Nearly three weeks ago, my family received some devastating news—my brother Bill had suddenly passed away at the age of 57. This unexpected tragedy was extremely difficult to handle. Only our faith in God and the support from the church enabled us to navigate this painful stretch of life’s journey.
A few days after learning of my brother’s death, I was walking along a stretch of highway near my home. I noticed that the recent rains had caused part of the hillside alongside the road to crumble. I also noticed that a small tree perched precariously on the side of the hill remained upright in spite of the collapsing hillside. Its roots had grown deep into the side of the hill, and it held on defiantly, in spite of the serious threat to its well-being.
The Bible says that we are to put our roots down deep into our faith in Jesus Christ. When we do, no circumstance in life, not even death, can move us!
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”—Colossians 2:6-7.
Former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman famously named all of his sons George. Many people have wondered why he did this. Here is how Foreman explained it to CBS News: “You try getting hit in the head by Muhammad Ali and then see how many names you can remember!”
Life can be tough. Sometimes it seems like we get beaten up all the time. This constant pounding might cause us to forget something very important—that God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to die to pay for our sins!
In order to remember this most important event, Jesus gave us the Lord’s Supper. When we gather together for communion, we remember how blessed we are to be loved by God and to be called his children!
“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’”—Luke 22:19.
Josh McDowell has this to say about the difference between tolerance and love:
Which is harder? Tolerance says, “You must approve of what I do.” Love responds, “I must do something harder: I will love you, even when your behavior offends me.”
Tolerance says, “You must agree with me.” Love responds, “I must do something harder: I will tell you the truth, because I am convinced ‘the truth will set you free.’”
Tolerance says, “You must allow me to have my way.” Love responds, “I must do something harder: I will plead with you to follow the right way, because I believe you are worth the risk.”
Tolerance seeks to be inoffensive; love takes risks. Tolerance glorifies division; love seeks unity. Tolerance costs nothing; love costs everything.
McDowell gives us a lot to think about. Many proclaim that tolerance is the greatest thing you can practice, but there were certain attitudes and actions that Jesus simply would not tolerate when he walked this earth. Sometimes the loving thing to do is to stand for what is right rather than tolerate any ungodly activity that is championed by the world. As always, we must allow Jesus to have the final word on everything, including tolerance and love.
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”—1 Corinthians 13:6.
In Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, Alan Alda talks about how he had a beloved pet dog when he was eight years old. When the dog died, Alda was so sad about burying it that his father decided to have the dog stuffed instead.
“We kept it on the porch and deliverymen were afraid to make deliveries,” Alda recalled in an interview with Newsweek. He then continued, “There are a lot of ways we stuff the dog, trying to avoid change, hanging on to a moment that’s passed.”
Churches seem to have a special affinity for “stuffing the dog”–maintaining programs, buildings, etc. in an attempt to forestall necessary change. In the short term, it’s sometimes much easier to stuff a church’s pets than to acknowledge their death, grieve their loss, and give them an appropriate burial.
Have you ever tried to “stuff the dog”?
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’…”—Revelation 21:5.
A few weeks ago I watched a deer run across the hay field beside my house. She stopped at the edge of the field and just stood there. After a few seconds, her spotted fawn emerged from the bushes. It was meal time for the young deer, and he enthusiastically began to nurse. You could tell that the fawn had been craving milk and that he was glad to have his thirst satisfied.
The Bible says that we must crave spiritual milk if we are to grow in our salvation. Without the nourishment of Scripture, there is no way that we can grow into the person God wants us to become. Don’t just read the Bible; study it. Memorize key verses and meditate on them. Listen intently to what God is telling you. Then obey him. Then you will grow in your faith.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”—1 Peter 2:2-3.
A minister ended his sermon by asking people to come to the front of the auditorium if they had a public decision to make, such as accepting Jesus Christ as their savior or transferring their church membership. He also said that if anyone had a special prayer need they could also come forward to make their request known.
The congregation was surprised to see the minister’s three-year-old daughter come forward, and they waited in anticipation of what she might say. When her father leaned down to ask for her request, she whispered, “Can we go to the restaurant after church?”
God hears all his children’s requests, big or small.
“Give us today our daily bread.”—Matthew 6:11.
There is a story told about a time when humorist Will Rogers approached his friend Eddie Cantor for advice. It seems that Rogers was thinking about making some significant changes to his act, but he was worried about the dangers of taking such a risk. He wasn’t sure if his plan would work.
Eddie Cantor’s response was, “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is!”
Jesus expects us to live fruitful lives. Sometimes that requires taking a risk. When is the last time you went out on a limb for Jesus?
“…I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit…”—John 15:16.
Two men flew into a remote part of Canada to hunt elk. When their pilot returned to pick them up, he told them that he could only take four of the six elk they had shot, or else the weight would be too heavy for the plane.
The hunters protested, “But the plane that picked us up last year was exactly like this one. The horsepower was the same. The weather conditions were similar. And we had six elk last year.”
Hearing this, the pilot reluctantly agreed to give it a try. They loaded up and took off, but the plane did not have enough power to make it out of the valley with all that weight, and they crashed.
As they stumbled out of the wreckage, one hunter asked the other where they were. “Well, I’m not sure, but I think we are just a mile or two away from where we crashed last year.”
Some people never learn! They keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again!
“Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise?”—Psalm 94:8.
Two men were riding a bicycle built for two when they came to a hill that was very long and steep. It took a great deal of struggle for the men to complete what proved to be a very difficult climb. When they finally got to the top of the hill the man in front turned to the other and said, “That sure was a hard climb!” His partner replied, “Yes, and if I hadn’t kept the brakes on all the way we would certainly have rolled down backwards!”
Make sure you aren’t the one holding others back and making life more difficult for people! Get your foot off the brake and start pedaling!
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”—Romans 12:11.
Someone once said that there is a reason the rear view mirror is so small and the windshield is so large. We need to spend more time looking toward the future and less time dwelling on the past. True, we can learn from past mistakes, and we can take joy from wonderful memories of days gone by. But we are far too easily distracted and discouraged by past sins, failures and disappointments. We are much better off when we put the past behind us and look ahead to the future.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and staining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 3:12-14.
Posted in Christian Living, Communion Meditations, Leadership
Tagged dwelling on the past, illustration, letting go of mistakes, looking to the future, perseverance, Philippians 3:12-14, pressing on, rear view mirror, vision