Unlimited Grace Available…And Not Just For Existing Customers!

Free? That’s a great deal! At least that is what CNET said about Sprint’s “Free Year of Unlimited Data!” CNET reassured their readers, “it’s not a joke;” and “there is no catch!” There is an exception though…you cannot be an existing customer.

According to CNET, the plan is to try to get new customers from Verizon. It isn’t being advertised, it isn’t available in stores, and the only way to get it is if you go online and bring your own phone to the deal.

So, assuming Sprint’s network works for you, and you have a phone you want to keep, this may just be good news for you. But existing customers get nothing more than the contract they already have. And they aren’t happy with that arrangement.

I’m reminded of a parable Jesus spoke in Matthew 20 about workers who had been hired to work in a vineyard. They agreed upon a price, and worked all day. Others, hired later in the day, worked fewer hours; some worked one hour. When it came time to pay though, everyone got the same – an entire day’s wage!

As you can imagine, the ones who worked all day weren’t happy. They thought they deserved more. The master reminded them that he had paid them their wage. He continued, “I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?”

Now, I admit, there are significant differences between the parable and Sprint deal. In a free-market economy, customers may negotiate, and even choose other vendors. But perhaps there is a good reminder for us, nevertheless.

God’s grace is immeasurable. Angels rejoice when one comes to the knowledge of the truth. The reward of the gospel is for all, whether faithful for 5 decades or 5 minutes. There is no better deal than eternal salvation!

But human nature gets in the way. Some think, “I’ve been faithful longer; I should get more reward,” Let’s check our hearts to ensure that we rejoice equally with all who receive God’s grace – no matter when. And, unlike the Sprint deal, don’t keep it quiet. Let’s shout the good news from the hilltops!

Careless Speech, Harvard Lessons, and Wisdom from the Word

In light of everything else going on in the world today, it is barely a story. Ten kids who had been accepted into Harvard made some really dumb choices about what to post and say in a Facebook chat room. Then Harvard rescinded their offers.

But if you read the headlines, you would think that their lives were “ruined.” Please. To suggest that their lives are ruined is… a stretch. Ten really smart kids with great grade point averages and high SAT scores are going to be ok. In fact, they will probably be better off…if they gain wisdom from their mistake.

It is best to learn this universal truth when you are young – actions have consequences!

Careless words on social media are not just harmless speech in an alternate reality. They will be used against you. The comments and pictures they shared were racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and promoted pedophilia and suicide. And Harvard held them accountable.

Good advice for kids hasn’t changed in 3,000 years. In Proverbs 4, the wise teacher gives advice to his son. Here are a few excerpts, but the chapter is worth a read:

  • My child, listen closely to my teachings and learn common sense.
  • Be wise and learn good sense…
  • Don’t follow the bad example of cruel and evil people… Stay away from them.
  • Carefully guard your thoughts…

Wisdom is not easily learned. It involves a few hard knocks.

While these kids are, no doubt, exceptionally bright, this week they earned a little wisdom…if they learn from their mistakes. We hope the wisdom gained today will stick with them as future elected officials, doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc. Careless words have consequences.

The Bible is clear that we will all be called into account for our careless words (Matthew 12:36). Specifically, we will be judged by whether we confessed Jesus as the Son of God or not. Does your speech foolishly mock God and His grace?

Christ is the only true forgiveness for all our sins. Be wise and learn that lesson while there is still time. With wise speech, confess Jesus as Lord and Savior today!

You’re Not A Flamingo! Christians Don’t Have A Passive Gravitational Stay Mechanism

The flamingo stands on one leg. You’ve probably seen pictures. You may even have wondered how and why they stand that way. Many theories still exist about the “why,” but researchers from Emory and Georgia Tech have recently answered the “how.” They call is a “passive gravitational stay mechanism.”

Flamingos have a unique mechanism in their legs. When standing on one leg, the foot centers beneath the body. That engages a “stay mechanism” that allows the bird to stand with no effort at all. In fact, the researchers were even able to engage this mechanism on dead flamingos!

In other words, Flamingos stand with no muscle or energy expenditure! When the flamingo wants to swap legs or stand on two feet, they simply disengage the mechanism by leaning in. It is, truly, an amazing design.

Humans, of course, don’t have that ‘stay mechanism.’ We use muscles to stand, and we expend energy. If we stand in one position with knees locked, we will typically pass out or fall over after a certain amount of time.

Ironically, though, Christians sometimes act like flamingos. We think we can stand firm in the faith without actively working at it. When a person becomes a Christian, they are said to be a new creature…but not a flamingo! Standing requires effort.

Paul reminded the Corinthians to stand firm in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1). Standing firm requires alertness, courage, and strength (16:13). He exhorted the Galatians to stand firm to avoid slavery to sin (Galatians 5:1). The example is of a soldier standing in battle with “cleats” on his sandals.

The flamingo’s “knee” is God’s amazing design. The best “why” guess scientists have is that, by expending no energy on standing, they can regulate body temperature better. They are designed to withstand their environment.

We are designed to withstand our environment as well. We stand securely when we stand on the promises of God! But our standing is not passive – it requires an active faith in the saving work of His Son. Now that is a firm foundation!

Don’t be allured by the illusion! Spiritually assess the true value.

Most people believe that violins by Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), which sell for millions of dollars, project a superior sound to modern violins. On the contrary, modern sound tests have failed to show the proof of these claims. In fact, in a recent series of tests, Stradivari’s violins, once again, failed to impress…well, sort of.

Stradivari’s violins are beautiful works of art. But in “blind” sound tests, such as those published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, modern violins are preferred. Modern violins are consistently said to project sound louder and better. But, guess what? When listeners were told a Stradivarius was being played, they picked it as the better instrument!

This isn’t unusual. Name brands are perceived to have quality. People pay thousands more for name brand watches, purses, etc. In functionality, though, the illusion of the brand often fails to live up to perceptions of superiority.

Assume that you had paid millions of dollars for a Stradivarius because you thought it had superior sound. Then it failed to impress when compared to a far less expensive, modern violin. Would you feel duped?

In Spiritual matters we see this every day. People are duped by the illusion of worldly matters. But the illusion of this world’s value is surpassed immensely by the actual value of heaven and the functional reality of the gospel.

The Hebrews writer lets us know why Jesus is better: As the Son, Jesus is greater than all messengers and messages (1:4-7); He builds a greater house than Moses (3:1-6); Jesus brings a greater rest than Joshua did (4:8-9); He is a greater priest than Aaron because He is sinless and lives forever (7:26-28); He has a greater ministry with a greater covenant, built on greater promises, with the greatest sacrifice (Hebrews 7:22; 8:6; 9:12).

Those who live for this world cannot see beyond its allure. Rather, we must appraise the value of things according to their spiritual worth (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)! Things in the world have the illusion of being better, but Jesus is the best! And why would you listen to anything else?