But would you give your Whataburger to Jesus?
By Patrick G Howard
The May Focus of the Month is the fifth of the twelve-part series – Making 2019 Your Best Year Yet: Realizing God’s Plan for You. You can read the other parts of the series here:
• January: Do a New Thing (Isaiah 43:19) -> LINK
• February: Begin with the End in Mind (Genesis 1:1) -> LINK
• March: Creating Intrepid Steps (Proverbs 3:5-6) -> LINK
• April: Your Story is Written (Psalm 139:16) -> LINK
So far this year, we have talked about doing some really big things. We started out by talking about doing something new (January). Next you were challenged to create a bold vision for your life (February). Then you were tasked with creating intrepid steps to realize your vision (March). And last month, I gave you the biggest challenge so far – writing your story (April).
I have talked to many in our group. Some are well on the way to completing their challenges, while some have not started; but most are somewhere in between. Regardless of where you are in the process, we are nearing the halfway point in our year, and I would like to shift gears. While it’s a good thing to have bold visions, sometimes the best way to create something big is by doing something small. This month I want to focus on how doing small things can cause big things to happen; and can be the difference between good and great.
One Extra Degree
Think about this example.
Take something as common as water. When you heat it to 211 degrees, it becomes very hot and you can do many great things with it. You can make coffee or tea with it. You can use it to clean dishes. You can make Jell-O. There are hundreds of uses for hot water, but if you heat it just one more degree that same water turns into steam; and now you have something powerful enough to move a locomotive.
That one extra degree is all it takes to go from good to great.
The Feeding of the 5,000
This reminds me of a time when Jesus took something small and did something great with it. Our focus this month comes from the Gospel according to John Chapter 6 – The Feeding of the 5,000.
John 6 (5) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” (6) He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. (7) Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” (8) Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. (9) “There is a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what good is that with this huge crowd?”John 6:5-9
You will recall the rest of the story. Jesus gave everybody there, more than 5,000 people, their fill of fish and bread, and ended up with twelve baskets left over. And while that sounds like a big deal, it is only when you consider how much food Jesus started with, and how big the crowd was, that it becomes a miracle.
It’s a big deal!
First, let’s consider how much food “five barley loaves and two fish” really is. A barley loaf was a flat bread, roughly equivalent to a small pita. The two fish were small, probably about the size of a perch. The total amount of food the boy had with him that day was a meal similar to a can of sardines and a half sleeve of crackers. (I wonder if he had a bottle of Tabasco Sauce with him that day.)
Next, let’s look at how many people were fed that day. We don’t know exactly how many were there. John reported that there were 5,000 people there that day, but he likely only counted the men. We don’t know how many women and children were present. Regardless, the crowd was probably about the size of what you would see on a Friday night in the fall at most any 6A High School football stadium.
Now, imagine what you would think if Jesus said that he was going to feed this football stadium full of hungry people with a Whataburger #2 meal. Oh, and when you take up the leftovers there would be 12 buckets of the Colonel’s original to take home. That’s a miracle!
Don’t you love Jesus’ style?
He could have created this food out of thin air, but instead he used the offering from this boy to create something spectacular. It was so spectacular, in fact, that we’re still talking about it more than 2,000 years later.
Are you like that little boy?
As you go through your day, opportunities present for you to do some small thing that would mean the world to somebody else. When that happens, seize it and let God bless it. It can be something simple, like helping a person in a wheelchair reach something on the top shelf at the grocery store. Maybe you could just say something nice to the lady behind the counter that is having a very bad day. You could let that person with the blinker on merge into your lane. Or, instead of handing that panhandler money, stop and say a prayer with them.
My challenge to you is to do one small thing each day, and let God bless it. As you do, focus on the Gospel according to John and the day when Jesus fed the 5,000. Remember that God doesn’t need you to do anything grand. He can use the small things, too.
And God is the Author
By Patrick G Howard
The April Focus of the Month is the fourth of the twelve-part series – Making 2019 Your Best Year Yet: Realizing God’s Plan for You. You can read the other parts of the series here:
In Part 3 of our series, we talked about creating intrepid steps to achieve your bold vision. I hope that you have been able to achieve the challenges associated with each of our monthly focus. After all, it is April and one-fourth of our year is already gone. If we are going to make 2019 our best year yet, we must stay on track.
Where are you in the process? Have you written your intrepid steps for realizing your bold vision? If so, that’s wonderful. If not, don’t worry; you’re like the rest of us. If you are in the latter group, it does beg the question, “Why?”
Did you just get busy and haven’t gotten around to writing goals to realize your vision? Or are you still working on creating your bold vision? Have you even started thinking about what your bold vision should be?
In this race we call life, regardless of whether you are still backing out of the driveway, or firing on all cylinders, the challenge for our April focus of the month might be the best one this year. I believe that it is so important, that if you only accomplish one of our monthly challenges this year, make it this one.
Write your story.
It’s amazing to me. Many people that would have no problems writing a story about somebody else, find it difficult, if not impossible to write about themselves. Some people are too modest or embarrassed to share their personal lives with others. Some assume that nobody else would be interested in knowing more about them. Others will see the exercise as a futile waste of time. Perhaps it’s all these reasons.
Maybe there are some that don’t see any value in writing their story, but I can give you many great reasons why you should. It may inspire somebody. It can help you reconcile issues from your past. It’s a great exercise to help you develop self-discipline. It will make you more aware of why you are the way you are, and possibly allow you to grow beyond your current limits.
There are many more reasons, but I believe the most important is this. You have a marvelous story to tell, and the world deserves to hear it. If you don’t believe me, you can look it up in the Bible.
Let me draw your attention to a passage written by King David, a man with an amazing story to tell in his own right. Our focus is on Psalm 139:16, but it is helpful to read verses 13 through 16 for context.
(13) You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. (14) Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it. (15) You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. (16) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.Psalm 139:13-16
Let that sink in for a moment.
No matter what we may think of ourselves.; No matter how many mistakes we have made in our lives; No matter how many regrets we may have; No matter how many do-overs we wish we had; These are merely chapters of the story that God wrote for your marvelous life.
That doubt that you have about yourself – God wrote that chapter.
That failure you experienced all those years ago – God wrote that chapter.
That stuff that you regret doing way back when (or even last week) – God wrote that chapter.
That decision you made that you wish you could change – God wrote that chapter.
In the plot of every great novel, the protagonist will have peaks and valleys, which combine to make that person who they are. When you think about it, God has written billions of novels, and He has written one with your name in the title. And each one of His novels is a marvelous masterpiece – even yours.
How many times have you thought, “If I could only go back in time and do (fill in the blank) differently?” Well, if you did, you wouldn’t be sitting here today.
Think about it.
Every decision, choice, action and inaction you have made, every person you have met and wish you hadn’t, every instant of your life has led you to this moment. Going back and changing just one thing, no matter how innocuous it seems, would change the whole trajectory of your life. Would you really want that? Besides, God knew what he was doing when he made you.
And if you still think your story is not important enough to write about, let me ask this. How many times have you heard somebody else’s story and thought, that is exactly what I needed to hear today? Don’t you think that your story might just be what somebody else needs to hear tomorrow?
My challenge to you is to write your story. Don’t start tomorrow; start today. And by the way, while there will be many versions of your story through the years, you will never finish. As you are writing, remember our focus this month – Every day of my life was recorded in your book; Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
Realize that your story has already been written. Give God the glory, because He is the author.
Setting Biblical Goals for Your Vision
By Patrick G Howard
The March Focus of the Month is the third of the twelve-part series – Making 2019 Your Best Year Yet: Realizing God’s Plan for You. You can read the other parts of the series here:
In Part 2 of our series, we talked about creating a bold vision for your life. You may recall the quote from Hudson Taylor that I shared with you, “Dream a dream so big, that unless God intervenes it will fail.” Assuming that you have your grand vision in mind, it’s time to start taking steps toward realizing your bold dreams.
As an aside, you may wonder where the title – Creating Intrepid Steps comes from. Intrepid was the name of the Lunar Lander for the Apollo 12 mission.
Of course, we humans cannot go from bold dreams to reality without breaking the project into steps. We must set smaller interim goals to create plateaus from which to jump to the next bigger goal. As an example, I am reminded of one of the most audacious visions ever created in the history of mankind.
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.Pres. John F. Kennedy, May 25, 1961
That may seem simple today, but you must remember that we were just learning how to crawl (figuratively) in outer space at the time. It was only a few weeks before Kennedy’s speech that Alan Shepard became the first American in space, when he piloted the Freedom 7 spacecraft on a 15-minute sub-orbital flight. Taking a trip to the Moon and back, in less than nine years, would require an effort unrivaled in the history of mankind.
Think about all of the things we had to learn how to do.
We had to learn how to build rockets that were powerful enough to take us to the Moon. Then, so we could gauge the impact of space on the human body, we had to put people into orbit, not for just a few minutes, but rather for several days. Then we had to see if they could survive outside of the spacecraft. Once we cracked that riddle, we had to find out if we could rendezvous two spacecraft in orbit. And once that milestone was accomplished, we set out on the riskiest part of the project – inserting a crew and craft into Lunar orbit, where one tiny error would doom the three astronauts of Apollo 8 to their demise in space.
All of these goals, each of them bold in their own right, led up to that one majestic moment on July 20, 1969, and those marvelous words that would that day change the world forever.
That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.Neal Armstrong
It was tradition for the astronauts to bring small items of a personal nature with them into space. What Buzz Aldrin brought to the moon that day was special. It wasn’t well known at the time, but the items that Buzz took were bread and wine that had been consecrated on Earth. After landing safely on the moon, he read scripture and consumed the consecrated host; and thus, completed the first Christian sacrament ever performed by a man on the moon – Holy Communion.
After hearing that, do you have any doubt that God was directing the steps of the 300,000 to 400,000 people that, for more than a decade, poured themselves into making this historical moment a reality?
We’ve come a long way to get here, but that brings me to our focus this month from the third chapter of Proverbs.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.Proverbs 3: 5-6
Can you imagine that there were times when the people working on the moon landing were frustrated? Do you think they ever wanted to quit? While sending a person to the moon and returning them safely is a magnificent feat, there were times along the way that were gut-wrenchingly discouraging.
Most of the first rockets blew up within a few feet of the ground. The ones that did make it off the ground, often found their way far off course. After splashdown of our first successful orbital space flight, the capsule sank, nearly killing pilot Gus Grissom. He wouldn’t be so fortunate a few years later, as he and astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee perished when they were trapped in their Apollo 1 spacecraft when it caught fire during testing on the ground. And who can forget the ill-fated Apollo 13 flight, that despite multiple system failures returned the crew safely home.
While these were failures of an epic scale, the people of NASA never gave up. They understood that to achieve something truly great, you must work through the setbacks along the way. It is the way we learn.
It is the same for us when we create and execute our own intrepid steps.
We will experience failures and setbacks along the way. That is the way we learn. But when that happens, if we lean on our own understanding, we get frustrated and discouraged, and are more likely to give up. It is during these times that we must trust that our Lord will show us the correct path to take.
So, as we create our goals and act toward achieving them, ask God for wisdom. Ask Him if the goals you are setting are aligned with His plan for you. We won’t always understand His plan for us. Many times we do understand, but simply don’t like His plan. Regardless, we must trust that His plan is perfect.
As you are creating your intrepid steps, remember our focus from the third chapter of Proverbs; Seek God’s will in all you do, and trust that He will show you the right path to take.