There once was a farmer who owned a horse. One day the horse ran away. His friends came to console him because of the loss. “I don’t know,” said the farmer, “maybe it’s a bad thing and maybe it’s not.”
The following week, the horse returned to the farm, accompanied by 20 other horses, who had been roaming wild in the countryside. His friends came to congratulate him: “Now you have a full stable!” The farmer just said, “I don’t know. Maybe it’s a good thing and maybe it’s not.”
The following week, the farmer’s son was out riding one of the new horses. The horse began to buck and threw him off, breaking the son’s leg. His friends came to console the farmer because of the accident. “I don’t know,” said the farmer, “maybe it’s a bad thing and maybe it’s not.”
The following week, the government declared war and called all able-bodied young men to join the fight. They came to the town and rounded up hundreds of young men, except for the farmer’s son who had a broken leg. The farmer said, “Now I can say that it was a good thing my horse ran away.”
The “moral” of the story? Life is a series of events, and until we’ve reached the end of the series, it’s hard to know exactly why things are happening. When you’re in the middle of something, it’s especially difficult to get a proper perspective.
Of course, we who are Christ-followers have a bit of an advantage. Even though we may not know the significance of any life event at the time, we can trust the One who walks with us all the way, understanding that He loves us, He is in control, and He has a plan. And in the end, that plan is always for our good.
Hear again those familiar words from the apostle Paul: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
May we each live out His purpose, on purpose, this week. I am praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
I heard an old story again recently about a group of scientists who got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him.
The scientist walked up to God and said, “God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t you just go on and get lost.” God listened very patiently and kindly to the man. After the scientist was done talking, God said, “Very well, how abou this? Let’s say we have a man-making contest.” To which the scientist replied, “Okay, great!”
But God added, “Now, we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam.” The scientist said, “Sure, no problem,” and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.
God looked at him and said, “No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!”
That silly story illustrates how much we take God’s work in our very existence for granted. He is creator, we are His creation, and we are completely dependent upon Him. It is the nature of sin, more than any act that we do, to try to control our own destiny, and be our own boss. Such an attitude of pride and and rebellion–the creature challenging the dominion of the creator–is what usually gets us into trouble the most. But that last statement–“You get your own dirt!”–reminds us how we ultimately depend on God for everything.
There is an old Latin term that describes the unique ability of God as creator. He creates ex nihilo, or, “out of nothing.” That is, He is able to take nothing and create something. That is how He created the world those many generations ago, and even our most brilliant scientists today cannot duplicate that ability today. He is, after all, God–and we’re not. That in itself should humble us from our pride and self-sufficiency and lead us to trust Him with all of our lives.
The great Protestant reformer Martin Luther too that truth and expanded on it even further. “God creates ex nihilo…out of nothing,” said Luther. “Therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.” How very true.
I pray that you’ll realize how very much you need God, and that you’ll find the true joy of submitting your life to the One who created you, sustains you, and loves you so much He sacrificed His only Son to redeem you.
I’m praying for you, and look forward to seeing you Sunday.
“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!” –Lucy Van Pelt (from Peanuts) I bring this up today on the day of the year that focuses on “love” more than anything else: St. Valentine’s Day. You can usually tell when the day is drawing near even without the benefit of a calendar–just check out the sweat accumulating on the brow of most married men who are clueless about what they are going to do for the big day. It’s truly a Maalox moment for a Hallmark day. The truth is, most people have no idea what they are celebrating when they talk of St. Valentine’s Day. In fact, there is lots of confusion about the history of the holiday itself. We do know that there were two early Christian martyrs–both named Valentine–who were killed in Rome, supposedly on Feb. 14. In AD 496, Pope Galasius I named Feb. 14 as St. Valentine’s Day.
Actually, like many other “Christian” holidays, Valentine’s Day was probably a replacement for a pagan festival already in place on that date; it was called Lupercalia. That festival was intended to ensure protection from wolves. During the celebration, young men struck people with strips of animal hide. Women took the blows because they thought that the whipping made them more fertile. Now that’s romantic!
So in 15 centuries, we’ve moved from that…..to this. Obligatory cards, flowers, candy, dinner reservations, and romantic weekend getaways, all for a price. I think some of us would just as well go back to the Lupercalia festival and make sure we keep the wolves away. Except for that part about the fertility. The point here is–and yes, there is a point–that we shouldn’t have to have a special day to celebrate and remember the love we have for one another, either sweetheart-to-sweetheart, or Christian-to-Christian. Jesus even said that it would be love that would be the distinguishing mark of His followers. “They will know you are My disciples by your love for one another,” He said. Well, do they? May I suggest that in all of your Valentine’s celebrations (and yes, guys, it’s time to start preparing!), you remember first how Jesus showed love, and that was by giving of Himself. That’s what real love is all about. So, have a blessed, love-filled St. Valentine’s Day–and the other 364 days of the year as well. I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
This past Wednesday was National Signing Day for college athletes who participate in certain sports. It’s the day that official NCAA “letters-of-intent” are due for those players who make commitments to accept scholarships from certain schools, and play sports on their behalf. In this state, so enamored with college football, it is not too far from being a state holiday.
You may have heard that there are three seasons in Alabama (the recent snows notwithstanding): football season, spring football season, and football recruiting season. If you watched any news, or tuned in to social media, you no doubt saw the obsession right there in front of your eyes. There were countless videos of teenagers whose much anticipated decisions were publicly heralded by fans and media alike.
No doubt, most Alabama fans are celebrating another recruiting “national championship,” while Auburn fans also have much to celebrate with a top ten finish in national recruiting rankings. Of course, much is to be played out over the next few years which will determine how good those recruiting classes actually are, from the classroom to the practice field to Saturday afternoons in stadiums in front of rabid fans and national television audiences.
As much as I am interested in college football, and where the star players of the future will be lining up on Saturdays, I am even more fascinated by the attention given to recruiting by grown-ups, whose very happiness hinges on the whims of adolescent boys. Sometimes, it’s nothing short of sad.
There were some humorous sides to this year’s recruiting stories, like the school down the road that published on its website the bio of one of its prized “5-star” recruits who had been committed to the school for some time, only to realize that the player had signed instead with its arch rival. Or, the student athlete from a neighboring state who signed and faxed in three different letters of intent to three different schools on the same day.
Both stories are indicative of what I think is the saddest development that has come out of the cottage industry of college football recruiting in the last couple of decades: the new definitions of “commitment.” In the famous words of Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Regularly through the recruiting process, student athletes announce that they are “committed” to a certain school, which that school’s fans celebrate, but then the player still continues to look at other schools. (They call those “soft commitments.” Try that one with your spouse sometime, and see how it works.)
Of course, it’s not just the players who have a hard time with understanding the meaning of commitment. Often, as signing day nears, those players who have made public verbal commitments to one school are encouraged by supposedly responsible adults (i.e. coaches) at other schools to “flip” to their school, thus reneging on their commitment instead of honoring their word.
Which brings me to my long-awaited point: What doescommitmentmean to you? If and when you say that you are committed to something, or somebody, do you follow through on it? As a follower of Jesus, does your “verbal commitment” prove itself by how you live your life, or is it just talk? Do you say what you mean, and mean what you say?
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23). That’s commitment, and that’s what Jesus expects for all of His followers.
May your life prove the validity of your commitments today, especially as you follow the Lord. I am praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.