Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bloom Where You're Planted

A Word For Living

December 13, 2008
Bloom Where You’re Planted

From Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” comes this tidbit: "There will always be more people willing to do ‘great’ things for God than there are people willing to do the little things. The race to be a leader is crowded, but the field is wide open for those willing to be servants."

It reminds me of the old preacher saying about eagles on hummingbird nests. The idea so many have is that they can really do something for Christ if they just have the opportunity to bloom on a great stage. Time and again preachers are confronted with those who confess to visiting preachers that they feel stifled in their environment. They need a larger arena.

The old saying, “Bloom where you’re planted” has never been more apropos. The only way we can reach our full potential in life is to be the very best we can at what God has given us to do right now, right here. In His timing He might choose to move you or me to a larger or smaller stage. However, for now, I must serve Him by serving others and demonstrating the very “mind of Christ” in all my doings.

When Jesus spoke of that one who desired the “head table” being embarrassed by being asked to move, He was pointing out natural man’s struggle for acknowledgment. Natural man’s desire to be recognized for his efforts and achievements is unbecoming to the child of God. We are not as those whose only success is the recognition they receive here on this earth from other men. Our reward is to do the work of Him who sends us daily into the morass, knowing that one day He will say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

© 2008 Mike Rasberry

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Word For Living--Pleach

A Word For Living

December 10, 2008

The word “Pleach”, pronounced “playch” is a great word for Christians. It means to interweave the branches of individual plants so as to form a single entity such as a hedge; or to create a decorative shape. The word “plait” is derived from the same source as “pleach” and most of us understand how individual strands of cord are plaited together to add strength and durability. Genuine Believers come from a myriad of backgrounds, but when they are “pleached”, they become strong, resilient, decorative, and extremely useful for the society in which they dwell.

So, how does this “pleaching” take place, seeing that each individual has different natural tendencies, and since his salvation, different spiritual gifts? How do these individuals, who are not like the vines which have no will, become molded into this useful instrument called the local church? It is a process called “discipleship.”

Discipleship is the nitty gritty part of the Christian Life. It is not the Praise and Worship which so effectively lifts us to another level of intimacy with Our Heavenly Father, nor is it the sermons which challenge and provoke us to an examination of our walk with Him. Rather, it is the disciplined study and application of Biblical truth learned in Sunday School and Small Group time that prepares us to deal with life’s treacherous paths.

Jesus discipled the twelve by sitting down to teach them in intimate settings. Should one really desire to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and thereby “pleached” into harmonious unity with the local body of Believers, he should determine to become a learner in his local church Sunday School. If that local assembly doesn’t have such a learning environment, he and his family would be well served to search out a local New Testament Church which has a thriving Bible Study program where dedicated teachers help them explore and understand God’s Word systematically.

In Psalm 133:1 David says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” Unity and union are entirely different concepts. One man said, “You can tie two tom cat’s tails together and you have union, but you sure don’t have unity.” Discipleship is learning how to utilize one’s individual gifts, talents, and natural tendencies within the whole of the body in order to present a beautiful, strong, and durable local body which effectively represents Jesus Christ to the society in which he lives.

© 2008 Mike Rasberry

Saturday, November 22, 2008

God is Still in Charge

God is Still in Charge

1 Kings 17:01ff

Message preached 11/23/2008 at Turning Point Church; Slidell, La.

People all over New Orleans & South Louisiana are trying to find a reason to keep on keeping on. The school system is in shambles. The tax base is eroding. Rape, murder, and mayhem are rampant. For some the pressure is simply too much and they crack under the strain, or commit suicide. Add to all this the war, the financial collapse, and a new President and we can understand if people are questioning whether there is any reason to believe that one can find hope in such a seemingly hopeless situation. These ravages of turmoil cross social and economic boundaries with impunity. Into just such an environment marched Elijah, the man of God to remind the people that God was still in charge.

Elijah confronted the unbelieving King Ahab and declared that The Holy God of Israel still lived. He seemed to be saying, “Ahab, God is still in charge! And to prove it He’s going to close the heavens, and it’ll not rain until I speak the word.” Elijah then left the presence of Ahab and at the command of God hid himself for three years.

Now folks, God is God and He can do what He well pleases. He didn’t need for Elijah to hide in order to protect him. So why did God send him away for those three years?

You see, I think God looked down the corridors of time and saw you and me today. I think He knew that men and women of every age would need to learn the lessons He would teach Elijah. I think that what God taught Elijah and what He wants to teach you and me today is that God has a plan, and when we’re doing His will, His way, we can know His purpose, His provision, and His power.

1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word." 2 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 3 "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.

4 And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." 5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. 7 And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink."

11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." 12 So she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." 13 And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.

14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.' " 15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.

17 Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. 18 So she said to Elijah, "What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?" 19 And he said to her, "Give me your son." So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed.

20 Then he cried out to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?" 21 And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him." 22 Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.

23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, "See, your son lives!" 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth."

First Elijah confronted the King in a day of great disbelief. Then he hid away when folks were probably calling him terrible names, since they viewed him as responsible for the lack of water. He was supernaturally fed by the wild creatures. He later lived in a home where God’s divine provision continued. And finally he was used by God to restore life to a dead child. But all of that teaches us three very important truths.

1. God had a purpose for Elijah
God told him to confront Ahab. That command is not recorded, but we can tell from the results that God was in it. I believe that God has a purpose for every mother’s child born on this earth. Your purpose and mine might not be to confront kings, but God has a purpose for you. His first purpose is that you and I believe on Him for eternal life. He said in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He has a purpose for your life. Since the foundation of the world was laid, He has wanted you for His child. Before you were even a gleam in your mother’s eye, He knew you. Glory!! Glory!! That’s shouting ground!!

Let me ask, Are your knuckles bruised and bloodied from knocking on never opening doors of opportunity? Do you feel as if life is rapidly passing you by? Do you grasp and clutch at every new idea hoping that at long last you’ve found that for which you’ve been searching?

Edgar Allen Poe reflected such a life in the poem Eldorado

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old,
This knight so bold,
And o'er his heart a shadow,
Fell as he found,
No spot of ground,
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength,
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow;
"Shadow," said he,
"Where can it be,
This land of Eldorado?"

"Over the mountains
Of the moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,"
The shade replied,
"If you seek for Eldorado!"

But God also wants you to live a productive life. A life that is worthwhile and meaningful. He tells us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Now that word abundantly is the Greek word, perissos. It carries with it the meaning of overwhelming abundance. Do you really feel like your life is filled with purpose today? It can be.

2. God provided for Elijah
I do not believe the birds would have fed Elijah anywhere else, but where God told him to go. I do not believe the oil and meal would have lasted anywhere else, but where God told him to go. You see, God didn’t say to Elijah, “Now Elijah, you go out there and wander around, and when you get hungry, I’ll have the birds come find you.” NO!! God told him where to go and Elijah obeyed.

Is it possible that you and I miss some of God’s divine provision for our lives because we’re either insensitive to His leadership or unwilling to go by faith? I remember that time when God first called me to preach. My wife and I moved out into the desert of Southern Arizona where I was the only pastor of any faith who lived in over a thousand square miles, between Gila Bend and Wellton. We were living on $50.00 per week and paying $50.00 of that for rent. In one week her car caught on fire and my little Datsun pickup burned a piston. We were in trouble. We were living off the kindness of some deacons from First Southern, Yuma who would come out our way to duck hunt and leave the ducks at our house. One day we received a check from a lady in our home church back in Mississippi for $10.00. Now $10.00 wasn’t very much, even in 1970. But she said in her note that God had told her to send it. My wife and I knew then that God had not forgotten us. We never went hungry, and we managed. I really don’t know how, because that’s all the money we received, but somehow God didn’t let the meal run out or the oil run dry.

The problem with most of us today is that we want the meal barrel full and the oil running over. But God said that He’d meet our needs. In Phil 4:19 He says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

When you and I are where He wants us, doing what He wants, we will have health enough, time enough, and money enough to do what He wants done. God’s never going to ask you or me to do more than His grace provides. Nothing is impossible with God.

Let me ask you a question. Are you living a life that demonstrates responsible confidence in God’s divine provision, or are you wearing yourself out, trying to provide for you and yours?

3. God equipped Elijah with the power necessary for the task

Elijah had the courage to confront the king. He had the patience to wait in the desert. And he had the power to restore life. God is a God of power. I do not believe Elijah had any power within himself. I do not believe he could have restored life to that young lad on his own. He was simply connected to the source of power. He represented power because He was where God wanted him, doing what God wanted him to be doing.

When we served as missionaries in South Korea, we were struck by the way the traffic police would direct traffic. They always wore white gloves and carried a white baton. When a vehicle would drive particularly dangerously, the police officer would move into the swiftly moving traffic and it would immediately slow down and allow him to make his seeming casual stroll into the traffic where he would motion the offender to come to the side. Now folks, traffic in Korea is horrendous. People often buy a car, get a driver’s license, and then learn to drive, in that order. That policeman could easily have been run over by those cars. He had no power in himself to stop them, however, he represented power.

In Acts 1:8 the Bible says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Dear friends, when you and I are where God wants us, doing what He wants us to do, we have the necessary power to accomplish the task. Do you ever wonder why you never feel God’s power, or see any evidences of His supernatural working in your life?

Elijah lived during tumultuous times. He was hated and despised by the leaders of the country. But God demonstrated His care for Elijah by providing for him in unusual ways, because Elijah chose to do what God wanted, where God wanted it done. He simply lived a life of trusting obedience. God wants you to live with that same sense of purpose, provision, and power. And you can choose to do so.

What Must I do to enjoy God’s Divine Purpose, Provision, & Power?

1. I must have assurance I am genuinely His child. Jn. 3:3
2. I must insure am harboring no unconfessed sin. 1 Jn. 1:9
3. I must believe I have been set free. Rom. 8:1
4. I must demonstrate my belief. James 2: 20-23 “But don’t you know, foolish man that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Issac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.”

In a few moments we’re going to have a time of commitment. That’s a time when people commit themselves to Christ. For some such a commitment is a time of seeking to know Christ personally and intimately. For others it’s a time of seeking the prayers and support of believers as they struggle with living the life of obedience and trust in God. With still others, it is a desire to unite with this church fellowship in the way we receive members.

If you sense a need to come and let someone help you, if you’re confused, then come down during the invitation and someone will pray with you and minister to you. No one will embarrass you and no on will put you on the spot. You don't have to walk an aisle in order to find God's plan for your life. The most important decisions are usually made right there in quietness of the moment between you and God. You don't have to tell me or anyone else about it right now. If you make a commitment to Christ it will impact your life, and you'll soon want to tell others about what God is doing in your life. If you're at that point right now and you want me to help you know how to publicly tell others about what God is doing in your life. You can either come here during this time of response or you can write me a note, or you can just tell me you need to meet with me.

Now I want every head to bow and every eye to close. The musicians are beginning to play and as they do, you make your choices. I want you to understand that if you have the desire to respond to God's call upon your life, it is because His Holy Spirit is drawing you. Decide today to obey His call.

You can decide to obey and trust Christ right there in your pew. Elijah chose to obey God. His purpose, His provision, and His power are available to those who choose to be used by Him. So how does one choose? First, you must admit that you are not in the center of God’s will for your life. If you’re not sure, you’re not there. Because the center of God’s will is a place of faith. It is the result of a conscious choice to do God’s will
Then you must ask God to forgive you for choosing to go your own way throughout life. Next, you must ask God to change your heart in the matter, and to give you the desire and strength to submit to His will for your life.

Then finally, you must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. That means that you look forward with anxious anticipation to hearing Him speak to your heart and direct your life.

© Copyright 2001 Mike Rasberry

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night 2008

"In all things give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Barak Obama will be sworn in shortly after the new year as President of the United States. I did not vote for him, and I find myself questioning those Christians who supported him simply because he is half-black. Everything I've learned in my study of Scripture leads me to believe that his belief base is very far from that of Biblical Christianity. However, I do not plan on leaving the country. I've been blessed to travel around the world and I've seen people live under oppression. I believe I, too, can go through these days of trial by becoming ever more committed to the cause of Jesus Christ.

Scripture says that God ultimately controls those who rule over us, and I believe God will use the days ahead to bring about revival and spiritual awakening among those who have been guided by misplaced loyalties. Perhaps now that a bi-racial man has been elected as President, the blind loyalty which caused so many to vote for him, will be replaced with introspective contemplation. I would like nothing better than to find that Obama is dedicated to those American ideals which have stood us in good stead over the last two hundred thirty years, but I fear that my perception of him as an overt anti-God socialist will be realized.

I believe George W. Bush is responsible for this debacle because he seemed unwilling to fight back against those who snipped and tore at his presidency. Allowing Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to frame the debate while refusing to use the bully pulpit of office to expose and undermine their arguments, emboldened the enemies within to exert themselves. A good and loyal American, Bush, nevertheless created an environment where ruthless and arrogant individuals felt free to so polarize conservatives that the non-conservative, John McCain won the Republican nomination.

I trust God. I believe He will turn this sad state of affairs into a positive as nominal Believers are driven once again to seek the face of God in truth and humility; confessing our sin and crying out to Holy God for deliverance. So, I thank God for the coming trials which I believe will be faced by His True Church as they are used to His ultimate Glory!!!

© 2008 Mike Rasberry

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Goodbye Ole Friend

Last Friday, I made a hurried trip from Slidell to my home town; Stonewall, Mississippi, to tell a good friend good bye for the last time. I returned Tuesday for his funeral.

The very first time I remember seeing Bryant Thompson was on one of those weekend trips families make when they live out of state, swoop home to visit the relatives, and sometimes attend church. I was about fifteen at the time, and Bryant was a year younger. The mischief dancing in his sparkling eyes was almost obscured by the broad smile and loud voice which personified him.

Not given much to studying, Bryant was an avid hunter and mechanic. He always knew when every hunting season opened and closed. After my family moved back to Mississippi in 1962, many of our Saturdays were spent walking the woods with shotguns as we scared the “bejebbers” out of every squirrel in the area. [I am constantly amazed that squirrels are such a nuisance today. In my youth, they were hunted far and wide.] He taught me the fine art of wasting 20 gauge shotgun shells while trying to hit doves which always seemed to fly faster than that number eight shot.

Camping out was another favorite of Bryant’s. After setting our trot lines in a pond or along the creek, and telling tall tales, we’d eventually fall sleep in bed rolls without fear of some pervert coming along to attack us. Bryant loved everything about those times. He excelled at cooking bream and catfish for our meals. He could skin a rabbit, filet a fish, or cut up a deer.

Bryant loved to drive, and the muscle cars of the late fifties and early sixties were nothing compared to us as we slid around the curves of Sandy Basin or flew over Thrill Hill in the family sedan. His love affair with everything automotive prepared him for his life’s work as an extraordinary mechanic. I remember a Saturday in 1963 when my 1952 Chevy needed new lifters. My dad gave me the box of lifters and told me they were under a panel on the side of that six cylinder engine. Bryant and I were double dating that night and we needed my car, so we had to get the job done. My Dad neglected to tell me that the lifters were connected to push rods which were connected to rocker arms which had to be removed from under the valve cover. I worked for a couple of hours trying to get those lifters out, before Bryant came and told me to remove the valve cover first.

If one person could be said to love life, that person was Bryant. When he married Mollie, his life changed dramatically. Suddenly the father of a large family, he set about becoming the responsible provider, his carefree demeanor belied. Struggles and family challenges molded his pragmatic approach to life, but he never lost the dancing mischief in those sparkling eyes. Over the last year, as he battled cancer, he lived 1 Thessalonians 5:18; “In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” He told over and over again how thankful He was to God for using this disease, which so many fear, to allow him to right his ship of life and live out his final months with a new awareness of God’s presence and care for him and his family.

As Bryant slipped from the cover of that earthly shell and entered into the immediate presence of Jesus Christ, he completed a journey begun sixty-one years earlier. A victorious journey.

I say, “Goodbye for now old friend. I’m looking forward to seeing you when I, too, must cross that great divide. It might be soon, or far removed; but it is a certainty. A certainty rooted and grounded in the faith that Jesus Christ is my Lord, even as you see Him directly now, I see Him through the eye of faith.”

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Analphabet--A Spiritual and Societal Dilemma

Analphabet seems a word very apropos in contemporary Baptist circles. The word "analphabet" means to have a decided lack of understanding of the basics of a matter. Such, I fear, would describe most members of Baptist churches.

Members saunter jauntily along with seemingly little regard for the time and finances necessary to maintain the facilities in a way which honors God and His Divine Provision. Seen pausing along the way to observe the beauty and dignity of the path they travel, they carelessly litter the byways; expecting another to stop, stoop, and remove their thoughtlessly disposed of refuse.

It is little wonder that so-called "Believers" look to government to alleviate the consequences of their financial mis-steps. Spiritual leaders have been doing "for" these parasitic hangers on for so long, they have grown to expect society to rescue them without recrimination when bad choices resulting from faulty logic lead to economic or social disaster.

My father left Mississippi in 1957 and took his family to Texas in search of opportunity and financial stability. His tendency to act impulsively a few years earlier led him to divest himself of his inheritance, leaving his family dependent upon his meager earnings and family support. Upon arriving in Texas, the family economic situation deteriorated due to a union strike at the place he had obtained work. The family car was repossessed, and almost everything of value was sold to feed and clothe the growing family. However, my father had learned his lesson.

Never a shirker from work, my dad stayed the course and eventually landed a well-paying job which enabled the family to eventually purchase a home and enjoy a new automobile. Along the way he communicated to me, his hard earned lesson that while bad choices and faulty logic are commonplace, one can overcome them with good counsel and hard work.

My dad did not expect the government to provide for him and his family. He did not consider himself poor or disadvantaged. He considered himself fortunate that he could begin again. He and my mother experienced and understood the ravages of bad choices based upon faulty logic, but they never expected others to "bail them out."

Contemporary Believers, whose trust should be in The Lord God of Heaven to allow them to start over when bad choices based upon faulty logic bring economic and social disaster, instead seem so dependent upon government that our representatives feel free to mortgage the nation's future to prevent the chickens of bad choice based upon faulty logic from coming home to roost.

Spiritual leaders must, I believe, begin to preach and teach responsibility and accountability once again. One man has said, "When you emphasize rights, you promote rebellion. When you emphasize responsibility, you promote revival." From the local church, to local officials, and on to national officials, responsibility and accountability must once again become the watchword, for if we remain ignorant of the basics for living in a free society, we are destined to repeat again and again the same mistakes until we lose that freedom.

© 2008 Mike Rasberry

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Braves Playoffs

In the top of the sixth Carolina loaded the bases with only one out but a sharply hit ball to the Braves Shortstop began an inning ending double play.

Keeping up with Ole Miss and Mississippi State makes for a challenge as I must watch home runs by the Braves because we shoot pyrotechnic responses to their home runs. Of course the announcers keep us updated on the football games as we go along.

I've been surprised that none of the high and long fly balls have carried out of the park.

Attendance at these minor league playoff games is almost always low. High School and College Football are formidable competition, but tonight's game has so far proven to be worth the price of a ticket. Every inning has produced drama and exciting plays.

Mississippi Braves Playoffs

I'm sitting here in 20 mile an hour wind just outside the fence in the parking lot of Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi watching the Mississippi Braves in the Southern League Championship game against the Carolina Mudcats. In the bottom of the fifth the score is tied at 1 with both teams missing several scoring opportunities.

The gusty weather has resulted in no home runs but lots of fundamentally sound baseball. Batters have been very adept at advancing runners to scoring position with less than two outs. However, J.C. Holt just parlayed a double into a position on third when the runner ahead of him was out at home. Runs are so scarce tonight that every opportunity is taken to score, and an infield hit just sent Holt home with the lead run with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.

The light mist may be prelude to another rain delay. The game was delayed on Friday Night for about 1 1/2 hours. Then last night the game went into the 14th inning before the Braves got a walk off Grand Slam to tie the series up at two games each and send the series into tonight's series finale.

Have to go now and conclude setting up for the fireworks show at the close of the trophy presentation if the Braves win...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Hurricane Gustav #3

Tuesday Morning September 2. My plans were to return to Slidell today. However, after speaking with several folks in Slidell, I felt we could do greater service by remaining here for another day.

My wife, Diane, is on Hurricane Standby for the month of September and they called her this afternoon telling her they need her there for Thursday. Another lady had taken her call for Hurricane Gustav, but now she needs to be there. The surgical suites cannot operate without her. :-)

This morning Diane took the Grandchildren to "The Chicken Store." That is my grandson's name for "Dirt Cheap." They can spend several hours going through "stuff" until they find the one thing she will buy them. It is a great place for kids.

I spent some time at the Stonewall Town Hall this afternoon getting information and doing a little research for something I'm writing.

Then to the pasture to check on that longhorn heifer. My Border Collie Pup was born the second week of June and is still not ready to do any herding. But I'm ready for her to grow up fast. I'm tired of chasing cows.

Some folks checked out our house this morning and reported that it was unscathed except for some limbs from the Crepe Myrtle in our front yard. That was very good news. The news that no flood waters approached our house is also very good news.

About 5:00 PM, we received word that electric service has been restored to our house and to our church. We'll return to Slidell tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

My son has wifi at his office in Stonewall, so there have been several of us here this afternoon catching up on email.

Hurricane Gustav #2

Monday morning September 1. Labor Day 2008. All eyes were glued to the TV screen as we awaited Gustav's landfall. Concern turned to relief as we began to realize the threatened monster had met God's wind shear, and had its claws severely trimmed. Though still a dangerous CAT 2 storm, the feared devastation was averted by God's mercy.

After contacting all the church members I could locate, and ascertaining their safety; I made a trip to Meridian to purchase plywood in order to shore up my mother's sofa. She is suffering from some type of nerve damage and has been severely limited in her mobility for the last ten days or so.

While in Meridian I realized that it was Monday and that the stockyard was open, so not wanting to waste any time, I went by the stockyard; just to see how things were selling. :-) Of course, I saw something I just could not live without-- a one and one half year old longhorn heifer. Wow!! Just what I needed. So naturally, I had to bid on her, and do you know those other folks stopped bidding just so I would get her. At least that's what I told my wife when explaining the transaction.

Well the purchase of that heifer revealed another need--a stock trailer. Wouldn't you know? There was one alongside the road near my mother's house, and it was for sale. I inquired about the cost, and then I counter offered. Eventually we compromised and now I have a sturdy stock trailer in desperate need of a paint job. I wonder if the longhorn heifer was embarrassed when I showed up with that trailer to take her to her new home. :-)

So far Hurricane Gustav has hit my pocketbook pretty hard!!!

Hurricane Gustav #1

Sunday Morning ten of us met to worship and pray prior to evacuating for Hurricane Gustav. One couple planned to stay through the storm. They are in an area where little water was expected.

Several people wanted to attend worship with us, but didn't know if they'd have access to travel.

After loading up all our necessities and my wife's "Treasures," we raised everything possible off the floor to avoid possible destruction by flooding.

We left Slidell about 4:15 PM with a four vehicle caravan. We traveled Highway 11 to Pearl River, La; then Highway 41 to Bush, La where we hit Highway 21 which took us through Bogalusa and on the the Mississippi State line. Mississippi Highway 35 took us across Highway 98 to Highway 84 which we took to Laurel, Ms. Total travel time was less than four hours.

As we traveled, we listened to news reports to people traveling to Laurel, Ms from Slidell which took 8-10 hours. I tried to reach radio stations to suggest our route, but was never able to connect.

There was plenty of fuel and food along our route also. Radio stations reported several exits along the I-59 corridor being blocked because there was no fuel. When I arrived back in Slidell Saturday Evening, I found only one station with diesel fuel and gasoline. That was about dark Saturday. I was glad I had filled up before leaving Stonewall.

We arrived at the home of Diane's Mother about 9:00 PM and immediately began unloading frozen foods from the ice chests into her freezer. Bed time was very welcome when about 11:30 we began crawling under the sheets.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The primary definitions of myopic are: 1. Nearsighted; unable to see distant objects clearly. 2. Shortsighted; lacking foresight; narrow-minded.

Few events more clearly demonstrate the myopic nature of a significant segment of American citizenry than the quadrennial election cycle during which a leader is chosen to serve as President of the still most powerful and influential nation on the globe. The pandering appeals to this segment abound with images of Easy Street where government stands ready to insure that no one goes home sick, hungry, or in tattered clothing.

The visions of Shangri-La are carefully crafted to emphasize the present, while scrupulously avoiding any mention of the sacrifice necessary to build, much less maintain, such a utopia. The enormous sacrifices of those who’ve gone before are relegated to transcendent mythology. Something not really expected of contemporary citizenry who are limited by time and space, unlike the heroes of history.

Time and again this segment of society has floundered in the morass of unrequited expectations. The youth, led to believe that individual initiative is futile, wandering the streets seeking outlets for growing frustration, fear, and rage become fertile targets for the drug pusher, sex merchant, and intimidator. Young girls learn early the benefits and favors which accrue to those of their sex willing to make merchandise of their natural attributes. Middle-aged men and women fear for their progeny, while grasping time and again for the brass ring which seems always just beyond their grasp. The elderly hobble through each day and wonder where the years, their strength, and their dreams have gone.

Yet during the election cycle, they once again are enamored with the promises of a new and different path to the corner of Easy Street and Soft Living Boulevard, where they can live their lives unencumbered with the responsibility for maintaining that corner. Someone better equipped and somewhat transcendent will assume total care for those living near that corner. That individual is not only rich beyond their wildest imagination, but is anxious to shower them with his largess.

And so, quadrennial election after quadrennial election, they are loaded upon buses and transported to voting booths where helpers carefully guide them in casting their vote for this transcendent entity who will finally and most certainly effortlessly transport them to the corner of Easy Street and Soft Living Boulevard in the city of Shangri-La.

Oh, for a genuine leader who will dispel the myth and tell them the truth about the cost of living effectively in the world. A leader who will call for sacrifice, dedication, and socially responsible behavior in order that they might raise themselves up to become contributors to society. A leader who doesn’t pander to myopic desires, but who paints a panoramic mural showing the real consequences and real rewards at the end of the far journey. A leader who preaches that wise personal choices are the only possible path to success. A leader who says, “We’ll point the way, but no one will do it for you.”

© 2008 Mike Rasberry

Friday, January 25, 2008

Our Son's Difficult Journey To Find God's Purpose in Life

Kevin’s First Accident

It was about 12:30 AM in Uijongbu, ROK when the first call came in. Kevin, our youngest child and a Freshman at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi had been involved in an automobile accident. Initially we could only obtain very limited information, and had little understanding of the seriousness of the injuries. Subsequent calls to the doctors in the emergency room at Baptist Hospital in Columbus, Mississippi provided us with a fairly clear picture of the situation.

I had thought that perhaps I would remain in Korea and send my wife, Diane, back to help out with his recovery. However, when I spoke with the people in the Emergency Room to inquire about the extent of the injuries, I heard the physician tell the person I was speaking with that if we wanted to see him alive, we’d better get there soon. We had few financial resources, but we soon received a call from my sister telling me that E-tickets were waiting for us at Kimpo International Airport in Seoul.

The news of the accident and the realization of his precarious physical condition hit us hard. Within about two hours, however, both Diane and I had turned the situation over to God. Diane walked into my study and said that she felt like what ever happened, it would be alright. We recalled that we had given our children to God and that they were His to do with as He saw best. We praised Him for the eighteen wonderful years, we had enjoyed having Kevin with us, and asked God to allow him to remain with us, but we both told God that if He saw fit to take our son from us at this time, we’d praise Him for that also.

Brian Olling from the International Christian School, which is affiliated with the Network of International Christian Schools, drove us to the airport and provided much appreciated support. The entire staff of ICS was extremely helpful over the course of the months which followed the accident.

God seemed to give both Diane and me a sense of peace about the matter and we knew that He was in charge. There was no sense that he would be alive, or dead, when we’d call for updates at each stop along our journey to Memphis. We really didn’t know what God was going to do, but we began to feel that God would allow him to stay with us.

Our oldest child, Mike, Jr.; met us in Memphis and filled us in on everything he knew at that point. Kevin, who was in a pre-vet program, had been working all night preparing an arena for a Block & Bridle Club event at a town about twenty miles from Starkville. He had left early that morning to drive back to MSU where he had a job milking. Along the way he went to sleep and crossed over the narrow road and hit a large buried culvert. Apparently his pickup flexed just as it hit the culvert and completely collapsed then flipped over across a drive back into the ditch.

Eye witnesses thought he was dead and even the emergency response people thought the same thing. One man eventually noticed some movement of his hand and as they investigated further discovered that he was indeed breathing and instead of waiting for a coroner they were able to load him into the ambulance.

Our first visit to see him in ICU was shocking. He had such massive trauma to the head and chest that the doctors warned us that he would probably suffer from severe brain damage if he lived. A minor matter at that time was the fact that several other bones were broken, the most serious of which was his left heel which was completely crushed.

Churches in the Starkville & Columbus area opened up their hearts and doors to us. A motor home was set up on the parking lot because Diane simply did not want to leave the hospital while there was any doubt about him making it. Another family from another church made their home available for our use, and still another family provided us with transportation; but our personal family and friends were a tremendous source of encouragement and help.

After three days, it appeared that Kevin would survive, but questions lingered concerning any permanent brain damage. At that point they began to check out what else wasn’t working correctly. At the end of ten days, I returned to Korea while Diane remained to nurse Kevin back to health. He was moved to her Mother’s home in Clarke County, Mississippi and he began to respond rapidly to the loving attention.

Diane returned to Korea and Kevin went back to school at MSU, but he now had to contend with a severe staff infection which seemed to flare up often. He eventually had to withdraw from school returned to Korea in order for his Mother to help him rehabilitate his foot, which by that time was his greatest difficulty. After a doctor at Yongsan Army Base in Seoul tried to convince him to allow them to amputate his foot and fit him with a prosthesis, Diane returned to the States with him to seek more astute medical advice.

In the Summer of 1997 we felt God’s call to leave Korea and return permanently to the States. Kevin continued to struggle with his leg and the doctors suggested one final possibility to avoid amputation.

An appointment was made with a therapist in Birmingham, Alabama who had enjoyed considerable success helping patients walk relatively pain free. After she fitted Kevin with prosthetics for his shoes he walked for the first time in two years without the aid of crutches or in severe pain.

Kevin’s Second Accident

After a time Kevin began to work in the construction trade as an electrician. He traveled extensively and often lived away from home for weeks at a time. During this time he seemed to lose track of God’s plan for his life and fell in with the ways of the rough crowd with which he worked.

One night in November of 1999, we received a call that he had rolled his pickup several times and was in critical condition in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He was transported by air ambulance to the University of Louisville Trauma Center in Louisville, Kentucky. His heart stopped once on the trip to the trauma center and again on the operating table, and the doctors offered us very little hope that he would survive.

This accident was actually worse than the first. Several internal organs had been damaged and nearly every bone had been broken. Without a seat belt, he had rolled around in the cab of his truck banging against the dash, the steering wheel, and shifter numerous times as the truck tumbled and tumbled.

Several weeks in the hospital and several months of therapy followed the accident, but again God was gracious to allow him another opportunity. By this time everyone who knew him though that surely God had something special in store for his life.

Unable to work any longer in the construction trade, he began to study computers and gained his Microsoft networking certification. He failed to pursue additional training when the school he was attending suddenly closed leaving him with a substantial student loan debt and no school. He also seemed to be having difficulty maintaining his focus in times of concentration.

Kevin Plays Softball

In 2001 less than two years after his accident he pitched for his church slow pitch team. I cannot put into words the emotions I experienced as I saw him stand on the mound and pitch. God’s mercy and grace just seemed to overwhelm me and tears unashamedly poured down my face because I knew the pain he endured with each pitch. I knew that the next day would be very difficult for him, but I knew that the young man who had been such a terrific High School athlete was willing to push himself so that he could enjoy the life God had given him.

Still Another Accident

In 2004 Kevin was working with a man in our church and while pressure washing a building in a rural area north of Covington, Louisiana; a ladder toppled over, throwing him to the ground and breaking his elbow. After pins and therapy, he can no longer straighten his left arm. Prior to that accident he had been learning to play the bass guitar, however, he still has not regained enough mobility in the arm to continue that dream.

While Kevin is still not nearly what God will eventually have him become, he is making progress toward that end. He still struggles in life, as the rest of us do, but now he has a purpose. Now he has a focus. We’re grateful that God has allowed us to share in the travails of his life, because we’ve seen God’s hand at work.

Kevin is currently Worship and Youth Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church where I’m the Senior Pastor. He has dedicated himself to God and is allowing God to build within him a Life Message which both the Youth and Adults of this age need to hear. Kevin is definitely not a quitter. If you’re in Slidell, Louisiana on a Tuesday or Thursday Night during the Spring, you’ll probably see Kevin out there on the diamond playing softball. You can’t miss him. He’s the tall lanky young man playing first base. You can tell it is him when he falls to the ground to make a catch of an off target throw because he can’t stretch out his arm, and when he hits the ball, you’ll see him waddle more than run to first base; where he’ll be relieved for a designated runner.

Oh yes, one other thing; you’ll see him smile a lot.