Easter: Jesus’ Finest Hour

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What makes something your “finest hour”?

To answer that question, we first have to reach back to June 16, 1940, when that phrase was made famous in a speech by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

World War Two had begun the previous year. France, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands had all fallen under the jackboots of the Nazis. It was a dark time, and the only thing standing between Hitler and control of the rest of Europe was the island nation of Britain.

In this context, Churchill prepared his people for the immense sacrifices that would be asked of them in the coming battles. He told them that the survival of their nation and way of life lay at stake. He let them know the consequences both of success and of failure in the task ahead of them.

He concluded his speech with one of the great rallying cries in history:

“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”

Churchill was telling the British people that their finest hour would not be a time of ease or comfort. Rather, it would encompass pain, sacrifice, duty, and selflessness.

The same holds true for us.

And the same held true for Jesus in His finest hour.

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You Are Now Entering The Mission Field

Image by Jimmy Emerson on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

There are a lot of exciting things about travelling, aren’t there?

Things like seeing famous landmarks, interacting with different cultures, trying new cuisines, or having once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Even simply crossing the boundary into a new city can be exciting.

You often pass a large sign when you enter the outskirts of a new place. It might read, “You are now entering Albuquerque” or whatever your destination happens to be.

You get the same frisson of excitement even if you’re entering a small town that’s new to you. It still seems momentous, because the unknown awaits you. You never know who you might meet there, or what might happen.

These thoughts crossed my mind recently as I was exiting a church parking lot onto the main street. Leaving the lot, we were faced with a sign that read:

“You are now entering the mission field.”

My heart skipped a beat as I read that.

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We’re Here To Help

Image by An SiYu from Pixabay

Not far from The Faith Cafe, there’s a big-box home-improvement store. I had occasion to go there, and noticed the smiling greeter at the entrance.

He had a name-tag sticker on his apron that read, “Frank: Front End.”

I was both puzzled and amused.

Did the store managers figure that customers needed guidance determining which was the front end of Frank?

If I peered around to see Frank’s backside, would I see another sticker that read, “Frank: Rear End”?

Or maybe Frank needed a sticker on his apron to tell him which way to put it on, so he wouldn’t wear it back-to-front?

I giggled my way through the store until I finally realized that perhaps the sticker meant that Frank was responsible for covering the front end of the store. I felt a little sheepish at my mistake, but reasoned that the sticker could have been a little less confusing.

At another similar store I visited, the greeter had a name tag that read: “I’m George. I’m here to help.” That was much clearer. No mistaking what the employee was there for.

Then I thought, isn’t that what we believers are here on earth to do, too?

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How To Pass The Baton

Image by Thomas Wolter from Pixabay

Have you ever run a relay race?

If you have, you’ll know that how well your team passes the baton matters just as much as how fast you all run.

I participated in a few relay races during high school when I was on the track team, and learned that there’s a knack to it.

When passing the baton to your teammate, you have to make sure that they’re up to speed first: at a sprint. You can’t hand off the baton at a standstill or even at a jog or your team will fall behind.

Therefore, we were taught a method to use at track meets when coming up behind the next runner on our team. We would shout out the name of our particular school, then say, “Go!”

Our next runner would immediately start sprinting with one hand behind them, ready to grab the baton in the passing zone. They wouldn’t look back at us, but simply keep running and power forward once we’d put the baton in their hand.

I think some these tips can apply to how we “pass the baton” to the next generation of believers in our spiritual race.

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All I Want For Christmas Is Staff

Have you made a list yet of what you want for Christmas?

Time is running short, so if you want to submit your list to Santa, you’d better get cracking!

Maybe you want some jewellery, a designer handbag, or a trip to a tropical isle?

Or perhaps your tastes run more to tools for your workshop, some custom bling for your car, or season tickets to see your favourite sports team play.

The kids in your life are probably way ahead of all of us and already know what toys and games they’d like.

As for me, after years of watching the historical British TV drama “Downton Abbey,” I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of having staff.

The size of staff required to keep a stately home like the fictional Downton Abbey running a century ago was considerable. They needed maids, cooks, valets, butlers, chauffeurs, and gardeners.

But the position that intrigued me most was that of footman. They seem to be so useful, able to turn their hands to any task around the house.

I really think I need a footman!

Or maybe, if I had to ask Santa for just one, a chef would be the better choice?

But really, I’m asking the wrong question. I should be asking: do I want to serve or to be served?

For Christians, there’s only one right answer:

It’s to serve others.

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Allow God to Prune You

Fruit tree espaliered against wall. Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

If I were a young apple tree, I probably wouldn’t like being pruned very much.

If I saw the gardener heading my way with secateurs or pruning shears, I’d probably flinch. I would hope that he would just give me a little trim, and leave most of my luxuriant growth intact.

But the gardener invariably has other ideas.

I’d watch in horror as one branch after another was lopped off. They seemed perfectly good to me, but the gardener thought otherwise.

Why has the gardener cut me back so severely?

To make me more fruitful.

God does the same with us, and we find it just as uncomfortable.

The truth is, pruning hurts, and it seems to involve so much wastage.

But our loving Heavenly Father knows that it’s for our own good. Scripture says that it’s for His glory that we bear much fruit.

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Lessons From Sundials

Image by Incygneia from Pixabay

With all the digital devices we have which can tell the time, there’s still nothing quite like a sundial.

Sundials, used since ancient times, were the very first clocks. Their faces are marked out with hour lines, and a projecting arm shows the time by the position of the shadow it casts on the face of the dial.

Sundials were, and still are, popular garden ornaments. They’re often placed on a pedestal in the centre of a flower bed as a focal point.

Most sundials include inscribed mottoes, either in Latin or English. These sayings are often wistful reflections on the passing of time and the brevity of life.

I think there are a few lessons we can learn from these mottoes, ones which jibe with Biblical counsel about making the most of our time.

Let’s look at a few of them…

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Absent-Minded Gardening

Photo by Roman Boed from Pxhere

Have you ever noticed a flower growing in a peculiar spot in your garden and wondered, “How did that get there? Did I do that?”

You might see a rogue tulip popping up incongruously in the middle of your lawn.

Or you do a double-take when you see a cluster of flowers flourishing in the corner, but you have no recollection of having planted them there.

What gives?

In some cases, squirrels might be the culprits. They’re notorious for unearthing tulip bulbs and burying them someplace else for future consumption, only to forget about them.

At other times, you might have tried growing something yourself from seeds but they never seemed to germinate. You give up and completely forget about them. A few years later, however, flowers are blooming in that corner after all, to your great surprise.

The same dynamic is sometimes at play when we plant “seeds” in someone’s life.

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Don’t Spoil Your (Spiritual) Appetite

Photo by Free-Photos on Pixabay

When you were young, did your parents ever admonish you not to eat sweets too close to dinner time because it would “spoil your appetite”?

Mine certainly did. However, delaying dessert until after dinner is difficult to do.

The look of a beautifully frosted cake or the smell of freshly baked cookies can be notoriously tempting. And of course, one cookie or piece of cake invariably leads to another…

Before you know it, you’ve stuffed yourself with sugary foods and are too full to eat dinner. You miss out on all the good protein and vegetables in the main meal.

I guess Mom and Dad knew best: we should fill ourselves with more nourishing things first, and leave the dessert until afterward as a treat, not the main course.

The same lesson holds for us spiritually, doesn’t it?

We should concentrate on things of substance in our lives first.

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You Already Have What It Takes!

Shepherd using his staff to guide sheep
Photo by Jim Black on Pixabay

Have you ever thought that God could never use you in His service?

That you’re unqualified because you don’t have any special skills or talents?

Moses thought the same way.

God called him to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, but Moses thought he wasn’t qualified to do so. He came up with excuse after excuse as to why he shouldn’t be chosen. He clearly felt that he didn’t have what it took.

But God can use us even when we feel ill-equipped. He takes us as we are and can use whatever we have at hand, no matter how meagre it seems.

In Moses’ case, God used a simple wooden stick.

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