Unfaithfulness

One of the worst short comings of our society today is a lack of faithfulness. I’m not just talking about within the church. A casual look at how many kids start college and how many finish will easily prove this to be true. Employment records tell of many people who lost their jobs for simply not showing up or consistent tardiness. Marriages all to often end because of the unfaithfulness of a spouse. The kids also suffer from their parents lack of faithfulness and the next generation is raised to see it as an acceptable practice that everyone does. While their are legitimate reasons to quit school, miss work, arrive late and even divorce. This should never happen simply because of a lack of effort on our part.

Now I want to look at an underlying cause of unfaithfulness. I think it can be traced directly back to selfishness. Allow me to demonstrate, selfishness occurs when what we want becomes more important than what we have already committed ourselves to do. I’ll grant you that we wouldn’t word it that way ourselves, we’ll say something like this: “It’s to nice of a day to spend it at work.” “I’m going to enjoy tonight and pay for it at work tomorrow.” “Right now I want to ____, because I can finish school anytime.” “Nobody should have to endure what I’m dealing with in my marriage.” Did you notice how in each sentence the justification for breaking a commitment came from their personal feelings at the time? We can’t call ourselves faithful when we are only faithful when we feel like it. Faithfulness requires a commitment that exceeds all other desires old and new.

Time was when a man worked his entire life for one company, completed his commitments or died trying, and divorce was a rarity instead of a common occurrence. During this time people borrowed money on a hand shake and children were taught that a man’s word was his bond. What has happened to us?

Our current state of emotions have prevailed over commitments we’ve made with a clear head and a sound mind. We as a society have traded rational decisions for the fleeting moment. As if we might miss something if we continue in the drudgery of a promise we made in the past. The grass ain’t greener, and we aren’t missing anything. By keeping our word, we are demonstrating integrity, modeling true character, and carrying on an almost lost trait from the past.

As a Christian we are showing others to some degree the faithfulness that Christ has shown us. He never quit on us when we were not all that we should’ve been. He never yielded to emotions in his commitment to us. Of all the people on the planet to demonstrate faithfulness, shouldn’t Christians be the best at it? We are the recipients of His faithfulness and the world deserves to see it lived out in our lives.

Biblical Answers To Honest Questions

One morning as I was drinking coffee an acquaintance said “Reverend, I’ve got a question…” I guess I need to give a little background here, I’m the only preacher many of the coffee shop guys have a personal relationship with so they save their “preacher questions” for me and it’s not uncommon for a conversation to start this way. What made this conversation so unique was in being around him off and on for 5-6 years he had never asked me a preacher question before.

Now about his question(s), “How can God be so good and allow what happened to Adam, when ate the apple, to effect us all?” “I mean because of what Adam did we have cancer, suffering, pain and death. Now if God controls everything and he allowed this to happen and now spread to us, how is He good?” My immediate reply was that God provided a solution to the problem in the person of Jesus Christ. We can escape the sin nature of Adam. There, problem solved! Or so I thought…

“Well preacher, why did God put us through all this?” For starters, God didn’t, Adam did. Now because Adam got us in this mess, God can show his goodness by getting us out. “Why did He let Satan loose on the earth, if your God is so good?” I would say to be merciful to Satan. Satan is out on parole, he wasn’t immediately cast in to Hell as he deserved. God mercifully allowed him to roam the Earth.

“So God was merciful to Satan at our expense, now were all going to die!” Yes, but we only have to die once. Those who embrace the solution to Adam’s problem (Christ) will live again. Satan doesn’t have that option, his fate is sure. “Satan caused the deaths of a lot of innocent children who had nothing to do with it!” Yes, but those who die innocent will live for ever with God. Isn’t heaven better than Earth? And hasn’t God provided a way for us to be with Him and them forever?

“Yeah, yeah, Jesus… If you believe in him.” Well, if you believe in Adam and the “apple” why do you struggle with believing in Christ? “That’s just it, only parts of the Bible are true, and parts ain’t. It was written by men and some were smart and some weren’t.” So by what standard do we judge the accuracy of the Scriptures? How do we know which parts to believe and which parts to reject? “By our own personal experiences. I’ve been dealing with people for years and I know how they are and I know what parts of the Bible are right about that.” So you have set your self up as the judge of God’s Word. To be perfectly honest with you, you’re more upset with the Cure than your own condition. “Prove the Bible is all true and I’ll believe it.” I can’t, and you won’t. The bible is a spiritual book and only spiritual people believe it. I cant force you to be spiritual. “No you can’t.” But God can, and until then our conversation is futile? “I believe that!” We still friends? “Of course.”

A Unique Mission

On February 23rd I preached in the annual missions conference at Indian Baptist Church in Smithville, OK. I have preached in this meeting for the last 4-5 years and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of missionaries during this time. This year was no different, but as I began to visit Cecil Fayard from Ocean Springs, MS I soon discovered that his mission was very different. Cecil ministers to sailors from around the world on ships that dock in the ports around Mobile, AL.

What makes his ministry so unique is that the people he’s trying to reach actually come to him. They stay anywhere from a day to a month depending on the the cargo they are loading and if their ship needs any repairs. Cecil told me the ships carry anywhere from thirteen to one hundred and fifty seafarers in the crew. These guys spend up to 6 months at a time away from home working 12 hour shifts seven day a week. So they are always ready to see a new face. If they have a US visa they can leave the ship and Cecil drives them wherever they need to go in his old church van. In the back of this van he hauls Bibles, Christian literature, and tracts in forty one different languages to give the guys aboard the ships. To date he has shared the gospel with people from over 50 different countries while never leaving the United States. His slogan is “The best export America can have is the gospel.”

Cecil does travel around the southern coast to other ports from Pensacola to New Orleans as time permits. About once a year he flies to the Dominican Republic to train pastors there in a ship to shore port ministry. Unlike many missionaries, most of the people he engages want reading material and have time to read it. After five years in this work he has begun to encounter people he met years earlier. Many still have the Bible he gave them. Others will ask questions they’ve thought of since their previous conversation. Many times Cecil is the only Christian they know and they may only see him once or twice a year at most.

After hearing of his work, I knew we needed to support this worthy cause. Missions are expensive, flying a family around the world, visas and passports, training them in language and culture, and securing a home or meeting space can cost a fortune. The port ministry is relatively cheap in comparison. Cecil has all his US Customs credentials to board ships in the port, which is only 10 minutes from his home. Since English is the language of the seas, he only needs transportation and tons of literature on top of his normal living expenses to reach thousands of people around the globe. He said if we are ever around Mobile, AL to give him a call and he would be glad to take us with him any day as he shares the gospel with these sailors. Please pray for him and consider giving to his ministry this month.