Find The One Thing

Screenshot (820)

My Musings – “Do you know what the secret of life is? One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean %@$&*!.” This quote is known as Curly’s Law, from the movie “City Slickers.”  Curly is a hardened and grizzled cowboy leading a trail drive for urban “city slicker” cowboys on vacation.  When asked what that one thing is, Curly smiles (probably the only time he smiled in the movie – I don’t remember for sure) and says, ” That’s what you have to find out.”

Paul found out. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14).  What was behind?  Originally, a life obsessed with persecuting Christians.   What lay a head?  His reward.  Such a prize, such a reward for faithful service to Christ that Paul considered that “to die is gain.

In between “what is behind” that Paul was forgetting and the prize that Paul was “straining toward” lay another obsession of “fruitful labor.”  But it came with a cost. “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).  Ahead of all this was chains and martyrdom.

But He stuck to his obsession with “the one thing,” because he considered everything else “a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Philippians 3:8, NIV 1984).  All of these things (imprisonment, floggings, beatings, stonings…) could have been “stopping stones.”  Instead, Paul used each one as a “stepping stone” “of sharing in [Christ’s] sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11).

All of these things that happened to Paul “served to advance the Gospel” and encouraged many others “to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly” from the first century until now.

My Advice – Your “one thing” can only be found in “one person.”  “That’s what you have to find out.”  Be obsessed until you find Him, and once you find Him, be obsessed with serving to advance the Gospel more courageously and fearlessly.  The cost of these obsessions might seem too high, but Paul also said, “therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles [yes, he really said light and momentary] are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV 1984).

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21, NIV 1984).

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon “Fueled Relationships” on September 15, 2019. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you too.

 

 

 

 

Go and Do Likewise

Screenshot (782)

My Musings – “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

What indeed?  I’ve done it.  Maybe you have too.  The stranded motorist all alone.  Well, who doesn’t have a cell phone these days?  They can call someone.  It’s a busy road, someone is bound to stop.  I’m running late, I can’t be bothered this time, I’ll get the next one.  What if it’s a ruse, I could be putting myself in real danger.  On the other hand, what if they don’t have a cell phone?  Would it be a bother even if I did have the time?  What if it’s a not to well-traveled road?  What if I don’t stop to help, they could be left in real danger?

How about the shabbily-dressed person on the corner with the crudely lettered sign “any amount will help?”  They’re probably running a scam.  They’ll probably use it for drugs or alcohol.  Why don’t they go out and look for a job?  What if they’ve tried it all and just want to feed their family just for this day?

Without getting too political (too late), what about the refugee seeking a better life?  They’re probably here for free benefits.  They just want to come here and change things to the same as what they left.  What if they belong to some sleeper cell?  Why don’t they just come here legally?  What if they really did flee a life and death situation?

Maybe some of the concerns and objections above are legitimate.  After all, there will always be those looking to take advantage. Many of the situations we face will be tough calls.  But do we really want to turn a “blind-eye” to those who might be truly in need because we are afraid of what might happen to us or skeptical hat their needs are genuine?  While we need to be wise and wary, at the end of the day we are responsible for our hearts and actions and not the other person’s motives.

My Advice – We all know that immediately after the above question “and who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Isn’t it interesting that the two in the parable most likely to lend a hand did not (maybe they used some of the above rationalizations), and the one least likely to care at all (the “hated” Samaritan) cared enough to act.  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37, NIV 1984).

Maybe the ones we find in apparently needy situations are our “hated” Samaritans.  Should it make a difference?  The point of the parable is no.  They are just as much our neighbor as the ones we visit with over the white picket fence.

Screenshot (784)

Screenshot (787)

 

The Conclusion of the Matter

Screenshot (540)

My Musings – Fear God? “The ‘fear of the Lord‘ is that attitude of reverence and awe that His people show to Him because they love Him and respect His power and His greatness.” (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Satisfied (p. 135). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).

Keep His commandments?  Not out of the fear, as we understand fear.  But, as explained above, out of reverence, awe, and respect.  Why wouldn’t we?  Think of it this way.  When we were little children, we obeyed our parents out of the fear we understand.  Fear of the consequences if we did not.  As we grew older and became adults we continued to do the things we were told when we were young, because we revere and respect them, and want to please them. We want to show our gratitude.

The duty of man?  Not because it is compulsory, but because we are obliged (do as someone asks or desires in order to help or please them).

My Advice – Do your “duty.”

Not So With You

Screenshot (529)

My Musings – No one wakes up in the morning with the hope that someone will manage us.  We wake up in the morning with the hope that someone will lead us.  The problem is, for us to be led, there must be leaders we want to follow.  (From Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek).

There is no shortage of people who wish to exercise authority.  Just look at the number of candidates in recent (and upcoming) elections who want to be President.  As you listen to many of them, you get the idea that as much as they would like to lead, there are not many that we would like to follow.  This concept is not restricted to politics.  It is rampant in many businesses and organizations, and yes, even in some churches.  To make matters worse, many who wish to lead, find little fault in their leadership skills, preferring to blame those they wish to lead with the inability or unwillingness to follow.

Perhaps that is one reason why Christ turned the leadership model on its head.  Do you want to a leader?  Then learn how to follow.  You want to be seen as great? Then learn to be humble.  You want to be first? Then be willing to wait in line.  You want to be master?  Then be willing to become a servant. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:45, NIV 1984).

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.‘” (John 13:12–17, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Go and do likewise.  Has a familiar ring to it.

Stay With The 99

Screenshot (508)

2 Chronicles 15:2The Lord is with you when you are with Him.  If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It is hard to walk against the wind, row against the current, ride a bike uphill or “kick against the goad.”  But these are nothing compared to going against or forsaking God’s Word.  There will still be difficult times in this world because our relationship with Christ earned us a new enemy.  Satan wants us to think that the winds, current and terrain are against us, but again these are nothing because they are from his hand not God’s.  God allows them to strengthen and temper us.  But we need not despair. In fact we can take heart, because Christ has overcome the word.

My Advice – Not all who wander are lost, but they still are wandering.  So, keep in step with Jesus. He will never leave nor forsake you, so do not leave or forsake Him.  Then we can take heart because “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

Mirror Images

Screenshot (295)Screenshot (464)

2 Timothy 1:2-6, 13To Joel, my dear son. I thank God as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandparents and in your mother and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  (NIV 1978, A personalized paraphrase)

My Musings – Most of my musings over the past couple of years have come from a book of daily devotions that I wrote for my son when he graduated from college.  He had spent the better part of his life getting “educated,” and I guess I wanted one last shot at offering my advice before he launched off on his own, putting his education to work.  The above “personalized” verses from 2 Timothy was my last entry in the book, and my last musing from that book.

Originally entitled “A Father’s Devotions,” I have for some time now been referring to them as “A Dad’s Devotions.”  I also added a subtitle, “Reflections from God’s Word.”  Why the “subtle” change?  I think the following sums up my thoughts.

Dad & Father – “The main difference between a father and a dad is that father is biological; however, a dad’s relationship is emotional. Fathering is an act of nature, while, being a dad is all about nurture. It is much easier to become a father, many even do it unintentionally; however, it is much harder to commit to becoming a dad.(http://www.differencebetween.info)

I am Joel’s father. I grew at being Joel’s dad, or at least I like to think so.  Nature and nurture.

Devotions – 1) Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person [as in a dad for his son], activity, or cause.  2) An act of prayer or private worship.

I loved the dual-meaning of the word and how it played into my writings to him.

Reflections – 1) A thought, idea, opinion formed, or a remark made as a result of meditation. 2) An effect produced by an influence [as in a dad on his son]. 3) The production of an image by or as if by a mirror.

I wanted to provide Joel with some thoughts, ideas and opinions to meditate upon, while in the process doing my best to be a positive influence.  Not to make him a mirror-image of me, but to allow him to grow in likeness to his Savior.

Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Listen to your father, who gave you life [your dad who gave you nurturing]. (Proverbs 23:19, 22, NIV 1978)

My AdviceJoel believed my musings were worth sharing on my blog.  I hope you have liked and been inspired by a few.  Inspired to grow closer in relationship with our Abba (an Aramaic term for father suggesting familial intimacy – dad?) Father, by becoming more like His Son Jesus Christ, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV 1978).

How are you doing?  Are reflections in mirror as close as they appear?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Press On!

Philippians 3:10–16I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.   All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Sometimes, maybe most of the time, it is all we can do to just “live up to what we have already attained.” Or is it?  Maybe we just need to want it a little more?  Paul wanted it, but he also recognized that he had not yet obtained it.  Think about all that he endured for the sake of the Gospel.

Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (2 Corinthians 11:23–29, NIV 1984)

If anyone had a excuse to throw up his hands in defeat and say “no more,” it was him. And yet he pressed on.  He persisted in his pursuit to be more like Christ.  He did not do it alone.  He did it by yielding to the Spirit that lived in him, not by yielding to the spirit of this world.  That spirit that might have said things like:  Haven’t you done enough?  Let someone else do it for a change.  Why beat yourself up?  No one really appreciates what you have gone through, so why risk going through more?  Paul recognized how much His Savior had done for him that he persisted in his pursuit of holiness.

President Calvin Coolidge was one of the “accidental” presidents.  As Vice President he succeeded Warren G. Harding, who died in office.  He was nick-named “silent Cal,” because he rarely said more than was necessary under the circumstances.  It is reported that once at a social event a lady informed him that she had made a wager that she could get more than two words out of him.  His reply was, “you lose.”  Yet his quote on persistence still resonates today, we could use a bit more of it.  “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Although I believe he misrepresented the word omnipotent, I think you get the point.  Paul got it long before silent Cal did.  And so should we.

My Advice – Is Paul’s advice.   “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”  So press on.