The Fish Test

When I was in college my roommate and I had a goldfish. Joey was a big goldfish and had a nice big tank all to himself. He was fun to watch. He also served another purpose. My roommate and I could tell what kind of day the other had had with the answer to a simple question: Do you feel sorry for Joey today or do you wish you were him?

You see, on a good day you felt sorry for Joey because who would want to be stuck in a tank when there is so much fun to be had in the world. But on a not so good day, you wished you were Joey so all you had to worry about was swimming, and eating, and swimming some more.

What about you? Do you feel sorry for Joey today or wish you were him?

Driving Satan Crazy

In talking with a friend the other day he told me the story of how his laptop and cell phone were stolen while he was doing mission work in Mexico. You see, he was staying in a fairly nice house that had a lot of material possessions in it. But, the only things stolen that night were his laptop and cell phone. As he told me the story I looked at him and was like wow, that really stinks. He looked back at me and said, “Nope. I was like praise God!”

Yeah, that look you just got on your face was the one I gave him. That “Are you crazy?” look. He went on to say, “Absolutely, praise God. Praise God that Satan cares that much about me. That I am that much of a threat to him. That I scare him that much that he takes time out to try and rattle my cage. Praise God.”

Wow! I was completely shocked, convicted, and inspired all at the same time. How different my life would be if I approached everything from that standpoint. If I took the perspective of my friend. The challenges and struggles of life would seem much smaller and less burdensome if I looked at them as a blessing because it meant the amazing things God was doing through me were driving Satan crazy.

How do you look at the challenges and struggles that come into your life? Do they cause you to get angry and frustrated? Or do you praise God for them?

Churchy Words

I was listening to Ski’s sermon during worship last night and realized, no matter how hard to try, we still tend to use a lot of “churchy” words in worship. Two that we talked about last night, and Ski did a great job explaining were ‘grace’ and ‘mercy.’

I have to be honest. Growing up, I learned that grace was “God’s undeserved love” but I’m not sure I ever learned what mercy was. A couple of years ago I heard a gentleman giving a speech tell a great story describing the difference between those two words. Every time I hear either one of them, I think of that story. I’d like to share it with you.

One day a dad came home from work and said to his young son, “Let’s go get an ice cream cone.” The boy looked at his dad confused. He asked why they were going to get ice cream. You see, usually the boy had to earn such rewards. His dad said he wanted to teach him a lesson and ice cream was going to help.

So, the two headed out to get ice cream. As they were enjoying their treat, the dad said to his son. “You didn’t deserve this ice cream. You did nothing to earn it. Just as you do nothing to earn God’s love. In fact, you don’t deserve his love. But, he gives it to you anyway. That my son, is what we call grace.” The child nodded and smiled at his father. He said, “Dad, I like grace.”

The two finished their treat and headed home. Later in the evening the young boy got into trouble. He and his father both knew it was something he should be punished for. As the father prepared to dole out his son’s punishment he suddenly stopped. The boy looked at his father in disbelief. His father looked back at him and said, “Son. I’m going to teach you a different kind of lesson right now. You deserve this punishment. You did something wrong and you know the consequences. But, I’m not going to punish you.” The child looked at his father in amazement and simply said, “But I don’t understand, dad.” His father proceeded to explain that he was showing the boy mercy. “You see,” he said, “God’s mercy is when he doesn’t give us the punishment that we deserve. The ice cream you got earlier tonight was grace, it was something good you didn’t deserve. But not receiving this punishment that you do deserve, that’s mercy.”

The boy recalled in his mind the ice cream from earlier in the evening. He looked at his father with a big smile and said, “Dad, I LIKE grace. But I LOVE mercy.”

That story just helps lay out the difference as well as the meaning of those two words so clearly in my mind. In my opinion, they’re both great words. And they’re both words that can only be rooted in our Heavenly Father. Without his loving example we wouldn’t know what grace or mercy was like.