Something so simple can be such a blessing!

"I Care So I Run" for children around the globe with Team World Vision.
“I Care So I Run” for children around the globe with Team World Vision.

I’m training for the New York City Marathon. My “Long Run” this past week was 14 miles. In the brutal heat of August in South Texas. When the sun comes up and it’s 90+ degrees before you know it.

About Mile 12 I’m running up a long hill. For those of you in San Antonio, it’s New Braunfels Avenue, up from Austin Highway into Alamo Heights. It doesn’t seem like much of a hill when you are driving a car…

Anyway, I’m a hot, sweaty mess as the cadence of my feet pound out eleven-minute-miles. Up ahead I see an older guy mowing his lawn. He stops mowing and disappears into the garage. He reappears right as I’m approaching his driveway. In his hand is a single bottle of water, which I initially assumed he has gotten for himself. And then, with a big smile on his face, he reaches out and hands it to me! “Looks like you need this!” he says.

I told him he was a blessing. And truly he was! You see, I carry water on my belt. And I was rationing my water for the last two miles. I really didn’t need the water. But let me tell you… his water was COLD! Refreshing. It was extra, so I could drink some and then pour some down the back of my neck. Oooh, it was invigorating! It was a luxury. It was a true blessing!

And then I turned my thoughts to World Vision and their efforts in Africa. The water the kids walk 6 miles for each day is like the water on my belt. But then, when the local water committees team with World Vision to bring a water system to the village, that’s a luxury. It’s an abundant blessing!

I’m reminded of the words of Jesus to the woman at the well in John 4:14: ” whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The image I see when I hear the phrase “welling up” is a waterfall. An abundant flow of God’s love that rushes in us to refresh us, then out of us to refresh others.

Like a cold bottle of water from a total stranger. A blessing.

And when we run for kids — for World Vision’s Clean Water or Child Protection programs — that’s what we get to do! We’re blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 12). And when you partner with those who are running, you are that blessing too! Thank you!

Running with joy,
-rich

 

*If you’d like to help children around the globe, go to teamworldvision.org/NYC and make a donation today! Thank you! *

“Into Me, See”

Quiet streams of Living Water in the Wilderness of the Israeli Desert. A place of rest. A place of peace. A place of refreshing.
Quiet streams of Living Water in the Wilderness of Zin in the middle of the Israeli Desert.  A place of rest. A place of peace. A place of refreshing. A place of intimacy.

Do you have a “One Word” for 2014? A single, focused idea or goal for the New Year? My word is “intimacy.” As in, “I want to walk closer in intimacy with God the Father.”  To do so, I think, means to be stretched in my times of prayer.  My hope is that it means significant prayer. True connecting prayer. Two way conversations of prayer between God and me. Lingering prayer. Not check-list prayer.

Intimacy. A good pastor friend of mine used to say it this way: “Into me, see.” As in opening your heart and life to one who truly sees into your heart and soul. For most of us, that’s our spouse. But isn’t it also God? And I believe that His true desire is for us to see as deep into His heart as we acknowledge that He sees into ours.

That’s the deep, intimate, prayer-stretching kind of focus that I desire in my personal walk with God the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit in 2014.

In the past ten days I have eaten up a book I literally stumbled upon at Barnes and Noble the day after Christmas. Its title grabbed me: Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher, How Jesus Flipped My World Upside Down.[1] The Bible says in John 14:12 (NIV): “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  Have you ever wrestled with these words of Jesus?

My spiritual background has included seasons of beauty in seeing God move supernaturally. It has also included seasons of awful abuse of the Biblical text and manipulating God and people seeking Him in prayer.   The bad seasons soured my praying for people for years.

And yet God…

In His grace and love I’m wondering if there is a new season ahead for me personally and others in my circle of friends and family and prayer partners…  a time of seeing Him move “in power”  as a direct result of walking in intimacy with Abba, Father?

Curiously, it’s been a long time since a single book spoke to me the way this one has. The author’s unassuming approach is delightful. I can’t believe how much I’ve underlined, circled and starred… thoughts and ideas that have struck a chord in my heart. Perhaps they will speak to you?

Author Chad Norris talks about walking the walk that Jesus walked while He was here on earth. Can the supernatural be natural for us? Here are a few direct quotes from the first chapters:

If we had followed Jesus while He was on the earth, what would He have asked us to do? …  The only answer I can come up with is that He would have asked us to do what He asked His other disciples to do, even if it led to some awkward moments that left us wondering how we ever got into such a strange situation. (p.43)

I want things that I cannot explain to happen in my life on a daily basis. I want heaven to be attracted to my life in the way it was attracted to Jesus’ life. (p.44)

I yearn to do the things my Master did while He was here. This is not because I want superpowers, this is because I want to follow Jesus. (p.45)

If you long to see more… or maybe just different and faith stretching from God, great! Let’s talk and pray and see where it leads.

I spoke about some of this in a sermon on December 29, 2013. If you want to listen to it you can find it on iTunes. Search “Rich Ronald podcasts.” Look for the sermon called “Gideon’s Power is Our Power Too.”

I’m eager to be more intimate with God the Father in 2014 and see where He guides. How about you?


[1] (© 2013. Published by Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.
(c) 2104. Rich Ronald.

We need a Comforter because we need to be comforted

Sometimes our world can be rocked like wind blowing against a dandelion where it feels like nothing of our life is left except the stem.

Have you ever picked up the phone only to have someone on the other end give you some “rock your world” news?  Perhaps it was news of an accident… a medical report… a death… an arrest… a confession…

In that single instant your world was shattered like a gust of wind against a dandelion where it feels like there’s nothing left except the stem.  It happens to most of us, if not all of us, at one time or another.  And, what did you do?  Panic? Cry?  Punch your fist at God?  Did you ask, “I’m a Christian, for goodness sake… how did God let this happen to me?”

May I encourage you to remain calm in the crisis.  Maybe it is because you are a Christ-follower that this has happened to you.  I’m not saying that God causes bad things to happen, but this world is full of weeds and thorns… and you’re going to get stuck from time to time.  Yes, God’s Holy Spirit surrounds you and protects you. But the Word also says the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, is a comforter.  Now why would we need a comforter if we didn’t ever need comforting?  God knew we would all go through seasons of great crisis.  We all need to be comforted when we are in a crisis.

Is your world being turned upside down right now?  Finances in a mess?  A diagnosis in a medical report?  A spouse calling it quits?  May I encourage you to lean into the Comforter.  Wrap yourself in His arms.  Let Him hold you.  It’s going to be all right.

Continue reading We need a Comforter because we need to be comforted

Advent Day 6, The Gift of Being a Citizen of Heaven

December 6th

The gift of being a citizen of Heaven

On Day 6 in this Advent Devotional, what is the next gift God has for us?  Citizenship in Heaven!  Are you someone who has moved around a bunch in your life?  I am.  I have lived at 21 different addresses.  And I didn’t grow up in a military family… My average is just under two-and-a-half years per address. 

So, let me tell you, I am so thankful for the gift in Ephesians, Chapter 2, verse 19:   “This kingdom of faith is now your home country.  You’re no longer strangers or outsiders.  You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone.”    

Last summer the New York Times ran a list of word phrases that are considered “The Happiest Words in the English Language.”  They include: 

“You’ve been upgraded to First Class”

“Have you lost weight?”

“It’s benign.”

“Let me help you.”

“I love you.”

When a police officer says: “Be a little more careful next time.  Have a nice day.”

And then there is this one…

“In the Spring of 1971, the announcement from the cockpit of a United Airlines plane, as it was rolling into position for takeoff from Vietnam to San Francisco. There were about 250 military personnel on-board.  ‘The tower has already cleared us for takeoff. Let’s go home.’”

 “Welcome Home.”[1]

In John 14:2-3, Jesus has these comforting words for us: In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (N(V)

The context is similar to that of a groom in the Ancient Days who proposes to his bride-to-be, then returns to his family’s home.  He builds an addition on to that house, a room, for he and his new bride.  And when construction of the room is completed, he returns to get his bride and they are married and return to the home he built for their new family!

It is the same for us.  Isn’t it great to know that no matter our wanderings on earth, no matter our failures or successes on earth, we will always be welcomed by Jesus in heaven!   That is such a great gift!

So, open your arms and receive this homecoming gift this Advent; the gift of citizenship in Heaven.

Father, thank you for the precious gift of knowing that you have a prepared a place for me to call home, in Heaven.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


[1] NY Times, August 30, 2010,  http://schott.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/30/welcome-home/

 

(c) 2011 Rich Ronald