Thursday, August 23, 2007


One of the things a pastor does is visit the hospitals to see and pray for those who are ill. Most of the time, these visits are quite uneventful. They consist of talking with the patient and family and having a prayer with them before leaving. In fact, the actual visit is always the highlight of the trip. The travel to the hospital and actually finding the patient is the adventurous part.

I have visited patients in more than one hospital where the information desk had no record of the person’s name. In these cases, I have learned to inquire about the patient at the nurse’s station where they are most likely to be. You can usually find out more from the nurse’s station than the information desk. At least here in Edgefield, we only have one floor and since everyone in Edgefield either knows everyone or more than likely is related in some way, most of the people that work in the hospital can help.

One visit that I will never forget happened after I had been in Edgefield for about two weeks. Derry Billingsley, our minister of music at the time, graciously volunteered to go with me to visit someone who was in CCU at the VA Hospital in Augusta. Since I had no idea where that was, I accepted.

As we entered the building, Derry told me that he knew where CCU was so we didn’t need to visit the information desk. We took an elevator up a few floors and got off. We stepped from the elevator and the door closed behind us. As we walked into the hospital corridor, something didn’t feel right.

Only about half the lights were on, most of the rooms were dark, and there were no people around. We approached the nurse’s station where there were a few papers and some pens, but again, no people. At this point, I began to get a little uneasy. A busy hospital corridor is one thing, but an empty, dimly lit one is a bit creepy for me.

Derry suggested that the CCU might be through the electric double doors nearby, so we went to try them. I pushed the button and the doors opened to an even darker area. Derry stepped in, but I did not. The door began to close behind him, and he had to rush to get out. He and I both had enough and began walking briskly toward the exit. We were met by an employee who then informed us of the relocation of the CCU.

Our fears were unfounded, but seemed real at the time. I still believe there was probably a security camera person rolling on the floor laughing at us. We both felt silly for getting a little nervous in that darkened corridor. I just couldn’t help remembering the hospital scene in one of the old Halloween horror movies.

Isn’t that the way fear is though? Most of the time, our fears are unfounded. We are afraid of things that go bump in the night only to find them to be nothing in the light of day.

There were about 10 recent reports of a hairy creature frightening people at a campsite in Winnipeg, Canada. One witness informed the Mounties of this creature that was pounding on their camper. The Mounties investigated, and discovered an 18 year-old man wearing a gorilla mask playing practical jokes on the campers. Now a hairy creature pounding on your camper at night is indeed disturbing, however, once the discovery of the man in the mask is made, it seems silly.

Satan’s number one tool against us is fear. As many of you have heard me say from the pulpit, F.E.A.R. stands for False Education Appearing Real. 2 Timothy 1:7 says
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
God doesn’t want us to go around fearing all that we don’t know or understand. He wants us to boldly go out in His name and love the lost enough to overcome our fears and share God’s love with them knowing He will protect us when we are in His will.

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
(Proverbs 28:1)

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.
(Psalm 91:1-7)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I saw an article this week on that intrigued me. There is a French skydiver who is going to attempt breaking several records in a jump he will make next month. He will float into the atmosphere in a weather balloon, and jump out head first at about 131,000 feet. Since he will be falling from such an altitude he will also reach a speed of nearly 1000 mph. This will break the sound barrier at 760 mph. He believes he will reach the sound barrier within 37 seconds, and the entire jump will take only about 8.5 minutes.

His equipment is equally as fascinating. His suit is designed to heat up as it meets resistance, so the minus 212ยบ f temperature won’t bother him. His helmet is also designed with hearing protection since he will experience a sonic boom when he hits the sound barrier.

This jump will set several world records. If he is successful, he will have the record for the longest sky dive, the highest parachute jump and the highest altitude achieved by a human in a balloon. Even with all the obvious dangers, the 63-year-old Michel Fournier says he is “looking forward to it”.

All this reminds me of a newspaper article in my office that I have kept for many years. I’m not sure why I kept it. Perhaps it is the horror of the story; maybe I’m still trying to figure out what exactly happened. For whatever reason, the story got my attention and has kept it for about 12 years now.

The headline of the article reads, “Skydiving Plane Crashes, 12 Killed”. There were twelve people on board the plane including the pilot and co-pilot. This means that the other 10 people were in the plane for one reason; they planned to jump out of it and parachute to earth.

A quote from the article further adds to the mystery; “There were parachutes on board, but there was no evidence that anyone tried to leave the plane.” First of all, I would not be on a plane for the purpose of flying very high into the air and jumping out “just for fun”. Secondly, if I were going to do such, I certainly would think something like the plane going down would prompt me to get my parachute and give it a try. These people obviously didn’t even try to get out.

Too many times we are trapped in a crashing plane in our lives, holding on to the very thing that could save us. However, what is outside is very scary, and although the inside might destroy us, at least we are familiar with it. What makes us stay in our comfort zone when Jesus is standing out in the storm of this world with the waves pounding, the lightning flashing, the thunder roaring, the wind howling, saying “come”?

For some reason, we think the people who need to hear about Christ are going to just wake up one Sunday morning and decide to find a church to attend. While I know first-hand that this does happen, it doesn’t happen often. Those who are lost need to hear the gospel. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17). If they do not come through our doors, then how will they hear? They will only hear the word out of our mouths and see it in our lives.

The problem is that while God does bless us with his presence on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, He is much more active “out there”. “Out there” is where those people live who are not like us. He is with them where there is hurt, disease, poverty, injustice, war, famine, abuse, drugs, and scandal. Jesus stands in the midst of this storm and calls out to us to “come”.

Will you meet Him there, in that uncomfortable scary world, or will you remain in your little plane that is crashing with your parachutes strapped on, never to attempt an exit that will save your life and many others?

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You
on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat,
he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
(Matthew 14:28-29)