Series 25


Church Sprint

“Where can I go to church?” Frank said. The tone of his voice shaped my response: “Right now?”

“I want to go right now,” he said. It was Saturday morning. I glanced at my watch. 10:49. I thought for a few moments and then suggested a church five minutes away which holds a Saturday service. “Let’s go Rosa,” he said to his daughter. Within two minutes they practically sprinted out the door.

Later in the day, my wife saw Frank. Church was enjoyable. The friendly folks invited him to stay for a potluck meal after the service. He was excited. And he even announced he was going to attend another church on Sunday.

Frank never made it to church on Sunday. He never went to church the next week. Or the next week…His church sprint had been sidetracked.

Jesus’ parable “The Sower” speaks of someone like Frank. “He who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy.” This seed can be thought of as a seed of the Word of God as it initializes a faith-life. Tiny, yet with the potential for huge growth. The parable continues: “Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only a little while.”

Jesus concludes the parable with a contrasting outcome: “But the seed that fell on the good ground are those people, who having heard the Word with a good and noble heart, keep it and bear fruit with endurance.”

Are you ready to press onward to a more Godly life? Jesus tells us how. Have a good and noble heart prepared to receive. Don’t let go of God’s Word—keep it. And endure, and endure. No sprinting. Then we are promised fruit. Our spiritual lives will grow to become a mighty force.


Seeking God for Life Direction

“God answered all my questions” Simon smiled when he told me.

The Bible says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Simon and I agree, seeking God for life direction is vital.

Simon had just spent two days in solitude at a small lakeside cottage. His focused agenda was seeking God’s direction for his life. This getaway renewed his confidence that he was on target.

There is a challenge to hearing and knowing God’s voice. But Jesus did say, “My sheep will hear my voice.” Yet we live in a world with a lot of noise—many voices vying for attention.

The Bible says of Jesus, “Now, in the morning…before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place. There He prayed.” Jesus was discerning the path he should take that day. Simon recognized his need to do likewise.

A few days later, while at work, Simon was pondering his time-away experience. It was break time. He twisted open a bottle of root beer. He held the cap in his hand for a few moments, noticing that the underside had words written on it. He smiled as he read the words: “You’re on the right path.” 

No, the root-beer-cap message wasn’t Simon’s final thumbs up. God’s directives already resonated in his inner being. But as Simon says, “God has a sense of humor.”

Yes, He does. God likes to see His children smile. More importantly, God enjoys one on one time with each one of us. Do you need to schedule some time alone with God? We routinely make time for what we deem important. Time alone with God is essential. This keeps us on the right path.


Make A Move for God

“Hey I kind of had an idea,” my wife Nancy said. She explained. While driving to town, a “For Sale” sign in front of a small white house, drew her eye. Suddenly a thought popped into her head: “Maybe God wants us to move.”

We live in an idyllic setting. Woods in back of the house. A lake in front. And the best neighbors on planet Earth.

Come on Nancy, we’ve lived here twenty-four years. Why would we want to move near the highway, close to town?

Nancy provokingly described her reasoning.  Swiftly, unexpectedly; her words started affirmatively resonating inside me. Suddenly this Scripture had a fresh, personal application: “Let us lay aside every weight…which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Yes. I was feeling the weight, experienced while spending way too much time trying to maintain our property. And our finances remained crimped--literally ensnared because of housing costs.

In a few days we decided to sell our home and shop for a place with minimal maintenance. One significantly less expensive would be our uncompromising objective. 

Bottom line-- Nancy and I want to finish the race that God has for our lives. We need to pare down distractions. 

Are you being distracted from the course God has for you?  Consider this-- it may be time for a major life move. So do like Jesus--“Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.” He got happy by looking past the race-hurdles and focused on victoriously crossing the finish line.

Making a big life-change is hard work--physically and mentally. Refuse to allow your mind to dwell on the challenges. Instead, set your sights on the new place of blessing God has for your life.


Kay's Cards

She’s sent me birthday cards for the past twenty-five years. And I’ve never said thanks. Kay is my wife’s cousin. She also sends birthday cards to my wife and we always get one on our anniversary.

We started wondering: “How many cards does she send out?” There are the cousins, their husbands, maybe their kids, certainly her brothers, her parents, probably her aunts and uncles. And how about friends and co-workers?

Now these cards aren’t just signed, stamped, and out the door. We’re talking beautiful cards. The kind you look on the back to discover their origin. Inside is a hand written note crowding every speck of white space.

She ended my card with, “Love, Kay.” 

She expresses her caring along with the desire to stay connected with people. But a characteristic in Kay’s life that rises as noteworthy is “enduring.” The Bible says, “Let us not become weary in doing good.”

I’ve never asked her. But this is almost guaranteed; at times she was too busy or didn’t feel like making the effort. She endured. She must have thought: does it really matter? I rarely acknowledged any appreciation. Yet she endured. For more than twenty-five years, she endured.

More than twenty-five years…

I am brought to tears as I’m reminded of my Savior, Jesus Christ who endured more than twenty-five years of effort attempting to connect with me. The Bible tells us why: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” I’m so thankful Jesus endured the cross. And beyond…

Thanks for all the cards Kay. You’ve reminded me to be a person of endurance. Reflecting the same unwavering endurance my Father God showed me.


Oh What Do I Deserve?

“I got what I deserved,” Jeff said. I laughed.

We had just put ourselves through the arduous task of running three miles absolutely as fast as possible. And I’m still questioning what prompted me to bust-a-gut with two-hundred people, actually paying for the privilege of having sore legs for the next three days.

After running races, a ritual takes place. You walk up to acquaintances, asking: “So how was your race? What was your time?”  Jeff’s response surprised me. A more typical response would include a reason/excuse for a slower than expected time.

Not Jeff, he admitted his pre-race training and race day effort had added up correctly: “I got what I deserved.”  “Jeff,” I said “That’s so true, isn’t it?”

Jeff’s words stuck in my head for the next couple of days…what I deserve.

The Bible says, “You O LORD, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”  My mind locked onto the concept of abundant mercy.

One of my favorite preachers defines mercy this way. “Not getting what you deserve. Getting what you don’t deserve.”

Even in something as inconsequential as running a road race, I started to see the mercy of God. Does a person deserve the ability to run? Does a person deserve to have the money to enter the event? Does a person deserve…? The planet has many people who are better humans, more godly than myself; yet they lack the blessings God has released into my life. This is His mercy.

The above Scripture continues as a prayer: “Oh God, turn to me and have mercy on me! Give Your strength to Your servant.”

Need more mercy in your life? Ask in prayer. Expect to receive His mercy. And then be abundantly thankful to God.