One of the most memorable moments of my trip to the Philippines last January was sitting in on a young adults Sunday school class at Bethany Baptist Church in Makati. (I took the picture above from the upstairs balcony of this church.)
The text for the lesson was 2 Corinthians 8 about the Macedonian churches who, out of their poverty, were motivated and enabled by the grace of God to give joyfully to the advancement of the gospel.
In the morning church service, that church—comprised of Filipino Christians from the greater Manila area—gave three offerings. I am not exaggerating. The final offering was for five families in the church who were going through times of financial trial due to sickness or deaths in the family. When the pastor announced the amount of that offering (as he had announced the two previous offerings), I was amazed and humbled at the generosity of these Christians. Continue reading
What evokes Independence Day patriotism better than fireworks?
Every time I have opportunity to experience good old fourth-of-July fireworks, two lines from our beloved national anthem come into brilliant focus:
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
I usually view fireworks from the protective security of sitting on the trunk of a car parked a few blocks away. Continue reading
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Arlene!”
“Hiiiiii, Miss Déirdre!”
“I made you some cookies and just want you to know that I love you.”
“Awww, thank you.” [big hug]
I got to hear this delightful conversation repeated several times this evening while making Sunday school visits with my friend, Déirdre.
But one conversation ended more memorably. Continue reading
Victory—I love that word. And I love success, accomplishment, and achievement.
The only problem with experiencing these words—at least in a truly heroic endeavor—is that it takes so long to attain. We want success today. We want achievement now. We want victory without sacrifice and accomplishment without effort.
All of us would thrill to return to a hero’s welcome. But few of us are willing to fight in the trenches and to endure the grueling days of a soldier’s life. Continue reading
I actually have an excellent memory. I have mental snapshots from the family vacation we took when I was two. And I remember the “Winkie Bear” who told stories in my four-year-old class. I remember the name of every Sunday school teacher I had from kindergarten on. I even remember random dates—like the date I made my first pie crust (an utter failure!).
But I don’t remember these things every day. In fact, most of them I only remember when I’m trying to.
This is why Memorial Day is special. It helps us pause to trigger our memories—to purposefully stop and be thankful for the sacrifices made for our freedom. In my own family, I have a grandpa, two uncles, and a cousin who have served or are serving in the military. I’m so thankful for the freedom they have preserved for me. I’d like to say that I gratefully remember their sacrifices every day, but I can honestly say that I have thought of their sacrifices many times today. That’s the blessing of Memorial Day.
If Memorial Day is so helpful for patriotic memories, perhaps we would be wise to establish trigger points for other important memories as well. What reminds you to thank the Lord for your salvation? To count your blessings? What reminds you of the answers to prayer God has given in the past? Of His miraculous dealings in your life?
If I was asked to describe any one of those areas, I could recall the stories easily. You probably could too. Perhaps we need more memorial days—or at least more memorial points. Let’s pause to remember!
I’m not a shopper. Ask my sisters. (I’m afraid I’ve made some of their shopping expeditions rather unpleasant.) Neither am I a spender. (The way I see it, saving 50% on a sale item is no savings at all if you weren’t already planning to purchase the item. In that case, you’re agreeing to spend 50%.)
Perhaps this perspective is what arrested my attention when I read David’s statement in 1 Chronicles 21:24: “I will not…offer burnt offerings without cost.” What? David had an opportunity to have something without cost—for free, and he refused it! Why? Because he wanted to give something of value to the Lord.
Every time there is a cost involved in serving God, every time there is a price to my commitment to offer myself as a living sacrifice, it is an opportunity to ascribe worth to the Lord—to prove how valuable He is to me.
I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing. He is worthy!