Categories
character Christian Living

Guard Your Heart

Growing up, my house was the neighborhood hub for summer fun. Friends came to play basketball—every day but Sunday—and lined up afterwards for my mom’s homemade popsicles. The front drive was always abuzz with activity.

I think my parents liked it this way, because they knew where my brothers and I were, and could also keep a watchful eye on everyone. They were teachers (off in the summer) and almost everyone in our little town knew them.

Occasionally, after the last pick-up game, when everyone had gone home, my dad would warn me about someone who’d been there that day. “Son, I heard the Perkins kid using the F-word and saw him throwing elbows under the rim. That’s not the kind of friend or player you want to be.”

I actually thought *Jimmy Perkins was kinda cool. But even as a teenager, I respected my father’s advice; he was a good judge of character. Sure enough, later that fall Jimmy got kicked off the team and suspended from school for punching our basketball coach in the face!

Awhile later, I came across the apostle Paul’s warning to the Galatians: “A little yeast works through the whole bunch of dough,” (Gal. 5:9) and I realized what my father had done: he protected me by pointing out someone who was a bad influence.

There’s actually quite a bit in the Bible about how much damage a little leaven can do. Paul used the analogy to clue the Galatians in to the dangers of legalism, but said almost the same words to caution the Corinthians about tolerating a totally different situation. (1 Cor. 5:6-7) Jesus Himself weighed in on the issue. He told his disciples to, “guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” who added their own pious rules to God’s law (Matt. 16:6-12).

The point is, we need to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). One step daily with God in the right direction can transform your life. However, walking backwards has the opposite effect.

I like how fellow blogger Chris Hendrix puts it in his post Defeating Hidden Sins:

“Guarding my heart became something I did rather than just something I read about in the Bible. If every sin was hiding in my heart, waiting for the right moment and circumstances to align, I needed to be more cautious.”

Chris Hendrix

AMEN! Guarding your heart is something you DO.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life

Prov. 4:23

To read about my own personal misjudgment with the proverbial yeast, please see the post, Just a Little Off Course.

*not his real name.

Photo by Spencer Lind on Pexels.com

Categories
courage Perseverance

She Had No Quit

“But I want you to keep your head no matter what happens. Don’t give up when times are hard. Work to spread the good news. Do everything God has given you to do.” 2 Timothy 4:5

Industrious. Positive. Determined. These are words that describe my grandmother. A farmer’s daughter who became a farmer’s wife, she did not lead an easy life. But it was a fruitful one.

The Sandy community, where both my grandparents lived most of their lives, is in the southwest corner of Oklahoma. The gritty soil is basically good for growing one cash crop–cotton. Beyond that (especially back in the day) it was simply a good place to get your car, or even tractor, stuck.

Sometimes when I’m out for a long run and I think I can’t go any farther, I picture my grandmother—headed out to the hen house in the middle of the night with her favorite hoe—because something was after her chickens.

She HAD NO QUIT. It just wasn’t in her nature.

This is what the Apostle Paul wanted to impress upon his young protege, Timothy: whatever happens, don’t quit. Fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12); fan into flame the gift of God which is in you (2 Timothy 1:6); endure hardship like a good soldier of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).

Isn’t it amazing when someone’s name describes their character? This was certainly true for Timothy. His name means, “honoring God” or “honored by God.” My grandmother’s first name was Eunice, which means “good victory.”

I can honestly say she “fought the good fight of faith” and completed everything the Lord gave her to do. And she did it with a positive attitude.

It’s understandable to worry a little, but you must remain positive—even if you don’t feel like it.

Eunice Estes

Grandmother died in 2012 at the age of 100, after spending the last 30 years of her life legally blind. Yet she rarely complained about anything.

Still today, I hear her cheerful voice saying something like, “Everything’s gonna be alright.” And I believe it.

So, please stay strong, my friends. Don’t. Give. Up.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Photo by Hưng Nguyễn Việt on Unsplash

Categories
Christian Living

Master of His Craft

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Abraham Lincoln

Our youngest son washes dishes at an upscale restaurant in the city where he lives. The other night we took him out to dinner and I asked him, “How’s your dishwashing job going?” You could’ve heard a pin drop. “Dad, it’s not just dishwashing. I’m the executive director of cleanliness and order!”

He went on for the next five minutes about how every type of squeaky clean dish and utensil has its proper place. This way the line cooks and servers always know where to find things. “Proper dishwashing is an art,” said our son Clark, with an unmistakable passion in his voice. “You have to LIKE the dishes.”

His older brother later told me that the head chef raves about how passionately Clark approaches his craft. Apparently everyone knows better than to mess with the flow in his dish pit. “Dude, haven’t you ever played the video game Tetris?!” our son says to the “non-executive” back-up dishwasher.

Such passion for a job many consider a no-brainer is inspiring. It reminds me of Paul’s words to the Colossians:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” — Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

In my Christian service, I sometimes feel like I’m stuck back in the dish pit, doing the same monotonous job over and over. I long to be an “out front” leader, like the apostle Peter, but keep finding myself in the background, like his brother, Andrew.

Does anyone even know I’m back here?

Your job (or mine) in God’s “kitchen” may not be high-profile or glamorous, but somebody’s gotta do the “dishes”. And a good dish washer is like the drummer in a band, says Clark. “As long as he plays, pretty much nobody notices. But watch what happens to the music if he stops.”

Kind reader, whatever the Lord has given you to do, please continue to serve in HIS strength with ALL your heart, mind and soul. And I will do the same.

Your Work in God’s Kingdom Matters!

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” – Hebrews 6:10 (NIV)

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash