The Right Place at the Right Time!

If you are like me, you have never  heard of Josh Ripley.  That is, until last week.  Josh is a junior varsity runner for Andover High in Andover, Minnesota.  While running in the first mile of a two-mile race, Josh heard a loud scream.  Most of the other runners paid little attention to Mark Paulauskas, a runner for Lakeville South, who was lying on the ground and obviously in intense pain.

Josh was the only runner who decided to give Mark his attention.  When Josh saw Mark holding a bloodied ankle, he had a decision to make.  He could have simply turned away and kept running.  He could have called for help.  But I doubt that anyone watching the race could have expected what happened next.  Josh carried Mark a half mile back to his coaches and family members!  Mark’s ankle had been “spiked” by another runner’s shoe. His injury required twenty stitches and a walking boot to protect the wound.

This story would be amazing enough were it not for what happened next.  After leaving Mark with his coaches Josh went on to finish the race.  Afterward he was quoted as saying, “I didn’t think about my race.  I knew I needed to stop and help him.  It was something I would expect my other teammates to do.  I’m nothing special; I was just in the right place at the right time.”

When I mentioned this to my son Harley, he said, “No one’s even talking about the guy that won the race.”  So true! But everyone is talking about Josh Ripley!

I could not read about Josh Ripley without thinking of another person who stopped to help someone in need.  In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus taught what we commonly refer to as the parable of the Good Samaritan.  A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho.  He was robbed by thieves, stripped of his clothing, and left wounded and half-dead.  A priest raveling the same road saw him but passed by on the other side and went on his way.  A Levite also came and, when he saw the wounded man, also passed by on the other side and went his way.  But a certain Samaritan who was traveling on the road saw the wounded man and had compassion on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds.  He brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next morning he paid the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him.  Whatever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee.”

The scriptures are full of admonitions to stop and take the time to help some other person. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-46 (King James Version). “Let love be without dissimulation…..” (Romans 12:9).  “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).   “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).  “Let brotherly love continue.  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:1-2).  “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).  “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him” (I John 3:17).

Think about Josh’s statement, “I was just in the right place at the right time.”  The next time you are in the right place at the right time, think of Josh Ripley.  Think of the Good Samaritan.  Take the time to stop and help someone.  It might involve stopping to help someone who is physically injured.  It may involve spending time with someone who is hurting in other ways and needs someone who will listen.  It may involve something as simple as helping someone carry their bags; opening a door for them; or speaking a kind or encouraging word.  The important thing is, take the time to help!

Thanks For All You Do!

Today, just as many of you no doubt did as well, I spent time looking at pictures of the events of September 11, 2001.  Most of us can remember that day well – as we watched on television, listened on the radio, or read about it in the newspapers.

The two pictures included in this post caught my attention because of their obvious contrast.  The first shows crowds of people running from the site of the twin towers in New York.  Understandably afraid because of the noise of the explosions, the sight of the falling buildings and debris that littered the air, the people rush to get further away from the horrific sight.

The second picture shows a different group of people.  While frightended people were running out of the area of danger; firefighters, medical personnel, and others were running into the area of danger.  Many of these people, attempting to save others, lost their own lives as a result.

Wherever you live, whether in a large city or a smaller town, take the time to give thanks for those men and women who risk their lives while protecting ours.

The Favor of Men, Or of God?

“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and you would achieve nothing” (Margaret Thatcher – British Prime Minster, 1979-1990).

Which gives you the greater satisfaction, receiving favor from others, or receiving favor from God? I suppose nearly everyone has at least some desire to be liked by others, but at what cost? Would your desire to be liked cause you to to compromise your convctions? Would your craving for the praise of men cause you to fail to stand up for Jesus Christ?

Living the life of a Christian necessitates that strife will come. Few, if any, people like confrontation; but confrontation can not be totally avoided. Living the life of a Christian necessitates that a person take a stand, however unpopular it may be. God never looks favorably upon a person who seeks to “ride the fence.”

Christians must speak out for God in the midst of an unbelieving world; stand up for Christ in the midst of a rebellious population; defend morality in the midst of an immoral society; and contend for the truth in the midst of a society that tolerates lies.

In light of the persecution that was to come, Jesus sought to encourage his disciples with these words. “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20).

Elsewhere Jesus taught, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

As Christians, we ought to develop the attitude of Peter who, whencommanded to cease preaching the gospel, responded, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

George Duffield, Jr. wrote the following words to a well know hymn, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the solemn watchword hear;
If while ye sleep He suffers, away with shame and fear;
Where’er ye meet with evil, within you or without,
Charge for the God of battles, and put the foe to rout.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his post,
Close up the broken column, and shout through all the host:
Make good the loss so heavy, in those that still remain,
And prove to all around you that death itself is gain.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.

Though it is doubtful that Margaret Thatcher’s words were spoken in the context of religion, an application can certainly be made.  If Christians set out to be liked and stand for nothing, in the end they will have accomplished nothing!