Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An Amazing Valentine's Day Surpise!

The story surfaced just a few days after Valentine’s Day and was shared by Good Morning America. Emily Shaoiro shared an amazing and touching story about a couple from Wyoming. Shelly and Jim Golay met in church back in 1984 and were then married. Their relationship was said to be of the "fairy tale" type – one that produced two children and lasted for 29 years until brain cancer took Jim in June 2014. He was just 53.

His wife stated after his death, "They usually give you 12 months to live and he lived 26 months. That was just a blessing. Jim was just an amazing man. Everybody that ever met him loved him. He was always just my rock. And the whole family's rock. And he just had this unwavering faith that was just inspiring. Always had a positive attitude,"

Part of Jim Golay being amazing actually came months after he passed away. On Valentine’s Day, some eight months after his death, flowers arrived for his now-widowed wife. The card said, "Happy Valentine's Day Honey. Stay Strong! Yours Forever Love Jim."

At first, Shelly thought that they had been sent from her children. But upon calling the florist, she discovered that her husband, knowing of his impending death, ordered the gift to be delivered every year for the rest of her life! She was of course overwhelmed by the love and devotion of her departed husband. She stated, "He set up such an amazing gift for me to receive that. That act of love to me is just true love in its purest form and flowers and means to me that his love never ends."

The thirteenth chapter of the book of 1 Corinthians is often referred to as the love chapter of the Bible. It begins by stating how worthless even our great abilities and amazing accomplishments really are if the proper love is not evident and the main motivating source behind them.

Verse four goes on to share the primary traits that exist in true and pure love. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” The last verse of the chapter concludes by declaring, "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

The Bible speaks at length concerning love and particularly the special kind of love seen in the Creator for His fallen creatures. In 1 John 4, we are told how that love was demonstrated and what our response is to be towards others in the light of it. Verses 10 and 11 say, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” The specific depths of God’s love is best explained in Romans 5:8. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In other words, we need look no further than the cross to grasp the reality of the Father’s love for us all.

Mrs. Golay was overwhelmed by her husband's great gift and will continue to be throughout her earthly life. She will never take lightly what he did and will eagerly await each February for his unique offering. But the gift of God’s love, through the giving of His Son as sin's ultimate sacrifice, is one of far greater meaning. It is a gift of incomparable value and one that will endure throughout the endless ages of eternity. And His is a gift that could be well summed up by the words that Shelly Golay spoke of her beloved spouse. “This is just true love in its purest form and means that his love never ends." (Romans 6:23, Titus 3:7)

"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (1 John 4:10-11)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Does God Help Win Football Games?

The above title may seem like a down right silly question considering that we are talking only about a game after all. But the question of God’s involvement in sports is very real in the minds of many people, especially on a day like the recent Super Bowl in Arizona. This exact opinion was recently voiced by Russell Wilson, the star quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, who stated that God is actually interested in the game itself.

If that does not impress or interest you, then consider this. A recent study cited in said, that a majority of Americans, some 53 percent, believe God rewards faithful athletes with good health and success. That was up from last year's 48 percent, according to a new study from Public Religion Research Institute. Growing numbers of minority Protestants (68%), Catholics (65%), mainline Protestants (44%), and the unaffiliated (27%) believe that God blesses Christian competitors. About 25% of all Americans believe that God plays a role in determining which team performs better or even wins a sporting event.

Whether or not God really cared about who won the big football game is really not the question even though some of the miraculous catches at critical moments almost suggest that at times. It is certain, however, that God was far more concerned over the spiritual condition of the 100+ million watching and on Christians who were perhaps attempting to share their faith with an opportunity that comes but once each year.

Russell Wilson, the Seattle QB who won last year's Super Bowl, now knows the thrill of athletic victory and the agony of wrenching defeat. But this man represents others, on both teams, who are more concerned about chasing a very special prize and one that comes not by crossing a goal line in a weekly gridiron game.

He and his fellow believers have another goal and another prize that far surpasses what most would consider the height of earthly fame, fortune and accomplishment. Their lofty aim parallels the priority of the great Apostle Paul as he described it in Philippians 3:13-14. “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Super Bowl XLIX was one for the Patriots' record books and a game for the ages – humanly speaking. It will remembered for a variety of reasons including the ill-fated call by Seattle at the end that gave New England a sudden victory when all seemed lost. But it will prove of no eternal value whatsoever for any of the  participants if their only goal was to win the title and that hard-earned championship ring. But for those players, on both teams, whose higher goal is seeking an spiritual prize, they are the true winners while they play, after they play and all throughout eternity.

“And everyone who competes for the prize  is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” (1 Corinthians 9:25)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What We Don’t Know But Should!

Recently I read something that challenged me greatly. I was not only because it was written by my wife’s uncle, but because of that fact that it resonated so very much in my mind and heart.

Leith Anderson is the current President of the National Association of Evangelicals. Before that he was the long-time pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. For a short while he served in both positions before devoting the bulk of his efforts now to the NAE.

The organization offers written publications, one of which I receive via email. It is the NAE Insight which usually features an article by Leith when it is released. And it was in the 2014/15 Winter edition that I saw something he wrote that caught my attention.

It was titled, "Amazing What We Don't Know" and was in the category of evangelical doctrine. The piece began by citing a study from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute that had surveyed 2,500 random people on basic knowledge about their own country. The quiz contained some 33 questions, and apparently most failed to pass the brief exam.

Anderson wrote concerning the test, "Twice as many knew that Paula Abdul was a judge on 'American Idol' than knew that the quote 'government of the people, by the people, for the people' was said by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. Forty-three percent of those who hold elected office don’t know that the Electoral College elects the President. One fifth of them think it 'trains those aspiring to higher office' or 'was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates.'”

He went on to share how those who seem very uniformed about the history and workings of their own nation still insisted that they loved it and were patriots as well. Anderson then drew a parallel to many evangelical Christians who often know very little about the crucial Bible doctrines of their precious faith. These are believers who love their Lord, but who don’t much about the basics of the faith they attempt to practice. The NAE director then wrote, “It really is amazing what we don’t know. We should know better.”

The brief article also spoke about the solution to the spiritual knowledge vacuum that plagues the modern church in America. Rather than just gloating if we are not in that dismal condition ourselves, or simply criticizing those who are, another option was suggested. The challenge was issued to improve on our own theological learning and to encourage others, including our pastors, to do the same. We should all major on Bible teaching and to promote those in our pulpits who faithfully proclaim biblical truth over political and current issues. Anderson summarized his thoughts on the subject by stating that we need to as he put it, "Help turn believers into knowers." Again, this article rang so very true – both about the problem at our doorstep and the solution at our disposal.

Jesus stated in Matthew 11:29, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.” And the only real and profitable way to do that is to seriously study and meditate on His written word. The undisputed value and benefits of doing that are listed in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Apostle Paul writes, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

As one famous Bible commentator said of these two verses, they show us how to achieve success in the Christian life. The four areas they mention include how to know what is right, how to know what is wrong, how to get right with God and how to stay right!

Applying these things as commanded in 2 Timothy 3 will mean that the followers of Christ, who should know better, will know better. And what we know better, that motivates and enables us to live better!

Bill Breckenridge