“Helping Each Other Become Everlasting Splendors or Immortal Horrors!”

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Oct 292023

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Helping Each Other Become Everlasting Splendors or Immortal Horrors!”

     In 2004 a Documentary Short Film was nominated for an Academy Award for Short Subjects.  It was a film titled The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club.  As a member of the Bang Bang Club, Kevin Carter was a photo-journalist documenting violence in South Africa, where he had grown up.  In a few short years he had recorded countless murders, from beatings, stabbings, gunshots, and necklacing-where a victim was tied up, and a tire, filled with oil, was placed around his neck, and lit on fire, making him a human torch.  Such encounters, over a period of time, made Kevin calloused to the violence that he had witnessed.  He certainly could identify with the message of Jackson Browne, in the song-Doctor My Eyes! 

Doctor My Eyes have seen the years

And the slow parade of fears without crying

Now I want to understand

I have done all that I could

To see the Evil and the Good without hiding

You must help me if you can

Was it unwise-to keep them open for so long?

(The song ends-)

I hear their cries, is it too late for me?

Is this the prize, For having learned how not to cry?

     Kevin Carter had lived that song. But one afternoon he would have an assignment that would change his life forever-both good and bad.  He was sent to the Sudan to document, in film, a nationwide famine.  Exhausted after a day of taking pictures in the village of Ayod, he went out into the open bush to relax.  He heard a whimpering and came across an emaciated toddler, a little girl, too weak to walk, crawling toward the feeding center.  She had knelt in a heap, too weak to crawl on. As he took pictures, a plump vulture landed a few feet from the toddler, just waiting for the right moment to prey on her. Carter watched for 20 minutes, finally scaring the vulture away, temporarily, finishing his cigarette, and left. (Having learned how not to cry!).  He later sent his pictures of the toddler and the waiting vulture to the New York Times.  They printed it to document the Sudanese Famine.  That photo won Carter the Pulitzer Prize, making him famous.  But readers inundated the New York Times, and Carter’s phone with questions about the welfare of the little girl.  Carter admitted that he did not know what had happened to the toddler. There arose a public outrage against Carter for not intervening to assist her and rescue her!  That 2004 film documents how Carter was overwhelmed with guilt over that incident, and over all his exposure to the sufferings of South Africa.  In July of 1994, he left a note saying, “I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings, corpses, anger and pain” He took his own life.  There is something deep inside us that is unforgiveable for not intervening and rescuing someone, when it is well within our power to do so.  When we are a person’s only hope, and we walk away, the guilt is overwhelming.  As Christians, responsible for witnessing to those who are perishing, we should never forget that lesson!

     Another film, one that won a lot of Academy Awards was the Titanic.  The world was mesmerized by the account of that famous tragedy.  But there was one personal story about the Titanic that was not documented in that famous film.  It was the story of John Harper.  John Harper was a Pastor and Evangelist.  He was a widow, with a six-year-old daughter.  He had boarded the Titanic to make his voyage to America, to become the next Pastor of the Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, Illinois, but it was never to be.  When the ship hit the iceberg, Harper, sizing up what was about to happen, put his daughter on a life boat for safety.  He was offered the opportunity to stay with her, since she had no mother.  He forfeited that offer.  Instead, after securing her safety, he began to assist women, children, and others to the lifeboats.  As he did that, he pleaded with every one of them to accept Christ as their Savior, in case they did not survive this tragedy.  Many did accept his offer.  Others rejected him.  One man, after refusing the offer, was surprised when Harper took off his life jacket, and put it on the man, saying-“you need this more than I do”.  Harper was heard calling out, “Women, children, and the unsaved, please get in the life boats!”  He was seen swimming from one person after another, fighting hypothermia, pleading for their souls.  Four years later, at a Titanic Survivors Meeting in Toronto, Canada, a young man told how Harper had pleaded with him to accept Christ, which at first, he refused, but when he asked a second time, he consented.  He told the survivors-“I was John Harper’s last convert-I watched him slip away after pleading for my soul”.  In London, at the White Star Line company headquarters, concerned family members waited for news to be telegraphed about the survivors.  Outside the headquarters was a board with two lists: Those Known to be Saved-Those Known to be Lost.  John Harper gave that a new heavenly meaning! So, can we if we learn from Kevin Carter’s story, and don’t walk away from our opportunities to be used of God to rescue the perishing. 

     C.S. Lewis took this responsibility very seriously, and encouraged all Christians to realize what an opportunity we have every day to make a difference for eternity.  In his book The Weight of Glory, he wrote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…It is immortals that we joke with, work with, marry, snub, or exploit.  We need to remember that the dullest, most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw them now, you would be tempted to worship, or they might become a horror and corruption such as you can only meet in a nightmare! All day long we are in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations.  You may influence them for Christ and they become and everlasting splendor, or fail them and they become an immortal horror…this is the most serious thing”.  Kevin Carter had a calloused heart that hindered him in that kind of rescue.  He was never able to forgive himself for that failure.  Magnify that by eternity’s implication.  Such failure is far more regrettable Christian!  We are without excuse.  Make an eternal difference now.  God is handing out heavenly Pulitzer Prizes for those who make the effort!

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Mankind has it again…the unyielding despair of death!

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Oct 222023

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Mankind has it again…the unyielding despair of death!” 

     Several years ago, a young medical student graduated and moved to a small town to begin his practice.  He so wanted to be a success in helping people with their multi-faceted maladies.  He had dedicated his life to this very cause.  An old man was his very first patient.  The young doctor wanted so to make a very good first impression.  The old man listed all of his ailments and waited for the Dr. to give him his diagnosis.  After a long examination the young doctor had no clue what was wrong with his patient.  The doctor asked him, “have you ever had this before?”  The old man replied, “yes many times!”  The doctor said, “well…it looks like you have it again!”  When the world tries to figure out what in the world is wrong with mankind…we have to come to the conclusion that we definitely have the malady again.  Every person…every generation…we all have the same disease that brings about the same result…death.  God warned man to avoid the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God warned the first couple do not eat of that tree…for the day you eat thereof…”in dying you shall die!”  (the Hebrew is quite expressive-“you will die that moment spiritually…a process of dying physically will set in, and if not cured the end result will be eternal death!”).  Redemption in Jesus Christ is the only answer to this malady.  But keep in mind that the devil denied that sin would bring forth death.  He told Eve, “You shall not surely die!”  But every since that first eventful encounter-as the Book of Romans tells us “death has reigned over mankind“. 

     Man has written much about this enemy that has us in its grip.  “April is the cruelest month” begins the first line of T.S. Eliot’s poem Wasteland.  His poem is thought to be a portrayal of universal despair, where we lie in wait between the unrelenting force of spring and the dead of coming constant contrast of winter!  In the bold display of life’s unending circles, one can only be left to wonder at the point of it all!  Does everything simply fade into a Wasteland of Death?  Is death the last desperate word?  Perhaps this is the very thing that Isaiah had in mind when he protested...”In the prime of life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years?  For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise.  The living, the living —they praise you as I am doing today” (Isaiah 38:18-19b).  Though to a differing degree and conclusions much of our literature is unapologetically full of a sense of deep irony expressed at times in the fullness of futility.  Euripides, a writer in the fifth century B.C., expressed this futility to his generation. 

     He wrote, ” and so we are sick for life, and cling

                        On earth to this nameless thing.

                        For other life is a fountain sealed

                        And the deeps below us are unrevealed

                        And we drift on legends forever”

                        (Euripides, Hippolytus, Lines 195-199)

Shakespeare, with the lips of McBeth writes…

                       “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

                        creeps in this petty pace from day to day.

                        To the last syllable of recorded time;

                        And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

                        The way to dusty death; Out, out brief candle!

                        Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player,

                        That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

                        And is heard from no more.  It is a tale,

                        Told by an Idiot, full of sound and fury,

                        Signifying nothing!” (McBeth. Act 5. Scene 5, 19-28).

     The philosopher Nietzsche called mankind “species of the dead…a very rare species”.  Bertrand Russell said that mankind has no choice to “build their lives on the firm foundation of unyielding despair”.  Referring to the fact that death hangs over our heads like a sword of Damocles.  The world has no hope to offer us.  Atheists tell us that we evolved from death, lifeless matter, we experience life briefly, then we return to the nothingness of death!  in other words, life is an unnecessary chance interruption in the midst of cosmic death.  No wonder atheist Albert Camus maintained that in light of that kind of meaningless of life the only serious philosophical question is whether or not to commit suicide!  That has caused comedians to make light of this human dilemma.  Woody Allen said, “I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens!”  George Burns said, “If you live to be 100, you have got it made.  Very few people die past that age!”  (He lived to be 100 and did just that…”he died!”).  Steven Wright said, “I intend to live forever…so far so good!”  But though these comments make us laugh…they really are no comfort for our dilemma!  Even Oscar Wilde wrote the book the Picture of Dorian Gray, the story of a man who sells his soul for ceaseless youth.  Old man wrinkle cannot touch him.  Everyone marvels at his eternal youthfulness.  But his beauty hides a soul marked with greed, lust and betrayal.  A painting of him shows the condition of his inner life.  Initially the face in the painting is as handsome as he is in real life.  But his sin begins to be reflected on the canvas.  Every act of deceit, betrayal, and greed becomes another wrinkle or pockmark or twisted feature until at last the face in the painting is too hideous to bear.  He hides it in the attic.  And in the end, when death comes for him, the painting is who he becomes!

     In the movie Shadowlands, it is shown that one of the reasons why Joy Davidman fell in love with Lewis is because of his theology of heaven and also his beautiful depictions of how Christ was an answer to man’s dilemma of sin and death.  He not only taught it in his theology, but illustrated it in his Chronicles of Narnia.  In his book the Silver Chair King Caspian lay under a clear stream.  (Dead).  The children weep.  Even Aslan weeps.  Aslan tells Eustace to get a thorn and push it into his paw.  As a result, a drop of blood falls into the stream and King Caspian leaps up, no longer old, but a young man.  He rushes to Aslan…and flung his arms as far around him as far as they would reach.  He gives Aslan kisses as a King, and Aslan gives him kisses from a Lion.  Eustace says, (concerning Caspian), “hasn’t he…died?”  “Yes”, says Aslan.  “He has died.  Most people have you know.  Even I have.  There are very few who haven’t!”  Lewis was trying to get us to focus on the eternal dimension of the present.  Many more people have died, and due to the blood of Christ, they have entered into eternal life.  Many more people have died and now live than are present on the earth currently.  Knowing that should change our perspective.  In the Last Battle, the final chapter is ‘Farewell to the Shadowlands”.  Aslan tells the children what has happened to them.  He tells them that there has been an accident.  He then tells them the truth…”Your father and mother and all of you are-as you used to call it in the Shadowlands-dead!  The term is over.  The holidays have begun.  The dream is ended.  This is the morning…the things that begin to happen to them after that are so great and beautiful that I cannot write them…we can most truly say they lived happily ever after.  For them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world, and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before!”  In other words, the Christian view is that we were created to live, death is a temporary interruption in this life, only to be followed by eternal life that can never be taken away- for it is the gift of life from the Christ of Calvary.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky saw this when he said, “One day man’s wisdom will not come out of books, but from the presence of the Living God, and our Earth will glow brighter than the sun, and there will be no more sadness!”  The devil moved us into the realm of death…and shouted “checkmate”.  But our King had one more move…and shouted “Life…Eternal…for all who Know Me!  I am the LORD OF LIFE AND DEATH”.


                               1 Ki. 2:1-11

                               Acts 13:36

               I.     DAVID’S DETERIORATION

               II.     DAVID’S  DEATH

               III.     DAVID’ DESTINY

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Oct 152023


     Adolf Hitler certainly knew the power of words.  His book Mein Kampf, (My Struggle), written during his imprisonment in 1921 has rivaled Pilgrim’s Progress for the second-best selling book in history, second only to the Bible.  That book laid the foundation for the rise of the Nazi regime that plunged the entire world into war.  Warren Wiersbe, in his book Be Skillful, says that for every word in Mein Kampf 125 people lost their lives in WWII.  Karl Marx boasted “give me 26 lead soldiers and I will conquer the world”.  He was referring to the alphabet.  He took their soldiers (the letters of the alphabet) and put his evil philosophy into the words of his Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, and nearly succeeded at his goal!  I doubt if either of those two evil dictators realized that they were bearing witness to the truth of Holy Scripture. 

     The Bible says, “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21); “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18); “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1); “A word fitly spoken are like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Prov. 25:11);  “From the wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive” (Prov. 16:23); “Kind words are sweet like honey-sweet to soul and healthy for the body” (Prov. 16:24); “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, perverse words break the spirit” (Prov. 15:4); “The good person out of the goodness of his heart produces good; the evil person out of the evil treasure of his heart produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45); “The gospel is a savor of death unto death for those who reject it, and a savor of life unto life to those who welcome it” (II Cor. 2:15-16);  What is true of human words is infinitely more true of Divine words.  That is why the writer of the book of Hebrews said, “The Word of God is alive, and sharper than a two-edged sword” and has the power to transform! (Heb. 4:12).

     Let me share a real-life example of that with you.  One Sunday morning Charles Spurgeon was getting ready to enter the pulpit of the great Metropolitan Chapel.  He was discouraged.  He felt like he had nothing to speak to his people.

This is what he said, in his own words- “Upon this day,” he was in his study, seated at his desk, he said, “I was sick and discouraged.”  And he said, “I sat down at the desk and I thought, ‘Oh, how can I preach?  I am sick and I am discouraged.  How can I preach?’”  And as he sat there at the desk, sick and discouraged, he said, “I noticed on the desk a mission report.”  He said, “I picked it up and it was a missionary who was reporting on his year’s work in the Dominican Republic.”

And he said he looked through the report and the missionary reported, said, “We had a hard year.  We had very few souls.  And I don’t have much to report.”  But he said, “There was one glorious conversion.”  He said, “There was a man who came from a long distance, from Haiti on the other side of the island, there was a man who came from Haiti, and he said, ‘I’ve been saved, and I want to be baptized.’”

And the missionary said, “You’ve been saved?  Where and when and how?”  And the man replied, “I came upon, I found a sermon by the London preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, translated into French,” which is the language they speak in Haiti, “translated into French.”  And he said, “I read that sermon, and I was saved.  And I have come all the way over here to the Dominican Republic, I heard of you, wanting you to baptize me.”  And the missionary said, “That is the bright place in my report for the year.”  Spurgeon said, “I read that,” and he said, “when I did, the Holy Spirit of encouragement and strength came upon me, and I prepared the sermon that I am preaching today.”  That’s the way Spurgeon began that message.  You never know.  You never ever know.  There is power in words.  Power for good.  Power for evil.  But the Word of God is the epitome of power!  As Isaiah 55 promises “it will not return…void”.  Please welcome Bro. Herb Curtis as he shares more testimony of the Power of the Living Word.


James 1




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Oct 082023


     “The future belongs to those who believe…in their dreams”. Those words were spoken by one of history’s most influential women-Eleanor Roosevelt. She was the longest serving First Lady…serving with her husband nearly 16 years in that leadership role. She advocated for human and women’s rights, held press conferences and penned her own column. Focusing on her dream not only fulfilled her life but also changed history. Of course, all of us remember Martin Luther King, on the eve of his assassination, sharing with the world his “I’ve Got a Dream” speech that changed the world. Dreams make a difference. A BIG difference!  

     Jonas Salk, had a dream that his calling was to find a cure for polio, at a time when no one knew the cause let alone the cure. But in his dreams Salk knew that many diseases were caused by a virus. His dream led to our entire realm of vaccinations. Bonna’s dad was the beneficiary of Salk’s dream…along with millions of others. He said to his generation “Hope lies in dreams…and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality”. Carl Sandberg said “Nothing happens unless first we dream”. John C. Maxwell, the leading Christian author on leadership, says “Dreams don’t work unless YOU do!” Colin Powell said “A dream doesn’t become a reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination, and hard work”. 

     David Jeremiah, Don’s Pastor several years ago, reminds us “God has created us to yearn for more-He has created us for eternity. We will never feel satisfied in life because His dream for us stretches into the hereafter. GOD has placed a desire in each heart to dream big. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us His will for us. “For I know the thoughts I think toward you…thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope”. The Bible is filled with dreamers-Abraham dreamt of a Son…God gave him Isaac…and a greater Son…Jesus. Joseph dreamed dreams…and God fulfilled them in saving the nation through him. In today’s message we read of David’s Devoted Dream. One that he dreamed above all else. It was deferred…but not denied completely…and became part of his destiny through his son Solomon. 

     Langston Hughes, a famous African-American poet and writer knew all about dreams being deferred. He wrote a poem entitled A MONTAGE OF A DREAM DEFERRED. It was a poem of book length. I thought T.S. Eliot wrote long poems.  Langston, making reference to the deferred dreams of Black lives seeking to see the American dream become a reality for them were often disappointed because their dreams were often and always deferred. He witnessed that by living in Harlem and seeing it firsthand. He wrote:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up…

Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore-

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over-

Like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

Like a heavy load.

Or does it EXPLODE?

We consider David’s greatest dream, and our own today. Dreams that God can make a reality…if we sync our dreams with his will. That makes our Dreams such that can change history forever. Because after all History is His Story. He can make it ours too!


II Samuel 7:1-17




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Oct 012023


It has been called the greatest novel of all time. What novel? WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy. It is a novel renowned for its realistic portrayal of the experiences of the Russian people as they faced their fears of being conquered by Napoleon and the army of France. It is known as Tolstoy’s tome. It is a novel of 1,225 pages. Hardly the kind of book you begin and cannot put down. Definitely not the kind of book you read in one night. Most who start reading it never finish it. There are websites giving you pointers on how to accomplish the herculean task. Few can honestly say they have read the greatest novel of all time. I won’t ask for a show of hands this morning. But hidden in those 1,225 pages are some realistic words that not only describe the Rusdian people but describe every human heart. Yours and mine included. The main character-Pierre is forced to face himself and honestly assess his life. He says for all of us-“Yes Lord I have sinned…But I have several excellent excuses!” Sounds like all of us. We have several excellent excuses for every sin and failure.

     That is not a new practice. It has been true in human history…and infinitum and nauseum… Latin phrase for “again and again and it’s getting tiresome…at least to the Lord. As a Pastor, I have heard it all. One man told me he couldn’t come to Church because of his fear of crowds. Yet I continually bumped into him at football games, theaters, and public events. Another lady took the prize. Her excuse was…”I don’t go to Church and this is my reason: If I go some of the time, I will want to go all of the time. And since I can’t go all the time, I feel guilty. So, I just don’t go any of the time!” WOW! GO FIGURE! LOL.

     Jack Klugman was one of my favorite actors. I loved him in the Odd Couple. But his best acting was on Quincy. He played a medical examiner. In one episode he confronts a Dr. Who has committed an awful deed and tried to cover it up. The Dr. Is embarrassed and rises from his desk saying “I am a busy man…please excuse me!” Quincy responds, “I don’t have the power to excuse you Dr. The question is can you excuse yourself?” That is the question for l of us. AMEN?


2 Samuel 24:1-17




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