“I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure,” said Eric Liddell to his sister Jenny in the movie Chariots of Fire. Eric was a famous Scottish Olympic champion in short distance and a missionary to China. Although his sister was urging him to return to China as soon as possible, he knew God had given him a gift. By choosing to delay his return and run in the 1924 Paris Olympics, Eric was convinced he was honoring God by pursuing his calling as a world-class runner.
“You can’t get blood from a rock.” That saying, used sometimes in my part of the world, means that we can’t get from another person or situation what simply isn’t there. For example, I might say, “I can’t get blood from a rock” when I’m trying to collect a debt from someone who doesn’t have the money to repay me. Trying to acquire cash from someone who isn’t capable of providing it is impossible.
When our children were young, my wife and I gave them money to buy Christmas presents for us. Why not simply buy the socks or slippers ourselves? Because it meant a great deal to our kids. They wanted to give as well as receive presents, even if it meant using our money.
From overhead, a security camera captured an unseen force as it buckled the floor of the National Corvette Museum in the US. Suddenly a sinkhole yawned from below, devouring several prized sports cars. Among the buried vehicles was the one-millionth Corvette ever produced.
I enjoy reading lists of names in the Bible. In the past, they seemed pointless to me. In fact, I would skim over them to get to the “meaty” stuff in the passage. One day, however, I realized that all those names were there for a reason. God had selected individuals and involved them by name in His Word. What an honor when your name was chosen for positive reasons!
As a preacher, I’m rightly concerned with the content of each of my Sunday sermons. I must confess, however, that I can fall into the trap of being overly concerned with what people think of my message—not whether or not the message is clearly understood or whether the people and the Lord Himself are blessed by what I say. I can become more concerned with the goal of having church members like what I say and approve of my message. Sometimes a furrowed brow in the congregation, especially from someone I know and respect spiritually, can seriously interrupt my flow and cause me no small amount of consternation.
John Newton, slave trader turned pastor and hymnwriter, believed in “large asking” when it came to prayers. He encouraged many with the archaic words in this verse from the hymn “Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare”: “Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring, for His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much.”
Edward Kimball was a Sunday school teacher determined to win his class to Christ. A young Dwight Moody would fall asleep during his lessons, but Kimball remained resolute and even met Moody at the shoe store where he worked and urged him to give his life to Christ. Kimball left the store thinking he’d failed miserably, but because of that encounter, Dwight Lyman Moody did commit his life to Christ, and he became one of the most prolific preachers of his time. Moody’s conversion and ministry places him in a select group of influential evangelists who were used by God to bring millions to Christ: Frederick Brotherton Meyer, J. Wilbur Chapman, Billy Sunday, Mordecai Ham, and Billy Graham.
One evening my family and I were watching an episode of the TV show Brain Games. It had a segment in which they tested the ability of people to make choices. One group went to an ice cream parlor that featured 50-60 flavors of the delicious dessert. The other group went to a shop that had only three flavors. The group who had to choose from many flavors experienced more anxiety than the group who had just a few selections. Having choices no longer liberated but debilitated.
The X Prize Foundation attempts to solve the world’s problems by offering large cash prizes to whatever team can fix them first. Winning teams have built a spacecraft that can fly beyond the earth’s atmosphere twice in 2 weeks and cars that achieve 100 miles per gallon. Other teams are trying to land a robot on the moon, build a machine that can quickly sequence each person’s genome, and create a portable device that can diagnose a patient’s condition. These goals will most likely be met, for people will work hard for $10 million.
Imagine going on a missions trip without your luggage. No change of clothing! Oh, and no money or credit card either. So, you can forget about buying the basic necessities you might need while you’re away.
You might be in one of those times in life where you’re not sure what to do. Do I go to school? Do I get a job or pursue another career? In his book The Way I Was Made, songwriter Chris Tomlin writes, “Right now, the God who made you knows your heart, knows your desires, your strengths, your limitations . . . and this God has only good in mind for your future.” Chris points to Jeremiah 29:11 which reveals that God has good plans for us.
My oldest son is 10, and I still kiss him on the cheek. Unfortunately, cultural forces have conspired upon my son so that he believes he’s too old for such signs of affection. That’s okay. I’ll keep giving him bear hugs and kissing his cheek, and perhaps when he’s much older and has sons of his own, he’ll surprise me with a kiss in return. The worst thing I could do is shame him for his boundaries or attempt to force him to show affection. If affection is not given freely, it isn’t true.