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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pastor's Corner

Can you be saved inwardly and not look like it on the outside?

Debbie Jansen
Author, speaker, minister

It depends on if you are talking about physical appearance or the impression you leave with your character or rhetoric.  While we are instructed to be "modest" in attire....specifics on our looks really isn't a focus of the Bible.  I do think that there are many styles that don't reflect the values of the Christian Faith and probably should be avoided....but appearance is NOT as important as what we say, what we do and the motive of our heart.

Having said that, If you are truly saved - your life will change.  You will talk and act differently.  You will feel uncomfortable around anything that doesn't reflect Christ.  Your purpose and the direction of your life will change.  You will be different. 

I remember a man that attended a Wednesday evening Bible study.  He was so dirty and smelly it was hard to sit next to him.  His beard was straggly and brushed against a filthy shirt.  His hair was greasy and looked as if it hadn't been combed in months.  His fingernails were filled with dirt.  He sat with his arms folded and frowned as he watched my Dad teach.  Later that week he asked Dad to come pray with him about Salvation.  No one at church said anything about his appearance.  No one asked him to change.  My Dad didn't ask him to change....but change he did.  When he returned for Sunday morning (with wife and baby in tow) everyone was scrubbed and clean.  It was hard to tell he was the same man.  It didn't stop there.  He continued to grow and within just two years he became a deacon in the church and a well respected man.

When you become a will change.

Ken Jansen
Music Pastor
Crossroads Community

This question makes me think of the idea of Baptism. It's an outward sign of an inward confession. If your life doesn’t show that God is within you… is He?

When I asked Dr. Crocker to answer this question he sent me a long story.  I tried to edit it for space but couldn't.  It's just too good.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Dr. Ken Crocker
Pastor, Missionary, author

Let me tell you a true story about Frank Nantz. Years ago I was his pastor. I was 28 years old and Frank was close to 70. He was tall and lanky, with big hands and had lost a front tooth. He couldn’t hide it because he smiled all the time.

He was the most lovable, kind hearted and generous man I ever knew. He was a deacon in the church, and loved everybody. I called him “Uncle Frank” like everyone else.

The day I moved in the old parsonage the church started building a new one across the street. Frank was the best carpenter around, so I saw a lot of him every day. He just showed up with his tools and started working. He laughed a lot and had so much fun that everyone was happy to have him around.

He always had interesting tales to tell about his life working in the coal mines of West Virginia. I learned about “tommy-knockers,” a strange knocking sound that the miners believed was a warning about an impending cave-in. He dug coal by hand in veins so small he had to lie on his stomach and push the coal behind him. All this took place hundreds of feet below ground in the damp, dark world of the coal miner.

No, he wasn’t perfect any more than I was. We came through town one day from a fishing trip and he had to stop at a gift shop. He hurriedly bought his wife a birthday card and we drove to his house.

I waited while he went inside to give his wife the card.

“Frank Nantz, what do you mean by such a thing,” I heard her say in a loud angry voice. There was more talking and then she came out to the car.  She showed me the card. It read: “Happy birthday to my brother.”

Frank apologized over and over again, and finally she simmered down. He grinned sheepishly, and said: “I’m sorry Maggie, I messed up again.” Then she smiled and said, “Well, all right, I guess you were in a hurry.”

She finally laughed about it with us. How could you stay mad at a man filled with such humility, love and kindness?

He lived in a small little “doll house” down the street from the church and although he had worked hard all his life he got by on Social Security and a small pension. He attended every service at the church and there was absolutely nothing he wouldn’t do for the Lord or for those in need.

I loved him and considered him one of the best Christians I had ever known. One day I saw him coming up to the sidewalk in front of the parsonage.

“Brother Crocker” I’ve got something for you,” he said. He had something held high in each hand.

“My wife knows you like butterscotch and lemon pies, and so she baked one of each for you. I guess we will soon have a fat preacher.” We laughed, sat down and talked for a while. Every Friday he would come to the parsonage with two pies. I never told anyone, but I enjoyed his visits as much as the delicious pies.

One day I asked him how he became a Christian and the story he told me was beyond belief.

“ I grew up poor in West Virginia in a coal mining town. We were so poor my daddy would catch rattlesnakes, pull their fangs out with a pair of old pliers, and give them to me and my sister to play with.”

He talked about the grinding poverty and the many days he spent in the mines digging coal by hand.  Often, at the end of the week he would get a paycheck with a black snake across the front of it. He explained what that meant.

“Well, we had some really hard times back then. We ate the squirrels I killed and the fish I caught by hand in the river. But we still had to get things from the company store. Those items went on the books, and at the end of the week if we still owed the store we got a paycheck with that long black line on it telling us that we were overdrawn at the company store.”

“Frank said: “Like everyone else I drank to forget all the misery and soon was a terrible drunk. When we moved up here I got a job at the RCA plant making television picture tubes. I made good money but couldn’t break the habit of smoking and getting drunk on week ends.”

He went on to tell me what a terrible drunkard he was and how he abused his family. Maggie and the children begged him to go to church with them on Sunday Morning.  Instead he chose to sit under a willow tree in the front yard.  “I was so sorry I would curse and throw whiskey bottles at my wife as she took the children to church on Sunday morning.  The really sad thing for me is that my boys followed in my footsteps. Now they won’t even talk about going to church or changing their ways.”

I couldn’t believe the story he told me about the man he use to be. There was no way I could picture this lovable old friend as that kind of man.

“What changed you Frank,” I asked him.

“I had a bad sickness and wound up in the hospital,” he said, “and they didn’t expect me to live. I was awake early one morning and suddenly I saw something that could have only been a vision. I saw a beautiful river and standing on the other side was Jesus. I was worn out, tired and sick and begged the Lord to let me come over there with him.”

“No Frank,” he said. “You are not fit to come over here. You’ve never been born again. It’s not too late. You could turn your life over to me. It’s up to you.”

“Then he disappeared,” Frank said as he wiped the tears from his eyes. “I knew what I had to do and as soon as my wife came to see me I took her hand and begged her to forgive me for all the things I had done to her. I didn’t know what else to do and I pleaded with her to pray for me to be saved.”

“I was born again, like Jesus taught in the bible,” He said. “It took months for me to apologize to people I had hurt, to mend the fences, take back the things I had stolen, and get things right in my life. All the old troubles and bad feelings just disappeared,” Frank told me.

“What about all the bad habits Frank? Were they hard to quit? Was it a struggle to change your life,” I asked?

“Not a bit”, he said, “In fact it was as easy as pie. I’ve never wanted another drink, I quit smoking, cursing, and my bad temper disappeared. It was like a miracle. God changed me because he knew I couldn’t do it myself. Over night my attitudes changed.  I couldn’t wait to get to church and I lovef everything about being a Christian. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life.  I asked the Lord to take over my life and make me the person I should have been. Not a day from that time to this have I ever failed to pray, read my bible and look for ways to serve the Lord.”

When I resigned as Pastor of the church, he came to see me. “I’m really going to miss you,” he said. “If we don’t see each other again, I’ll see you in the Morning.” I knew what he meant.

Frank never worried about whether or not he was saved....he changed and he knew he was!

God loves you,

Debbie, Ken and Dr. Ken

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