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Reflecting back while looking forward

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Not long after coming to The Church on the Wise Road, I had an interesting thing happen. I was talking with someone and said, “I go to the Church on the Wise Road.” The response was, “I know where that church is. What is its name?”

Our four-year-old grandson was listening to his sister’s first grade class sing at the school Christmas program, “Joy to the World” and when they sang “let earth receive her King,” he said to his mom, “I know what a hurricane (her King) is! A big storm.”

As I get a little older and have some hearing loss, I better understand how we can miss what others are saying or misunderstand. When anything seems like a play on words it can be confusing, so as we start the new year I thought it would be a good idea to share with you who we are and how we got here. I ask some of these questions of the ol’ timers in the church and found a very interesting story.

There was a young pastor who was called by God to begin a new work in a city not his own. (sounds a lot like Abraham, called out of his comfort zone to go to a strange place that God would show him). With the guidance of his elders and denomination leaders he was directed to Brainerd. He and his family came in the mid-1980s and began a work known as Hope Baptist Ministries, a mission of the Northwoods Baptist Conference, of the Southern Baptist Convention. After about three years of reaching out to people with both spiritual and physical needs there were about 45 people meeting in the basement of his home. A call went out for help in building a new church building. Land was secured at 10345 Wise Road, and the Texas Baptist Conference heard the call. Volunteer builders, along with their wives, came from Texas to build a church building, but not only did they bring the manpower, they brought the resources to complete the job. Our present sanctuary was completed in the fall of 1988, without any debt, ready for occupancy. They also built while they were here, a home for the pastor, just three lots west of the church, again with volunteer labor and no debt. Impossible, you say? The church constitution contains this statement in its by-laws: “We believe that God’s work done God’s way in God’s timing will not lack God’s provision.” The church you see when you travel on Wise Road is a testimony to God’s faithfulness working through His people. Three years later they came back and built the Sunday school wing on the west end of the sanctuary.

What I began to realize as I heard the story is that this church is a shining example of the two great commandments that Jesus gave us in Matthew 22:37-39, that we are to first love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and second to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus goes on to say that the entire Bible rests on these two commands. God so loved us that He sent His son Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin so that we could be reunited with Him for eternity! God has always loved us, but have we loved Him? Have we loved our neighbors? When I look at the Church on the Wise Road, I see this kind of love and sacrifice others had for the community of Brainerd in desiring to establish a church that endeavors to love God and others. We are not perfect at this, but this is the goal of our church to our community.

As we approach this new year I hope you can look back over this past one and see where you have fulfilled these two commands of God in your life. Have you loved Him with your heart, soul and mind by communicating with Him in prayer, and the giving of yourself and your means? Have you allowed Him to communicate with you by reading what I like to call, “the owner’s manual for successful living,” the Bible? Have you loved your neighbor and shared your many blessings with him? When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He answered with the story of the good samaritan. Are you one? Maybe some of these thoughts could be New Year’s resolutions for you? If one of the areas you find you have a need is a church home, one that tries to follow the commands of Christ and teach them to others, then let me invite you to visit The Church on the Wise Road.

Jim Rockwell is Pastor of The Church on the Wise Road in Brainerd.