what it rated on a scale and how devastated our community is after the storms passing.

We will miss God if we are obsessed by the storm.  God is not in the storm.

Even in the most violent earthquake or devastating hurricane, there is calm and peace just a little ways away.   Moreover, there is peace heading your way.  The storm will soon end.

Take a step back, pray fervently, have a good look around.  God is not in the storm, God is inside of you and the lives of those who now respond to help.

Elijah could have given into the fear he must have felt and ran away; but he would have missed the voice of God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ESV

Faith makes more sense that human reason and logic, especially in times of trial and trouble.  Trust God, not your thoughts.

Perhaps God was even speaking about earthquakes when He led Isaiah to pen this scripture, Isaiah 54:10 “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” NIV

It sure sounds like Jesus was speaking of a terrible storm when He spoke these words in Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” ESV

The message?  Build your house on the solid rock of the Word of God!  Then you can face any kind of storm with faith and not fear.

God understands our fears and our doubts.  God also knows that we will have times of terrible tragedy that we doubt we will survive.  He will be there, not with more devastation, but with love.

This should be our cry,

Psalm 69:1-2 “God, God, save me! I’m in over my head, Quicksand under me, swamp water over me; I’m going down for the third time.” The Message

Do you feel like you are about to go under for the final time?  Are you about to give up all hope and give up?  Call out to God!  He will hear your cry and respond to you.  Trust in Him and not yourself.

God is able to do far more than you, or anyone else in the world is able to do.  Trust God.

The great thing about God is that once you have Him, He will always be there for you!  Friends and family may desert you and your boss may fire you; but God will never give up on you!

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ESV

Hebrews 13:5b “for he (God) has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ESV

Tragedy, trouble and disaster will come and there is nothing we can do to prevent them!  We can be protected from them by the Grace of our Savior Jesus.

Jesus Himself said,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” ESV-John 14:27

God wants us to call upon Him for help.  God is near those who need Him.  Our very salvation is based on our realizing our need for His Salvation.

Matthew 5:3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” – Jesus

Are you looking for God?  Stop looking and start listening.  Separate yourself from the noise and distractions of everyday life, and the devastation of the disaster around you and get alone with God.  Open a Bible and read, ask Him for wisdom, help and a relationship with Him that makes a real difference in your life.

God is calling your name.  God is trying to reach you.  Are you able to hear Him?

With God on your side nothing is impossible!  You can weather any storm, survive any disaster and experience real life, safely in the arms of Jesus.

Always remember that God loves you!..and so do I.


Pastor Bob Alderman

First Baptist Church

I know that many of you have heard a well known Christian “talk show” host proclaiming that the earthquake in Haiti is their own fault, brought on by their own sinful actions.

I would like to address this statement in very simple terms:  This person is absolutely wrong!

God’s plan is a plan for salvation and hope, not destruction.

So why does bad stuff happen?  This is a very deep question that I will try to answer in the limited space available in this article.

First, People make bad choices.  Our bad choices affect us, our families and those around us.  Your bad choices are not God’s plan for your life.

Many years ago I lost a friend in a horrific motorcycle accident.  During his funeral I overheard people talking about “God’s will” and “God’s time.”  I do not believe that it was God’s plan and desire for my friend to be operating his motorcycle drunk at night at very high speeds on a very curvy mountain road.  My friend made several very bad choices.

God has a plan for you but you must choose to follow His plan and not yours.   Jeremiah 29:11-14a “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,  I will be found by you, declares the Lord,” ESV

You are responsible for your choices.  We cannot blame others, you are responsible for you.  Choose God and seek Him with your everything.

If you choose to associate with criminals, you will begin to become like them.    It is impossible to spend time with pigs and not get a little mud on yourself.

If you choose to get drunk or high, things are going to happen to you.  You have less control and inhibitions, as do those you are with.  Make better choices for yourself, your family and your community.

Second, the bad choices of others can affect you.  One person makes the choice to drink and drive, then causes a accident that hurts or kills an innocent person.  This is not the will of God, it is the will of a person who made bad choices and inflicted their will upon others. Encourage others to make better choices.

Thirdly, we inhabit bodies made of flesh and bone that are not designed or constructed to last forever.  Our bodies are prone to disease and damage, as well as simply wearing out.

We can extend the life of our bodies the same way we extend the life of our vehicles!  Put only good stuff into it, keep it clean, operate it (exercise), don’t “hot rod” it and take it to the mechanic (doctor) for regular servicing and maintenance.

Unfortunately, even with the best of care, our human bodies will eventually wear out.  While this loss is very painful for us, it is reality.

The good news is that God has a plan for you to live forever!  John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ESV

Fourthly, we live in a world that is both dynamic and temporary.

The earth is a very dynamic object that is constantly in motion and has several processes for maintaining and controlling the balance of life.

Earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes are just three of these processes.  They are the three we hear of most often because they tend to have a major effect on the humans that live here.

God knows the “expiration date” of our planet and He is desperately calling out to us to believe in Him while there is still time.

Finally, we have an eternal enemy who always stands against us.

We often try to blame every bad thing on the devil, but the reality is that he is not that powerful. While we cannot blame most of our troubles on him, satan is a very real factor in our world.

The good news is that, while satan came to take life, Jesus Christ came to give it!

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and  kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – Jesus

Do you want life, real life and not just existence?  You need to get closer to Jesus.

What did our Christian talk show host miss in his statements?  Love.

God loves you!  God will never leave you or forsake you, especially in the darkest time of your life.

People have tried to claim God’s Judgment upon hurting people since the beginning of time.   Hear the words of Jesus about this false claim:  Matthew 5:45b-48 “For he(God) makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” ESV

Jesus Himself even addressed the issue of sin in relationship to disaster in Luke 13:4 when He asked if 18 men killed in a tower collapse were worse sinners than those who live in Jerusalem, and His answer was “No!”

We are all sinners.  If we follow this faulty logic to its ultimate reality, none of us would be here!  We would all be destroyed.   So why are we here?  Because God loves us!

Here is what the scripture says God did for sinners,

Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ESV

Yes, you read that right, God loved you so much He sent His Son to take the punishment for your sins!  Jesus died for your sins and the sins of the people in Haiti, New Orleans or anyone else in the world.

Salvation, not destruction, is God’s plan.  Life, not Death, is what Jesus came to provide us.

Everyone will experience storms in their life!  Christians have the benefit of being anchored to and protected by Jesus Christ while non-believers have to face life’s storms on their own.  This is their choice, not Gods.  God has done everything He can to call every person to His saving Grace. Will you believe?

Remember that God loves you! …and so do I.

I pray that each of you enjoys a happy and safe New Years Celebration!  The new year gives us the opportunity for a new beginning and second chances.  WE can begin again with more than a clean slate!  We can have a clean heart!  That is a new year worth pursuing.    Psalm 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.  ESV

2009 may have been a bad year, but 2010 can be much, MUCH better if we will love God like we should and love others like we know He wants us to! 

Lets not dwell on the problems, issues and mistakes of 2009, let us instead look forward to the Grace and Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ and what is possible in 2010!

Philippians 3:13-15 forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  ESV