Lessons Learned

Welcome back!! Oh… I guess you’re right. It WAS the host of this blog that vanished out of sight for a while. You all have been there ready to read all along, haven’t you? Ha ha.

Well, since crossing the 50-yd line a couple of years ago, I guess I’ve earned the right to forget every once in awhile.  Whataya say?  Ok, maybe more often than not.  But who’s counting anyway, right?  Fortunately, tho’, I’ve also lost track of the number of lessons learned in this first half-century-plus of my life!  And most of those, unfortunately, have been learned the hard way.  However, I do recall a few valuable educational encounters that I’d like to share today, in the hopes that you the reader will be able to dodge a hard-knock or two:

Never cross a busy highway between two lanes of stopped cars when there is a right-turn lane empty!  I’m thankful I’ve always been pretty book-smart, but common sense was just not one of God’s gifts to me.  Walking home from Jr High School one Friday many years ago, I tried that, without looking to see if a moving car was in that third lane.  Lesson learned… after a 2-day hospital stay and 6 stitches in my head!  God spared this goofy kid’s life that October afternoon, and to this day (yes, you can do the math!) I look a zillion times left and right before crossing the smallest street!

Never discipline your children when you’re angry!  Do administer proper correction when necessary to train those rugrats, yes, but always be sure the steam has been released from under your own collar first!  This saves remorse and regrets.  I’ve learned that apologizing to your kids is one of the hardest things to do, yet can be avoided by simply stepping back and praying before stepping up to proceed.

Trust me, there are many other advantageous attainments I could share with you from my adventurous personal history, but I’ll finish this post with the best one.  A lesson learned….the easy way.

Say “yes” when Jesus calls you!!  Even earlier in my youth (as I’ve blogged before), as a 6-year old boy, the Lord showed me I was a sinner in need of His saving grace, and my precious parents told me that Jesus paid the price for my sins by shedding His blood on the cross.  That glorious day, John 3-16I learned that if I would trust what Jesus did for me, he would save me and wash my sins away.  And He did exactly as He promised!!

Yes, I’ve gained alot of knowledge about this life through blunders and bad decisions, but the greatest lesson learned by far is that a simple, childlike faith can change your life.  Both now…and for eternity!


While Waiting, Wait!

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Don’t you just love waiting? It’s our favorite thing to do, right? Doesn’t it always seem that when you are in a hurry, you inevitably get in the slowest line at the checkout, and you have to wait 30 minutes to pay for your 3 items? Or, a “Sunday driver” cuts in front of you as you are speeding in to work late and slows you down to 45 on the Interstate. So you have to wait until 5 cars pass you before you can get around the slowpoke!

And this is one of the best… You think your family is finally going to make it to church on time this Sunday morning, when suddenly, one of the kids needs to run to the bathroom! So you have to wait on him to get out, and now it’s five past the hour as you frustratingly drag your bunch into God’s house to piously attempt to worship!

No one in his right mind likes to wait! We know what we want, yet we don’t enjoy biding time before we get it. I remember a children’s song our youngest son used to listen to as a toddler called, “I Can’t Wait to Have Patience”. Ha ha. Yes, in the normal sense of things, waiting is undesirable, and very difficult to do.

However, waiting from a spiritual perspective is not only desirable, but promises to reap a harvest of abundant blessings! According to the prophet Isaiah, when we wait upon the Lord, good things happen. Isaiah 40:31 declares that waiting on God will give us renewed strength, along with several other wonderful promises to encourage us on our spiritual journey. While waiting on Him to direct our lives is certainly not always easy or comfortable, the rewards that come from patiently enduring our trials while God works His will in us are well worth the wait!

Yet, there’s another kind of waiting that goes hand in hand with patient endurance. While we’re trying to hold on and trust God to work in every situation of our lives, He also wants us to actively serve Him, as does a waiter or waitress in a restaurant.

Not only is waiting on the Lord an opportunity to step back and watch the Creator of the universe perform His mighty deeds in our lives, it is also a glorious privilege for we, the children of the living God, to be able to show our appreciation for all the many blessings He’s given us by committing our lives in service to Him. We could never do enough for the One who has given His all to save us!

So while we’re WAITING Soaring Eagleon the Lord to direct our paths, or to mend a broken heart, let’s WAIT on the Lord, as we “serve the Lord with gladness” from the bottom of our hearts!

Permanent Membership

Have you ever thought you had a membership card to your favorite store or gas station, but when it came time to present it for your discounted purchase, it’s nowhere to be found in your wallet or billfold?

Or, you may be making an online purchase, or booking a flight or hotel, and the box pops up to enter your club ID, and you search all your belongings in the house, plus your “secret” files of important information….but your Privileges Number comes up mysteriously missing!  Ugh! There goes 15, 20, even 25% off the regular price!  What a missed opportunity to save!

Just the other day, I was searching for the best possible deal on a hotel for a little family weekend getaway, and found an incredible rate for a certain auto club for which I just knew I was a member!  I turned the house nearly upside down, looking in all my many carry-cases and folders of important “stuff”….only to find an expired, flimsy, temporary paper replica.  No official card could be found anywhere!

Well, being in the desperate, self-inflicted state of frenzy I had gotten myself into through my absent-mindedness, I determined I had reached that bottom line that any technology nut occasionally (tho’ reluctantly) falls to….I had to call the travel company’s customer service line.  Knowing my membership card was undoubtedly buried in a garbage heap somewhere by now, and seeing that the provisional one was now outdated, it was my last-ditch effort.

With only enough faith to “give it a try”, I expected to hear the dreaded words, “Sir, you will have to buy a new membership.  Yours has expired.”  But instead, to my shocking surprise, the nice CSR lady on the phone joyfully replied, “Mr. Elkins, I’ve found your registration information, and am pleased to tell you that you have a permanent membership”!  After what seemed like a speechless minute, I accepted this quite unexpected but pleasant news and finally exclaimed, “Oh, that’s terrific, thank you, Miss!”, and proceeded to then apply my discount to my online booking!

Almost instantly, the Holy Spirit then poured out a breathtaking, heavenly blessing on this undeserving boy.  He reminded me that Jesus did exactly that when He gave His life on the cross for my sins and rose from the grave 3 days later….He granted me Permanent Membership in Heaven and adopted me into the Family of God by faith in his all-sufficient sacrifice!  That’s terrific!  No, wait, that’s more than terrific…that is the most awesome promise I could ever receive!

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” – Ephesians 1:13

BecaTonya & Jordanuse of my sin, I had lost my rights to benefit from God’s glory and riches.  But when He sealed me by His Grace the day I trusted Jesus as my Savior, I was given a Permanent Membership Card, one that can never be misplaced again!

Now there’s some wonderful news!!

Do you remember as a kid, when your teacher or some other adult would come into the room where you were sitting and call out your name, “Is there a Jane Doe here”?  You would quickly throw up your hand and shout “That’s me!”  You were so excited that someone was calling out your name.  Sometimes, it meant you were in trouble for doing something wrong.  Haven’t we all been there?!  Ha ha.  But regardless of the reason, this name-calling from someone in authority indicated he or she had something important to give or tell you…you were being singled out!

Or, I’m sure you recall flipping through the pages of an old family photo album (or flicking left or right on your smart phone for modern readers 🙂 ), when suddenly, your mom comes across a baby picture of Little Johnny, and immediately you would exclaim, “That’s me, that’s me!!”  Your eyes would light up and a huge smile would pop out on your face when your mother recognized you as her darling little boy with the milk mustache. You were such a special child to her!

Well, Big Kids, listen.  Have I got great news for you!  If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are identified by the Creator of the universe, our Heavenly Father, the Mighty God, as His child by faith in Christ!!  God tells us in His Word in John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”!!

Hey, guess what?  That’s me!  That’s me He is referring to!  It’s the scrawny kid with dirt on his face and mud all over his shoes that has been pointed out by the Everlasting Father as one of His very own children!  The tiny babe in the manger, Whom we celebrate this Christmas season, Nativity came to earth to die for my sins, to take my place, so that I could become a part of His holy family!

What a glorious thought, that the King of Glory would want to acknowledge such a sinful person as I!  But because of His sacrifice at the Cross, I can flip through the pages of the Holy Scriptures and wave my arms high in praise to the Great I AM and shout “That’s Me! That’s Me!”  He made ME a child of the Living God!  And He’s waiting to save You too.  Believe in Christ today!

A Chilly Day in Hot Springs

My wife and I had the privilege this year of spending Thanksgiving in Hot Springs, Arkansas with our kids. As you may recall from an earlier blog post, our son Jordan is a student at the Bible college in town, so our eldest son Seth came up with the notion a while back to drive down and spend the holiday with him. And what a wonderful idea it was!! We had a blast, enjoying great food and family fun with our sons and daughter-in-law! While we certainly missed the usual November holiday feast at “Grandma’s house”, it was such a blessing to share a lot of close-knit moments with just our grown children at a rented condo on Lake Hamilton.

Although the air was quite chilly compared to the balmy 100-degree temps we basked in during the initial trip to the Spa City back in the summer, we didn’t care at all. Being together as a family was all that mattered. While we were there, we returned to the National Park, and, along with all our children, once again enjoyed the sights and feel of the amazing natural wonder of nearly-boiling water gushing out of the rocks! Even the extreme coolness of the Autumn air could not overpower the warmth of the mountain springs. Seeing the rising steam reminded me of this fact even more.

Shortly after this scenic adventure, as He so often does, the Lord showed me another awesome lesson in His greatness. The breathtaking sight I described above reminded me that when we experience periods in our Christian life in which the air feels cold, and sometimes even dark and lonely, knowing Jesus as our personal Savior can bring the glow of his grace to our hearts! Salvation’s consuming fire can drive out the biting chill of depressing thoughts, and its assuring embers can rekindle the flame that may have unexpectedly become frozen by the fierceness of life’s wintry breath.

So if you suddenly find yourself in the midst of frosty days in your walk with Christ, whether self-inflicted or due to no fault of your own, please take heart…the all-sufficient One promises in His Word that He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5).  The warmth of the Water of Life flows on forever!


Why Fear Not?

Here it comes again! This time it is from the other side, where we least expected it. This nightmare called fear has struck our heart yet again. We said we would be ready the next time we faced it, but once more, it has caught us off-guard, leaving us shaking like a leaf.

For you, it may be the concern of having enough money to provide meals for your family, or for some, the dread of a new day dawning, and what it may bring to an already downtrodden spirit. Fear is a real thing, and nobody understands how realistically it affects your daily living until faced with it oneself. However, there is good news…we don’t have to live each day in terror! God’s Word tells us many, many times to “Fear not”. Old Testament and New, the Prophets and Jesus Himself encourage us frequently to not be afraid.

As believers in Christ, we know those two simple words are strong enough to defend us against the Enemy, yet it’s not uncommon to question why it can sound so easy to do, yet be so difficult. But there is hope for our times of misgiving! One of my favorite Bible verses shows us a couple of reasons why we do not have to be afraid. In Isaiah 41:10, we at first see the familiar “Fear thou not”. Then, following this potent phrase are two powerful truths that can give us the courage to believe.

Why fear not? Because the Lord says, “I am with thee”. What Security! The great I AM, who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, promises He will not leave us all alone to face our fears. As He was with Moses, so He is faithful to stay by our side through any apprehension we face. Praise God for His promise to never forsake us in time of need!

And why else should we not fear? Because He also declares “I am thy God”. What Sovereignty! The Creator of the Universe cares enough about His creatures to encourage us not to dread the unknown. He is powerful enough to help us conquer each and every worry, no matter from which direction they come!

Is it natural to be dismayed and cower down when life’s uncertainties present themselves unexpectedly? Absolutely! But Isaiah assures us why we don’t have to be afraid: Our sovereign God holds us securely in His arms. We can be courageous when we trust his unfailing Word!

Rejoice with me as The Collingsworth Family reminds us to “Fear Not Tomorrow”!




A Warm Send-Off

Recently we took our youngest son Jordan to begin his college days. It was one of the hardest things my wife and I have had to do in our lives. Yes, right alongside giving our oldest son Seth in marriage a few years ago, and her battle with suffering a massive stroke just a few months after the wedding.

Of course, take absolutely nothing away from the traumatic experience of her stroke itself, and the ups and downs of her continual but steady road to recovery since; yet, she herself has admitted several times that having to let go of our last son has indeed been nearly the most difficult struggle yet.

At least with the first goodbye, we gained a wonderful daughter in return!!  And, our eldest and his wife live only 80 miles away. However, this latest send-off landed the “baby” not 80, but 800 miles from our house!  Suddenly, the “Empty Nest Syndrome” we heard other parents talk about for many years had come to fruition with a flurry!

As tough as it has been the past several weeks now having NO boys at home, the Lord has brought us great comfort in knowing that His guiding hand has without a doubt been upon our sons. He has blessed their life-changing decisions, and has safely lead them to the places they need to be at this time in their lives. And this has warmed our hearts.

The college Jordan chose, after many months of prayer and Godly counsel, is Champion Baptist College, located in Hot Springs, Arkansas! Actually, God chose this school for Jordan, and there is no doubt in our hearts about it. Feeling called of God to preach His Word and sing His songs of Praise, the small school with the large heart and long distance from Home has turned out to be a perfect fit! God knew all along that the coldness we would feel inside of seeing our final child branch out on his own (at least temporarily), would be replaced by the snug feeling of knowing He is following God’s will for his life.

The city of Hot Springs gets its name from the literal steamy flow of water out of the surrounding hills…water hot enough to nearly scald your hand. Trip to Champion25

This has made this beautiful area one of the top tourist attractions in the country for many, many years. As we visited this historic town on our trip to release our son into this brand new adventure in his young life, we were able to enjoy the literal sweltering temperature of the natural fountains of water in that place, but more importantly, we were greeted with the warmth of Christian love, and the fiery presence of the Prince of Peace!

Yes, it was extremely difficult saying goodbye once again to our final eighteen-year-old, but what a warm Send-off, knowing that now both our sons are in the hands of Someone Who can take care of them much better than we ever could!

“They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.” – Isaiah 49:10

Singing in Chapel