Helping one another

Friday, July 20, 2018

“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” Ephesians 4: 29. “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.” Hebrews 10:24. “Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.” Ephesians 4: 2. “John the Baptist said to them, ‘Whoever has two shirts must give one to the man who has none and whoever has food must share it.” Luke 3: 11. In Luke 6: 37 and 38, Jesus said, “Do not judge others and God will not judge you, do not condemn others and God will not condemn you, forgive others and God will forgive you. Give to others and God will give to you.” In Romans 12:13 it says, “Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians and open your homes to strangers.”

These are just a few of the many scriptures in the Bible that talk about helping one another in times of need. There are many kinds of needs in our world, such as ‘physical,’ ones that are sick and could use some love and encouragement from family and friends. Ones that have gotten hurt with an injury or accident could use love and a lot of help depending on their injury. Then there is the ’mentally’ needs, such as a person who worries too much or has trouble controlling their minds or bodies and needs a lot of love and understanding, as well as support from family members and friends. Then there is the ‘homeless’ needs that are all around us, those that have fallen on hard times and really appreciate every little bit of help that they can get, which brings us to the next need, ‘financial.’ A lot of us fall into this needy category, even those who have a job and are working can get into a financial crunch from time to time, and it’s always a good feeling when someone is able to step up to the plate and give you a helping hand so you can get back on your feet. There are many other needs out there and you no doubt probably have one or have had one. I know I do. And it really feels good to be helped and to be able to help someone you know that has a need that you can help with, like taking someone across town to the grocery store, helping someone out on the highway whose car broke down or has a flat tire. How about someone coming out of the store with their arms full and opening the door for them. Someone taking their first plane ride and really nervous and your sitting there beside them so you strike up a conversation to calm them down, and so on. 

Then there’s the time at Christmas when you go through a fast food drive through window only to find out that the person in front of you who just drove away had paid for your order and you have no idea who they are, don’t even recognize the car. This then puts you in the spirit and you do the same thing…more than once because it makes you feel good inside. And that brings me to the Salvation Army bell ringing that goes on every Christmas to help those in need here throughout the year. I have been a part of it for years because it makes me feel good to be able to do my part to help those that are in need. I have been helped by others and I have helped others, and I have to admit that even though I deeply appreciate the times that someone helps me out I enjoy it more when I am able to help others because God has been so good to me. We should all strive to love and to help one another at all times. That’s what Jesus would want us to do.

And that brings me to the most important need that is close to my heart. The ‘spiritual’ need. ’We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak to carry their burdens. We should not please ourselves.’ Romans 15:1. I came to Marshall in the late fall of 1968 when I was discharged from the Army after serving three years. I had never been to this town in my life, but my dad moved here while I was in the Army, so I came here to spend a month with him and then head back to West Virginia where I spent my last year in the service. Dad and I were very close. My dad and mom divorced when I was 8 years old, and the courts back then gave my younger brother to mom and gave me to my dad to raise, so we were very close. To make a long story short, every time I started to head back to West Virginia something would happen to keep me here. I made three tries over a period of a year and every time something mechanical would happen to my car and I would have to get a job to get it fixed. I accused my dad of praying to God to keep me here, but he denied it. I think he had his fingers crossed behind his back. Anyway, I finally gave up and decided to stay.

In the late fall of 1969 a couple of young men came by and invited me to their church. They were very polite and friendly so I thought to myself, ‘why not.’ Now I was not religious at all, I knew very little about God, but when I went to their church, the pastor gave a very strong message that touched me somehow. I went back again the next Sunday and the Sunday after that and then the Holy Sprit took hold of me and I went down to the alter and gave my life to Christ. I cried rivers of tears that morning and I felt like a thousand pounds were lifted off my shoulders. The church didn’t have a baptistery back then, so they waited until late spring in 1970 and took all of us that got saved that winter to a creek out on Highway YY. I remember it like it was yesterday, the water was still fairly cold but when it came my turn to go down to where the pastor was, I went right down there and when I came up out of that water, it wasn’t cold anymore. In fact at that moment I felt as light as a feather. I really believe even to this day that if I had just put an ounce of effort into it, I could have raised straight up out of that water and walked on top of it back to the bank. Wow, what a feeling.

I never gave it much thought at the time, but as I look back I realized that the only ones that had anything to do with me at the church were the three or four young boys who were around my age. I found out later that it was because of my long hair that I let grow down below my shoulders. It’s a long story and I won’t get into why I was letting my hair grow so long. Let’s just say it was my way to protest a matter that happened to me the last year in the Army where you had to keep your hair really short. Anyway, no one wanted to have anything to do with me, not even the pastor…very sad. That is, everyone except the choir director. She heard me sing and asked me if I would join their choir, and I was happy to. I love to sing and back then I had a pretty good voice. That next Sunday I sang in the choir and the music sounded really heavenly. After the service I was called aside and told that I could no longer sing in the choir or even have any part of the church as long as I had long hair. This came from the pastor. Wow, what a blow. I came to the church the next Sunday and quietly slid into a pew in the back. There were a couple of ladies sitting a couple of pews up from me and they evidently didn’t see or hear me come in because they were talking about me, and it wasn’t nice. I left that church right then and never went back. In fact I went back out into the world of sin over the next 11 years, making Satin happy I’m sure. I started playing drums for a few bands back then which I had learned to play while in the Army until I got my own band together and I started playing my guitar, which I had learned to play when I was 14 years old. We played in all of Satan’s favorite spots like bars and night clubs, places like that. I had went back to my old way of life drinking, smoking and just sowing all kinds of wild oats.

Now I said all that to tell you this. Number one, a pastor told me not too long ago when we got on the subject of people getting saved and then going back to their old life of sin and living, that those that do that never got saved in the first place. Right then I thought to myself, wow, he must be more important than God making a judgment like that. I always thought that it was God’s place to judge people. His word says so. “So then, let us stop judging one another. Instead, you should decide never to do anything that would make your brother stumble or fall into sin.” Romans 14:13. I was headed down a dead end road of destruction in my life but God did not give up on me and I thank him for that. He placed a good woman, Joyce, in my path, and with the help of the pastor of the church that she went to, they got me back in church and I rededicated my life to God, praise the Lord.

The bottom line here is that when I got saved in 1969 I was a baby in the spiritual world and I needed help from those around me had knowledge of God and his way on how to learn to crawl and then walk and then talk and learn about God's word. I received none and so I died spiritually. It’s just like a physical baby being born into this world, it needs help from the older ones around it to learn how to eat, walk, think and talk to survive. If it does not get this help, it will die and unfortunately this has happened in our society as we hear on the news every now and then of babies being abandoned and found in dumpsters, trash cans and in bushes.

We as born again Christians need to stop being judgmental when a stranger comes into our church and help them in anyway we can, especially when they give their life to Christ. God does not look at the outward appearance of people, He looks at the inside, the heart and the soul of a person, and so should we. “And God, who sees into our hearts knows what the thought of the Spirit is.” Romans 8: 27. Like the old saying goes…’Never judge a book by it’s cover.’ Remember… Jesus said, “Do not judge others and God will not judge you.” Luke 6: 37. ’We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak.’ Romans 15: 1. ‘Maranatha’