Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘can God do anything’

Do You Believe in Miracles?

BURNING CHURCHOne of my favorite “true” stories is certifiably true.  I had wondered about it over the years but  I never managed to find any evidence for or against.  Then recently it was confirmed by  How do you explain this?

The choir at West Side Baptist Church met religiously for rehearsal on Wednesday evenings at 7:20.  So of course, shock and terror spread quickly across little Beatrice, Nebraska, one Wednesday night when the church furnace exploded at 7:25 PM.  The blast quickly leveled the church building, with flames leaping everywhere.  The force of the explosion knocked a nearby radio station off the air and shattered windows in neighboring homes.

Fire rescue workers and stunned neighbors descended on the scene expecting the worst. Weren’t there fifteen regular members in the choir?  How many charred corpses would they be forced to unearth from the ashes and despair?  Much to everyone’s astonishment and relief, the answer was 0.

No one was killed in the tragic blast because on that chill February evening, all fifteen members of the West Side Choir arrived late for rehearsal!

  • Royena Estes had planned to leave on time, but her car wouldn’t start.  She called and asked her sister Ladona for a ride, but the high school sophomore needed a few more minutes to solve a geometry problem in her homework. They ran late.
  • Pastor Klempel and his wife were about to leave at their usual time when she noticed her dress was badly wrinkled.  She went back inside to press it, so they left home late.
  • Harvey Ahl was nearly always early for rehearsal, but on this evening his wife was out-of-town and he was having fun playing with his two young sons.  When he finally glanced at his watch, he was already running behind.
  • Marilyn, the pianist, had planned to arrive half an hour early to rehearse a difficult section in one of the songs, but she nodded off for just a moment and over napped. Because she was late, her mother, the choir director, was also slow to arrive.
  • And so it went on February 1.  One choir member took a nap and overslept. Another felt lazy and decided to steal just five more minutes wrapped up in her blanket. Two were frustrated when their automobiles wouldn’t crank.

So on the night when West Side Baptist Church exploded, not a single choir member was inside the building.  All had been providentially hindered by completely unrelated distractions, and everyone was uncharacteristically late.

Some would say they were all just lucky.  But the odds of all 15 faithful choir members being late on the very same night would surely be one in a million.  It calls to mind the promise from Ephesians 3:20 that our God can do more than we ask or imagine.

Lift up the Cross!


God Believes in Dreamers


It’s easy reading history backwards.  We know how everything turned out, so there’s no suspense; deadly battles and personal sacrifices seem like no big deal. Of course, we must live history forward.  The struggles and conflicts can be a lot more painful and discouraging when you don’t know how the story will end. Others have succeeded, but will you?

I have always appreciated that classic photograph of Wilbur Wright guiding his glider into history at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina.  I knew that particular flight lasted only 26 seconds and traveled only about 622 feet.  But I had not realized the brothers spent three consecutive autumns  in North Carolina, far from the family business in Ohio, in order to make that photograph happen. I had never thought about the thousands of crashes, catastrophes, and near misses that were necessary to understand gliding and develop that simple craft.  And it had never occurred to me that most people and even many scientists were convinced that man could never fly in any meaningful sense; so that the brothers were publicly dismissed as dreamers and fools.  What’s more, even after the famous photograph, Wilbur and Orville would endure additional years of scorn and mockery while developing an engine and making mechanized flight a reality.

We are all encouraged by stories like that: tales of brave men and women who bite the bullet and persist until their dreams come true. If perseverance allowed their dreams to happen, I can hang in there until I succeed, right?  Of course, there’s always this voice in your head that sneeringly reminds you others have failed. What do you say to that?  Who can know: maybe they simply gave up too soon!

The Bible is a book about big ideas and the people that dared to dream them. Abram, old and fading, dared to believe that God could give him an heir even in his old age!  Joseph caught a vision of himself wielding so much power and authority that even his parents would bow down to him.  How could that ever happen?  David took one look at a 9′ tall giant- a hulking beast who had terrified the entire Army of Israel for days- and then dared to tell his soldier brothers, “I’ll fight that bully!”

Some dreamers claim Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  But that’s not really a promise that you are capable of anything you dream. Rather, Paul is saying you have the power to endure any trial you must face in the name of Jesus.  That’s good, of course, but it’s not the best verse for dreamers.

I prefer Proverbs 13:12. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  God designed us with a heart that is strengthened and satisfied by great causes and glorious ideas.  We all aspire to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

And I love Ephesians 3:20, when Paul describes God as “him who can to more than you ask or imagine… whose power is at work within you.”

As the Wright brothers celebrated their world changing 26 second flight on December 17, 1902, they sent word back home to Dayton, Ohio that they had traveled 622 feet in flight; that they would be home for Christmas.  The local newspaper tossed the telegram in the wastebasket and simply noted on the last page of the newspaper that two local bike makers would be returning home for the holidays.  The editors didn’t believe their account.

It doesn’t matter what they believe, does it?  What do you believe?  Take joy in your vision and take pains to entrust it to the Lord.  He knows what you need before you ask; and he gave you a heart that soars on the wings of dreams.

Lift up the Cross!

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