Sometimes you know you are going to lose. Last week I drove to Macon, Georgia, to visit my granddaughter and her parents. I was a mere mile from their home when I saw a moving truck coming towards me. The driver of the truck did not see me. Moving truck. Volkswagen Beetle. Moving truck. Volkswagen Beetle. I knew I was going to lose. No one was hurt. I’m in a neon blue rental car. I’m waiting to hear if Barney, my beloved Harvest Moon VW Beetle, is totaled or salvageable.

Sometimes you know you are going to lose. Everyone at the table had folded their cards except for me and one other person. I was head-to-head with Sean Jazayeri. I had pocket Kings. It mattered not. It was my last hand.

Sometimes you know you are going to lose. I was on a private sermon preparation retreat at Columbia Seminary four Septembers ago. I was the only male in the continuing education building; a women’s conference was being held during the week. On Monday evening, I went to the lobby where sat the only television in the building. Five ladies were watching the Food Network. I stood silent for a moment and then asked, “Would you all mind if I changed the channel and watched Monday Night Football?” All five turned, stared at me for about ten seconds, and without saying a word returned their gaze to the screen. I didn’t see the remote control all week.

Sometimes you know you are going to lose. At other times, winning is a sure thing. As the new church year begins, I want to encourage you to commit yourself to the basics. Find a place to serve: volunteer for Extended Session, assist/teach in Sunday School, children’s missions, Children’s Choirs or chaperone a youth trip. Find a place to grow: join choir, handbells, a mission group or a Sunday School class. Give regularly and more generously than ever before: your money, your time in worship and your prayers. We don’t always win in life, but we never lose when we invest our time and resources in Christ’s church.

— Jim