Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Chinese Proverb

You’ve heard the old Chinese proverb: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.” When we look at where we are and where we want to be, it can be overwhelming and discouraging because the distance between them may seem to be so vast. If it appears that there is such a great chasm between them, we might take the easy way and just put off or dismiss beginning to do something about it. After all, where do I start? When I have so far to go, where do I begin?

The old proverb offers the answer. It’s simple and it’s profound at the same time. I begin with one step. Oftentimes our problem is that we want to bite off more than that, don’t we?

It is not by happenstance that the Christian life is described as a walk (2 Corinthians 5:7). It is not a sprint, but a walk. It is not a mad dash, but a steady and progressive walk. We are urged to “walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

So, where am I today? And, where do I want to be tomorrow – and next year? What can I do and where can I begin? I can begin today, right now, with one step.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Safest Place

The safest place in the world is said to be an underground vault in Iron Mountain, just up the Hudson River from New York City. It was formerly a mine shaft, but now has vaults which are lined with thick walls of concrete and steel. The vaults are covered with two hundred feet of solid rock on all sides. Many large New York banks and national corporations use it to store important records and other valuables. It is even supposed to be safe from atomic attack. PEOPLE WANT SECURITY!!!

I recall that Daniel felt safe in the lion's den. However, the king who had him thrown into the den was unable to sleep that night (Daniel 6:18). The three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were thrown into a blazing furnace of fire with no effect on their body, their hair was not singed, their trousers undamaged, and they didn't even have the smell of fire upon them (Daniel 3:19-27). Paul and Silas were falsely charged, beaten with rods, and thrown into prison; yet, they prayed to God and sang hymns of praise (Acts 16:22-25). The great security of each of these men was their relationship with God. Isaiah wrote, "The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace because he trusts in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).

Have you feared anything today? --- like admitting you were wrong? --- like sharing your faith with someone who might lash back at you? Can there be any place safer than where you are doing the will of God?

"O Lord, if someone misunderstands my intentions today…if I make a mistake and someone cuts me down…if someone close to me is critical, keep me from being afraid. Please live in me so that true love will be my only response to them. Thank you for the victories before they happen. Through Jesus --- Amen."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Everything Except the "Moo"

Consider this long list of things --- they all have something in common: insulin, glue, fertilizer, dice, buttons, violin strings, soap, chewing gum, piano keys, etc., etc. These are only a few of the products made from a steer. The fats are used in explosives, toothpaste, candy, cosmetics and soft drinks. Even the horns, skin, ligaments and tendons produce a gelatin used in ice cream, cream cheese, desserts and photographic film. A 1,000 lb. steer provides only about 432 lbs. of beef, but every part of the animal except its "MOO" can be used for something.

There’s no telling what kind of tremendous IMPACT for good would happen in a community if the potential of every God-fearing person was put to use. Why would we ever say we don’t have what it takes? Consider these words from 2 Corinthians 9:8: "God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work." All this is ready for you and me today, if we are ready. The response we need to make is to love God supremely and obey Him. We need to have a willingness to use what He has given us so that our efforts for good can be multiplied.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Don't Be A Chameleon

A chameleon is a funny creature. You put him on red and he becomes red; on green and he becomes green. He adapts and fits in; wherever he is. The story goes that a chameleon was put on a plaid blanket and he exploded. He was trying to be "everything" and his body was tugged in different directions.

Now, it’s good to be pleasant and accommodating, but I don’t want to be the kind of person who would be anything or do anything depending on the circumstances in which I find myself. Rather than having my surroundings change me, I would rather influence and change my surroundings. That’s a better and higher way to live.

The apostle Paul said, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Romans 12:2). Phillips' translation renders this passage, "Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within."

So, I don’t want to be like the chameleon – red on red, blue on blue, "this" or "that," depending on the group with which I associate or the situation in which I find myself. It’s all right for a chameleon, but not for a person.