Introduction

  • Introduction

    The postings on this site are based on the author’s twenty-plus years of daily journaling, which, in essence, is a written conversation with God. That conversation flows from reading and studying Scripture, praying, and listening to the Holy Spirit. Each posting on this website is intended to help you in the process of maturing as a Christian, whether you are a new believer or one who wants to continue on the path of growth in Christ. If you are not yet a believer, there’s still time before the train leaves. Welcome!

    The storyline begins when the narrator, S. Tory Teller, has just become a Christian but does not know what to do next. Proceeding to find out, he is led to a man named Stan, who becomes his mentor, discipling him in his faith as they meet regularly for conversation over breakfast. Each conversation is followed by Scripture references that connect to that day’s theme. Then there is a prayer that leads to deeper understanding. Finally, there are “Think on This” points intended to stimulate further thought and discussion with others who are also “waiting for the train.” These “Think on this” points were added after many devotionals were posted. I am gradually going back and adding them to this site.

    I encourage you to write your thoughts. Journaling has made a significant difference in my faith walk, and it may in yours as well.

  • 1. Waiting for the Train: Assurance of Salvation and What it Means for this Life

    I approached the train station, surprised no one was there.

    As I stood on the platform looking from one direction to the other, the station master approached. “Need any help?” he asked. 

    “Can you tell me when the next train is due to arrive?” I said.

    “Depends on where you’re headed’” he replied. 

    “This is what I have.” I showed him my ticket. “I think it’s good for a one-way trip to glory.” 

    “Where did you get this?” the station master asked, and then added, “Do you know what it means?”  

    “I got it from a fellow on a corner downtown; he was talking about glory and giving out tickets.” 

    “I know him,” the station master replied. “He’s a good one!  How much did you pay?” 

    “Nothing,” I said, “the fellow promised it was free.” 

    “Good,” said the station master. “That’s the only way it works. Someone else paid the full price, so you only need to accept it. You couldn’t buy this kind of ticket even if you tried. You’d be surprised how many people show up here with a worthless ticket. There’s a lot of shock and sadness when I tell them they were sold something that’s no good. But that’s another story for another day.”  

    Then he asked me, “What about you? Did you think you could get on any train you prefer, at any time?” 

    “Well, I’m not sure,” I replied, “but I’m real tired of where I am and anxious to leave. The ticket fellow made glory sound so good, I want to get there as soon as I can.” 

    The station master shook his head. “That’s not how the ticket works. Do you see any people just standing around waiting for a train?” 

    “No,” I said. “That’s what surprised me about this station. Can you tell me more about the train to glory? Is the ticket any good? Do I need a reservation?” 

    The station master smiled. “Yes, the ticket is good, and no, you don’t need a reservation. When the train arrives, there will be a seat for you.” 

    “Great!” I replied. “So when’s the next train going to arrive?” 

     “I don’t know,” he said. 

    “You don’t know? That’s a funny way to run a railroad.” 

    “It’s not up to you and it’s not up to me,” was his solemn response. 

    “But what am I supposed to do? Just sit around and wait?” 

    ”No,” said the station master, “you are to give away tickets.” 

    Now I was exasperated. “I don’t have any tickets to give away,” I whined, “and there’s no one here anyway!” 

    The station master answered with great patience. “The people who come to this platform already have a valid ticket. Your duty is to leave here and find people who lack tickets. And don’t worry,” he added, “you will be given tickets to give away when the time is right.”  

    “But what do I tell people? I don’t understand the tickets myself.”  

    “You will be instructed,” was all he said. 

    “But if I leave here, give away tickets, and tell people what the ticket means, I might miss the train when it comes.” 

    “Won’t happen” was his quick reply. “The train will only come when you are on the platform, and you will know when it’s time to come back to catch the train.” 

    Still confused, I asked, “Can’t I just stay here until the train comes?” 

    The station master laughed. “You might get awfully tired of standing! Do you see anything to sit on? I want you to note especially there are no rocking chairs and none of those fancy chairs that recline. This platform is intended for one purpose only, and that is to leave for glory.” 

    I was silent, so he continued. “If you did choose to stand around waiting, the train would eventually arrive for you. But that would be pure folly and a waste of your life. So many people not only don’t have a ticket, they don’t even know there’s a train. And a whole world of ticket holders don’t know the true meaning of what they have been given.”  

    Then, in a voice of real authority, the station master said, “Go and tell people about the train and where it goes. Give out tickets as opportunity arises and explain what they mean. When it is time for you to return to this platform, you will have done what was expected of you.” 

    With his gentle smile, he added, “I will be waiting here to open the train door for you.” Then, overcoming all my hesitation, he repeated the command: “Go.” 

    And that is what I am seeking to do. 

    ___________________________________

    Bible verses to consider: 

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16. 

    And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. John 17:3. 

    Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:26. 

    Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13. 

    Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Thank you that I know where I am going when it is time for me to step into eternity. It is clear that you have work for me to do before then. I ask you to lead me and help me according to your will. Thank you that I can bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

    Think on this: What does the “ticket to glory” look like? What does it mean that it cannot be bought? Do you have your ticket? If no, do you know what it takes to get one? If yes, do you know what you are to be doing while you wait for the train? Are you stuck on the platform, or have you left the station to give out tickets and explain what they mean? If so, what does that look like? If you aren’t doing it, but want to, do you know how? 

  • 2. The First Steps

    As I walked away from the train station, I had the recurring urge to look back. Each time I did, the station master was waving to me as if to say, “Be on your way.” I eventually stopped looking back. 

    I walked towards the city park a few blocks away. I passed several people and wondered if I should stop and tell them about the tickets to glory. I had no idea what I would say, so I decided against it. 

    At the park I saw a man sitting alone on a bench. “Mind if I join you?” I asked. 

    In a gruff voice, he responded, “It’s not my bench. Besides, this is a free country.” 

    I sat down reluctantly. Several times I tried to open a conversation, hoping we could get on the subject of the train and tickets. But he was not much of a talker, and I was very nervous and unsure of myself. 

    The man eventually got up and walked away. I hadn’t said anything that might affect his life and eternal destination. I felt disappointed in myself. Should I just go back to the station and wait for the train? “I better not,” I thought to myself. “It might disappoint the station master.” 

    I wandered across the park feeling pretty dejected. I saw a small crowd gathered around someone. As I got closer, I saw that it was none other than the man who had given me my ticket. As he spoke, more and more people asked him for a ticket. 

    “Oh, I wish I could be like that man” was the thought running through my head. When the crowd had dispersed and I was left alone with him, he asked, “Do you want a ticket?”  

    “You gave me one a while back, downtown,” I responded. 

    “Sorry,” he replied. “I give away so many that I can’t always remember everyone. What are you doing in the park?” he asked. 

    I told him about going to the train station and talking with the station master. Then I described my experience with the man on the bench and how I felt like a failure. 

    “There are no failures among those who have tickets,” was his quick response. “Some may feel like failures because they aren’t comfortable meeting people and explaining the tickets. But there are lots of other things they can do.” 

    “Like what?” I asked eagerly. 

    “In the first place,” he said, “People who give out tickets need lots of support. Other ticket holders can help in many ways. And as the station master told you, there is a great need for people to help others understand what the ticket means. That is a vital role for all ticket holders.”

    “Bottom line is this: if you are open to seeing, God will show you all sorts of things you can do while waiting for the train.” 

    My curiosity was growing. “Can you explain more about this?” I asked.

    “Sure,” he said. “Getting the ticket to glory is just the beginning. Unfortunately, too many ticket holders don’t do anything but clutch their own ticket. They hold it real tight, thinking that is all they need. It is all they need to get to glory, but they fail to recognize that they are called to be something they have never been and do things they have never done, before they get on the train.” 

    “I think I’m beginning to understand,” I said. “But who helps the ticket holders understand?” 

    “Other ticket holders who are doing what God wants to do in and through them,” he replied. 

    “You don’t know how happy this makes me,” I said with a very large smile. “Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to do!” 

    “Could be, and probably is,” the ticket man responded. Then he patted me on the back and added, “In fact, I’m sure it is!” 

    ___________________________________ 

    Bible verses to consider: 

    He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12 

    Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your free and gracious gift of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thank you I know where I am going when I board the train. Thank you, too, for the life you have given me to live while I wait for the train. As you know, I am at times uncertain what you intend for that life to be. I need your help in knowing how to follow your lead as you take me to where you want me to be. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

    Think on this: We are all called to be and do what God has for us. We are to help others be who God intends them to be. It is a matter of being available to God. Are you as available as you want? If no, what more would you like to be doing? Do you know how? 

  • 3. Seeking and Finding Help

    It was getting close to lunch time and I was hungry. I asked the ticket man if he would like to get a bite to eat. He said he knew a great little spot just around the corner called “Twelve Baskets.” 

    “That’s an unusual name,” I said. 

    “It refers to the baskets of bread left over after Jesus fed a crowd of people long ago,” he said. 

    “It’s the place of choice for lots of ticket holders.” 

    “Lead the way,” I said. 

    As we entered the cafe, the ticket man nodded his greeting to people he obviously recognized, but as we were seated, he seemed to be looking for one particular person. 

    “Are you supposed to meet someone here?” I asked with a little disappointment. 

    “No,” he responded, “but I was hoping he would be here so I could introduce you.” 

    “Who?” I asked. 

    “A man I think can help you with some of the questions you have about your ticket.”  

    We ordered lunch and engaged in some small talk. I had so many questions for him, but I just didn’t know where to start. 

    Halfway through our meal, the ticket man looked up and said, “There he is—the man I want you to meet.” 

    The ticket man waved at him, and he came over to the table. The ticket man explained that I was a new ticket holder with lots of questions. 

    “Be glad to help in any way I can,” said the gentleman. “Stop by my table when you are done, and we can talk.” 

    “Thank you very much,” I replied.” 

    I finished lunch with the ticket man, who said, “Sorry to eat and run, but I need to get back to the park.” 

    “And I need to get over and talk with your friend,” I said. “Thank you for spending so much time with me.” 

    “My pleasure,” he responded. 

    I looked around to see where the gentleman was seated. He motioned me over. I headed in his direction, not knowing I was about to begin an amazing journey. 

    I sat down, stuck out my hand, and said, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch your name when we were introduced.” 

    “You can call me Stan,” he responded. “How do you happen to be here today?” 

    I told him about getting my ticket and going to the train station, then to the park. “All that’s happening to me is new and foreign,” I continued. “I don’t really know what’s going on.” 

    He nodded knowingly, with a kind smile. “When I first got my ticket, I had no idea what it meant,” he said. “I didn’t go to the train station as you did; I simply didn’t know what to do or where to go.” 

    “Did you ever find out?” 

    “Yes,” he said. “Some very kind ticket holders, who had been down the same road, took time out of their busy lives to help me. They were so helpful that I decided to spend my life doing the same.” 

    Then, more solemnly, he asked, “Are you interested in finding out what this ticket is all about?” 

    “Absolutely,” I replied. And so it began. 

    ___________________________________

    Bible verses to consider: 

    Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17. 

    So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13. 

    Prayer: Thank you, Father, for new beginnings. Thank you for your provision of life eternally with you when it’s time. And thank you for your provision of people to help others understand what you have for them while they wait to join you in eternity. I want to know, receive, and embrace all you have for me. Please help me follow every step of your lead, as you show me those steps through all you bring into my life. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

    Think on this: Having a spiritual mentor is a great step in knowing how to proceed down the path from conversion towards spiritual maturity. Do you have such a mentor? Would you like one? Why or why not? What are the ways to find one? 

  • 4. Setting Some Ground Rules

    As I sat across from Stan, he said, “I want to establish some ground rules.”

    “What do you mean?” I asked.

    “I spend a lot of my time talking to ticket holders.  I try to help them understand where they are and where they should be going in this life, on this side of eternity, in pursuing spiritual maturity. I give a lot of prayerful thought to that.”

    Continuing, he said, “My time is limited and I am led to help those who are serious about wanting to be helped.  With the obvious exception of this time with you, most of my time is scheduled with pre-arranged times to get together with people who are serious about the walk from conversion to transformation into greater spiritual maturity.”

    He then pulled out his calendar and opened it.  I was amazed to see that it was virtually filled with names for dates and times.

    “Do you want me to add you for some time next week?” He asked.

    “Can I think about that?” I asked.

    “Of course,” he replied, “and I like your answer.  It shows you are not quick to jump into something without giving it some thought!”

    Continuing, he said, “Much and maybe most of what I will relate to you will be based on my personal experience.  You will be free to ask me any questions you want at any time.  However, if I don’t answer, you are not to push for an answer.”

    “I understand, and I agree to whatever ground rules you want.  I see that you are serious about what you are doing.  I would like to talk with you some more to see if having regular times together is something I want to pursue.”

    “Good,” was his response.  “Can you be back here this afternoon at 4:00?”

    “Yes.”

    “Great!” he replied.  “We can spend some time and, perhaps, decide if we should get together on a regular basis.”

    With that, Stan got up and said, “I need to get going.  I have an appointment and I don’t want to be late.  See you back here at 4:00.”

    ________________________________

    And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.  Revelation 22:17.

    Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for all of your provision of life eternally with you when it is time. Thank you, too, for what you have and want for me while you keep me on this side of eternity. I want to pursue knowing you as deeply as possible. Please help me in following your every step as you lead me to where you want me to be on the road from conversion towards transformation. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

    _________________________________

    Things to think (and journal) about:

    1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

    2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

    3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

    4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

    _____________________________

    Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.


  • 4A. Some Basic Background

    I was back at 12 Baskets shortly before 4:00.  Stan came in right after I did. He sat down, ordered a glass of iced tea, and began talking.

    “I don’t want to bore you with a lot about me, but I think it is important for you to get a handle on where I came from and how I got to where I am.”

    “It’s up to you,” I said.

    So he began.  “I didn’t become a Christian until I was well into my adulthood.”

    “I had attended church almost my entire life.  As a child and teenager, I went to church with my mother just about every Sunday.”

    “In spite of going to church for years” he continued, “none of it meant much to me.   I don’t know if I just was not paying attention or what, but I do know that the truth of the gospel was never presented in a way that made me want to ask for a ticket.”

     “Well,” I replied, “something obviously changed somewhere along the road.  What was it?”

    “When I was well into my career and we were living near San Francisco,” Stan replied, “my wife and I, with our two children, moved to a new neighborhood.  Two doors away was a couple, Ray and Liz, who had tickets to Glory and were obedient in sharing the truth of Christianity.”

    Continuing, he said, “My wife became a Christian before I did, but I remained open.  My dear wife was encouraging without nagging.”

    “Ray and Liz introduced us to the church they were involved with,” Stan added.  “We began attending that church every Sunday, hearing excellent teaching the likes of which I had never heard before.”

    “At some point, my wife said she was going to attend a five-year Bible study for women. She encouraged me to attend the men’s version that met on Monday nights.  I knew virtually nothing about the Bible and thought it might be a good ‘academic exercise!’”

    “Academic exercise?” I said. “I bet it turned out to be more than that.”

    “You are right about that,” Stan replied, “but you are getting ahead of the story.”

    “During this time,” Stan continued, “Liz, my dear neighbor, gave me a copy of the book, Born Again, written by Chuck Colson.  It’s a fabulous book about his journey to Christianity.”

    “I am a slow learner and a tough nut to crack,” Stan said with a smile.  “After regularly attending an excellent church, reading the Colson book, and being in my third year of Bible study, I finally came to the realization that it’s all true. I made my decision to accept the free gift of salvation, and I got my ticket!”

    “What happened after that?” I asked.

    “I had a strong start in the beginning,” Stan replied, “but I didn’t really advance very far.  It took me  a long time, many years, to pursue seriously a growing relationship with God.”

    “In spite of all of my best efforts,” he continued, “I simply could not develop having a daily time of being in touch with God.  I had no doubt that such was essential for me so I would get to where God intended for me to be, but it just didn’t happen.”

    “I eventually came to the conclusion that I did not have the right person to lead me and I was not mature enough to be led by the Holy Spirit.”

    When Stan said that, I had no clue what he meant about the Holy Spirit, but I didn’t let on by asking him.

    Continuing, Stan said, “I just didn’t have someone in my life who had been down the right road.  Through the grace of God, He has led me brought people into my life to help. That is why I am spending so much of the time I have left on this side of eternity seeking to help others grow in their relationship with God. I was helped, and now it is my turn to help.”

    Stan’s sincerity and obvious deep commitment to knowing God and seeking God’s will for his life led me to interrupt him by saying, “I would like to get into your appointment schedule to be able to have regular times with you.”

    “Do you understand,” Stan asked, “that having the relationship with God that God wants is up to you, not me, and that I can only help, not make that relationship happen?”

    “Yes, I understand,” I replied.

     “How about each Wednesday morning at 8:30?”

    “Can we do it more often than that?”

    “Let’s start there and see what happens.”

     “Where?”  I asked.

    “How about right here?”

    “I will be here.  Is there anything I should do before then to get ready for our meeting?  

    “I may have some ‘assignments’ for you later on, but for now I want you to do the most important thing you can do.”

    “What’s that?” I asked.

    “Pray,” was Stan’s one-word response.  “Ask God to show you where He wants you to be and what He wants you to be doing before it is time for you to get on the train.”

    With that, we parted and I began looking forward to next Wednesday.

    _______________________________________

    The Jesus said to His disciples, “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  Matthew 16:24

    Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your free gift of salvation through the finished work of Christ Jesus, resulting from His life, death, and resurrection. Thank you, too, that you want you and me to develop a personal relationship that only gets deeper the longer I pursue knowing you. Father, I need your help and your guidance.  You know more about what I need than I do, so please move in me exactly as you want.  Please open me to see, understand, receive, and embrace all you have for me.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

    _________________________________

    Things to think (and journal) about:

    1.  What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?

    2.  What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?

    3.  What is God saying to you to do personally?

    4.  Who can you share this with to make a difference?

    _____________________________

    Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: waiting4thetrain@gmail.com.

  • 5. Waiting for Wednesday

    As I left Stan and walked out of the cafe, I experienced a joy of anticipation.  I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, but I had the sense that something significant was about to happen in my life.  I purposefully avoided going by the train station.

    On my way home there were two things Stan had said that kept rolling over in my mind.  The first is what he had said about the Holy Spirit.  The second was about praying to be shown where God may be taking me.

    I was not really acquainted with the Holy Spirit.  I knew He was part of the Holy Trinity, but I was not familiar with what role, if any, He could and would play in my daily life.  As to praying, it occurred to me that maybe I should pray and ask for help in my understanding of the Holy Spirit.  When I got back to my apartment that is exactly what I did.

    Although I had some experience with prayer, I was not what could be called a “praying man.”  I got on my knees next to the bed and didn’t know how to begin, but all of a sudden I had this amazing sense of peace and the desire to just be quiet and allow myself to be taken into God’s presence.  This had never happened to me before!  It was amazing as my mind was filled with thoughts of God I had never experienced.  And there was an incredible feeling of peace that I could not understand or describe, but knew was real.  It was like there was a voice inside of me that told me not to be concerned with praying, but to bask in the knowledge that prayers were being offered on my behalf.  Only later did I learn that this is one of the roles of the Holy Spirit!

    I spent quite a bit of time each morning on my knees before the Lord.  As I began my time with Him I asked that He guide me.  I would ask and then be quiet — quiet enough so I could hear His voice over my own thoughts.  It soon became clear to me that this was something that should be discussed with Stan to see if he would affirm the reality of what I thought was happening to and with me.  I was convinced in my own mind that something of significance was happening to me, but since it was so new to me it seemed wise to run it by a mature Christian.   From that thought, I began to make a list of questions I would have for Stan when I saw him on Wednesday.

    By Tuesday night I had a long list of questions to discuss with Stan.  I could hardly sleep that night because of my excited anticipation to spend time with him the next morning.  As I lay on my bed thinking about our meeting, I prayed and asked God to give me sleep.  The next thing I knew the sun was coming up and it was Wednesday.

    ___________________________

    And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7

    Prayer:  Lord, you grant peace.  It is one of the fruits of your Spirit.  Thank you for all of the peace you pour out for me.  Please help me to understand all you have for me.  Please, Lord, open me to the depths of my being to receive and embrace all you have.  Amen.

  • 6. The Wrong Thing to Say

    I got to 12 Baskets early, walked in, and looked for Stan.  I didn’t see him, but took an empty table near the door and waited, somewhat afraid he wouldn’t be there.  At exactly 8:30 he walked in and joined me at the table. 

    “How are you doing?” He asked with a bright smile and then added, “What have you been doing since we were last together?”

    Before I could answer, he held up his hand and said, “Let’s order breakfast; I’m starved.”

    With that, he motioned to the waiter.  When he arrived, Stan said to him, “I’ll have my usual.” I glanced at the menu and made a quick decision.

    Stan said, “Sorry for the interruption.  Where were we?”

    “I was getting ready to tell you what I have been doing since I last saw you.”

    “Right,” he said. Go ahead.”

    “I have really been anticipating our time together,” I began.  I have spent a lot of time praying, and I have made a list of things I would like to talk with you about.”

    “Great!” was his response.

    “And I feel really fortunate to be able to spend time with a mature Christian.”

    Stan held up his hand and said, “Stop right there.” 

    Somewhat taken aback, I said “Did I do or say something wrong?”

    “No, not really wrong, but I think your perspective is a bit off.”

    “How so?” I asked.

    “I think it is wrong to described anyone as a ‘mature Christian.’ I prefer the term, ‘maturing Christian’ because ‘mature’ connotes that there is no further to go in the process of maturing.”

    Stan went on to say, “I am convinced that maturing as a Christian is a life-long process that is not intended by God to stop until we have taken our last breath on this side of eternity.”

    “As part of the same thinking process, I believe that if I ever get to the point of thinking I am spiritually mature, I will be on the wrong path and heading backwards.  There will always be more to learn about God, and there will always be more steps in growing in that direction.”

    I started to apologize for what I said, but he interrupted me and said, “There is nothing to apologize about; many people describe themselves or others as being ‘“mature Christians.’”

    “It may just be my personal quirk, but I am convinced I am right and I want you and I to be on the same page from the beginning.”

    “I understand what you are saying, Stan,  and I appreciate your perspective as a maturing  Christian,” I said with emphasis.

    He smiled and said, “I think you are going to be a good student!”

    By then the waiter had returned with our breakfast.  “Would you like to thank the Lord for this wonderful meal?” Stan asked.

    Since I was not used to praying in public, I was a little hesitant, but said a quick silent prayer, “Please lead me Lord.”  And He did as I prayed over our food and time together.

    We both started to eat and I asked Stan, “Can I ask you a question?”

    “I would prefer finishing my breakfast before I get to talking in earnest.  Once I start talking, I tend to keep going.  I’m afraid my breakfast would get cold, and I do not like to eat cold food or waste good money!”

    “Let’s eat and then get down to business,” he said.  And so we did.

    _______________________


    I say to every person among you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.  Romans 12:3

    Prayer:  Lord, thank you for all you do to open me to what you want me to hear and to know.  I want to spend the rest of my days maturing in my understanding of you and of what you have for me to be and to do.  Please, Lord, help me in never stopping to grow in my relationship with you.  Amen.

  • 7. The Wife of His Youth

    Wanting to get to know Stan better, I said, “The first time we were together you mentioned your wife.  Are you still married to her?”

    Stan’s eyes sparkled as he said, “Yes, I am still married to my high school sweetheart.  We have been married a long time.”  With a chuckle, he added, “Sometimes my wife says we have been married for a very long time.”

    “We have a very good marriage, but it is only through the grace of God.”

    “What do you mean by that?”

    “We were married very young.   I was 20 and my bride had just turned 18.  We were not Christians.  We spent the first five years of our marriage in college, with our son being born right before we celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary.  We were poorer than the proverbial church mice.”

    “I had no idea how to be a husband, and I had the totally wrong notion of what being married really meant.”

    “In addition, I had been married for almost 20 years before I became a Christian.”

    “It was even longer before I began a deeper relationship with God and was shown the truth of Proverbs 5:18.”

    “What is Proverbs 5:18?” I asked.

     “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,” Stan said without having to consult his Bible.

    “Please tell me more.”

    “My bride is certainly the wife of my youth, but the question is did I rejoice in her then, and do I rejoice in her now?  I certainly did love her, but only the grace and instruction of God led me to rejoice in her.”

    “To rejoice is to show great joy and delight.  The verse in Proverbs does not say to rejoice in her when I feel like rejoicing, but to rejoice in her.  Period.  That means at all times, under every circumstance.  To love and to rejoice are choices that can and are to be made.”

    “All of this did not become really clear to me until I read this verse in Proverbs and really focused on what it meant — and how woefully short of it I was.”

    “Am I now the ‘perfect’ husband?”, Stan said more as a statement than a question.

    “Hardly,” he answered his own statement, “but as I am open to being the husband I am needed to be, and the one God can use for His purposes with my wife and in our marriage, He leads me to where He wants me to be.”

    “The biggest question is whether I will follow His lead.  With His grace I will!”

    Stan then added, “There is another thing about that verse in Proverbs that I think is important”

    “What’s that,” I asked.

    “It says to rejoice in the wife of your youth, but it surely means to rejoice in your wife whether she is of your youth or otherwise.  So I like to read that verse as saying, in essence, to rejoice in the wife you married when you were younger than you are today.”

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    Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth.  Proverbs 5:18

    Prayer:  Lord, you know how terribly inadequate I can be as a husband.  I need and ask for your constant help in truly rejoicing in my wife.  She is your very special provision.  Please help me to be the man and husband she needs me to be, as well as the one you will be able to use for your purposes in our marriage and in her life.  Amen.

  • 8. Theology of the Golf Ball

    Out of the blue one day, Stan asked, “Do you play golf?”

    “I do,” I said.  “I really enjoy it, but I am not very good.”

    “You just described my game,” Stan said with a laugh.  “My hope is that I will live long enough to shoot my age!”

    He continued, “I want to tell you about a friend of mine who taught me a valuable lesson without even knowing he was part of the learning process.”

    “Sounds interesting; go on,” I replied.

    “I had a dear friend named Dick.  He is gone now; got on the train a few years ago.  I sure do miss him!”

    “Dick and I played a lot of golf together.  At first, neither of us would mark our golf ball to be able to identify it so we wouldn’t hit the wrong ball.”

    “After a while, I noticed that Dick would always find his golf ball whenever we were looking for it in the rough.”

    “We would find a ball, and Dick would say, ‘Yeah, that’s the one I hit.’”

    “To avoid that temptation, I put my initial on my ball so I would always know that I was hitting the right ball.”

    “A couple of years later, I changed my ball mark to a cross, thinking that substituting the cross for my initial is the essence of Christianity — putting Christ in place of myself.”

    “That is a great lesson,” I replied.

    “But that is not all,” Stan continued.

    “Having my ball marked with a cross has accomplished several things.”

    “Like what?”

    “First of all, of course,” he said, “it makes certain I am hitting the right ball.”

    “Secondly, “when I stand over my ball and see the cross, it certainly puts my focus on the right thing — to represent Christ on the golf course.”

    “And, there have been lots of times when someone I am playing has asked why I mark my ball with a cross.  That has opened up many opportunities to share the truth of the cross.”

    “In addition to Dick unknowingly giving me what I call ‘the theology of the golf ball,’ he opened up a lot of thought about marking every area of my life with the cross so that another person would see a difference and be curious as to what it is that motivates me, curious enough to give me an opportunity that might change his or her life and eternal destination.”

    “And, my friend, I encourage you to think about what parts of your life can and should be marked with the cross.”

    Concluding, Stan added, “The only way I know of to mark any part of my life with the cross begins with denying self by putting aside everything that is contrary to the cross governing my life.”

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    If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Matthew 16:24.

    Prayer:  Lord, I thank you for every learning opportunity you present to me.  Please help me to be aware of what it is you want me to learn and to apply to my life.  In this instance, I ask you to open me to see how I can mark each area of my life for you so that you can use me to make a difference with whoever you bring before me.  Amen.