Story: The Football Player Who Didn’t Work Out

James wanted to be a great football player. He dreamed of making great plays and leading his team to victory.

With such a goal, you would think that James would be a frequent visitor to the gym. After all, all of the other athletes at his school were. They got up early, way before their classmates even thought about stirring, to work out. They jogged after school. Their entire lives revolved around staying in shape and preparing for the next football game.

But James didn’t do these things. He never seemed to have time to work out. When he showed up to practice, the drills completely exhausted him. Maybe he just wasn’t as talented as the others.

He kept telling everyone he knew that he wanted to get better. He was tired of not being able to keep up. Yet he didn’t really want to put in the effort…

“James, is football something worth pursuing?” his coach asked him one day.

“Of course!” James replied quickly.

“Then live like it,” the coach replied. Just like that, James realized that all his excuses were just that—excuses.

He slowly started to work out. But it wasn’t easy! Why did it seem like his muscles built themselves so slowly? And that if he missed a few days, it was even harder?

Yet slowly, imperceptibly sometimes, James’ muscles changed. And one day he surprised himself by being able to keep up on the football field.

Thought: What would it look like if we trained spiritually as seriously as athletes do physically by reading the Word, praying, trusting, praising and worshiping God, running to Jesus, etc.? He is worth it!

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (ESV)

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Story: Always a Way of Escape

“We’ve got you now.”

The evil voice came over the loudspeaker, with a hideous laugh.

Sam shuddered. It did indeed seem as if he was trapped. Hedges surrounded him on every side, looming above him and alongside him, as if they were about to devour him. All around was darkness. It was hopeless. Despair gripped his heart.

“I’ll always provide a way of escape”—his father’s words rang through his mind.

Sam looked around. He sure didn’t see a way to escape this. But his father never lied. “Father, show me the way of escape,” he cried. He looked closer at the hedges. Was that an opening he saw? There seemed to be a faint light coming through.

Sam moved closer to investigate. Sure enough, where before all had appeared to be darkness, he now could clearly see a small tunnel in the hedge. It wasn’t necessarily easy fitting through it, but Sam could make it. He got on his hands and knees and crawled through the hedge. The branches poked him, but on the other side—yes, it was true—he was free!

His father had indeed provided a way of escape—he just had to look for it.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

Short Story: The Private Who Expected Steak

Justin walked around the army camp dejected. He was a new recruit and was still getting used to army life.

Nothing so far was going the way he’d pictured. He wanted steak for dinner—or at least something edible—but instead was served a pot of something or other that tasted more akin to poison. He wanted a soft bed to lie on, but instead he had to sleep on the bare ground. Was a mattress too much to expect?

“Hey, why the long face?” Mark said with a friendly pat on the shoulder.

Justin explained his woes. “Life is just so hard,” he wined. “Why does it have to be this way?”

To his surprise, Mark looked like he was working hard to restrain a laugh. “Did you really think the army would be easy?”

“Would you please explain what is so funny?” Justin asked.

“Sorry,” Mark apologized, trying to put on a serious look. “It’s just, well, Justin, you joined an army, not a restaurant.”

Justin squirmed. Mark was right. He’d been forgetting what really mattered.

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” 2 Timothy 2:3-6 (ESV)

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)

Short Story: Super Busy…on Sandcastles

Short Story

Short StoryEmma was busy–very busy. Her little mind raced with all the things she needed to get done on her sandcastle city. To her, getting her castle just right seemed to be the most important thing in the world.

Little did Emma dream that soon the ocean would sweep away all her work. She was stressing about something temporal and fleeting, and letting it rob her of really enjoying her day at the beach. Why, she practically ignored her father and those around her in her obsession with her sand creations, not realizing that she was ignoring the important for the unimportant.

*******

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:17 (KJV)

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” John 6:27 (KJV)

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14 (KJV)

 

Short Story: If Plants Were People…

Short Story: If Plants Were People...

It was a very strange garden.

Short Story: If Plants Were People...It had been planted by the gardener, with each plant lovingly and thoughtfully chosen. The gardener had put a wide variety of plants in his garden—ones of every hue, texture, and height. Some were designed to bear large, showy flowers; others were to provide a restful green backdrop. Some were designed to cover the ground; others to grow high and provide shade. They were all designed to grow strong where they’d been planted, only in different ways.

But these plants, rather than simply growing and being all they were created to be, started comparing themselves with each other. Some of the large, showy plants began holding back their flowers (they didn’t want to look so conspicuous), while others puffed out abnormally wide in pride over their beauty. The background plants felt badly that they didn’t have flowers and thought they didn’t matter. The tall plants began stooping so they wouldn’t look so much taller than the others, while the shorter ones exhausted themselves trying to grow tall. The ones in the shade drooped, wishing they could be in the sun; the ones in the sun drooped, wishing they could be in the shade.

The silly plants didn’t realize that they’d been created and placed where they were placed for a purpose. They were all part of the same garden, and each one needed to do its job.

“But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” 1 Corinthians 12: 20-21, 27 (KJV)

Short Story: Playing for the Wrong Goal

Short Story: Playing for the Wrong Goal

Short Story: Playing for the Wrong GoalKalee was determined to collect as many tokens as she possibly could. She loved the feel of the tokens in her hands and the thrill it gave her to have yet another one. The entire game, she strategised all she could to get more tokens. Little did she dream the surprise awaiting her at the end of the game.

You see, the goal of the game was not to collect as many tokens as possible. While Kalee had succeeded at her goal, she’d totally missed the point of the game. All her careful planning and work ended up being in vain. She’d been playing for the wrong goal.

*****

“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5 (NASB)

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NASB)

Ignoring the Warning

Short Story: Ignoring the Warning

Screech, screech, screech.

The tornado siren intruded on Sarah’s solitude. Sarah knew she should get up and take shelter. Only she was in the middle of a book and didn’t want to stop.

Just a few more pages, she told herself. There’s plenty of time.

But her book kept getting more and more interesting. So she shut the door to her bedroom and pulled a pillow over her head so she wouldn’t hear the siren anymore. Only for a minute, of course, while she finished another page.

Only by the time she’d finished that page, she’d forgotten all about the tornado siren. She was lost in her book.

A friend even called her and urged her to take shelter, but Sarah only got mad at her friend for disturbing her. This book was so interesting. It was becoming harder and harder to stop. Just a few more pages…

Thus Sarah kept reading, despite the shaking of her window panes as the tornado grew closer and closer. She ignored the warning–and then it was too late.

“As it is said, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’” Hebrews 3:15 (ESV)

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2b (ESV)

Story: What’s Important?

Story: What's Important?

“What happened here?” Sarah exclaimed in dismay as she surveyed her bedroom. It looked like all of her things had been pulled out and gone through. In the middle of it all sat her little one-year-old daughter, playing contentedly with what she obviously considered the greatest treasure of all: a worthless cardboard jewelry box. Kaitlyn held the box up to her Mommy with a great big baby grin, confident she’d found a treasure her mother would love.

Sarah forced a smile. Her little girl had so much to learn about treasures! Kaitlyn had unceremoniously thrown away or strewn across the room as worthless all Sarah’s important jewelry, keepsakes, letters, and other valuables. On the other hand, Kaitlyn was treating all the unimportant things—such as a roll of toilet paper and the all-enthralling cardboard jewelry box—as great treasures.

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.” Proverbs 3:13-15

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46

Story: Productivity Versus Fruit

Short Story: Productivity Versus Fruit

Short Story: Productivity Versus Fruit“Wow, Grandpa, look at that tomato plant. It’s a big one!” Justin pointed excitedly to a rather unusual tomato plant in the back of the garden.

Grandpa didn’t look so impressed. “It’s a big one, all right,” he replied. “But do you see any tomatoes?”

Justin skipped over to the plant and began inspecting it more carefully. To his surprise, he hardly saw any tomatoes—only an abundance leaves.

“Why aren’t there any tomatoes, Grandpa?”

Grandpa shook his head. “That plant has been so focused on foliage it’s forgotten what really matters. Come here, Justin. See this plant over here? Now this one is bearing fruit.”

Justin followed his grandfather over to the other corner of the garden where there was a tomato plant. At first glance, the plant was unimpressive. It only had a few leaves, and they weren’t perfectly green and luscious like the other plant’s. But it had many clumps of bright red tomatoes ready for picking. This plant was bearing fruit.

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16 (KJV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5 (KJV)