When I was born, only a few years after WW2, Holland was still getting back on its feet, and the aftermath of the war and occupation was still visible. I grew up hearing many stories about the things people had endured, and it filled me with deep respect for the sacrifices that had been made, including by those who chose to stay true to their convictions, even to their own harm.
Before you go to sleep, think about My love for you. If you count your blessings, you’ll see how I have blessed you in so many ways, through so many things and so many people. Each of these is a token of My love for you personally.
This morning I dragged myself out of bed. The sun isn’t even fully up, so why should I be?
As I mulled over that pithy logic, I dressed, grabbed my bag, and trudged out the front door.
Now I hope some of you will empathize with my feelings when you hear my purpose. I was on my way to the gym.
We recently organized our first puppet show for children visiting their fathers in the toughest men’s penitentiary in Mexico City, the prison for inmates who have lost all their appeals, even their plea to not be transferred to that penitentiary. There, they have nothing left to do but live out their sentence.
In the course of our lives as followers of Jesus, there are always ways to minister to others, either occasionally or regularly. The common denominator in each such activity or scenario is that the goal is to convey love and kindness.
I recently took my teenage son to an ecotourism project in the big Complexo do Alemão group of favelas [slums] in northern Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There are cable gondolas that stop on all five mountaintops, from where we could see the entire bay and all the beautiful mountain ranges. Dotting the mountains, there are also thousands of small huts lacking decent roofs and with bare and unpainted brick walls. Those were the favelas.
The Bible teaches that we are responsible to do our best with the talents and abilities that God has given us.1 He has entrusted us with skills, resources, time, energy, minds, and spirits, and we’ll find the greatest satisfaction when we invest them in things that please God and that are aligned with His plan.
Two essential ingredients for success in life are a sound personal relationship with the Creator of life, followed closely by sound relationships with those around us. In fact, it’s impossible to be truly happy without either of those. Jesus gave us the key to both when He said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”1
There are countless people whose lives have been changed by an encounter with Jesus, both within and beyond the context of Bible history.
Paul is often rightly cited as an example of the power of Jesus to transform lives. He was a Pharisee (a member of an ancient Jewish religious group) who was so dead set against the followers of Jesus that he took it upon himself to launch a crusade for their imprisonment and in some cases death.
To one degree or another, just about all of us are unsatisfied with ourselves and our circumstances—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A certain amount of dissatisfaction is necessary if we’re ever going to make progress. To become all that we can be, we must dream of being more than we are. The problem is, too many of us stop there, in the dream stage. Why do you suppose that is?