The Starfish

I will never forget the story of the starfish.  Two people are walking along the beach.  As they are walking, they encounter a large number of starfish that have washed upon the shore.  One of them bends down, picks up a starfish, and tosses it back into the ocean.  The other person asks, “What good did that do?  Look at all of them.  That didn’t make a difference.”  The first person replies, “It made a difference to that one.”

What about you?  Would you pick up a starfish?  Maybe your starfish is not a starfish at all, but maybe God is calling you to telephone a friend who needs a word of encouragement or purchase a bag of groceries for the family next door.  Perhaps God has laid it on your heart to provide a meal for the homeless person you see on the corner each morning you drive to work, or to smile at someone who looks like they are having a bad day.  I’m sure many of us would jump at the chance to go on a mission trip to the other side of the world, or to provide clothes, household items, and food for a family whose house burned down.  While these things are certainly worthwhile, we need to make sure we do not lose sight of the daily blessing we can be to others.

When Jesus returns to this earth, the Bible says that He will say to those blessed by His Father, “‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’” (Matthew 25:35-36 NIV).  The righteous will ask, “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’” (Matthew 25:37-39 NIV).  Jesus will reply, “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).

When we help someone in need, we may not even know their name.  But God knows exactly who they are.  He knows whether or not we will help them.  And if we do help them, we are helping Jesus.  For whatever we do for someone in need, we are doing for Him.  So the next time you make a phone call to check on someone, visit the local nursing home, pay for someone’s meal, or simply share a smile to brighten someone’s day, remember, you are doing it for Jesus.  It may seem insignificant to you, but it is significant to God.  Even the smallest action, like tossing a starfish back into the water, can make a huge difference in someone’s life.  In the case of the starfish, it not only changed its life, but saved it.

In Christ’s Love,

A Grand Adventure!

 As I sit here looking at photographs from my summer vacation, I am reminded of picturesque places we explored, amazing sights we saw, and delightful destinations that I hope to see again.  Above all, I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude, both to my dad and to my Heavenly Father, for the amazing adventure that I was blessed to enjoy.  While I wish you could have experienced our entire journey firsthand, I pray you enjoy traveling vicariously through my story.  So, pack your bags, grab your passport, and join me as we travel across Europe.  It’s going to be one grand adventure!

One experience that was extraordinary special was our visit to Ephesus in Turkey.  As I stepped off of the bus, the hairs on the back of my neck curled with excitement as I thought about the fact that the Apostle John and Mary had walked on those streets and that the Apostle Paul preached in the theater there.  At the same time, it saddened me to know that they ran him out because they did not believe that there was one true God, shouting, great is the god of Artemis.  Standing in the theater, my dad and I both proudly proclaimed, “Great is the God of the Apostle Paul!”  This day is one that I will always remember, as it was not only exciting to see a new country, but it had a spiritual meaning to my dad and me as well.
Of all of the places we were blessed to explore, one of my favorites was Santorini, Greece.  The brilliant blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea crashing against the bottoms of towering cliffs create a sight to behold.  Following a picturesque ride on a tender and then a cable car, we were soon at the top of the cliff where we picked up our rental car for the day.  We drove across the island to Perissa Beach, a beach that has volcanic black sand.  The water was so refreshing and the three and a half hours spent here were paradise.  We stopped at a local bakery on the way back to town and shared some baklava and apple spice cake.  Between the time spent swimming in the crystal clear water and the satisfaction for my sweet tooth, I felt as if I was on cloud nine.
Perhaps my most cherished stop of all was that of Zermatt, Switzerland.  Here, we stayed in a chalet hotel with a balcony overlooking the Matterhorn.  I was in awe of the beauty that was ours to behold.  We had picnics on the balcony and I sat there, glued to the mountain vista as a child might be glued to a television set airing a marathon of their favorite program.  The goats being herded through the streets in the mornings and evenings just added to the atmosphere.  A cable car ride, fondue, and apple strudel rounded out our Swiss experience.  But still, everything else paled in comparison to the beauty of the magnificent Matterhorn.
We encountered so many incredible sights, from the ancient ruins of Olympia where the Olympic torch is lit to the city of Pompeii where structures still stand, even after enduring a massive volcanic eruption.  We stood on the Acropolis in Athens, rode a gondola in Venice, and saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  We walked the wall in Dubrovnik, enjoyed the sights in Paris, and even set foot on the continent of Africa with a visit to Tunisia.  While it was a wonderful opportunity to see archeological sites like the Acropolis or Colosseum, my dad and I agreed that we do not need to see them again.  But when it comes to places like Perissa Beach or the Matterhorn, we could keep returning, time after time, and they would never grow old.  The things that God has created for us to enjoy have a timeless beauty.  They capture our attention, not for a moment, but for a lifetime.  And even greater than our summer adventure, all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will be going on a grand adventure one day that makes all vacations here on earth pale in comparison.  One day, our grand adventure will not start on a bus, a train, or a plane.  Instead, the true Grand Adventure will begin when a trumpet sounds.  Won’t you join me on the ultimate Grand Adventure?
In Christ's Love,