Spring Snow

I don’t care what the weather says…it is spring.

The calendar doesn’t lie, Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 was the official first day of Spring.

For many people across the country that is very welcomed news. However, those same people might be having a hard time believing that Spring has indeed sprung. I recently heard someone say in passing, “the weather didn’t get the memo.”

It’s hard to think about the things that define Spring; baseball, tulips, and grass that is actually green when there is still snow falling from the sky. Now, let’s be fair…this kinda happens every year, at least in the Midwest. So, with that in mind, we really shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, shame on us for expecting anything different.

Personally, I am in no hurry to usher in allergy season. However, I can still understand and sympathize with those who look longingly towards the warmer weather.

It can be an extremely frustrating thing when, even though you can see the start of the next season, you just can’t quite grasp it yet. And yes, I’m still talking about the weather, but I’m also kind of not.

You see, looking forward to the future and the sunny days that it brings can be a very healthy and helpful thing to do. The problem, however, is when that is the only thing we do.

When we only look forward to what is to come, we actually might miss some of the extraordinary things happening right in front of us. Like the strangely beautiful juxtaposition of fresh snowfall on newly budded flowers. Or a well-used snow shovel propped up against a lawn chair. Or even the fearless bit of green that pokes up from the frost covered dirt.

We cannot forget to be faithful to the present as we look forward to the future.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, this is something that I must continually remind myself of. Jesus said in the Bible that He would, one day, return to gather His church, home to Heaven with Him. Jesus told His disciples, “don’t be troubled… I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself.” (John 14:1-3)

In the book of Acts when Jesus ascended into heaven angels spoke to the disciples and said, “why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

And Jesus, Himself, told His disciples, and subsequently, all who follow Him after, that they are to be His witnesses. And in Matthew 28 He commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Jesus promises eternity in Heaven for all who believe in Him. The wonder and magnitude of that alone is incomprehensible. And yet, we are still here…on earth. Why? Because there is still work to be done. There are still people who need to know about the love and life that Jesus gives.

And so, we need to be faithful while we wait.

I would encourage you to have this same approach to the seasons in your life, those that are weather-related and those that are not. Faithfulness in the present, alongside expectations of the future, are two things that can actually coexist. But we must be diligent not to only focus on one over the other. If we only focus on the snow on the ground, then we can easily miss the greenery underneath. But if we only focus on the coming greenery then we forget our responsibilities in the present-like shoveling snow and putting the grill cover on.

So, once again, let us be faithful while we wait and trust in God’s timing. …Besides, it’ll probably snow again in May anyway.

St. Patrick’s Day: You’re Doing It Wrong

Step away from the corned beef, put down that Shamrock Shake, and drop the phony accents. None of these things are what Patrick, the real-life Patrick would have wanted.

Well, maybe he would have been cool with the corned beef and shakes, but for sure not the fake accents. Those are silly.

This coming Saturday is a day that a whole lot of Americans seem to collectively lose their minds. My city dyes the river green, people drink waaay too much, you get pinched for not wearing green, and everyone claims to be just a “wee bit” Irish.

But none of this has anything to do with the man for whom this holiday gets its name. If we really want to be honoring this man’s legacy, we should go to our enemies and the people who have wronged us most in life and share a message of hope and love with them. That’s what Patrick did. And he did it because he loved Jesus.

When Patrick, who wasn’t Irish by the way, was about 16 years old his village was ransacked, and he was kidnapped and forced to become a slave. He was taken away from his home and family and was brought to Ireland. It was during his time as a slave that he put his faith in Jesus, whom he had heard about as a child but chose to ignore. It was Patrick’s relationship with Jesus that helped him to survive slavery. During his 6 years of captivity, his prayer life grew tremendously. Eventually, he escaped and returned home and was educated.

Now, there are a lot of different legends surrounding this man and his life, but what I would like to focus on today is the facts. The facts are that Patrick was transformed by God, loved God, and allowed himself to be used by God so that many other’s lives could be transformed as well.

Patrick devoted his life to sharing the Good News of Jesus’ love. His devotion to the Gospel eventually led him right back to Ireland and his former master.

Why would Patrick return to a place where horrible things happened to him, and to people that had, at one point, been his worst enemies and greatest oppressors? The answer is simple. The Good News of God’s love is really really good news.

Patrick knew that the Gospel is something that we cannot afford to keep to ourselves.

Patrick traveled all across the island explaining the good news of salvation in Jesus’ name to any and everyone who would listen to him. He cared for and loved the people of Ireland enough to share with them a life-giving message.

It wasn’t always easy, he was often met with resistance and persecution. But Patrick continued to speak about freedom in Christ Jesus in a place where he once was a slave. A whole lot of people put their trust in Jesus because of Patrick’s efforts and faithfulness.

So, if we really want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day I say that we go to those who have done us wrong and forgive them and show them love. I say that we share the good news of Jesus’ love with them.

Imagine what would happen if we went to our worst enemies and showed them this kind of ground-breaking, earth-shattering, barrier-breaking, life-changing love.

You don’t have to be Irish to do that. Patrick wasn’t.

Your “Insignificance” Matters

There are many people, chances are that you are one of them, who walk through life feeling insignificant at one time or another.  We feel this way because, for the most part, we are. Ouch.

This is a very frustrating reality for a majority of us who crave to “make a name for ourselves.” But I got good news, our insignificance is okay. In fact, our insignificance matters more than we realize. You could say, our insignificance is actually really significant.

I want to take a moment and tell you about an insignificant guy. His name was Edward and he lived a long time ago. If you were to Google his first and last name looking for a biography you wouldn’t find all that much. Most stories about Edward would start with the fact that he was an ordinary, run of the mill, dry goods salesman who was talked into teaching a Sunday School class at his church.

Well, this ordinary salesman taught his class of teenage boys faithfully, even when they acted like…teenage boys. He loved his class and prayed for each of them to come to know Jesus. He was never applauded for teaching his class. No one ever gave him an award or graduated him to the “big leagues” of teaching an adult Sunday School class.

God did use Edward, however, because he led at least one teen boy (probably more) to Christ. That teenager’s name? Dwight. Thanks to Edward’s faithfulness Dwight trusted in Jesus for his salvation and began to grow in love with his God. Dwight developed a passion for reaching people with the good news of the Gospel.

Dwight became relentless in his evangelism and his commitment to serving God. At an event that Dwight was speaking at, a man named John Wilber decided to put his trust in Jesus Christ.

Since the Gospel is contagious, and since John Wilber couldn’t stop talking about his Savior, Jesus, soon after another man, Billy, put his trust in Jesus thanks to J. Wilber’s sharing. The newly converted Billy went on to become a very famous evangelist. And at one of Billy’s gospel crusades, a man named Mordecai decided to put his trust in Jesus.

Mordecai also decided that he needed to share the Gospel with anyone and everyone who would listen. One person who listened was another young man named Billy. From that day forward Billy dedicated his life to serving Jesus with everything he had. He faithfully served his Savior up until he went home to see his God on February 21, 2018.

So, in case you got lost, here is the chain of events described above.

Edward Kimball led Dwight Lyman (D.L.) Moody, the most impactful evangelist of the 19th century, to Christ.

Moody hosted and spoke at a Gospel rally where J. Wilber Chapman came to know Jesus.

Chapman led Billy Sunday, an evangelist so influential that even Frank Sinatra sang about him, to Jesus and mentored him.

Billy Sunday spoke at that Gospel meeting and his preaching influenced Mordecai Ham to trust Jesus.

Mordecai Ham began to hold Gospel crusades. It was at one of those crusaded where Billy Graham, the most impactful evangelist of the 20th century, who preached the Gospel to literally millions of people, decided to trust in Jesus as his Savior.

Thank you, Edward, for your faithfulness. Thank you, Edward, for not being afraid of insignificance.

Your insignificance matters. You may not be the next D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, or Billy Graham, but that is OK. We need more Edwards. It’s very clear that God uses the Edwards of the world. God can use YOU.

No matter how insignificant your day to day life might seem I can assure you, it is significant.

There is no telling what kind of impact on eternity you can have if you would just be faithful in doing what God has instructed you to do.

Romans 10:14

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

Don’t miss your chance to let God use you. Make the most of every opportunity, even if it seems insignificant.