Categories
Christian Living Truth

A Surprise in the Fireplace

It had been a long weekend at the church where I served as an associate pastor. I’d spent most of the day, and all Saturday night, with a family whose father was in intensive care at a local hospital. Sunday was, well, Sunday—the busiest day of the week for me.

So on Monday (my day off), I slept in for some much needed rest. But even with the extra sleep I still felt frazzled; folks in the ministry call this “compassion fatigue.” Feeling emotionally depleted from the long weekend of pastoral ministry, I decided to take a walk at a beautiful Christian conference center nearby.

But as I made my way around a scenic tree-lined trail, wouldn’t you know, it started to rain! I quickly went from a stroll to a sprint, ducking into a nearby multi-purpose building—that just happened to be unlocked. It was a gymnasium with a kitchen and reception area: a “cafegymatorium.”😀

Wanting to stay dry, I continued to walk laps around the basketball court, using a massive stone fireplace as a waypoint. But then I heard something: a fluttering sound coming from behind the darkened glass doors covering the hearth. A bird had somehow fallen down the chimney and was unable to escape.

I cautiously opened the doors. Stepping back quickly, I felt the breeze as he flew past me—into the empty gym. It was a male cardinal, flashing brilliant red! He circled near the ceiling, trying to figure out where he was.

Tip-toeing over to a side entrance, I opened the door. The rain had stopped and the sun shone brightly—bathing a corner of the building in light. But mister curious cardinal wouldn’t take the exit; he continued his holding pattern, looping the gym over and over. So I stepped away from the door and froze, still as a statue. Finally, my “brother from another mother” flew out the door to freedom.


I call my hapless bird friend “brother” because I’ve been where he was: trapped and unable to free myself alone. Leaving full time ministry, a failed marriage, both were impenetrable doors blocking my escape. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks from your own life.

The point is, Jesus Christ is the only person who can truly set us free. And He opens the doors with one word:

So Jesus said to those who believed in Him, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31 (GNT) emphasis mine

Kind reader, may I remind you that all the truth you’ll ever need is found in Christ Himself? At the cusp of His own crucifixion He comforted His dearest friends with these words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”— John 14:1 (NIV) And when Doubting Thomas questioned this, Jesus answered with a one sentence summary:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 (NIV)

It’s 2022 and Jesus is STILL the way; we don’t need another road map. God’s best to you always. Thank you for reading. 🙏❤️

Categories
Christian Living Prayer

Pull Boldly!

When I saw this witty little sign on the main doors of our school library, I immediately thought, “Now THAT’S biblical!”

The first scripture that came to mind was Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”- (NIV) A man whom many call the “Prince of Preachers” has a wonderful illustration for this verse.

Prayer pulls the rope below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly. Others give but an occasional pluck at the rope. But he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously, with all his might.

Charles Spurgeon

Frankly, I’ve said many prayers that had all the firmness of a limp noodle. The disciples apparently had some moments like these with Jesus. Near the end of His earthly life, He says. almost chiding them, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” —John 16:24 (NIV)

However, there have been other times when the Holy Spirit moved me to pray boldly. As I recall, each of these powerful requests was answered, “Yes.” The book of James reminds us that the prophet Elijah was a regular human, just like us. And when he prayed earnestly, things happened—MAJOR things. “The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.” — James 5:16 (GNT)

Kind reader, I will cease my ramblings with a closing question: Is there something you need to ask of Jesus?

Pull Boldly!

Categories
Christian Living

Postage Due

The faculty prayer group at my school meets every Tuesday morning. Last week, one of my colleagues brought three cards for everyone to sign. Two were get well cards (for other faculty members), and one was a sympathy card for a teacher who recently lost her father.

The dozen or so people who attended our prayer group that day signed the cards, but there was still plenty of room left for more well-wishes. So I asked one of our assistant principals to help spread the word to the rest of our faculty. She sent an email inviting everyone (over 100 staff members) to sign, and left the cards by our head principal’s in-basket.

When I picked up the three cards two days later they were completely covered with handwritten words of encouragement! All that was left to do was to put them in the mail.

But I forgot to bring stamps.

“Maybe I have some in my desk,” I said to myself, hopefully. Now, I’m one of those people who stuffs their desk drawers full of anything that might even REMOTELY be needed in the future. But did I save any stamps?

I foraged through the drawers one at time—rooting around like a frisky ferret. Nothing. Finally, I checked the top middle drawer. And right there in the tray, next to the paper clips, were some first class forever stamps.

Wanna guess how many?

Not two, not four but THREE. Exactly the number I needed! I said a joyful, “Thank you, Jesus!” and got those letters in the mail.

Where God guides, God provides.

The Lord knew all along when I would need those stamps. I can’t even remember when I left them in that drawer! But they were still there when the time came.

I’m not saying the creator of the universe is like a gumball machine. But He DOES get the job done—especially when His glory is at stake (Isaiah 48:11b).

It’s impressive that God also used three people, who each filled distinct roles, to make this ministry opportunity happen. One thoughtful teacher provided the cards, our assistant principal got out the word, and I put them in the mail.

“By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped” Ecclesiastes 4:12

Do you have any “three stranded rope” friends in your life? I hope so. Humans (especially Christian ones) are designed for interdependence—not just with God, but also with each other (Romans 12:19).