Month: July 2018

Lights Out

Lights Out

It was early in my pastoral career; I was serving two small community churches about 16 miles apart. I received a call from a woman at one of the churches. The woman told me that a friend of a friend, heard of a family in the community, whose mother was in critical condition at a local hospital; and would I go see her.


New to ministry, and wanting to be a good pastor, I said that I would go. I put on my pastor suit, grabbed my Bible and headed to the hospital. I was ill prepared for what I was about to encounter.


When I arrived to the hospital, I asked for the room number of the ailing mother. I approached the room with a great deal of anxiety; not knowing what to expect.


The door was open, so I gently entered the room, standing in the doorway. I saw about 8 people in the room, and an elderly woman in the hospital bed. She was on life support; a respirator was helping her breathe; I could tell she was not long for this world.


 When the family in the room turned to see who I was, they recognized I was a preacher; two of the teenage granddaughters, burst into tears and ran out of the room past me. The rest of the family just looked at me, not saying a word.


I began to stammer a bit, as I struggled for something to say. I told them that a friend of a friend of theirs had mentioned to a friend of mine, the situation regarding their mother and I thought I should come . . . awkward silence ensued!


As I stood there, in that tongue-tied, odd moment of indecision, the Lord took action; the power went out to the entire hospital! The room went dark for about 30 seconds; which seemed like an eternity.


The magnetic doors to all the rooms slammed shut; the poor woman on the ventilator began to choke and gasp for air, alarms were going off and the family in the room began to panic!


The whole power outage was short lived, but it created quite a stir; the nurses came bursting into the room, caring for the elderly woman; resetting the alarms and making sure she stabilized.


 When the pandemonium calmed down; I whispered, “Lord, You don’t ever have to do that again . . . I know what I need to do and why I am here.”


I went to the bedside of the woman and I took her hand. I could not tell if she could hear me or not; she never once opened her eyes. I told her that I was a pastor who came to pray for her. I began to tell her how much Jesus loved her, and that she needed to trust in Him right now.


I shared a little more about Jesus, and then I asked if she was trusting in Jesus right now; at that instant, she gripped my hand hard, an indication to me that she heard everything I was saying, and that she was indeed trusting in Him.


I told her that if Jesus comes to her soon, that it is all right to go to Him. I said a prayer for her, and then quietly left the room.


The next afternoon, Jesus came to receive her and she went quietly with Him.


The family, none of whom attended any church, called me to see if I would do the funeral for their mom, since I knew her. I graciously accepted the request with honor. I began the funeral service by telling the very same story, I just told you!


God helps us in our walk with Him, going to extraordinary steps, to getting our attention. He got mine that day, and reminded me that I am on a mission to let people know, sick or not, that He is near, He loves them, and wants them to follow Him . . . It is that simple!


Isaiah 61:1-3


 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,

Because the Lord has anointed Me

To preach good tidings to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;


To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,

And the day of vengeance of our God;

To comfort all who mourn,


To console those who mourn in Zion,

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”










Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Family, Humility, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
We Wrestle

We Wrestle

Growing up, our family were neighbors with the James Baker family; James (Jim) was the high school biology teacher, and the head wrestling coach. His influence brought all the neighborhood boys into the wresting club. I started my school-wrestling career when I was in the 6th grade.


When I was in high school, I made the wrestling team; we were called; BAGUBA’s, pronounced BAH-GOO-BAH. It was an acronym that stood for: Brutally Aggressive Guy Uninhibited By Adversity.


To be a wrestler requires tremendous practice and preparation. A typical practice session begins by stretching. We would stretch our legs, arms, and even stretch our necks by doing what we call the arch technique; while laying flat on your back, arms across your chest, you would arch your body upward, using only your neck muscle. I recall the first few weeks of practice everyone had sore necks!


After 15 to 20 minutes of stretching, we would do sprints back and forth across the gymnasium to build up our cardio. We would do this until we thought we would drop!


Once we stretched and got our heart rate pumping, we would go into the wrestling room! The heated room felt like a sauna! The floor and walls were padded, and a ladder attached to the ceiling.


We would each take turns going across the ladder. You jumped up, grabbed a rung, then pulled your knees up to your chest, going across the ladder as fast as possible; it was grueling!


Once all these preliminary steps were out of the way, the “Real” practice began! We would learn wrestling maneuvers and tactics, practicing on each other in that sweltering room.


Finally, we would end the practice session by doing an exercise called, “Shark Bait.” You broke into groups of four, as close to a similar weight class as possible. One wrestler would be the “Bait” and would wrestle the other three, one at a time; one minute each; once finished, a second wrestler would be the “Bait.” The session continued until all had an opportunity to wrestle.


After an hour and a half of wrestling practice, you were exhausted, and trust me, you felt it the next day!


All of this practice and preparation helped get us ready for a real match. When that day came, everything you had leaned and practiced, you needed to remember.


When you entered the ring and looked your opponent in the eyes, it was game on!


Wrestling is a hard sport and not for the squeamish, you will have your limits tested, you will learn what it feels like to be beaten, and what it feels like to win. It is an aggressive sport, and as our name declared; it is “Brutally Aggressive.”


As Christians, the Apostle Paul reminds us, that we are in a spiritual wrestling match; and the stakes are very high! Let us listen in as Paul reveals this truth . . .


Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.


In this amazing passage, the Apostle Paul reveals what we need to do, in order to win this spiritual wrestling match. Let us look into it . . .




In the time of the Apostle Paul’s writing to the church in Ephesus, the Romans soldiers were on patrol throughout the area. The Roman soldier wore armor to protect himself in battle. The “BELT” sometimes called the “GIRDLE” set in place, buckled around the middle.


The lower armor hung on the belt, and the sword rested in a sheath attached to the belt. The “BELT” was central to the armor of the Roman soldier, and the Belt of Truth is central to the Christian’s armor too; everything hangs on this.


Truth remains truth, so long as it is not manipulated or twisted. Satan loves to take Scripture out of context, and bend it to get his way, rather than God’s way.


GOD EXPECTS US TO WALK IN TRUTH ALWAYS, even if it may cause pain, we need to be truthful at all times. We must be truthful about ourselves, in our “INMOST PARTS” not holding back from God anything that would keep us from Him.



Psalm 51:6

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.


Satan referred to as “THE FATHER OF LIES” does some of his most crafty work in this area. Let us be careful not to give him a foothold, but rather buckle firmly the belt of truth around your waist.




The Roman soldiers wore a breastplate. This piece of armor PROTECTED THE HEART, and other vital organs from attack, and without this essential piece of armor, the soldier was vulnerable to a fatal strike. FOR THE CHRISTIAN, THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS INDISPENSABLE, without this, we would be vulnerable to attack as well, an attack of the heart!


Satan loves to accuse, cast doubt, and instill fear, in the heart of the believer.


Unless we have this covering over our heart, his attacks may prove successful! God’s word declares the believer, righteous in Christ.


Romans 4:6-7

 Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sin are covered. . .                                                                                                                                                                                       

Imputed to ascribe to or charge (a person) with an act or quality because of the conduct of another over whom one has control or for whose acts or conduct one is responsible.


 It is sometimes hard for us to believe that simply by placing faith in JESUS CHRIST, ALL our sins forgiven, and we stand before God as if we never did anything wrong.


Just like Abraham “BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS” we believe God too, and by faith, just like Abraham, we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.






We are now going to get our FEET FITTED with a pair of GOSPEL SHOES!


Following the Lord is not an easy task. The road may get difficult, we see SERPENTS AND SCORPIONS to crush along the way, and hot desert places to walk through. We need the proper equipment to walk this path.


Luke 10:19

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.


God has lifted us up out of dark places and sets us on a solid path; directing our steps.


Psalm 40:2

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.


As you can see, our God is able to cause us to stand, and He gives us spiritual SHOES, that will tread down our enemy. This is good news, but there is more.


Once we have our feet fitted with shoes that are able to cause us to stand, and have the ability to crush our enemy, we need to use these shoes to carry forward the incredible message of the GOSPEL OF PEACE.




When Roman soldiers fought, often they would take their arrows and dip them in tar, then set them on fire before shooting at an enemy. If the arrow hit its mark, it would burn deeply into the flesh, causing great pain, and often would lead to further damage by way of infection. The shield would protect the soldiers from these “MISSILES.”


In the spiritual realm, Satan launches “FIRE TIPPED MISSILES” at the Christian, trying to inflict pain and infection, causing deep hurts in the heart. Satan’s goal is to get the Christian to strike back.


When a Christian strikes back, returning evil for evil, the tactic Satan used, is successful. With the Shield of Faith, we protect our heart from the ungodly attacks that WILL come our way.




The helmet was crucial to the Roman soldier. It protected the head. You may recall seeing pictures of Roman soldiers with bright plumage on top of their helmet, this would often indicate what division, or regiment the soldier belonged. Quite often, as soon as you saw the soldier’s helmet, you knew whom you were going to be fighting.


Satan loves to manipulate and distort God’s Word; he is a master of deception. Often we will find his greatest deceptions have an element of truth to them. We must be on guard at all times.


The HELMET OF SALVATION is vital, as it helps to protect our mind from the continuous attempts by Satan to influence our thoughts. Salvation is not just redemption; it is also restoration; completeness and a new sense of who we are.


2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!




The WORD OF GOD is more than able to slay the enemy, but we MUST know it, in order to use it! We need to “HIDE IT IN OUR HEART,” meditate on it, filling up on the “WHOLE COUNCIL OF GOD” and not just the parts that make us feel good.


We need to grasp the WORD OF GOD, and learn to use it effectively.


In Roman training manuals, it states that a “sword-slash” rarely kills. A soldier needs to take careful aim, and plunge in the sword.


We too, need to be careful not to wield the WORD OF GOD carelessly, but rather study it, and learn to use it wisely.


So, spiritually speaking, are you a BAGUBA: Brutally Aggressive Guy (or Gal) Uninhibited By Adversity?


Let us be clear; if you belong to Jesus, you ARE in a wrestling match! Your opponent is out for keeps; he is relentless, strong and cunning. The Bible refers to him this way. . .


1 Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.


However, with constant training, which includes stretching faith muscles, building perseverance, pressing through the hard trials, enduring persecution, you become stronger and stronger!


Remember, we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS in Christ Jesus!


So suit up, listen to your Coach, follow His lead, and you will most certainly win the championship crown!


The match begins . . . NOW!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Trust, 0 comments

My friend – Justin Willoughby

I have known this young man and have watched his journey; it is nothing short of amazing and is a testimony of what God can do.


Please, take the time to listen and then share his story.


Posted by onthesolidrock, 0 comments
Carnival Barkers

Carnival Barkers

Every summer I recall my parents would take us kids to the Clearfield County Fair. As we wandered around, the sights and smells gave us a sensory overload!


We would start by walking through all the farm exhibits, cows, rabbits, chickens, hogs, horses; you name it, I think they had it! Mom would want to walk through all the exhibits that highlighted things like canned foods, knitting, quilts, paintings and the like.


While the animals and farm exhibits were interesting, I would catch glimpses of the Mid-Way; the rides, games, and cotton candy were beckoning me to come and see! I would tug on mom and dad’s hand, hoping they would get the hint.


Finally, we entered the Mid-Way . . . WOW what a site. Dad took me on the double Ferris-Wheel, and as we spun high above the clamor, we could see forever, or so it seemed! Getting a bird’s-eye view, we could see it all; and could even see mom; far below waving up at us.


As we began to walk through the gauntlet of games and attractions, some of the game operators began to call out to my dad, and I became a bit uneasy. They would say slightly demeaning things like; Hey you, why don’t show your boy how strong you are, take the hammer and ring the bell; make your boy proud!”


It seemed like every game we went by, some carnival worker would bark out stinging little slogans designed to get my dad to react and buy a ticket to play.


I recall stopping by a game where one of the players was having a dispute with the operator. The game looked simple; a pool ball placed in the center of a circle with a silver dollar on top of the ball.


The idea was to take a cue ball and knock the ball away, dropping the coin in the center of the circle, not touching the lines of the circle drawn on the table. One of the men who had been trying the game, declared it impossible to win; and the argument was heated.


Since we had a pool table at home, I knew I could do it! I asked dad if I could play. He was not too keen on the idea, since I had the money for the game, and he let me play.


I lined up the cue stick and put a hard spin to the left and hit the cue ball hard, it nearly missed the desired ball with the coin on top, but just nipped it, leaving the silver dollar drop perfectly in the center!


The carnival game operator made such a fuss about me accomplishing this task, that he gave me the largest stuffed animal he had; it was nearly as tall as I was! The man, who had been arguing, walked away in disgust!


The experiences at the carnival, reminds me of the current state of political unrest in our country. It’s as if the politicians have become nothing more than “Carnival Barkers” attempting to illicit emotional responses by shouting empty slogans, designed to get a quick reaction.


It seems both sides of the political spectrum are fully engaged with constant “Carnival Barking” hoping to gain the most attention in the shortest amount of time. The goal seems to be convincing those passing by, to join in the hate, and animus of the day.


How are we, as Christians, supposed to negotiate the constant clamor and confusing rhetoric coming from those elected to serve us?


First, we need to keep our “True” citizenship in perspective. Jesus reveals that we are not of this world anymore than He is! “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16)


When we decided to follow Jesus, and make our allegiance to Him, we became part of His Kingdom. The Apostle Paul declares in Colossians 1:13 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love . . .”


Therefore, even though we love our country deeply, our first and strongest loyalty is to Christ and the advancement of His Kingdom!


So when the political “Carnival Barkers” shout demeaning slogans against people, created in the image of God, as you journey by, you can see it for what it is; an attempt to draw you out of the Kingdom of God and back into the kingdom of darkness.


Secondly, it is OK to get involved with the political system if you choose to. If you decide to jump in, be sure and do so with the prompting and leading of Jesus. Go in with a clear-eyed view of what you are doing.


Just like the little game I played and won; the training, confidence, and the backing of my dad, gave me everything I needed to do it and win; you need the same from your heavenly Father, and you will win too!


So, let the carnival barkers bark; it is what they do! Do not believe every word they shout; most of them are not true at all, it is only a ploy to get YOU off your game and into theirs. Enjoy the carnival . . . but be careful out there!


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