Great vision is born from deep faith.
Why do I ask God at breakfast and expect results by dinner?
This week’s VLOG: THREE VALUES FOR SUCCESS
Here is a short story about a very impressive young woman.
It’s not that I’m old or past my prime or out of touch. It’s just that back in my day, before cell phones, color TV, and breakfast burritos, the Winter Olympics was about skiing, ice skating, and curling. That’s about it.
In these modern winter games are sports and competitions that I used to think of as hobbies and kid’s activities. Just the same, last night I watched Shaun White win the gold for the third time in four Olympics. It was exciting to watch, amazing to see, and incredible what those guys could do on a snowboard.
My maternal grandmother gave me my first skateboard. It was in the 60’s and I was maybe eight years old. I think it was a Christmas present.
Skateboards were all the rage. We didn’t think we were skiing, we thought we were surfing, just like the Beach Boys. But watching the competition last night, I heard terms and phrases that came right out of the skateboard culture. It was cool.
You bet it was. I skateboarded everywhere. Every time I hit a small pebble it was like putting on the brakes and I would be launched off the board and onto the sidewalk. This was before knee pads, elbow pads, and helmets. I was always banged up, missing skin on my knees, and bruised. We were idiots. Maybe that explains some things. But I loved it.
We built ramps to jump and set up all kinds of little race tracks. It was summertime in Phoenix, Arizona and we wore denim cut offs, with no shoes or shirts. And no sun screen. We were idiots. Maybe that explains some things.
I congratulate Shaun on his amazing achievement and want to say good luck to our whole Olympic team. You guys are doing great.
But 55 years ago, my two friends and I were paving the way for your success.
Simon said, “I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
What an awesome thing to say, it was fearless and fiercely loyal.
Then Messiah said, “Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.”
Sifting was done by repeatedly beating the wheat with a stick. The process loosened the outer husks so they separated from the wheat. Then, it was tossed in the air so the wind could blow away the chaff.
Jesus was saying that Satan was going to, metaphorically, beat Simon with a stick to see what he was made of, to see if he too would just blow away.
Simon said, “I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Messiah said, “Peter, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
I Believe Peter
He was willing to die for his Rabbi. Here is the evidence:
“Then Simon, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant,”
That happened in Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested. But then, it all changed.
“Put your sword away.”
When he had to surrender his sword and watch Jesus go willingly with the soldiers, his world turned upside down.
“You are not one of his disciples are you?” the girl asked Peter. “I am not.”
The fearless apostle became a frightened betrayer. Simon was being sifted, that was the first of his three denials.
Was he chaff or was he wheat?
We relate to Simon. We can fearlessly defend our Lord and we can fearfully deny him. It’s about the situation and how Satan sifts us. But here’s the question,
Are we chaff or are we wheat?
Jesus also said to Simon Peter:
“But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus knew Simon would deny him.
He also knew Simon would return and help his brothers.
What Does Jesus know about us?
Not These Guys
Jonah was on a ship headed for the Southwest tip of Spain. He was getting away from God and his prophetic assignment, to go to Nineveh, in Assyria, but Jonah didn’t want to go, so he didn’t.
Well, the Mediterranean developed a violent storm and the sailors realized that Jonah was the cause. They asked him what they should do and Jonah said to throw him overboard, they didn’t want to, but they did.
However, before doing so they prayed to Jonah’s God.
“O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you O Lord, have done as you pleased.” Jonah 1:14
“Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard.” Jonah 1:15
Praying for forgiveness before we sin, what a concept!
Some Things Some of Us Do
The sailors were desperate and felt trapped. Their ship was about to break up and they had to do something.
Don’t we feel trapped sometimes? So, we lose our cool, get irritated, and say and do the wrong things. Maybe out of frustration, and maybe out of fear.
It’s hard to do right every time. Jonah and the sailors didn’t, and neither do we.
Keep the faith. Stay strong. Wrestle with temptation. Give thanks that we have a Savior who gives mercy and grace. Thank God that he lifts from our shoulders the burden of moral perfection. Thank you Lord!
“Lord, we’re absolutely going to kill this guy, but please don’t hold it against us.”
“Okay boys, chuck him over the side.”
“Underdog Beats Favored Champion“
There were five kinds of viewers of last night’s game:
Some rooted for the Patriots. Some rooted for the Eagles. Some wanted a close, competitive game. Others watched because they were at a party. And some watched to watch the commercials.
It was the Super Bowl.
A Good Game
I thought it was entertaining. It had several lead changes, some fantastic plays, and was close down to the final seconds And my wife had excellent snacks.
But the underdog beat the favored team.
There’s just something special about the little guy upsetting the big guy.
In regular life, where the consequences matter, it gets more serious. Both David and Goliath stepped onto the battle field, but only one stepped off, it was the shepherd boy, a huge upset.
We have giants:
How we face our giants may be as important, or even more important, than the outcome.
Jesus Said This
“Blessed are you when insulted and persecuted…” Matthew 5:11
“Be reconciled to your brother.” Matthew 5:24
“Make peace quickly with your adversary,” Matthew 5:25
“If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:39
“Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
It’s not a popular viewpoint. Some say it reeks of cowardice and appeasement. But Jesus taught that loving one another was more important than winning the fight.
Certainly, we should stand for truth or we’ll fall for anything. Conviction is vital. But our path is one of peace, not the sword. We don’t beat others with clubs, or with the truth, we shouldn’t be beating heads at all.
“Underdog Beats Favored Champion”
Congratulations to the Eagles for upsetting your favored opponent!
But for regular life:
“As much as possible, as far it depends on you, live in peace with everyone.”
Here is a famous quote about Alexander the Great:
“Alexander wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”
There is no known record in antiquity that verifies the quote. In fact, it’s probably a misquote from something Plutarch wrote:
“Alexander wept upon hearing that there were infinite worlds, realizing that he had not yet conquered even one.”
And Another Conqueror?
He wasn’t a general, or a conqueror, but he was used to help a nation become conquerors, the Assyrian Empire.
His name was Jonah and he was a prophet of God who was sent to the city of Nineveh, a tough assignment as prophets didn’t preach to Gentiles, didn’t go to their cities.
In fact, he refused and boarded a ship headed the opposite direction. But he ended up in the sea, and in a manner of speaking, was rescued. So, he reluctantly went to Nineveh and preached a message of repent or parish. And they repented, even the King.
The Greater Lesson
There was a time when Assyria was in chaos and vulnerable. That’s when Jonah preached to them and turned them to Yahweh. But later, after regaining their supremacy, they turned away from God and became Israel’s nemesis.
Did God preserve the Assyrians, so he could later use them to attack and deport the faithless people of Israel?
Did Jonah understand what God was doing? Could he see that the people he helped to turn to God would one day be used by God to attack his homeland?
I don’t know if Alexander wept or not. But Jonah did. He wasn’t a soldier, a general, or a conqueror of worlds. He was a prophet and he served God’s greater purpose.
God has a great purpose for us as well. Perhaps less grand than that of Jonah, but still a purpose of divine origin: to build up, to encourage, to serve and to be the light of God.
“Alexander wept for there were not more worlds to conqueror.”
Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t, it doesn’t really matter.
For we are the true conquerors.
Forest Gump, from the movie Forest Gump, made this famous:
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”
Was He Right?
I can’t tell the ones with coconut from the ones with caramel. I can’t tell just by looking at them and sampling doesn’t seem right, nobody wants sampled chocolates in the box.
What About Life?
If a box of chocolates is like life, then maybe Forest was right. We can expect something to happen, we just don’t know what it will be.
Life’s unpredictable and tough to anticipate. Except for the lottery. Since I’ve never bought a ticket I can open the lid knowing a “lottery chocolate” won’t be in the box. But at some point, I have to stop obsessing about which chocolate is which.
Hard Wired Behavior
Some of us are positive and some are negative. Some are optimistic and some are pessimistic. Some have a little of both.
Some of us live with a carefree attitude and some worry about everything. Some live with a little of both.
I don’t want to live my life worrying, but I can’t ignore the realities of life.
What Jesus Said
“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”
“Do not worry.”
Tough teaching, hard to obey, difficult to live.
He began with “Therefore” meaning he was giving commentary to something he just said. Here it is:
“Do not store up treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Worrying is about the heart. If our treasure is heaven, then that’s where our hearts will be. But if our treasure is here, then our hearts are invested in this world. And that means worry and anxiety because everything here is temporary,
Wow, that’s challenging, bold, and demanding, and a little offensive. But is it true?
Thanks Forest, well said.
“A man’s gotta to what a man’s gotta do”
John Wayne, in his movie “Stagecoach” is credited with making that line famous. But what he actually said was:
“Well, there’s just some things a man can’t run away from.”
Charlton Heston, in his 1956 movie, “Three Violent People” had this line:
“A man must do what he must do”
Steinbeck, in his novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” wrote this:
“I know this man—a man got to do what he got to do.”
By 1962, the line had found its way into pop culture and was used in an episode of “The Jetsons.” George said,
“Ha, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”
Regardless of who said, what does it mean? Is it about determination or fate? Or is it a cliché justifying doing something bad because sometimes a man has to do bad things? I’m sure it has positive and negative applications, but mostly it seems to be negative.
“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37
“but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:9-10
The Things We Do
Almost daily I’m confronted with double sided speech, half-truths, and situational ethics. To be dodgy we spin our words, craft our story, and offer free-falling gossip like water over a dam.
Men will praise you and curse you. They will tell the story one way and then tell it a different way. They evade culpability by shaping their words with slanted intent.
It shouldn’t be like that. But it is and most of us are guilty.
If we are talking about being virtuous, then yes, we have to tighten our belts and step up to what’s right, regardless of the cost.
If we are talking about the other things, and justifying them, well, then it’s just wrong.
Yep, we get it.
Vincent Gardenia, playing the character Cosmo Castorini in the delightful movie “Moonstruck,” said the following:
“Everything is temporary”
His daughter was sharing the news of her engagement to Johnny Cammareri. Cosmo was underwhelmed and asked about the ring. She raised her hand and he said, “It’s a man’s pinky ring!” Johnny hadn’t bought a ring and she wouldn’t accept his proposal without one. So, he gave her his pinky ring. Easing the tension Loretta said,
“Everything is temporary!”
A fair point.
(BTW: It’s a charming movie and one my all time favorites)
Speaking of Temporary
When the Hebrew slaves gained their freedom, some 600,000 men and their families walked out of Ramses. They were headed for the Promised Land.
Upon arrival, twelve spies were sent to scout the land. On their return they offered a divided report, it was ten to two. Ten gave a negative report because they were afraid and two gave a positive report because they believed.
As a result, everyone was sent back to the desert for forty years. None over the age of twenty would ever leave it. Of those twenty and above, none survived.
Think About It
They wandered a vast and terrible desert for 4 decades of:
1. no permanence
2. no houses
3. no opportunites
4. no improvements
5. a hopeless existence
They lived in tents, along with the adders, scorpions, the sand and the sand storms. Cosmo was right, everything was temporary.
The people had a change of heart, a crisis of faith, and turned away from God.
Living in the Promised Land would have still been temporary, but a big bunch sweeter. Life is always sweeter when lived under the protective hand of God’s richest blessings.
So, let’s keep a steadfast heart, a strong faith, and remain rooted in the center of His will.
“everything is temporary”
It certainly is, thanks for the reminder Cosmo.