Category Archives: encouragement

The Finish Line

The Story of Flash E. McManus and Sted E. Eddie

Last week we had a Kids Crusade. It was based on a Nascar theme and the highlight of each night was a race between Flash E. McManus and Sted E. Eddie. Flash thought he was all that. He thought he could take it easy and enjoy the adoration of his pit crew and fans. After all, he had earned the title Flash–not only for his speed, but for his style as well.

However, in the other lane was Sted E. Eddie. He wasn’t as flighty as Flash. He didn’t have a record of fast finishes but he had something that Flash didn’t have–sticktoitness. He took race car driving seriously. Even when the fans clapped and cheered, Eddie waved back to them, maintaining his solemn race day face.

The two competitors stepped into their cars. Their hands gripped the steering wheels. The crowd and engines roared. Their cars vibrated in their respective lanes. The starting flag signaled and they were off. Around and around they sped. After a couple of laps Flash thought he’d relax and sit a while.  You see, he was Flash and he’d always won his races by a long shot. It wouldn’t hurt to get a drink, wave to the fans and share some laughs with his crew. “I’ve got it made,” he muttered.

Meanwhile, Sted E. Eddie stayed true to his name and continued the race. Just when Flash thought he could cinch another win, he jumped into his car, stomped on the gas and sped away to catch Eddie. But this time his clutch jammin’, foot slammin’ skills didn’t work. Sted E. Eddie was leading and Flash was in trouble. Sted E. Eddie saw his fellow racer lagging behind. He let Flash catch up to him and shouted, “Come on Flash, let’s cross the finish line together!” And they did.

 

Isn’t that what life’s race is all about?

Helping each other to the finish line?

He that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matthew 10:22b

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Forward . . . . Plow

Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NIV

Before the use of machinery, farmers used oxen or horses to pull a plow. If a plowman plows half-heartedly his rows will be shallow and crooked. His peers will scoff at his plowing skills. The soil will not be broken up and prepared as well as it could be to hold the seed. If seed is sown on poor ground–the result will be a poor crop. Therefore, a plowman must focus on the ground ahead of him and keep both hands on the plow to adjust the blade as it cuts through roots and clods of dirt. A plowman knows that once he starts, quitting is not an option because good soil will often reward him with a plentiful harvest.

 Jesus compared a life of following him to that of a plowman. Just as a  plowman can’t plow a deep, straight row while looking backwards, I can’t prepare the soil of my heart to receive the seed of His word if I’m looking back and hankering for the life I left behind. Also, quitting in the middle of plowing my heart, isn’t an option either. Oh, I may stop to rest. Catch my breath. I may even fall–but when I do I know I must get up again and . . .  get back to plowing.

 

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His Ways Are Not Our Ways

In Judges chapter 7 the Midianites, Amalekites and the eastern people were enemies of God’s chosen people, Israel. While encamped in a valley the bible describes them as a multitude thick as grasshoppers and their camels were like the sand on the seashore–too numerous to number. In spite of their vast number, it appears that an army of 32,000 Israelites could defeat any opposition. However, Gideon their leader,  followed God’s command and told every soldier who was afraid to leave Mount Gilead. Get this– 22,000 men left, leaving Gideon with 10,000 (Judges 7:3). An army of 10,000 sounds like a lot but God said, “No, I want only those that pass the water test,” (Mary’s paraphrase–Judges 7:5,6). It’s hard to believe it, but 9,700 men failed the water test leaving Gideon with 300 chosen men to defeat a multitude. Gideon’s 300 men equipped themselves with a trumpet, a pitcher and a lamp. What? No armour? No swords? No arrows? For a mass of ruthless, idol-serving warriors?  No. None of that.

So Gideon’s army took their positions, blew their trumpets, broke their pitchers and shouted “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” The startled enemy screamed. They ran. Amid the confusion they turned on each other–killing one another with their swords. Gideon called for back up and eventually Gideon’s forces captured & decapitated two Midianite leaders. He continued fighting until there was peace in the land and Israel enjoyed peace throughout Gideon’s lifetime because he yielded to God’s unconventional ways.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8,9 NIV

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John’s Gaze Reveals Praise

Ever hear a crowd erupt into applause? It sounds like a cascading waterfall or the voice of many waters (Revelation 19:6). That’s what John heard when he peered into heaven. So . . . if that’s what heaven is like–perhaps I should rehearse down here.

O clap your hands all ye people, shout unto God with the voice of triumph. Psalm 47:1

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Make a Funnel

I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Psalm 143:6 NIV

“When you lift your hands you make a funnel for God’s spirit to come down to you,” said Reverend Lee Stoneking at a recent conference. Hmmm? I’d never thought of it that way. I’d always thought of it as a sign of surrender. Here I am God. I give up. I give it all to you. But make a funnel? OK.

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. (and make a funnel) Psalm 63:4

Pour it on God.

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You’ve Turned My Mourning Into Dancing

 

In John Bunyan’s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian the journeying pilgrim traveled with a heavy load on his back until he came to a hill. On it stood a cross and below it, at the bottom, was a tomb. When Christian came up to the cross, his burden loosened from his shoulders and fell onto the ground. It rolled and rolled until it tumbled into the empty tomb. He never saw it again.

Christian stood in awe at the sight of the cross–amazed that his oppressive burden dropped and rolled away so quickly. He felt released from the pressure he had carried. As a result, he wept and sang and leaped for joy. The cross became a bridge that brought him from a life of despondent sighing, to over flowing gladness and singing.

Like Christian, I basked in a feeling of warm joy when I met Him at the cross. He gave me a new song and turned my mourning into dancing.

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing. Psalm 30:11a

Thank you Jesus!

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Does Zeal For Your House Consume Me?

For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.  Psalm 69:9a

And his disciples remembered that it is written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.  John 2:17

 Although God can be worshipped any time and at any place, there’s something about going to His house. In church our spirits connect with His Spirit and with one another. We’re free to release the cares of life and focus on Him–the object of our worship and reason for living. We greet each other, pray and sing praises. We give our tithes and offerings. We break spiritual bread by reading and listening to someone explain His word and tell us how to apply it to our lives. In the tabernacle of His presence He renews our minds, refills our spirits, restores our soul and refreshes our strength. Finally, when the lights are turned off and the doors are closed we step out empowered once more to do His will–to be salt and light.

Dear God,

May I always have a zeal for you and your house.

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Sail On

 The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails.        William Arthur Ward

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Glorious Graduation!

Many years ago, I started the Christian school of life with a different graduation in mind. Though I have been through the “though he slay me, yet will I trust him” test like Job, “the valley of the shadow” test like David, and my own small Gethsemane test, quitting has never been an option. In the words of Garfield and my pastor: “Big, fat, hairy deal.” For you see, I have had a sneak preview of this graduation. I heard something about streets of gold, walls of jasper, gates of pearl, no more tears, no more sorrow, no more parting. I just have this feeling that it will be worth whatever I have to face to make this one. So let me go dream about it. Better yet, come dream along with me!

*copied from ninetyandnine.com  09/09/02

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Heavenly Heart Transplant

In 1983 my nursing class took a field trip to the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. It was fascinating to look down through a special viewing area and watch chest cavities opened as the physician surgically repaired heart defects, one right after the other.

Although we did not see a heart transplant, the bible reminds me that Jesus, the Great Physician, has been doing heart transplants for a long time.

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 11:19 NIV

Thank you Lord for a new heart.

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