(Look to the end of this email for more pictures from Rome!)
I heard someone say recently that he was shocked when he picked up the newspaper and found his own name in the obituary section. Apparently another guy in town had the same name as this gentleman, but it really made him think about the impact of his own life. Imagine that you had the opportunity to write your own obituary. What would you put in it? How would you want it to read? Is your energy invested into those things that are most precious, or are you busy with lesser things?
In I Corinthians 9:24, Paul encourages us to run our life’s race, “…In such a way that you may win”. A person who is running to win sets his eyes on the finish line and goes for it with all his might. A person who is running to win has made a choice to lay everything else down for the sake of the prize.
James 4:14 describes our lives as “a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away”. There are not enough hours in a day to do everything. There are not enough years in your life to live for everything. There is not enough blood in your veins to bleed for everything. That’s why it is so important that you choose your battles wisely and not to sacrifice what is “best” on the altar of what is “good”.
Reinhard Bonnke once told me the story of how a newspaper had spread vicious lies about him. His friends, jealous for his reputation, urged him to respond. But when he prayed the Lord spoke to him and said, “You are my harvest-worker. Don’t stop the combine-harvester just to catch a mouse!”
The other day my father-in-law, together with a young minister from his congregation, went out door-to-door inviting the folks in his neighborhood to attend some revival services that were being held at the church where he pastors. He encountered one old man that claimed to be highly educated and very knowledgeable about the Bible. In fact, this old man decided to impress the pastor and his young colleague by telling them something about the Bible that they didn’t know. “Do you know who wrote the book of Titus?” he asked. My father-in-law replied, “Yes, it was Paul the Apostle”. “Wrong” the old man retorted, “It was written by a Roman emperor”.
This would have been a very easy argument to win (seeing that Paul identifies himself as the author in the first verse), but rather than argue the point my father-in-law said, “Really? I didn’t realize that,” and he changed the conversation topic back to the invitation he had come to deliver.
When they were back in the truck, heading to the next house, the young minister wanted to know why his mentor didn’t argue with the old man about the author of the book of Titus. My father-in-law replied, “I’m not going to loose the war to win a battle.” He realized that he had a higher purpose than to defend his ego or prove that he was more knowledgeable about the Bible…he was after a harvest, not a mouse. It was worth loosing an argument to win a soul.
There are a lot of good battles out there to fight and the Devil would be happy if you get involved in every one of them…because if he can keep you busy chasing mice, he can rob you of your harvest.
Years ago a friend of mine became fascinated with a particular doctrinal debate. Although it was an issue of little or no real-life consequence, he was so sure that he was right that he started an ongoing argument within the church where he was on staff. The pastor, realizing that this debate was causing more harm than good, asked him to drop it. He refused, choosing rather to forfeit his job and ministry. This story would not be worth sharing if it were the only time I have seen this. But I could point to several people who are out of ministry today because they were derailed by something petty. Somehow they lost sight of the big harvest and started chasing mice.
Paul exhorts us too, “Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.” (Titus 3:9)
God has a plan for you and even if it seems petty and small, if He has truly called you to something, you should fight with all your might for it. Having said that, beware – because the Devil also has a plan for you and he would love to make you ineffective and unfruitful. He would love for you to park your combine harvester to chase mice. If he cannot block you he will try to derail you. Resist him… keep you eyes on the prize and, “…run in such a way that you may win”.
Here are some pictures from our tour of Rome today. More to come tomorrow….