That was one of the headlines that grabbed my attention in yesterday’s USA TODAY. It came from France and had to do with a major problem that has only recently come to light. Apparently, the state-run railway service ordered some new trains. 341 of them, to be exact. The new trains are sleek, fast, impressive, fully equipped and ready to go. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, there’s one small problem. Each of the new trains is too wide for almost 1,300 of France’s 8,700 railway platforms.
USA TODAY said, “Jacques Rapoport, president of rail network owner Réseau Ferré de France, acknowledged the problem was ‘discovered a little late.’ ‘It’s as if you bought a Ferrari and when you come to park it in your garage you realize your garage isn’t exactly the right size for a Ferrari because you didn’t have a Ferrari before,’ Rapoport said.”1
The problem was “discovered a little late.” That’s usually when it happens. Unexpected, unplanned and unforeseen circumstances have a way of sidetracking our plans and can often turn our dreams into a train wreck. (Pun intended.) That’s why, this summer, we’re challenging all of our people to join us in THE SUMMER OF NO EXCUSES and to get fit in three areas: Spiritually, Physically and Financially.
Like the folks in France, most people don’t plan on problems or train wrecks. Especially when it comes to spiritual things. But what happens if you take your spirituality for granted? In other words, you believe you’re saved, think you’re doing fine and feel like all you need to do is wait for the glory train to take you home to Heaven. Paul warned the believers at Corinth, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5). How could solid, sincere, church-going people “fail to meet the test?”
Jesus warned in Matthew 7:21-24 that not every person who called Him, “Lord,” was going to Heaven. Even those who prophesied in His name, cast out demons in His name and did many mighty works in His name.
The same warning issued to Corinth could be issued to Crossroads. That’s why we’re encouraging all of our people to GET FIT SPIRITUALLY this summer by 1. Getting into the WORD every day. We don’t care how or how much. Just get in the WORD of God every day.
2. Be in WORSHIP every Lord’s Day (Sunday). Obviously, if you’re home, be in worship here at Crossroads. If you’re away on business or vacation, find a great church where you can be in worship – every Sunday! NO EXCUSES.
When it comes to PHYSICAL issues, most people are already way off track. Rick Warren, in his new book The Daniel Plan, says 7 out of 10 of us are overweight. Most people don’t plan on making a train wreck of their health. But the reality is diabetes, heart disease and many other diseases brought on by bad lifestyle choices are inevitable, unless decisions are made and changes take place.
That’s why we’re encouraging all of our people to GET FIT PHYSICALLY this summer. The Bible says we are to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). We can do this by 1. Getting some EXERCISE every day. Do something. Walk somewhere. We shared that children should get parental approval and those who are older or who may have health limitations should seek the permission of their personal physician before beginning any kind of exercise program. 2. Eat HEALTHIER and smaller portions at every meal. And 3. Set a GOAL and pursue it. We’re not interested in managing your menu or telling you what to eat. And we’re certainly not prescribing a specific diet for anyone. But the truth is, all of us can make wiser choices and none of us should over eat. Stay on track by using common sense and restraint.
When you don’t take care of yourself you’re taking advantage of those who love you the most and who, most likely, will be the ones who have to care for you on down the road. They will have to pay the tab for a train wreck that is almost certain to come as a consequence of your choices.
Finally, we’re encouraging all of our people to GET FIT FINANCIALLY this summer by:
- Putting GOD FIRST by tithing and giving generously every week. The tithe isn’t the finish line. It’s the starting line. The Bible says we are to “honor the Lord with our wealth, with the firstfruits, (the tithe) of all our produce,” (Proverbs 3:9-10). Jesus said the best investment we can ever make is to use the “worldly wealth” He gives us to help people get to Heaven (Luke 16:9). It should be so much more than just a tithe. However, the vast majority of people planning on going to Heaven, give less than 2% of their income to churches or any kind of charitable causes.
- Disciplining yourself to use ONLINE giving and saving each week. We strongly recommend this because the majority of our people don’t carry a checkbook or even carry much cash, and most pay their bills online through their bank or financial institution. (That’s one of the main reasons why we went to giving boxes in January of this year.) For those who don’t want to give online, that’s not a problem. The issue is giving. We’re just trying to encourage all of our people to try it because it’s good stewardship, both of your time and resources. All of us should tithe and give generously above the tithe, whether we give online or not.
- Committing to no more DEBT this summer. PAY CASH for everything and set a GOAL to get out of debt for good. As I shared previously, summer sinks more saints because they do dumb things with debt. We go on trips or family vacations, etc., and put it all on a credit card. The trip or vacation is terrific. But when the bill comes, it’s tragic. Since we put what we couldn’t afford on a credit card, now we have to pay interest on top of that. We can never get where we want to be if we keep doing the same thing, spending money we don’t have on stuff we can’t afford. Something has to change and that thing is us.
We’re calling this summer THE SUMMER OF NO EXCUSES and encouraging all of our people to get fit SPIRITUALLY, PHYSICALLY and FINANCIALLY.
Why? Because you can’t put a price on how costly it will be if we don’t.
© 2014. Barry L. Cameron
1 Jolie Lee, "$68M mistake: France's new trains don't fit in stations," USA TODAY, 22 May 2014 <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/05/22/french-train-platform-stations/9430471/>.
Check out our online resources to help you.
If you’re on FACEBOOK, check out CROSSROADS’ SUMMER OF NO EXCUSES page, too.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Today, more than 8,000 people call Crossroads their church home. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.