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Producing Empty Results?

Do you ever feel that your efforts are useless or produce empty results? I think we’ve all been there, right? It can happen at the workplace, in the home, on the golf course, or anywhere. We are all hardwired to achieve success when we set out to accomplish a task.

rosesMost recently, I diligently tried to revive my roses from all the damage they received due to a deluge of rain. To no avail, after spraying with anti-fungal product and mulching, etc., my roses still look pitiful, producing puny-looking blooms. Sometimes our best efforts result in poor or even empty results.

Obviously, producing beautiful fungi-free roses is not as crucial as raising spiritually healthy children. As much as I enjoy the beauty of a bountiful array of roses, my greatest joy comes from experiencing our children and grandchildren growing in the knowledge and wisdom of the LORD.

Sometimes my best efforts for transferring a strong faith in Jesus to my family ends up feeling empty, or at least less fruitful in my perception. For instance, this past year I started a drama/music ministry with our grandchildren. We named it Lights Shine Bright. They were excited to share their talents at nursing homes and churches. My grandeur plans also included presenting at a low-income children’s center. Seemingly, the door closed due to scheduling conflicts, and yes, I felt like my efforts came up empty. My desire is to see our grandchildren use their gifts and talents for the glory of the LORD, while sharing the love of Jesus with others.

cast netI’m pretty sure the Apostle Peter felt as though his efforts were futile while fishing all night without even getting a nibble. This miraculous fishing story is recorded in the Gospel of John (John 2:1-14): Later, by the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus again revealed Himself to the disciples. He made Himself known in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I am going fishing.”

“We will go with you,” they said. So they went out and got into the boat, but caught nothing that night.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize that it was Jesus. So He called out to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He told them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it) and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came ashore in the boat. They dragged in the net full of fish, for they were not far from land, only about a hundred yards.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus told them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net was not torn.

“Come, have breakfast,” Jesus said to them. None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and He did the same with the fish.

This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.

Take-aways from the truth of God’s Word

  1. Listen for God’s direction or leading in our lives, especially when our personal efforts seem empty.
  • Initially, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus on the shore. Then Jesus spoke these words: “Children, do you have any fish?”
  1. Follow God’s instructions. / Obey His commands.
  • After hearing His voice, the disciples followed these instructions: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”

The outcome: “So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.”

  1. Recognize God when He draws near. “None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord.”

The disciples knew it was the LORD because they had spent three years developing an intimate relationship with Him.

The only way we can know it is the LORD is by spending time with Him. This happens primarily by…

Developing these spiritual disciplines:

  1. Reading the Bible
  2. Prayer
  3. Seeking God through quieting the noise of the world (Unplug!)
  4. Fellowship with other Christ followers
  5. Worship through a Bible-teaching/preaching church

These spiritual disciplines are more often caught than taught to our observing children and grandchildren. When is that last time your children/grandchildren caught you reading your Bible, kneeling next to your bed in prayer, turning off your cell phone while experiencing the beauty of God’s amazing creation (beginning with your family…sharing an uninterrupted meal together), worshiping together on the LORD’s Sabbath?

Remember, there are times God wants to redirect our efforts to reflect more of His holiness in our lives and within the lives around us. Our greatest need is to recognize the LORD in our midst rather than experiencing mere human successes.

lights shine bright

Lights Shine Bright

I’m praying to God and listening for Him to speak to me about our Lights Shine Bright ministry. One of my grandsons keeps asking me, “When are we going to do our program again?” Thus, I am exploring our options and watching for God to lead the way.

Thoughts and Scripture to ponder

God may be asking you to let go of your preferred “fishing” style and be ready to cast your net on the “right” side. Follow God’s direction and be amazed at the results you will “catch!”

“Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:10-11).

“Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:32-35).

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

The definition of insanity:

“Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

This quote is simply a reminder to stop repeating the same human efforts that continually produce empty results. Instead, listen to and follow the LORD’s direction, for He is the One who transforms the heart and produces a great catch.

For further study:

John 15:1-17; 1 Corinthians 3:7; Mark 4:1-20

 

 

 
 

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Smiling Quarterback?

Our grandson was puzzled by thjacke smile of Carsen Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles sidelined QB) in the last few minutes of the playoff game (last Sunday, January 6, 2019) between the Eagles and the Chicago Bears. The Eagles were in the lead 16 to 15 over the Bears after scoring a touchdown and missing a two-point pass conversion. With only 56 minutes left in the game, the Bears appeared they would win the game by making a 29-yard field goal. Prior to the presumed winning FG, the television camera spanned the Eagles sideline. Interestingly, Carsen Wentz was smiling from ear-to-ear, as if his team had already won the game. I thought to myself, “Doesn’t he know they are about to lose the game?”

carson-wentz-bill-streicher-usatsi-e1506536977939-1000x600

I noticed Wentz smiling earlier in the game and mentioned this to my husband. Jeff and I enjoy watching football together. Who knew! Jeff explained to me that Wentz was injured in back-to-back seasons, with Nick Foles, the Eagle’s backup QB stepping in to fill his position. The Eagles won last year’s Super Bowl with Foles as their backup quarterback. (Eagles 41 – 33 victory over New England Patriots, Super Bowl LII).

Back to the playoff game with the Bears. After learning of the disappointing seasons for Carsen Wentz, I became even more intrigued about his persona on the sideline. I was curious, too, like our grandson, with his ginormous smile during the last few minutes of the game. The Eagles went on to win the game after the Bears kicker missed the potential winning field goal.

After the game, I did some research on Carsen Wentz. I learned that he is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and shares his faith publicly on and off the field. I thought to myself, “Well, that it explains his exuberant smile!”  Like other Christian athletes, Carsen Wentz has realized there’s more to life than playing and winning football games. He’s always on a winning team with Jesus as his coach.

I’m so thankful there are faithful Christian role models in the sports arena that my grandson and other children can look up to. (See note below.)

To learn more about Carsen Wentz’s personal testimony of faith, which includes his devastating leg injury during the 2017 football season, check out this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQsx8lrPms4#action=share

Did I mention that my grandson and I were watching the Eagles and Bears game at different locations and hadn’t talked about the game until his mother and I chatted a few days later? We both smiled when I learned that Jack had noticed Carsen Wentz’s smile during the closing minutes of the game as well.

Special Note: Nick Foles is also a devoted follower of Jesus. In fact, the Eagles team gives God the glory whenever they have an opportunity.  Highlights from last year’s Super Bowl VII Victory:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ1wILRgupw

The Eagles will face the New Orleans Saints this Sunday (January 13, 2019) in the second round of the NFL playoffs. I’m not going to miss this game!

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2019 3: 50 pm - in Christian Character Development

 

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Define Success

Various successes come our way, some offering momentary fulfillment and joy. I am grateful for these. For me, the greatest success in life is to achieve the purpose for which God has called me to. The purpose that drives me is the passion of my heart and soul: To intentionally pass down my faith in Christ to my children and grandchildren.

Most recently, my four-year-old granddaughter paid me the greatest compliment I could ever receive. “Nana, I’m making this bracelet for you because you love Jesus so much!”

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Quote from George Washington Carver: “The secret of my success? It is simple. It is found in the Bible.”

True successes come with much prayer and perseverance.

View From the Summit (Excerpt from Turning Point, Dr. David Jeremiah, July 13, 2017)

In her book Reach for the Summit, former Tennessee women’s head basketball coach Pat Summitt wrote, “There are different kinds of success. There is fame and fortune, which…is a pretty flimsy, short-lived kind of success. Then there is the more gratifying kind of success that comes from doing something you love, and doing it well. Still another kind of success results from committing to one person and raising a child with them. Yet another is finding a sustained faith in your church. But notice something about all the various forms of success. They are open-ended. They aren’t tasks that you finish. Success is a project that’s always under construction.”1
God wants to give us success as He defines it—the fulfilling of His perfect will for our lives. That’s a lifelong process that unfolds as we follow Him daily.

Somehow, you have to make a commitment to get better every day, no matter how successful you were the day before.
Pat Summitt 1Pat Summit, Reach for the Summit (NY: Broadway Books, 1998), chapter 12.

Pat Summitt (American women’s college basketball head coach accrued 1,098 career wins, the most in NCAA basketball history. She served as the head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team from 1974 to 2012). Pat lived out “much prayer and perseverance” on and off the court. Pat was diagnosed with the early onset of Alzheimer’s at 59. She passed away at 64, June 2016.

Excerpt from CP (Christian Post):

Quote from Pat Summitt’s son, Tyler, about his mother:  “For 64 years, my mother first built her life upon a strong relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Summitt wrote in the statement. “Her foundation was also built upon love of her family and of her players, and love of the fundamentals of hard work which reflected her philosophy that ‘you win in life with people.'”

The Faith of Basketball Legend Pat Summitt: God Gave Me ‘Certain Work to Do’

To read more about Pat Summitt’s life go to the link below:

http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-faith-of-basketball-legend-pat-summitt-god-gave-me-certain-work-to-do-165832/

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 2: 19 pm - in Faith in Jesus

 

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