>The Lord was the Guest of Honor!

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I rarely read the KJV; but I like “the wind bloweth where it listeth.” It just sounds cool…the message being Holy Spirit shows up on His schedule, not ours…But we can invite Him…

Many must have been praying for the Teens For Christ North West Regional Tournament that began Thursday and concluded this (Sunday) afternoon. I had the distinct privilege of being invited to speak a few times as well as quizmaster. I’m grateful that Midland Ministries released me to attend.

I have waited a few hours to write, rode an exercise bike for 45 minutes, relaxed in the hotel hot tub (I fly home tomorrow) and reflected on the weekend.

After contemplating, I remain convinced of what I shared with the quizzers, staff, and onlookers earlier in the day. This event is the best quizzing I’ve ever seen (and we are talking about three decades of being involved in Bible quizzing either as a table official or, for about twenty years, directing the Family Life Network quiz leagues in New York and Pennsylvania).

For those readers who have no idea what Bible Quiz Fellowship quizzing is like, you may stop reading as you won’t understand fully.

When I write “best” I don’t mean these were the most proficient quizzers I’ve ever seen. There were several students who did exceptionally well in the competitive aspect. I mean “best” because every quizzer, coach, and “fan” displayed “sanctified sportsmanship” and tremendous attitudes. There was never a conflict, never a huffy sissy-fit, or anything else that occasionally mars such an event.

I can not put into words the sense of His presence we experienced particularly Saturday night. Several of the teams entertained us (by the way, it is okay for CHRISTians to laugh) with hilarious skits, and then a few graduating seniors shared what quizzing has meant to them. A few other students spoke of how the Lord has used this tool of Bible quizzing to shape and mold them. Many were transparent with their overemphasis on competition at times.

I wrapped up the time by tossing my sermon and talking about our adoption of Janelle and Jacob, and the guilt I once felt because it seemed I loved them more than my “natural” children Josiah and Joel. I went on to say that as I thought about and prayed about that “guilt” I the Lord allowed me to understand…

Though I do love Josiah and Joel like crazy; I sort of had to love them; after all, they were mine (and Jane’s!)
We didn’t have to love Janelle and Jacob; we chose to love them, and jumped through a lot of hoops to “get” them.

And then I reminded us that the Father did not “have” to love us; He chose to love us, and the “hoop” He jumped through was to send His Son to pay the penalty for our sins and to incur the wrath of a holy God as “He who knew no sin became sin.”

And He loves us with an “everlasting love.” He does not love us if we quiz well, or demonstrate good manners, or look good, or perform good. He loves us….period.

When’s the last time you reminded yourself of that fact? I fear too many claim to be “growing deep in the things of God” but their quest becomes a quicksand of apathy as they focus on “stuff” instead of resting in His amazing grace and never ending love. Please don’t misunderstand, spiritual growth should and must be pursued by the redeemed, but we must work to never lose sight of the love of God.Or, heaven help us, we slide into somehow thinking we deserve His love.

If this provokes you, or makes you a tad uncomfortable; first of all, pray that your heart might be softend; reflect on that which is of FIRST importance (“Christ died for us” 1 Corin 15) and, may I suggest, order a copy of “Loving God” by Chuck Colson (us ex-cons gotta stick together!)http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0310219140&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Author: jackhager

Jesus invaded my life shortly after my arrest at age 26. I spent the first few years of my new life incarcerated. Went to Bible school after parole; have served with Kansas City Youth For Christ, Headwaters Christian Youth (Rhinelander, Wi), Family Life Ministries (Bath, NY), and now with Midland Ministries (Saint Joseph, Mo). Married with four children, work with youth, adults, inmates. Heavily involved in Bible quizzing for 30 plus years. Narrow minded about Jesus and the gospel; fairly open minded about most other things.

2 thoughts on “>The Lord was the Guest of Honor!”

  1. >Jack, thanks for your refreshing words. I couldn't agree more — this is the LORD's ministry, and He showed up to take care of us, like He always does when we let Him! We really appreciate your insight, your humor, and even your bluntness ;), but most of all your encouragement. Thanks again for agreeing to join us.

  2. >Yes, thank you for listening to Jesus' leading, Jack! I so appreciated your insight and connection, which charged Regionals with the right focus from the very start. I could tell when I arrived on Friday that things were different already, and my conversations with my students on the way home about what you said and how they connected with it just backed up to me how much God did in this ministry this week. Thank you!

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