12-102 — Choose Your Models Carefully
It is easy—even natural—to be in awe of someone who seems to have it all together. But we must be careful to follow only those who have godly character.
In Sports Spectrum, Harold Reynolds, ESPN baseball analyst and one-time all-star second baseman for the Seattle Mariners, writes:
When I was growing up in Corvallis, Oregon, there was [a basketball] player named Gus Williams. Gus tied his shoes in back instead of in front like normal. I thought that was so cool. So I started tying my shoes in the back. I wanted to be like Gus. He wore number 10; I wore number 10. He wore one wrist band; I wore one wrist band.
One day I was lying in bed and my stomach was killing me. I noticed that it wasn't my sports hero, Gus Williams, who came to my room to take care of me.
It was my mother.
That's when I began to understand the difference between heroes and role models. I stopped looking at athletic accomplishments to determine who I wanted to pattern my life after. Instead, I tried to emulate people with strong character who were doing things of lasting value.
Whom we look up to largely determines who we become. Choose your heroes well.
12-113 — The Strength of Community
William Barclay tells a story about the ancient Greek city of Sparta and then drives the point home with a striking application.
There is a famous story from Sparta. A Spartan king boasted to a visiting monarch about the walls of Sparta. The visiting monarch looked around and he could see no walls. He said to the Spartan king, "Where are these walls about which you speak and boast so much?" The Spartan king pointed at his bodyguard of magnificent Spartan troops. "These," he said, "are the walls of Sparta, and every man of them a brick."
Now, the point is quite clear. So long as a brick lies by itself it is useless. It only becomes of use when it is built into a building. That is why it was made; and it is in being built into a building that it realizes its function and the reason for its existence. It is so with the individual Christian. To realize his destiny he must not remain alone, but must be built into the fabric and edifice of the Church.
12-122 — Beware of Deceivers
The mission of a deceiver is simple: to deceive. Every believer should be grounded in the truth in order to ward off the evil advances of those who distort the truth. A deceiver is an agent of Satan. Because Satan is the father of lies, do not trust anything his disciples say to you.
A young man... stood on the outside of a crowd and boasted that he would make the...[street-corner] preacher...[quit] preaching. He shouted: "Hi, Mister, you can go home; you needn't preach any more—the Devil's dead!"
The preacher looked at the young man sternly, and replied: "The Devil's dead? Then you're an orphan!"
12-132 — Keeping Your Guard Up
By definition, a false teacher's life is void of truth. In an attempt to be received by believers, these deceivers will mask themselves with false spirituality. Author and Pastor Warren Wiersbe illuminates this point with a personal story.
In one of the churches I pastored, I noticed that a young man in the choir was doing his utmost to appear a "spiritual giant" to the other choir members, especially the younger women. He prayed with fervency and often talked about his walk with the Lord. Some of the people were impressed by him, but I felt that something was wrong and that danger was in the air.
Sure enough, he began to date one of the fine young ladies who happened to be a new believer. In spite of my warnings, she continued the friendship, which ended in her being seduced. I praise God that she was rescued and is now faithfully serving God, but she could have avoided that terrible experience.
The surest way to stay out of the wolf-trap is to stay in the sheep-fold— to be firmly grounded in the Word of God.
12-143 — Sharing the Good News
We need to give Jesus Christ all the praise for our salvation. Just think: those who love Him will live with Him forever! Author Max Lucado gives us special insight into the grace of God.
A fellow is doing some shopping at a commissary on a military base. Doesn't need much, just some coffee and a loaf of bread. He is standing in line at the checkout stand. Behind him is a woman with a full cart. Her basket overflows with groceries, clothing, and a VCR.
At his turn he steps up to the register. The clerk invites him to draw a piece of paper out of a fishbowl. "If you pull out the correct slip, then all your groceries are free," the clerk explains.
"How many 'correct slips' are there?" asks the buyer.
The bowl is full so the chances are slim, but the fellow tries anyway, and wouldn't you know it, he gets the winning ticket! What a surprise. But then he realizes he is only buying coffee and bread. What a waste.
But this fellow is quick. He turns to the lady behind him—the one with the mountain of stuff—and proclaims, "Well, what do you know, Honey? We won! We don't have to pay a penny."
She stares at him. He winks at her. And somehow she has the wherewithal to play along. She steps up beside him. Puts her arm in his and smiles. And for a moment they stand side-by-side, wedded by good fortune. In the parking lot she consummates the temporary union with a kiss and a hug and goes her way with a grand story to tell her friends.
I know, I know. What they did was a bit shady. He shouldn't have lied and she shouldn't have pretended. But that taken into account, it's still a nice story.
A story not too distant from our own. We, too, have been graced with a surprise. Even more than that of the lady. For though her debt was high, she could pay it. We can't begin to pay ours.
We, like the woman, have been given a gift. Not just at the checkout stand, but at the judgment seat.
And we, too, have become a bride. Not just for a moment, but for eternity. And not just for groceries, but for the feast. Don't we have a grand story to tell our friends?
Praise God, we do have a grand story to tell! Who will you share it with today?
12-176 — Actions Preach Louder Than Words
God's will is for a husband and wife to stay together. But what if the husband is not a believer? God's way is still best. Listen to this story about a wife who won her husband to Christ.
A Hindu woman was converted, chiefly by hearing the Word of God read. She suffered very much persecution from her husband. One day a missionary asked her, "When your husband is angry and persecutes you, what do you do?"
She replied: "Well, sir, I cook his food better; when he complains, I sweep the floor cleaner; and when he speaks unkindly, I answer him mildly. I try, sir, to show him that when I became a Christian, I became a better wife and a better mother."
The consequence of this was that, while the husband could withstand all the preaching of the missionary, he could not stand the practical preaching of his wife, and gave his heart to God with her.
A lost person seldom cares how much you know; he really wants to know how much you care.
12-233 — Our Source of Spiritual Strength
Word of God
Overconfidence in human strength has been the ruin of many. The believer needs to constantly be reminded that without an infusion of God's power, spiritual strength is not possible. Listen to this story.
J. Wilbur Chapman once came to F. B. Meyer with the question, "What is the matter with me? So many times I seem half empty, and so many times utterly powerless; what is the matter?"
He put his hand on Chapman's shoulder and answered, "Have you ever tried to breathe out three times without breathing in once?" Thinking it might be some new breathing exercise, Chapman answered, "I do not think I have." "Well," said Meyer, "try it." So he breathed out once, and then he had to breathe in again.
"Don't you know," said Dr. Meyer, "that you must always breathe in before you breathe out, and that your breathing out is in proportion to your breathing in?"
We must always fill the reservoir by prayer and a meditative study of the Word before we can draw out for service.
Inhale God's Word... exhale spiritual strength.... Inhale God's Word... exhale spiritual strength: that is the key to a growing relationship with the Lord.