Annelies (Anne) Marie Frank was a German-born Jew, who became one the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust. She gained fame posthumously with the publication of her diary, The Diary of a Young Girl, in which she documents her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. One of the incredible characteristics of her life was her indomitable joy in the midst of tremendous adversity. She attributed her ability to be joyous even during difficult circumstances to a lesson taught to her by her father.
Before the war,
when I was a little girl, my Papa took me to Het Vondel Park on Saturday to
hear the orchestra. At the end of the
concert, from behind the musicians, a hundred helium balloons of red, blue,
yellow, and green floated up into the sky.
It was so exciting. I tugged on
Papa’s leg and asked which color balloon would go the highest? He said to me,
“Anne it is not the color of the balloon that is important or makes it go
higher; it is what is on the inside that makes all the difference.” (The Travelers Gift, Andy Andrews, p.103)
As followers of Christ we need
to remember what is on the inside is more important than what we face from the
outside world. Writing to the church in
Colossae, the apostle Paul encouraged the church to remember the mystery, “Christ in you is the hope of glory”
(Col. 1:27). To the saints in Galatia,
Paul said, “I have been crucified with
Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal.
2:20). In Ephesians 1:18-20, Paul prayed
for believers to take hold of “the
incomparably great power” that raised Christ from the dead; for that same
power is now available to all who believe in Christ.
This year you will face
challenges of many sizes, shapes, and colors.
Remember it is not the color of the balloon, but what is on the inside
that determines how high you will fly.
In Christ, Pastor Steve
RESOLUTION: This word, which rarely makes it in our normal conversation seems to dominate discussion every New Year. Consider the following definitions of a resolution:
defines the word as being “marked by firm determination.” To the musician, a
“resolution” is a harmony line moving from a dissonant tone (one that
does not fit the melody) to a consonant tone (one that fits). Harmonies can
dance and amaze us with varied complexities for a while, but they must
eventually resolve. To the writer,
a resolution is the end of a story, the final element of a twisting plot
wrought with conflict, finally resolved to an ending where all is well. To the chemist,
it is the separation of a chemical compound back into its constituents, or
simplest parts. To the statesman,
it is an expression of the determined will of an elected body. To the graphic artist, it is the
sharpness of the pixel count on a screen and the quality of the image produced.
definition, a resolution is characterized by returning to simplicity; a focus
on sharp definition and determination; a complex matter broken down to its
simplest most harmonious parts. Without resolution, art, science, government,
and life in general drifts toward chaos. Without resolution, we lack a strong
foundation upon which to stand. As you
consider resolutions this New Year, I’m sure there are numerous activities,
goals, and projects that capture your attention, but I would remind you of the
words of Jesus, who offered one of the best resolutions ever proposed. He
identified a choice (a resolution) that provides both simplicity and
productivity. Be sure to include this
wise resolution in your New Year’s plans: “Seek
first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be
added unto you” (Mt. 6:33).
Many people in our culture are busy, but apparently some need help appearing busy. The following article describes a new app to help people fake being busy.
Your friend is moving Saturday. Are you free to help? The real answer is yes. The honest answer is no, because you are not a human forklift, and you guys aren’t really that close. If only you had something else planned so it would be easier to say no.
“Got This Thing” is just that. The Web app uses your phone’s location to populate your Google calendar with local stuff that’s happening, pulled from public event information on sites like Eventbrite. Click on the “Get Busy” button and in an instant—your blank schedule turns into a confetti of things to do (CNN Money 6/12/15).
The “Get Busy App” illustrates major problem with our culture that often confuses busyness with effectiveness. In Luke chapter ten, Jesus visits the home of Martha and Mary in Bethany. The chapter describes Martha being busy with preparations for the guests while Mary was, “sitting at the feet of Jesus,” as He was teaching about the kingdom of God. When Martha complains that Mary is not helping her, Jesus responds with a kind yet insightful rebuke. “Martha you are worried about many things, but only one is needed. Mary has chosen what is best.”
For most Christians the greatest challenge is not choosing good over evil, but choosing best over good. We choose busyness over effectiveness. We choose avoiding issues instead of resolving problems. As you consider making positive changes in the New Year, may your resolutions consist of more than being busy. Choose what is best!
In Christ, Pastor Steve
The great British physicist Stephen Hawking has emerged in recent years as a poster boy for atheism, especially in light of his heroic struggles against Lou Gehrig’s disease. Surprisingly, the new film about Hawking’s life, A Theory of Everything has been called a “God-haunted movie.”
In one of the opening scenes, the young Hawking meets Jane, his future wife, and tells her that he is a cosmologist. “What’s cosmology?” she asks, and he responds, “Religion for intelligent atheists.” “What do cosmologists worship?” she asks. And he replies, “A single unifying equation that explains everything in the universe.” In another scene Jane asks, “So, I take it you’ve never been to church?” When Stephen replies “Once upon a time,” she asks, “Tempted to convert?” Stephen replies, “I have a slight problem with the celestial dictatorship premise.”
Hawking’s response illustrates the major obstacle of following Christ. What most people reject is not the authenticity of the Scriptures or the reality of the Savior. The struggle is not the tension of scientific principles and religious precepts. Those who reject Christ “have a problem with celestial dictatorship.” The Scriptures are crystal clear that the only way to be saved is the call upon the name of the Lord; to place your faith in the Lord Jesus; to surrender to the Lordship of Christ. Jesus is the Savior or the world, and He is Lord. Saving faith is not a buffet where you choose the Savior and skip the lordship. “He is Lord. He is Lord. He is risen from the dead, and He is Lord. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Hawking was right to recognize that Jesus is a “celestial dictator.” Christ reigns and rules the universe, and He is not planning on retiring anytime soon. Whether one is brilliant physicist like Stephen Hawking or someone who struggled with Algebra, the choice is the same: Embrace the lordship and Christ and be saved, or reject His lordship and be condemned.
In Christ, Pastor Steve
In the popular Peanuts cartoon series, Charlie Brown wants more than anything to win. He longs to get something right instead of always falling short of the desired prize. Charlie Brown, more than the other characters, is fully aware his shortcomings. He also knows if he forgets or thinks just for a moment he might taste success, Lucy is always around to remind him that he is a “blockhead.” Charlie Brown struggles with uncooperative kites, untalented baseball teams, school projects, and kicking a football. In fact, only once in eighteen years of the comic strip does Charlie Brown win something. His prize is a bowling trophy, but Lucy points out, “They spelled your name wrong.” Even when he wins, Charlie Brown loses.
In the book, The Parables of Peanuts, Robert Short comments on the meaning of the cartoon in which Charlie Brown’s name is spelled wrong on his only trophy. “The strip shows us not the futility of losing, but the futility of winning the wrong thing.” In our culture we are certainly guilty of seeking to win the wrong thing. We place a premium on what the apostle Paul calls “perishable wreaths” (1 Corinthians 9:25). These wreaths were floral crowns or prizes placed on the head or around the neck of the winner of a race. Competition is not bad, nor is outstanding accomplishment in a chosen activity something to be avoided. The Bible reveals that God actually commends and promises rewards to those who work diligently. What we must guard against is allowing lessor trophies to capture or replace devotion to greater prizes.
The trophies of the world perish, therefore we should not attach too much meaning to them. Toward the end of his life, the apostle Paul wrote about a better prize than “perishable wreaths.” He said, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Php. 3:14). What are you seeking to win?
In Christ, Pastor Steve