It initially seems like a cruel joke. Poor children in Atlanta, many of whom are in families that cannot afford to buy a Christmas tree, are brought into a building. Each child is seated alone in a chair behind a table. An adult conducts an interview separately asking each child what they hope to get this Christmas. Next the children are asked what they think their parents might like. After this information is received, the adult brings in two packages. When the children open the first package it contains the gift they hoped to receive. When they open the second present it is what the parent would have wanted. As wonderment fills juvenile eyes, a catch is sprung—each child can only choose one of the two gifts.
Jude 20,21—But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.
Revelation 3:2—Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God.
Stinking water is a sign of death. A putrid pond occurs because there is no intake of fresh water, no stream or bubbling spring that pours in to replenish and invigorate. Soon algae proliferate until the oxygen necessary to sustain life is slowly choked out and brown slime wins the day.
I believe God calls us to be comfortable but not in the way the world interprets the word. The world gets comfortable in a plush recliner. Jesus never said, “Take up your couch and follow Me.” The world defines comfortable as the absence of stress or anxiety and by the possession of adequate resources so as not to be deprived. Paul said, “ I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need” (Philippians 4:11b, 12). For the Christian, to be comfortable means to believe that the grace God apportions me is all I need for life on this world with the expectation that I will live forever in heaven with a new body free of pain and sorrow and in the presence of the One who loves me with an eternal love
Imagine being told you are headed to Iraq and you may not see your family for a year. You are trained with specific skills and given an important mission. Once you get past the emotional struggle of leaving your family you focus in on the task ahead of you. But everything changes. Instead of deploying overseas your unit ends up at Fort Lewis and you and your fellow combat engineers are assigned to work as gate guards for the installation. Meet SSG Osborne! Such was the fate he and his fellow National Guardsmen from Oregon encountered.
It was a cold evening on the high ground. I briefed my platoon sergeant and my orders were clear. Keep guards awake through the night. We are on the perimeter and cannot afford to let the enemy overrun our lines. Around 2:00 a.m. I awoke. Quietly I left my position to walk the line. They were all asleep. Position by position I grabbed their M16’s and machine guns until I had every weapon I could snatch. Then in a cold fury that comes when life-saving orders are disobeyed I watched in silence as my embarrassed platoon sergeant rousted every squad and ripped them with words on fire.
Sometimes it’s hard to really know how much you love something until you lose it. We knew today was coming and dreaded it—things just won’t be the same.
For the last six nights my kids have slept in a tent I set up for them in our backyard. I figured they would last one night. But no—they loved the adventure and asked each evening to sleep outside. Even Dusty, our middle-aged lab retriever seemed more than happy to join them.
Philippians 2:3--Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
I wonder if the “desert” experiences so many Christians endure is not hastened by an unbalanced perspective of the Christian life. If we always go to church expecting to be challenged, read our Bibles anticipating profound inspiration, enter prayer insisting God meet our conditions or look for some new battle to win, are we not in danger of trying to create the “mountain-top” euphoria that is not the stuff of daily living. This is not to say we cannot experience daily joy—we should. The test of our commitment to Christ and our ability to be useful to the Master is measured by our willingness to serve in the ordinary not the extraordinary. If we will be content to serve when life is devoid of fireworks we will model the essence of what it means to live a Spirit-filled life. God is not looking for His children to exalt the ecstatic He is looking for faithfulness. Perhaps the key to being faithful begins with being content.