Tag Archives: Eric Liddell

Set Apart

WARNING: This is more of a shot gun rant than anything.  Yeah, it’s that kind of day.

The Wednesday night time slot has LONG been abandoned by the church.  When I was a kid, that was what my folks wrestled over – ball practices & boy scout meetings on Wednesday nights vs. prayer/kids club.  Today, it’s Sunday mornings, and to my sadness, I don’t really even see a whole lot of church folk wrestling over it or challenging each other on it.

We’ve read the passages about Jesus & the Pharisees butting heads about the Sabbath & have as a Church whole, swung dramatically the other way in the last couple generations.  It is true Jesus condemned the religious rulers of His day for getting so caught up in Sabbath rules they put that above loving people.  Those Pharisees knew what God said in the OT!  And they took God seriously.  They got off track.  That is very true.  They missed the Messiah when He was right under their noses.  All that being said, I don’t think we’re in danger of over doing the Sabbath rules any time soon, do you?

This has been circulating around facebook the last few weeks.  Two words: Eric Liddell.  True, his decision didn’t effect a team; he switched his own personal races.  But his whole country had sent him to race!  Talk about pressure.  Obviously, his stand has been used for God’s glory & to get the attention of His people even almost a century later.  Here we sit these days contemplating how to “take back Sunday” from sports.   Why not just do it?  The world never took it; if you don’t have it, you gave it away.  Now it’s time for God’s people to simply honor God’s Day, gather with His people, be committed to that, & let chips fall where they may.  How hard is that?  After all, it’s not like we’ve yet shed blood here over it… (Hebrews 12:4)

Can I give you a small personal example from my life of honoring the Sabbath & God answering my prayer in it?  When I was in college, I moved to Marion for my last year to live with my grandparents.  (PRECIOUS memories, btw.  Wouldn’t trade that year for anything.  Highly recommend it!  And at the time, many kind of felt sorry for me that I had to “stay home” for my degree.  No need to feel sorry for what God blessed me with people!  Just saying.)  Anyway, I needed to get a job, so put in my application at two restaurants & one grocery store.  I was looking for a job where I didn’t have to serve alcohol or work on Sundays.  On Wednesday night, I shared this request with the prayer group at church.  Mind you, it was me, Pastor, and about 15 elderly in attendance as usual (in a church that had around 300 on the roll).  I was shocked by their response!  They shook their heads, patted my shoulder, & acted like I was soooo naive to think that could happen.   (Really, my naivety was in not understanding these people who had walked with the Lord for so many years could be so spiritually crusty – haven’t they seen God do even greater??)  But I was committed & prayed.  Within a week or so (can’t remember exactly, but I know I didn’t miss any income!), I had a job at the grocery store & praised the Lord at the small group.  They were stunned.  Within a few months, I was scheduled for a Sunday even though I had clearly told boss I couldn’t. I went to him as soon as the schedule came out & told him I couldn’t work for pay on Sunday so would fill the position since I didn’t want to mess anyone else up, but couldn’t do it for pay.  He didn’t know what to do with that.  I got switched & he never tried that again.  Again, the small prayer group watched in shock that God answered my prayer on all this.

Six months later, I got a waitress position & again, said I could work every Friday & Saturday but never on Sunday.  (Worked out GREAT for me – best tip nights!)  Nobody else wanted to work both weekend evenings so I always got them & it was never a problem.  I believe God WANTS to prove Himself in just these kinds of moments!  (Think Daniel & the lion’s den, Shadrach & friends, etc.)  I believe He GIVES us these moments.  Too often, we fail because we are too afraid of looking different, standing against the crowds, etc.

News flash: We are CALLED out of darkness.  We are set apart!  (1 Peter 2:9 – “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”)  These “resolves” are what it means to be a “peculiar people”.  It is exciting!  It is a little risky.  Sometimes it’s a lot risky.  We have to depend on the Holy Spirit to lead in each unique situation.  It looks different for each person.  That makes it hard to teach or talk about.  One family may feel led to never go out to eat or shop or even buy gas on Sundays – to do so causes others to have to work on a day they wouldn’t dare.  Another family may feel it best to take an electronic fast to set the day apart.  Or maybe even a food fast (vs. fast food!) on that day.  Or making simple meals to minimize food prep.  Some have used the Sabbath principle to start the night before – setting aside sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday.  To impose each other’s leadings/leanings on another is Pharisaical.  We want to love, love, love, love, LOVE, not divide & put each other under man made laws.

But I do want to challenge each family who loves the Lord to really wrestle with & pray about what God is calling them to do about this issue, and may I suggest you start with Hebrews 10:24 & 25.  Have you noticed how MANY times God talks about setting the Sabbath apart in the OT?  It is perhaps the most mentioned commandment.  And He is serious about it!  There are blessings & curses associated with honoring it or not.  (See a few links here if you’re interested.)  It was & is a pretty obvious way God assigned His people to be different.  Other nations worked for their own gain all week.  They didn’t give a thought to what God said to do or how to live.  We, God’s people, are supposed to be different here.  (Ezekiel 20:19-21 – “I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules,and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God. But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths.”)

I hear you…  “That’s Old Testament” you say.  “We’re under grace so get out of my face!” you say.  “The Sabbath was Saturday & we celebrate on Sundays now” you say.  Okay.  SO DO IT.  Celebrate Sundays.  SET THEM APART.  Make them holy.  Whatever that means for you & your family.  DO IT.  Stop twisting into pretzels with excuses as to why you’re out there & not in church on Sunday mornings.  Stop so easily giving in to the world’s squeeze on making it just like any other day.  Stop using Colossians 2:16 as a crutch & add a little Hebrews 13:8 & Malachi 3:6 in there.  Let this be the year you commit to setting God’s Day apart & see what He does with it.  “If MY PEOPLE, who are called by MY name… THEN I will heal your land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)   I know this is talking about prayer, but it applies in that it speaks of God’s people getting their act together THEN God heals lands.  (Don’t even get me started on the current state of (way too often anemic) prayer meetings in the American Church these days.)  I’m praying this is the year the American Church gets real about holiness; gets out of the muck & gets set apart as intended.

Imagine an American Church Body that looks different, is set apart, holy.  May it be so, Lord!  The world’s waiting…

Happy Chinese New Year


This year, we found a cool new way to celebrate that I think we’ll be doing every year for the near future. The Torchlighters series has two new cartoon videos out: Gladys Aylward & Eric Liddell. Both are excellent just like their first three. If you haven’t seen any of them , find them for your children, then watch the documentaries, too! Those are even better than the cartoon parts. Well worth the fifteen dollars.

Other activities for CNY: eat with chopsticks all day. Get Oriental Trading’s Bible cookies (fortune cookies with verses inside), while you’re ordering there, grab a box of fans & yo-yos. The kids love those! Make paper lanterns or glue glitter fireworks on black paper. I almost made some of these but haven’t yet. One option you could do with them is put a string through the felt before closing up with the paper to make a necklace out of them. Cute. If you really want to get carried away, print out some calligraphy pages on line & let your kids practice writing Chinese. Teach them some simple oragami or get out the tangrams (I never really got into those myself).

At any rate, finish the day praying for our brothers & sisters in China who have to worship underground. Pray for those in prison because they love Jesus. Pray for those who have found creative ways to get in there & tell them God loves them. If you know any missionaries there, pray specifically for them. We have two friends: one teaching English, and another tent making – creatively accessing N Korea! Pray for those baby Christians who found Jesus over the Olympics – that they would find what they need to grow & not lose the seeds of faith that were planted.

This, That, & the Other Thing

Sorry to be so out of touch, but lately it’s been mostly schooling, cleaning, & planning for next year. Nate’s tests are this week, so the Study Island push is behind us. We are going to chill out on school this week. Spring cleaning has been at least started (which is half the battle, right?). Screens are clean & back in, being put to good use, windows washed, curtains cleaned & rehung, fridge & freezers scrubbed, etc. There’s only, what? Twenty things left on the list to do yet? One small step ahead each day… And Wednesday Club is pretty much thought out for next year, schooling decisions have been made for the children, as well as Keith’s paperwork filled out to head in whichever direction God leads next year (Kent State Doctoral applications, a possible grade switch in the current school in which he teaches, and a school switch possibility). Keith’s grad classes are winding down & Nate’s baseball practices are gearing up. We’re all counting the weeks, making sure all ends are tied up, before summer break. Spring clothes have been pulled out, winter clothes either given, thrown or stored away, AND, I am slowly but surely realizing we do have a little one coming in about 90 days & there’s old baby stuff to go through, restock, set up, etc. That process has begun with great joy. 🙂

With our church not doing a VBS this year (I’ll be preoccupied with a wee one), I decided to help organize a few backyard CEF parties for whoever in the church has neighborhood kids & wants to party. We will be doing Eric Liddell‘s Olympic party (His Best For God – I guess they don’t sell it anymore because I couldn’t find a link to it anywhere) since the Olympics will be gearing up. We’ve lined up a teacher, teen game directors, a couple locations, and are just working on dates, praying about other possible locations, and the little details. It should be an easy & fun summer outreach. Thanks, Mom, for the inspiration!

As far as extended family news goes, my father’s mother was put on hospice last week so our family will be traveling down the funeral road again soon it looks like. Grandma is ready to meet the Lord. She’s tired & doesn’t want any more medical intervention. I don’t blame her, but don’t want to do this again! We’ve had just way too many goodbyes lately. Mom got news she’s to have cateract surgery in both eyes in the upcoming month or so. And, my uncle Harry crushed his foot in a farming accident last week & will probably lose a good part of it. On the other side of the medical news spectrum, Scott, Keith’s good friend with brain cancer has been told it is GONE. Totally! Looks like God has healed him. He realizes it could always come back, but for now we are praising the Lord with this young godly man, his wife, & baby girl.

So, that gives a quick rundown of the goings on around here. It has now officially been recorded for posterity. Oops, the coats are dry. Better go get them out of the dryer & into the storage bins for next winter before my gumption runs out today.