One evening, many years ago on a Wednesday night after prayer meeting, I was leaving to drive all night from Des Moines to central Wisconsin. As I was locking up the church one of my friends said, “Let’s pray for your safety.” And so he did. (Thanks, Dennis)
About four in the morning I was moving through southern Minnesota on a beautiful straight stretch of highway. I had not seen another car for miles. As I looked ahead all I saw a straight highway with the typical overpasses. So I thought, “Why don’t I straddle the dotted line between lanes and take a nap. When I get to that overpass ahead I can recenter on the lines if the car has drifted.” So I reached down to put my seat back for a bit more comfort. When suddenly the fasten seat belt light came on with a persistent blinking. Reaching up I banged on the dashboard and said to the light, “You are keeping me awake.” It was then that my brain woke up enough to listen to me speaking truth. I pulled over and went for a walk. (Thanks, Dennis)
The seat belt light never again malfunctioned. Prayer is a powerful thing. It is connecting to the source of all power, wisdom and presence. Prayer is talking to our Father about what we need, not because He does not know, but because it clarifies it for us. Ever since I read Jesus’ words about our heavenly Father knowing how to give good gifts to His children, I have never since asked God for something more than once. When my sons ask me for something they only need ask once. Begging would be insulting. At least that is how I understand the process.
If your church has a school or is affiliated with another church that has a school please do not weary hearing offering appeals for Christian Education. Over and over we hear calls for funds for evangelism and never bat an eye. After all isn’t that what the church is all about? Evangelism, proclaiming the good news about Jesus, is our calling. One of the last things Jesus told us was to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19
But what good is it to bring new believers into the church if we are not keeping our children? Surely there is no greater evangelistic campaign for any church other than teaching our children to love Jesus. Just this spring one of our local church school teachers had her children write autobiographies to go into a class book. One of the children wrote the following, “…I’ve been through a lot in the last 12 years. I lost my grandpa, went to Oshkosh, made friends, learned to love Jesus, and came to a Christian school. My life has been so much better with Christ in it. I want to be an ER doctor, help people and save their lives like Jesus wants us to. So my life is great and there are many more memories to come…” (Oshkosh was national gathering of Christian children for a week. It was like a Boy Scout Jamboree.)
If we ever wondered about the value of Christian Education this short testimony says it all. This is real evangelism. This is the salvation of our children.
If you need a new car and are thinking about a Toyota you better hurry because Toyota Days are over next week. But if you are busy and just can’t make it this week don’t panic because next week Toyota’s Block Busting Summer Sale begins. You better hurry before it is over at the end of July. But if you have a really busy summer that’s okay because August will bring us the Toyota Year End Model Sale followed by the Toyota Holiday Season Sale.
It does appear that this is just a variant of the old “Wolf, Wolf.” For those of us who grew up going to church we are veterans when it comes to “Wolf, Wolf.” In the late 40’s Jesus was coming because of the A Bomb. In the 50’s He was coming because of ICBMs. In the 60’s He was coming because of Viet Nam. And so it has gone on and on. Yesterday I heard a television preacher going on about the end of time because of “Terrorism.”
I realize I am on the verge of sounding like one of the scoffers Peter speaks of in II Peter 3. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’” What I want to say is let’s stop trying to motivate ourselves to be ready by scaring ourselves. Instead let’s serve because we want to be as much like Jesus as possible. That has everything to do with love and care and concern for others. If we do whenever the end comes we will be okay.
I used to think that Salvador Dali’s drooping, melting clocks were just the machinations of a deranged mind. Time was a static, sequential, consistent linear flow of events with attached numbers. Time could be plotted out by stories followed by more stories of human events. Now I am not so sure Dali was as deranged as I had first imagined. Last week I watched my granddaughter graduate from college and for a moment I saw a tiny little girl just able to walk dancing up and down with glee when my wife, her grandma came into the breakfast room. That momentary vision was as real as the noon sun beating down on the commencement service.
I enjoy going to bed at night because each night is a wonderful journey into the past. I go for rides with my father. I hear my son’s childhood voices. I sit with my sisters around a small kitchen table eating my mother’s cornpone. My wife wonders why I take so many naps. The secret is I take free trips randomly selected from 70 years of a very rich life. Time travel is but a nap away.
Time melts into a confection sweet. The clock droops with history written by those who want to tell a story by cherry picking events consistent with their beliefs. Recently I had to smile at someone ranting about history being rewritten, as if the first account was accurate. If I should talk with my sisters who were with me those first years I am sure their recollections would be different, filtered through what they want to remember.
So what will this thing promised by Jesus called eternal life be like? Finding out will be an endless adventure.
Today I learned in 2009 one could buy a ticket for $1,868 for the opportunity to meet and shake hands with Beyonce. While not trying to be disrespectful I would not bother paying $1.86. It is a matter of priorities. Do you remember the woman who so desperately wanted to touch Jesus she struggled through a throng of pushing shoving people only to be knocked to the ground? When Jesus came by she mustered up her remaining strength to thrust her arm between the legs of those that would trample her and for a microsecond touched Jesus robe. That was all she needed and it was free. It was life transforming.
A leper wandered from village to village trying to catch up to Jesus as he moved about. Finally the opportunity arose. Forgetting to call out “unclean” he stumbled through a retreating crowd and came face to face with Jesus. I love what happened next. The Gospels tell us before Jesus healed him, Jesus touched him. It was free. It was life transforming.
Just like Jesus our task is to reach out and touch those in need. We do it in a variety of supportive ways. Our gifts, our counsel, our care, our presence, our contacts, our love can be exactly what someone was needing. What is so grand about this is we are the giving ones and thus the receivers. Each time we help someone our lives grow richer.
When the leper was made whole Jesus was happy. When the woman was made whole Jesus was rewarded. Jesus is still in the business of touching and being touched. It is still free. The results are still life transforming.
A small ice cream cone at our local Dairy Queen costs $2.79. The same size cone at Burger King and McDonalds cost $1.00. And not only does it taste as good maybe it’s just a bit better or is that psychological because it is such a bargain? Being happy about something definitely makes it sweeter and more beautiful. A respectful kind child is always better looking than a rude selfish child even if the rude one has better cheek bones.
The Psalmist felt that way about God’s law. In Psalm 119 he wrote, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”
God’s commandments are a guide for successful living. Our obedience makes God happy not because we are doing what He said, but because He knows they will prevent all manner of heartache and pain. Good parents are that way. If one wants to be smart, then trust the One who has seen it all and shares with us the formula for happiness. Therefore, according to the Psalmist they taste better than honey. The question is do they taste better than a cone from Burger King? Of course they do.