In sunshine and in rain, drunk or sober, the rugby players of Wales pause before every game to sing a hymn! The hymn, written by William Williams, is “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” If a team does well, its players often repeat their rendition during or after a match, standing to sing “Bread of Heaven, feed me now and ever more.” Why would mostly tipsy competitors in a public athletic match sing such a powerful hymn with passion so intense that tears flow freely among singers and spectators alike?
Sadly it’s the last remnant of the Welsh revival that began in 1904. At the time, the people of Wales worked at their trades and labored in the coal mines as usual – but spontaneous outbreaks of worship became the norm. They couldn’t even complete a rugby match without breaking out to worship to God.
The music lives on, but the passion for God that inspired it didn’t cross the generation line. This outward marker of the God-ward passion of a previous generation has become an empty tradition.
Jesus on several occasions rebuked the Pharisees and called them hypocrites for following their human traditions rather than the Commandments of God. He accuses them of “honoring God with their lips” while their “hearts are far from Him” (Mark 7:6-8).
We must be careful that we are passing on to our children and grandchildren genuine faith. May they see in us genuine faith and love for Jesus, not just empty tradition.
Have a great week.
A wife says to her husband of fifty years as they lie in bed one night, “when we were young, you used to hold my hand each night.” Slowly, a little irritable, his hand reaches out until it finds hers.
“And when we were young,” she goes on, “you used to snuggle up against me in bed.” A little more slowly, her husband’s body creaks and turns until it is nestling against hers.
“And when we were young, you used to nibble on my ear.” Abruptly the covers are thrown back, and the man lurches out of bed. “Where are you going?” she asks, a little hurt. “To get my teeth,” he grumbles.
It’s one thing to be romantic and nibble on an ear, when you’re twenty-one, with bubbling hormones on a star-lit night with soft music playing. It’s quite another when your old, and achy, your sweetie is wearing a hearing aid, you have false teeth, and the room smells of eau de Ben Gay.
I often remind young couples that I marry that they need to be committed for the long-haul. Marriage is not a sprint, but a marathon. The vows say “till death do us part.” None of us know when that is coming, but hopefully it is a long way off. It takes work to keep the candle of romance burning.
Life has a way of getting in the way. Busyness, and kids, and responsibilities, and physical challenges all conspire to sap the romance out of your relationship. It will take some creative effort to keep the spark alive. (You have to give the old guy in my initial story credit – at least he was going to get his teeth!) So here’s my advice for the week. Put your teeth in (if necessary) forgo the Ben Gay for an evening and go nibble on your sweetheart’s ear. Let her (or him) know that you still care.
Have a great week!
We are serious about some forms of purity in American Society. A whole department of the federal government, the Food and Drug Administration, is charged with monitoring and protecting the purity of what we eat. But our standards of purity are not always what we might hope. Here are the federal guidelines of purity for a few familiar products:
Apple butter: If the mold count is 12 percent or more, if it averages 4 rodent hairs per 100 grams or more, if it averages 5 or more whole insects (not counting mites, aphids, or scale insects) per 100 grams, the FDA will pull it from the shelves. Otherwise, it will go right onto your English muffins.
Coffee beans: (Caffeine addicts beware!) Coffee beans will get withdrawn from the market if an average of 10 percent or more are insect-infested or if there is one live insect in each of 2 or more immediate containers. (The FDA says people just don’t like getting too many live insects with their coffee beans – one container is okay, but with more than that we draw the line.)
Mushrooms: Mushrooms can’t be sold if there is an average of 20 or more maggots of any size per 15 grams of dried mushrooms.
Fig paste; If there are more than 13 insect heads per 100 grams of fig paste in each of 2 or more subsamples, the FDA ruthlessly tosses the whole batch. (Apparently other insect body parts are tolerable, but we don’t want to be staring at too many insect heads sticking out of the sides of our fig Newton’s.)
Hot Dogs: You don’t want to really know!
One of the beatitudes we’ve been examine in our Sunday AM series is “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. (Matthew 5:7) What does it mean to be pure in heart? It means unmixed uncontaminated and undivided.
The apostle James calls this being “double minded or living a life of divided loyalties. James says that a double minded person is “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6)
In the movie City Slickers, Billy Crystal plays a confused, dissatisfied thirty-some-thing character with a vague sense that life is passing him by. Jack Palance, asks Crystal if he would like to know the secret of life. “It’s this,” Palance says, holding up a single finger. “The secret of life is your finger?” asks Crystal. “It’s one thing,” Palance replies. “The secret of life is pursuing one thing.”
Somehow this resonates deeply with Billy Crystal’s character. His life is scattered. He is torn between his obligation to his family and his desire for career advancement; between his need for security and his appetite for excitement. He is divided somehow. His life is about many things, and so, he senses, it is about nothing. So what is that one thing? Jack Palance can’t tell Billy Crystal. He says, “You have to find it for yourself.”
Jack Palance may not know, but Jesus makes it clear. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
Put Jesus first, make Him the one thing and everything else will fall into place. Ask Jesus to give you a single, undivided pure heart that is focused on Him. It is the key to a fulfilling and amazing life.
Have a great week!
May 10, 2016
No Reason to Fear
Max Lucado tells the story of a missionary in Brazil who discovered a tribe of Indians in a remote part of the jungle. Unfortunately, the people of this village were dying of some contagious disease. A mission hospital was located about 15 miles from the village and the missionary decided that if he could get them there they might be able to save them. Those who were still healthy could be inoculated and the sick could get treatment.
But there was only one problem. In order to get to the hospital the Indians would have to cross the river which they would not do. They believed the river was inhabited by evil spirits and if they were to enter the waters they were sure it would mean certain death.
The missionary tried in vain to convince them that he had crossed the river and had arrived unharmed. He took them down to the bank and stuck his hand in, but THEY STILL WOULD’NT BELIEVE HIM.
He waded out into the water and splashed the water on his face. STILL THEY WERE UNCONVINCED. Finally, he turned dove into the water. He swam beneath the surface and emerged on the other side. Triumphantly he punched his fist into the air. The Indians on the bank broke into cheers and then followed him across.
Jesus saw a world enslaved by the fear of death. He explained that death was nothing to fear, but they wouldn’t believe him.
He touched a widow’s son and brought him back to life. He raised Jarius’ daughter, but still they doubted.
Even when he called back Lazarus who’d been dead 4 days, it wasn’t enough to convince them. NO JESUS HAD TO ENTER THE WATERS HIMSELF. When he broke through the surface on Easter Sunday morning, it was time to celebrate. The Victory had been won!
Have a great week!
In October 2008, Dr. Sean George, a medical specialist, was driving from Esperance to Kalgoorlie in the West Australian goldfields when he started feeling chest pain. He called his wife, Sherry, to let her know, and then drove himself to the nearest clinic. Sean’s heart stopped beating. Fifty-five minutes of CPR and electric shock therapy couldn’t bring him back. His death was called when Sherry arrived.
Walking into the room, Sherry nearly collapsed in shock seeing her husband lying motionless with a flat line on the ECG monitor. “Sherry, I’m very sorry but Sean is gone,” the emergency physician said. I’ll give you the last two minutes to say goodbye.” Sherry walked to the table, picked up Sean’s cold hand and in desperation prayed a silent prayer. “Lord Jesus,” she whispered, “Sean is only thirty-nine years old. I am only thirty-eight. We have a ten year-old boy. I need a miracle.”
The medical staff struggled to make sense of what happened next.
At that moment, medical staff reported, Sean’s lifeless body took a deep breath and his heartbeat returned on the monitor. Medical equipment readings confirm the claim. Sean told me his story a few months later as a completely well man.
Sean George’s resuscitation is proof of what God can do. This wasn’t his ultimate resurrection. But miracles like this remind us of what our God is capable of. As he once told his good friend Martha before resurrecting her brother, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). This past Sunday we reminded ourselves that the tomb of our Lord is empty. Because He lives, we have the amazing hope that we too will live forever.
Even though these earthly bodies may ache, and wear out and eventually fail us, we know that one day we too shall live again. Death will not ultimately win. We will rise victorious In Jesus Christ.
That is the Good News this morning. Reflect on that as you go through your day.
Have a great week!
Tuesday Morning on the Run
Inspirational thoughts from Pastor Barry Lawson