Did you miss this past Sunday evening’s service at Gospel Light Bible Baptist Church? Well despair not, my dear brother or sister. I happen to have been there and I was taking notes. My pen was drying up, but I managed. You did miss the wonderful singing of the Derefinko family. BTW, Pastor Vince Giardino’s sermons on Sunday evenings have been on the “Mind”. You know you need these messages and so does Pastor G! So why do you keep missing them? Pastor said, “It’s our responsibility that we keep in check the minds and bodies that God has given us.”Pastor titled his message “Hedging Your Mind”. The key verse was I John 5:18-21, and if you still remember where you last left your bible, dust it off, then take the time to read the verses. Hint: Look for the phrases “keepeth himself” and “keep yourselves”.
Pastor told a story of a late 19th century village where the people stayed inside the village boundaries out of fear of the evil lurking in the woods outside the village. His story soon twisted to show that the village was actually one from the 1970’s, one where all efforts were made to keep the outside world from coming in. It was a no-fly refuge zone with people hired to patrol the perimeter. “However, nothing is perfect.”, Pastor logically stated.
Just as the people of the village would have to deal with leaks from the outside world, such as radio and TV on the airwaves, so also do we struggle with escaping the influences from the world. We struggle even with the thoughts that enter our mind. “If you don’t have something to keep you in the love of Jesus Christ, you’ll have a tough task keeping out thoughts that come from this world”, Pastor Giardino advised.
1 John 5:18 states “that whosoever is born of God sinneth not”. How is this possible? “You are in Christ!”, Pastor explained. “You can’t do anything to pay for your salvation, but you can do plenty to keep your thoughts and make a hedge against the world.” When we set up hedges, we protect ourselves. One example of a hedge our pastor gave was a dress code. His favorite example was how professional hockey coaches all wear suits and ties at games – they stand out and look great for the team and for the fans.
Pastor went on to point out that sometimes churches have standards that end up being more of a wall than a hedge. “Us four and no more” is the cliché used, and when this environment exists, visitors to that church invariably feel unwelcome. “I hope it never happens in this church”, Pastor G. said. He wants our church to build bridges, connecting with good brethren, allowing people to join as we grow, but at the same time, maintaining the important hedges and standards.
Dear reader, please turn in your bible to Isaiah 5:1-6. Read the metaphoric picture that was used to depict a people rebelling against God and the resulting downturn for Judah. Even as God removed the hedges and stopped watering the “vineyard”, so also will God judge us if we don’t keep what God has given us. God will “take away our hedges and people will walk over you”, Pastor warned, “if you don’t get your thoughts straight … stuff is flooding in and corrupting.” God has also taken away the hedges around churches in America (even Baptist churches) that compromise their standards. God abandons those churches which become pious. God stops watering their “vineyard” and they become spiritually dehydrated.
So where can we find hedges? Pastor said that our families are a hedge of protection. Your New Testament church is a hedge. A marriage between two saved people, one in which they honor each other, is a hedge. Pastor said, “Fortify, not by building walls, but hedges.” In I Peter 1:13-14 we see that we were once ignorant but now we should know better. “Gird up the loins of your mind”, the passage reads. “A lot of junk can come into your mind”, cautioned Pastor Giardino. We need to desire that good things, fruit, are produced from our minds.
- Hedging It: Birds dependably like to land in hedges, our preacher said. Because of their colorfulness, they stand out. We ought to be like these birds, dependable, unique, standing out in the gap, just as God “sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land” Ezek 22:30. “We need some Gaptists!”, Pastor G. quipped.
- Wedging It: “How many of you have split wood the old fashioned way?”, Pastor asked us. We would have needed to use a wedge. In Job 1, God allows the devil to try and create a wedge between Job and God. Likewise, the devil wants to create wedges by “splitting the fibers in your life”, Pastor warned. “He wants to put a wedge between you and God … and he’ll split families and churches”, Pastor continued. Protect yourself from the worldly media or devil will split your mind wide open.
- Dredging It: “The devil wants to dredge up the past and render you ineffective”, Pastor Giardino said. When a river is dredged periodically, the sediment causes the water to be cloudy. A Christian should have clear, clean thoughts, but the devil will cause you to look at your past, bringing back memories that cause havoc in your Christian life. Pastor advised us to prevent that by creating hedges in our lives.