A Different Kind of Christmas Gift


I have blogged before in praise of nurses and their most noble of professions. You can read that post by clicking here. Something happened the other day in HBO2 dive #31 which compels me to sing their praises yet another time.

Before describing the particular “gift” prompting this Christmas Eve post, let me just say this about the crew serving the Florida Hospital South deep wound unit day after day. These are as remarkably cheerful, professional, attentive, and compassionate professionals as you will ever want to encounter. I just wish they would stop calling me “Mr. Heffelfinger” all the time! It makes me feel so old. But their code of respect toward the patient will permit no informality whatsoever, while being as warm as they can possibly be at every turn.

Just before the chamber door shut, one of those dear ladies in blue scrubs approached my wheel chair with smartphone in hand. She asked, with something of a sparkle in her eye, if she could read me something. “Sure,” I said, wondering what she had to share with this jaw-broken patient. She later sent this text to my phone.

The Servant’s Reward
One day, when you are in Heaven,
someone will come up to you and thank you
for the way you touched his or her life.
The person’s words will take you completely by surprise.
Soon, another person will seek you out,
and then another, and another.
As you listen to each one’s story,
you will begin to discover all the ways that God used your life
when you were unaware of it.
You will find that it was most often not through the big things that you did,
but through the small and simple things–
a spoken word that was not planned,
a spontaneous act of kindness,
a loving attitude or a caring smile.
To your joy, you will discover that in all these ways and more,
God used you to deposit an eternal measure of His love
into many needy hearts.
~Roy Lessin~

She finished reading and just looked at me quietly smiling as much to say, and I think I got the message correctly, “It’s not lost on us what you do day-in-and-day-out here with your encouragements to us.” To be honest, I think the determination to bless my caregivers with thanks, affirmations, compliments and the like is more about me than about them. I can’t stomach the thought of being a trial to these all-star performers when I can be by God’s grace a treasure of a low maintenance, high-patience, why-complain-when-you-can-bless  patient in their care.

Besides, I know what God’s word says in the wisdom books in Prov. 15:23.

“To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!

Her gift touched me. She went out of her way to reinforce just how important a gift a word of encouragement can be to others. Whatever 2016 brings in my trial by jaw journey, I hope never to forget this special dimension of a servant’s reward. Might you do the same with the Lord’s help?

Fuel for the Fire of Faithful Ministry

Today’s message from 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

I summarized the theme of the text this way: the victorious reality of our future resurrection anchors us in an unshakeable constancy in ministry. Work for God fueled by the fire of a gospel-resurrection hope will be an amiable, abounding, arduous, assured, and awarded kind of work.

Here are Charles Spurgeon’s words with which I closed:

Take this henceforth for your motto—All for Jesus, always for Jesus, everywhere for Jesus. He deserves it. I should not so speak to you if you had to live in this world only. Alas, for the love of Jesus, if thou wert all and nought beside, O earth! But there is another life—live for it. There is another world—live for it. There is a resurrection, there is eternal blessedness, there is glory, there are crowns of pure reward—live for them, by God’s grace live for them. The Lord bless you, and save you. Amen.

Another Token for Good Is Born

I am pleased to announce the birth of Lawson Elizabeth Rex to her delighted parents, Aaron and Stephanie Rex.

Miss Lawson was born at 6:15 this morning, August 7, at Winter Park Hospital. She weighed in at 6 lb. 9 oz and was 19 and 3/4 inches long. Mom and Dad are resting well after a long night!

I got to hold the newest addition to our congregation and pray over her after reading Psalms 127 and 128 with her folks.

There the Bible calls the fruit of the womb a reward. Spurgeon called babies a token for good in his treatment of Psalm 127:3 in the Treasury of David:

Children are a heritage which Jehovah himself must give, or a man will die childless, and thus his house will be unbuilt. And the fruit of the womb is his reward, or a reward from God. He gives children, not as a penalty nor as a burden, but as a favour. They are a token for good if men know how to receive them, and educate them. They are “doubtful blessings” only because we are doubtful persons. Where society is rightly ordered children are regarded, not as an incumbrance, but as an inheritance; and they are received, not with regret, but as a reward. If we are over crowded in England, and so seem to be embarrassed with too large an increase, we must remember that the Lord does not order us to remain in this narrow island, but would have us fill those boundless regions which wait for the axe and the plough. Yet even here, with all the straits of limited incomes, our best possessions are our own dear offspring, for whom we bless God every day.

Congratulations Aaron, Stephanie, and Zeke.

We look forward to meeting Lawson some Sunday morning soon!

I Never Made a Sacrifice

Tomorrow we send off one of our own to the challenging mission field of Laos. For Operation World’s description of the needs of this Southeast Asian country click here.

Many of us have been asked to give Julia a card upon which we have written some Scripture or quote or word of encouragement that she might revisit when the need arises in country.

I immediately thought of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:29-30.

29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

Then I thought of David Livingstone’s powerful reflections on his ministry to Africa based on those verses.

For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.

Julia leaves much behind in the way of family and possessions. She heads for a dangerous land, one of the world’s top ten for persecuting the church of Jesus Christ. Whatever the value of what she leaves behind and whatever awaits here there in the way of challenges and difficulties, Jesus’ promise remains the same – 10,000 % increase. Do the math.

Godspeed daughter of Eve and sister of Christ. We love you and will pray for you.