Monday, June 15, 2009


The sign said "Lewis and Clark Bible Church" but it wasn't much to look at. It was old and weatherworn and the letters had faded. The weight of the sign had caused it to tilt away from the hole in the post by which it was supported. Tom Cameron graciously provided the funds to have a new sign made. The signmaker took the old sign and overlaid it with cedar in which were inscribed again those words "Lewis and Clark Bible Church." Another sign "Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus" was made and hung from the church sign itself. Tom even helped to trim back the branches from a big spruce so that the sign could be seen from the road. But again, over time, the sign drooped, the letters faded, and the message on the sign was obscured by the condition of the sign itself.

And so it is with the gospel message. God has ordained that this treasure--the glorious gospel--should be encased in mere earthen vessels. The forces of hell work against it. The message itself is precious and glorious and beautiful, but the earthly bodies which bear it are sometimes weatherworn. The letters are oftentimes hard to read. And the message is obscured by the condition of the human "signs" that bear it.

Some years ago we put up a new sign. The sign displays the name of the church, the service times, and some other important information. The old sign that was at the end of the road was salvaged and put in a flower bed by the church mail box. Most people didn't even know that it was there. It wasn't much too look at anyway. The inner core of the sign had rotted. The cedar which overlaid it was rough with wear. The letters were hard to read.

I asked the men if someone wanted to take the old sign home and try to repair it. Rich Parker volunteered. He removed the inner portion which was rotten. He sanded and repaired the cedar. He caulked the joints and rebuilt the frame. He painted the sign to match the colors of the building. So when we finished the landscaping work in the front of the church, he brought it back so that we could find a place for it. Oh my, what a transformation! It is shiny and new. The letters are readily visible. Its message is clear and unobscured.

Isn't it amazing what God can do! He takes us--weatherworn and ugly in sin--and transforms us by His grace to make out of us something beautiful. Ephesians 2:10 says that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus." God does all things well and inasmuch as Jesus Himself if beautiful, we are beautiful in Him. The Spirit who indwells us bears in us a beautiful crop of Christlike virtues: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." These supernatural jewels are exclusive to those who are in Christ Jesus. They speak to the glory of God's grace and the saving power of His glorious gospel.

Rich brought the sign back to the church after the church workday. Bob West had stuck around because he wanted to help with the placement of the sign. We had talked earlier of locating it in the front of a particular flowerbed where it would be seen by some in the front parking lot. Bob didn't think that that was the right place for it. He suggested that it needed to be right in the front for all to see. So we moved it around from place to place, resting it on a 5 gallon bucket, to find the best location. In the end we placed it exactly where he thought it should be. Right in front of the front entrance for all to see. It looks beautiful there.

Isn't it amazing how God is able to put us right where we need to be. As lights in the world we all have our corner of the darkness that needs to illuminated. I remember hearing a story about a Bible College student at Multnomah School of the Bible. He worked for UPS and was tired of working amidst the group of unbelievers. They cussed and swore and did other unChristianlike things. He asked John Mitchell to pray for him that he would be able to find another job. John Mitchell refused and said, "I'm going to pray that God will keep you there, that is exactly where you need to be." God has a way of putting us in the place where we are most needed.

We placed the sign on a Saturday, and on Sunday it was exciting to see the response of people as they saw the new sign. Most didn't know much of its history, but Tom Cameron knew. Tom is now in his eighties. He has faithfully served the Lord for decades. He has a way about him that is such an encouragement. His daughter brings him to church, since he not able to drive anymore (though he does drive his scooter from the assisted living center up and down the hills of Astoria). I told them about the sign so Joanne drove across the parking lot so that Tom could see it. I think I saw a tear in Tom's eye as he looked at the old sign.

Its just a little old sign, but it bears a great truth. Our church building was built in the early 1970s, but it was never finished. The project was weatherworn by church divisions and strife. Great plans and dreams were disrupted as the devil had his way with a divided church. In the 1980s Lewis and Clark Bible Church had four pastors in ten years. Still the building was not completed. The church developed a reputation. "That church 'eats' Pastors" I was warned. But God had a plan.

Man was never able to finish the building project, so God did. He used a big storm to tear a hole in the roof. Water came rushing down and damaged the rooms below. The building itself shifted. The steeple was left leaning to the north. Amidst the ruins of the storm God worked to rebuild our building. It is now not just new, but better than new. It is fair to say that it is finally finished. And if you were to ask--who rebuilt it--the honest answer is that God did. But He didn't just rebuild our building, he left us with enough finances to do the landscaping and pave the east parking lot. The front of the church looks beautiful and inviting. And stuck right in the front is that old sign. Doesn't it look great! Praise the Lord!

Pastor Jerry


Anonymous said...

I don't belong to your congregation and yet I do. My name is Terrie Hillgaertner and I work with Ellen Cook at the Child Evangelism Office. My heart broke when I saw the destruction, and prayed that only miracles would come of this. AND LOOK WHAT GOD DID!!! He has blessed beyond what man could have done. Praise the Lord.

Lewis and Clark Bible Church said...

Thanks Terrie. I appreciate all of the encouragement that you have offered through the process of the rebuilding!