What A Saviour!
What A Saviour!

Maranatha Baptist Church • February 20, 2021

What A Saviour! - Cindy Williams (Anne Ortlund)


We are in trouble. What can we do? Who can rescue us from this sinful body of death and despair?

 

Anne Ortlund shares a great plan with us.

 

“As Isaiah 63:1 explains it, Jesus Christ our Lord, Dismayed over the death-sins in which we’re totally and willingly enmeshed,

 

Feeling intensely the loneliness and rejection of being the only One who cares enough to do something about it,

 

Dons His soldier’s garb and takes sword in hand and comes down to do what He knows, for love’s sake, He must do.

 

He battles us sinners to the death--His death becoming totally bloody and ruined and eternally stained and scarred--

 

For What?

 

To rescue the very ones He’s battling—to rescue us, His enemies, whom He loves so passionately—to rescue the ones who fight Him, bloody Him, hurt Him, defeat Him, wound and kill Him,

 

To rescue us so that He can rise, scarred and bloodied, to enfold us tenderly to His breast and gently clear our vision so we can see how deeply He loves us, and then to spend eternity pouring out His kindness upon the precious ones He’s rescued, comforting us and sustaining us and doing uncounted good things for us all the days of our eternal lives.

 

Alleluia!

 

So, there are two sides. His part is to do it all. And our part is to let Him do it—and hopefully thank Him and praise Him and marvel over it all!”

 

What a Saviour!

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Proud Humility - Anne Phillips
Proud Humility - Anne Phillips

Cory Bishop • January 27, 2021

Proud Humility - Anne Phillips


How comforting to know that the great philosopher and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis struggled with my problem of being proud of my humility. I recently discovered this quote in THE BUSINESS OF HEAVEN. Read and learn.


No sooner do we believe that God loves us than there is an impulse to believe that He does so, not because He is love, but because we are intrinsically loveable. The Pagans

obeyed this impulse unabashed; a good man was ‘dear to the gods’ because he was good. We, being better taught, resort to subterfuge. Far be it from us to think that we have virtues for which God could love us. But then, how magnificently we have repented! As Bunyan says, describing his first and illusory conversion, “ I thought there was no man in England that pleased God better than I.” Beaten out of this, we next offer our humility to God’s admiration. Surely He’ll like THAT? Or if not that, our clear sighted and humble recognition that we still lack humility. Thus, depth beneath depth and subtlety within subtlety, there remains some lingering idea of our own, our very own, attractiveness. It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realize for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness , if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. Surely we must have a little - however little - native luminosity? Surely we can’t be QUITE creatures? C.S. Lewis

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Christmas Memories - Cindy Williams
Christmas Memories - Cindy Williams

Maranatha Baptist Church • January 13, 2021

Christmas Memories - Cindy Williams


Christmases of years past were magical with cut-out cookies, decorations all over the house and trimming the tree. I shopped for months for just the right gifts, which I would hide in different “secret” places all over the house. Christmas eve was exciting with opening stocking gifts. Christmas morning came early, breakfast was late and Mike would read the Christmas story from Luke 2. Then came the opening of presents and bedlam. Such fun!


Years passed and we had teenagers. The Christmas experience was pared down some, but it was wonderful to be together and share this special season. 


Laura and David became adults and moved away from home and things changed at Christmas. For many years we alternated from Ohio to Tennessee for Christmas. David was not with us for some of those times. We made new traditions, but nothing like years before.


For me, it was more of a chore to decorate. There were no more homemade cookies. The tree was just a pencil tree now and sometimes it never made it out of the attic. Gifts were harder to buy unless you had a specific request. No more surprises and no more stockings.


But God gave us a special Christmas this year. We met Laura at David’s and Patricia’s home in North Carolina. God gave us snow on Christmas Eve. (A rare occasion there.) He gave us 3 little boys that made Christmas sparkle. He gave us a wonderful daughter-in-law who welcomed us all in to her home. And He gave us Christmas with both our kids again.


I made cut-out cookies with 6 year old Landry. We made a big mess, but had a great time. We ate those cookies and they never tasted better. It was like old times for me and new memories for him.


As Grandpa Mike read the Christmas story from Luke 2, I looked down at 2 month old baby Owen in my arms and thought of Mary as she looked down upon the baby Jesus in her arms. Jesus, whose birthday we celebrated, born to die for me. I looked around at my family and thanked God for them.


We wondered how long the tree would stay up with Logan’s 2 ½ year old hands rearranging ornaments and testing lights. The gift exchange was noisy and confusing as Landry passed out gifts until he became more interested in his own gifts and in opening Logan’s. With gift wrap everywhere the boys went from one thing to another. The gifts were simple things like: Play Dough, coloring books, a toy piano, a robe and a remote control car. One car made music and we heard it way too much, but Logan loved dancing to the music. (I hid it once, but they found it!)


On Sunday we ran to the store for a sled. It was a huge hit. Landry, Patricia and Logan went sled riding for the first time ever. Grandpa calculated he helped Landry slide 55 times! It was a fabulous day!


I don’t know what future Christmases will look like, but I will hold Christmas 2020 in my heart for the rest of my life.

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Why I Loved Sunday's Message - Anne Phillips
Why I Loved Sunday's Message - Anne Phillips

Maranatha Baptist Church • December 16, 2020

Anne Phillips - Why I Loved Sunday's Sermon


Let me tell you a story.


Once upon a time there lived a family in crisis not a five minute walk from Maranatha Baptist Church. This family was discovered by church members going door to door looking for riders for their bus routes. The family consisted of a father, three boys aged 12 to 8 and a little girl named Bonnie, age 6. The mother had deserted them. 


Another lady from the church and I were asked to make a call on them and see how the church might help. The father, who had a steady job, was in need of someone getting the children off to school and keeping them until he got off work. I volunteered providing he could drop them off at my house early each school day and pick them up on his way home from work. He was happy to do so. Social Services had already been to see him and were threatening to take the kids away. He loved his children and didn’t want to lose them.


Preparing them for school required they each have clothing so I was allowed into the house to find suitable play and school clothes for each child. My first experience in the house was a shocker. I can describe the interior in one word: Filth. Since I had been tasked only with finding clothes, I tried not to see beyond the stacks and piles of dirty clothes on the floors in every room. I hauled garbage bags of clothing home, very gingerly placed them in my washer, turned the water temperature as high as possible and prayed I was killing whatever vermin they contained. 


Amazingly, the clothing once clean and pressed was exceptionally nice. The father later told me that all their clothing had been given them by neighbors. Bonnie had a wardrobe of brand-name dresses to rival any little girl in her first grade class. And how I enjoyed dressing a little girl after my all-male household! But there were problems other than dressing the children. I was not surprised that they all arrived each morning hungry and needing breakfast, but Bonnie arrived most mornings smelling of urine. A bed wetter. In addition, it was obvious she had some degree of learning disability. Naturally shy anyway, she seldom talked and never asserted herself even with her rambunctious brothers. But bathed and dressed and with her blond hair washed and tied in a ribbon, Bonnie gave the appearance of any little six-year-old girl. Her school bus driver even told me that now other children would sit with her instead of avoiding and teasing her as they had before.


However, after several weeks it became apparent that Bonnie was not thriving on healthy breakfasts, clean clothes and special help with her school work. She was listless, often had no appetite and the bed wetting was getting more frequent. At first I chalked this up to missing her mother. By now I had developed animosity toward this woman I had never met who would desert these precious children. None of the children ever mentioned their mother. I tried to imagine birthing four children in 8 years. What must it have been like to live in that shack of a house. Did it even have a bathroom? Was her husband kind? I had cut him a lot of slack simply because he worked, but maybe he was a creep. In short, I tried to justify her deserting her children, but I couldn’t forgive her.


The school year would soon be over and I didn’t want to send an unhealthy Bonnie back to her father’s care .(I even considered asking if I could keep her over the summer.) I asked him about taking her to my doctor. He had insurance from his employer and would take her. I insisted on going along and talking to the doctor myself. Testing showed that Bonnie had an infection and also needed a minor procedure to help with the bed wetting. It would require an overnight stay in the hospital. She had several pairs of pajamas and it was easy to pack a cute little overnight bag for her.


Waiting in the hospital for Bonnie to be admitted, I noticed a young lady smiling at her from across the room. Bonnie was smiling back shyly. The lady opened a bag and produced a pair of brand new pajamas. I realized that this was The Mother who had deserted her children, but now that someone else had cared for them, she was ready to play the hero at this time of crisis. Without thinking, I nudged Bonnie to go to her mother which she did.


I left them there and returned home in a blind fury of frustration and hatred. Never before nor since have I been so hurt and so angry. The only thing I could think to do was to open my Bible to a passage at random. I opened to Psalm 37 and read verse 1. Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. 


 I really identified with this Sunday's sermon.

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Thank God for Kids - Cindy Williams
Thank God for Kids - Cindy Williams

Maranatha Baptist Church • November 21, 2020

Thank God for Kids - Cindy Williams


The other day I read, “Here I am with the children the Lord has given me to be signs and wonders in Israel” Isaiah 8:18 csb. The author of the book said that Isaiah knew God’s promises and blessings were still in effect in troubled Israel because of the children. It is her opinion that children are our “signs and wonders” that God continues to have good plans for us.


While I’m not sure that is what Isaiah 8:18 means, but it got me to thinking. We were at our son’s home not long ago to tend to Landry and Logan while Owen was born. To us, those boys are “signs and wonders” of God’s promise for a future and hope. As Psalm 127:3 states, “children are an heritage of the LORD”. These boys and the children at church and children we see everywhere should remind us that God is not through with us. He is still creating these little people who light up our lives.


As I held little Owen I could see God’s handiwork in his perfect little face and body. As I chased 2 year old Logan around I saw God’s creation of strength and energy anew. As I helped Landry with his 1st grade work, I marveled at the power God has given us to learn so well and so quickly. 


In these hard times, don’t lose hope. (I am speaking to myself too.) God is not done with us. He reminds us of His love, His goodness, and hope in Him with these children around us. As the song says, “Thank God for Kids”!

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Jess Doit -Anne Phillips
Jess Doit -Anne Phillips

Maranatha Baptist Church • October 03, 2020

Jess Doit - Anne Phillips


I’d like you to meet a friend of mine, Jess Doit. This guy has driven me to distraction many times by interrupting my meals and waking me up at night. But he has been a constant, faithful companion for as long as I can remember.


Many years ago he introduced himself to my friend, Pat, and changed her life. Pat was not known for self motivation or self discipline, so when first saved and her pastor insisted she read through her Bible in one year, she needed help. Jess was there. Now she tells me her Bible reading is the most joyful part of her day.


Andrew Brunson, in a Turkish prison, knew he was losing his mind. He felt no peace, no joy, then Doit came along. Listen to Brunson’s testimony. 


   I began every day to set aside five minutes, and I would start out by saying, ‘I repent that I have not been joyful, because you have commanded me to be joyful. (Matt. 5:12)

I am sorry. I repent. Please forgive me. Now I am going to perform an act of joy. I don’t feel it. This is a step of obedience.’ Then I would begin to dance, and I would hop around. I would leap and jump in the air and say, ‘Rejoice and be glad. Rejoice and be glad for great is your reward in Heaven.’ I would do that for about five minutes, not feeling anything but declaring I was doing it for Jesus. 


With love and determination to obey Christ regardless of his feelings, Andrew Brunson emerged victorious from his Turkish prison. With Jess Doit’s help, Pat learned to love God’s Word.


How about you? Do you have a task that needs doing? A closet to clean, a letter to write, a Sunday School lesson to study? Are you behind a chapter in your read-through-the-Bible schedule? What about that phone call to a shut-in you should make? Please. Jess Doit!

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Unspeakable Joy - Anonymous
Unspeakable Joy - Anonymous

Maranatha Baptist Church • September 23, 2020

Unspeakable Joy - Anonymous


A dear Christian lady prayed for her husband’s salvation for 40 plus years. He would have none of it. He seemed unconcerned and enjoyed hanging on to his sin. 


He became very ill. The doctor said he was dying. It was only a matter of time. This news caused many Christians to join her in prayer for his soul.


Even as he understood that death was coming, he continued to reject God’s love. He even joked about going to hell. But those prayers of the saints kept rising to the Throne of God. 


A month before he died, this man asked to speak to his wife’s pastor. That pastor was called upon to reap the harvest of those many prayers. He was privileged to lead the man to the Lord! 


As this sweet Christian lady stood at the side of her husband’s casket, she was not happy. Her beloved husband of so many years was gone from her side. She would miss him greatly. Life had changed forever. 


But, she was bubbling with joy, a joy some did not understand. Joy at the side of the casket? Yes, joy, unspeakable and full of glory. Joy that she would see her husband again. Joy for the decision he made which changed his eternal destination. The decision made in the nick of time! Joy that he is now with her Lord!


There is a monumental difference between happiness and joy. Joy goes deeper and lasts. It does not depend on circumstances. Joy is from the Lord. And, yes, she is still full of the Joy of the Lord!

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Happiness Vs. Joy - Anne Phillips
Happiness Vs. Joy - Anne Phillips

Cory Bishop • September 19, 2020

Happiness Vs. Joy - Anne Phillips


“Happiness”, says Charlie Brown, “is a warm puppy”. Linus says, “Happiness is a soft blanket.” They are both correct. Happiness is a ‘thing’. - a manmade man-maintained fleeting emotion that belongs to this world. How many homes and churches have been broken up in the pursuit of happiness? Spouse not making you happy? Find another one. Not happy at church? Try another one. Making happiness the goal of our lives is a dangerous, destructive business.



JOY! Now THAT belongs to the Christian! Years ago Pastor Grover loaned me a book by Rich Wagner - The Myth of Happiness. Wagner writes not so much about Happiness as about Grace, Peace and Joy. What lovely words all. He writes that ‘Grace offers eternity while Joy gives us a glimpse of what eternity will be like.’


It is difficult to explain the difference between happiness and Joy, but If you are a parent you will remember the happiness you experienced when you learned your baby was healthy. Now recall the sheer Joy of holding him the first time. There is a difference. 


Maybe the best part of Joy is that it cannot be apart from Peace. They are two sides of the same coin. You cannot experience one without the other. Wagner says it well: 


               Joy is Peace dancing. Peace is Joy at rest. I wish you both.

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Special Gifts - Cindy Williams
Special Gifts - Cindy Williams

Maranatha Baptist Church • September 16, 2020

Special Gifts - Cindy Williams


You know all those things people say about how special becoming a grandparent is? It’s true.

Over the years I listened to the stories and dutifully looked at the pictures of glowing grandmas’ and grandpas’ miraculous grandchildren. Never thinking I would become one of them.


In October of 2014, I flew to Florida with my husband to meet a special person. After being picked up at the airport, we were taken to the castle to meet the young prince. I can’t describe the feeling I had when I saw this beautiful creation of the Lord. Baby Landry stole my heart and set up residence in a part of it. 


In his first few years, we visited when we could. Vacations were straight to Florida and back. We wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. However, we had to watch those first years of Landry growing in pictures and videos. His parents were very good at keeping us updated on our little boy.


When the family moved to North Carolina we decided this was a ministry for us, spend time with Landry. Mike retired from work and also being a deacon. I retired the next year. We wanted to be a godly influence on our grandson, so began our treks to North Carolina.


Landry has grown into such a smart, sweet, curious little boy. He loves board games, especially Candy Land and Sneaky Snacky Squirrel. We have great games of Hide and Seek. He loves books read to him. He likes to work. He asks tons of questions. (I could go on, but I will restrain myself.)


Our first trip with Landry was to stay in a hotel (He asked if it was our house.) and Santa’s Land. We all had a ball! He rode the Rudy Coaster (“too fast Grandpa”) and several kiddie rides. His favorite thing was riding a paddle boat and feeding tons of fish. We loved it too!


The Bear Zoo was a great place where you can feed the big bears. We conned him into getting our picture taken with a baby bear. He would not smile, but that picture is a treasure. 


Next we rented a camper at Jellystone Park. There was swimming, fishing, walking, the playground, cooking out, and lots of fun. (Landry likes white marshmallows, not brown or black.)


We had a blast at the Smoky Mountain Deer Park where he rode his first horse. He loved feeding the goats and deer.


This summer we brought him to our home for a week. Such wonderful memories we made! The Covered Bridge, The Farm at Walnut Creek, walks, Wii, and so much more. 


On the way to his home, we stopped at Parrot Mountain. Such a beautiful place! We walked and looked at all the gorgeous birds God made! His favorite thing was the baby bird building where he was brave enough to hold two birds at once. Of course, crazy Grandma talked him into a picture of the tree with each of us holding birds! No smile, of course, but another treasurer!


We always talk to Landry about the One who loves him more than we do. The One who will forgive his sins and give him a home in Heaven. He is starting to “get it”! Such great questions he asks! Why was Jesus beaten? Why did He die on the cross? I love Jesus, am I okay? 


Landry and I were riding in the back of the van together on Route 40 with a view of the breathtaking Smokies. The clouds were so white and fluffy that day. I looked out the window and pointed to the mountains and the clouds covering the tops. I said to Landry, “That reminds me of Jesus coming with the clouds. You know someday Jesus will call all of the ones that love Him to come with Him to Heaven.” Landry looked at me and asked, “Will I go with him? I love Him?” I explained to him about his sin and having Jesus forgiving him. It is exciting to hear his questions and to talk to him about the Lord. I know he doesn’t understand about his sin yet, but it is coming. This grandma and grandpa keep him before the Lord in prayer.


God has given us two grandsons and soon number three will make his appearance. We will do our best, with God’s help to invest our time and love on them too. 


What they say about Grandparents is all true. Want to see some pictures?

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"A Missed Teaching Moment" - Anne Phillips

Cory Bishop • September 12, 2020

"A Missed Teaching Moment" - Anne Phillips


The argument began in the basement, rolled up the stairs and erupted into the living room. Nine-year-old Grant and ten-year-old Jared were having a theological disagreement.

   “Grandma”, said Jared, “Grant wants to know what God put us here to do?”

   “Yeah”, chimed in Grant. “My step dad says we’re here to have fun.”

My reply was an unthinking reflex action. “God put us here to glorify Him.” Then I drew a deep breath, prayed silently for wisdom and prepared to go into great Biblical detail. Too late!

   “See, Grant,” Jared (a good little Baptist was saying.) “I told you God didn’t put us here to have FUN.” And they were off down the stairs leaving me with the after shocks.

   ‘God put us here to glorify him’ must surely seem like a dry and stingy answer to children. And was ‘God put us here to have fun’ an altogether wrong answer? It deserved some discussion at least. Why did I murder a great teaching opportunity before it could draw a healthy breath? I’ve taken counseling courses. I know how to encourage discussion. And given a little time I may have thought of Ecclesiastes 12:13 -

Fear God, keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. What a great teaching moment that could have been!

   But maybe the greatest aftershock was the realization that my grandsons came to me for an answer fully believing I would have it. Then they accepted my answer as the final truth. Now THAT is a frightening thought!


Dear God, my grown grandsons now know Grandma does not have all the answers. I pray I have succeeded in pointing them to Your Word, written and Living, the only true source of all wisdom.

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