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Walmart Is Not Immune… And Neither Are You

Walmart Not ImmuneThis is our morning paper’s headline: Walmart Not Immune. This has been kind of a dark day in northwest Arkansas. Many woke up today with no place to go. They will receive two months of severance pay, but the ripple effect of the layoffs has yet to be determined, and it may simply be a sign of things to come.

The headline grabbed my attention because these recent layoffs have made people within our local economy feel the way we do when any tragedy strikes… vulnerable. It’s a harsh reminder that the world’s largest retailer is not immune to the effects of the economy. It also reminded me of an eternal truth… none of us are immune to sin and its effects either.

We’d all like to believe that everything will be just fine at the end of this life – that no matter what decisions and choices we make here, we’re somehow safe into eternity beyond the grave. But the Bible is clear that all of us are susceptible and guilty of sin. We all face a consequence of sin – separation from God for eternity. “The wages of sin is death…”

“…But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” You can be granted eternal immunity in only one way – by placing your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the only payment for your sin. Embracing the cross and Jesus’ resurrection from the grave is our God-given inoculation against the eternal effects of sin upon our race.

If you haven’t already, would you turn to Jesus now from your sin and self-dependence and trust Him as your only hope of eternal life? He offers full forgiveness and immunity from the penalty of sin forever, and He invites you to have a personal relationship with Him forever. Contact me if you have any questions at all.

To God’s People: In Times of Gloom… Shine!

No Snow, Just RainbowsEarly mid-morning yesterday, reports began trickling in from various sources that Walmart was laying off people from the home office (located here in Bentonville, Arkansas). By day’s end, I think the number was around 850, maybe more. Walmart, McDonald’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts were three of the only companies that I had read about in the last month or two that seemed to be doing well in the midst of the recession.

Something about the news reports, emails, and phone calls brought a sense of locality to the recession – it has hit the somewhat shielded northwest Arkansas economy now. Like an approaching thunderstorm, it’s here on top of us now. So the clouds have gathered. The thunder rumbles. Jobless people lie awake at night wondering where they will go next.

Poverty isn’t a new challenge to the church. In the New Testament, an interesting story unfolds about the church in Jerusalem’s suffering. People didn’t know where their next meal would come from. The churches across Macedonia (ancient Greece) were suffering from th economic downturn as well, but they responded in an amazing way… they gave. Without ever knowing or meeting their family-in-Christ across the Mediterranean, they dug deep into their pockets (and their hearts) and gave. Paul said it this way…

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power (ability) they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty (begging us) that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. ~ 2 Corithians 8:3-4 KJV (emphasis mine)

In dark times, God’s people have the opportunity to shine! How?

  • By realizing and valuing the connections we have with the eternal family of God, regardless of geographic, cultural, and racial distances.
  • By praying… after all, God has obligated Himself to do certain things only in response to prayer.
  • By giving… even until it hurts.

I’m proud to be a part of Bethel Baptist Church in Bentonville. I’ve watched us give away about 1,000 pair of shoes in the last year. We’ve helped families within our church family, and without. Our people have made themselves available to neighbors and friends in whatever way is most helpful. And we’re in the planning stages of a major food supply initiative in our community.

We chose the slogan “the church on the hill” for two reasons. One, we’re on a hill and that’s how people identify us… “Yeah, you guys are that church on the hill!” Yep, that’s us. But then there is the issue of our mission within our community. Jesus said “a city set on a hill cannot be hid.” He went on to challenge God’s people to “so let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” That’s the real reason I’m proud to be a part of the church on the hill.

So, God’s people, shine. Pray, give, love, go, and tell the life-changing story of Jesus. Interrupt the darkness with some real sunshine!

Creative Commons License photo credit: macfanmd