The Future

Jeremiah 29:11

At my Pastoral instillation service on October 10, 1999, I told the congregation that assembled that day a brief story that I'd like to retell this morning. A dignitary was touring a construction site when he asked one of the workers what he was doing, the mason looked up from his work, wiped the sweat from his forehead using the shirt sleeve of his trowel hand and replied, "I'm laying bricks." Though he didn't say it, his attitude communicated, "What does it look like I'm doing?"

Later the dignitary encountered another brick mason and asked him the same question. This time he got a different reply. The young man, stood up straight, looked him square in the eyes and said, "Sir, I'm building a cathedral."

Two men. One job. But two radically different perspectives. The point I made that day is that if masons could build a cathedral by laying bricks, then we are building the Kingdom of God when we do our church work. We aren't simply preaching sermons, singing songs, teaching children, feeding the hungry, operating the electronics and babysitting little ones—the work we are doing has a far greater significance than the humble work we do—it is Kingdom work.

I knew very little about the ministry of our church on that day, but I knew that if we would be faithful to do the little things, our work, combined with the work of others, could change the world.

I remain steadfast in that conviction.

Over the past six years, we've laid a brick or two. In the midst of this mission field, we've faithfully proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we did this morning, we regularly enter into the baptismal waters to celebrate the life changing power of the gospel.

We have a vision for providing quality spiritual care for those who live on the Peninsula fulltime while welcoming military families into our church with open arms. We are their hometown church away from home. Of course, that isn't to say that we are exactly like their church back home. For one thing, Lighthouse Baptist Church has a track record of welcoming young adults, who've demonstrated strong Christian character and a responsible spirit into the circle of leadership. Most churches require a person to be middle-aged before a man can become a deacon or a person can direct a ministry. Not here. We welcome the young. We believe we are doing kingdom work by helping to train our young to be servant-leaders. It is a huge part of our vision. But that isn't all that is unusual about our ministry to the military. Most military churches are either officer churches or enlisted churches. Not us. We have both. At times, there is more of one than the other, but we always have both. Because we are faithful in this ministry, we are sending missionaries out around the world to strengthen other churches and do the work of God.

Our ministry has not been limited to locals and the military. When I arrived, we were also ministering on a monthly basis to the homeless through the I-Help program and on a weekly basis to the hungry through our food pantry. Laying one brick at a time, every month, we open the doors of our church to homeless men who need a step up, not a hand out, and we do it with excellence. Our workers don't just do the minimum requirements; they go above and beyond the call of duty to provide tasty meals and comfortable accommodations. Our food pantry ministry is expanding to unbelievable proportions. We used to help a dozen or so families a week, now we're exceeding 40 families some weeks. God is blessing us with the chance to minister in His name to the hungry. But remembering the words of our Lord, we know we aren't just doing this to them. Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40 NASB) A few years ago, we launched another ministry to the downtrodden, where some of our members prepare a hot meal for the homeless and others go to preach a message to them. Our Park Ministry continues to flourish as these faithful people lay one brick on top of another.

We also took the bold step of reaching our Spanish-speaking neighbors by sending our Pastor back to School to learn the language. Now we are one church that has two congregations. Members of both congregations serve on our committees and contribute to the welfare of the church. As you know, I preach once a month to the Spanish congregation and am training some of the laymen how to preach in a monthly workshop held in conjunction with Emmanuel Bi-lingual Baptist Church in Salinas. With the help of their good pastor, Joel Jimenez, we have services on a weekly basis and are reaching the neighborhood with the gospel. In this case, we needed some help laying these bricks and our sister church is helping us.

We've participated in other mission projects, like remodeling a cabin at Jenness Park, which now by the order of the Executive Board of the California Southern Baptist Convention is called "Lighthouse Lodge." We've also participated in the "Feeding those who Feed us" project and gave new school clothes to children of migrant workers and food to their families. This is on top of Christmas-time projects like Samaritans Purse or Operation Christmas Child and our support of special Mission offerings through our denomination.

Our brick laying hasn't been limited to mission work. We've remodeled or refreshed practically every square inch of our buildings and have chiseled our debt down from over $300,000 to around $35,000.00.

Brick by brick. We've done each of these things, brick by brick. At times the work is hard. Never is it glamorous, but all of it is Kingdom work. We're not just laying bricks, we're building a cathedral! So what does our future hold?

I don't know.

I don't know what the future holds, but I do know who holds our future. Jeremiah 29:11 says "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (NIV).

We've done what we've done in response to our understanding of God's will for our church, and we will go forward with that some conviction. We will continue to build His Kingdom, one brick at a time.

Very soon, we need to expand our staff to include a Youth Minister and build some new buildings for office space and onsite housing for staff. I also believe that in the short term, it is God's will for us to do three things: Recommit, Rebuild and Renew.

Today, I ask you to recommit yourself to the vision. Make your service to the Lord a top priority in your life. Attend. Serve. Give. Without your faithful attendance, Spirit-filled service and cheerful giving our church could not complete its mission. Will you make that recommitment today? What a great New Year's resolution!

Second, we need to rebuild. We've already begun two new Sunday School classes to help us to expand and will launch The Gathering on January 29th. We're encouraging all our military families to distribute "Cheryl's list of Good Stuff" to the new people moving into their neighborhoods and for everyone to help spread the news about Lighthouse Baptist Church by word of mouth.

Third, we need to renew. I am praying for personal and corporate revival. Down the road, you will hear more about our plans for renewal, but for now, let me say that while I don't know everything that God has planned for us, I know that He is in charge and wants to do great things among us. Are you committed to doing whatever it takes to see that happen? We're not just laying random bricks. We are doing it together, according to God's blueprint. So grab a trowel, we need your help.

Turning Points

Phil 3:5-6

In his 84 years, Thomas Edison patented over a thousand inventions. He is most famous for inventing the light bulb, but made more money off the alkaline battery.

Edison was a bulldog, unwilling to accept failure as a final outcome to his efforts. Before he successfully invented the alkaline battery, he failed 9000 times! Edison credited his success to hard work. "Genius is one percent inspiration," Edison said, "and 99 percent perspiration." No one will debate the fact that Edison was a hard worker. He built a laboratory beside his vacation home in Fort Myers, FL and he is known for sleeping very little.

He was unstoppable. On his 80th birthday he announced the formation of a company to do research to develop rubber. He was relentless. (From "Fresh Illustrations").

Why did he work so hard? Was it determination? Was it will power? Was it discipline? No. I believe the key to Edison's success was his PASSION to invent. Determination, discipline and will power will only take a person so far, but passion is unstoppable!

Great people have passion-a force that consumes their lives and directs their energy. They are not always the strongest or the brightest of their peers, but they consistently outperform them. Their greatness cannot be explained by their education, privileges or talents, because their accomplishments always exceed their abilities. They are driven. Not by the spirit of competition or self-discipline, but by passion. This morning, you'll discover the origin of that passion. And, if you are willing to pay the price, you could leave on the path to greatness.

Saul of Tarsus was a man who kept his shoes shined and his brass polished. He played by all the rules and emerged as a qualified Rabbi. He gives his resume in Philip. 3:5-6 "circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; [6] as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless."

But Saul's privilege began before his birth. He was of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin, you will recall was Joseph's little brother, he was the son of Israel's old age-the only one of the sons of Israel born in the promised land (Gen. 35:17-18). Perhaps Saul was even named after the first King of Israel, who came from the tribe of Benjamin.

Saul was born into a strict Jewish home and was blessed with a privileged upbringing. Adhering to the command God gave to Abraham in Genesis 17:12, Saul's parents circumcised him on the 8th day.

Saul did not turn his back on his heritage. He was a "Hebrew of Hebrews." The Jewish people have always been a misunderstood and persecuted people. Persecution forced them to the four corners of the earth. Wherever they went they retained a portion of their culture, but usually sacrificed their language. Saul was not a Hellenized Jew-he did not adopt the culture and the language of the Greek people. Though familiar with their language and customs, Saul retained the ways and the tongue of his people

Not only did he fight to retain the culture of his people, he actively fought against those who differed with his view. He was zealous in his beliefs to the point that he persecuted the church.

Saul was a Pharisee. Now, I know that today, the word carries a negative connotation because of their many conflicts with Jesus, but remember that Saul is giving his qualifications as a Jew in this text. The sect of the Pharisees began a couple hundred years before Christ with the intent of combating the Hellenization of the Jews and a desire to restore purity to their religion. They had a strong focus on keeping the law. The Pharisees turned the 10 commandments into 613 prohibitions, including 39 kinds of work that was prohibited on the Sabbath Day.

I know, I know-that sounds a little bureaucratic and extreme, but their heart was in the right place, even if their efforts were misguided. Their "aim was not prudery but piety." (Connick, 47) The Pharisees numbered around 6000 in Jesus' time, the largest of the Jewish sects.

A sparkling resume, but Rabbi Saul never achieved greatness, not until a life changing (and name changing) event-a turning point.

On the road to Damascus, Saul carried a writ giving him the authority to persecute Christians, but God had another idea. "And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; [4] and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" [5] And he said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, [6] but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do." (Acts 9:3-6 NASB).

God struck Saul to the ground and sent the proud man to Damascus with orders to wait until someone comes to tell him what to do. Saul went.

What was the journey like? He was a blind man going into an unfamiliar city to receive orders from a stranger. Did he stumble? Did he fall? Was he anxious? Why did God require him to "hurry up and wait?" Why didn't God tell him what Saul needed to know right on the spot, instead of sending him, a blind man on an errand?

Saul had a choice to make. Did he return to Jerusalem and his former life, or did he forget about his privilege, throw his resume on the dung heap and embrace his future?

He ambled into town, not in the light, but in the darkness. It was in the darkness, that he found his passion and ultimately achieved his greatness.

Many times, God dos not engrave great people with passion in the light. God carves passion, that key element of greatness, on their character in the "dark night of the soul."

In Philip. 3:13-14, Paul gives his formula for greatness: "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, [14] I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Notice that Paul knew he was on a journey, he hadn't yet attained his destination, and Paul was not allowing his past accomplishments or failures rob him of the potential of his future. But the key to his greatness is found in verse 14. He is driven by God's upward call-he was passionate! A passion he received in the darkness in Damascus.

After his conversion, Persecutor Saul became the Apostle Paul, a prolific writer, penning nearly half of the books of the New Testament. Paul was a church planter, representing the church on three missionary journeys to plant churches and nurture believers. He was a leader that molded the future of the church and trained others to lead. He was passionate.

They stoned him and he kept preaching. Because of his determination? No! Because of his passion!

They threw him in prison, but he kept on praising. Because of his superior discipline? No! Because of his passion!

They chained him to a guard and put him under house arrest but he kept on writing. Because of his will power? No! Because of his passion!

Other great leaders found their passion through trials.

Joseph's journey to greatness wasn't through a life of privilege as the favorite son of his father, but in a pit at the hands of his brothers and a jail cell at the hands of Potipher's wife. Not in the light, but in the dark. He emerged with a passion to know and do the will of God!

Daniel's moment of truth did not take place under a spotlight, but before an openwindow in Babylon where he prayed. Not in the light, but in the dark. He emerged with passion! Whether in the King's court or in the Lion's den, he had a passion for righteousness.

David's defining moment did not come among his father's sheep at home, but in a battlefield against a Philistine champion. Not in the light, but in the dark. He emerged with a passion to know and follow God's heart!

Saul's turning point did not come at the feet of Gamaliel, where he studied, or in the synagogue where he worshiped, but after an encounter with a Holy God who confronted him with his unrighteousness. Not in the light, but in the dark. And Saul emerged with a passion to build the church he once tried to destroy!

You may receive your training in the light, but you will receive your passion in the dark-in moments when life feels like it is caving in on you. In those "dark nights of the soul" God gives you your passion. Great people are driven by their passion and guided by their God!

With his life in disarray, Steven Lavaggi sat on his bedroom's wooden floor, and began searching his Bible for answers. His wife had just left him to marry a writer for The Rolling Stone Magazine. Ten days later, Steven discovered his son was stricken with Juvenile Diabetes. As if coping with the personal crisis wasn't enough, Lavaggi also lost his graphic art business.

Unemployed, abandoned, and worrying about his son, Lavaggi turned to God's Word. As Steven read, he skipped over the black letters, only wanting to read the words of Jesus. The Risen Christ emerged from the pages. Lavaggi gave his life to Jesus.

As a new Christian, he clung to Psalms 91:11: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." Out of his brokenness, came a passion to create and message of hope. He left the lucrative world of graphic art to become a fine artist.

Since Steven's passion is to minister through fine art, he moved to California, to influence the people who influence the world—Hollywood.

He is doing just that. The response to his work is overwhelming. Inspired by the Psalmist's words he painted a 4' X 5' angel. When a friend encouraged him to make the image three dimensional, he collaborated with a sculptor, and together they cast the angel.

While speaking to a crowd of thirty-five hundred natives in Soweto, South Africa, Lavaggi held a 20" sculpture of a black angel above his head. When he did, the crowd erupted with enthusiasm. A man on the stage told him that just a few days before, a preacher had said, "One of the things we need is for international artists to express the love of God through art, perhaps even painting angels in black." When Lavaggi heard this, he grabbed a 20" white angel, held it above his head and said, "these angels were created to be like brothers and sisters, even as we are supposed to be." Later, as he reflected on the day, he decided to call the sculptures, "The Angels of Reconciliation."

His creation graces the cover of the Winter 2000 GROWING CHURCHES magazine and two 20" bronze statues are in the city of Lake Village, Arkansas symbolizing the hope of racial reconciliation in the deep South.

Steven's message would not exist without his passion! His message is easy to see-it is in the light, but remember, his passion was born in the dark, on a wooden floor while he grieved the loss of his wife, his job and his son's health. Through the struggle, he gained a passion, and today, he is changing the world.(From "Fresh Illustrations").

Knowledge will never change the world. Talent won't change the world. Skills won't change the world. Great people who leave their mark are ones with passion. And many times, they get that passion in the dark.

Knowing this, let me close with three challenges:

Recast your Past.

While you walked through the darkness you wondered if God was forsaking you. Could it be that He was incubating passion?

Leverage your Losses.

Why did Candy Lightner found Mothers Against Drunk Driving?

Why did John Walsh become a crusader against America's Most Wanted?

What will you do with what you've learned during your "dark night of the soul?"

Hang On!

Dark times don't necessarily mean you are out of God's favor, they may be the turning point God uses to give you the passion that will propel you into your destiny.

Deborah

Judges 4:4

In America, there are three branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. This system of government allows for a division of responsibility and a separation of powers between the three branches. The legislative branch makes the laws, the executive branch ensures that the laws are obeyed, while the judicial branch interprets the laws and certifies that they are constitutional. This basic understanding of government that we learned in 5th grade civics class colors the meaning of words like "judge." So this morning, when I announce that we will be studying the life of one of the judges from the Old Testament, we immediately think of a wise person who settles disputes and interprets the law. Or if we've been watching too much television lately, we might think of Judge Judy slamming down her gavel and putting a rude, obnoxious neighbor in his place. Or if you are old enough to remember another TV judge, you may be thinking of Flip Wilson and his irreverent approach to the judiciary.

These images aren't really that helpful in understanding the work of the Judges from the Old Testament. Yes, they settled disputes and interpreted the law, but they did so much more than give rulings-they ruled. The judges ruled Israel from the time of the conquest of Canaan until Saul was anointed King.

If you like reading Westerns like I do, then you will love the period of the Judges, because it was the "wild, wild west" of the biblical narrative. There were battles with the Moabites, the Philistines, the Amalekites and the Ammonites. One of the judges, Samson, exercised great feats of strength. He was a colorful character who used the jawbone of a donkey as a weapon to defeat the Philistines and killed a lion with his bare hands, later to return to it and eat honey out of its carcass. Of coursed, Samson had a fatal flaw that eventually led to his downfall-his weakness toward the ladies. Another of the judges, Gideon was the youngest son from the weakest family in Manasseh, yet God used him to defeat the Midianites and the Amalekites. Under God's direction, he whittled down the army from 22,000 to 300 troops before they attacked and defeated the Midianites with trumpets, fire and swords.

And then there was Deborah.

I know I am stating the obvious, but I want you to notice that Deborah was a woman. Many people have the mistaken notion that God is a sexist. Perhaps those with that view are confusing the cultural setting of the Bible with its message. While the setting of much of the scripture is a repressive cultural, the message of the scripture is liberating and shows the value of all human life. We are all created in the image of God-men and women alike. And there is another point of equality, we've all sinned and fallen short of God's glory. Beyond those observations, Paul gives the definitive word in Galatians 3:28 when he wrote, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (KJV).

Deborah was one of the judges of Israel. Judges 4:5 says, "It was her custom to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her for judgment." (HCSB).

But Deborah was more than just a judge. She is the only one of the judges described as a prophetess. (ZPEB, v 1, p. 79) One commentary I read said, "Whatever else the narrative will say about Deborah, the reader must remember that she is first and foremost, if not exclusively, a prophet." (New American Commentary).

God didn't choose Deborah for the job to be inclusive, he chose the best person for the job and she excelled in it. She was a judge, but she was also a prophet. Like Moses did before her, she spoke to the people for God.

We know she was a judge and that she was a prophet because the text tells us so, but it doesn't show us a lot of detail about her work beyond an encounter she had with Barak, the General of Israel's army.

The times demanded a strong leader. The people of God were under captivity in Canaan under Jabin the King of Canaan and Sisera his commander. Barak and his army were doing nothing about the situation so Deborah summoned him to her court and said to him,"Hasn't the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded [you]: 'Go, deploy [the troops] on Mount Tabor, and take with you 10,000 men from the Naphtalites and Zebulunites?" (Judges 4:6 HCSB).

Deborah had a no nonsense approach with Barak-she called him out for his laziness, fear and lack of trust in God and demanded that he account for his inaction. She reminded him that God had already promised that He would lure Sisera and his army into a location where Israel's army would prevail against them. Barak agreed to go, but only if Deborah would go with him.

Why would Barak hedge like this? He was the general; it was his duty to lead the army into battle, not Deborah's. As a prophet, she spoke God's word to His people and as a judge, she helped the people understand right from wrong, but she wasn't a military leader. Why would Barak ask her to go?

Without getting too deep into speculation, I think it was because Barak lacked confidence. He needed the support of the acknowledged leader of Israel-Deborah. Now we could detour at this point and rant about Barak being a weak man, but instead, I want to focus on the fact that Deborah was a strong leader. She was the kind of leader that inspired confidence in others and empowered them to fulfill their destinies. But Barak needed more than an inspiring speech, he needed her presence. Napoleon Bonaparte said "A leader is a dealer in hope." To some extent, Barak was borrowing hope from Deborah.

Leaders must always be willing to back up their words. It is one thing to say, "God will deliver you" and another to say, "I have so much confidence in God's promise to deliver you that I will stand next to you as He does it." Deborah had that kind of faith and confidence in God. She gladly agreed to go into battle with Barak, but she warned him that his conquest would be void of honor and that God would use a woman to defeat Sisera.

10,000 men followed Barak into battle while Sisera brought 900 iron chariots to the theater of operation. Barak followed Deborah, and Deborah followed God. When the time was right, Deborah told Barak to attack. When the armies of the Lord descended upon Canaan's army, the Lord confused the enemy and they fell victim to the sword. Everyone was destroyed except for Sisera who left his chariot and fled on foot to find sanctuary in the home of a friend. The friend's wife welcomed him into their tent, offered him something to drink. He was exhausted and asked her to stand watch for him while he got some sleep. As he drifted into sleep, little did he know that he would never awake. Using a tent stake, she killed him in his sleep. Meanwhile, Barak, filled with the confidence from the battle, lead a hunt for Sisera. When Barak arrived at Heber's tent, the wife gave Barak the dead body of the man he was looking for. As Deborah had prophesied, God used a woman to defeat Sisera. Judges 4:23-24 says, "That day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. (24) The power of the Israelites continued to increase against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him." (HCSB).

Israel enjoyed peace under Deborah's rule after this conquest. She was a judge, a prophet and a deliverer. She was used mightily by God for several reasons. One she was FAITHFUL-day after day she sat beneath the Palm Tree and passed out justice to those who sought it. She was faithful, and she HAD FAITH. She believed that God was good for His word and she believe that He would deliver His people. She was faithful, she had faith and she INSPIRED CONFIDENCE in others. She was a true leader, one who wasn't afraid to get into the middle of the fray.

How about you? Are you faithful? Do you have faith in your God? Are you willing to use your influence to bring out the best in others? If so, perhaps God will use you to accomplish His will, just like He used Deborah.

Change/Tradition

A couple of hunters hired an Alaskan bush pilot to drop them in a remote location, then return in seven days to pick them up. At the appointed time, the pilot arrived and loaded the hunters and their gear in the plane. "Wait a minute," said the first hunter. "What about our moose?" "Sorry," said the pilot. "We're at maximum weight already."

"But our pilot last year loaded our moose, and he had the same size plane as this one."

"Really?" asked the pilot, not wanting to be outdone. "Well, I guess we could give it a try."

With that he strapped a moose carcass on each pontoon. They sputtered to the end of the lake to get the longest possible takeoff. He shoved the throttle forward; they began to move, and finally, they lifted off the lake, just skimming the trees. But the pilot was right. They were seriously overloaded, and crashed just minutes into the flight.

Both hunters were knocked unconscious, but came to at about the same time. The first hunter looked around at the mess, moose meat and plane parts everywhere.

"Where are we?" he asked his partner.

"About 50 yards from where we crashed last year."

Doing things the way we've always done them insures that we'll continue to get what we've always got.

Marriage or Weddings

About 10 years ago Jim Wilson had a brilliant idea for a sure fire way to get rich. "I wrote a booklet entitled, Getting Close, Staying Close: How to Increase Intimacy in your Marriage, and offered it for sale in the Classified Ads of Modern Bride magazine. It was a perfect plan. The average reader of Modern Bride only buys two copies, yet the magazine has a very high circulation. So I figured that I could run the ad forever and really rake in the dough.

"I wrote the copy for the ad, selling the booklet for $5.00, and mailed the payment to the advertising department. Most of the couples in my church were longing for intimacy, I just knew this booklet would be a great success. It wasn't. I sold three copies. My $200+ investment made me $15.00 in gross receipts."

Why the dismal failure?

"I misread the market. Most brides aren't preparing for a marriage, they are preparing for a wedding—there's a difference.

Weddings are important, but they only last a few hours. A marriage is another story. It lasts for a lifetime and can be the closest human relationship we will ever have. Yet, many couples struggle to find real intimacy.

Marriage or Weddings

During a wedding rehearsal, the groom approached the pastor with an unusual offer. "Look, I'll give you $100 if you'll use the old fashioned wedding vows. When you get to my bride's part be sure and make her say, "I to promise to 'love, honor and obey,'" He passed the minister a $100 bill and walked away satisfied.

The big day came and the bride and groom finally stood in front of their friends and families. When it came time for the groom's vows, the pastor looked the young man in the eye and said: "Will you promise to prostrate yourself before her, obey her every command and wish, serve her breakfast in bed every morning of your life and swear eternally before God and your lovely wife that you will not ever even look at another woman, as long as you both shall live?"

The young man gulped and looked around. Seeing no way out of this situation, he said in a tiny voice, "Yes." He then leaned toward the pastor and hissed, "I thought we had a deal."

The pastor put the $100 bill into his hand and whispered back, "She made me a much better offer."

Parenting or Trials

Did you hear about the man who noticed a emperor moth struggling to emerge through a small hole in its cocoon and decided to assist it? He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the cocoon. The moth emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. Later the man learned the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health.

The parent who never allows a child to suffer the consequence of his or her actions will never develop the character that comes from trials.

Prayer or Trials

Darrel Scott, testified before congress on May 27, 1999 about the school shooting in Colorado. His son watched the gunmen kill two of his friends and his daughter was martyred, after professing her faith in God to members of the so-called "Trench-coat Mafia." During his testimony he read a poem he wrote about congress before he knew he would testify before them. Here's the poem: "'Your laws ignore our deepest needs/ Your words are empty air./ You've stripped away our heritage./ You've outlawed simple prayer./ Now gunshots fill our classrooms./ And precious children die./ You seek for answers everywhere./ And ask the question "WHY"?/ You regulate restrictive laws./ Through legislative creed./ And yet you fail to understand./ That God is what we need!'/

Even in tragedy, God is Sovereign. Darrel Scott was right, God is what we need.