Seizing our Opportunities
John Wesley had a fleeting relationship with money. He gave it away almost as soon as he received it. It was his belief that “riches and happiness seldom dwell together.” Wesley could have been a very rich man. His best selling medical books alone could have been a secure source of income. But he would have none of it.
A noted sculptor had been trying to convince Wesley to pose for a bust. Wesley refused until the artist offered him ten guineas, or several day’s wages, for a ten-minute sitting.
Wesley accepted the offer and eight minutes into the sitting, the sculptor had “the most perfect bust [he] had ever taken,” and immediately paid Wesley the ten guineas. Wesley was quite perplexed by the ease with which he had made the money, saying, “I never till now earned money so speedily; but what shall I do with it?”
As Wesley left the man’s studio, he came across a woman and her three children who were crying bitterly. Upon inquiry, Wesley discovered that the woman’s husband was being sent to prison for a debt of eighteen shillings.
He paid the debt, freeing the husband, and then he continued to Giltspur Street Compter prison where he asked the jailer to show him the most miserable person in his charge. The starving man presented to him was devouring some potato skins. He had been there many months for the debt of a half guinea. Wesley paid the man’s debt and gave him an extra half guinea for a new start.
Then another desperate man was presented to him. He sat in the prison with his dead child and his wife who was dying from consumption. Wesley arranged for the man’s release and provided food and medical care for him. The man’s wife died, but once freed from prison, the grateful man regained his health, started again in business and eventually began a fund for the relief of other debtors.
John Wesley’s only preoccupation with money was to whom should he give it.
When you and I get a bonus at work or have an opportunity to earn some extra, what do we think about? A vacation? Some new electronic gizmo? A new set of golf clubs? The apostle Paul urges us in Ephesians 5:15 to “be careful how we live .. making the most of every opportunity”. Remember everything you have God gave you. How can you use it today for His glory!
Have a great week!
On a cold January morning, thirteen men made a routine descent into the Sago coal mine in West Virginia. The chain of events that set off an explosion in that mine is not altogether clear. For forty-two hours, the men were trapped beneath the surface. When their families heard the news, they gathered together, desperately praying that the rescue efforts would be successful.
The headline in the first-edition copies of USA Today proclaimed ALL ALIVE, but by the time most people got to the newsstands, the worst of all fears was realized. Twelve men would never again see the faces of their loved ones. All the men perished. All but one, that is..Randy McCloy.
Randy suffered severe carbon monoxide poisoning and was at the doorway of death when someone finally reached him. His rescue was the one glimmer of light in the dark shadows of this collapsed mine.
He spent weeks in a coma and months in a rehabilitation hospital. Gradually, his limited responses returned. The most telling was the day his wife, Anna, stood at his bedside. She knew he could not talk, so she said, “Randy, if you know who I am, give me a kiss.” To her shock and joy, Randy responded to her request. He leaned up and kissed her.
His first definitive response was a gesture of love.
As I reflected on this story, I was reminded of the incredible power of love. For all of the damage done to Randy’s lungs, nothing could stop the power of love from beating in his heart. In many ways, it was love that delivered him from death’s doorway to a hospital room and then to his home for a reunion with the family he so deeply loved.
Gradually, Randy began to talk about the hours he spent beneath the surface with his fellow workers. He was reluctant to discuss the details of the final moments of his friends and coworkers, but he did speak of the actions of these men as death approached. In particular, Randy said, all of the men wrote farewell notes to their loved ones. He said, “It’s a hard thing to have to say good-bye to someone on a piece of paper.” Randy himself had written a note in which he declared his love and affection for Anna, told his son and namesake Randall to “trust in the Lord,” and encouraged his daughter Isabelle to “stay sweet”. In this love letter, he told his family that he did not want them to grieve long but to be happy and live.
As these men took their final breaths in the darkness, they painstakingly scrawled out love letters to the ones they would leave behind. If you were writing such a letter what would you say?
Jesus knew He was on His way to the cross as He met with His disciples one last time in a secluded upper room. His final words were encouraging and hopeful. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14: 1-3)
What a promise! Mine explosions, terrorist attacks, disease, accidents ... nothing can keep us from spending eternity in our Father’s house with Jesus. Be encouraged. We are loved and we know how the story ends!
Have a great week!
My nose doesn’t work quite as well as it used to. Maybe the result of aging or a constant battle with allergies, but there are some smells that manage to get through. I can smell brownies or cookies baking a mile away. I love the smell of coffee brewing, or steaks grilling, or bread baking. I can still remember from my childhood the smell of bread baking at the “Rainbow Bread” plant near our home.
My wife loves the smell of lilacs in our yard and when we go on bike rides she is quick to recognize the smell of honeysuckle when we pass a patch along the trail. Those are pleasing aromas.
Did you know that God has a keen sense of smell? In the Old Testament God says that the various sacrifices, when offered properly with faith, were a pleasing aroma to Him (i.e. Genesis 8:20-21). On the other hand He says through the prophet Amos that the half-hearted religious hypocrisy of His people was a stench in His nostrils (Amos 5:21). I particularly like what Paul says about the Philippians in 4:18, about their gift to Him in His time of need – “I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Did you realize that your acts of kindness are a fragrant, sweet smelling aroma to God?
When we intentionally reach out to meet someone’s need we fill up the throne room of heaven with a fragrant smell. What kind of aroma are you putting off this morning? The stench of selfishness or the sweet smell of kindness?
Look for some opportunities this week to improve the air quality of heaven. You might even find that others around you may be blessed by your aroma. When Mary broke her box of perfume and poured it out on Jesus, it says that “the house was filled with the fragrance of perfume” (John 12:3).
Have a great week!
I recently read this amazing story about the battle for independence fought by our forefathers. I thought it would be a fitting story for this 4th of July week. The story also speaks of the need to be prepared and ready to engage the enemy in battle.
In December 1776, the fate of America hung by the slimmest of threads. General George Washington’s makeshift army had suffered a series of humiliating and costly battlefield defeats... His forces shrunk from17,000 to a mere 3,000 exhausted and underfed men, some without coats or shoes to protect them from the harsh winter. From his camp near the Falls of Trenton, a dispirited General Washington wrote his brother John, “I think the game is pretty near up.”
Washington needed a victory. One more battlefield loss and his army would be disbanded. His last hope - and America’s - lay across the Delaware River in the sleepy town of Trenton, New Jersey.
The town was guarded by Hessian mercenaries – soldiers imported from Germany to fight for the British. The Hessians were commanded by Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall, a vile, hard-drinking man without conscience or honor. During the battle in New York, Colonel Rall had ordered his soldiers to slaughter surrendering Americans.
General Washington gambled that the poorly disciplined Hessians would be so hung-over after celebrating Christmas that Trenton would fall into his hands like an overripe plum. On Christmas day, Washington divided his meager forces into three units. As Washington and his men marched toward McKonkey’s Ferry, some wore rags in the place of boots. Their footsteps left a trail of blood.
The crossing of the river began at two in the afternoon. It took 14 hours to move all of Washington’s men, horses and light cannons across the Delaware. A heavy sleet storm and large ice floes made the passage treacherous and miserable. It was well after 3 A.M. when the entire force was finally after on the New Jersey side.
A British loyalist spotted Washington’s army and sent a handwritten warning by messenger to the Hessians. The messenger hurried to Trenton and delivered the message to Colonel Rall. The colonel, who was playing cards with his aides, tucked the message into his pocket without reading it.
Washington’s army reached Trenton at 8A.M., catching the Hessian guards drunk and sleeping at their posts. Riding out in the front of his troops, General Washington shouted, “March on, my brave fellows! After me!” And he turned his horse and led his men into the thick of battle.
Hearing shouts and gunfire, an astonished Colonel Rall staggered out into the streets. “What is this?” he shouted in German. Moments later, he was felled by a gunshot. His men carried him into the Queen Street Methodist Church, where he died. One of his men noticed the corner of a note sticking out of the colonel’s pocket. The man opened the note and it read, The American army is marching on Trenton.
The Hessians took heavy loses – more than 200 dead and wounded – and quickly surrendered. The Americans suffered only 4 casualties and took nearly1,000 Hessians prisoners. The course of the war was completely changed that day, and America exists as a free nation because of George Washington’s daring gambit at Trenton.
I can’t help but wonder if we as believes are prepared for the enemy’s attacks. Do we have our armor on? (see Ephesians 6:10-18). Are we ready, like Washington, to take advantage of strategic opportunities? Perhaps most important, should our Commander in Chief, blow the trumpet and break through the Eastern sky, would we be prepared to join in the battle? Let’s be prepared. Maranatha! (Come, oh Lord!)
Have a great week!
Tuesday Morning on the Run
Inspirational thoughts from Pastor Barry Lawson