Monthly Archives: January 2017

Take It On Faith…And Hear The Applause!

It took a moment for David Colby to figure out what the fuss was about. David is an amateur golfer who was playing at the CareerBuilder Challenge in Palm Springs. He had just teed off on a par 3 at the 17th when he heard loud cheering and applause from the gallery…a hole-in-one!

To say the least, the look on Colby’s face was amusing. If it had been my shot, they would have been cheering because I made it on the green! Instead, Colby got a hole-in-one and won a car at the same time.

The reason Colby was clueless about his shot was the topography of the hole. He was hitting into an area where he couldn’t see the green. But there was no doubt. Why? The applause of the crowd.

There are a couple of great lessons I like from Colby’s experience:

#1, “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitudes rule those who choose to deny God, but in all other areas of life, people accept far less data than scripture provides. Colby heard applause, his caddy gave him a high-five, and a tournament director told him he won a car. He accepted, as fact, all of this, without having seen it. Why? Reliable testimony.

#2, He knew he had victory because of the applause of the crowd. Many were cheering for him. They were happy to see him succeed. Also, a hole-in-one is a rare feat in golf, and many were glad to have witnessed the shot.

The Bible teaches both lessons:

#1, Faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Seeing isn’t the only way of believing. The evidence, nevertheless, is there.

#2, Hebrews 12:1 teaches that great acts of faith, by the faithful who have gone on before us, continue to cheer us on. They remind us to remain faithful, even unto death.

Listen. Can you hear the cheering? We overcome in Him. A hole-in-one may win you a car, but remaining faithful leads to an eternal crown of righteousness. Our victory is in Jesus!

I Love You So Much…Alexa? Perfect gifts are from above!

So, by now, you’ve probably heard of the 6-year-old girl, Brooke Neitzel. She is the young lady who tried out her family’s new voice-activated system (“Alexa”) soon after Christmas. She had seen the commercials. It seemed easy. Ask Alexa, and Alexa does.

So Brooke had a conversation with Alexa. She told Alexa how much she loves dollhouses, and would Alexa please order her one…and some cookies. And guess what? A dollhouse and cookies showed up at the door. Magic!

Her parents were confused, to say the least. So they went back and looked at the transcript on their computer. Sure enough, young Brooke had asked Alexa for a dollhouse and cookies. And when Alexa told Brooke she would be happy to comply, Brooke said, “I love you so much.”

So Brooke’s parents put new controls on Alexa to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. They also spoke about the value of things, and donated the dollhouse to a charity. But Brooke got to keep the cookies.

The story is cute. It is also a good reminder to keep parental controls on the Internet and automated home systems. We all know that the story could have ended very differently. After all, the Internet is a dangerous place for kids without parental guidance.

Nevertheless, in the innocence of a child speaking to Alexa, I see a bit of the way God wants us to approach Him. No, God isn’t, as some prosperity preachers want you to believe, interested in giving everyone dollhouses and cookies. But He is the good gift giver (Matthew 7:11) who gives perfect gifts from above (James 1:17).

1 John 5:14-15 reminds us, “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

So consider this: Do we approach God with confidence? And when we see how blessed we are, do we remember to thank God, and tell Him we love Him? Surely, a 6 year-old teaches us a good lesson.

“Thanks” Should Focus Attention On The One Who Is Thanked

Don’t get me wrong, Ryan Gosling’s speech was nice. But why did a simple “thank you” make the Internet blow-up? Because the focus went to the thank-er, not the thank-ee…and that is a problem.

Now, to catch you up…

You might not watch the Golden Globes. I know I didn’t. But, if you did, (or if you caught any news in the last two days that wasn’t Bama-Clemson related), then you know Ryan Gosling gave a nice shout-out to his wife during his acceptance speech. It is the kind of thing a husband should do.

Gosling let the world know that the only way he was able to do the work that won a Golden Globe was because of his wife. His wife, Eva Mendes, was busy raising their daughter, was pregnant with their 2nd child, and was helping her brother who was fighting cancer…all while Gosling was making “La La Land.” No, he wasn’t in ‘la la land;’ that is actually the name of the movie.

Yet, his “thank you” immediately took the focus in the wrong direction. Thousands praised Gosling for his thankfulness; hearts melted at how wonderful he is; and some were even critics who said that he was encouraging gender disparity.

But all of it focused on Gosling! He thanked and gave credit to Mendes (who is a successful actress as well) for being a great wife, mom, and thoughtful sister. And the Internet focused on him – for thanking her?!?

Now, there is nothing wrong with noticing that he said thanks. But I imagine (or hope) that Gosling wanted people to see how great he thinks she is. The opposite occurred. In a “look at me” world of “I did it on my own” braggarts, a simple “thank you” was so unique that people could not see one thanked.

Take note Christians! Are we thank-er focused or thank-ee?

We should live in thankfulness and model it for others (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Husbands should praise their wives (Proverbs 31). Husbands and wives should live for each other (Ephesians 5:22-28). These things are all right and good.

But we must remain diligent to keep the focus on the one we thank. Let us shine the light on the one to whom all thanks are due. To God be the glory!

Safety Is In the Boat – In Fishing and Salvation!

Ross Chapman was fishing off the coast of Australia. He had just caught a 450lb marlin, tagged it, and released it. As he was releasing the marlin, he knocked his GoPro camera overboard, reached out to grab it, and fell into the ocean. His boat, still in gear from boating the marlin, drifted away faster than he could catch it.

Chapman spent 6 hours in the water. Thankfully, other fisherman saw his boat drifting, rallied others to the search, and found him in the open ocean. Had they not found him, he would have remained in waters known to have jellyfish, sharks, and orcas.

Now, as anyone who has boated much knows, bad stuff can happen on the water. A couple of lessons are clear: 1) don’t fish alone, and 2) don’t reach overboard for your camera if your boat is in gear! Still, I can’t imagine the horrible feeling of watching my boat motor away into the open ocean.

It is almost too obvious to say, but “safety is found in the boat.”

In many ways, salvation is likened to a boat in the Bible. Of course, the oldest lesson came in the days of Noah (Genesis 7:23, 1 Peter 3:20). Getting in, and staying in, the ark saved eight souls. In the New Testament, Paul warned that abandoning the ship would cause death (Acts 27:31).

When teaching salvation, most people concentrate on the “getting in” part. They concentrate on belief, or perhaps repentance, confession, or even baptism. And, of course, the “getting in” is essential. But some forget to teach the equal importance of “staying in” Christ!

The New Testament consistently teaches: salvation is for those who stay in Christ. Getting in is just the beginning. We must be wary against falling from grace (Galatians 5:4), abandoning the faith (1 Timothy 4:1, 6:21, 2 Timothy 2:18), or shipwrecking our salvation (1 Timothy 1:19).

Get in Christ, remain in Christ, and arrive safely at your eternal destination – heaven. And be careful what you reach out for in this world…it might just cause you to fall out of the boat!