Have you ever revisited a story you read as a child and found parts you didn’t remember?

One example might be Felicity Learns a Lesson: A School Story by Valerie Tripp. Within the pages of this short chapter book, the reader finds reminders that even if the land in which we live is ruled by an earthly king we also live in God’s kingdom.

This truth is easy to forget – just like it may be easy to forget the five-pointed star hidden within an apple (a little wonder used to illustrate a point for Felicity). But sometimes these forgotten things can have huge impacts on our lives.

This week much of the world is thinking of Halloween or its variations like Día de los muertos. However, October 31 marks the 500th anniversary of an event that has had a profound impact on human history. 

That event was the start of the Protestant Reformation. 

It certainly hasn’t been a perfect movement. No movements made up of imperfect people will get it all right. But at its core, it gave light to a few powerful thoughts:

  • No one can be saved from the penalty of sin (death) by their works…and definitely not by the indulgences that some were trying to sell at the time! (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for us through His death on the cross and Who conquered death in His resurrection.
  • The Bible should be available to the people to read for themselves.
  • “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (I Timothy 2:5, ESV).

These truths – like the points of the star hidden within an apple – are easy to forget. But what impact would they have on our lives if we remembered them?

  • What if we lived remembering that we can’t earn our salvation?
  • What if we lived remembering that the price has been paid for us – that eternal life is a gift to us – and lived in the reality of this grace? This saving grace is free to us, and yet it changes everything of who we are, doesn’t it?
  • What if we lived remembering that the Bible is the Word of God and read it for ourselves often?
  • What if we lived remembering that Jesus is our advocate and that we have direct access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

When’s Winning Worth It? Camp Games and Greater Goals

Summer. What does “summer” bring to mind for you? For me, one related word is camp. And when I think of camp, several stories come to mind. While I had some camp adventures of my own that might show up here someday, two of my favorite stories come from other people’s pens.

“That’s just it,” Molly said. “The game sounded like fun when Miss Butternut explained it at dinner. But you should have seen Dorinda at our team’s meeting. As soon as she was chosen captain, she started calling us the Blue Army. And she was so serious! She acted like the general of a real army.” ~Molly Saves the Day  by Valerie Tripp, pg. 14

Molly’s forebodings are validated when she realizes that the camp game of Color War (Capture the Flag) strains her friendship with Linda who is on the Red Team. To what length will Molly go to win? Will the winning be worth it?

Meanwhile, in another part of history (literarily speaking), Connie hopes to leave her troubles at home while she’s at camp. However, she soon finds herself in even more trouble when she competes in a “Prank War” with a mysterious, brainy boy named “Goggles”. When “Goggles” learns Connie’s secrets, will he use them against her to win the war or will he help her out?

Have you ever been in a situation like Molly and Goggles? Whether it’s a game with friends, a team sport, some contest or even a promotion at work, we have to decide, is winning worth it? Sometimes we may see winning as coming out on top of the competition. But what if there’s something bigger going on? What if the real challenge is to do the right thing, even if it means losing the game? Is that a challenge worth winning?

For Molly, winning is worth facing one of her biggest fears…and making Linda face one of hers! Happily, the friends make up at the end and decide that they’d rather not be Reds or Blues anymore. I think Molly wins the most important battle – the battle to forgive, be forgiven and be a good friend. And what about Goggles and Connie? Well, I’d hate to spoil it for you. You can hear the whole story called the “The Champ of the Camp” from the team at Adventures in Odyssey. 

On a much bigger scale, countries have to decide whether winning is worth it, too. At Camp Gowonagin, Molly uses what she knows of the D-Day invasion to help her team capture the flag. Today is the 71st anniversary of D-Day. Wars are complex, but I think I can wholeheartedly say I’m thankful that the WWII Allies’ soldiers thought winning was worth it.