Grave Visiting

There is a growing interest today in visiting the graves of great athletes.  These grave hunters have a website, www.findagrave.com, and they have collected a database that gives the final resting spots of 5,563 sports figures.  Steve Rushin has written about this very popular practice.

Part of this fascination is the fact that people want to feel close to some of these old stars.  Frank Russo says, “When you visit the grave of Stengel or Durocher or Ruth or Gehrig, you get a chance to be close to them.  They’re not there physically, but you can feel spiritually close to them.”

Russo has a website, www.TheDeadballEra.com, which is devoted to major leaguers “on the other side of the grass.”  It’s those whose colorful lives have been reduced to a bronze hyphen.

Hollywood is the home of Parisian Florist, which for 20 years had a standing order from Joe DiMaggio to make a twice-weekly delivery of roses to Marilyn Monroe’s crypt in the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park.  One man was so enthralled with Marilyn Monroe that he paid to be buried face down in the crypt above Marilyn Monroe!  Hugh Hefner bought the tomb next to hers.

It is fascinating that so many people are “grave visiting” and want some kind of emotional thrill to be near the casket of a celebrity.  It seems to me that intelligent people would know that you can’t feel close to somebody who is not in a grave.  There might still be some remains of a body, but those people are spending eternity somewhere.  They are not there.  They are not going to come back from the grave.

I remember a cute story about a man who went out to a cemetery to place roses on the grave of a friend.  Right near him was an oriental man who brought a bowl of rice to place on the headstone of a friend of his.  The American thought that was a rather strange thing to do so he said to the Asian man, “When do you expect your friend to come up and eat the rice?”  The Asian simply smiled at him and said, “The same time your friend comes up and smells the roses.”

Death is not the end – it is only a transition into an eternal existence.  Where one spends eternity is not dependant on athletic statistics, or good deeds, or accumulated fame.  It is all determined by whether or not a person receives the grace God offered through His Son Jesus Christ.  He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who lives and believes in Me shall never die but shall have eternal life.”  John 11:25

I think I will start a website called www.rev21:27.com.  It already contains the eternal destination of all who are deceased.  

Jack Norworth’s remains lie in a cemetery near the Santa Ana freeway.  He retired in California where he started the Little League program there in 1952.  In 1908 he wrote a little song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” which is still sung at the seventh inning stretch of many baseball games.  “Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, I don’t care if I never get back.”

You can get back from the game but not the grave.  The grave is the place where we get on to our eternal destiny.  We don’t need grave visitors – we need eternity celebrators!

Dance Lessons

Many interesting life lessons were learned from this past basketball season.  Many coaches and teams can testify that you can get overconfident and be upset.  Many learned that there is no such thing a sure win in the “big dance.”  Coach Ron Hunter from Georgia State learned that you can get injured on the bench if you celebrate too much!

On February 18, 2015, I wrote about Coach Dean Smith and things he taught as a coach.  On October 29, 2014, I wrote about a new hero of mine, Lauren Hill.  She scored the first basket of the college basketball season.  She is on hospice, but still alive and doing God’s will.  Both of these blogs are archived on my website.

Here are two more powerful lessons I learned from this past year:

When Austin Hatch was 11-years-old he survived a plane crash that killed his mother and two siblings.  Would you believe that eight years later another plane crashed and killed his father and stepmother and left Hatch in a coma?

Austin wanted to play college basketball.  As a 20-year-old he finally realized his dream when he walked on at the University of Michigan.  He scored his first points when he sank a couple of free throws.  He said, “My past won’t define my future.  What happened to me is kind of unique, but that’s what happened.  That’s not who I am.”

Our past should not define our future.  If our past is tragic and bad and disappointing, God’s gives us a new chance and a new hope for the future.  If our past was extremely successful, we can’t rest on the laurels of the past but have to move on to what God is calling us to do today.  Our past should never define our future.  The Apostle Paul said, “Forgetting the things that lie behind, and reaching for the things that are before, I press on toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Coach Kevin Willard is the coach at Seton Hall.  He did not have a really good season as he was 16-14 and 6-12 in the Big East when he played Georgetown.  He desperately needed a win.  There was some talk that his job was in jeopardy.

Georgetown had a player by the name of Tyler Adams.  Tyler came to Georgetown on a scholarship, but developed a heart ailment and couldn’t play.  Georgetown’s final game was with Seton Hall and the NCAA granted a waiver for Tyler Adams to play.

At the opening tip Seton Hall fell back and allowed Adams to dunk his first goal in college basketball.  He then was taken out of the game and left with an emotional exit.  Georgetown did not know that Seton Hall would purposely let Adams score the first goal.

It was a class act on the part of Coach Willard!  Seton Hall went on to lose the game by only 4 points.  He received some criticism for allowing Georgetown to get 2 easy points.  He said that it was more important for Tyler Adams to have a memory of his only game in college basketball than it was for him to get a win.  That is class!  The Bible says that we should esteem others better than ourselves.

In life winners are not those who score the most points, but those who score the most with their lives.  If you want to advance through the brackets of life, learn and practice these lessons taught by Austin Hatch, Kevin Willard, Dean Smith, and Lauren Hill.

The “big dance” takes on a new meaning.  David relates how in Psalm 30:11God “turned our morning into dancing.”  The wisdom of Solomon is expressed in Ecclesiastes 3:4 when he tells us that it is a time to dance.  Austin, Kevin, Dean, and Lauren are pretty good dance teachers!

Two Vastly Different Days

April Fools’ Day is one of the most lighthearted days of the year.  Some associate it with the turn of the seasons since it is close to the vernal equinox in March.  Others believe it started because in 1582 Pope Gregory VIII adopted a new calendar which called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated January 1st.

Some people either did not like it or did not know about it and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1st.  People began making fun of the folks who didn’t change and would send them on “fools’ errands” or try to trick them into believing something false.  The people who are the victims of jokes are known as “April Fools.”  While April Fools’ Day is not a national holiday in any country, it is well known in Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil, and the United States.

One of the more popular hoaxes occurred in 1957 when the BBC broadcast a film purporting to show Swiss farmers picking freshly grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss spaghetti harvest.  People flooded the phone lines at BBC with the requests to purchase a spaghetti plant.  The BBC at first had some further fun by diplomatically replying “place a string of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”  They had to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day.

I remember reading a few years ago in the April Sports Illustrated a story about a rookie pitcher, Sidd Finch, who signed to play for the Mets.  He could reportedly throw a baseball 168 miles per hour with pinpoint accuracy.  Sports Illustrated was flooded for more information about this magnificent player.  The article was an April Fools’ hoax.  The author of the article, George Plimpton, did give a clue in the subheading of the article, “He’s a pitcher, part yoga, and part recluse, impressively liberated from our opulent lifestyle, Sidd’s deciding about yoga – and his future in baseball.”  The first letter of each of those words spelled out H-A-P-P-Y A-P-R-I-L F-O-O-L-S’ D-A-Y – A-H F-I-B.

This year April Fools’ Day comes a few days before Easter.  For many people there is not a lot of difference in the two days – people treat Easter like it is just another day and could even be a hoax.  Throughout history people have discounted the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Easter is not a hoax.  Through sin we make a fool out of ourselves – but the cross and Easter have the answer.  While some people in the 1st century thought that the resurrection was a hoax, many people gave testimony to the fact that they had seen the Risen Lord.  Paul wrote, “How do some among you say there is no resurrection…if there is no resurrection, Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also in vain.”  I Corinthians 15:12-14

Lie and life are close in spelling but vastly different in meaning.  These two vastly different days demonstrate that.  April Fools’ is based on a lie – Easter is based on life now and life eternal!

I don’t know of anyone who would intentionally omit Easter, but it can happen.  The Southern Baptist Conventions’ 1996 -97 calendar of activities omitted Easter.  The calendar was a 16 month September to December long range planning calendar used by church leaders and produced by the Southern Baptist Conventions’ executive committee.  Inadvertently Easter was omitted.  They quickly gave a press release indicating that it was a terrible mistake and completely unintentional.  The Baptists believe in Easter!

Be alert for April Fools’ pranks – be more alert for evidences of the resurrection!

How To Deal With Sin

We all sin.  The Bible teaches that very clearly and we know it.  What do we do with sin?  One of the most crippling diseases is to harbor that sin and let it grow bigger and bigger.  We feel guilty.  We become tied up with emotions that are unhealthy.  We try to rationalize why we did it.  We try to avoid thinking about it.  We make excuses.  None of that works.

The only answer is to confess sin.  It is the only healthy way to deal with our sin.

Elwin Wilson was raised in the South.  He joined the Ku Klux Klan years ago to stop racial integration.  John Lewis was a black Freedom Rider who tried to enter a “whites only” waiting room at the bus station in Rock Hill, SC in1961.  Wilson and several of his racist friends beat him unmercifully.  That memory haunted Wilson.  It ruined his life.  He harbored that sin.

Lewis became a prominent member of the U.S. Congress.  One day Wilson got an appointment and went to his office to personally apologize.  He said, “My daddy always told me that a fool never changes his mind and a smart man changes his mind.  Will you forgive me?”

Wilson became a national symbol for reconciliation and redemption.  He made a lot of public appearances with Lewis.  He tells of this change of heart.  He has publically said, “All I can say is that it has bothered me for years, all the bad stuff I have done.”  He said that his ultimate decision to renounce racial hatred and confess to John Lewis was because of the faith that he had come to experience.  He said he knew “there is no way I could be saved and get to heaven and still not like blacks.”

Governor George Wallace became an icon of segregation when he stood in the schoolhouse door in Tuscaloosa.  He ran for public office.  He was elected Governor of the State of Alabama on a platform of racial segregation.  His famous statement, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” echoed throughout the nation for a lot of years.

In his later life Governor Wallace began to see that he was wrong.  Some people accused him of changing his mind for political reasons.  He publically began to confess to African-American people and ask them to forgive him.

He watched our Frazer worship services on television.  He stayed home and turned the TV up really loud because following the attempted assassination on his life, his hearing had become greatly impaired.  He asked me to come see him several times.  He always wanted to know if God would forgive him.  He knew that people had forgiven him, but he wanted to be sure that God had forgiven him.

I, along with some others, repeatedly assured him that God’s promise is true that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins.”  (I John 1:9)

I remember well visiting with him not long before he died.  He would use a blackboard and chalk to write.  Some of the best words I have ever seen written were when Governor Wallace wrote “I know I am forgiven.”

The only way to deal with sin is to confess it, and God’s promise is that He will forgive.  The Good News is that God’s confession booth is always open!

Fatal Failure Should Be An Oxymoron!

The only way to avoid failure is never try anything.  If we try, enough times, we will ultimately fail.  One derelict sitting on a park bench said to another derelict, “No, I do not consider myself a failure; I never did anything to fail at!”

Failure is not bad.  My friend Kyle Rote, Jr. says, “There are many ways to be a winner, but there is only one way to be a loser and that is to fail and not look beyond the failure.”  The question is what do we do with our failures.

Last year the University of Connecticut won the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.  They were a huge success.  This year they have had to deal with some failures.  One of the biggest failures was when the Huskies lost to Yale and scored only 44 points.  That was a low point for Huskies basketball.

The next game out was against Coppin State.  The UConn center, Amida Brimah, went from that loss to do something that no other basketball player has ever done in Division I history.  He sank all 13 of his field goal attempts, making him the first player in Division I history to score at least 40 points and go at least 13 for 13 from the floor in one game.  He went from a tough defeat to doing something nobody else had ever done before!

Charles Kettering, the father of numerous automotive and medical advances once said, “When you’re inventing, if you flunk 999 times and succeed once – you’re a success.”  He understood that failure doesn’t have to be fatal.  He knew that failing doesn’t make a person a failure.  It depends on how you look at it.

I remember reading about one of the great battles in our military history at Iwo Jima.  We were locked in a deadly combat on a ridge.  Later we were victorious and that battle became history.  Newsmen reported on it.  One soldier interviewed said, “We were forced off the ridge five times – but we came back six.”  That’s the way to succeed.  Come back one more time.  It is not what happened in the last game or the last battle, but what we are doing in the present challenge.

Once polio was a dreaded disease.  Jonas Salk attempted 200 unsuccessful vaccines for polio before he finally discovered the one that worked.  He was asked, “How does it feel to fail 200 times trying to invent a vaccine for polio?”  Jonas Salk replied, “I never failed 200 times at anything in my life.  My family taught me never to use that word.  I simply discovered 200 ways how not to make a vaccine for polio.”

History is full of people who discovered a lot of things that didn’t work before they became successful.  R. H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York stared producing.  The English novelist John Creasy got 753 rejection slips before he started publishing books, and he published 564.  Thomas Edison found that many substances as a filament for a light bulb didn’t work – but he never quit.  He never considered himself a failure.  He finally found the perfect filament.

Jesus has a great record of taking people who have failed in life and restoring them to a productive lifestyle.  Jesus’ disciples had failed at a lot of things in life – but they weren’t failures.  Following Jesus they became a success.  Failure is never fatal or final unless you choose it to be. Let God help you make failure a backdoor to success.

Fatal failure should be an oxymoron!

 

That’s Crazy!

We oftentimes hear a description of something as being crazy.  That word can carry many connotations.  Let me share how it has been used recently in a very positive manner.

I had the privilege of officiating at the wedding for Colin and Alex Henig Jones a few years ago.  They are a wonderful Christian couple.  They had one daughter Adeline who is 5-years-old.  When Alex was pregnant with their second daughter, Maddox, she had a very interesting experience.

Alex kept having a sense from God that she and Colin could bless some couple in some way.  It became apparent that God was leading her to suggest that she become a surrogate mother for some couple who could not have children.  Her first thought was “That’s crazy!”

When she went for her next checkup she said to her Godly doctor, Dr. Greg Waller, “I want to tell you the craziest thing.”  Then she shared about her feeling that God was leading her to be a surrogate mother.  Dr. Waller’s first response was “That is crazy!”  He then told to wait until she delivered her own second child and then they would talk about it.

After Maddox was born Alex became more and more convinced that it was God’s will for her to do this.  Her husband Colin was in agreement.  It is amazing how sometimes God calls us to do things that everybody else thinks is “crazy.”  But Alex was deeply committed to following God’s will for her life.

Dr. Waller understands God’s leadership.  He said he would help her pursue this.  He called a doctor friend of his who is an in vitro doctor in Mobile and told him about the situation.  At that very moment a young man who was a medical rep, who regularly called on the doctor in Mobile, walked in and shared how he and his wife would love to find someone to be a surrogate since his wife could not carry a child.  The in vitro doctor said, “I have got just the person for you.”

The doctor put this medical rep and his wife together with Colin and Alex.  Alex explained to them that she felt this was God leading her to do this.  She also wanted them to be clear that it was her faith that was the key factor in her decision to do this.

When Alex was about six months pregnant as a surrogate, she told her 5-year-old and 2-year-old what she was doing.  She explained that her tummy was really strong, but the other lady’s tummy was not strong enough to carry a baby.  She said that she and Colin had decided to help them have a child by using her strong tummy to carry the baby.  She looked at her 5-year-old who exclaimed, “Mommy, that is really crazy!”

Most folks who know about this have said, “I could never do that.”  God calls all of us to do different things.  The important thing is that we respond positively when God leads us.  While the world might think something is crazy, God smiles and invites us to respond!  Read Luke 1:26-38.

The doctors raised the following question, “Who will hold the new baby first?”  Expecting Alex to request that privilege, in her own self-giving spirit Alex said “I think the parents need to hold the baby first.  I am here to act as an instrument that God uses to deliver them a gift.”  On March 9, 2015, a happy young couple held a healthy baby girl, which was God’s gift through Alex.

Alex also commented about how important Christmas was this year.  Being pregnant as a surrogate mother gave her a new concept of what it means to give.

Is God up to anything crazy with you?

A 13-Year-Old’s Thoughts on Race Relations

For the past five years I have preached each year at the Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church on their race relations Sunday.  This is one of our largest African-American churches.    Dr. G. W. C. Richardson is the Pastor.  In his 35+ years at the church he has had 140 people enter the ministry.  He encouraged people to write essays on race relations.  A 13-year-old young man, Jalen Phifer, who is already an ordained pastor by that church, wrote the following essay I edited for length:

“We live in a country that has seen its share of shame.  From slavery to racism and discrimination, yet America has come a long way.  The civil rights movement was a huge step in the right direction to bridge the gap and bring about equality and unity.  However, as a nation we still have a journey to complete.  I have listed three ways in which I believe America can continue to improve upon race relations.

Race relations can be improved in America if we bring the conversation into our homes and schools.  All education starts at home, but it continues into the classrooms where we spend a good portion of our day.  Parents can talk to their children about other races.    This kind of education will help break down any stereotypes and ignorance that are believed.

I believe it is important to have these conversations in school because if my peers don’t get to learn from each other, then our future is still at risk. As a light skin person, I have heard my share of hurtful and ignorant statements.  Everything from mulatto, to white boy, to what are you anyway?  Hurtful as they are, I have smiled and most times ignored them.  I don’t get to choose my color, but I can choose my character.  At the end of the day, it would be my hope that my character is seen before my complexion.

Secondly, I believe that race relations can be improved in America if we have this conversation in church.  As a young preacher, I believe that we are all God’s children and that He does not have favorites.  So having the discussion in church will make us have to think about what God thinks.  As Christians that should be all that matters to us.

I look around our church and I see mostly us, black people.  But God don’t only have black children, He has white, yellow, and brown.  These are our neighbors but where are they?  We need to seek God’s word on this because I know that He said to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

This unity would open the eyes of the community as well.  The church is a place that the community looks up to, and this would help them to know that race relations are improving.  It’s okay to talk to other races, fellowship and worship with them.

Finally, I believe race relations can be improved in America by our actions.  We can learn about it, we can talk about it, we can preach about it, but it means nothing if we don’t put it into action.  I believe we must be proactive.  Make it a point to go to where other races are and become friends with them.  Go places with them and invite them to places with us.  If we put ourselves into action, this will help get rid of racism and ignorance.  This is the dream I believe Dr. King had.  And for all those who died for our civil rights, I believe it will be pleasing to them.  But most of all I believe it will make God smile because we will be obeying His word when He tells us to love one another as we love ourselves.

In conclusion, I believe race relations can be improved in three ways, education, conversation in our church, and through our actions.  We all have to live in this world together.  If we put God first, then all this will fall into place.  He made us all, and we can learn a lot from each other.  Not only will this improve race relations, but it would make God very happy.”

Thanks Jalen!

The Tip of Your Tongue

Football fans can be fanatics.  The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl on a last minute interception.  Tom Brady won his third Most Valuable Player award in Super Bowls.

Johnny Nichols is a 21-year-old fanatic fan of New England and Tom Brady.  Following the Super Bowl victory he had Tom Brady’s name tattooed on his bottom lip so that the first thing you see is the name Tom Brady.  When he was asked why he did that he said, “I always want Tom Brady to be on the tip of my tongue.”

That’s strange.  That takes football fanatics to a different level.  But it made me start to think.  What do we have on the tip of our tongues?  What is the first thing people notice about us?  It doesn’t have to be a tattoo – but what is there.  Here are some questions:

1. Do we have fear or faith on the tip of our tongues?  This day and age it is so easy to be fearful.  Each day’s headlines produce more global concerns that can create fear.

Someone has suggested that an acronym for F E A R could be Forget Everything And Run.  That is really succumbing to fear.  Let me suggest that a better acronym of F E A R would be Face Everything And Respond!

The Bible is clear that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.  God sent his Son into the world that we might have faith and not fear.  Fear paralyzes – faith liberates.

2. Do we have God or gold on the tip of our tongues?  Each of our coins has the inscription “In God We Trust.”  Is that really true of us as individuals?  I remember speaking to a large patriotic group on the weekend of the Fourth of July and the program was misprinted with the phrase “In gold we trust.”  Was that a truthful misprint?

Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God, and then other necessary things will be given to us.  The priority is seeking God.  Anything else becomes a distraction.

3. Do we have giving or getting on the tip or our tongues?  Life is a choice as we live each day.  We are created with a sinful nature of being selfish and a desire to look out for ourselves.  The joys in life come when God’s grace through Jesus Christ transforms us from being getters to givers.

Jesus made it clear that He did not come into the world to be served but to serve.  He made it clear that it is much more blessed to give than to receive.  A life of getting becomes shallow and mundane.  A life of giving produces riches and joys that cannot be bought.

4. Do we have problems or possibilities on the tip of our tongues?  Anything we face in life can be observed as a problem or a possibility.  It depends on how we look at it.

One day the disciples came to Jesus because there were 5,000 people who were hungry.  They saw a problem because there was no food.  Jesus didn’t see a problem – He saw a possibility.  He took 5 loaves and 2 fish and fed the whole crowd.

In life it is easy to see things as problems.  It is far more productive to see them as possibilities.

What is on the tip of your tongue?

The Coaching Continues

I was preaching 10 days ago in the Raleigh/Durham area at Cary, North Carolina.  The first news that greeted me upon my arrival was the death of Coach Dean Smith, legendary coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

A coach can die – but his coaching lessons can continue through the people he influenced.  You know all about Coach Smith’s National Championship teams, his award from the President, his Hall of Fame induction, his number of wins, the number of famous players he coached – but here are a few things that you might not know that are good lessons to learn:

1.  As a coach he did not use profanity and had a no tolerance policy for profanity in his program.  Wow!  How many coaches and business leaders could learn a real lesson here?

2. He focused on teamwork instead of individual statistics.  Whenever a player made a shot, he always had that player point to the player who passed him the ball.  Getting the ball to him was as important as his scoring.  Anything we accomplish is the result of somebody else’s help.  If you see a turtle sitting on a stump, you know he didn’t get there by himself!

3. 96% of his players graduated.  He didn’t look at basketball as just an athletic game, but as a way to educate young men.  Part of that process was going to class and getting a degree.  And he did a lot of educating himself.

4. He valued his players as people.  He loved them and cared for them.  I heard that on one occasion the University President was in his office talking with him and there was a knock on the door and it was one of his basketball players.  He asked the University President to step outside while he talked with his player.  His players took precedent over even the President!  What if every boss had that emphasis?

5. He was not prejudiced.  He believed that every person was a child of God and should have an equal opportunity.  He recruited the first African-American basketball player to receive a North Carolina athletic scholarship.  It was not a popular thing to do, but he said it was the right thing to do!  When you read the comments of some of his great players like Michael Jordan and James Worthy, you get the sense that there was not an ounce of prejudice in him.

6. He spoke up for issues of justice.  As a basketball coach he could have just been quiet on a lot of social issues.  He elected to speak out.  His pastor, Rev. Robert Seymour, said that he was always willing to take controversial stands on a number of things as a member of his church.

7. He lived his philosophy of life.  The winningest college basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, said, “His greatest gift was his ability to teach what it takes to become a good man.  That was easy for him to do because he was a great man himself.”

8. He supported great causes.  I have two buddies who have been a part of the Tar Heel basketball program.  Both have spoken at Frazer.   Albert Long is the only player in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference to letter in four sports in one year.  He lettered in basketball, baseball, football, and track.  The other is Dr. Danny Lotz.  He was a preacher’s son from New York who came to North Carolina and played on the undefeated National title team.  Danny and Albert wanted to start a Fellowship of Christian Athletes group at UNC.  Dean Smith volunteered to serve as the faculty advisor.

Here are 8 coaching lessons that will be true tomorrow and help anybody win in the game of life!  The coaching continues.  Are you coachable?

Heir or Spare

The announcement shocked me.  It said that Kate Middleton and her husband, Prince William are expected to give birth to their second child “the spare” in April.  The article went on to say that Kate had to curtail most of her official duties because of another bout of acute morning sickness, a condition that hospitalized her when she was pregnant with her first child, Prince George.

The term “the spare” really bothered me.  I understand that throughout royal history women have been expected to have at least two children – “an heir and a spare” – just in case the first child didn’t survive long enough to take the throne.  Regardless of gender this baby expected to arrive in April will be fourth in line to the throne – after its grandfather, Prince Charles; its father, Prince William; and its 15-month-old brother, George.  The new baby will be in line ahead of its uncle, Prince Harry.

Those two children of Prince William and Kate have no choice in whether they are designated as heir or spare.  Every person makes a choice as to whether he/she will be an heir or a spare.  Too many people adopt an attitude about themselves that they are nothing but a spare. God sent His Son in order that every person might be an heir, and never a spare!

Paul wrote, “Since we are His children, we are His heirs.  In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” (Romans 8:17) He also wrote, “You are no longer a slave but God’s own child.” (Galatians 4:7)  God sees you as His child.  You are His heir.  God so loved the world so that nobody should ever see themselves as a spare – but as a possibility of being an heir to all that God has to give.

Too many people settle for much less.  Many people are content to be a spare.  Sometimes we try to blame it on other people.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Sometimes we want to become an heir by taking the wrong course.  We think if we accomplish enough things we can become an heir to God’s abundant living.  Accumulation of things and good works never do that.  If you need an expensive car, or fancy clothes, or a big bank account to make a statement about yourself – you don’t have much to say!

In writing about self-worth R. Schuller cites the Greek legend of Helen of Troy.  Helen was kidnapped.  She suffered from amnesia and became a prostitute in the streets.  She didn’t know her name or that she was of royal blood.

She had a friend who believed in her and wanted to find her.  One day he was wandering through the streets of a strange city and saw a wretched woman with deep lines across her face.  There was something about her that seemed familiar.  When he inquired about her name, she didn’t even know her name.

The man asked to see her hands.  He knew the lines in Helen’s hands.  He looked at them and declared that she was Helen of Troy.  She was of royal blood.  All of a sudden the fog began to clear in Helen’s mind and she realized who she really was.  She hugged her old friend and began to cry.  She discarded her tattered clothes and degrading lifestyle, and once more became the Queen she was born to be.

Because of Christ we are born to be an heir to Him and all He has.  We are not even fourth in line as this new baby will be.  Heirs of Christ are first in line!

Heir or spare – it’s your choice.