Series 36


I’m a Bum

“Oh, so you’re a bum,” the salesman said.

I was shopping for a commercial refrigerator for our church. This salesman, who I contacted via phone, asked some questions; then shifted to inquiring about my occupation. Wrapping up my explanation, I said: “My activities revolve around ministry.”

I don’t know what triggered his you’re-a-bum conclusion, as the conversation ended rather quickly. As did the chance of him making a sale.

Now he hadn’t angered me in the slightest. I merely discounted the salesman as being rude. And totally wrong.

I thought: “I’m not a bum; I’m serving God.”

And then one day, I concluded: “I am a bum.”

Psalm 103:14-15 says: “For God knows how we are formed. He earnestly remembers and imprints on His heart that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass. He flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone…”

One of the definitions of bum is “worthless.” Can you think of many things more worthless than dust?  We are dust. It blows away; we are gone.

Kind of bursts our self-esteem bubble. So I simply concluded: “I’m a bum.” Worth-less compared to God.

A repeated theme in Psalm 103 is: “Those who fear Him (God).” And here “fear” might be better thought of as: awe, amazement, reverence, a holy fear, a clear recognition of how great and mighty God is compared to our tiny, insignificant existence. Thus our dust-like standing before God.

A clear grasp of the vast difference between God’s unfathomable magnitude and our mere humanity needs to be renewed often—preferably daily. One of the greatest men to ever live, John the Baptist, fully understood this.

Let his words regarding Jesus, be our words to live by: “He must become greater; I must become less.”


My Bicycle Riding Hero

I listened in semi-disbelief when I was told, “Jeff rode the bike to Elkhart. And back.”

“The Bike” is a $2.00 garage sale model. A forty-five year-old, overweight clunker.

And Jeff? He’s definitely not the athletic type. But facing near zero-odds of completing the seventy-mile circuit; he did it. I’m amazed! Jeff’s my bike riding hero.

With a pressing business matter to take care of in Elkhart, Jeff took off. Kind of reminds me of some of my other heroes: the Disciples of Jesus. With Jesus, they had kingdom business to attend to.

So they took off.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee He saw Peter and his brother Andrew. Fishermen; they were casting a net into the lake. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately these two left their fishing to follow Jesus.

Going on from there, Jesus saw two other brothers. Jesus called to them. Same response. Immediately they left what they were doing to follow Jesus.

Now Jeff could have waited; maybe convinced someone to drive him later. Waited for a better bike. Waited to get in physical shape.

So many great things are never accomplished simply because: “I’m waiting until I ________________”    You fill in the blank.

Now heroes get going quickly; applying the element of faith in the unseen and the unaccomplished. Active, steady, patient faith. One peddle stroke and then another. It’s not about speed, rather peddle stroke after peddle stroke. 

The Bible describes the disciples as pursuing God’s work with “steadfast perseverance” and “continuing daily.”

What do you need to do today? Start. Continue.

What project is God prompting you to accomplish? Start. Continue.

Imitate the disciples. And imitate Jeff’s method: “I go slow uphill, coast downhill, and stop for ice-cream.”


The Answer? The Question?

My kind of bumper sticker: “Jesus is the answer.” Then I noticed Cathy was sitting in the car.

We’ve had entry level God-conversations; consequently I was surprised to see her car sporting a Jesus-message. People change. Was this a sign of a new Cathy?

Conversation time. “Cathy I saw your bumper sticker,” I said, “What’s Jesus the answer to?” She laughed, “I don’t even know what the question is…my cousin put it on the car.” Then she quickly changed the subject.

But I was able to get one more line in: “If you ever need to know the question…or the answer, let me know.”

So what is the question?

What is Jesus the answer to?

Definitely the bumper sticker’s purpose was to jar thoughts toward our final destination. How do I spend eternity in Heaven? Jesus is the answer to this ultimate question.

Once you’ve correctly discovered that answer or as you edge closer on your journey to the Savior, you will need to know how to live every day.

The Bible says: “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature.” This is telling us, when Jesus was a child He kept getting bigger—naturally. But even as a child it was noticeable, He continually increased in wisdom.

His wisdom translated into intelligent, correct, successful living each day. Jesus knew how to interact with people and with Father God. Jesus embodies and defines wisdom by the way He lived.

Do you need to know how to live better? We all do.

Learn from the life of Jesus. Read and re-read and study the Biblical accounts of His life. The Bible says as Jesus grew in wisdom; He equally increased in: “Favor with God and people.”

Choose to grow in Jesus-like-wisdom. And then expect growing favor with God and people.


Hanging, Hanging, Hanging…In There

“I’m going to hang in there as long as the Good Lord lets me,” my neighbor Howard said.

Howard’s eighty-six. He still does his own yard work, plays golf regularly, and has a “lady friend,” He’s hanging in there really well.

Being new to the neighborhood, there’s a lot I don’t know about Howard. But here are some observations about why I believe he’s doing so well.

Howard’s always smiling. The Bible says, “A merry heart is good medicine.” That smile on his face likely is a reflection of his heart. Which coincided with the words which always come out of his mouth—kind and gentle. As the Scripture say, “From the mouth the heart speaks.”

This Bible verse also reveals some keys. The first part says: “For physical training is of some value.”  Howard is consistently mining worthy value by utilizing his body’s capabilities.

Then the verse goes on to say: “But Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Howard’s connection to the Christian faith goes back decades. He’s even been attending the same church for around fifty years.

Here’s something scientists have discovered: “Research conducted partly at the University of Colorado at Boulder has found that regular churchgoers live longer than people who seldom or never attend worship services. For the first time, that extra lifespan has been quantified…those who go to church once or more each week can look forward to about seven more years than those who never attend.”

And finally; Howard knows without doubt that he will go to Heaven when death arrives.

Howard’s hang-in-there plan: a smile, some yard work and golf, a faithful commitment to church attendance, and a peaceful knowing that Heaven awaits. He’s got a great one.

Do you?


Expecting God’s Goodness

Are you expecting God to do good things for you? The Bible says, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

In this verse a choice was made: “I will.” This is true for each one of us. We decide what we expect. So I made a decision to expect to see more of God’s goodness.

And this is what happened.

I had just finished my banking when Ryan the manager noticed I was there. He asked me to drive to the back door to pick up some donations for my wife Nancy’s ministry—The Free Store.

Ryan’s very personable. And a Christian. He knew I was writing a book, previously asking about purchasing a copy when it was released. After loading the items into my car I said, “Just to let you know Ryan, my new book is now available.”

After talking briefly he said, “Why don’t you bring a few copies by, we’ll put a display up in the lobby.” Immediately I thought, “Wow, this is the goodness of God.” Have you ever seen a book promoted in a bank lobby? Especially a Christian one.

A couple days later when Nancy was doing her banking she took two books, business cards, and a couple of promo/info flyers. Ryan looked it over. He liked what he saw. Then he added: “Maybe the staff can read through the book during breaks…so we know what it’s about.”

“Wow, more goodness of God.”

Yes, arduous situations sometimes make God’s goodness seem very elusive.

But trusting God; having faith, is required when reaching beyond what we see. When we do, Psalm 23:6 can become a growing reality: “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.”

Expect God’s goodness.