Waiting for an Invitation

A Christian is one who follows Jesus as his Lord.  Instead of serving our own desires and conforming to what our surroundings tell us to be and do, we have found the freedom and life found in Jesus alone! How wonderful it is to follow our Master, for he is loving and His burden is light.  I never realized what a load I had been carrying until I came to Jesus and found strength and rest.  But what about the many people around us who have not yet learned of Christ and the hope and strength He offers?  Sure, we know God has told us to share the truth with them, but what if they think we’re weird?  Surely if they want to know what faith in Jesus is, they’ll just ask?  No.

lydia peekaboo

A Needed Invitation

Though you may not believe it at first, there are many people all around you who want to know spiritual truth.  They would gladly converse with you on the subject and even come to your church with you to see what it’s all about.  But guess what, they’re not going to tell you that!  And you can’t identify them by just looking.

What Do the Numbers Say?

According to a Scott McConnell of LifeWay Research “…many would respond to an invitation from a friend or acquaintance (41 percent), their children (25 percent) or an adult family member (25 percent).”  (Read these stats in detail here.)  The difficult part for many Christians about asking a friend or acquaintance to church is this:  what if they say no???  Allow me to let you in on a little secret.  Most will say no.  Gasp!  😀

Collecting No’s

The stats are going to vary greatly for any specific person and set of circumstances, so for simplicity let’s just assume that 20% of friends you invite via personal invitation will actually attend church with you.  Of those who attend, some will never return, some will return a few times, and some will be radically changed and become followers of Christ.  How many people will say no to your invitation in order for you to find one person who will hear the Holy Spirit’s voice and turn from sin to faith in Jesus?  Ten?  Sixty?  Two thousand?

Does it matter?  Is it worth it to bring one lost soul to the feet of your loving Savior, so that he may taste the love and salvation of Jesus as you have?  Can you imagine yourself standing before your Lord at the end of your life saying, “Jesus, I would have told people about you, but I just didn’t want to hear anyone tell me no.  It felt awkward.”


We Christians need to trust God that He has people out there He is going to save.  He has put us where we are in our lives in order that we would take His Word to these people, to be the means by which they hear the gospel.  Christ died for sinners, and anyone who will place their faith in Him will be washed clean and declared righteous.

Go Get More of Both

Instead of viewing negatively an answer of, “no,” to our invitation to come and see Jesus, we should view it as a victory—that’s one more person in the denominator.  For every 100 friends you ask, some percent of them are just waiting to be asked, to come and hear, and to find rest and peace for their souls.  It is God’s plan that they will be saved.  And it is God’s plan that a Christian would share the good news with them.  Will you be that Christian?  Or will God use someone obedient?  Embrace the no’s, they are part of the process.  The more invitations, the more no’s, and naturally, the more yeses.  Let’s be the church we are called to be: let us come together for equipping and encouragement to take the gospel out to the very ends of the earth.  Lord Jesus, lead us on, show us how, and may your will be done.

A Beautiful Bride

A beautiful bride walks down the aisle, radiant in beauty and wearing a magnificent white dress.  Her family and friends look on in delight and hopeful admiration—this is the day when she will be joined in marriage to the love of her life.  The couple stands before the pastor with stars in their eyes and vow exclusive devotion to each other above all others, and commit, “till death do us part.”  Fast-forward nine months and we’ll often find an altogether different scene.  This same woman shouts at the top of her lungs, “You’re always leaving your stuff all over the house!  Do I need to give you a map to the laundry basket?”  Her husband, the one who stood at the altar confessing his undying devotion, shouts back as he slams the door in her face, “screw you, I’m going to the bar!”  What has happened?  Why do couples go from starry-eyed lovers to enemies, and how can we create thriving marriages that last?


The Right Atmosphere

Look around you.  Of the ten people you spend the most time around, how many are couples with strong and healthy marriages?  We make small choices each day, such as who we spend time around, without realizing how these choices significantly affect our outlook, worldview, and habits.  If the people around you typically belittle and mock their spouses, this will begin to seem to you to be normal and acceptable behavior.  Over time, speaking negatively about your spouse will start to program your brain to think less of your spouse.  Conversely, spend time around couples who speak well of each other, and you’ll start speaking more positive, and begin thinking more highly of your spouse.  When you recognize how wonderful your spouse really is, you’ll appreciate what they do more, and you’ll naturally give them more praise and affection.

What we’re really talking about here is creating the right atmosphere.  When godly people spend time around each other and living out the Lord’s way day by day, it creates this incredible atmosphere that lifts each and every person.  We strengthen and challenge each other to reach greater heights, and we make excellence the norm.  It’s a beautiful and constant growth process, and it’s how those wise and loving couples who’ve been married for 50 years became what they are.  Brick by brick, step by step, getting around other winners and creating an atmosphere for everyone to build a thriving marriage.

Making the Time

In addition to getting around credible leaders, it’s important that we make time to enjoy our spouse.  With work, kids, the house, friends, and getting involved in the community, it’s really easy to let activities and commitments take over your calendar.  While these things are all good things, if they cause us to neglect our spouse, we’ve traded the great for the good.

A wise friend taught me the following great habit: once a day, once a week, once a month.  Once a day, kiss your spouse.  And I don’t mean just a peck—it had better last more than 20 seconds.  Once a week, spend time together talking (while looking directly at each other and not doing anything else).  And when your done talking do something fun just the two of you.  Go for ice cream, play a game, have a cup of coffee and recount fun stories.  Once a month do a real, extended date.  Dinner and a movie, or take her to a show she’ll like.  Or maybe have a picnic at the park.  Be creative, be romantic, and make it fun!

The Third Cord

The final piece is by far the most important.  Think of your marriage as a rope.  You are one piece of string, and your spouse is another piece of string.  The point of marriage is that the two become one.  But if you have only two cords to twist together, it will unfurl in the tough times.  Only when a third cord is in the marriage can the cords be braided and the marriage have the full strength needed to stand firm.  That third cord is Jesus, and the main purpose of marriage is to serve and honor Him.  A marriage that is entered into for some reason other than Christ is ultimately done for self.  If I marry my spouse because I want her to make me happy, I will have a big problem when she ceases to make me happy.  If she’s no longer pleasing me and giving me what I want, the marriage has no reason to go on.  I’ll simply want to file a divorce and go out and find someone else who will fulfill my needs.

If, on the other hand, I enter into marriage for the purpose of worshiping and honoring Christ, my commitment is not based upon my spouse’s performance.  I will love her and remain faithful to her for the sake of Christ.  Even when she fails to love and respect me well, I will continue loving and serving her anyway, for this is my charge from my Lord.  My life belongs to Jesus and I serve Him because that is my purpose.  God, help me to live out this high calling you have given me, each day and every day for You.

Doing It All Yourself?

You and I are capable of amazing things—when we let ourselves dream, search out and discover wise means of reaching our dreams, and focus and commit to building ourselves brick by brick, day by day.  God has created us with limitless potential, and you’re used to reading words here that will challenge and encourage you to take action today toward growth and pursuit of your goals.  As you go forth on your journey, however, you cannot expect success going it alone.  It is only when we find our particular purpose for which we have been created and plug into God’s agenda that we can truly thrive.


Psalm 63

7For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.

8My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.

9But those who seek my life to destroy it,
Will go into the depths of the earth.

10They will be delivered over to the power of the sword;
They will be a prey for foxes.

11But the king will rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him will glory,
For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.

Conveying the Truth

We are given a great many pictures in the Bible which convey the way God relates to us.  In v7 and v8 of this Psalm, we see two examples:  The shadow of God’s wings and God’s right hand.  Although God has neither wings nor hands, these metaphors give us a very clear and powerful idea of what God is like and how we are meant to live.  We are our strongest not when we work hardest and rely most on ourselves, but rather when we recognize our frailty and seek refuge in God.

The Shadow of His Wings

The picture of living in the shadow of God’s wings gives the thought of a powerful and majestic bird of prey.  I think of an eagle soaring high above the ground, completely out of reach of those who may wish to harm him.  At any moment, the eagle can sweep down with his powerful talons and reign down with a fierce attack on whomever he wills.  As one loved by God, I know than when I rest in the shadow of His wings, I need fear no man.  The shadow means that although I can’t touch Him, I know he is there without a doubt.  He is above me, ready and able to protect and defend me from any who would oppose His will and my obedience.

God’s Right Hand

Being upheld by God’s right hand conveys many similar ideas.  When I think of how easily I can be overcome by others or by life’s circumstances, I am encouraged by remembering that God’s strength is something I can lay hold of.  When in my humanness I would certainly fail, I know in that moment that I can rely on Christ to give me His strength.  It may be a fight against temptation, or the tenacity to hold my resolve in a tese situation, or even to withstand persecution.  In these times, I have confidence, knowing that when my strength fails, God will provide all the strength I need.

His Glory

So much more could be said, how many volumes could be filled with this glorious truth!  God’s power and strength are infinite, and He is anxious to grant them to any who will follow after Him, seek His will, and have the faith to live it out each day.  As we work with the tools we have to grow in our own wisdom, strength, and capability, let us never forget that One who is infinitely stronger than we could ever be or imagine stands with us.  As he shows Himself powerful and faithful, we will discover new heights achievable only through His divine work, for His glory and our good!

Does Intelligence Always Win?

Intelligence is highly valued in our culture—call someone intelligent and he will be delighted!  Are there more important things though?  Is a man well loved who is intelligent yet rude?  Or, does someone who is very intelligent necessarily have right understanding?  Could it be that a man of lower intelligence may actually beat out one of higher intelligence when it comes to living a thriving life?  How could this happen?


Two men at work

Consider the following story.  I hired John, a very intelligent man I know, to take care of a few things at my home. One day I instruct him to work on a retaining wall in my yard and pick up an important package arriving by train from Chicago.  Our agreement states that he will be paid based upon how much of the wall he finishes and he will receive a fixed amount for retrieving the package.

On another day, I hire Bruce, a man of low intelligence yet a man of practical experience and common sense.  I offer the same terms to him that I agreed to with John.

The two men, given their differing intelligence, come at the task very differently.  John has a mind like a steel trap, and has the train schedules memorized.  He knows the Chicago train arrives at the station every day at 4:30.  He also knows that the route to the train station becomes congested during that time, and accounts for this, calculating that he must leave the house by 3:50 to make it on time.  This gives him the maximum time to work on the wall.  He has also studied engineering and foundation design, so he knows the latest methods for efficient and sturdy retaining wall construction.

Bruce, on the other hand, does not possess all this intelligence and knowledge.  He knows the basics to build a retaining wall, as his father had taught him years ago.  He doesn’t know the train schedules or the route to get to the station.  So, his first action is to call the station and ask the representative when the train arrives.  The representative informs him that a derailment yesterday has thrown off the usual schedule, and the Chicago train will be arriving an hour later than usual.  In addition, the main freeway into the station is currently under construction, so the rep informs Bruce of an alternate route.

You can guess how this story ends:  our intelligent man John spends a little over an hour sitting in traffic, arriving just too late to get the package, which is instead sent via courier.  When it’s all said and done, John spent more time in the car than Bruce, so despite his more efficient process, he didn’t accomplish more of the wall than Bruce did.  On top of that, he missed picking up the package, so when his invoice is totaled, he actually made less than Bruce.

What’s the Cause?

Now how did this happen?  John was smarter than Bruce, had more knowledge, and had worked out an ideal plan to maximize his efficiency.  How did he come in behind Bruce?

John simply did something that a great many people—people of high intelligence and people of low intelligence—do every day.  He did not test his assumptions.  It’s not that his plan was bad, in fact, his plan was probably better than Bruce’s.  But it was based on something false.  It was based on the train arriving at a time other than the true time, and it was based on the route to the station being open as usual.  Both of these falsehoods are rooted in John’s own mind.  He thought he knew, and so he didn’t take the time to check whether or not his beliefs were true.  Ample evidence and resources existed for him to test his beliefs and assumptions, yet he failed to use them because he wrongly believed he didn’t need them.

Could This Really Happen?

Perhaps it seems unrealistic that such a smart man as John would so foolishly neglect to check such an important component before making his plan.  Surely a smart person would know better, right?

Sadly, there are a great many people, people we meet and talk with every day, who are neglecting something far more important than a train schedule.  There are a great many important topics to be studied in this world, and many intelligent people study them each day, but none are more important than questions like these: How did I come to exist?  Who made me, and for what purpose?  And this one who made me, what is He like?

It Happens Every Day

As with the train schedule in our story, much evidence exists, and many reliable resources are available to answer life’s most important questions.  The Holy Bible reveals many things to us about what God is like and what He has done.  The historical accuracy and reliability of the Bible are facts clearly demonstrable through the archaeological records and the science of textual criticism.  The evidence is available for any and all who will take the time to investigate it.  But what do most people do?  Do they take an honest look at the Bible and the evidence that it is a document of divine origin?

Most people choose to reject the Bible as their foundation, not because they have looked at the evidence and do not find it compelling, but rather because they have never examined it at all.  Like the intelligent man in our story, many people think they know the train schedule, so they just assume the ideas in their mind are right.

The Right Foundation

The sad reality is that if we build our lives on the assumptions in our minds, we will have a grand structure sitting on a foundation of sand.  When time reveals the truth of God’s Word and Christ’s promises, many will regret their failure to seek and find the truth.  What about you?  Are your beliefs about God rooted in reliable foundations or untested assumptions?  How much time have you spent investigating the claims that the Bible is God’s Word, reliable and written for you?

The answers and the evidence are out there, and great resources like www.equip.org will help you sort out the truth.  The question is, will you seek the truth or will you live tomorrow as you lived today—confident in your belief that the train arrives at 4:30?  John’s consequence for being too late was simply losing a little money; realizing Christ is Lord too late will cost you your soul.

Two Archers

“What is truth?”  These words, uttered to Christ by Pontius Pilate during the trial of Jesus are an old-world example of a “new” and popular view in our culture today.  It goes like this:  “what’s good for me is good for me; what’s good for you if good for you.  There’s no real standard, we just make it up ourselves.”  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  What could be wrong with such a friendly and tolerant worldview??


A Story of Two Men

Two men entered an archery contest. In the first year of competition, both men missed the bull’s-eye with every shot. A few shots missed the target entirely. In the year that followed, one man learned of a master archer, one who’s arrows had never missed the bull’s-eye. The man then heard that the master’s score and the purse associated with winning the contest were available to him for free, should he submit himself to the master’s instruction. He immediately discarded his former ideas on archery and went to live with the master and learn from him.

The other man spurned the master, caring nothing for his instruction. Instead, he told himself that the target in the contest was incorrectly placed, and much too small. He sought to convince others to ignore the standards of the archery contest, and introduced different targets of his own making.

The first man spent his year training from the master. Though he did not hit the bull’s-eye very often, He never denied that the target was real. His shots improved week to week to week, and he came to resemble the master more and more. The second man continued his delusion for the entire year, and led many who followed him astray.

The Day Comes

When the contest came, the folly of the second man was evident. For all his smooth arguments and denial of the standards, the target was indeed real. The second man was incapable of hitting the bulls-eye, and went away dejected. The first man was also incapable of hitting the bull’s-eye. The master stepped up and hit the bulls-eye with every arrow, and when he received the prize, he gave it to the first man, as he had originally promised to do. The first man’s arrows had not hit the bulls-eye, yet he received the prize based upon the work of the master. He did not earn the prize; he simply submitted himself to the master and devoted himself his teaching and received the prize as a gift.

Our Holy and Awesome Maker

God is perfect, He his love.  He is truthful and compassionate, caring and just.  His very person is the root of all goodness and truth.  He shows us in His Word what He is like, and sin is defined as anything that is against God, or runs contrary to his character.

Our Need

We are all sinners. By our nature, we desire to live in rebellion against God and do what we want. We don’t love His commands or His Word, we want nothing to do with them. In this state, we will never seek God, and we certainly do not desire to spend eternity worshiping Him.

God’s Solution

And yet, while we were sinners, God acted. God humbled Himself to become a human, even taking the humility of being born in a stable, as we just finished celebrating. Jesus lived the life we were incapable of living, perfectly keeping the Law. He was then tortured and killed, taking on our punishment and taking our place. If anyone will place his faith in Christ, his sin is washed away. Our debt of sin is paid, and we are free!

Your Choice

Faced with this truth, the gospel, we have two choices. Embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, love Him, and live His way, or reject Him. He will either be our Lord and Savior or not. When we die, God allows us to keep our choice for eternity. I choose to follow Christ, to have faith in Him, and do all I can to share this truth with my neighbors and my family. Will you this day turn from living your own way and trust Him? He is gentle and humble of heart, and in Him you will find rest for your soul.  The Master invites you, will you follow Him?

What is Christmas?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—Christmas!!  We all have our favorite things about the season: caroling, amazing food, candy everywhere, time with family, parties, and lots of other delightful traditions.  With so much going on, we can sometimes get so busy and overwhelmed that we can miss some important things, perhaps even the most important things!  So what is Christmas really about?  What is it that holds all these activities and traditions together?


Time with Family

If you’ve seen any of the famous Christmas movies, you’ve probably caught on to a recurring theme.  Christmas isn’t about amassing stuff for yourself.  It’s no time to be a recluse or a Scrooge or just treat Christmas like just any other day.  So often in these stories, the mixed-up main character finds through a series of events that all the money and selfish living are empty and hollow, and he finds the value of friends and family, coming back to those who once loved him and adopting a loving and giving attitude.

This is part of what Christmas is all about, but as an ultimate meaning, even good things like friendliness and loving family fall short.  Indeed, we should love others and value and appreciate our families all year long, and especially so at Christmas.  This is a key part of what Christmas is all about.  But why should we live this way?


Christmas is a time of giving.  A time when we seek out others who are in need and bless them generously and graciously.  Maybe we volunteer or buy gifts for the local homeless shelter.  Or perhaps we team up with a program at church to deliver a turkey and loads of groceries to a needy family. These activities come even closer to the true meaning of Christmas, but as an ultimate meaning, even these will not do.  Again, why are we to graciously love and give to the undeserving?

The Root

The root of all the good things we do at Christmas can be found in the very name of the holiday:  Christ!  The word means Messiah, the one sent by God to save His people.  And that is exactly who Jesus is.  The first one to be gracious, to love those who didn’t deserve it was God.  You see, we were enemies of God, estranged from Him because of our sin.  We are naturally in rebellion against our Maker due to the sin of our father and patriarch Adam, and our first desires are to please ourselves and live our own way.

He Loved the Unlovable

It was when we were in this sinful state, far from God and wanting nothing to do with Him or His Word that God sent the Christ.  Jesus, eternal God from before the beginning of time, humbled himself and became a man.  No time in history has such a momentous and glorious event occurred—the Creator of all things came to earth to be born as a baby.  He did this not because it would be pleasant or easy, in fact it would be painful and difficult.  Ultimately, he would be tortured and nailed to a cross to die a slow and agonizing death.  This was God’s gracious plan to bring mankind back to Himself.  You see, God is holy and perfect.  He is Just.  He cannot and will not ignore sin and sweep it under the rug.  In order for you or me to be brought back into relationship with Him, punishment must be rendered.  Jesus came to take that punishment—anyone who trusts in Him and accepts His substitutionary payment of our debt can be forgiven.  It’s as if you were found guilty in court, but Jesus comes in and pays your fine for you.  Your case is legally dismissed and you may walk out a free person!

We Love Because He Loved

We should be loving during Christmas and all times for the principal reason that God was loving to us.  He didn’t wait for us to clean up and earn good things; He sent His Son to save us even while we were dirty and rotten, full of sin.  We should love our families and be kind to each other because love and kindness are who God is.  When we accept Jesus as Savior, we also accept Him as Lord.  He is our shepherd, Father, and example.  We read His Word to learn what He is like and how He desires us to live, and we make choices each day to live His Way.

This Christmas, let’s let the true meaning of Christmas undergird everything we do.  Yes, let’s love others, value time with our family, and graciously give to those in need.  But let’s do it with the understanding that it was God’s gift of His only Son that causes these actions for His Glory.  Merry Christmas!!

Insisting on Balance

Guess what’s coming soon?  Christmas!!  Even though it’s the same date every year, it sure can sneak up on us!  Christmas is a wonderful time, full of joy and celebration.  We give gifts to each other in honor of God’s gift to mankind:  the baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem, that we might be reconciled to God.  It’s good to get carried away in the spirit of the season, but one area we must work hard not to get carried away in is our FINANCES.


Say Yes to Great Gifts

Before you call me Scrooge, let me say that I do want you to have a wonderful Christmas, to make a special time for those you love, and to elevate the day through special activities and make great memories.  I just don’t want you to experience the January hangover that so many of our friends will have once the presents are all opened.

When You Are Blessed, Bless

If you are experiencing financial success this year, don’t be afraid to spend a little more money on people this year.  In particular, do you know anyone who may be struggling to make ends meet this Christmas?  Why not bless them with a big gift or a big check?  You could even give it to them anonymously for an extra bit of fun!

Borrowing Is Not For the Wise

If, on the other hand, you didn’t experience an overflow of income this year, you may be like many across our country—facing the temptation to go big on Christmas with money you’ve borrowed on a credit card.  Like many short-sighted solutions, this decision would be easy on the front end, and hard on you in the months to come.

Think of it this way:  if you can’t afford to pay cash for presents now, how will you afford the full amount, plus the interest?  Or, put another way, what choice will lead you to have the best gifts for your family for Christmas 2014?  Racking up debt now?  Debt that will deplete your resources from January through July?

Solutions Are Out There

Something funny happens when you insist your budget must balance.  Your brain goes to work.  Once you’ve made the decision that you won’t go negative in December, your eyes suddenly see opportunities all around you.  You notice that stack of DVDs that you haven’t watched lately and you decide to put them up for sale.  You see the snow fall outside and take a few hours to shovel driveways in the neighborhood.  You eat peanut butter and jelly instead of fast food on your lunch break.  All these things may seem small, but when you add them together, you’ll be amazed:  you really can make things balance.

Supernatural Gifts

Another funny thing happens when you make a commitment to keep your budget in balance, particularly when you commit to prayer for the Lord’s help.  God loves to reward those who trust in Him, who rely on Him, and who live His way.  Call on the Lord, and keep your eyes open—you will find Him when you earnestly seek Him, and He is more loving and gracious than you can possibly imagine.

Giving Thanks

Even though we enjoy countless blessings, it can be very easy to take many of our good things for granted. We become accustomed to our daily routine, and we are often so busy that we don’t take the time to reflect on and be thankful the many blessings we enjoy. Try sitting down with a blank piece of paper for fifteen minutes and listing things you have to be thankful for. You may be surprised how quickly the paper is filled!

Family Christmas

Our Many Freedoms

We live in a country with more freedoms that most any time and place in history. We can assemble freely to worship God and learn about Him. Any citizen may own property, or run a business, without excessive government oversight or restriction. We have a representative democracy which allows we the people to choose our leaders, and a press that holds these leaders accountable for their actions. Though no government is perfect, we do yet retain many of the freedoms as intended by the founders of this nation, and we should thank God for continuing to preserve our great nation.


I am blessed to have been born and raised by Christian parents who loved me, taught me well, and have stayed together–married for 33 years and counting!  My brother and sister are great and loving siblings, and I smile every time we can spend time togehter.  Not only that, but they have each found a spouse who compliments them perfectly, and I feel that I’ve gained even more great siblings through these marriages (and soon-to-be marriages!)

I am married to a wonderful, beautiful, and loving wife who loves me, respects me, and is truly my partner for life. She is caring and incredible, and I am often in disbelief of how she can accomplish all the things she does, even making it look effortless. She is sweet and loving, and an excellent communicator. Even when we don’t see eye to eye on things, she takes the time and makes the effort to connect, express her perspective, and stay with the issue until we both understand and agree on how we’ll move forward. I could expound all day on the many wonderful things she does to enrich my life and the lives of those around her, and I am grateful to have her as my wife!

God has blessed us with three delightful children, who make our lives busy, interesting, and fun. They say the funniest things, and help us to remember how much more fun life is with a lighthearted attitude. They are smart and inquisitive, always wanting to explore their surroundings and find out how things work. They even encourage us in our faith, as they ask questions about God and trust in Him with the childlike faith Jesus taught us to have.

The Greatest Gift

The list of my blessings could go on and on and on, and fill many more pages that this site could hold!  Taking the time just to begin recounting all the great joys and gifts in my life has reminded me again truly how much I have to be thankful for.  In difficult days, when things don’t always seem to be going the way I’d like them to, I will do well to remember all the many blessings I’ve been given, recognizing that just as I did not deserve them, so have I been given heavenly gifts that I don’t deserve.  Chief among these is the salvation I have through Christ, the forgiveness of my sin and God’s promise that I will enjoy eternal life in paradise with Him.  Thank God today for all He has given you, and reach out to the Savior and follow Him!

The Greatest

How do you define greatness?  Is a person with a sharp suit and a fast car great?  Or is it a popular and loved person who is truly great?  Maybe someone who follows all the rules of the Bible?  Or maybe it’s the one who works hard and becomes CEO of his company.

nice car!

What Standard?

Could it be that all of these definitions are wrong?  Could someone be winning in his fitness, family, financially, and career, and yet lack what it takes to be great?  Let’s take a moment to look at what the world’s greatest teacher had to say on the subject:

Luke 9:

46 An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”

I’m better!  No, I’m better!

We see in this scene men arguing with each other as to who is better than whom.  Have you ever, perhaps in your mind, compared yourself to those around you and decided that you really are greater than they?  It is easy for us to overlook some of our own shortcomings and see ourselves favorably.  “If only others were more like me,” we think, “this place would be a whole lot better…”

The problem is, besides becoming puffed up with ourselves, we are apt to have a very mixed-up view of greatness and what it takes to be great.  Like the disciples in the Luke 9 story, we focus on external accomplishment and things that impress men.  Jesus taught the disciples, as He teaches us, that God values highest what men often esteem lowest.

Why waste my time with kids?

Children are often looked down on in our society—and not just because of their stature!  😉  Adults will often think of children as silly, naïve, and simple.  Rather than have a conversation with a little kid or tell a story from the Bible, we adults will prefer to spend time on “important things” like washing dishes, paying bills, or even surfing facebook.

In contrast, Jesus defines greatness by one who receives a child in His name.  When we accept children, we accept Jesus, and when we accept Jesus we are accepting God.  To be great, we must be willing to, and take the time to, tell kids about God, about Jesus, and about what He has done.  When is the last time that you shared God with a child?

Will you serve, even if no one cares?

Perhaps we won’t impress those around us with speech about how we told kids about Jesus.  Maybe teaching a Sunday School class of second graders or volunteering to lead game time on Wednesday night will not be rewarded with the thanks of your fellow church members.  Maybe no one will care.  But isn’t that the point?  Do we really love God for who he is, and desire to serve Him and do what He says for that reason only?  Perhaps this is one reason Jesus defines greatness in this way—who will value a child, take the time to pour truth and love into him, even if he must do so thanklessly.  Lord, teach us to be great!

Respond or react?

What do you do when you negative things come your way?  When a friend disagrees with you and puts you down, do you lash out?  When your brother cancels your poker game at the last minute for the third time in a row, do you yell at him for being so irresponsible and unreliable?  What about when a coworker belittles your ideas and makes you feel small?  Do you react by gossiping about her behind her back?


Your Choice

When people are unkind to us, we have two choices.  We can respond or we can react.  Reacting means doing what we naturally feel and allowing our emotions to choose our words.  In contrast, when we choose to respond to a negative situation, we use our mind and heart to overrule our emotions.

Is It Even About Me?

Often, when we are wronged, we incorrectly take the negative actions of another personally.  People are sometimes rude and inconsiderate, but many times this has nothing to do with you.  First off, if they are habitually rude, that has everything to do with them, and little to do with you.  In other instances, a person may not be habitually negative, but something negative has just happened in their life and they let their disappointment get the best of them.  In a few instances people are truly mean to you because they want to be.  But even in these cases, the right road is to respond, not react.

Forgive First

Each one of us has shortcomings, and as such we are bound to rub each other the wrong way.  When someone hurts you, can get mad and let your feelings boil over into harsh words against the wrongdoer.  Or you can choose to forgive them.  You can forgive, assuming they meant no offense; you can forgive assuming they let their emotions get the best of them, and you can even forgive in cases where it’s clear they were intentionally malicious.  You need not wait for their apology—forgive anyway.  If an apology comes, great!  If not, no big deal.

Create an Opportunity

If you will make the choice to live this way, and act with your will, mind, and heart rather than your emotions, your reward will be peace unknown to the masses who fail to respond and allow themselves to react.  Not only that, but those around you will notice your unusual behavior. They may even ask you why  you live so differently.  Can you think of a better opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ?