Edward Spencer, Unsung Hero

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15

Edward Spencer, Unsung Hero

We live in a day and age where too many people are convinced that they are entitled.  Consequently, thankfulness seems a lost—nearly extinct—art.  Yet while culture hasn’t helped us in this department, the problem’s much deeper.  It’s rooted in our fallen hearts.

Warren Wiersbe illustrated this in his commentary on the book of Colossians where he tells the story of a ship that ran aground on the shore of Lake Michigan in 1860.  Witnessing this from land, Edward Spencer, a young ministerial student, plunged himself time and again into the frigid waters to pull seventeen desperate passengers from certain death.

But those lives weren’t saved without cost.  Edward’s repeated plunges into the icy lake permanently damaged the young man’s health.  Some years later, at Edward’s funeral, it was noted that not one of those seventeen people snatched from death that day ever bothered to thank him.

Who do you need to thank today?

– Steve Arterburn

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude.  Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.  Thankfulness may consist merely of words.  Gratitude is shown by acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel (1821-1881)

Eyes Off the Gloom

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? — Romans 8:31

Some years ago the New York Times featured news of a new toy—a plush “Ask Me More Eeyore,” modeled after the gloomy donkey from Winnie the Pooh.  The toy is designed for children aged three to seven.  The paper remarked that these are just the right ages, apparently, to learn about undaunted pessimism.

If God is For Us....

Eeyore responds to children’s questions with comments like, “Don’t count on it,” “Doesn’t look good,” “Outcome looks sort of gloomy,” “You can’t win them all,” and “Looks good for you, must be nice.”

Sometimes Eeyore will even ask the child, “You wouldn’t want me for a friend, would you?

Do you have a gloomy Eeyore in your life?  Perhaps you’ve taken on that role for yourself!

If you’re busy looking for all the things that can go wrong, you’re sure to miss the blessings God has prepared for you. Besides, life is too short to dwell on the gloom and doom. As believers our hope is in our Savior, no matter what our circumstance, He walks beside us, He fights our battles and He goes before us in everything. Our hope is not in the arm of flesh, it rests on the mighty and powerful arm of God. Take your eyes off the gloom and focus them on the Lord.

Let’s remember the words of that old hymn: “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, see what God has done!

Love Forgives

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14

Love Forgives

Love has many components and dimensions. It’s not all emotion and it often takes great effort.

One dimension of love that can require great effort is the act of forgiveness. Love, in its most liberating form, forgives. Forgiveness can be simple, or it can be difficult and complicated. It has its best chance to present itself when one has learned it from a parent over years of observation.

If children are to be forgiving, their parents must teach them the art of forgiveness. Every day in thousands of ways, children are asking parents, ‘Do you forgive me?’ Dashed expectations often lead parents to consciously or unconsciously give the message, ‘You’re not forgiven.’

What message are you communicating to others? The Bible contains many examples of forgiveness. Do a word-search and see for yourself. Then be ready to model forgiveness.

– Steve Arterburn

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes (1921-2002)

Cross-Addiction

Connie wrote in asking for us to do a segment about cross-addiction. Why is it so easy to go from one addiction, like an addiction to drugs or alcohol, to another problem behavior, like overeating?  – Click here to watch.

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Focus On Being

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10

Focus On Being

How can you begin breaking through the myth,of “you-are-what-you-do” and see that your,true identity is in Jesus Christ. Once you grasp that, you can begin,relating to other people apart from what they do. We must open up our schedules, set aside our calendar, and get to the business of allowing our identity in Christ to liberate and transform our human relationships.

A friend of mine meets each week with a group of four other friends to do what we rarely do. They purposely avoid talking about what they do in order to talk about who they are and how they feel. They’re learning to peel away the layers of façade to give and receive the nurture, affirmation, and encouragement they desperately need but are often fearful to seek.

Recently my friend shared a painful issue with his friends. His father lays dying in a nursing home. He’s incapacitated. His mind is totally gone. My friend visits him, and helps dress and care for him. What he wants more than anything is to hear these words from his father before he dies: “You’re a good child.”

Friends can share these painful and vulnerable feelings and offer consolation and encouragement in the group setting as one deals with the pain and loss. There aren’t enough people who function together as these five do.

– Steve Arterburn

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can.” – John Wesley (1703–1791)

The Void

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within  you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:1-5

The Void

For several summers in the 1950s, Howard Mumma was a guest minister in Paris. There he met the existentialist philosopher, Albert Camus, who was coming to church to hear the great organist, Marcel Dupré.

Eventually Mumma’s sermons stirred Camus, so the two men met several times to discuss Camus’ questions about the Christian faith.

In one conversation, Camus said: “The reason I have been coming to church is because I am seeking. I’m almost on a pilgrimage— seeking something to fill the void that I am experiencing—and no one else knows. Certainly the public and the readers of my novels, while they see that void, are not finding the answers in what they are reading . . . I am searching for something that the world is not giving me.

Are you where Camus was? Searching for that something?

The best gift we can receive is precisely what the world can’t offer—true, eternal life through Jesus Christ. All you gotta do is ask.

– Steve Arterburn

There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” – Blaise Pascal (1632-1662)

Balanced View of Jesus

Then one of the elders said to me, Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals. Revelation 5:5

Balanced View of Jesus

The following observation by author Philip Yancey is well-worth meditating upon:

As I studied the life of Christ, one impression about Jesus struck me more forcefully than any other. We have tamed him. The Jesus I learned about as a child was sweet and inoffensive, the kind of person whose lap you’d want to climb on. Mister Rogers with a beard. Indeed, Jesus did have qualities of gentleness and compassion that attracted little children. Mister Rogers, however, he assuredly was not. Not even the Romans would have crucified Mister Rogers.

How balanced is your view of Jesus? Have you come to the crucial conclusion that His grace is bigger than anything we can possibly comprehend? And, I hope that conclusion doesn’t come at the expense of His strength. The biblical picture of Jesus is that of a tenderhearted lion. And conceptions that fall on either side of this picture are caricatures and incomplete.

– Steve Arterburn

Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.” – Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

A God Worthy of Faith

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20

A God Worthy of Faith

A wise sixteenth-century Christian once said we can only love God to the extent we know him. Think about it. Can you surrender to God if you don’t know his character? Can you trust him with your life, here and hereafter,  if you’re not sure he’s willing and able to care for you?

That takes faith. And the Bible says faith ‘is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It’s the evidence of things we cannot yet see.‘ And the Bible says that faith is grounded in our very understanding of God: ‘Anyone who wants to come to [God], must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.‘ Before you can really seek God, you’ve got to truly believe that your search will lead to something, somewhere, and most importantly, to Someone worth looking for.

If you don’t have faith, ask God for it. If the faith you have is not as strong as you think it ought to be, ask God to help you strengthen your faith. This might seem like putting the cart before the horse, but the Bible speaks of faith as a gift rather than something you obtain by your own efforts.

Steve Arterburn

“I fear one day I’ll meet God, he’ll sneeze, and I won’t know what to say.” – Ronnie Shakes

On the Defense

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

On the Defense

When my friend was in college he walked right-of-way property for a gas pipeline company one summer. In many ways, it was a great job. Lots of sunshine and exercise, walking through the countryside over a large buried pipeline. There were, however, the inevitable bulls, bees. . . and a few ornery farmers.

One day his journey took him through the field of a farmer who didn’t like anyone on his land, right-of-way or no right-of-way. After testing an electrical fence to make sure it was disarmed, my friend prepared to step over the barrier. While he was straddling the wire, he saw out of the corner of his eye the farmer running for the barn. The farmer was running for the power switch!

Are you sometimes like the farmer? Quick to turn up the power and heat when someone’s in a vulnerable position? It’s not what Jesus did, remember the woman caught in adultery? Jesus extended grace. You should, too.

– Steve Arterburn

Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything.’ – Billy Graham (1918- )

Size Doesn’t Matter

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:1

Size Doesnt Matter

We live in a culture that values things that are large, extravagant, and impossible to miss. For this reason, we’re tempted to look at the struggles in our rather ordinary lives, and consider our victories insignificant if they’re not acknowledged or recognized by others.

But that’s just not true. Victor Hugo, the great French playwright who penned Les Misérables, rightly said our ‘greatest actions are performed in minor struggles. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment and poverty are battlefields which have their heroes, obscure heroes who are at times greater than illustrious heroes.’

It’s not the size of the audience, or the amount of applause, that determines the value of your achievements. Live your life before the one true God. And live it with faith, hope, and love even though you’re not getting accolades for it. Remember, your true character is what you do when no one is looking.

– Steve Arterburn

Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” – Will Rogers (1879-1935)