April Fools

Sunday is not only “Palm Sunday,” but it is also “April Fool’s Day.” My message this Sunday morning is on “The Biggest Fool.” I’m preaching on Judas Iscariot. The question we all must ask ourselves is the same question the disciples and even Judas asked, “Lord, is it I?” I will post a link to that message in a couple of days.

In preparation for the message, I tried to figure out  the origin of April Fool’s Day. I saw a Yahoo news story on Ten of the Best April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time. The Museum of Hoaxes has posted the Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time. It is amazing that so many people would fall for these hoaxes. Well maybe it isn’t that amazing. I told my sister that “gullible” wasn’t in the dictionary and she actually grabbed the dictionary to prove me wrong.

WCA Mission Team to Ecuador

The article below appeared in Monday’s Wilson Daily Times. Please pray for our teens on the mission trip.

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Nick Johnson figures he knows enough Spanish to get him through this week. Still, last week he reviewed words and phrases because he didn’t want to add his Spanish textbook or dictionary to the items he’s lugging to Ecuador.

Johnson, 15, is one of 13 people from Wilson Christian Academy who left Friday morning bound for Cuenca, Ecuador. The group will spend this week working with Sid Messer, a former Wilson Christian teacher and missionary.

Messer has been in Cuenca for about a year now, said Malcolm Deans, Spanish teacher and athletic director at Wilson Christian. Deans, who is coordinating the trip, was busy Friday making sure all the luggage got loaded on the school’s activity bus and that everyone had their passports. Parents and siblings gathered outside the school’s gymnasium to say goodbye and pray with the group.

This is the first time Wilson Christian has sent students on a mission trip, Deans said. School leaders hope this will become an annual event. The group raised more than $15,000 to help cover expenses.

“I’m excited to take them,” he said. “This is something we’d like to do on a yearly basis. The location may change, but we want to be able to do this every year, Lord willing.”

Deans said the students will teach Sunday school and live with local families within Messer’s church so the students can use their Spanish-speaking skills.

Deans said the majority of the students are in second- or third-year Spanish classes. However, the trip was open to students in all Spanish classes offered at Wilson Christian. Deans said they studied South American culture in class. However, he said, the best way for the students to learn about the culture is to experience it first-hand.

“This is not a remote, poor area but an area that definitely needs the Gospel spread and encouraged,” he said.

Deans said this is a life-changing opportunity for these students.

Johnson said he hopes God will show him the reason why he’s on this trip. He was looking forward to going out of the country with his friends and to the opportunity to serve God. Johnson stressed the trip is more than a vacation.

Seventeen-year-old Tyler Eason said he has always wanted to travel outside of the United States. Eason was among the students who joined in the early planning stages for the trip. But his family’s home burned and Eason thought circumstances were going to keep him from going to Ecuador.

Eason said his church family helped his family after the fire, leaving him with no excuse not to go on the trip. He considers it all a sign from God that he needed to go. Eason said Messer was one of his favorite teachers so he’s looking forward to seeing and working with him.

The group will return around midnight on Friday.

creech@wilsontimes.com | 265-7822

The Titanic’s Last Hero

titanic.jpgJohn Harper was born to a pair of solid Christian parents on May 29th, 1872. It was on the last Sunday of March 1886, when he was thirteen years old that he received Jesus as the Lord of his life. He never knew what it was to “sow his wild oats.”

He began to preach about four years later at the ripe old age of 17 years old by going down to the streets of his village and pouring out his soul inearnest entreaty for men to be reconciled to God.

As John Harper’s life unfolded, one thing was apparent…he was consumed by the word of God. When asked by various ministers what his doctrine consisted of, he was known to reply “The Word of God!”

After five or six years of toiling on street corners preaching the gospel and working in the mill during the day, Harper was taken in by Rev. E. A. Carter of Baptist Pioneer Mission in London, England.

This set Harper free to devote his whole time of energy to the work so dear to his heart. Soon, John Harper started his own church in September of 1896. (Now known as the Harper Memorial Church.) This church which John Harper had started with just 25 members, had grown to over 500 members when he left 13 years later. During this time
he had gotten married, but was shortly thereafter widowed. However brief the marriage, God did bless John Harper with a beautiful little girl named Nina.

Ironically, John Harper almost drowned several times during his life. When he was two and a half years of age, he almost drowned when he fell into a well but was resuscitated by his mother. At the age of Twenty-six, he was swept out to sea by a reverse current and barely survived, and at thirty-two he faced death on a leaking ship in the Mediterranean. Perhaps, God used these experiences to prepare this servant for what he faced next….

It was the night of April 14, 1912. The RMS Titanic sailed swiftly on the bitterly cold ocean waters heading unknowingly into the pages of history. On board this luxurious ocean liner were many rich and famous people. At the time of the ship’s launch, it was the world’s largest man-made moveable object.

At 11:40 p.m. on that fateful night, an iceberg scraped the ship’s starboard side, showering the decks with ice and ripping open six watertight compartments. The sea poured in. On board the ship that night was John Harper and his much-beloved six-year-old daughter Nina.
According to documented reports, as soon as it was apparent that the ship was going to sink, John Harper immediately took his daughter to a lifeboat. It is reasonable to assume that this widowed preacher could have easily gotten on board this boat to safety; however, it never seems to have crossed his mind. He bent down and kissed his precious little
girl; looking into her eyes he told her that she would see him again someday.

The flares going off in the dark sky above reflected the tears on his face as he turned and headed towards the crowd of desperate humanity on the sinking ocean liner. As the rear of the huge ship began to lurch upwards, it was reported that Harper was seen making his way up the deck yelling “Women, children and unsaved into the lifeboats!” It was only minutes later that the Titanic began to rumble deep within. Most people thought
it was an explosion; actually the gargantuan ship was literally breaking in half. At this point, many people jumped off the decks and into the icy, dark waters below. John Harper was one of these people. That night 1528 people went into the frigid waters.

John Harper was seen swimming frantically to people in the water leading them to Jesus before the hypothermia became fatal. Mr. Harper swam up to one young man who had climbed up on a piece of debris. Rev. Harper asked him between breaths, “Are you saved?” The young man replied that he was not. Harper then tried to lead him to Christ only to have the young man who was near shock, reply no. John Harper then took off
his life jacket and threw it to the man and said “Here then, you need this more than I do…” and swam away to other people. A few minutes later Harper swam back to the young man and succeeded in leading him to salvation.

Of the 1528 people that went into the water that night, six were rescued by the lifeboats. One of them was this young man on the debris. Four years later, at a survivors meeting, this young man stood up and in tears recounted how that after John Harper had led him to Christ. Mr. Harper had tried to swim back to help other people, yet because of the intense
cold, had grown too weak to swim. His last words before going under in the frigid waters were “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

Does Hollywood remember this man? No. Oh well, no matter. This servant of God did what he had to do. While other people were trying to buy their way onto the lifeboats and selfishly trying to save their own lives, John Harper gave up his life so that others could be saved. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…”
John Harper was truly the hero of the Titanic!

titanic2.jpgSource: “The Titanic’s Last Hero
by Moody Press 1997

Noah: Facing the Flood

noah2.jpg

Yesterday we looked at the familiar story of Noah’s Ark. Even people who don’t know the Bible and never come to church know about Noah, his great big boat, and all those animals coming in two by two.

If you doubt the popularity of this story, a little bit of time on the internet will demonstrate that this story is very popular. If you travel across America, you will find Noah’s Ark restaurants, Noah’s Ark paintings, Noah’s Ark music boxes, Noah’s Ark T-shirts, Noah’s Ark coffee mugs, Noah’s Ark aprons, Noah’s Ark earrings, and you’ll even find a recipe for Noah’s Ark brownies. It should not surprise anyone to learn that the largest waterpark in the United States is located at Wisconsin Dells and is called … Noah’s Ark.

A few years ago a man named Robert Fulghum wrote an essay called “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.” It was so popular that it spawned a number of spin-offs. This week I ran across one called “All I need to know I learned from Noah’s Ark.”

1. Don’t miss the boat.
2. Remember that we are all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
4. Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old someone may ask you to do something really big.
5. Don’t listen to critics, just get on with the job that needs to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safety’s sake travel in pairs.
8. Speed isn’t everything. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
9. When you’re stressed, float awhile.
10. Remember the Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals.
11. No matter the storm, when you are with God there’s always a rainbow waiting.

The message yesterday was not meant to be a technical explanation of all of the details of Genesis 6, although I did take a little bit of time to explain the passage. Instead, we looked at the deeper meaning of this passage. According to 1 Peter 3:18-21 the water of the flood symbolized baptism. That would mean that Jesus Christ is symbolized by the ark. The deeper spiritual lesson of Genesis 6 is how Noah’s ark is a picture of salvation. You can listen to this message here or go to our sermons page.

Introducing Isaac Watts

Ye worship ye know not what… the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

— John 4:22-24

isaacwatts.jpgIsaac Watts
Born: July 17, 1674, Southampton, England.
Died: November 25, 1748, Stoke Newington, England.
Buried: Bunhill Fields Cemetery, London, England. John Bunyan, Joseph Hart John Rippon, and William Shrubsole lie nearby.

Watts’ father was Nonconformist imprisoned twice for his religious views. Isaac learned Greek, Latin, and Hebrew under Mr. Pinhorn, rector of All Saints, and headmaster of the Grammar School in Southampton. Isaac’s taste for verse showed itself in early childhood, and his promise caused a local doctor and other friends to offer him a university education, assuming he would be ordained in the Church of England. However, Isaac declined and instead entered a Nonconformist Academy at Stoke Newington in 1690, under the care of Thomas Rowe, pastor of the Independent congregation at Girdlers’ Hall; Isaac joined this congregation in 1693.

Watts left the Academy at age twenty and spent two years at home; it was during this period that he wrote the bulk of his Hymns and Spiritual Songs. They were sung from manuscripts in the Southampton Chapel, and published 1707-1709.

The next six years of his life were again spent at Stoke Newington, working as tutor to the son of eminent Puritan John Hartopp. The intense study of these years is reflected in the theological and philosophical material he subsequently published.

Watts preached his first sermon at age twenty-four. In the next three years, he preached frequently, and in 1702 was ordained as pastor of the Independent congregation in Mark Lane. At that time he moved into the house of a Mr. Hollis in the Minories. His health began to fail the next year, and Samuel Price was appointed as his assistant in the ministry. In 1712, a fever shattered his constitution, and Price became co-pastor of the congregation, which had moved to a new chapel in Bury Street. It was at this time that Isaac became the guest of Sir Thomas Abney. He lived with Abney (and later Abney’s widow) the rest of his life, mainly at Theobalds in Herts, then for thirteen years at Stoke Newington.

Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed

Alas! and did my Saviour bleed
And did my sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred Head
For sinners such as I?

Was it for sins that I have done
He suffered on the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the great Redeemer, died
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away
‘Tis all that I can do.

Isaac Watts, 1707