Who Is Your Map?

This Sunday night I am starting new study. Well, it’s not really a new study, but new in relative terms here at Riverside Baptist Church–“Experiencing God”, by Henry Blackaby. It truly is a life changer, and I hope any of you who are close enough and are not otherwise tied up can come Sunday nights at 6:00 p.m.

Along the way, I will probably put up some thoughts from the study on this blog. I may wind up posting several times a day on some days. It’s that good.

I have trouble trusting a GPS. It takes a lot of faith for me to believe that this little electronic box is going to get me where I really want to go. Is it really going to get me there, or is it going to lead me on a wild goose chase? I heard a story last year of a couple who were led hundreds of miles out of their way because they misspelled the name of the town they were looking for. Bad input on my part can lead to disaster. I want to be able to double check the route and make sure I’ve got everything in order before I launch out onto that course.

Blackaby points out that “we always ask God for a detailed road map. We say, ‘Lord, if You could just tell me where I’m heading, then I will be able to set my course and go.’ He says, ‘You don’t need to. You need to follow me one day at a time’…Jesus said, ‘I am the way’ (John 14:6). He did not say, ‘I will show you the way’. He did not say, ‘I will give you a road map’. He did not say, ‘I will tell you which direction to go’. He said, ‘I am the way’. Jesus knows the way; He is your way.”

Jesus is our map. Regardless of our inputs, correct or faulty, His direction never wavers, never fails. He needs to be our roadmap, because we can always trust that He knows the way–because He is the way.

“How Sweet To Hold…”

Today I went to the hospital to see a newborn and congratulate the proud parents. The baby is a little cutie, with a head full of dark hair and alert eyes. My Administrator Eric and his wife Erin are expecting their own little bundle of joy any day now. Another couple we’re friends with just had their little angel a couple of months ago.

I’d have another in a second. I admit. I love babies. Unfortunately, that’s just not in the cards for my wife and I. Three is going to be our limit, and not just because that’s all that will fit in the back seat of a Dodge Challenger. But I am so thankful for the great kids we have. Our oldest is going to be 11 soon (!), our middle child just turned 9, and our baby boy will soon be 3. It seems like they all should still be as small as the newborn I held today, but, as we all know, they grow up so fast. Remember the old Carter’s pajamas ad? “If they could just stay little ’til their Carter’s wear out.” *Sigh*.

So anyway, as I’m holding this little baby today I am, of course, thinking of all of mine when they were that size. Brandon, our 3 year old and only boy, is the freshest memory. As I look into the wide-open eyes of this little baby, I suddenly see the eyes of my 3 year old this morning, putting on a leather-looking jacket that is extremely similar to one I have (that is why I bought it, naturally). We bought it on sale a couple of weeks ago on clearance, and were going to put it up for next year because it’s still a little big. As he is walking to the door this morning to head to Mawmaw and Graddy’s house, he spots that jacket.

“I wear it!” he says, laying hands on it.

“Not yet, buddy,” I reply. “It’s too big for you. Let’s wait until the fall and it’ll fit you better.”

“No, Daddy,” he says, blue eyes full of earnestness. “I look like you!”

I could fully relate to what my little man was saying. When I was little–and long past little, in fact–I wanted to be like my Dad. I wanted to look like him, talk like him, dress like him–I even wanted my parents to change my name to “Larry”. I wanted to be as tall as my Dad, too–6’6″, at his peak of tallness. I fell about 6 inches short of that, though. I always joke that it’s my mom’s short genes.

It’s perfectly natural for a child to want to be like their father. My girls are the same way, to an extent. They both love cars and video games, and know more about Star Wars than you do. They want to play basketball and run track and be as pretty as their Mom. That’s they way it should be.

And that’s the way it should be for a follower of Christ. We want to be like our Heavenly Father. We want to look like Him, talk like Him, and all of the above. When we surrender our lives to Christ, we are commiting ourselves to the Way of the Father. We may fall short, of course–we can’t, after all, be perfect as our Father in Heaven is, but we can cast our lives into His perfect Hands and know that He will enable us to be more in Him than we could ever be on our own. Know, too, that nothing thrills our Father than when His children long to be like Him.

Oh, and about that jacket that was too big for Brandon?

Yep. He wore it.

Some Like It Hot…

Almost every Tuesday I have the privilege of having lunch with an extraordinary bunch of guys. They are good friends, and Godly friends–a winning combination, to say the least. They are a huge encouragement to me during the week, and I laugh more with them than I ever did watching an episode of Seinfeld. They truly demonstrate to me the Biblical principle of iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17), in more ways than one. Our weekly haunt is a Thai place–nothing fancy, but a quaint little place filled with regulars.

Of all the entertaining things they do, few amuse me more than the macho posturing two of them do over how hot they like their Thai food. Now, I don’t know if you know anything at all about Thai food, but it basically comes in one of three spices: 1. Spicy 2. Really spicy 3. Call 911.

This particular establishment breaks their heat into 10 levels. At least, that’s what they say. I have ordered a “2”–only a “1” is lower on their heat index–and felt my lips spontaneously ignite. Two of my friends, however, constantly go back and forth over whether their food is really that hot or not. The running joke is that they no longer order a “10”, they ask for a “15”.  The other lunch attendee, who like myself likes a little heat and not a lot of punishment, usually takes the sidelines and just watches the fun. Recently, however, when we were eating out after church, this friend and I were at another eatery that features any number of hot sauces. He decided to add a little Brother Bru-Bru’s Hot Sauce to his sandwich. I believe he realized his mistake at the time, but it wasn’t until some hours later that the true consequences of his actions came back to haunt him.

As Christians, we like to think of ourselves as willing to be on the front lines, ready to charge hell with a water pistol, and that’s a good thing. We should be prepared to follow where ever our Savior leads. But we also need to realize that there is a price to pay for being on the leading edge of the battle. There is a attraction to the idea of being the heroic warrior, facing overwhelming odds and yet over coming–until the time comes that we are the ones facing those odds. We want the glory, but not the struggle.

We want to get the taste, but we don’t want the burn.

My friends with the tongues of steel have developed the capacity to enjoy the flavor as they endure the burn. As Christians, we have the same goal before us, don’t we? The Christian life is one of difficulty, trials, and overwhelming odds. And yet, in order to truly experience the abundant life Jesus has for us (John 10:10), we need to be willing to take the burn with the flavor.

It’s an aquired taste, but its more than worth it.

Hitting the Ground Running

Well, I finally have my own blog site. If that isn’t enough, I am also on Twitter (you can follow me at @RevMarc).  I have exactly zero people following me so far, but that’s okay. No one really knows about the blog yet either, but I figure if I don’t get started now I never will.

This past Saturday Lea Ann and I had a date-day, sort of. The kids had spent the night at my parents’ house, so we had a big portion of Saturday all to ourselves. So did we do something romantic? Of course.

We went to the dragstrip.

In the words of Magnum P.I., I know what you’re thinking. “Why did you take your sweet, loving wife to the dragstrip? Why not the park, or a sappy movie, or shopping or something?

The answer is quite simple: she wanted to. Okay, maybe it wasn’t her very first choice, but it was a great way to spend the day sitting close to one another and just enjoying a few hours of being together. She will tell you that she has come to enjoy watching cars runs at the strip almost as much as I do.

It was the first day of running at the newly refurbished Greer Dragway. The trakc itself looks first class, and there were more than a few people who wanted to run on the fresh track. There were some fairly mild street cars (including a couple of work trucks with toolboxes in the bed) to some serious ground-pounders (4.7 seconds at 150 mph in the 1/8th mile).

I was reading online this morning about an aquaintance of mine who ran his car this past Saturday. He talked about how a number of cars broke axles, rear ends, clutches, and the like, because the new track was prepped well for traction and was very sticky. He was glad his didn’t, of course, but part of frequent racing is realizing that it is going to be hard on the car as far as wear and tear goes. However, running a race car hard is what it’s all about. If you aren’t going to run it all-out, why bother?

The same is absolutely true in the Christian life. If you and I surrender our lives to Christ and receive His forgiveness, but don’t run like we want to win, what’s the point?

So how about you? How are you running your race?