The Passing of Time

90DC0B4CC6A44E2CA0F4CAE457EE06A3It will usually happen at least once a year, and if you’re fortunate to have several friends, it most likely will appear in the form of a two-word greeting that you hear several times on a single day: “Happy Birthday!”

Frank W. Boreham, an Aussie who died in 1959, had an interesting view on the significance of birthdays. He said, “Birthdays are mere records of time, not registers of distance. They tell me how long I have been on the road, not how far I have traveled.”

Boreham’s words are a challenge to live a life of dedication and discipline like the one Paul spoke of in I Corinthians 9:23-27:

Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.  Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away.  Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air.  Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

How much time has passed since you first met Jesus, and how far have you traveled in your Christian walk?  If you’re still at the starting blocks, it’s time to start running.  If you’ve stumbled along the way, it’s time to get up and go again.

I encourage you to make the most of your time as you “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).”

 

 

Is That Prime Rib or Reheated Hash?

PrintHow many times have you pulled up to your favorite restaurant, and you think you’ve found a choice parking spot close to the door only to discover it’s posted with a sign:  RESERVED.  Be honest, you hate it when this happens don’t you?

The last time I pulled into a spot like that, I realized the sign is a good commentary on our lives.  Either we reserve the best for God, or we re-serve Him the leftovers.

It’s easy to find verses that emphasis the reserved life:

  • Honor the Lord with your substance and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine (Proverbs 3:9-10).
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
  • Present your body as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).

When Proverbs 3, challenges you to honor the Lord with your substance, it means with the essence of your being.  It means body, soul, spirit, gifts, talents, abilities, and all earthly possessions.

Are you honoring God with your substance by living a life that is reserved for Him, or are you giving Him a life that is a re-served bowl of lukewarm hash?

The Book of Ralph

ralphBooks like The Book of Ralph are seldom found on the shelves of libraries.  If you do an online search at book sellers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, you find very little.

The reason for the scarcity is the rarity of the subject matter and the classification of the book—biography not fiction.  There are too few people who are as genuinely gentle and gracious as Ralph Lilley, the main character of the book.

I have had the privilege of knowing Ralph for over 25 years.  I have been his pastor, and he has willingly served his Lord as an elder, deacon, janitor, painter, teacher, greeter, volunteer, advocate for children, champion of the poor and needy, meals on wheels, and Chairman of Christian Service.

As I reflected on Ralph’s life yesterday, I spoke of seven lessons from The Book of Ralph, and I share them with you now:

#1—Remember your place in the line of life. 

He that will be first shall be last, and he that is last shall be first.

#2—Pick up the burdens of others, so you won’t let them down. 

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

#3—Display your manly meekness.

  Galatians 6:1:  If anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of meekness.

#4—Mind your manners.

  Ephesians 4:2:  Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love

#5—Let the Spirit guide your speech.

 Colossians 4:6:  Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

#6—Share the grace of God.

  Ephesians 4:29:  You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.

#7—Do more than just talk the talk:  walk the walk.

  James 1:26-27: If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.  Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Remembering Ralph’s work of faith, his labor of love, and patience of hope in his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 

I Thessalonians 1:3

Is There a Little Bit of Moses in You?

dogeatAfter hearing a robust young man give a lame excuse for being lazy, I was reminded of a couple of quotes:

  • H.V. Adolt said: We are all manufacturers. Making good, making trouble, or making excuses. 
  • Ben Franklin said: He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.

How often do you act like Moses and try to shirk your responsibilities by giving God an excuse?  Never tell God that:

  • Something is impossible because “all things are possible with Him (Luke 18:27).
  • A job is too hard because you “can do all things through Christ” who has promised to strengthen you (Phil. 4:13).
  • You can’t make sense of things because God is committed to “direct your steps” and lead you through the maze of life  (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Whenever you find yourself struggling with the uncertainties of life, remember that God has not given you a spirit of fear.  “You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit (2 Timothy 1:7 ~Voice).”

The list in the verse about can be divided into two categories:

  1. What God did not give you: “a cowardly spirit.”
  2. What God did give you: “a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit.”

Which one of the two categories defines the life you are living and the excuses you are making?

Who Will It Be?

I usually have the TV on of a morning while I’m getting ready for work.  Wednesday morning a story was aired about the Kauffman Foundation and the ad they will run during the Super Bowl.

The question they ask is one of motivation:  Will it be you?  The ad and the related material they plan to make available is designed to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit among our aspiring youth.

As I thought about the challenge of the Kauffman Foundation, I thought of two people from history who get little mention.  The first is William Booth the founder of the Salvation Army, and the second is Clara Barton who founded the Red Cross.  Both of these individuals saw a need and they stepped up and stepped out to make a difference in the lives of the suffering.

When I think of the legacy of Booth and Barton, I ask the question:  Who will it Be?  Who will be the next person to step up with a new program to alleviate suffering?

Hundreds of years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah recorded a message in the form of a question:  I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”   Isaiah did not let the question die as a weakening echo.  He captured the essence of the plea, and He responded:  Here am I, send me.

That question has been asked in one form or another for many centuries.  Jesus restated it in the form of a mandate to His disciples.  We are told that when He saw the people as sheep having no shepherd.  He instructed the disciples to pray for more workers in the harvest.

The question of the Kauffman Foundation is a thought worth thinking–Will it be you?  Will you be the next person to take a risk for the benefit of others?  Will you be the one who will help shepherd the sheep. 

If you pray the prayer that Jesus spoke of, why not do it in front of a mirror?  If you do, you may see the answer to your prayer.