Fat Baptist Learns Lesson

I despise having to sweat. I’m not a skinny, hard worker; I’m a fat Baptist. I respect my dad more than anyone else, but keeping the previous in mind, I made every excuse in the book not to mow our lawn. I, again, can’t stand sweat. It goes against my jolly and plump nature. But when I woke up this morning, my grandmother was on a rave, saying, “You need to get outside! Your daddy is gonna have a heart attack!” The only thing this meant was that my dad needed help mowing. So, I dragged my big butt out of bed and crawled outside. Once I got there, I had problems:  It was hot, I was slimy, and I hadn’t even started mowing yet. 

Nonetheless, we got the mower started, and I got the biggest part of the yard done. While I was mowing, I was thinking about praying. I wasn’t praying, but I was just thinking about it and what I would say or talk about. I was thinking of things I needed to pray about, and people I needed to pray for. Anytime I do work like that, I almost always pray while I do it, unless it’s something really distracting, because you don’t want to give God just a fraction of you. So I’m mowing, planning my prayer, but I got distracted. The heat was overwhelming, my back ached, and I started thinking about other things. I forgot all about my prayer. 

Things are going great; I’m pushing past the heat and the thirst. Then, I hear and feel a shaking and grinding, then a sound that only a dying lawnmower can make. Confused, I started looking around, and I found my dad’s industrial power cord in shambles. I never even saw the thing. So my first thought is what I always do when I get into trouble:  I called for my daddy. Ask anyone; when I mess up, I turn into a six-year-old kid in fear of being whipped. It’s my personality. So my dad hears this, and asks what’s wrong. I say, “I think I might have torn up a few things.” My dad gets over there, while I’m still going on about never seeing it and not meaning to hit it. That thing is in pieces, completely beyond repair. But my dad was okay with it. A little annoyed, maybe, but he let it go. 

It happens everyday; we make plans we never keep. Trust me, I have an exercise bike that proves my point with every layer of dust on it. But we hear people say, “Oh, I’m going to start going to church,” or “I know I need to read my Bible, but…” That is the most dangerous word in human language:  ‘But.’ “I want to pray, but…” “I’d donate my time, but…” “I’d put x dollars in the offering, but…” Stop using that word. Just pray. Just go to church. Just give what’s in your necessary means. And never lose heart. Romans 12:11 says, “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” 

Our preacher at BCM told me the story of a sticky note hanging over his door that said “Now!” There’s a story behind that, but just think about the word. “Now.” Especially you older people, if your parents said that word, you jumped. Right? ‘Cause you knew what would happen of you didn’t. So I’m asking you, as you read this on your computer, your phone, whatever… What will you do right now. Right… now. Right… now. Right now! 

What has passed you by in the last few moments? In Ephesians 5:16, we’re told to make the most of every opportunity. Every moment is a new moment to serve the Lord with all your heart. 

Don’t wait until you run over the power cord to call on the Father. Don’t wait until a crisis to seek Him. There’s a perfect opportunity right… now.

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Acts 1:8

Disciple — Noun. A follower or teacher of Jesus Christ or doctrines. 

This isn’t an exact quote from any dictionary, but it’s a paraphrased definition from several different examples. I had originally planned something else for tonight, but as I was doing my pre-write study, I noticed that the word ‘disciple’ kept coming up over and over again, and it made me wonder… Who were the disciples? 

Twelve young men were told to follow Jesus, and thus became the twelve disciples. And everywhere Jesus went, they followed him. Jesus was a rabbi, and back in the day, when a rabbi told you to follow him, it was a HUGE deal. It meant that someone with authority deemed you worthy. So when a rabbi said to follow him, you didn’t hesitate. You dropped whatever you were doing and went. Of course, Jesus was the only one to ever do that. Most ‘interns,’ so to speak, had been through years and years of education, starting from a very young age. And these disciples Jesus chose didn’t have any outstanding education. Nothing out of the norm, you know. And then, here comes Jesus. “Follow me.”

For the remainder of Jesus’ physical human life, these twelve ordinary, C-student young men followed him. We all know about one or two having an occasional lapse of judgment, but we won’t get into that. I’d write another novel. But the point is, Jesus knew before he had even chosen these people what they would do, but he picked them anyway. Could he have chosen people who were as flawless as humanly possible? People who knew the Torah inside and out? Sure, but he didn’t. He chose people like you and me; average Joes. 

These disciples, again, went with Jesus EVERYWHERE, unless they were sent to do his work in other places. In fact, Luke 10:1 tells us that Jesus appointed seventy other disciples to go to other places and let the people know about Jesus. The role of a disciple was to follow Jesus. So my question to you is, are you a disciple? Are you living your life with only God’s will as your intention? Are you willing to drop everything when the Rabbi says “follow me?” 

One clear example of what a disciple does is actually a theme for Baptist Campus Ministries mission trips. It’s Acts 1:8, and it says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth.” That passage says so much about what it means to be a disciple. What that passage means is that no matter where God leads you or what He asks you to do, you will do it despite any and all pain, “…to the ends of the earth.”

Are you willing to drop everything in your life when Jesus says, “Follow me,” and are you willing to follow him until the very end of the earth? Are you willing to tell others about him and serve him with your whole heart? Are you ready to be a disciple?

"Stupid Dog!"

Where my son and I live, there are two donkeys fenced in across from our house. On nice days, we go walking on the hill behind our house. Gabriel liked to stand by the fence and watch them. We don’t normally take our dogs with us, but our mutt, Muffin, darted out of the door so quickly that I didn’t feel like chasing after her and putting her back in the house. So I just decided to let her tag along. She never did have a problem running away, so I didn’t think much about it. What I forgot was that she was still a dog with instinct. Dogs, donkeys within close proximity… I didn’t think that one through. 

Gabriel and I are starting up the hill beside the donkey’s fence. The donkeys aren’t anywhere near the fence to where he can look at them, so we decided to walk on. And out of nowhere, this crazy dog runs into the field with the donkeys, headed towards them a mile a second. I try to call for her, but she’s far more interested in the donkeys than me. Once she gets close enough, one of the donkeys thought it would be fun to chase her. 

I watched for what felt like an hour as this cat and mouse — or in this case, the donkey and dog — chase continued. The donkey is trying to stomp Muffin while chasing her, and when Muffin gets too overconfident, the pursuit flips. So while Muffin is chasing the donkey, he’s bucking and kicking, and I’m biting my nails because I know if this dog gets kicked, she’s not going to make it. All I can do, helplessly, is scream at her. So everyone in Birdsville, which is all of twelve people, heard me screaming at the top of my lungs, “MUFFIN!  YOU IDIOT DOG! COME BACK HERE!” Muffin finally did come back, safe and sound. She didn’t dare chase them again. And if I had known that she was going to be okay, I would have been laughing my head off.

God has the tendency to be a screaming voice in our lives, calling out to us, and we may choose to ignore it. But rest assured, God is out to protect us.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God tells us that His plans are to prosper and give us a future; not to harm us. Truth is universal. There is no, “Well, if that’s what you believe, that’s great, but it’s not my thing.” If God protects me, He protects you. If Christ is returning, he’s coming back to your reality and mine. If God loves one, He loves all. God is not calling out to just some of us; He’s calling out to all of us. He’s saying, “Come to Me.” 

In this midst of tragedy or a storm, God is calling us. He’s calling all of us. He wants to protect us and guide us, but we have to let Him. So while we’re in danger, there’s trials in our lives, God is on the other side of the fence screaming for you, “Come to Me! Rest in Me!” Or maybe you’ve displaced Him and He’s saying, “Come back here!” He’s trying to reach you over the chaos in your life, but it’s not His voice that’s failing; it’s your ears. Stop and listen, and spare just a moment to take God’s glory in. If all of us, for just one moment, stopped and listened… What if? What if you did? 

God can find us wherever we are. He’s calling to us, no matter where we are, whether we’re going through storms, everything is smooth, or you’re being chased by a dog or a donkey — He’s calling you. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus is not just an alternative method to get into heaven; he is the ONLY way. That’s Why he is so eager to call out. Is he calling to you?

The Three Little "Pigs"

Once upon a time, there were three little pigs. These pigs loved to play all day, rolling in mud and muck. Two of the pigs were gluttonous and dirty, but the third little pig was righteous and clean. When the pigs were grown, Papa Pig decided it was time for them to go out into the world and build houses of their own. So on one fine morning in Spring, all three pigs set out to begin their new lives.

While on their adventure, the first little pig met a man with a wheelbarrow full of money. He said, “Sir! What are you doing with that wheelbarrow full of money?” The man answered, “I’m going to build a house out of it.” The pig replied, “You must have so much! Could I please have some to build a house with?”

“Certainly! You could build a fine house with this!” So the man gave the pig a few hefty bundles of money. The pig had his house built by nightfall. The second and third pig thought this was outrageous. “What will keep the wind from destroying his house?” they wondered. “Some fine house indeed!” And they went on their way. 

Before long, the two pigs met a man with a wheelbarrow full of sin. The second pig stopped the man and said, “Sir, what will you do with all that sin?” to which the man replied, “Why, I’m building a house.” “Might I have some?” the pig asked. “I, too, am trying to build a house.” The man gladly offered up some of his sin for the pig, who had his house built by nightfall. 

The third pig was disappointed at the sight of his brothers’ homes. “What will keep the wind from blowing down their houses or the rain from washing them away?” he wondered. But still needing a home of his own, he went on his way. The next day, the pig come across a man with a wheelbarrow overflowing with faith. The pig thought that faith would build a lovely house. So like his two other brothers, he stopped an asked the man for some. The man smiled and handed him a single grain. The pig was taken aback by the man’s greed. “How will I build a house with just this tiny bit of faith?” he asked the man. But the man said, “Just a little is all you need. Take what little you have and build your house.” 

The pig toiled away day and night, day and night, day and night with his little bit of faith. His brothers laughed at him, for he was still without a home. But finally, after much work, the pig had built his home of faith. His two brothers saw how beautiful it was, but they were partial to their houses of money and sin. All three pigs lived comfortably, however, until the big bad wolf came to call. 

The wolf came to the first pig’s house of money. He knocked and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in!” the pig said, “Why? So you can get me? I don’t think so.” The wolf shouted angrily, saying, “Then I’ll blow your house down!” And with a light blow, the house toppled on the pig and consumed him. The wolf did the same thing to the pig whose house was made of sin. Both pigs were consumed by their houses when they collapsed onto them. Finally, the wolf went to the third pig’s house made of faith. 

“Little pig!” the wolf called out. “I’ve sent your two brothers to their demise with their sin and their money. You’re next!” 

The pig remained calm and collected, and said to the wolf, “Do your worst, wolf. But my house is built out of faith. I began with just a single stone in the foundation, and each time I sought out another stone for the next step, one appeared in my path. My foundation was built out of stones given to me because I first had a single stone of faith. Each nail you see driven through the boards tells a story of reinforcement, and each one serves as a reminder of what I’ve seen. They’re needed to keep this house as strong as it is now. Do you see my windows? There’s a light that emits from them, and others who pass by wonder why my lights are so bright and beautiful. They say, ‘We want lights like those!’ but they don’t know how to obtain them. The roof you see on top of my house is a wing that protects me from storms, and the walls guard me from the wind. If it wasn’t for my foundation, I would have no place to stand, nor a base for my walls, and therefore no roof. But my house is strong, and it only took one tiny stone to begin. That’s why I tell you, wolf, to try as hard as you can. My house is far too strong for you to even blow a shingle away!”

Despite having heard all this, the wolf tried and tried, and be blew and blew on the house. He even tried beating on the house, hammering at it, but nothing he did would even put a crack in the house. 

Isaiah 28:16, NLT — Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:  “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.”

The Best Kind of Fairy Tale

Today, after a stressful morning, I went outside and laid down in the grass. It was such a wonderful noon; the sky was cloudy, so the sun wasn’t hurting my eyes. I could look up at the clouds. There was a cool breeze sweeping through. Off in the distance, I could hear dogs barking and birds chirping. It was just this magical scene, and it was so relaxing. Then I thought, I wonder how much longer I have to enjoy this? When I got the text from my brother that I was needed inside, I was almost mad. I did not want to be disturbed!

Many are guilty of telling others about a fairytale version of Jesus. When I was a kid, I’d hear in church about how when you come to Christ, things are easier. Your life is easy. It was almost like promoting the newest diet fad. “If you drink this shake, your waist will shrink.” Really? “If you come to Jesus, your life is easy.” God never said that. So why is it that we continue to paint on this face when things aren’t going so easy? In fact, Jesus even tells us in Matthew 10:22 that the world will hate us. “And all nations will hate you because you are my followers.” But then comes one of many beautiful promises made to Christians. The verse goes on to say, “But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.” Jesus is telling us that our lives won’t be easy, and that there are people who will hate you. Have you ever thought about how strong that word is? And Jesus is telling us about it. But if we can endure until the very end, we will be spared. 

Hebrews 13:5 is the ultimate heart of God’s promise. Above all else, when we begin to doubt or when things get hard, we’re reminded by God that He’s there. He says, “I will NEVER leave you, nor will I forsake you.” God will never, never, never leave us. That was His promise. 

While I was laying outside, knowing that it would eventually end, I thought about the calms in our life’s storm. When things are going well, we tend to place God in the backseat. When things go bad, we try to put Him right up front. Not that He isn’t there when we really need Him, but when did we start thinking that we only needed Him when danger was near? If you’ve ever looked at a newborn baby and noticed how tiny and fragile it is, that’s how we are to God. Only we’re much, much more fragile. We were made from dust, and our bodies will return to dust. We are so, so fragile and so easily broken. We need God every second of every day. If He didn’t have a hand on each of us, whether we believed or not, how would we ever even breathe?

Something beautiful happens when you have God in your life. It’s not that things get easier. Problems don’t go away. But when God is in your life when the storm hits, the calms are so much calmer, the winds feel like breezes, showers feel like sprinkles, and you know that God is helping you to carry that burden. And when you’re helpless, in those situations where you’re completely powerless, God carries it all for you. And He does it out of love.

Even if you’ve heard these fairy tales about an easy and happy life, it’s important to know that it’s okay to think of God in that light. Jesus said to come like a child, with the heart of a child. Remember on Christmas morning, when you were young and believed in Santa Clause? Or when you lost a tooth and put it under your pillow BELIEVING and KNOWING that the tooth fairy would come before morning? Jesus said to come as a child, as one who runs to the tree on Christmas morning knowing that Santa has come. Are you running to Jesus, knowing and believing that he is coming back? Believe in Jesus with the same heart you believed in Santa Clause with. Ask God to restore your childlike heart. And then trust in Him and the promises He made. He will lead you to a cloudy, breezy day beyond anything earth can imagine.