All of our school and working life most of us have had to compete. We do it for grades, honors, salary, pride and politics. Sadly some even compete with other parents through their children. Do beauty pageants for three-year-olds sound familiar? Then, of course, there are competitive sports of all sorts. Strangely more acrimony and even violence is seen among the fans than in the players. Certainly there are still friendly competitions between adults and kids. Sportsmanship is dying but is not dead yet. One can even compete with oneself to make a better score in games and puzzles. However, one needs plenty of self-control to keep from turning to resentment and blame when we lose. Continue reading
The second baseman fielded the routine ground ball cleanly as he had done thousands of times before but the throw to first base was anything but routine. In fact, it went high over the first baseman’s head into the stands and hit a fan. Chuck Knoblauch was an all-star, rookie of the year, World Series winner and a great fielder, but was becoming the poster child for the yips. Yips is the sudden and unexplained loss of fine motor skills in athletes of many sports. The recovery is difficult and often not successful. Chuck was never able to correct it and was soon out of baseball. Continue reading
Imagine that you are totally tired of this rat race and wanted to get completely off the grid. Then imagine that you were given the opportunity to lie on an isolated island with all of the basic necessities provided free. What would you do with all your stuff? No need for cars, cell phones, TVs, etc. Who would get them?
A somewhat similar scenario awaits Christians. We are preparing to live in an unknown, invisible and eternal place. We will not be able to take any physical stuff, but we will need to get our spiritual stuff ready. The media constantly tells us that we need more, newer and better stuff. God has given us all many earthly material blessings to live the abundant physical life. However, rather than cling to them, we should enjoy them but be ready to help others with them when need arises. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
Christians are promised that when the Chief Shepherd appears, we will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1Pe. 5:4) (Col. 3:4) Although we cannot know what we’ll be like, we know that when he does appear, we shall be like him for we shall see Him as he is. (1Jo. 3:2-3) Will we be able to just appear in places or in different forms as Jesus did? (Lk. 24:36) (Mk. 16:12) Lk. 24:15-16) Paul gives us a small hint in 1 Cor. 15. He compares our resurrected body with our present physical one to the difference between a seed and a full-grown plant.
It seems we can’t really get ready physically for such a change, but we are expected to start here and now on our spiritual self. We are told that we will reign with Christ (2Tim. 2:12) for ever and ever (Rev. 22: 3-5) and that we will judge angels. (1Cor. 6:2-3) Ready? Paul spends many verses talking about the changes from our old self to the new. (Rom. 6) (Col. 3) (Gal. 5) It is a change from the old sinful nature to that of one who lives in accordance with the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8) He outlines what that looks like in Romans 12 and Galatians 5 and many other places. Our new eternal life will be a huge transformation, perhaps that is why we are told to transform our minds to become more like Christ here. We need no physical stuff but let’s not neglect our spiritual stuff. Are we ready?
The basketball game ended late and as we exited the gym it had turned dark, cold, snowy and windy—a blizzard. Our family of 5 was not dressed for it and we were complete strangers in this small Western Kansas town. A blizzard on the plains is not just nasty it is often deadly. The town had no motels back then and even if it had, we couldn’t have paid for a room. What to do? I have since wondered more than once if the family who extended our family of strangers a “port in the storm” were God’s angels.
At least they must have heard the scriptural admonition that by entertaining strangers some have hosted angels without knowing it. (Heb. 13:2) Abraham did that in Genesis 18 with the 3 men, one of whom may have been the Lord himself. (v. 22) Lot also showed great hospitality to the 2 angels. (Genesis 19)
There are many other examples of hospitality in both the Old and New Testaments. Besides Abraham and Lot, the kindness of David to Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan and grandson of King Saul is noteworthy. David had him eat at the palace table like one of his own sons and made sure he had servants and received income from the crops of Saul’s former lands. (2Sa. 9:3-12) Another example is the Shunammite woman and her husband who made a room on the roof for Elisha the Prophet. (2Ki. 6:8-11)
In the 1st Century church we see the believers selling their possessions to give to anyone who had need. They also opened their homes to have meals for their fellow Christians. We assume many of these were part of the God-fearing Jews from other nations who made up some of the 3,000 converts on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:5,38)
Consider the citizens of the island of Malta on which the shipwreck of the vessel that carried the Apostle Paul and 275 other souls grounded. They were a remarkable example of hospitality to these total strangers. They took in all these people, fed and cared for them for 3 months and then furnished their needs as they left for Rome.
There are many verses in the New Testament telling us to practice hospitality (1Pe. 4:9) (3 John 8) (Rom. 12:13) and one particular individual who is praised by name by Paul—Gaius (Rom. 16:23) for doing it. In an age where we have so much more of everything, one wonders if we are still willing to practice this commandment?
My grandma and later my mother used to say to me and my brothers—”If you can’t help, at least don’t hinder.” That was good advice then, and I suspect it is probably a universal precept for all ages for all times. Unfortunately, most of us are very slow learners since it is so much easier to analyze and criticize than to prioritize and energize.
As Christians we need to realize that one of Satan’s favorite tactics is to throw impediments into our life and hope we’ll pass them on to those who are trying to be zealous for Christ. Impediments are also called obstructions, hindrances and obstacles and can take many forms.
It seems as if Jesus’ ministry here on earth was continually being invaded by impediments from Satan and his dupes. The Apostles even contributed at times. Instead of recognizing that the children people were bringing to Jesus to have him touch them were precious, they rebuked their parents. Jesus was INDIGNANT and told the Apostles not to hinder them, “…for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these…” (Mk 10:13-15) They also tried to stop a man who was driving out demons in Jesus’ name, but Jesus declared, “…for whoever is not against us is for us” (Mk 9:39-40) Peter had to be rebuked when he tried to dissuade Christ from fulfilling his mission. Jesus said to him, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me…”(Mt 16:23) Judas, who had been a major impediment in the matter of money, proved to be a huge impediment due to his betrayal—Then Satan entered Judas…(Lk 22:3)
When we are given great opportunities and teachable moments, we can sometimes thwart them by our objections and negative vibes. No doubt this can be caused by a desire to defend the Lord and the gospel. We can err through lack of knowledge or even just wanting to show our superior knowledge. I have often felt myself slipping into that mind-set either by thought or words. God forbid that we would frustrate the will of Jesus by our neglect, objections or actions. Jesus might be INDIGNANT with us.