I'm kind of a nerd. I love school supplies. I can get lost in the never-ending aisles of sharpies, pretty notebooks, crayons, and pencils. I've always been this way. When I was a kid, a new notebook said so much more than me than just, "it's time to go back to school." A new, blank notebook was full of potential. The possibilities were endless. There were plenty of other challenges to deal with on the first day of school. But when I could face them with a new notebook and some new supplies, it made it just a little bit easier.
There are many children here in Northwest Arkansas who don't have that option.
Can you imagine your life without freedom? Nowhere to turn for justice. Government being the source of oppression rather than protection. For those of us fortunate enough to live in the United States of America, it is easy to take for granted the unparalleled liberty we've experienced for over 200 years. Unless you are a serious student of world history or have traveled extensively, you actually may not recognize how unique, rare, and precious the blessings of liberty really are.
On my nephew’s first birthday, his mom pulled out a shiny can. It was a time capsule to be filled with letters and mementos.
Last year, my nephew turned 18. His mom pulled out the now-dented can with its faded label. For the next hour there was lots of laughter, but also tears as Jason read through letters from loved ones no longer here on earth.
"The National Weather Service has issued a severe storm warning for this area." These are words that can cause many of us to panic! We worry about being without electricity, food, and heat. Yet, even though we may have been through similar situations in the past, most of us do little, if anything, to prepare for such occurrences. We simply hope it doesn't happen again.
The fact is that emergencies happen! Some say that "life" happens! Storms come, jobs are lost, people get sick, unexpected events happen to all of us. Do you have a plan for how you are going to handle the next "storm" or are you simply crossing your fingers and hoping it doesn't happen?
We often picture God’s will for our lives like a thin, definitive line. A tightrope we must walk carefully and with the utmost caution. One wrong step and we’ll surely fall. And when we do, we’ll mess up our future forever.
But when we come to know Jesus, our life is not a tightrope but a wide, open space of grace. We have so much room to breathe, to grow, to learn. God knows we are human. He knows we will take detours, face obstacles, and make mistakes. If he were committed only to using those of us who never stray then no human would ever be part of his plan.
A seventeenth-century craftsman worked alone with primitive tools, but his focus everyday was to put the best he had into his work. This man made violins. He created his own personal standard of excellence and signed his name on each instrument that passed the test.
Many of you spent the month of May praying for a Foster Child or a sibling group in the Arkansas foster care system. This month we had a chance to talk with someone else who is investing in the lives of these same children. Ken Ferguson is the founder and president of New Beginning Children's Homes, a long term residential care facility for foster children in Northwest Arkansas. Ken explains that while the organization is structured like an orphanage, the environment is family and faith oriented.
According to recent statistics, I made 5,000 decisions today.
Some of our everyday choices are random, others weighty, but many of our decisions become choice points, leading us in one direction or another.
If we could have coffee today, I’d say, "You’re part of a plan!"
When you look at the future, you wonder what’s ahead. How will everything work out? Where are you going? What will tomorrow bring?
You can rest assured that there is One who already knows the answer to all of those questions. He’s the God who created time and he’s not limited by it. He knows everything in a way that's beyond our understanding.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus asks a question. "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?"
Planning is crucial to any endeavor. The old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is true of our finances, our eating, how we use our time, every area of life.