“Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea” (2 Corinthians 11:25). Here’s a guy who probably shouldn’t go on a cruise! Right Paul?! Paul’s last shipwreck on the Isle of Malta may be one of the most famous of all time. Having appealed to Caesar for the right to defend himself against his Jewish accusers, Paul was being taken to Rome to face trial. It was a long and arduous journey. With winter setting in, the Roman troop caught a ship hoping to make it to a safe harbour. It was not to be. The ship did make it safely to Fair Havens but just a little further on was the larger, safer port of Phoenix. An argument arose over whether to stay or go. Maybe the sailors were thinking there would be more to do in the larger port, better protection, better entertainment and better beer to drink for a whole winter. Who knows? So against Paul’s better advice they set out and lost everything except their lives on that reef-strewn coast.

Steven P. Wickstrom observed that: “The parallel in our own lives is staggering. Sometimes (quite often, actually) God says NO to us. It is not always because what we ask for, or what we want to do is unreasonable or bad for us. It may be because the journey to get there is too hazardous. God often tells us to wait because the weather outside is not right for the journey. I don’t think that there was a bubble of fair weather sitting on top of Fair Havens. The crew of the ship knew what the weather was like, yet they decided to sail anyway. We have a tendency to be the same way, we hear God’s voice warning us to wait, and decide that we know better. We set our sails and steer straight into the storms of life. Have you ever done that? Have you ever gone against the will of God and wondered why life suddenly got so rough? I know I have. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever learn to truly trust God. Maybe you have the same problem. Sometimes we go through in life what Paul’s shipmates are about to go through in the storm.”[1]

Are you needing to make a decision about something right now? To go or to stay? What do you sense God is saying to you? What is your heart wanting to do? What about your desires and emotions? Are the two directions in line or do you find an inner battle going on as you resist God’s guidance? How often have you been there?!

This cruise is an enjoyable time to relax, refresh, make new friends and admire God’s beautiful creation all around.  Perhaps it might also be a time to seriously pray through with God the direction you are wrestling with, or even more, to approach God about why this heart of yours is so rebellious towards doing his will. May he lead you into a place of Fair Havens as you do so.


[1] http://www.spwickstrom.com/acts27/

Note: This is a series of daily devotionals prepared for the Cedar Grove Generational Ministries Alaska Inside Passage Cruise, August 4-11, 2013

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“Master! Don’t you care that we’re about to drown?!!” Memorable words. Words of desperation. Words of anger. Words of fear! Words coming from men who knew Jesus better than anyone else on earth. Yet, demanding, cutting words, no doubt bordering on terror. Have you ever called out to God like that?!

We all know the story. It was the end of another long, wearying day of ministry. Jesus leaves the crowds behind and tells the disciples to get into the boat and head for the other side of the small Sea of Galilee. No doubt, he needed a break. He must have been tired for he soon fell asleep. He was in such a deep stupor he slept through the storm that quickly raged up and threatened to capsize them all. Only the calling of the disciples succeeded in awakening him. Then, “he got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” Whoa! “What was that?” the disciples must have been asking. Who is this?!

The Sea of Galilee is treacherous even today. A small sea less than 200 feet deep, surrounded by mountains and 680 feet below sea level with a semi-tropical warm, moist air climate, the difference in temperatures between the coastline and the higher mountains can cause strong winds to form and hit with violent results.[1] This was a furious storm without warning. Now, imagine you were in it. Yes, Jesus is with you, but how would you react? As for me, yes, in my head I believe he has the power and authority to calm the storms of my life. In my head I believe. But emotionally, which is where most of our decisions are made, fear is strong. Doubt floods in. I wonder if at times I have the faith and trust in the power of God to really handle the storms and situations of my life. Yes he is Creator and Ruler over all (I say) but maybe he’s not powerful enough to handle those things that threaten to overcome me.

I wonder if my cries to God sound like terror, anger, fear, or desperation at those times. How about yours? I’m so like the disciples – not at all as superior to them as I like to think I am. “Dear God, I believe. Help my unbelief. Help me to trust in you and your mighty power. Help me to be as awed at you as the disciples were.”

“They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” (vs. 41)

 You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God! I can trust you. I do.

_______

[1] http://christiananswers.net/q-eden/ednk-seaofgalilee.html

Note: This is a series of daily devotionals prepared for the Cedar Grove Generational Ministries Alaska Inside Passage Cruise, August 4-11, 2013

We all know that the Psalms in the Bible are a great book to turn to in every life contingency we may face. But while cruising? I mean . . .! Hey, I might have thought so too except for this. Years ago I came across a little booklet written by navy chaplain, A. Morgan Parker, Jr., entitled: Psalms from the Sea.[1] I’ve just never forgotten that dimension of the Psalms. This chaplain, serving aboard the Carrier USS Midway during the intensities of the Vietnam war, needed insights to comfort and encourage the hundreds of sailors under his care. He turned to the Psalms for “those who go down to the sea in ships” (Psalm 107:23) and who may end up “calling to the Lord out of the depths” (Psalm 130:1).

In Psalm 107 the writer goes on to describe how the Lord “stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves . . . in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits end. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of these were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men” (vs. 25-31).

I recently watched some You Tube videos of ships caught in the midst of stormy seas and facing rogue waves. Scary stuff! Hope you don’t face any of that on your cruise. Of course, that is one of the benefits of the Alaska Inside Passage cruises: that for all but a brief section of the voyage you are totally sheltered from the possible rough activity of the open sea. Nice. In life, though, we do not have that guarantee. We may be unexpectedly hit by fierce storms – storms of health challenges, financial setbacks, family disruption and much more. Where do we turn when those storms hit? How fully do we depend on God to help us through and bring us into a safe harbour at the end? Is that our default setting or do we panic, fret and despair?

Chaplain Morgan says that in this Psalm the “dramatic experiences held up … – from hunger and thirst to oppression, affliction, and sorrow – all reveal man’s places of greatest need, with evidence of how God meets us in those needs. Surely, as the Psalmist exhorts us, this should ever move us to praise God, rejoice before Him, and understand His loving-kindness toward us and all His children” (40).

Are you facing some rough seas in life right now? Sing of God’s greatness and trust in him to bring you into safe harbour. He will see you safely home.

_______

[1] Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1982.

Note: This is a series of daily devotionals prepared for the Cedar Grove Generational Ministries Alaska Inside Passage Cruise, August 4-11, 2013

Wait a minute. David and Solomon on a cruise? You must be kidding! No way. How do you figure that? Well, I admit it might be a bit of a stretch for we have no biblically documented record of either of them on an ocean-going ship. However, it might not be that unbelievable when one considers that amidst the wealth of their kingdoms both rulers shipped the rarest goods of the day to and from all corners of the known world. Solomon built up great maritime fleets and was expert in all matters related to the sea (as well as expert in a host of other fields). I’m guessing that with all the ships at their disposal they each might have ventured out at least once on the high seas to experience another dimension of all that they owned. The Bible doesn’t record the names of all one thousand of Solomon’s wives and concubines and it certainly doesn’t record every detail of his entire life. So just maybe, one day he went sailing.

But what’s the point? The point is how fabulously wealthy these two men became, especially David’s son Solomon. I’ve heard it said that “a sailboat is a hole in the water you pour money into.” Knowing a couple of people who have owned sailboats, their experiences would verify this reality. The sailing fleets of these men were another indicator of their fortune. Granted, they built and sailed their ships with the intention of using them to make money. That’s good business. No doubt they did. But what did they do with their wealth? In and of itself it is not bad, however, it opens a person’s life up to great temptation that must be guarded against. In David’s case, it lulled him into taking extra leisure so that he remained home instead of going out to do battle with his men. This led to idle time, viewing the bathing Bathsheba and an affair resulting in waves of destruction for decades following.

For Solomon, who started out “loving the Lord” (1 Kings 3:3) things began to slowly change. Deterioration set in. “Slowly, silently, subtly, things are tolerated that once were rejected. At the outset everything appears harmless, maybe even a bit exciting. But with it comes an ‘insignificant’ wedge, a gap that grows wider as moral erosion joins hands with spiritual decay.

            “Be on guard! Those of us who stand must take heed lest we fall.

            “The pitfalls are still present. Still real.

            “The stones that make us stumble are still there: silver, sex, sloth, and self.”

As F. B. Meyer once put it, “No man suddenly becomes base.”[1]

During your quiet times on this cruise, take stock of your life. How are you managing your blessings and temptations? Do you see any signs of slippage? Now is a good time to get things back on track, don’t you think?

______________

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, “Deterioration,” The Finishing Touch: Becoming God’s Masterpiece (Vancouver: Word Publishing, 1994) 543.

Note: This is a series of daily devotionals prepared for the Cedar Grove Generational Ministries Alaska Inside Passage Cruise, August 4-11, 2013

Another involuntary Old Testament cruiser was Jonah. His quandary came about when he was tempted to disobey God and exercised fear rather than faith. So why are you on this cruise? What’s your purpose? Are you “escaping” from hard work and a routine life in order to enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation time? If so, I hope you experience some genuine renewal during these days. But, if so, what a contrast to Jonah’s reason for going on a cruise: “Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”

Fleeing from the Lord?! Somehow you know this is going to end badly for Jonah! Have you ever tried to run from God? Good luck with that! As if you could. God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against its wickedness so that the people might repent and be spared. Jonah said, “No way!” With that he headed in the opposite direction. Here’s the first tough question. Have you ever done that? You knew exactly what God was calling you to do and you said, “No way God!” How did that end for you? Badly, no doubt.

Why would Jonah refuse? Why do we? In his instance it was a strong case of racism and judgmental superiority. The Ninevites were a despised and wicked people – a race he hated. In his estimate they fully deserved the full judgment of God. Secretly he looked forward to seeing them “get what they deserved!” But God had different ideas. Even then God “was not willing that any should perish.” He does not change. He is merciful, yesterday, today and forever. Jonah had trouble handling God’s mercy and ran. God pursued him, even providing, not a whale as popular folklore has it, for whales do not have large enough throats to swallow a full-sized man. But the Word says God provided “a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.” It was a traumatizing experience that changed his heart and direction. Jonah went to Nineveh, preached God’s message, the people repented and were spared.

A happy ending, right? Not so. Jonah was steamed that they didn’t get God’s punishment. Can you believe it? But how do we act and react when we don’t want to do God’s will, finally reluctantly agree to do it, then see God work things out in a way we didn’t want him to? Hm-m-m. Maybe we’re related to Jonah after all. More to think about on your cruise.

Note: This is a series of daily devotionals prepared for the Cedar Grove Generational Ministries Alaska Inside Passage Cruise, August 4-11, 2013

Quick! Who was the very first person in biblical history to go on a cruise? Right. Noah!! The circumstances were quite different than for most cruisers today. In the first place, it was an enforced cruise. I guess he did have a choice: cruise, or die! But no choices were given as to cruise line, length of cruise, cabin selection, and the many options that compose modern day cruises. Furthermore, there was no existing cruise industry at the time. This was a first-time, one-off deal. In addition, with no model to go on, Noah had to build his own liner – one that would withstand a cataclysmic flood the likes of which had never been seen before or since! Happy cruising!

Have you considered the elements of faith and obedience required of this man? He did not have Old and New Testament scriptures to draw from, nor centuries of Christian history recording the faithfulness of God from which to gain encouragement. He couldn’t even be inspired by the faith of Abraham. Abraham had not yet been born! Lamech, Noah’s father, was 195 years old when Noah was born. Noah himself lived for 500 years before he had Shem, Ham and Japheth. Man, he had to have been tired before his life really began! Then all around him society was going to hell in a handbasket while wickedness flourished. It got so bad, God changed his mind about ever having created man and decided to destroy them all! All, that is, except Noah.

Noah “found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of the time, and he walked with God.” I wonder how he did that? Somehow he got a hold of God (and God got a hold of him) so that he lived against the tide of his day. “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Don’t you long for that to be said of you? For him it meant building an ark that was 450 feet long, by 75 feet high by 45 feet high . . . building it in the face of the ridicule of his neighbors. Yet, because of his obedience, he, his family and all the species on earth were preserved. The Lord shut them into the ark, the floods rose up, but Noah and mankind were spared. God established a brand new covenant with Noah, his sons, his descendants after him and with every living creature that was with him: “Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” As a sign of that he put the rainbow in the clouds. Every time that rainbow appears we are to remember this covenant.

A Dutch builder named John Huibers built this full-scale replica of Noah’s ark to encourage people by this true biblical story. What impact does Noah’s faith have on you? Name one thing you are motivated to do for God as you think of Noah’s obedience and trust. Now, plan to go do it!

Note: This is a series of daily devotionals prepared for the Cedar Grove Generational Ministries Alaska Inside Passage Cruise, August 4-11, 2013

Posted by: jjrossj | June 17, 2012

Graduation, then What? (June 2012)

The month of June brings association with many nostalgic memories. Not the least of those was school year-end and graduation: school’s out! The long summer stretched ahead. Some remember it as a time for freedom: “No more pencils, no more books; no more teachers’ dirty looks!” Goodbye homework and assignments; hello lazy days, play and fun – which, if we are honest about our memories, soon morphed into boredom. “There’s nothing to do around here!” But that came later. The initial feelings were good.

As we grew up, of course, reality set in. Charles Sykes, author of “Dumbing Down Our Kids,” shared some of the humourous lessons we learned about life. See if you confirm these from your own experience.

“Life is not fair. Get used to it.”
“The world won’t care about your self-esteem. It will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.”
“Sorry, you won’t make $80,000 a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a Gap label.”
“If you think your teacher is tough, wait ‘till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier.”
“Life is not divided into semesters, and you don’t get summers off. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.”

Real life will not be easy. That’s the main message. If you’ve been around earth for a few years, you know that to be true. Life is not a summer vacation. We’ve learned this to be reality and it is good. “Life is a test.” It’s preparing us for the life to come. We must learn our lessons well.

The apostle Peter summarized it well: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

A long time ago Saint Philip Neri was known for his ability to teach law. Students would come from far and wide to learn from him. He gave this entrance exam to each new student.
“‘Why did you come?’ he would begin.
“‘To study law,’ was the standard reply.
“‘What will you do when you have studied law?’
“‘I will set up my practice.’
“‘And after that?’
“‘I will get married and have a family.’
“‘What then?’
“‘I will enjoy my home and my work.’
“‘Then what?’
“‘Then I will grow older and eventually die.’
“‘And after death what then?’
“Thus the great teacher would lead the student to the most certain of life’s experiences: ‘. . . man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment’ (Hebrews 9:27). Saint Philip knew that until the student was ready to die, he could not truly be ready to live. Alexander Dumas put it like this: ‘If the end be well, all is well.’”

Final graduation has not yet taken place. Life is hard but it`s only a test. May we each have ended well when we come to our final graduation – our “promotion to glory”, as the Salvation Army terms it.

Posted by: jjrossj | April 12, 2012

Real Grief (April 2012)

On February 6, 2006 my Father died. On March 1, 2012 my Mother died. I am now an orphan. True, that having entered my sixth decade of life, this is not at all a remarkable occurrence in life stages. Yet, it is personally moving. There is something sobering about becoming the family’s new patriarch (as the oldest child) while still grappling with the loss of one’s parents.

Death seems so final. It is, as the apostle Paul observed, the last great enemy. Everything changes irreversibly with the death of a loved one. The grieving of what has been lost takes many forms and twists along the ensuing journey. Feelings of sadness, melancholy, nostalgia or pain may be triggered at any moment by multiple triggers in daily life. A simple event brings back a memory of the deceased loved one and emotions suddenly flood in. Tears well up. One is suddenly struggling to pull oneself together in order to carry on with present duties. Such is the process of grieving.

A huge help in this journey is a ministry called GriefShare – your journey from mourning to joy – which is available at locations around North America. We’ve offered it here at Cedar Grove for almost two years. It has hugely helped many in walking through their grief and is a highly recommended resource for all, no matter when your loss may have occurred. Facing loss, understanding it, discussing it can result in new levels of acceptance, healing and ability to move on with life. Otherwise, one can easily become stuck, unable to get beyond the loss.

Grief results anytime and everytime we lose something significant to us. Whether it is a much prized car that got obliterated in an accident, a cherished possession that was stolen, a dear pet that died or a precious loved one who passed on, we will go through the grief process. The intensity of the grieving will vary depending on the significance of the loss. We’ll grieve the death of a loved one far more than the loss of the car! However, we will go through the same process. Understanding this fact may help explain those flashes of anger or feelings of sadness one may encounter. To be able to say to oneself, “I am grieving a loss and these feelings I’m having are natural and to be expected,” can put them in perspective and keep them from having a far worse impact upon us. From there we can move on to tell ourselves that “I will eventually get beyond this and one day life will resume as normal – granted, a new normal – once more. This is not the end of my world. With that, hope may spring anew.

Are you grieving? Get support. Enroll in a GriefShare session. Shed some tears – lots of them as needed, whether you are a woman or a man! Pour out your heart to God – even if it is expressions of extreme anger. God is big enough; He can take it. Besides, He already knows what you are feeling about Him anyway! Tell him. Then tell yourself, “There is life beyond this loss and one day I will be able to go on with life once again.” Allow hope to be born in you once more. He is our God of all comfort and of green hope! Invite Him to walk with you through your days of loss. I am.

Posted by: jjrossj | October 16, 2009

Devotion

As a young Bible college student I was filled with idealism. Oh, I still had to face the normal struggles of every day student life: classes, reading, term papers, part-time work, paying tuition, doing laundry, keeping in touch with now far-away family members, and on and on. Yet all the while there burned in my heart a passion to know Jesus better; to invest my life so that it would somehow be a blessing to others. I knew the Word of God was an important part of this development, so I tried to solidify a habit of regularly reading my Bible no matter how hectic the course work load became. Prayer was another key to drawing closer to Jesus, so I try to pray regularly – no mean feat when living in a college dorm – even if it was a Bible college! Praying with others was helpful and I can remember a season when several of we freshman gathered at 10 pm in the evenings to fervently pray together for all the things that concerned us, our college, our families, the world. I’ll never forget the night one of the soon-to-graduated seniors came down to join us momentarily – not to pray with us – but to warn us about the grave dangers of such zealous fervency! Then he left. That was a shock! Information that came years later of the ditch his life eventually ended up in came as no surprise to me, although it was still very sad.

Church attendance, church ministry (teaching a teen Sunday School class), regular chapel attendance, were further disciplines for both expression and nurture of my ministry idealism. Volunteering with a Christian para-church ministry as a big brother to, what was then labeled, a “juvenile delinquent” put me in touch regularly with the real, very often, harsh world outside of sheltered dorm life. In all these experiences though the idealism lived on (and I hope and think, still survives to some degree to this very day).

Somewhere in the midst of college life an invitation came to travel one weekend with a college singing group and to be their speaker at the church they were going to minister in. Wow. An opportunity to preach! Remember, this was in the days when I was a pure novice, able to count the total times I had preached in my life on one hand, and with some fingers left over. What to speak on? Maybe it was out of the overflow of this idealistic passion to better come to know Christ that I chose as my topic, how to come to know Jesus better through your devotional life. I know it doesn’t sound very catchy or scintillating when written out like that. But it did capture my heart and imagination. And so, I prepared to talk about the importance of reading the Bible, memorizing Scripture, praying about everything and the presence of the Holy Spirit of the Living God who lives inside of us and makes Christ alive as we seek him. I was still trying to pull all of my thoughts together as we journeyed there and even after we had arrived.

Finally the time came for the concert. Sorry group, but I don’t remember what songs you sang. Then I was introduced and began to speak. I don’t remember all I said and am sure I don’t have those notes – surprising since I’ve kept most all of my sermons from across 31 years. But I remember the gist and the central message: devotion! Devotion for Jesus: developing a closer, deeper devotion for my loving Lord who had already done so very, very much for me even at that stage of my life. Then sharing with the patient crowd who were there that night how we can develop a devotional life that will keep the fires of love for Jesus burning bright as life goes by. As a think back I’m amazed at my audacity! That I a mere 19-year old would think I had counsel for these folks who had walked with Jesus for so many years. And yet … and yet … He used it. My memory is of several words of affirmation following from many who were there that night, but one in particular stands out. A dear grey-haired elderly lady came up to me. In hindsight she may not have been nearly as old as I remember her now. When you are 19, everyone over 40 seems ancient! She took my hand, looked warmly into my eyes and thanked me. Thanked me for what I had shared. Thanked me for how it had blessed her! Thanked me for what those words had done to encourage her! Then she challenged me to keep sharing the message that I had shared that night.

Forty years have come and gone since then. A lot of life storms have come my way to threaten to sink my boat and to put out the fire of my youthful idealism. For all of us who have lived a few years beyond youth I don’t need to tell you that life does not get easier as you get older. No way. In fact I justtold one of our parents today (hoping to encourage her) that aging is not for the faint of heart! The temptations, set backs, disappointments, betrayals and unanticipated turns in life come to all of us with unrelenting regularity.  There are times it would be so easy to quit on life. Do you identify? However, God forewarned us of this through his Word, the B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) that such times would come. He also filled his love letter to us with abundant expressions of love, and courage to go on and assurance and comfort and strength.

Perhaps it has been these, more than anything else, that have kept that flame of idealism fanned through all of these years (dare I say, decades?!) of my life. So much so, that I still find this idealism of devotion burning in my life to this very day. In fact, I find a new desire taking root to more intentionally allow Christ to be formed in me than every before. I have the assistance of all the Christian formation resources that are at our disposal today. The writings of the early church mystics, fathers and mothers, which are as powerful now as when written, have been supplemented with the likes of Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. A movement of a growing hunger for God is leading many apprentices of Jesus to experience him through new worship forms, rituals, Christian meditation and prayer. It’s true. God made every man and woman with a hunger for Him that never goes away and never diminishes no matter how long we have lived. In fact, it may even be growing stronger as we draw closer to our true home.

It’s funny how a memory of  a message on devotion for Christ so long ago has prompted these many musings so long after. I pray the youthful idealism of knowing and serving Jesus better will never leave my life, no matter what may yet come. I also pray that you know it too and will never let it go.

Posted by: jjrossj | September 6, 2009

God Knows You and is Faithful

Given the comparative remoteness of the farm where I grew up, I often say I came from backwoods Ontario. Sixty miles north of a major city (Toronto) on a sideline road in a hilly township found us far from the centre of action. Our farm was not on the beaten path to anywhere. Yet God found me there. In fact, He knew I was there even before I was born. What’s more, He reached out to me when I was a child of about 12 years of age and asked, “Ross, will you be a missionary for me?” In that moment I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was God and that He was calling me to serve Him with my life in full-time Christian ministry. A dear friend of mine calls it a “metanoia” moment – a life-changing encounter with God that shapes your future in a direction toward serving others. My response was immediate: “Yes, Lord!”

Right after this God whispered, “Matthew 5:13.” What was that? I had no idea. As soon as I got home I grabbed my Bible and looked up what was to become my life guidance and life check-up verse. “Ye are the salt of the earth. But if the salt has lost its savor it is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under the foot of man.” A more modern translation has it as: “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” Wow. What a challenge and reminder this has been throughout my life! Am I being salty? Is my life making people thirsty for God and for His godly presence in their lives? That’s my mission (your’s too!). If I fail, I’ll be good for nothing but the garbage. Dear God, keep me faithful.

Well, that was the call. Now let me tell you the other great lesson I’ve experienced all of these years. This same God who found me and called me has been faithful. He is my Faithful God. Through all the years since the call of that little farm boy from a backwoods farming community He has stayed with me. He has guided. He has loved. He has reassured. He has supported. He has restored. He is a God of such great love. Now don’t be misled. Life has been far from smooth. The bumps, bruises and rugged waters along the journey have been many. The doubts, the wonderings, “what is God up to?” have been many. Yet, He is faithful. He will be to the end of time (and of my life) too. I hope you’ve discovered his faithfulness. Risk it. He is trustworthy. He will be faithful to you too. I give you my assurance.

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