“Holy–And Happy”

Years ago, while in seminary, we visited what was then called a psychiatric institution. I had the opportunity to sit in on several group therapy sessions, and the one that impressed me the most was the group with the older teens and young adults who came from different race, social, and religions backgrounds.

At the start of every session the group leader would go around the circle and ask the same two questions to each one capable of participating. The questions were: Where are you on a scale from 1 to 10 today, and what are your goals for today?

Not surprisingly, the answers were the same almost every day. They all answered, “I am a 10,” (then usually repeated it), “I am a 10 today.” Their goal for the day was always the same, as well. “My goal is to take my meds and to go home.”

I knew they weren’t a 10, and I knew they weren’t going home, but some of them were so medicated they couldn’t possibly know who they were, or even where they were. They just sat there like zombies.

However, the one exception was a young man of about 17. His answers were different. He would say, “I’m about a 6 or 7 today, and my goal for today is to have fun.” The instructor would always if he had any other goals, but he would reply, “No, just to have fun.”

After each session, we had the chance to pair off with one of the patients and spend a little time with them, so I choose him. He didn’t have much to say until I pushed his magic button—sports! He loved sports and had probably forgotten more than I will ever know about it. When I asked him what sport he played, his eyes began to water as he told me he used to play football.

“What happened,” I asked. “Did you get hurt?”

“No” he said, “I made a B.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I asked, “Why don’t you tell me what happened?”

He told me he’d always wanted to play sports, but his parents wouldn’t allow him to do so because they said it would interfere with his academics. All he ever did was study and go to school—but no outside activities other than church. Then, during the past football season, he went out for the team and made it with outstanding results.

His parents were furious and told him that if his grades dropped, he would be off the team. He had made As all his life, but, for the first time, he made a B—in trigonometry. They demanded he quit the football team, but he refused and left home. When they found him, his parents had him committed. He had made a B.

Then he told me something very profound, but very sad. “Living in the institution is easier than living at home with my parents trying to live their lives through me,” he said.

He knew I was a Seminary student, so I wasn’t surprised when he asked me a question about God. However, the question did surprise me.

“I know God wants us to be holy, but don’t you think He also wants us to be happy?”

Personally, I believe He does. So now, my goal for most days is to have fun.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Proverbs 17:22

 Pastor Hal Steenson

“Come Before Winter”

As I drove up that gusty August afternoon, Hal had just finished hanging the squirrel feeder in the backyard and restoring the dilapidated bird feeder.  I asked what he was doing and he said, “Getting ready for winter.”  Honey, it’s a long way from winter.  “Tell that to the squirrels and birds when the snow starts to fly” was his reply.  The squirrels must store up for winter and the birds need a reliable source of food when snow and ice are covering the ground.

This response reminded me of the words written by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:21 “Do thy diligence to come before winter.”  Paul was in a jail cell in Rome ministering to the saints in Caesars’ household when he ask a young disciple named Timothy to bring him three things.  He asked for his cloke, and he asked for his books and his parchments.  Undoubtedly, these things were of great importance to Paul for several reasons.  First, he asked for his cloke, which is preparation for his health as winter approached.  Next, he asked for his books.  Most likely, they were books of scripture, such as the commandments of God, which would help prepare him for holiness.  Last, Paul asked for the parchments.  These may have been words that the Apostle had personally penned about his Lord and Savior.  Could these parchments have been Paul’s way of preparing for his happiness in spite of being in the winter of his life?

I can’t help but wonder what may have happened if Timothy had been too busy to hang a spiritual bird feeder for Paul, even though winter was approaching.  The Bible is silent on the details concerning the outcome in this matter.  But what if Timothy had arrived in Rome one day too late?  What if he had been attending a leadership conference or working on a special program at church?  What if he didn’t go because he just thought it wasn’t that important and Rome was a long way off?  I would like to believe that Timothy dropped everything he was doing and took these items to his Mentor. Our Lord has many children who are going through cold seasons of their lives such as sickness, depression, divorce or maybe the loss of a dear loved one.  They may need someone willing to come before winter and provide feeders of health, holiness, and happiness. The snow is going to fly, and winter will come, the question is, are you making preparations for yourself and others also?

  Mollie Steenson 3ABN Vice President

“The GPS of God”

Romans 8:14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

Although she had been asking him for years, he had just now given in and for the first time attended his mother’s church. He couldn’t believe he was actually there, to him this Christianity thing was an archaic expression of times, fables and myths. Religion had no place in his modern society when weighed against all the latest technology and achievements in science. The technology present in his cell phone alone allowed him to advance into the future with no need of digging up the past. His phone alone could connect him to almost anywhere in the world. Even the Global Positioning System in his car had more power than this church service or his mother’s worn-out Bible or diligent prayers. He proved that this morning when he didn’t know the location of her church. So he programmed the address into the Global Positioning System and followed directions. His GPS asked him if he wanted the shortest route or the scenic one. He choose the shortest one, hoping to get there, make his mother happy and get out.

As the church service progressed, he nervously glanced at his watch in anticipation of the close of the service. However, this edginess slowed down as something unexpected began to happen. As the minister shared the love of Christ and God’s plan of salvation, a peace started to surround him. As the appeal song proclaimed the words of “I Surrender All,” he felt as if someone had put their hand on his shoulder—he figured his mother must have known that something was happening inside him and was comforting him. However, as he turned, he saw his mother on her knees praying and there was no one else close to him. He still felt the hand and now sensed a presence there with him.

He heard soundless words turn over in his mind saying, “God, I don’t know what’s happening to me and I don’t have a clue what direction you’re taking me—why don’t you have a heavenly GPS so I can get my bearings?” That’s when he heard a still small voice saying, “Oh but I do have one, however; there are no shortest routes and sometimes the road gets rough and rocky. Here are my spiritual GPS directions for you.”

  • First, start your trip by kneeling at the foot of the cross.
  • Next, surrender your life at the crossroads of the shed blood of Christ and conversion.
  • Then, you must stop at the first sign of sin, admit that you’ve sinned and ask for forgiveness.
  • Now, make the right turn at the corner of Spirit and truth.
  • As you proceed, Truth will begin to merge into commitment.
  • Once on commitment, prepare to go over bridges of adversity by trusting in God’s GPS (God’s Plan of Salvation)
  • Next, make the right turn onto the highway of Holiness, which will lead you to eternal life in Christ.
  • This highway of Holiness will take you through the valley of decision where you must take a leap of faith, hold on to your anchor of hope and spread His unconditional love.
  • If you’ve followed God’s GPS (God’s Plan of Salvation) and gone the right direction, then you will arrive at your destinations, first salvation and finally the portals of heaven and the eternal presence of God.

When you arrive you comprehend that Jesus didn’t say “I’ll show you the way, I’ll tell you the truth or I’ll teach you about life.” He said, “I am the way the truth and the life. He didn’t tell Mary and Martha, “I’m here to resurrect Lazarus.” “He said I am the resurrection.”

You can’t use a Tom Tom GPS to get to heaven, however you can use God’s GPS (God’s Plan of Salvation) by allowing Him to lead, guide and direct you every step of the way.

  Pastor Hal Steenson