- Dr. Bob Phillips, Pastor
Successful Navigation for Men and Nations
One of my most cherished possessions is a diploma sitting on a shelf in my office. I received it long years ago in the springtime of my life along with nearly 250 others who graduated Minden High School with me. Of all the certificates and diplomas I have been awarded, this one, along with my license to the ministry from Southside Baptist Church, have more value to me than any of the others, which now sit in a box tucked away.
I well remember the night we all marched into Tide Stadium to the tune of Mendelssohn's "War March of the Priests," dressed in our caps and gowns as so many classes before us had done. The night's ceremonies included elements frowned upon in today's culture - the Pledge of Allegiance, a scripture reading, prayers, and (gasp!) a sermon. At the appropriate moment in the evening's schedule, each of us crossed the platform to receive that piece of paper which represented a dozen years of academic and extra-curricular efforts. Little did we realize then how much the world had changed for all of us in that moment, nor how much it would change in the years to come.
A great ship in crossing the trackless oceans must possess and rely upon an accurate navigational system in order to arrive safely at its destination. If that system is broken, miscalibrated, misread, ignored, or deviated from by even a fraction of a degree the vessel will not only fail to reach its goal, but may even end up shipwreck at great loss of life and cargo. Our lives are much like that. In the days of our youth we chart our courses, having ideas of what we want to do, where we want to go, and what we want to be. But little by little we make choices and decisions which alter the course upon which we set out until we find ourselves in dangerous waters and even in great peril. We have lost our way.
God has given us life's greatest navigational tool in the form of his divinely inspired Word. When we deviate from it to any degree for whatever reason we run the risk of making shipwreck of our lives, not to mention causing great damage to others around us. Nations, too, would do well to heed the Creator's guidebook lest they also fall into ruin and destruction. This, I fear, is where many of us individually, and all of us as a people, find ourselves today. Absent a return to the principles and precepts set forth in the Maker's instructions for life our situation will only deteriorate until we reap the bitter consequences of our choices.
There is hope, however, as God has thrown us a lifeline. In his immeasurable love he has sent his Son to suffer on a Roman cross to satisfy his divine justice against our sin and offer us the gift of a glorious life in the ages to come. To everyone, no matter how shipwrecked life has become, this marvelous gift is offered. The terms are simple - repent of your sins and receive Christ by faith. No matter how broken your life may be, he can make you whole.