Celebrating A Miracle

Like Abraham and Sarah…

Like Manoah and his wife…

Like Hannah and Elkanah…

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth…

We, too, thought we might be without children our entire lives.  But God gave us a promise. And then He gave us a miracle!  Like those listed above, He gave us a son.  Two, in fact! And today we celebrate the birth of our first son 9 years ago!!!

And in light of our celebration, I pray for those reading this right now who long for the Lord to give them a promise and a miracle.

Does It Really Matter?

A few years ago, I went through a three-month fitness and lifestyle transformation program with a group of friends.  In one of the training sessions, our coach told us the story of a woman who decided to transform her health one small decision at a time.  On average, she drank at least nine sodas each day.  So her first commitment was to cut one per day.  To her surprise, she was able to cut two per day very quickly.  And after a very short time, she had cut back to one per day.  That was a huge difference in her health which began with one small decision.

One day, the Old Testament prophet Elijah visited a woman in the town of Zarephath during the middle of a drought and famine.  He asked her to give him something to eat and drink, but she replied that she was a widow and only had enough to make herself and her son one more meal before they completely ran out and would most likely die in the days following.  In what seems like a cruel request, Elijah asks her to go ahead and make him some food first.  In that moment, this woman made a small decision which impacted her destiny.  The Bible tells us that because of her decision to honor God by feeding a small meal to this prophet, she never ran out of oil or flour from that day till the drought and famine were over.  Others went without, but this widow who could not provide for herself and her family never did.

I remember hearing a Japanese fable once about a jungle which caught on fire. As the fire spread and grew worse, all the animals began to make their way out of the jungle and away to safety.  All except for one lone hummingbird.  This little hummingbird would fly to a nearby lake, scoop up a few drops of water in its beak, fly back to fiery jungle and drop the water on the fire.  After having passed the crowd of exiting animals several times, one of the elephants asked why the hummingbird was making this futile effort.  The hummingbird responded, “I’m doing what I can.”

Our decisions determine our destiny.  Take that to heart today.  No matter how small your decision to act seems to be at the moment, remember that it has power to shape your future.  Choose the small kindness… the small generosity… the small forgiveneness… the small courage… the small compliment.  Though it may appear small to others at the moment, that one decision could multiply into your destiny before your very eyes!  And even if it takes some time to show its effects, stick with it.  Sometimes our destiny is revealed by our legacy. 

You’ve Got A Friend In Me

In the words of Michael W. Smith, “Friends are friends forever, if the Lord’s the Lord of them.” (You’re welcome for that earworm. Go ahead, download it and enjoy it. You know you want to.)

Obviously, outside the Lord, my wife (aka, PR31) is my best friend on this planet.  And yet the Lord has blessed me with some other great friends.  Some of those friendships are only for a certain season of life, and then they shift over into a more casual acquaintance type friendship.  But others are for a lifetime.

I’ve discovered that the bonds of deep friendship are forged in the fires of shared adventure and adversity.  I want to share about one such friend in this post…

We have traveled to other states and other countries together.  We have ridden in cars and vans and buses together. We have flown thousands of miles together.

We have spent time in private conversation and stood on platforms in front of hundreds together.

We have laughed together. We have vented. We have cried together. (Granted, I cried more than he did because I’m a crier and he’s not.). We have talked about our joys. We have talked about our frustrations and struggles.

We have made some extremely difficult decisions together.  And we have struggled over the simplest choices of what to eat.

We have spent weeks together at a time. We have spent moments together.  We have shared early mornings and late nights.

We have “snuck out” of the housing compound with a missionary in Central America to get my friend some chicken strips and French fries so that he didn’t have to survive on skittles and tootsie rolls.  And we have “ridden our favorite ride” at Six Flags (Johnny Rockett’s restaurant) for more than six hours when it was just too hot to chase teenagers around the amusement park.

We even remained friends when I accidentally leaked his secret dating and probable engagement to the young lady who is now his wife during a late night snack with twenty other people.

What this is all adds up to is a deep bond of friendship which has been forged in the fires of shared adventure and adversity.  Proverbs 17:17 tells us, “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

That’s who he’s been to me… always loyal… a brother.  I wouldn’t be half the man I am today without his friendship in my life.  This friendship is for a lifetime.

And I am challenged today to be that kind of friend, not only to him, but to others also.  So let me challenge you… If you have a friend like mine, let them know today how much you love and appreciate them.  And why not join me in the quest to be that kind of friend to someone else?  Your friendship could be exactly what that person needs!

Bam! How ’bout That?

Here’s the thing you have to know… whether you believe it or not, there is a real devil and he is opposed to you simply because God values you and wants you in His forever family.  The devil and his imps are your enemies.

Here’s the other thing you need to know… They may be your enemies, but God is the Good Shepherd and your enemies are no match for Him.  It’s not even close… not even a competition.  The devil is not the equal opposite of God.  He is a defeated enemy gasping for his last breath.

So when David writes about God as the Ultimate Shepherd in Psalm 23, he writes from an experienced perspective.  David was a shepherd… a shepherd who provided for, pointed and protected his sheep.  He defeated lions and bears with sling, stick and bare hands. So he didn’t mind taking his sheep out each day and making sure they had a good meal right in the area where enemies lurked… because he knew how to handle those enemies.

And God knows perfectly well how to vanquish your enemies.  I like God’s moxey… His bravado… His flair for thumbing His nose in the face of the enemy.  David says that God basically sets the table for a feast, makes us the guest of honor and blesses us… right in front of our enemies. And they can’t do a single thing about it because He’s standing right there beside us, ever vigilant!

So eat in peace today.  Enjoy God’s blessings today.  Let God honor you today as you stay close to Him.  Don’t let the enemy give you an ounce of worry or concern.  God is showing His enemies that this is how He blesses those who belong to Him. They can skulk around the perimeter and watch you be blessed and honored, but they can’t keep it from happening.

JoAnna Gaines made a sign on one of the “Fixer Upper” TV shows which read, “It’s a good day for a good day.”  I would tweak it to say, “It’s a good day to belong to the Good Shepherd!”  Today, let Him prepare for you a feast, an honor and a blessing!

A Place Called Nowhere

Scholarship

We have some friends who give at least one scholarship each year to a teenager who wants to go on a missions trip but is financially challenged. Their story about how the scholarship came about is theirs to tell, or at best saves for another time.

Several years ago, I found out about the scholarship and knew of a student going on a trip I was leading who needed some assistance. I obtained the application and gave it to the student who subsequently filled it out and sent it to our friends. The student ended up receiving the scholarship and going on the missions trip with us.

Nowhere

I know, cool story.  But what our friend said to me when I thanked them for helping this student out struck me so profoundly that I am often reminded of it. She wrote that they were happy to be able to help and then added these words (paraphrased)…

People like to thank God for blessings that seem to come out of nowhere… and I’m so glad I live in a place called “Nowhere!”

I read those words and was floored. For what seemed like the first time in my life, it hit me that blessings don’t come from nowhere. God uses average, everyday, ordinary people like you and me to share His blessings with others.

That scholarship… a check in the mail… someone in the drive-thru ahead of you buying your coffee… Those blessings didn’t come from nowhere. They came from a real God… utilizing a real person to impact your life positively at a moment when you least expected it.

Who Will It Be?

Now flip it.  Just think… you and I live in a place called “Nowhere.”  Each day we have the potential to transform someone else’s day… and perhaps their entire life… by blessing them.

And it doesn’t have to be just with money. Pay a compliment.  Pay attention.  Pay respect.

Send a note. Send flowers. Send a text.

Someone within your reach tomorrow will also be within your capacity to bless.  They may think their blessing came from nowhere… and you and I will both know that you are a resident there!  “No one can help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” (Author Unknown)

So, who will it be? Who will you choose to bless “out of Nowhere” tomorrow?

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