Category  |  obedience

Divine Connection

After recently changing cable TV service providers, my family struggled to figure out how to view our favorite content. We tried following the same steps we’d utilized with our previous company, but to no avail. Eventually it became clear that a certain connection had to be made in order to gain access to the new provider’s programming archives. The service wasn’t functional without this connection, but once it was in place we were able to unlock its full potential.

An Enduring Invitation

What did you do?” That question typically escapes the mouth of us dog owners whose furry friends have tested our patience. “Chester, did you chew up my shoe?” “Did you eat the kitty’s food . . . again?”

Freedom’s Chains

The notion of freedom seems like the ultimate noble pursuit. And it might seem to mean absolute, autonomous individuality. We can think that if we’re to achieve our full potential, we require unlimited choices, no external restrictions, and minimal authority over us. We can view ideas like commitment and responsibility as oppressive things. One of my friends feels anxious if he has to commit to dinner with us without knowing every competing option first.

Brightly Shining

In what’s considered one of the greatest Christian classics, Mere Christianity, British novelist, poet, academic, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis wrote: “There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus, if you have really handed yourself over to Him (Jesus), it must follow that you are trying to obey Him.”

Standing Out

I came across a post on a how-to website entitled “How to Stand Out as a Christian”. The article suggested believers can best represent God in the world through time in prayer, meditating on Scripture, and loving actions. As I read the post, I wondered what I might suggest on the topic. It occurred to me that what makes believers stand out from unbelievers isn’t primarily specific actions, but the quality of fruitfulness.

Christ Our Commander

During the American Civil War, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain was tasked with defending the left flank of the Union Army. Running low on ammunition and knowing that the outcome of the battle depended on the defence of their position, Chamberlain ordered his soldiers to fix bayonets and charge the enemy on foot. As outlandish as this order must have seemed, his soldiers obeyed his orders and pushed back their attackers. Through their courage, they prevented the defeat of the Union Army.

Extending Amazing Grace

After coming to faith in Jesus, John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace”, made the dramatic change from being a slave trader to influencing the eighteenth-century movement to abolish slavery in England. But he didn’t fully turn to Jesus in the moments when he first famously cried out to God when he thought his ship was sinking. In fact, Newton admitted that he probably wasn’t a true believer until much later.

Noticed

When people disobey the law, they make an effort to be inconspicuous. This wasn’t the case with a man accused of a hit-and-run accident while driving under the influence of alcohol. When an off-duty police officer stopped and approached the man’s car, he was met with an unusual surprise. “The man was covered . . . in gold spray paint.” Though the reason for the man’s glittery getup remains a mystery, I can’t help but wonder, Did he really think he could get away without anyone noticing him?

Freed for Justice

I once heard Ken Wytsma, founder of the Justice Conference, comment on the surprising skepticism many have about whether justice is central to the gospel. He reflected ironically, “The gospel is that unjust people are reconciled to a just God to be a just people . . . but justice isn’t related to the gospel?”

Looking like Jesus

When my family and I moved to a new town, I was hired as the Director of Discipleship at our new church. For me, that means that Sundays and Wednesdays are full and that on these days I have to come up with a quick dinner or leave my husband and young daughters to fend for themselves. That’s why I’m grateful we have a microwave. When I’m pressed for time, I sometimes prepare a simple meal of baked potatoes. Instead of the hour it would take to bake them in a traditional oven, we have them ready in seven to eight minutes. That’s fast—near instant gratification!

The Red Notebook

Since my children have been able to speak, I’ve recorded things they’ve said in a red notebook which now features a bent cover and curled page corners. A few times each year we read through the entries and reminisce about the (mostly) funny and (occasionally) insightful things the kids said as toddlers and young children. Some of the entries mark moments I still recall, but others would be lost forever if it weren’t for the “red notebook.”

Remembrance

I once heard about a first-time author who came to Jesus due to the stunning success of his book. The way he saw it, God escalated the book’s accomplishment beyond the merits of his talent in order to get his attention. Humbled, the author responded by seeking God and ultimately believing in Christ. What makes this story so unusual is that success more often has the opposite effect; after initial demonstrations of gratitude, we tend to forget God in the midst of plenty.

Come Back!

Years ago, a stray cat began to visit my parents’ house. After several back-door bowls of milk, they decided to adopt him and name him Theo. He enjoyed being petted and fed, but he often left for days and returned with bloodied ears, smelling like a trashcan. But my parents were always happy when he came home.

The Right Connection

“The cable isn’t working!” exclaimed the event organizer with a panicked look on her face. I was speaking at a women’s conference and had arrived early to set up my laptop. The organizer tried to connect my laptop to the projector and found the cable connection didn’t fit. I told her, “Don’t worry. I have the right cable with me.” Thankfully, in my preparations for the event I had packed the needed component. I was grateful to have the right connection!

Living and Powerful

“Where will the word / resound? Not here, there is not enough silence.” These words from T. S. Eliot’s haunting poem “Ash Wednesday” lament a world of people so hardened and afraid that they “walk among noise and deny the voice.” The poem echoes the thought of John 1, where the light of Jesus persistently shines in the darkness of a world that will not recognize Him (Isaiah 55:5,10).

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