Friday, July 5, 2002

Missing Ingredients

by Blake Cromwell

During the 70’s I worked in a home for teens. Once a week the boys’ home would have dinner together with the girls’ home. It was always a fun filled time with laughter and smiles.

One night we celebrated the birthday of one of the boys. One of the girls from the girls’ home who had a crush on the birthday boy made him a cake. It was her first attempt at baking a cake and she labored diligently to impress her potential boyfriend.

When she rounded the corner that evening the 16 candles illuminated the dark chocolate cake and all of our mouths began to water in anticipation. As she portioned out the cake piece by beautiful chocolate piece, we couldn’t wait to taste this marvel. In unison we slid the first fork-full into our mouths and instantly knew something was wrong. The cake was tasteless. Something — sugar, salt, eggs — something had been forgotten.

She was embarrassed, we were disappointed, and the potential courtship was over. And all because she had missed one ingredient.

One ingredient can make or break a family just like it can make or break a cake. I meet with people often in the midst of crisis. Many times they are struggling with their kids because they’ve left out one important ingredient from the recipe for raising a healthy family. They concentrated on making money and forgot communication. They taught their kids how to study but not how to say no to peer pressure. They eat well but neglect exercise.

I read a story recently about a young social worker who had just graduated from college and taken her first assignment in the inner city. It was there she met Danny.

The boy was curled up against a wall watching his friends play stickball. Danny couldn’t walk and he couldn’t run. So the young social worker decided she would find out what was wrong with Danny. She discovered that about a year before Danny had been playing ball with his friends. He chased after a fly ball and into the path of an oncoming car. His arms and legs were broken and there was damage to his back and ribs.

Some of the children took Danny to his mom who neglected to take him to the hospital. So when the bones began to heal they healed crooked. He couldn’t walk and he couldn’t run, so his friends would carry him down and lean him up against the wall of the building so he could watch them play ball.

The social worker determined to help Danny. She took him to a hospital and there over a period of months Danny underwent 17 separate operations on his legs, arms and back. Finally that day came when once again Danny was able to play stickball…to walk and to run. After months of operations and physical therapy, they had taught Danny to walk again.

Years later the social worker was standing in front of a large gathering of other social workers from all over the country. After telling the story to the group, the social worker asked, “What do you think Danny is doing today?”

Someone said, “I bet Danny is a social worker just like you.” Another guessed Danny was a teacher. Others guessed he was a coach or a pastor of a church.

The social worker shook her head, “Today, Danny is on death row in prison for having, committed murder. You see, we taught him how to walk; we just never taught him where to walk.”

One ingredient can make all the difference in the world. This week the Pastors in the Kings County would love to add an essential ingredient to your life. That ingredient comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 3, 2002


by Blake Cromwell

Most of us have seen the Steven Spielberg movie Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and remember the golden Ark of the Covenant that Indiana discovered. Near the end of the movie the Nazis attempt to unlock the power of the Ark and make a deadly mistake. They looked into the Ark in hopes of understanding it’s great power. But when they slid the Mercy Seat off the Ark (the Mercy Seat is the lid of the Ark of the Covenant), fire came from it and destroyed all who were looking on.

Believe it or not, the movie isn’t that far from what actually happened in the Old Testament when a group of men slid the Mercy Seat off the Ark to look inside. When they did, God became very angry and struck down over fifty thousand men. Why? Because judgment falls when the Mercy Seat is removed from the Ark. You see, God would look down upon the Ark of the Covenant constantly because it was the representation of His presence on the Earth. Inside the Ark were contained, among other items, the Ten Commandments (remember Moses’ stone tablets?). The Ten Commandments were the Law of God. The Law represents judgment. This is why the Mercy Seat covered the Ark, because God wanted His mercy to cover judgment. So when the Mercy Seat was removed, God looked down and saw only the Law, and we ALL stand guilty before God’s Law.

God’s plan is that mercy would cover judgment. That is why God sent Jesus, the ultimate expression of mercy, to the world. Christ is the Mercy Seat for everyone who has placed their confidence in Him as Savior and Lord.

When I was seven years old I learned my first lesson on mercy. It wasn’t nearly as dramatic as the scene in Indiana Jones or the story of the Ark of the Covenant in the Bible. Neither was it from a Sunday school teacher or a pastor. I learned mercy from the clerk at my local Soda Fountain. That lesson has stayed with me to this day and helps me understand God’s mercy.

My dad would give his three sons thirty-five cents every Saturday. With that huge allowance we would buy an ice cream for a dime and then go to the school matinee for a quarter.

One hot summer day my brothers and I ran to the local Thrifty’s store. I got my regular, one scoop of vanilla and one scoop of strawberry. As I left the store I bumped my arm and dropped both scoops on the hot sidewalk.

My heart melted as I watched my ice cream do the same. In the middle of my pain I heard a knock on the store window and the clerk beckoned me back in. There she mercifully gave me two scoops for free.

That’s mercy – two scoops for free. I realize that this definition of mercy may not be the most profound, but I must admit it has comforted me many times. When I have fallen and am feeling bad I try to remember that God has also given me two scoops for free. He’s covered me with His Mercy Seat, Christ.

If you are feeling beat up by failure or personal sin let me encourage you to learn more about the Mercy Seat of Christ. The pastors in the Kings County can guide you to the Mercy Seat.

Tuesday, July 2, 2002

An Irrecoverable Moment

by Blake Cromwell

We all have one thing in common, each day holds only twenty-four hours. On an average we sleep and rest eight hours. Our work demands at least eight hours and it takes three hours for meals and family time.

There still remains five precious hours for recreation, prayer, family time and serving others. Someone has said that the difference between one person and another lies largely in how they use those five hours.

Everyday we must look for opportunities to touch our children and community. The parent who understands how precious time is will set down the paper or turn off the TV to spend one on one time with their kids.

In his autobiography, Just as I Am, Billy Graham tells about a conversation he had with John F. Kennedy shortly after his election:

“On the way back to the Kennedy house, the president-elect stopped the car and turned to me. ‘Do you believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?’ he asked.

“ ‘I most certainly do.’
“ ‘Well, does my church believe it?’
“ ‘They have it in their creeds.’
“ ‘They don’t preach it,’ he said. ‘They don’t tell us much about it. I’d like to know what you think.’
“I explained what the Bible said about Christ coming the first time, dying on the Cross, rising from the dead, and then promising that he would come back again. ‘Only then,’ I said, ‘are we going to have permanent world peace.’
“ ‘Very interesting,’ he said, looking away. ‘We’ll have to talk more about that someday.’ And he drove on.”
Several years later, the two met again, at the 1963 National Prayer Breakfast.
“I had the flu,’ Graham remembers. “After I gave my short talk, and he gave his, we walked out of the hotel to his car together, as was always our custom. At the curb, he turned to me.
“’Billy, could you ride back to the White House with me? I’d like to see you for a minute.’
“ ‘Mr. President, I’ve got a fever,’ I protested. ‘Not only am I weak, but I don’t want to give you this thing. Couldn’t we wait and talk some other time?’
“It was a cold, snowy day, and I was freezing as I stood there without my overcoat.
“ ‘Of course,’ he said graciously.”
But the two would never meet again. Later that year, Kennedy was shot dead. Graham comments, “His hesitation at the car door, and his request, haunt me still. What was on his mind? Should I have gone with him? It was an irrecoverable moment.”
“An irrecoverable moment,” what a statement. In the life of our families let us strive not to have “irrecoverable moments.” Time is ticking and eternity is in the balance for those around us. Let us make the most of the opportunities we have today.

This Sunday the Pastors in the Kings County are praying that you will come to church and that you and your family will be marked for eternity.