We were blessed last night to have Mike Gillette of "The Strength Show" join us for an area youth ministry event. Almost 70 teens gathered to hear Mike's testimony and watch him attempt (and pull off) a couple of brand new feats of strength (one scared us to death as he succeeded; the other is still a work in progress but impressive nonetheless).
I'm not sure if Mike actually said this or not, but what the Lord said to me last night through his message was this: As great as strength is, it is not intended to only benefit the one who is strong. Strength can be an amazing thing - moving, bending, stretching and deforming objects that it seemed couldn't be.
Granted, it tends to carry some specific benefits to the one who is strong, but what good would it be for a strong person to just sit around and be strong? Sure, they look good - but there are any number of ways to achieve that appearance without putting in all the work to actually be strong.
Real strength is meant to be shared - to benefit others. Jesus extends His to us, and we are intended to extend ours to those we interact with. When God gave His Son for us, He made available to us all the strength we would ever need. And when we give our lives to others, we do much the same, passing along the strength we cherish and enjoy, that they might never have to face anything with only their own strength.
So what are you doing with your life in this area? Getting stronger, I hope! But even more so, as God continues His good work in you (Philippians 1:6), I pray that you will in turn reach out and be a source of strength, passing His along, to all who may need it. That's a truly strong person!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
"Let your light shine before men..."
A few years back (okay, slightly more than a few years back), I had taken a trip with some friends down to Alabama to watch the legendary "Bear" Bryant and his equally legendary football team (now some of you know about how many years back!).
It was a long trip, so to make the best time possible on the road, we decided to drive at night, switching off drivers, so that we could make it to the "big game" on time. Along about 1:00 a.m., the current driver said something like this, "This road must be really old, because the lines are getting kind of faint." We all quickly agreed...and continued to drive on.
About an hour later, though a new driver was behind the wheel, another interesting comment came from that seat, "I've never seen a state paint their highway lines in faint yellow - they're kind of hard to see!" It wasn't another 30 minutes before he said, "Something must be wrong, because now I can't see the lines at all!"
We all got out of the car, and as Gomer Pyle used to say, "Sur-prise! Sur-prise!" The lines weren't getting fainter at all, but our headlights were almost completely blacked out with bugs & dirt! We had to limp along at 3:00 a.m. to get to a gas station where we could give them a good cleaning. Amazingly, the lines jumped right out at us after that!
I've thought many times since then about that night, and how much it is like my life, way too often! As I try to make decisions & choices, things are getting less and less clear to me, and I'm sure that the problem is outside - you know, someone or something else's problem.
But more times than not, what's really transpired is that I've allowed my own life to get "dirty" by allowing dozens of "little" sins to accumulate on my heart & mind, just like bugs & dirt on a headlight. The power is going into the light, but it isn't shining out of the light because I've been careless, too busy (or both) to clean it off.
The problem is that the dimming occurs gradually, because the "dirt" accumulates gradually. But the net effect is just as sure as if I'd just painted the headlights black - no light gets out. If we're going to truly "let our lights shine" as Jesus directed above, it's imperative that we do the job...the daily job...of keeping our hearts & minds clean, that the light and love of Jesus Christ may shine forth unhindered. Meet me at the carwash?
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
"Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered.
And lo, no one was there."
And lo, no one was there."
Well, it's official - we currently have 20 people signed up to go to Guatemala in March of 2011. They are young & old, male & female, students & professionals, churched &non-churched, excited & afraid. That's right...AFRAID. Tenemos temor!
It probably doesn't take much imagination to figure out what they're afraid of (though imagination makes it really daunting to do what they're getting ready to do!). Lack of money, missing classes (or work, for the adults), leaving family behind, rare diseases, terrorism, losing their ticket, forgetting to bring something important - all of these and more can make a new venture downright terrifying!
The reality is that things much less intimidating than cross-cultural travel can scare the bejeebers out of us (I used that word in last week's children's message and they had no idea of what I was talking about - but I'm sure you understand my word!). So what do we do when the bejeebers are scared out of us?
Like the quote at the top - we answer with Faith. We remember that He is always with us, that His ways are perfect, that His plans are to bless us and use us, that He who calls us is faithful...you get the idea (check last week's blog for references if you want).
I have no idea what might be scaring the bejeebers out of you right now, but I do know that He is more than capable of helping you to answer the knock of fear with the answer of faith...and discover that there is really no one there! That's God's story, and I'm sticking to it!