Everybody loves a fairy tale. Everybody loves a gripping story with great conflict that draws you in...and, at the end, they lived happily ever after. We love those type of stories.
I have found, personally, that the more intense the conflict and more “insurmountable” the odds, the more I enjoy the story. The less likely a “happy ending” becomes in the story, the sweeter the ending when they live “happily ever after.”
Our life can be a little bit like a fairy tale. As we journey through life, we are faced with obstacles that seem to prevent us from achieving our goal. We come across difficult people who seem to want to drag us down. We struggle with problems that seem unsolvable.
If that is you, today, then I have some good news for you. You might be facing an obstacle, dealing with a difficult person, or struggling with a problem. But Jesus can be your way to living happily ever after!
If we will just take Jesus at His word and do those things He tells us to do, we can have the assurance of a “happily ever after” eternity.
In 1 John 5:13, John tells us: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
If we will only truly believe (more than just a mental acknowledgement of God: the word implies obedience), then we can have absolute assurance that we have a “happily ever after” awaiting us.
This doesn't mean we won’t face obstacles, deal with difficult people, or struggle with problems (2 Timothy 3:12 tells us if we are living for Jesus, we will face persecution).
What it does mean is that when we face those issues, we can do so knowing that no matter how bad the situation, we have an eternity of joy beyond description awaiting us.
And we all lived happily ever after!
Have you ever been asked to visit with someone about their church attendance? This can be a delicate and difficult conversation.
Once, Monica and I were talking with a couple who were a little younger than us. Rachel and Jamie were three and one at the time.
This couple had not been attending services like they should have been attending. They had a two year old and, as we were talking with them, they said something to the effect of, “It’s just so hard for us to keep little ‘Joey’ (not his real name) quiet during the services...especially during the sermon.”
I was about to make a witty reply to this comment about the sermons when Monica (who has a fair amount of Italian blood in her) answered their “excuse.” She was very calm and polite (I was proud of her, because I saw in her eyes a “little Italian fire”) in telling them she had a three year old and a one year old that she had to control during the sermon...and she had to do it all by herself as her husband was busy preaching.
Oddly we never had much of a problem keeping Rachel and Jamie quiet during services. Once they were old enough, we taught them how to behave during the worship service. And they were both very aware that if they misbehaved “when Daddy was talking” that Mommy would take them out and then Daddy would take them OUT afterwards…but I never remember this ever actually happening.
I do think that this couple took the hint/instruction. Their attendance improved after this discussion. And “Joey” was never much of a distraction either.
The point is that we are training our children...one way or the other. Either we are training them to understand that attending church services is something we don’t let anything else interfere with or we are training them that attending church services is less important than just about everything else.
Which lesson are your children learning?
It is good to have resources at your disposal. I can remember talking with my dad several years ago about a Bible class he had to teach. After talking for a while, I told him I would send him a class I had prepared on the subject.
It turns out that he simply used the material I sent him. My parents were still attending the congregation I grew up in at the time. He received many compliments about the class. One of the people even asked him where he got his material.
My dad told me he simply said, “Some people buy their resources, I raised a resource.” He told them that I had come up with the class and the other guy was very impressed.
This past August, my family completed our 6th year with Eastgate. As you are aware, Jamie has some special needs. It thrills Monica and I to no end that she is doing so well at Harding.
A couple of weeks ago, though, she sent me a text message. In this text message I saw a glimpse of Jamie’s heart and her love for people that I had not seen in a very long time.
Here is what she said:
So I said to one of my friends on Gabriel’s account that I was praying for them because she had her jaw surgery and had some severe complications: like she stopped breathing. I also said I’d put her on our Bible class prayer list if she wanted me to. She was super nice and said she’d love it if I prayed and put her on the prayer list.
Someone else in the group chat got mad and offended by religion and told me to keep my faith to myself. I messaged them privately saying that I was sorry they were offended, but that my faith is what got me through so much, the reason I’m here today. They are cussing me out. I’m just going to block them and pray for them too. They need prayers that they will turn their life around.
As I read this, again, I saw a glimpse of Jamie’s tender heart for people. I saw a glimpse of her desire to share her faith with others. And I saw something else.
I saw that I had raised a resource as well. Thank you, Jamie, for showing me how to deal with difficult people. Thank you for reminding me that I need to pray for people, even if they don’t appreciate it.
About 10 years ago, while I was preaching in Bonham, Texas a friend, brother, and mentor began an incredible journey. This past Tuesday, he hit a milestone in that journey.
At the church building in Bonham is a flight of stairs that lead to a storage room. There are 20 total stairs. One day he showed up at the church building and began walking the stairs.
Up and down was ONE flight. On Tuesday, he walked up and down those 20 stairs for the 100,000th time. That means that he has walked 2,000,000 stairs in the last 10 years.
It hasn’t been without difficulties. He has had a hip replaced in that time. He lost his wife in that time (actually in January of this year). He went on a mission trip or two in that time. There have been other things come up as well...but he always returned to the stairs.
He currently does 75 flights each day (1500 stairs). In keeping with his personality, Tuesday, when he climbed 75 flights of stairs to put him at 2,000,000 total stairs, it was his 75 birthday!
He tried to get me to climb the stairs with him (but I was “busy” or the stairway was not wide enough for two people...umm...yeah, that was it!). He has encouraged others to join him from time to time (and they did as much as they could keep up with him).
Why am I telling you this? My friend found something he enjoys, he has stuck with it, and he invites others to join him. Is it necessarily “fun” or “easy” to do? Not really...but he still wears the same size pants he did in high school: I don’t; do you?
Every journey starts with one step. You can’t get to 2,000,000 if you don’t start with that first step. A little perseverance can help you achieve fantastic things. It doesn’t matter we are talking about climbing stairs for exercise or talking about your journey of faith.
The same can be said about sharing your faith. I said no many times to joining him, but once in a while, I figured, “What could it hurt?” (My legs for one!)
Neighbor Day is coming up on September 29, 2019. You might have asked your neighbor about joining you for church many times in the past. They may have said no all those times.
This may be the one time they say, “What could it hurt?” and decide to join you.