Winston Churchill stood to address the victorious British army following a strategic battle. Known for his inspirational brevity, he was no disappointment in this speech to his battle-weary soldiers. "This isn't the end. It isn't the beginning of the end. But perhaps it is the end of the beginning!"
Much of life places us at similar crossroads. Experiencing a spiritual victory, or a loss, does not end the race. We are involved in a life-long journey which enables us to treat each event as a new beginning. Use your defeats and your victories as opportunities to begin again... again!
GospeLines Prayer:Well, Lord, here I am again… again. It feels as though we just had this talk yesterday, but here we go again… again. I am weary, Father. I’m tired of this dance, two steps forward and three backward! It isn’t a new partner I seek; please, just fix me so that I can get it right a little more often. Enable me to know the difference between victory in a skirmish and winning the war, and help me to be faithful till the end. Amen and amen… again!
Extreme Makeover – Home Edition is one of those shows that tug at my heartstrings. It’s not unusual for me to cry while watching the program. Families are nominated to receive a new home by friends or associates due to extenuating circumstances.
Tonight’s show features a family of 13 living in a 900 square foot house in North Pole, Alaska. The temperature can drop to 50 below during the winter. Despite the deplorable conditions, the owner and her eight kids made room for her brother-in-law and his three children. Talk about a love that surpasses our understanding…
Even in cramped quarters, the children are home-schooled and she is raising some terrific human beings. Her circumstances didn’t limit her determination.
This story reminds me of Jesus feeding the 5,000 people with only five loaves and two fish. (Matthew 14:17-21). Jesus used the resources at hand to provide for his flock.
GospeLines Prayer:Father let me remember that I can’t put limits on You. If You can feed 5,000 with so little, You definitely can nourish me spiritually.
While I know that You don’t always work alone, you often use other people like the lady in the story. You also use those of us who are hurting and as we lift others up, I am thankful that You chose me. May I continue to hunger for Your love and Your word.
In his book Fully Human, Fully Alive, author John Powell relates a true story about a friend who was vacationing in the Bahamas. The friend was attracted to a large and restless crowd that had gathered toward the end of a pier. Unable to restrain his curiosity, the man began to walk down the pier and investigate the cause of all the noise and commotion.
Upon investigation he discovered that the object of all the attention was a young man making the last-minute preparations for a solo journey around the world in a homemade boat. Without exception everyone on the pier was pessimistic. All were actively volunteering to tell the ambitious sailor all the things that could possibly go wrong. "The sun will broil you!" "You won't have enough food." "That boat of yours won't withstand the waves in a storm." (And of course, those familiar words) "You'll never make it."
When my friend heard all these discouraging warnings to the adventurous young man, he felt an irresistible desire to offer some optimism and encouragement. As the little craft began drifting away from the pier towards the horizon, my friend went to the end of the pier, waving both arms wildly like semaphores spelling confidence. He kept shouting: "Bon Voyage! You're really something! We're with you. We're proud of you!" (p. 17-18)
There is a story in the New Testament that is similar. When the disciples saw Jesus walking toward them on the water on a stormy night, Simon Peter could not restrain himself. "I want to do that, too!" he called out. Jesus said, "Come on." You know the rest of the story about Peter's failure, but what the Bible doesn't say is what the disciples were doing when Peter was going over the side of the boat in the storm. I speculate that they were yelling, "Peter, get back in here. You know you can't do that. Nobody has ever walked on water before. Get back in the boat where it's safe!"
When you see someone who is willing to live on the edge; or, attempt the impossible for God; or, take an unbelievable risk for ministry, what do you say to that forward-thinking saint of God? Are you an encourager, or do you explain in very logical terms why it can't be done?
GospeLines Prayer:Father, if I am not going to be an adventurer, give me the good sense to keep my negative thoughts to myself. Better still, give me one more opportunity to look back toward the shore as I set my sail on the seas of faith. If that doesn't happen, grant me the grace to wish those who who are venturesome, "Bon Voyage." Amen and amen.
What are you going to do this weekend? Where are you going on vacation? Will you get that promotion you've been wanting? Where are the kids going to college? Have you saved enough for retirement?
The list goes on and on; we're always planning and thinking about tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. We're told that the wise among us plan 10, 20, 30 or more years in the future. Companies have long range plans that stretch 10 years or more into the future. States and Countries plan far into the future, reaching ahead two, three of more generations.
If you search for the phrase "Planning your Future" on Google, you'll get 115,000 hits (in English). But, if you search for "Planning for Eternity," you'll only get 176 hits. Unfortunately, Google represents reality in the world today - The vast majority is far more concerned about their worldly future than they are about their eternal future. Many churches have 500, 600, or more attendees on Sunday morning. Go back on Wednesday evening and count… 200, 100, 50…? What happened?
Scripture tells us to "…hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering… And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:23-25, KJV)
Paraphrased from the Amplified version, this scripture reads: "Seize, hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it… Consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another… Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching."
Listen to this admonition: Seize, hold fast, do not waver, watch over one another and do not neglect the assemble. He even tells us to plan for the day as we see it approaching (to make it happen).
Our Lord knows it is important to plan for the future; especially for our eternal future. That's why he said: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21, KJV)
Plan your weekend and your vacation with your family and friends so you can relax and have fun. Plan your career, your kids' college education and your retirement. But don't forget to plan your eternity. Study the Scriptures; listen to your Pastor; and, don't forsake meeting with your fellow Christians in the House of God as He has asked us to do.
When you do your planning, think about what is most important; think about what is "for the long term." Think About Eternity!
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:5
The Gulf Coast entertained two unlady-like visitors during the summer of 2005, Katrina and Rita. We will not forget the destruction and displacement they left behind as homes and lives were destroyed, and millions of families fled in fear of their arrival. The mass exodus from the Houston/Galveston area caused massive traffic jams. One man told me that it took him and his family 32 hours to travel 60 miles, only to be forced back to ride out the storm with friends on the north side of Houston. A mother and son who tried unsuccessfully to get away spent nine hours in their vehicles with a sick grandmother and two dogs who don’t like to travel. They turned back after going only 40 miles and faced the 90 mph winds of Rita in their home.
While a large segment of the population was trying to avoid the last hurricane, Jay Carnes of Texas City, TX, loaded his van with two generators, a chain saw, tow straps, 60 extra gallons of gas, a Global Positioning Satellite system, a television and a week’s supply of food and water, headed straight for it. While some people chase hurricanes to gather scientific data, some to make videotapes they can sell, Jay chases hurricanes for fun!
“I’ve always been fascinated by unusual weather, the act of God and how weather can change structures, how it can destroy structures and change the landscape and view of an entire city and county,” he said.
Carnes said he rode out Hurricane Rita in a concrete casino parking garage in Lake Charles, La., and videotaped the roof exploding off the Isle of Capri Casino. (Houston Chronicle, Tuesday, September 27, 2005)
People don’t like storms. We typically try to avoid them whether they come as a hurricane or in some other form. Sometimes the worst storms come without wind, thunder and lightening. They come because we are a part of the human race and through them God is either attempting to CORRECT US or INSTRUCT US. Of this you may be certain, you have either just left a storm, you are in one now, or you are headed for the eye of the next storm God is allowing you to experience. Storms are an inevitable part of life.
When the disciples were faced with an unexpected storm (Mark 4), they feared for their lives! I love to see their humanity in that verse, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (v. 38).
Yes, Jesus cares if you drown! When there is no other answer, when you have come to the end of your strength and the storm is sweeping over you, Jesus cries out to those waves of despair, “Quiet! Be still!” (v. 39). Even nature itself cannot overcome you because you are a child of the King.
And your storms will spare you the misery through prayer, even those which God intends as correction. Oh, I implore you to believe in a God who changes things! He stands ready to alter the course of your life, too, if you are headed down a road of destruction. Call unto Him and be spared! Amen and amen!