Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. John 17:11

Most young children eventually encounter the “heads I win, tails you lose” trick. It’s a lose-lose situation, a coin-flip that can only benefit one party—and it’s not them! Eventually, they learn that the best kind of negotiation is one in which everyone benefits: a win-win situation for all.

Christ’s final prayer for His followers would result in a win-win for all involved. First, He asked the Father to protect His disciples from the world in which He was about to leave them. He asked that they might “be one as We are [one].” Surely, Church unity would be a win for believers: peace, harmony, love, and fellowship. But secondly, the unity of the Church would be a benefit for the world that would be antagonistic toward the Church. Christ said that through the demonstration of their loving unity, the Church would cause the world to see the character of the Savior who came to save the world—a win-win, for the Church and the world.

Do all you can to be part of God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer. Do all you can to strengthen the unity of the Body of Christ.

Unity is the essence of the body of Christ. R. B. Kuiper

The Lord’s Prayer For You, John 17 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Excellence honors God and inspires people

What I learned from dining at the world’s top restaurant

(Hint: It’s all about this one thing)



I had quite an experience in Girona, Spain about an hour north of Barcelona. I ate dinner at El Celler De Can Roca, the top-rated restaurant in the world.

The waiting list for reservations is one year. I put my name in three months ahead but to no avail. But a concierge with American Express was somehow able to land us a reservation.

My wife and I are not foodies. And she was raised in a family of nine people so she is not comfortable spending a lot of money on dining out. It was the most we’ve ever spent on a dinner but not nearly as much as you would think for the best restaurant in the world. We don’t drink alcohol so that certainly helped.


My purpose for going was not really the food. In fact, the meal lasted almost four hours and I am a notoriously fast eater. There were many courses, each of them small portions of food.

Excellence is not an accident. It is intentional. Being the best takes more than hopes and wishes. But it can be done. If you want to be the best, excellence is the way.

I’m more interested in observing high performers. I’ve studied great teams and companies. I’ve written for Fox News on Tiger Woods’ comeback, and I’ve examined what makes Tom Brady great.

El Celler De Can Roca

El Celler De Can Roca

I wanted to see for myself what makes a restaurant the best. What set them apart not just in Spain or even Europe but the entire world. And I was not disappointed.

It is simply one thing — excellence

The level of excellence in everything is off the charts. Not just in some things but in all things. Not just a commitment to excellence but the practice of excellence.

My motto is, “Excellence honors God and inspires people.” I think we should pursue excellence in all aspects of our lives. And when we do our lives bring glory to our God and we motivate others to pursue excellence themselves.

How can you be excellent? Here are four ways practiced by El Celler De Can Roca. And you can practice them too.

Set high standards

High standards indicate you value excellence. Unless excellence means something to you there will never be excellence in your life or work. Anyone can accept average in a world of mediocrity only the excellent set a standard for something more.

When we first arrived, the staff gave us a tour of the kitchen. I’ve never worked in a restaurant but I’ve seen a few kitchens on tv shows and they didn’t look anything like this. It was immaculate. There was no mess, no chaos, just order and work.

In fact, the entire place was beautiful, elegant and serene. Even the bathroom was hidden behind a glass door. The furniture had clean lines, the ambient light was plentiful and there were trees in a garden setting. The entire atmosphere set the tone for a special evening.

When we received our menu, it was prix fixe with only two options. Of course, there were many courses but only two choices. Too many miss excellence by trying to do too much. You can do anything but you can’t do everything. Choose what you will be the best at and then set your excellence standard.

Work with enthusiasm

Enthusiasm always makes a big difference. People who practice excellence are enthusiastic about what they do. Whether the job is big or small enthusiasm will cause you to always give your best effort. Whenever you put your whole heart into what you’re doing nothing can stop your enthusiasm from being revealed.

From the moment we were greeted you could sense the enthusiasm in the place. Our first server was so happy and excited to share this special dining experience with us. She elevated our expectations even more by her enthusiasm. She gave us the menu and instead of defending the fact there were only two options she made it seem great to either choose their classic course or try their seasonal one.

The four servers we all had the same level of enthusiasm. Their passion for the food was obvious. Their work was not drudgery but joy. Even when I told them I didn’t drink wine they came out with juices and shared how they imitate the interaction like the wine would.

Pay attention to detail

The difference between good and great is always the little things. It’s the details that make the difference. And it’s not about being a detailed-oriented person, it’s making sure that proper attention is paid to the small stuff. When you are prepared and you know your material you have excellence.

One of the most remarkable parts of our dinner was that every single course was served on a unique plate. And there were fifteen courses. The purpose for each dish was tied to the name given to each serving. Each course had a perfectly matched plate that conveyed the meaning of what we were eating.

Most impressive to me was how the meal began. A globe was brought out with five little servings at the end of levers. We were told they represented different countries but that two were not identified. We had to guess which one matched which country. When you guessed right and moved the lever the top of the globe opened up revealing one more serving.

Do more than expected

You will never be excellent just doing what is expected. It’s exceeding expectations that leads to excellence. Jesus taught this when he said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” The extra mile is where excellence is found. There is never a traffic jam on the extra mile.

You certainly have expectations when you go the top restaurant in the world. But they exceeded my expectations. It is clear that at El Celler De Can Roca, thought is given to everything they do. Their goal is clearly to be the best. They treat food as art and it is beautiful to see.

One of the three brothers who own the restaurant even came out to meet me. I had commented on a picture of him as a boy wearing a New York Yankees shirt. As a Red Sox fan myself, I felt it necessary to lodge my objection. We had a fun chat, and he assured me his allegiance could easily be changed with a new shirt.

Excellence is not an accident. It is intentional. Being the best takes more than hopes and wishes. But it can be done. If you want to be the best, excellence is the way.


The Danger of False Teaching

Romans 16:17-18

Throughout the ages the church has been bombarded with false teaching, and it’s still prevalent today. Since the only way to combat error is with truth, the church must be grounded in the Scriptures to avoid falling victim to deception.

The church needs an accurate view of Jesus. To hold firmly to the truth of the gospel, we must have a solid understanding of who Christ is. Though some claim Jesus was a teacher or a prophet, Scripture says He was fully God, who created everything and came to earth to save mankind from condemnation (John 1:1-13).  Others argue that there are many ways to God. However, reconciliation with Him requires that sin’s penalty be paid in full by one who is sinless. Only Jesus, the perfect Son of Man, could meet God’s requirement. Therefore, no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

The church must also affirm true doctrine. False teachers can be very persuasive and lead listeners into wrong thinking, confusion, and discouragement. In contrast, true doctrine strengthens and encourages believers by assuring them that salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone; it is not gained or maintained by their performance (Eph. 2:8-9). Those who belong to Jesus need never fear condemnation because the penalty for their sins has been paid (Rom. 8:1). Everyone who is born again has an imperishable inheritance, which is reserved in heaven and protected by divine power through faith until God reveals it (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Can you discern false teaching? The only way to guard yourself and your church is to be firmly grounded in God’s Word.

In Every Love, Love the Best

“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

The love of Jesus has been our theme these last two days, following the insightful hymn “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.” And deep it is, as many Scriptures attest.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

The depth of His sacrificial love for us transcends knowledge. His love for us overwhelms any love we have for Him or for one another. His nature of true love drives His love for us, even though we are quite unlovely, for “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Our response? “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Romans 8 lists many aspects of the loving work He has done and is still doing for us. We are fully covered by His love. It asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35), followed by a carefully worded list of the things that cannot sever our place in His favor, our secure position in Christ. The section closes with the affirmation “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14). JDM

God’s Inward Necessity For Us

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

—Genesis 1:27

I believe that He created man out of no external necessity. I believe it was an internal necessity. God, being the God He was and is, and being infinitely perfect and infinitely beautiful and infinitely glorious and infinitely admirable and infinitely loving, out of His own inward necessity had to have some creature that was capable of admiring Him and loving Him and knowing Him. So God made man in His own image; in the image and likeness of God made He him; and He made him as near to being like Himself as it was possible for the creature to be like the Creator. The most godlike thing in the universe is the soul of man.

The reason God made man in His image was that he might appreciate God and admire and adore and worship; so that God might not be a picture, so to speak, hanging in a gallery with nobody looking at Him. He might not be a flower that no one could smell; He might not be a star that no one could see. God made somebody to smell that flower, the lily of the valley. He wanted someone to see that glorious image. He wanted someone to see the star, so He made us and in making us He made us to worship Him.   WMJ003

Be pleased this morning Lord, as I do indeed smell the flower and see the star, as I “admire and adore and worship.” Amen.


This day salvation come to this house

This day is salvation come to this house.—Luke 19:9.

From this day will I bless you.—Haggai 2:19.


Every day is a fresh beginning,

Listen, my soul, to the glad refrain,

And spite of old sorrow and older sinning,

And puzzles forecasted and possible pain,

Take heart with the day, and begin again.

Susan Coolidge


Every temptation to evil temper which can assail us to day will be an opportunity to decide the question whether we shall gain the calmness and the rest of Christ, or whether we shall be tossed by the restlessness and agitation of the world. Nay, the very vicissitudes of the seasons, day and night, heat and cold, affecting us variably, and producing exhilaration or depression, are so contrived as to conduce towards the being which we become, and decide whether we shall be master of ourselves, or whether we shall be swept at the mercy of accident and circumstance, miserably susceptible of merely outward influences.

F. W. Robertson.


Why wilt thou defer thy good purpose from day to day? Arise, and begin in this very instant, and say, “Now is the time to be doing; now is the time to be striving; now is the fit time to amend myself.” Unless thou dost earnestly force thyself, thou shalt never get the victory over sin.

Thomas Á Kempis.


He Constantly Consistently Abides

“For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake; because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.” 1Sam. 12:22

God’s choice of His people is the reason for His abiding by them, and not forsaking them. He chose them for His love, and He loves them for His choice. His own good pleasure is the source of their election, and His election is the reason for the continuance of His pleasure in them. It would dishonor His great name for Him to forsake them, since it would either show that He made an error in His choice, or that He was fickle in His love. God’s love has this glory, that it never changes, and this glory He will never tarnish.

By all the memories of the Lord’s former lovingkindnesses let us rest assured that He will not forsake us. He who has gone so far as to make us His people, will not undo the creation of His grace. He has not wrought such wonders for us that He might leave us after all. His Son Jesus has died for us, and we may be sure that He has not died in vain. Can He forsake those for whom He shed His blood? Because He has hitherto taken pleasure in choosing and in saving us, it will be His pleasure still to bless us. Our Lord Jesus is no changeable Lover. Having loved His own, He loves them to the end.


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