Thank God for freedom by PASTOR LARRY ROWLAND Rockford Baptist Church The late President Ronald Reagan loved to tell of a conversation that he had with a Russian delegate at a summit meeting. President Reagan had summarized the political atmosphere of freedom in our country by telling the delegate that any American citizen can walk into the White House, slam his hand on the desk of the President and say, “I don’t like the way Ronald Reagan is running the country.” Now we recognize that President Reagan was exaggerating the case, because there is tight security surrounding the White House prohibiting just anyone from walking into the chief executive’s office. But his point illustrating the freedom of expression that we have as American citizens was not lost on the Russian delegate who responded in a defensive manner. “Well, I can do the same thing in my country. I can walk into the Kremlin. I can slam my hand on the desk of our leader and I can say, ‘I don’t like the way Ronald Reagan is running the country.’” How many times do we take the glorious freedoms that we have as American citizens for granted? We have freedom to express ourselves without fear of reprisal, we have freedom to travel where we want to go, we have freedom to pursue the occupations that we feel would most fulfill us, and we have freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience. I would encourage you to take a moment today to thank Almighty God for the privilege of living with freedom and liberty in this great land of ours. And why not put those freedoms into practice by worshiping in the church of your choice this Sunday?
Pastor Larry Rowland
A blessing in disguise by PASTOR LARRY ROWLAND Rockford Baptist Church Simon and Monique welcomed their fourth child into the world with joy and celebration. Louis was a healthy boy, full of life. Simon was a tanner who lived in a stone house outside of Paris. One of the small rooms of the house served as Simon’s workshop. Because the leather working tools of his trade were often sharp, the children were warned not to play in dad’s shop. But when Louis was still a toddler, he ventured through the shop door inadvertently left open. As Louis was playing with his father’s tools that just fascinated him, he slipped and poked himself in the eye with a sharp awl. The injured eye soon became infected. When the infection spread to Louis’ other eye as well, Simon and Monique helplessly watched as their four-year-old son completely lost his eyesight. Louis’ parents sacrificed to send him to the Royal Institution for the Blind in Paris, and the boy was exposed to the most advanced teaching available to him. He even took organ lessons and excelled as a musician. But Louis longed to be able to read like the other children who were blessed with their eyesight. One summer as he was back home on vacation, the now young teenager thought of an idea. He asked his dad if he could use one of his awls. Simon was somewhat surprised, but agreed, because his son was now old enough to handle tools. Louis then took the awl and, working with some scrap leather from his father’s shop, he began to devise a system of dots that could be felt with the fingers. Because of the ingenuity of Louis Braille, sight-impaired people today can read and write, work on math problems and even compose music. Interestingly, it was the very instrument that caused Louis’ blindness in the first place that became an instrument of blessing for millions of sight-impaired people down through the past 200 years. The same awl that initially caused Louis Braille’s eyes to lose their sight formed the first letters and numbers in the leather that eventually allowed Louis and so many others to read and write.
Think before you sign by PASTOR LARRY ROWLAND Rockford Baptist Church A student of the Eagle Rock Junior High School won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair a few years ago with his exposure of a substance that he claimed threatened the well-being of the human race. The substance is dihydrogen monoxide. His exhibit illustrated many of the reasons why this substance should be banned from our planet. Among the reasons he gave were: dihydrogen monoxide can cause excessive sweating and vomiting; it is a major component in acid rain; it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state; if you accidentally breathe in this substance, it will kill you; it contributes to erosion; it has been found in the tumors of terminal cancer patients; it even decreases the effectiveness of automobile brakes, causing accidents and deaths on the highway. As person after person passed by the exhibit, drinking in the potential dangers of this substance, lines of worry and anxiety furrowed their brows. One after another stooped over to sign the petition at the end of the table, calling for the banning of dihydrogen monoxide. You could hear this substance coming up in conversation after conversation, with people expressing their concerns that this substance hadn’t been exposed before. At the end of the day, a survey of all who attended the science fair revealed that 86% thought it was a good idea for dihydrogen monoxide to be banned from use on our planet. Only 2% of those who attended this science fair were for its use, and 12% were undecided on the question, wanting further information before passing judgment. It was after the survey had been conducted at the end of the day, just before the science fair was closing, that the winning student uncovered the title of his project. His exhibit was called “How Gullible Are We?” His project was really intended to expose how easily alarmists can spread anxiety, and how easily and quickly Americans accept anxiety into their lives. Dihydrogen monoxide? It’s just good, old-fashioned H2O-water. Motivated by their anxieties, 86% of the people at this Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair had signed petitions calling for the banning of water from use on our planet.
by PASTOR LARRY ROWLAND Rockford Baptist Church Almost 300 years ago, an English child was named Jonas in the Hanway family. Jonas did not have an easy childhood. His father died while he was just a boy, forcing him to go to work as an apprentice for a merchant. As he grew older, Jonas was able to do a great deal of traveling throughout the world, buying and selling merchandise for his company. On one of his business trips, Jonas discovered a device that had been designed to shield a person from rainfall. He thought this invention to be perfect for his rainy homeland, so he brought one back with him to London. For 30 years, Jonas Hanway used this invention that he called an “umbrella,” carrying it around with him wherever he went. Words fail to describe the ridicule that he faced. Almost everyone who passed him on the street called him names. Young boys often pelted him with eggs or cabbages. He was written about in the paper as “the umbrella man.” Yet Jonas persisted in carrying his umbrella with him. Finally, after three decades of ridicule, some other brave souls began to carry umbrellas. Today, it’s difficult to find a person walking in London without an umbrella on a rainy day. It was Jonas’ persistent example – enduring ridicule for decades – that has made a practical difference in the lives of millions of people even to this day. And in the process of enduring the humiliation necessary to introduce the umbrella to his country, Jonas developed generosity and character. The opening line of his Wikipedia article describes him as “an English philanthropist.” Depressed economic conditions are causing hardships for many families. At this time of year, the winter seems to be lingering on and on. Perseverance is a needed virtue. But persistence not only helps us to endure hardships. It can also produce beautiful character in our lives and bless the lives of others around us.