Category Archives: Spiritual Life
Because we live in a fallen world, going through difficult times is inevitable:
JOB 5:7 – but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
JOHN 16:33 - I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
ROMANS 8:18-23 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
1 PETER 4:12 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
4 Purposes for Suffering
(1) It makes our faith stronger.
1 PETER 1:6-7 – In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(2) It helps us grow into the kind of person that God wants me to be.
JOB 23:8-10 – Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
PHILIPPIANS 3:7-8 – But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
JAMES 1:2-4 – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(3) It causes us to think more about eternity in Heaven.
2 CORINTHIANS 4:16-18 – So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(4) It disciplines us for our sins.
HEBREWS 12:10-13 – For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all disciplines seem painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
PROVERBS 3:11-12 – My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
How Should We Respond To Suffering?
(1) Recognize that God’s grace is sufficient for me.
PSALM 55:22 - Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
2 CORINTHIANS 12:9 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my own weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(2) Remember that God is sovereign over our adversities.
PSALM 33:13-15 – The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks at the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
PSALM 71:20-21 – You have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.
ISAIAH 43:1-2 – But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you will not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
(3) Know that God is always there to listen and respond to you.
PSALM 3:4 – I cried aloud to the LORD and he answered me from his holy hill.
PSALM 9:9-10 – The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
PSALM 31:9-10 – Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.
PSALM 61:2 – from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
PSALM 86:3 – Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O lOrd, do I lift up my soul.
(4) Use the help God gives you to help others.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(5) Know that adversity results in God’s reward.
JAMES 1:12 – Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
1 PETER 5:10 – After you have suffered awhile, the God of all grace, who has called you to eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Biblical illustrations – Job – whole book; Joseph – Genesis 37-50; Stephen – Acts 7; Paul and Silas – Acts 16.
SOURCE: Adapted from the Quick Reference For Counseling. Grand Rapids, Baker, 2006, 217-219.
We cannot control the length of our life,
but we can control its width and depth.
We cannot control the contour of our countenance,
but we can control its expression.
We cannot control the other person’s annoying habits,
but we can do something about our own..
We cannot control the distance our head is above the ground,
but we can control the contents we feed into it.
God help us do something about what we can control,
and leave all else in the hands of God!
SOURCE: John Lawrence. Life’s Choices: Discovering the consequences of sowing and reaping. Portland, OR.: Multnomah Press, 1975. p. 115.
The healing of the demon possessed boy (Matt. 17:14–20) at first glance seems to be only one more in a series of miraculous healings recorded by Matthew. What makes this one unique is Jesus’ emphasis on the role of faith. It is true that faith is prominent in the miracles recorded in chapter 9, but in chapter 17 it is the lack of faith that is emphasized by Jesus.
That God is not dependent on human faith for accomplishing His work is clear from the accounts of other miracles recorded by Matthew. The transfiguration of Jesus immediately prior to the healing of the boy is a prime example. It was a spectacular miracle; yet no human faith was involved. This is also true in the feeding of the five thousand (Matt. 14:13–21) and the four thousand (15:32–38). So the first thing we need to learn about faith and the power of God is that He is not dependent on our faith to do His work. God will not be hostage to our lack of faith.
The second thing we need to learn, however, is that God often requires our faith in the carrying out of His purposes. We see this in the healing of the demon possessed boy. Mark, in his account, brings this out sharply in Jesus’ conversation with the boy’s father. The father, in great distress, said to Jesus: “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). He had already experienced the failure of the disciples, so he was not sure if Jesus could help. His faith at this point may be described as no more than an uncertain hope that Jesus could do what the disciples could not do.
Jesus responded to the father: “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes” (v. 23). Biblical faith may be described in different ways depending on the situation. The description of faith in Hebrews 11:1 as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” was appropriate for the Jewish recipients of the letter, who were facing severe opposition and needed to be encouraged as to the certainty of their hope in Christ.
For the father of the boy, faith would mean believing that Jesus could heal his son. We are often like the father. We may face what seems to be an intractable situation, and because we have prayed a long time without an answer, we begin to doubt that God can answer our prayer. But we must believe that with God nothing is impossible.
Sarah, the wife of Abraham, doubted that God could give them a son in their advanced age, to which God replied, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14). Centuries later, the prophet Jeremiah wavered in his faith when God told him to buy a field in the face of the Chaldeans’ invasion (Jer. 32:6-26). Again God’s response was: “Is anything too hard for me?” (v. 27). To have faith in God, even in the face of unanswered prayer or a seemingly impossible situation, means we continue to believe that He can do what seems impossible to us.
The importance of faith is further emphasized in Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question: “Why could we not cast it out?” (Matt. 17:19). He said it was because of their little faith. We are not told in what way their faith was deficient. We do know that Jesus had previously given them authority over demons to cast them out (Matt. 10:1–8), so why was their faith so weak at this time? Perhaps it was because the demon did not respond immediately to their command, and so they began to doubt the power of Jesus. Or perhaps they presumed that because they had been successful before, they would be at that time. So we see that faith not only involves a firm reliance on Jesus’ power and ability, but also a complete renunciation of any confidence in our own.
Last month we looked briefly at the subject of God’s providence. In Matthew 17 we see an example of it in action, in connection with a mundane event — the paying of the temple tax. Jesus, as the Son of God, was under no obligation to pay the tax. Yet in order to give no offense, He sent Peter to catch a fish in whose mouth was the required shekel. This brief account raises some questions: How did the shekel get into the mouth of the fish? How did Peter just “happen” to catch that fish and not another one nearby? It is possible that Jesus performed a miracle and created the coin out of nothing in the mouth of the fish.
It is more likely, however, that it was a work of providence. Someone “accidentally” dropped a shekel into the sea. A particular fish grabbed it, and it stuck in its mouth. The fish swam to the exact spot where Peter cast his net and the fish was caught. None of these events was miraculous; yet all of them were necessary to accomplish Jesus’ purpose, and Jesus was in control of each one of them. God’s power is as much at work in His providence as in His miracles. So as we struggle with our own faith, or lack of it, in the difficult situations of life, let us believe that God is able, whether through miracles or providence, to care for us.
SOURCE: Jerry Bridges, July 1, 2008 @ http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/faith-and-power-god/
Life Lessons I learned from Noah’s Ark…
ONE: Don’t miss the boat.
TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat.
THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
FOUR: Stay fit. When you’re sixty years old, someone may ask you to do something big.
FIVE: Don’t listen to critics; just get on the job that needs to be done.
SIX: Build your future on high ground.
SEVEN: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
EIGHT: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
NINE: When you’re stressed, float awhile.
TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs. The Titanic by professionals.
ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.
The feeding of the five thousand, recorded in Matthew 14:13–21, is probably the most well known of all of Jesus’ miracles. It is the only one recorded by all four of the gospel writers (see Mark 6:30–44;Luke 9:10–19; John 6:1–14). It is also one that skeptics have most often tried to explain away. A common explanation is that the little boy’s example of generosity in giving his bread and fish to Jesus prompted others to share the food they had brought along, so that there was enough for all.
That this was an amazing miracle is beyond doubt. To use a contemporary expression, it was “over the top.” It is impossible to visualize in our minds what it must have looked like, and the extreme brevity of the account tempts us to fill in the details. But we should refrain from doing so, knowing that the Holy Spirit guided the gospel writers to give us only as much detail as He wanted us to know.
Rather than puzzling over omitted details, we need to ask of any portion of Scripture what it teaches us. Without claiming to have plumbed the depths of this passage, let me draw out one obvious lesson: Jesus controls the physical universe, and He exercises that control for His people.
Scripture teaches us that the Son of God was not only the agent of creation, but that He also upholds the universe and holds it together by the word of His power (Heb. 1:1–3; Col. 1:16–17). That is, He who created the universe in the beginning also sustains and directs it moment by moment on a continual basis. We know, for example, that ordinarily the physical laws of the universe operate in a consistent and predictable manner. The reason they do is because of the consistent will of Christ causing them to do so. They do not operate on their own.
This helps us understand why Jesus could perform miracles; in this case causing five small barley cakes and two small fish to multiply so dramatically that they fed more than five thousand people. Jesus, who created the physical laws and stands outside of them and over them, could, as He purposed, change or countermand any of them. In fact He could, if He so willed, create an entirely new law of multiplication for that specific occasion so that the bread and fish multiplied.
We really don’t know what Jesus did, or what the multiplication process looked like. We only know the results, and we know that the Lord of the universe could, in whatever way He chose, produce those miraculous results. Miracles were no problem for Jesus.
Today, at least in the Western world, we seem to see few miracles, and certainly none the scope of the feeding of the five thousand. What we do see, however, are the results of God’s invisible hand of providence. Setting aside the theological definition of providence to keep it simple, we may say that providence is God’s orchestrating all events and circumstances in the universe for His glory and the good of His people (Rom. 8:28).
Scripture teaches us that just as the Son of God was the agent of creation and is its present sustainer, so too is He also the agent of God’s providence. Jesus is in sovereign control, not only of the physical laws of the universe, but of all the events and circumstances in the universe, including those that happen to each of us. If you have food today in your cupboard and refrigerator, that is as much the result of Jesus’ care for you as was the feeding of the five thousand.
Just as the physical laws of the universe ordinarily operate in a consistent and predictable manner, so providence ordinarily operates in a predictable cause and effect relationship. “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Prov. 10:4). That’s cause and effect, and it is generally predictable. But just as Jesus intervened in the physical laws during His time on earth, so He intervenes in normal cause-and-effect relationships. Sometimes from our perspective His intervention is “good” and sometimes it’s “bad.” In either case He is in control “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (Lam. 3:38).
The good news, however, is that Jesus is not only in control of all the events and circumstances of our lives, He is also compassionate. In the record of the feeding of the five thousand, the text says “He had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matt. 14:14). At the subsequent feeding of the four thousand, Jesus said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat” (Matt. 15:32). Whether it was healing the sick or feeding the multitude, Jesus was moved to act by His compassion. On other occasions throughout the Gospels we see Jesus acting as a result of His compassion. And what He was while on earth, He is today in heaven: a sovereign and compassionate Savior who works all things for His glory and our good.
*SOURCE: June 1st, 2008 @ http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/providence-jesus/
“The Best News”
There are many different attitudes. Roberto De Vincenzo, a golfer from Argentina, beautifully displayed one of the best ones many years ago when he won the Masters golf tournament but was denied the coveted green jacket.
I say he won it because he had the lowest score at the end of four days. But his playing partner who kept the score had inadvertently written that he had made a five in on one of the holes when in reality he had made a four.
De Vincenzo signed the card, and when an incorrect card is signed, the player is disqualified. He had not cheated, but the rules stood. What was his reaction when he learned he was disqualified? Did he blame his playing partner? No, he said he made a stupid mistake. He accepted full responsibility himself. Now what kind of man is he?
Some time later he won another tournament. After they gave him the check, he spent a great deal of time in the dressing room. He was in no particular hurry. When he got out to the parking lot, it was empty except for a young woman. She approached him saying she didn’t have a job, her sick baby was at the point of death, and she didn’t have the money to pay the hospital or the doctors. De Vincenzo signed his tournament winnings over to the young woman and went on his way.
The next week he was in a country club. One of the PGA officials told him he had been a victim of fraud—that the woman didn’t have a baby and was not even married. De Vincenzo said, “You mean there is not a sick baby at all?” The official said, “That’s right.” De Vincenzo said, “You have just given me the best news I’ve heard all year.”
Where’s your heart? What’s your attitude? How would you have felt under those circumstances? Who had the greater problem—the golfer or the young woman? I think it is obvious isn’t it? How many of you think De Vincenzo really brooded the rest of his life over that woman who had beaten him out of that check? I don’t think he gave it another thought. He was truly glad that there had not been an ill child. Now that takes compassion, it takes heart, but it also takes wisdom.
When is maturity in attitude reached? Is attitude a head thing, a heart thing, or both? Maturity in attitude is reached when you fully understand what you can change and what you can’t change, and you respond accordingly. De Vincenzo couldn’t change the figures on his score card retrieve the money he had signed over to the lying woman. Fussing and fuming would not change the reality of either mistake. He chose to accept what had happened and move forward. By doing so he saved his partner any further embarrassment and grief over the mistake. He showed everyone who witnessed the other incident his true character and was not made to look like a naïve fool by an official who was all too proud to have the scoop.
People with a good heart are exposed most readily in times of stress and ill fortune. De Vincenzo was more interested in the needs of his golfing partner and the wlfare of a baby than he was in claiming to have been wronged. A heart like his, one that is honest, expects the best and holds no malice. It is developed over a lifetime.
Roberto De Vincenzo at some point decided he was responsible for his circumstances in life, that he had control over how he responded to disappointment, and that a good attitude and a trusting heart offered many more rewards than their counterparts. Make the same decisions for yourself and relax into a more fulfilling life.
It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you handle it that will determine whether you are happy or miserable.
About Zig Ziglar:
Zig Ziglar was born in Coffee County, Alabama on November 26, 1926 and was the tenth of 12 children. In 1931, when Ziglar was five years old, his father took a management position at a Mississippi farm, and family moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi, where he spent his early childhood. In 1932, his father died of a stroke, and his younger sister died two days later.
Zigler served in the Navy during World War II (circa 1943-1945). He was in the Navy V-12 College Training Program, attending the University of South Carolina. In 1944 he met his wife Jean, in Jackson, Mississippi; he was 17 and she was 16. They married in late 1946.
Ziglar later worked as a salesman in a succession of companies. In 1968 he became the vice president and training director for the Automotive Performance company, moving to Dallas, Texas.
In 1970, Ziglar went into the business of motivational speaking full-time, with an emphasis on Christian values. Until then, he called himself by his given name, Hilary, but now satarted using his nickname, Zig, instead.
Until 2010 (aged 86) Ziglar traveled around the world taking part in motivational seminars, but has been somewhat limited recently due to a fall down a flight of stairs in 2007 that has impaired his short-term memory and physical abilities.
Through the ups and downs of life Ziglar has maintained his optimism and encouraged thousands of people to be their best in the particular endeavors to which God has called them. Zig Ziglar is one of the most inspirational people on the planet today and is a terrific example of someone who has embraced the struggle of life giving God the glory each step of the way.
The article above was adapted from Chapter 5 in the very encouraging book by Zig Ziglar entitled Zig Ziglar’s Life Lifters: Moments of Inspiration for Living Life Better. Nashville, TN.: B&H, 2003.
Zig Ziglar’s Books:
Ziglar, Zig; Ziglar, Tom. Born to Win: Find Your Success Code. Dallas: SUCCESS Media (2012).
Something Else To Smile About: More Encouragement and Inspiration for Life’s Ups and Downs. Nashville: Thomas Nelson (2010).
Ziglar, Zig; Norman, Julie Ziglar. Embrace the Struggle: Living Life on Life’s Terms. New York: Howard Books (2009).
The One-Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar. Tyndale House Publishers (2009)
Inspiration 365 Days a Year with Zig Ziglar. SIM (2008)
God’s Way is Still the Best Way. Nashville: Thomas Nelson (2007).
Better Than Good: Creating a Life You Can’t Wait to Live. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers (2006).
Conversations with My Dog. B&H Books (2005).
The Autobiography of Zig Ziglar. New York: Random House (2004).
Confessions of a Grieving Christian. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group 2004).
Courtship After Marriage: Romance Can Last a Lifetime. Nashville: Thomas Nelson (2004).
Staying Up, Up, Up in a Down, Down World. Nashville: Thomas Nelson (2004).
Zig Ziglar’s Life Lifters: Moments of Inspiration for Living Life Better. B&H (2003).
Selling 101: What Every Successful Sales Professional Needs to Know. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers (2003).
Ziglar, Zig and Hayes, John P. Network Marketing For Dummies. Foster City, Calif: IDG Books (2001).
Success for Dummies. Foster City, Calif: IDG Books (1998).
Something to Smile About: Encouragement and Inspiration for Life’s UPS and DOWNS. Nashville: Thomas Nelson (1997).
Great Quotes from Zig Ziglar. Career Press (1997)
Over the Top. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers (1994).
Five Steps to Successful Selling. Nigtingale-Conant Corp. (1987).
Top Performance: How to Develop Excellence in Yourself and Others. New York: Berkley Books (1986).
Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World. Nashville: Oliver Nelson (1985).
Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale. New York: Berkley Books (1982).
See You at the Top. Gretna: Pelican (1975).
About Golfer Roberto De Vincenzo
The world will always remember Roberto De Vicenzo for what he lost, not for what he won-for that careless mistake he made at the 1968 Masters, signing an incorrect scorecard that had him making a par and not a birdie on the 17th hole that Sunday afternoon-and, thus, his uttering of the immortal golf quote, “What a stupid I am.” Yet there is so much more to De Vicenzo’s career and the contributions he made to golf around the world than what occurred in the scorer’s tent at Augusta National that should not overshadow the man’s legacy. Roberto De Vicenzo won more than 230 golf tournaments, including the 1967 Open Championship at Hoylake, where he held off the Sunday charges of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to become, at 44, the oldest winner of the world’s oldest golf championship.
Facing success and catastrophe and treating those twin imposters the same inspired British golf writer Peter Dobereiner to use the Rudyard Kipling quote when giving De Vicenzo his due. In Dobereiner’s words, “By that standard, De Vicenzo is a giant of a man because he faced the greatest triumph and the most devastating disaster which the game of golf can provide.” The United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America agreed, presenting De Vicenzo with the Bob Jones and William Richardson Awards, respectively, in 1970.
All the trophies he captured didn’t mean as much to De Vicenzo as the friends he made traveling the globe. He won national opens in Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Holland, France, Germany, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela and Argentina, a country he represented 17 times in the World Cup. Essayist Jack Whitaker once said that if golf were war, Roberto would have conquered more countries than Alexander the Great. But golf was not war to De Vicenzo. And that is what made him so loved.
Born in Buenos Aires April 14, 1923, De Vicenzo learned the game as a caddy’s assistant. He turned professional at age 15 and won his first of nine Argentine Open titles six years later. Three-time Open Championship winner Henry Cotton once said there were very few professionals in the business who would not take the play through the green of Argentine golfing master Roberto De Vicenzo, and his game never left him. At 51 he won the PGA Seniors’ Championship and in 1980, at age 57, the inaugural U.S. Senior Open.
He believed in hard practice, routinely hitting 400 balls a day and maintaining a slow pace. “If you hurry,” he would say, “then nothing seems to go right.” He’d visualize a shot, pick a club and hit. His method was simple to watch, and it held up under pressure.
It did that final round at the Masters in 1968. What’s lost behind that staggering mistake made by fellow competitor Tommy Aaron and signed for by De Vicenzo is that Roberto shot what has been called one of the greatest rounds in major championship history. He took only 65 strokes around Augusta National that day, including a bogey at the 18th, on his 45th birthday. His 31 on the front side started with an eagle 2 at the first and tied the course record. It should have been good enough to tie Bob Goalby and set up a playoff which, had he won, would have given Roberto De Vicenzo both the Open Championship and Masters titles at the same time.
Our attitude at the beginning of a job will affect the outcome of the job more than anything else.
Our attitude toward life determines life attitude toward us.
Our attitude toward others will determine their attitude toward us.
Before we can achieve the kind of life we want, we must think, act, walk, talk, and conduct ourselves in ways characteristic of who we ultimately wish to become.
The higher we go in any organization of value, the better the attitude we’ll find.
Holding successful, positive thoughts in our minds will make all the difference in the world.
If we always make a person feel needed, important, and appreciated, he or she will return this attitude to us.
Part of a good attitude is to look for the best in new ideas. So look for good ideas everywhere. We will find them in the most wonderful places: on the bumpers of cars, on restaurant menus, in books, in travel, out of the innocent mouths of children.
Don’t broadcast personal problems. It probably won’t help you, and it cannot help others.
Don’t talk about your health unless it’s good.
Radiate the attitude of well-being. Don’t be embarrassed to share visions, desires, and goals.
Treat everyone with whom you come in contact as a fellow member of the human race—with all the rights, duties, and privileges thereof. The Golden Rule still applies: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Ted W. Engstrom (1916-2006) led several major evangelical institutions – including World Vision, Zondervan Publishing House, Youth For Christ International, and Azusa Pacific University. He wrote or co-authored over 50 books and specialized in mentoring and developing leaders. “His ability to integrate the gospel with everyday life was absolutely inspiring,” said Dean R. Hirsch, head of World Vision International. “Dr. Ted made work and faith walk together.” This excerpt was adapted from Motivation to Last a Lifetime: Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983.
The Effect of Your Life in 1,400 Years
Do you think God has purposes for your life that will be realized in 1,400 years?
I do. Your life and mine.
Yes, the new heavens and the new earth may be here by then. I hope so. If so, there are things that are happening to you now that will have reverberations then for your good.
I say that because Paul says, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). When Paul speaks of “light momentary affliction,” he is referring to all the painful experiences of our lives — the same thing he means by “the sufferings of this present time” in Romans 8:18. All of this present time.
And when he says that these life-long experiences are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory,” he means that there is a correlation between those experiences now and our experiences of glory later. And that correlation is more than sequential, and more than evidence that we are going to glory.
It would be little comfort to Paul if I said the point was: “How I handle my backache and how you handle your beheading are evidence that we are both going to glory.” That’s true. But it’s not the point of the word “preparing” (katergazetai). His beheading will have a different effect on his glory than my backache will on mine. And I’ll be the happier for his reward.
Everything Relates to Everything
But what if, in 1,400 years Christ has not returned? Will your life make a difference in that world? I think so. In God’s governance of the world, everything relates to everything.
Consider this illustration.
When I was in Ethiopia last November, I was told of an Ethiopian missionary who went to Pakistan. He entered a town with a view to evangelizing and planting a church, even though Pakistan is not open to this kind of missionary work.
But when he went before the town leaders and they found out that he was from Ethiopia they said something to the effect: “You may do your work here. We owe you the gift of openness and hospitality, because your people gave asylum to Mohammed’s family 1,400 years ago.”
The Land of Justice
Since then I have tried to track down the history behind this amazing statement. In 2008 there was a symposium about this very tradition. Scholars from Princeton, Cornell, Rutgers, and the National Museum of Ethiopia met to discuss new historical findings.
In Islamic history and tradition, Ethiopia (Abyssinia) is known as the “Haven of the First Migration” of Muslims. During Mohammed’s lifetime (570 – 632) his followers were being persecuted in the surroundings of Mecca by pagan tribes.
Dr. Said Samatar, Professor of African History at Rutgers, explained “King Armah (Negash) and his decision to grant refuge to the family of the Prophet Mohammad, who arrived at Aksum while fleeing from their pagan persecutors.” King Armah was a Christian and had the reputation of treating people generously. Dr. Samatar described how “a Christian King refused bribes and granted sanctuary to the fleeing Muslims in Aksum.”
“Mohammad didn’t forget the generosity of the Negash,” he said, “and in the sayings (hadith) of the Prophet that have been recorded and passed on for generations, it is noted that ‘Abyssinia [Ethiopia] is a land of justice in which no one is oppressed.’”
Therefore, for many Muslims even today, 1,400 years later, “Ethiopia is synonymous with freedom from persecution and emancipation from fear.”
Consider Your Impact
Do you think that the Christians of Abysinnia, 1,400 years ago thought that what they were doing would have an effect for the glory of Christ and the good of the world fourteen centuries later, when a Pakistani mayor opened his city to a Christian Ethiopian missionary?
Therefore, I conclude that what we do in obedience to Christ in this life is never wasted. Our acts are like pebbles dropped in the pond of history. No matter how small our pebble, God rules the ripples. And he causes the design on the face of the waters to be exactly what he wills.
Your pebbles count. Drop them with daily faithfulness, and leave the ripples to God.
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.