When God Winks

Wafts of fried chicken wet our appetites as we back our boat away from the dock. Can’t beat this weather, I think as I determine to make the most of our last family outing before our oldest son returns to college for his summer session.

This boat might be old, but it still has kick. The wind cools our skin as we zip across the lake to our own quiet cove, tucked away from other boaters. Eric, my husband, kills the engine and we dive into the bucket of chicken while taking in the blue sky and surrounding pine covered mountains. With three teenagers, it doesn’t take long to clean out our lunch.

“Who’s up for wakeboarding?” Eric asks as he turns the key.

Silence. Not from our kids – from our boat engine!

Maybe he needs to push the button on the throttle first? He tries a second time . . . and a third . . . still nothing, not even a click from the starter.  

Handing the oars to the boys and pointing, Eric lays out the plan: “We need to get past that point so we can flag down a boater for help.” The boys are good sports as they start to row. But we’re not the only ones enjoying the water today. Persistent boat waves from many boats on the lake prove to be a daunting challenge with our heavy boat. None of us voiced what we all knew to be true. It would take at least a couple of hours before anybody would see our dilemma because the closest boat is not very close.

“Maybe we should pray,” I offer. We bow our heads. “Lord, please bring another boater and/or a sheriff soon who can help us get back to the loading dock.”

I kid you not, maybe three or four minutes pass before a fishing boat rounds the corner. I signal them with our orange flag. “They’re heading our way!”

“We see you!” A lady yells. It’s not long before the boat with two couples are within 20 feet.

“How’s the fishing?” I ask, my attempt at small talk.

“It’s been great . . . catching lots of Kokanee,” the lady answers.

“Looks like you need a tow. Do you have a rope we can use?” The dark haired man (I’ll call Nick) asks. Well aware of disrupting their fishing, none of us were about to object to receiving a tow. So Eric throws him our rope as Nick assesses our boat. He secures one end of the rope to their boat. Without hesitation, he dives into the water and ties the other end to the lower tow hook on the bow of our boat. And without much more verbal exchange aside from saying “thank you so much”, we gratefully accept their help.

Back at the main dock, Nick declines our offer to pay him something, but tells us to repay the favor to the next person who needs a helping hand. I tell him that he and his friends are a speedy answer to our prayer— which was that God would send a boater and/or a sheriff.

“Well, I am a deputy sheriff in another county” he says with a big grin.

I think God must have been smiling, perhaps winking too. Not only did He remind us that He is closer to us than our heartbeats, but He also cares about every little detail of our lives. He may not answer every prayer that quickly. But He certainly hears our prayers and savors the time and attention we give Him.

Nick and his friends could have ignored us and kept on fishing. But instead, they dropped what they were doing, and helped us out. What an example and huge blessing! My challenge to myself, my family, and to you Dear Reader, is to be watchful and intentional on how we might bless others. Have a wonderful week!

Destiny and Decision

“And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.” ~Romans 8:28 (TLB)

God has a destiny for your life. He knew you before you were even born. You can join Him, or resist His plan. Listen to Pastor Cliff Purcell as he shares this powerful truth: Destiny and Decision (June 2, 2019).

Conscience, Part 2

An alarm clock that doesn’t go off when it should is bad news, but one that goes off when it shouldn’t is a problem as well.”

Pastor Colin Smith
A good alarm clock does two things: It stays quiet when you should be asleep, and it makes a noise when you need to wake up! That’s how your conscience is supposed to work. Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15). When you are on the right path, a good conscience will be at peace. But when you are tempted towards the wrong path, a good conscience will sound the alarm.

How many times have you heard the advice, “Follow your conscience”? Sounds reasonable, but what if conscience isn’t the ultimate judge of right and wrong? Pastor Colin talks about the reasons why. You may listen to his message here: Conscience, Part 2. Have a great week! 🙂

Conscience, Part 1

"Think of conscience like an alarm clock. A good alarm clock stays quiet when you should be asleep, and it makes a noise when you need to wake up!" ~ Pastor Colin Smith

My past three posts have been about unity in diversity within the church. How we as believers need to find the balance of heeding our consciences while giving grace to those around us who differ in the gray, nonessential areas of the Gospel.

The question arises: Can we always trust our conscience? Is it possible, like a broken alarm clock, for our conscience to get off kilter? Or, as in my case too many times, the alarm clock sounds, but I snooze through it? Does it really matter when we go against or “over-rule” our own conscience?

Colin Smith is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church and president of Unlocking the Bible. He is the author of several books. His preaching ministry is shared around the world through Unlocking the Bible.

From his Regeneration series, Pastor Colin talks about what happens when we ignore our conscience warning. You may listen to his message here: Conscience, Part 1.

Have a wonderful week!

The Church: Unity in Diversity (Part 3), Romans 15:1-13

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”    – Romans 15:5

You may read Romans 15:1-13 here: Bible Gateway. This section wraps up Paul’s talk from chapter 14 and highlights the last principle in this series for promoting unity in the church.

Principle #3: Follow Christ’s example of mercy

Paul identifies himself as a strong Christian as he encourages the “strong” to bear with the failings of the “weak.” To help others mature in the faith, he exhorts the “strong” to build his neighbor up. How? He cites Jesus as our greatest example of self-denial for the sake of others.

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The Relevance of Scripture (vs. 4)

Paul also reminds his readers that all of Scripture—although written in the past—is still alive and relevant today, meeting our deepest needs (1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 4:23-24).

Paul’s Benediction (vs. 5-6)

Paul prayed for unity among the Roman Jews and Gentiles as they followed Christ so they would glorify God with one heart and voice.

Shepherd’s Notes comments on the remainder of this section: “In support of the universal scope of God’s redemptive work through Christ His Son, Paul cited four Old Testament Scriptures . . . . Christ’s acceptance of both Jewish and Gentile believers, played out in the universal scope of His redemptive work, is to be the measure of their acceptance of one another.”

So What?

Self-denial doesn’t mean we are to be people-pleasers (see Galatians 1:10), but rather set aside our self-pleasing actions and/or willfulness in order to build others up. If Christ—God’s Son—prioritized others above His own comforts and desires, how much more should we?

God communicates hope and encouragement through His Word, the Bible. We can live in unity when we read God’s Word with a receptive heart, focus on Christ, and genuinely accept each other.