Do You Know Your Assignment?

Do You Know Your Assignment?

Our son just competed in the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, FL.  22,000 athletes, coaches and families from all fifty states and the Caribbean islands came together for a week of hard competition in a wide variety of sports.  We are proud to say our son won a gold, silver and bronze in his athletic events and division. Jeremy was the only one to wear braces on his legs to assist with running but these games are about abilities – NOT disabilities.

One of the t-shirts team Massachusetts wore says, “We understood the assignment”. Each athlete had been chosen last year to compete in these games based on previous competitions. They practiced as individuals and teams to get in shape for their individual sports and had their eyes on the big challenge ahead. No one goes to these games hoping just to be there and watch. The goal is to win a gold medal! And more than a years’ worth of planning and preparing went on behind the scenes to make it all happen.

The Christian life is described by the apostle Paul as a race or competition much like the Greek and Roman Olympics in the first century.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)

Unfortunately, I think most modern Christians treat their assignment like a walk in the park. We go about our daily lives enjoying the good around us and then get frustrated and respond poorly when unforeseen obstacles are in our path. I certainly have been guilty of this when I am not in “spiritual shape” and preparing for each day or week ahead.

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7:17 (ESV)

We are created in different sizes, shapes, backgrounds and God has given each of us different gifts and abilities to use for His glory. The Bible tells us He calls, prepares, equips and empowers us to live godly lives that will cause others to want to know Jesus. My assignment is to run the race He prepared for me day by day with purpose and intention. Purpose is the reason why I do what I do and intention focuses the attention needed to make things happen. Each day I must prepare myself with time in prayer and in His Word and also make extra time for training in the arena He has called me to live and work.

I love the Special Olympics athlete’s oath .

Obviously not everyone will obtain a gold medal and that’s alright. We aren’t given the same strength and abilities or assignment but everyone will be held accountable for how they use what they have. There are many questions we can ask ourselves to better our position. What obstacles or sinful habits stand in my way of success today? Did I prepare well this morning, week, month? Was I focused to do the best I could? If not, what attitudes, distractions or problems do I need to bring before The Lord and deal with? Endurance comes with practice, trial and error but never by giving up. Are you “all in” to run the race or are you just sitting by the sidelines?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)


I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (ESV)

When Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

When Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

Once again our Nation is glued to the media as another horrific and incomprehensible murder of innocent children has occurred. The news reporters and politicians offer their “thought and prayers ” as a way of expressing their sorrow but it doesn’t comfort the grieving families. Our good thoughts or wishes might make us feel better but prayer has no power if it isn’t directed toward the Sovereign God of the universe who hears and sees all. I viewed quite a few memes that stated “thought and prayers” are not enough.

The Jeremiah prophesied, “Thus says the LORD: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” He depicts the wailing at the time of Israel’s exile to Babylon and it is quoted in Matthew 2:18 after King Herod slaughtered all male babies because he felt threatened by the announcement of the newborn King – Jesus. Today the parents in Texas refuse to be comforted…. there are no pat answers to explain away the terror these children faced in their last moments or why. No amount of words can fill the void in their homes because nothing will ever be the same. It is bad for our own mental health to continuously watch the news but we do need to discuss openly and honestly with our children about what happened at an age appropriate level and then shut the news off.

What to do for ourselves: 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. What you will receive: 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. What we can focus our thoughts on: 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:6-8

Following Him and reading His Word is the answer for the issues of today. Faith should lead to action. Be a positive role model to the children in your neighborhood, church, school or community. Advocate for safety and increased mental health awareness and treatment. Watch your own children and monitor their use of media, violent games and movies. Children need a sense of security and boundaries. They also need to be taught respect for authority. It is our responsibility – not the school or church!

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14

Read some of the promises of God :

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9-10

…and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:26–27

Truly pray for those who are suffering right now and share the eternal hope we have because of Jesus in word and action .

The Courage to Write

The Courage to Write

I am a proud contributor to this compilation of devotions and pleased to be included with writers such as Carol Kent, Lori Roeleveld, Katy Lee, Tessa Afshar and many more. “The Courage to Write” offers the encouragement you need to get started or continue your writing journey. You will find 62 biblically-based devotions from past faculty and members of the reNew writers community.

Your story matters. It is unique to you and maybe someone else can learn from your experience.

You can order a copy at Amazon.com using the link here or I will have copies for sale as well.

https://amzn.to/3wGzTUj

Promises You Can Count On

Promises You Can Count On

Those of us who live in the north of the country are now enjoying the beauty of Springtime. The birds have migrated back to their nesting places and bulbs planted in the fall are pushing their way through the earth. The trees and bushes are blooming in a glorious array of color everywhere we look. Farmers have begun the process of tilling the soil and planting new seeds with hopes of a good harvest. This is all looked forward to with great anticipation in the full circle of the seasons – especially the warmer weather! The promise of Spring brings hope and it has been proven scientifically that more sunshine and longer hours of daylight elevates our moods.

Our politicians make many promises we cannot count on. Weddings and graduations bring many promises of a bright future but sometimes those promises are broken and plans do not turn out as hoped for. The farmer plants with great expectation but he cannot control the rain and sun that is needed for heathy growth. Are there any promises we can count on?

The definition of a promise is, “a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen” or a “binding pledge from one person to another”. The person to whom the promise is made has every right to expect the promise to be fulfilled. A mans’ (or womans’) word used to mean something. If you gave your word and shook on it it was as good as done. When we were kids on the playground we would “pinky promise” about something and it meant you could be trusted and would never betray your friend. There are almost 7500 promises from God to mankind in the Bible. Throughout the Scriptures faith is the trustful human response to God’s self-revelation through His words and His actions. He has proven over and over that He is faithful to His Word even when we are not.

In an article I found on Bible.org it listed 12 types of promises we can find. God promises 1) to answer our prayers, 2) provide healing 3) give us strength and power 4 )hope for the future 5) to be with us 6) forgiveness of sin 7) protection 8) peace of mind 9) wisdom and guidance 10) to supply our needs 11) eternal salvation 12) an end to suffering.

A verse I memorized as a child told me where to look for the answers in life and here are some other favorites. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm  119:105

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100: 5

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   1John 1:9

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:26,27

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.    Romans  8:38,39

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?   Matthew 6:26&29

Yes, we can count on our great and mighty God’s promises. The second verse of an old hymn, “Standing on the Promises of God” says it well.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail.
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God. [Refrain]

RISEN

RISEN

As I stood on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, I was profoundly moved standing in this place and recognizing my own deep need for soul restoration and peace with God. Tabgha is the traditional site where Jesus first called His disciples, performed several miracles and prepared a last breakfast for his disciples post-resurrection. Here He restored Peter to relationship with Himself and to future service as head of The Church. However, my mind was also flashing back to scenes from a movie we had recently watched called Risen.

The crucifixion of Jesus is over but Pilates’ problems are still unravelling. Three day later the body is missing from the tomb and Clavius, a Roman tribune is tasked with finding the body. He examines the tomb and finds the Roman seal has burst from the inside, the heavy stone moved, used grave cloths lay empty and the guards cannot be found. He begins his pursuit of ferreting out the truth.

The Tribune sends his guards to find all followers of this Yeshua to find what they did with the body and to stop the rumors that their crucified teacher had risen from the dead as He prophesied. Clavius enters the upper room where he finds the disciples with Jesus, he drops his sword as he views the man he saw die on the cross, sitting among them. He watches in shock as Thomas examines the mans’ hands and pierced side. He cannot reconcile two things in his mind, “A man dead without question, and that same man alive again.” He then abandons his post and follows these disciples back to Galilee to learn more. He is at Tabgha with the disciples and realizes this man Jesus is like no other. The Tribune admits his part in the crucifixion to which Jesus replies, “I know”. And then asks him, “what bothers you?” Clavius replies, “being wrong”. “What is it you seek?” but before he can reply Jesus answers,” Certainty, peace and a day without war?“‘ The very same answer this Tribune had given Pilate earlier. At the end of the film, Clavius is retelling his story to an inn keeper and states, “I believe. I can never be the same.”

Have you examined the facts of The Resurrection? Jesus’ willing sacrifice on the cross was for our sin to reconcile us with The Father. His last words were, “It is Finished”. There was no more need for animal sacrifice and we can not earn our salvation by doing good works. The power over death and the grave has only been accomplished by Jesus, the Son of God . Every other prophet and leader in history remains in their grave. Being a Christian means being a follower of Jesus Christ, having peace with God, sharing His love and being certain of our eternal future. What bothers you my friend? What is it that you long for? Do you seek certainty and peace? Follow Him and your life will never be the same.

Standing at Tabgha on
the shore of the Sea of Galilee

Jesus’ Last Journey to Jerusalem

Jesus’ Last Journey to Jerusalem

When Jesus and His disciples were preparing to go to Jerusalem for Passover He tried to clearly explain that His end was near but they did not understand. Jesus knew there was still work to do in his last couple of weeks. The 40 mile trip was taken in a series of day hikes over moderate to strenuous terrain by first traveling through the Jordan river valley.

The ancient city of Jericho was an oasis due to underground springs, a common stop for weary pilgrims and an out-post for Roman soldiers. As He drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. He heard that Jesus was passing by and despite the crowds’ shushing began to cry out loudly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him and asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “ Your sight is restored; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he could see and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

A sycamore tree in Jericho today called the Zacchaeus tree.

They continued passing through Jericho and behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich from cheating his own people working for the Romans. He wanted to see Jesus but could not because of the great crowd and his short stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when the people saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Walking the Jericho road towards Jerusalem was the most difficult and dangerous part of the trip. Approximatly a 15 mile stretch uphill about a half mile high and westward. Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said,  “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he liked helping himself to their money bag. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” Large crowds were coming to see Jesus and Lazarus. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Jesus knew his time left on earth was limited but He was never too busy to stop and care for people. The blind beggar was given his sight from Jesus, The Light of the World. He stopped to look up in a tree to see a man considered a traitor to his people that was in desperate need of restoration of soul. Jesus rested one last time with dear friends who had often welcomed him into their home. Only Jesus understood the enormity of the sacrifice and service Mary performed and that it was the only proper burial preparation his earthly body would receive. The next day Jesus prepared for His last entry into Jerusalem. He came humbly, riding on a colt, a symbol of peace not as a warrior because He is the Prince of Peace. He accepted praise from the crowd that would soon turn into an angry mob shouting epitaphs. Today from the Mount of Olives there is a magnificent view of the ancient Temple and old city of David. And it was here from the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus prayed for His friends, followers and us.

Has Jesus brought light to your life, restoration to your soul or peace to your heart? This week, reflect on all that Jesus has done – the life He lived, the examples He set and the sacrifice of His own sinless life to reconcile us with The Father. Let us worship Him with hearts full of love, joy and thanksgiving.

Scripture passages were taken from Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 18:33-19:10 and Luke 19:28-38