Monday, January 24, 2005
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. – James 1:2 ESV
We added a member to our household – a seven-week-old Boston Terrier. Oh, the joy of having a puppy. Molly, her name since this morning, nuzzles into your neck and your heart. She hops instead of runs, plays hard and sleeps soundly, and when we leave the room, cries in such a pitiful way we run right back in to comfort her.
Already I’ve seen a bit of stubbornness in her. She wants to sleep on the sofa right next to me, snuggled into a leopard print throw. When I get up to do chores, she keeps whining for me to sit back down.
How can such a tiny being have such a strong will? So far, I’m being accommodating, but eventually I’ll have to get stern with her. There’s no telling what kind of mess a puppy can get into without proper supervision.
Isn’t that like we humans? We place our hands on our hips, and defy God. “Why can’t You do what I want to do?” We question why we go through trials, when the Lord may be trying to train us, teach us, and is only concerned about our best interest. We can get ourselves into some pretty big messes when we ignore His direction, can’t we?
God accommodates His children to an extent, but then spiritually, we need to grow up. We bow to His will. His supervision will always be for our good. James the Apostle said the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. When we trust God during a difficult time, our faith increases, and we learn patience. We grow up a little.
According to what I’ve read, Boston Terriers have a tendency to resist being told what to do – another trait shared by many humans. Life will be much more pleasant for all of us if Molly learns to follow commands. God has laid out in His Word many commandments for us to follow. How much better would our lives be if we lived according to God’s Word?
I’m looking forward to the many spiritual lessons this little puppy will teach me. And she’s so cute, too! Only one downside - Boston Terriers snort, snuffle, wheeze, grunt, and snore loudly. Just what I needed. Don’t we hear enough of that already out of humans?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being so patient with your children. Help me to be accepting of Your will and Your instruction. Thank You for Your Word that teaches me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Saturday, January 15, 2005
I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. – Acts 20:24 niv
Many (many, many!) years ago, I attended a cheerleading camp. All week long, we practiced our cheers and choreographed our steps. At the end of the competition, the best squad won a trophy. Another competition went on simultaneously. Whoever won that one received the coveted ‘Spirit Stick.” After all, what would any self-respecting cheerleader be without that school spirit? The competition escalated as we neared the final ceremony. Many of the girls thrived on the tension. Not me. I became a nervous wreck.
I’m the type of person who throws in her cards when the competition heats up, or backs off when confronted with an overzealous opponent. My stomach quivers at the thought of such rivalry.
The apostle Paul, obviously well acquainted with competition, referred to winning quite often. In 1 Corinthians 9:23-24 (niv), Paul said, “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
Paul encouraged us to run to win. What do we win? He goes on to say in verse 25, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
When I feel overwhelmed by an opponent, I might mutter, “It’s only a game” or “I don’t care about winning that much.”
But when we’re talking about eternity, I do care, and I do want to win – souls for the Lord, and the battle against Satan. And one day a crown of life. In order to win, we must aggressively pursue a relationship with God, our Father, and be willing to stay in strict training as we pursue His will.
I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone in the past few months to promote my writing. I’m not adverse to hard work, researching the market, and writing till my fingers ache. I don’t want to come across as so humble that I don’t praise the Lord for what He’s done through me. For every article published, for every heart touched, for every person who is encouraged, I give God the glory. I’m thrilled He will use me. I’m thankful that, instead of a ‘Spirit Stick,” I have the real Spirit to help me, to prod me on, to encourage, and empower me. Praise the Lord!
If God wants me to do cartwheels (oh, I hurt at just the thought of it!) across a platform, I’d do it – even though at this point, it would mean enthusiastically promoting my latest project – my mid-life version of a cartwheel.
I feel like my no-compete clause has caused me to retreat. I'm defeating that tendency with God’s help. In the Christian race, we don’t compete against each other. When we work together in unity as a team to tell others of Jesus’ love, we all win.
My cheerleading squad may not have won the ‘Spirit Stick’ but I did end up getting a trophy one year for being the “Best All-Round Cheerleader.” Now I’m afraid I might just win one for being round.
Keep pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly calling of God. Are you in the running? And just for old time’s sake: Go, Christian, go!
Prayer: God, I thank You for the promise of a crown of life. I ask for strength to persevere, and the wisdom to do Your will. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.