Branch News

Pastor’s Word

06
Dec

We’re Nuts!

I’m not calling you a nut. Really! Just keep that in mind as you read. Ok, well, maybe I am just a little. Yeah, you’re right, I called you a nut. Sorry, but anyway…

I shelled some pecans this morning – picking out those delectable, delicious bits of goodness. The thought struck me that this is so much like our hearts. I don’t know if you’ve ever shelled pecans or if you have ever taken time to examine the shell and inner parts of the pecan.

The hard, wooden shell around the outside we know about. It has to be broken in order to access the good part of the pecan. But even within the pecan there is inside the two halves a division. That division is made up of some of the bitterest stuff known to man. If you’ve ever bit into a bite of pecan pie and suddenly experienced a strong, bitter taste then you know that someone failed to pick out all the bad parts. The interesting thing is that those bitter portions grow with the nut and they are shaped and wedged into the fruit of the nut very tightly. This makes it hard to remove it all.

How is our heart like that pecan? Well, we have built up a hard shell around our heart. We resist the working of the Lord in our lives many times. We don’t want Him poking and prodding and removing all the barriers and walls we have erected. But it needs to happen if we are ever going to reach our God-given potential.

So, yes, the Lord cracks open the hard shell. He removes the bitterness from our hearts so that all we meet will encounter the incredible difference that Christ makes when He makes a man’s heart His home.

The problem lies in the fact that we deceive our own selves and lie to ourselves and pretend that all is well. We excuse and rationalize and justify our sorry behavior. Ultimately, though, God’s Word is the hammer that can crack open even the hardest heart. I’m thankful the Lord specializes in hard cases like you and me.

I’m also thankful that Jesus Christ left heaven and became a man. He fully identified with you and me in His life and especially in His death. He died on a cross to save me from my sin. When He broke through the wall of unbelief and resistance I had built up around my heart I was changed forever. I’m still not perfect. He’s digging out those bitter portions from my heart.

You have a choice. You can keep your nuttiness, your hard shell and those bitter divisions that make your heart so hard. Or you can turn to Christ and ask Him to crack you open and dig out all the bad stuff. You can give up your life to Jesus or you can keep it for yourself. Except, ultimately, you can’t keep it.

We have to die to who we have been so that we can have life forever.

I pray that this new year will be a time that God will do a mighty work in our hearts. There are worse things than having a hard head. But a hard heart is one that’s tough to overcome. May God richly bless you and your family in 2017!

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” (John 12:24–25, NLT)

 

06
Dec

The Gifts of Christmas

The music of Christmas has always been a blessing to me. The carols, the fun songs, Rudolph – all of it. I love Christmas music. I was listening to some this morning and thinking about the gifts that we give at Christmas. I think we most often go back in the Bible to the coming of the Wise Men and the gifts they gave to Jesus. But I think there is much more there that we haven’t explored.

Mary’s gift. I’ve thought about Mary a lot and tried to imagine the place she found herself. It’s hard to fathom what a young woman (probably a teenager) felt when she heard the news from the angel Gabriel that she was to have God’s Son. So what was it that Mary gave to the Lord Jesus? She gave herself. Oh, yes, she gave her womb to hold Him and nurture Him and allow Him to grow inside of her. But she gave far more than that. She gave everything she was. If you’re a mother you know exactly what I’m talking about. Mothers don’t just carry a baby like you would put eggs in an incubator. They carry that child and they love that child so powerfully and they endure the sickness and pain of pregnancy, the discomfort and then the agony of childbirth for the love of that little baby. Mary gave everything that she was to this baby. She gave up her plans, her ideas, and her expectations. In return she was privileged to birth our Savior into this world (her Savior too!). Could you give a greater gift than she gave? I don’t know how.

Joseph’s gift – I’m not sure we know what to do with Joseph. He was a carpenter. He was probably an older man who had been betrothed to Mary when he found that she was pregnant. His first thought was to divorce her privately. But the angel came and told him that Mary had done nothing wrong. She had not been unfaithful. Instead she had been blessed with a child that was God’s own Son and the Savior of His people. Joseph’s gift was to lay aside his reputation and his pride. Joseph’s gift was to take Mary as his wife in spite of what people might say. And I’m sure they said plenty. He gave up himself to God’s plan. That is a gift befitting a king.

There were other gifts. Elizabeth gave wise counsel and love to a tender young woman who had the most improbable and impossible pregnancy. An unknowing innkeeper gave Jesus the poorest and most unlikely of birth places when he turned them away from his already full inn. The shepherds came and brought the wildest story imaginable – angels appearing to announce the coming of Messiah! The wise men brought gold, frankincense, and myrhh. Simon and Anna brought praise to God and affirmation of who Jesus was. Herod – Herod’s gift was an extension of who he was. He killed innocent babies who happened to have been born around the same time as Jesus in the area of Bethlehem. It was a gift from hell.

But all of these gifts placed the birth and the life and the death of Jesus into its proper setting. He didn’t come to live a privileged life of power and wealth and ease. He was born to poor, working class people. He grew up with the knowledge of hard work but also with the love of family and the faith of His people. He grew up with God’s blessing and approval.

One thing led to another and Jesus preached and taught, corrected and chided, healed and delivered as only the Son of God could. He identified with each of us and He loved every single mother’s son and daughter among us. He died for us. His gift was pain, suffering, sorrow, guilt, and despair. He gave His life’s blood to pay your sin debt and mine. “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable Gift!”

So the gifts of Christmas are real. The Father sent His only Son and our entire world has been turned upside down. Thank God! Where would we be without Christmas?

“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 4:4–7, NLT)

14
Oct

A Day of Prayer and Fasting – October 15th

Our church has set aside time during the day on Saturday, Oct. 15th for fasting and prayer. We would be honored if you would join us.

Too many times I begin to pray without adequately preparing my heart to pray. I want to remind you as we approach a very special day of prayer and fasting tomorrow that we each need to prepare ourselves so that we can effectively intercede for others. It isn’t selfish to begin your time of prayer by praying about your own needs. It is vitally important. Just make sure that you begin with a heart filled with praise, a desire to be right with God, and a hunger for Him and not just what He can do for you. So here is one model of how we can prepare our hearts:

A = Adoration – spend time just praising God and worshiping Him. Don’t ask for anything at this point. “Hallowed be thy name…”

C = Confession – ask God to forgive your sins.  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

T = Thanksgiving – Thank God for forgiving you and accept His forgiveness. Thank Him for salvation. Thank Him for life and breath and all things!

S = Supplication – Ask God to meet the needs within your family, friends, church family, coworkers, neighborhood, classmates, etc. Pour out your heart for people who are hurting and in need.

I want to encourage you to pray and fast with others from our church family tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 15th. I am suggesting a fast from 6:00 am until 6:00 pm, 12 hours in which we do not eat so that we will be reminded to pray. Now, if tomorrow is not a good day for you to do this then do it on Monday or Thursday or whenever works for you. If 12 hours isn’t right for you then do 24 or 36 or 8 or what you can do. If you want to fast from food but still drink juice or coffee (I usually drink just water) that is fine. Do it in the way that God leads you. If you would rather fast from your smartphone, tablet, computer, television, music, movies, books, football, entertainment, etc., that is fine. Do it in the way that will help  you to focus on God in prayer. I just hope you will join me in fervent prayer for a nation that has lost its way.

As you begin your fast, start with some specific requests that you are going to be praying for (for example):

  1. Praying for lost family members to be saved
  2. Praying for revival and awakening in our nation
  3. Praying for our Fall Revival and true revival within our church

I wouldn’t make a long list. Make it short enough that it is easy to remember. Prepare for your time of fasting by making your list today. This list will guide you and help you to be focused. It will keep you on track and it will be much easier to remember why you are doing this. Finally, don’t lose heart if it doesn’t go as well or as easily as you hoped. There are no style points involved. Just do it.

10
Oct

“Even So, Come, Lord Jesus!”

“Even So, Come, Lord Jesus”

Beginning at six months out, we counted down the days. We couldn’t wait for our wedding day!

We talked every day and spent as much time with each other as we could. No one had to urge us to spend time on the phone or to sit and talk about our future. We were so excited about every part of it.

Susie and I knew that the day of our wedding was going to be special. It was. We truly believed that God had brought us together and we were so in love. The days passed slowly but they passed. We finally made it – July 7, 1984.

Our families gathered. To be fair, some of our family was thrilled while others were convinced we were making a huge mistake.

The moment came and our pastor, Bro. Garland Hobbs, led the men to take their place on stage. The bridal march began and every eye turned to the door at the rear of the auditorium. Susie came down that aisle and she was beautiful. Her dad didn’t glare at me too much but I wasn’t paying much attention to him anyway.

The songs, the vows, and the pronouncement were over in just a few beats of the heart. We were one. It was a sweet beginning to one of the greatest blessings God has ever given to me. I am so thankful.

But there is another day coming. Really it is one that every Christian should be counting down. It is the day of Christ’s return.

It is another love story. But this one has some elements and wrinkles that we might not expect.

This love story is between God and all of us who know Him as Lord and Savior. It is between Christ and His church, the Bride of Christ. The day is certain and it is coming but it hasn’t been announced. Jesus Himself said that only the Father knew the day and the hour.

In fitting with a Jewish wedding ceremony, the Lord Jesus will begin the festivities. He will return for His bride and the trumpets will sound. There will be a glorious moment when we realize – the day is here! What we have heard about for so long and waited for is finally here!

Wait, what’s that? You’re not anxiously waiting for this day?

Actually, I understand. I’m sitting here writing this and looking out the window of my study. The maple tree directly outside and the fields beyond are a beautiful reminder of how special God’s creation is. Plus, I’m busy. I’m getting ready to go out to the fair and work the evangelism booth for a while and then go to the leader’s supper meeting for the Acts 1:8 mission day tomorrow.

Our culture has wired us to being so busy that we have little time to sit and contemplate the wonders of heaven. And then it also messes with all of our plans that we have made – fishing trip next week, revival a few weeks after that – we have a lot on the calendar. Surely the Lord won’t be returning this month, will He?

But that is the beauty of it all. Jesus is returning. It’s the next great event in the prophetic calendar that God has on His wall. When He returns we will go home to be with Him forever. When He returns He will make all things right in His universe. When He returns He will take us home to a heaven that is more real and more beautiful and more amazing than anything on this planet we call earth.

Every one of our loved ones and friends who have died in Jesus will be there with us to celebrate! Best of all we will be with HIM. That’s it. That’s enough.

Our day is coming. We don’t know when. But we know that it could be soon. It could be today.

“Lord, will this be the day that you come for me?”

Even so, Lord, come.

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18, AV)

10
Oct

What Jesus Sees

What Jesus Sees

Jesus looked at people who were lost and saw something that they couldn’t see. He looked at the woman at the well and saw a woman whose life and mistake and sin could be redeemed. He saw beyond her past. He saw a future that was totally different from what she had known.

He looked at a religious expert, Nicodemus. He wasn’t impressed by religiosity, still isn’t. He saw a man who was depending on his religion to get him to heaven and cared enough about him to tell him he would never get there on the path he was on. Nicodemus was a teacher of the Jews but Jesus saw only that he was a lost man who needed a new birth.

Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and saw a man who was rich. He had everything. On top of that he was religious. He had tried to convince himself that keeping all those rules was enough. But it didn’t work. He found himself staring straight into Jesus’ eyes as he asked him what he had to do to get eternal life. Jesus looked at this young man and loved him. He loved him enough to tell him the truth – he had allowed his money to become his idol. He worshiped it. He lived for it. He walked away from Jesus because he couldn’t see giving it away in order to follow Jesus. Jesus was sad as he watched the young man turn and walk away.

Jesus looked at Peter and saw beyond the impetuous, quick to speak-slow to listen fisherman and saw a leader of men. He saw in Peter what could be when Peter turned his all over to Jesus.

No one wants to think that their life is without meaning and without hope and without a future. Everyone wants their life to count. No one wants to live and die in obscurity, unloved and unremembered.

But the real question is, what does Jesus see when He looks at your life?

Does He see your sin? Your mistakes? Your failures? Sure He does.

But He also sees what could be in your life. He looks at your past and knows that there is nothing there that cannot be forgiven and overcome. That’s why He went to the cross.

So what are you waiting for? “Get up. Take up your bed and go home.”

“Take heart. Get up. He is calling you.”

“Child, arise.”

“Young man, I say to you, arise.”

Jesus sees what you could be. What are you waiting for? Open your heart. Surrender your life. Give it to Him. He will take it and do far more with it than you ever could. And that is the secret to success and a life well lived. It’s not in what you have. It’s not in how many toys you have. It’s in knowing Jesus Christ.

Praying for you,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

P.S. You may be down and out or you may be up and out. But if you’re still “out” you need to turn to Jesus. He loves you. He invites you to experience life the way it was intended to be lived.

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, HCSB)

05
Aug

Teach Us to Number Our Days

The last month has been difficult. It’s been hard to watch a precious family go through the pain of losing their son. It has been hard to watch a group of young people grieving and mourning one who was so young and so full of life. We will never forget Dallas.

As we continue to minister to the family and friends I want to encourage you to keep several things in mind. One is that life is not guaranteed. We don’t know the day we will leave this world. We can’t afford to take for granted that we (or our loved ones) will “always” be here. Our day will come.

“You return mankind to the dust, saying, “Return, descendants of Adam.” For in Your sight a thousand years are like yesterday that passes by, like a few hours of the night.” (Psalm 90:3–4, HCSB)

Yet when you think about it the entire Bible is preparing us for eternity. The entire message of Scripture is that there is a place called heaven and that this life and this world is temporary and it will soon pass away. That doesn’t mean that we don’t grieve our loved one. We do. With everything that is within us we miss them.  Yet we do not grieve as those who have no hope.

Instead we live and love and wait in confident expectation that one day we too will experience the wonder of life as it was truly meant to be. It’s a challenge. Because everything we have experienced and that we know is right here. We learn about heaven but we can’t see it. We don’t have pictures of it. We can’t go there for a visit.

Yet Scripture gives us the ability to see and to know. It’s called faith. Some will think believing in Jesus to be ridiculous. But to those who believe in Jesus Christ it means everything. He is our life. He is the One who helps us in every moment of loss and pain and hurt and anger and confusion. He is there. I can’t tell you how you will know He is there. You just have to trust and see. Ask Him to help you find your way.

“Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.” (Psalm 90:12, HCSB)

There are limited days for each of us. Find the reason that you are here and live your life to its fullest. Love the people God brings into your life. Live your days with all the joy and wonder and passion that He would intend. Give everyone around you the gift of seeing a genuine follower of Jesus – not perfect but really trying hard.

“Lord—how long? Turn and have compassion on Your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days. Make us rejoice for as many days as You have humbled us, for as many years as we have seen adversity. Let Your work be seen by Your servants, and Your splendor by their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands— establish the work of our hands!” (Psalm 90:13–17, HCSB)

In the end (umm, except there really isn’t an end) you will discover that your life was well lived in every moment you trusted Him, every time you served Him, every way that you glorified Him. And that is really what this life (and the next) is all about.

Grieving with you,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

06
Jul

The Power of the Gospel in These United States

There is a power in Christ. There is a saving power, a cleansing power, a changing power, a strengthening power, a sanctifying power, a healing power and a satisfying power. There is power that you and I have yet to experience. Praise God!

There is a power in the Gospel that a lost world cannot see or understand. There is a power in the Gospel that turns a nation from a black hole of immorality and violence and poverty and racism and despair to a blessed hope of peace and tranquility and safety and hope and love.

Our nation has been blessed by the Gospel throughout our 240 years of existence as a nation. We are still benefitting from it today. Our freedoms of speech, religion, the press, assembly and others are based on a biblical world view that values the individual freedom of all people – people of all faiths and of no faith. Everyone benefits.

Yet most today don’t understand that a nation of people who are preoccupied with violence, blood, and gore won’t be self-controlled. Just like the woman in Memphis who stabbed and killed her four children. Just like the man in Orlando who shot 49 people. They are not murderers because they have access to a weapon. They are murderers because what is in their heart and mind is coming out. It is horrible and heart-breaking and unutterably sad.

The nation we live in today is becoming one that can’t be trusted with simple freedoms. When fights break out at soccer matches or little league games or church business meetings and when political elections are interrupted by violence and mayhem then we are well on our way to anarchy and a police state.

The only way to have freedom is to have people who are controlled by God and by His laws – laws written on the hearts of people. Without this inner transformation we have no chance of maintaining the nation we have known.

Take away the biblical underpinning of morality that gives respect for life, the basis for marriage, and the meaning of law itself. What do you have left? You have a nation that sees nothing wrong with homosexuality, heterosexual immorality, abortion, or drugs. Meanwhile, the church is relegated to the back of the bus. It is viewed as an inferior and unnecessary institution that does more harm than good.

So where does this lead? It leads to a society where every man does what is right in his own eyes and ‘woe to anyone’ who defies political correctness! It leads to a society where people with profound psychological disorders are not being helped but being praised for their “courage.” It leads to a military that has moved from defending our nation to conducting a great social experiment. Sexual orientation trumps religious freedom. Morality and character are no longer required to be considered for political office. Good has become evil and evil has become good.

So what happens next? If we continue on our present path we will lose our individual freedoms and our beloved nation. You can’t give freedom to a people that won’t be restrained by the rule of law. There is no use passing more laws. If they won’t obey our present laws they certainly won’t obey more laws even if you pass enough legislation to choke an elephant… or a donkey.

So is there any hope at all? Yes – because of the power of the Gospel!

We can turn back to God. We can exalt Christ and His Word and the Gospel again. Don’t wait for Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton to do it. Don’t wait for the next Billy Graham. “Wait upon the Lord…”

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, AV)

For the Gospel,

Pastor Tim Hobbs

06
May

God Is Teaching Me Compassion

God Is Teaching Me Compassion

I can’t say that I have it down. I’m not very good at it. Oh, I have all the standard outward responses to a problem.

“That’s too bad.”

“I’ll pray for you.”

“Wow! That must have left a mark!”

But the problem is that what is needed is much more than just an outward response. What is needed is a heart response.

Compassion = a feeling of deep sympathy or sorrow for another who is going through troubles or trials. The word literally means “to suffer together.”

So we are called to have compassion, to be compassionate. This cannot be in word only. It has to come in word and in deed.

“And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” (Exodus 2:5–6, AV)

The Pharaoh’s daughter felt sorry for the child. But more than that, she did something about it. She acted on her feelings. She adopted this little baby. Moses was at the mercy of Pharaoh’s edict to kill all of the Hebrew baby boys. The daughter of Pharaoh took this opportunity to do what was right and what was needed.

Moses’ suffering was alleviated because of the selfless act of an Egyptian princess. Granted it was not a great sacrifice for her to do it. She hired Moses’ mother to nurse him. She had attendants and servants and all kinds of help. Still she did what she could for a helpless little one who could not do for himself.

And that is what we are called to do as well. It is not about what we cannot do. It is all about what we can do. I want to encourage you to suffer together with those who are in need.

God is teaching me compassion – not the feeling but what it means to act and alleviate suffering. It means that I have to deny myself. I have to give up something. I have to surrender something.

Job’s friends came to commiserate with him. They sat there for seven days in silence. But after Job spoke it became very clear they were not there to suffer together with him. They were there to analyze and criticize and critique his problem and tell him everything he had done wrong. That wasn’t what Job needed.

Our greatest example of compassion is Jesus. “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36, AV)

Jesus suffered together with those people. In fact, He went beyond that. He suffered for them. We are called to follow in His steps. Will you have compassion? Will you suffer with those who cannot help themselves?

It may be in ways that aren’t a great sacrifice; making a casserole for a foster family, going to the Walk for Life, sharing the Gospel with a lost friend, going on our mission trip this summer. It could be a great sacrifice that He calls you to. Whatever God puts before you and asks you to do, do it with all your heart. Do it as unto the least of these. Suffer together with that person and for that person. Jesus will be glorified and you will be blessed.

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

 

02
Apr

Go and Tell

One guy came to the door with an irritated expression. We had just woke him up and he had a bad headache. One lady had just been diagnosed with pneumonia. Another lady thanked us for coming. Yet another lady’s dog tried to bite me.

Overall, people were really nice (even the guy with the headache) and yes, we encountered lots of dogs. Only one of them tried to bite though. We handed out Easter flyers and invited folks to the program. Honestly we found houses that I didn’t know were there. And these were close to Branch.

We need to get out more.

“Then the master told the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and lanes and make them come in, so that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23, HCSB)

We need to get out into the hedges and highways and compel them to come in. Sure there will always be those who make you a promise and don’t show. There will be those who won’t commit to anything. But there are also some folks out there who are open to the things of God and they are hungry for something different.

We need to get out there and find them.

That is what a shepherd does. He goes and finds his sheep. Jesus often used that picture when he talked about His love for people. He looked out at the multitudes of people and he had compassion on them because they were like “sheep without a shepherd.” People are lost. They need Christ. We have an opportunity every day to share Christ in some way.

John R. Rice said it this way, “Winning souls means that we can take the Bible and show people that they are sinners, show people that according to the Scriptures God loves them, that Christ has died on the cross to pay for their sins, and that now all who honestly turn in their hearts to Christ for mercy and forgiveness may have everlasting life. And we can encourage them to make that heart decision that they run from sin and trust Christ to save them. So winning souls means getting the Gospel to people in such power of the Holy Spirit that they will be led to turn to Christ and be born again, be made children of God by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Jesus gave us this command, “… Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15–16, AV)

The question is not whether we should go or which of us should go. The question is will we go? We have been commanded to carry the Gospel to all people. It starts with the people living in your own house, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers and classmates and it extends to every man and every woman and every young person who is lost in your world today.

Will you allow yourself to feel that horrible fate that awaits those who are lost? Will you allow yourself to think about their hopelessness? Will you let yourself be touched by the feeling of their weaknesses?

Will you join me this week in praying that God will saturate your world with His presence? Will you join me in praying that God will give us opportunities to share Christ? Will you pray and ask God for His power to be a witness for Him? Let’s fill the house up!

Praying for a harvest!

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

02
Apr

Glory Revisited

I have been so blessed over the past week. The Glory of Easter has come and gone and we are still basking a little in its effect on us and our church. We had one precious person who prayed to receive Jesus (that we know of). All that work and labor, heavy lifting and sewing, cooking and watching kids, practicing lines and harmonies – is all worth it if even one person comes to Christ.

That’s kind of how I see the cross. God knew what the outcome would be when He sent His Son to die for our sins. He knew who would come. Yet somehow I feel as though He would have done it if you were the only one.

So what did we learn this year? Well, we start with Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was amazing (and Diane was pretty incredible also) and I think I gained some fresh insight to how she might have felt at various points along the way through the story of her son. She displayed great grace and courage in the limited views we have of her in Scripture.

The thief on the cross reminded me of some precious truths. One is that I am just like him. Well, I would rather be like him than the other thief. Really, we are all going to identify with one or the other. Either we turn to Christ and receive Him as our Savior and Lord (Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom) or we reject Him and choose our own sin and suffering (If you are truly the Messiah then save yourself and us!).

What about Jesus? Did we find anything new or different in the Son of God? For me, I can only say that Daniel’s portrayal of Jesus this year helped me to better sense how Jesus might have felt as He offered Himself to Israel and was rejected by their leaders. It is somewhat horrifying to think that their true king, their Messiah, came and stood before them… and they killed Him. They rejected Him and what He stood for. They crushed Him.

Yet I also see that Jesus is the Cornerstone, the Rock, the builders rejected. Yet He was the Chief Cornerstone. All who stumbled on Him would be broken but all upon whom He falls will be crushed. Jesus confronted the evil in those men. He didn’t avoid the battle. He welcomed it.

The story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is so powerful. Each year we try to tell it from a different perspective. But it is the same story. It is the same story that you heard when God spoke to your heart and called you to be saved. It is the same story for all who come. God has no favorites. We all come the same way. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.

One older gentleman who came shared with me after the service, “You just can’t imagine what an impression this program has made on me.” Well, if we are truly hearing it with the eyes of a sinful, condemned man then it made quite an impression on us as well. The only ones who weren’t impressed were the Pharisees who thought they didn’t’ need anything from Jesus.

So I can imagine this older man’s impression. I still can feel the weight of my sin, my hopelessness, my loneliness, my confusion – when Jesus saved me. I still feel it and I still kneel before Him to say, “Thank you.”

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs