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 Blog

The “answer”

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash

I couldn’t sleep the other night. So I turned on the living room television, but found mostly infomercials. Some guy with a mullet and a bow tie hoped to sell me, “The Answer.”

“Yes! For just two easy payments of $39.95, you can possess the greatest wealth building secrets of all time–conveniently printed on three laminated cards.”

The huckster claimed he carried these cards in his back pocket at all times; they allowed him to make thousands of dollars while he slept.

“Your pajamas have pockets? There’s not an app for that?”

There’s nothing like talking back to a TV at 2 a.m.😉

After about 30 minutes, I returned to dreamland. But something from that silly infomercial stuck in my head: the idea of making money in your sleep. There’s a passage in the Bible about God working while we sleep, I thought. Sure enough, I found it over breakfast.

It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

Psalm 127:2 (NIV)

What strikes me about this verse is the fact that God GIVES. One of the cross references is Isaiah 55:1–where the Lord invites everyone to “Come to the waters and drink at NO COST.”

Inspired, I dug deeper into the Bible to find more things that God gives us. Here’s a sampling:

  • God gives us songs in the night (Job 35:10).
  • He gives food to every creature (Psalm 136:25).
  • The Lord gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness to those who please Him. (Ecc. 6:22).
  • God gives strength to the weary (Isaiah 42.29).
  • Jesus gives us peace that’s not like the world’s (John 14:27).
  • He gives us life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:25).

Of course, all these things aren’t REALLY without cost; they are free to us because Christ already paid for them. That could be a discussion in itself.

In the meantime, isn’t it wonderful that God freely offers His best to us?

You don’t need the “answer” to anything if you know the God of everything!

Categories
Christian Living Faith

God Believes in You

I once heard of a small business who chooses its employee of the month 30 days in advance. And for *Mrs. Clarice, the owner, it’s purposefully random. She draws the name out of a hat at the first weekly team meeting of the month, and no employee gets chosen twice until everyone has a turn.

“But what if the person whose name you draw doesn’t deserve to be employee of the month?” asked a puzzled television news reporter. “Every single one of them has always lived up to the honor,” said Clarice with a wink. “I have faith in my people.”

God does that. He puts faith in His people and entrusts them with things —BIG things. Like when He told Abram, “To your descendants I will give this land.” – Genesis 12:7 (NIV)

He also restores and recalibrates people to their REAL life mission. Think Moses or Paul. You probably know all the Bible stories, so I won’t write a Sunday School lesson, but I do have a question:

With what has God entrusted you?


Here’s a brief story of my time as heaven’s employee of the month.

The evening before I assumed a key leadership position in my church, I fell asleep worried if I was up to the task. Later, I had a vivid dream.

As I walked through a crowded congregation, Brother Bob–a pastor from my youth–came up to me carrying a large ring of keys. As he pressed them into my hand he said, “Here you go. Now, take care of things.”

Of course, I spent most of my devotional time the next morning thinking about the dream! It really felt like God was sending me a message. But what?

Bro. Bob handed me KEYS. That must mean something!

I immediately thought of Peter’s confession of Christ in Matthew 16. Jesus told him, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:19 (NIV)

Now I understood! Bro. Bob–a much loved mentor from my youth–represented God. And by handing me the keys, He was saying, “I am empowering you to do this job. I have faith in you.”

I served in that church leadership position for two years. At times it was certainly a stretch (for me personally), but I never forgot about the proverbial keys in my pocket.

With God’s help, I lived up to the honor.

Now back to the question:

With what has God entrusted you?

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 1:6 (NIV)


*Mrs. Clarice, her company and the inquisitive reporter came out of my overactive imagination. But isn’t it a neat idea?! 😊


First Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Second photo credit unknown.