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Do Over!!!

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“Do over! I wasn’t ready yet,” she yelled out as she rounded the tree laughing. This was the scene following our recent VBS where an impromptu game of tag broke out among the exuberant youngsters. It is the excited request for a do over that is rattling around in my head this morning.PlayingTag

How many times in life have we wished for a do over? Do you ever find yourself wishing you could make a better grade, or buy a different car? Would you invest your money differently or take a different job? Would you spend more time with your family? Come on, can I get a do over? Please?

No, I can’t! We live with the life we have created by the choices we have made.

BUT, there are some things we can do from this day forward.

We can choose to live under the weight of guilt and sin for all of the mistakes we have made OR we can choose the path of renewal each day. It’s true that we may bear the scars and consequences of our past, but that does not mean that those weights and burdens have to overcome us. Consider what the Hebrews writer has to say;

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2)

Truth be told, there is little benefit to being caught up in the past. Beyond learning from the experiences of life, reliving our mistakes over and over just feeds on the negativity they bring, and this  is guaranteed to bring you down. After trying over a thousand filaments for his incandescent light, Edison was asked if he had failed, “No, I have eliminated one more element that will not work for me.” Paul puts it this way;

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Php 3.13-14)

We can use our experiences to help others on the path through life. Children understand, “you are going to make mistakes, but you certainly don’t have to make the same one’s I made.” By being open and transparent about the detours you have taken and curve balls you have missed, you are better suited to help others along the way. Taking that approach to life allows you to take your mistakes and extract good from the circumstances.  This may have been what Paul had in mind when he said, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8.28).

Think about it.

Is There a Right Kind of Worry?

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WorryFor the most part, worry is wrong. Jesus teaches this during His sermon on the mount. Listen to His words when He says, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Mt 6.25ff)

Jesus plainly shows us that it is wrong to have great anxiety over material things such as what we will eat or wear. Worry about the mundane things of this earth is useless because it changes nothing and worry is faithless because it reflects a lack of confidence that God can and will take care of us.

 

With that being said, is there ever a healthy kind of worry? Yes, actually there is, although we might choose to use words like concern or care in place of worry. Take a look at what the apostle Paul says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” (Phil 2.19-20)
Both Paul and Timothy are greatly concerned, even worried, about their brethren in Philippi. They were evidently facing some adversity that tested their Christian conduct (Phil 2.27-30) which could damage them spiritually. Paul was determined to send Timothy to help them due to Timothy’s deep love and sincere care for the Philippians. I believe we can say that both of these men were vitally concerned, or even worried, about the spiritual welfare of their fellow Christians.

 

This is not the only time Paul would feel great anxiety in his heart concerning all of the churches, to the Corinthians he said, “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” (2 Cor 11.28)
Paul was not worried about how many times he would be put in jail, beaten, or shipwrecked, these are all worldly things. What concerned him was humbleness, teaching Christ, and standing up against false teaching. He felt great concern, anxiety, and yes worry, for God’s children who faced the kind of adversity that could weaken the spirit and their bond with God.

 

So we ought to try to conquer our fretfulness over the mundane, temporal matters of our earthly life, while realizing that there is a legitimate place for true concern and care for the spiritual welfare of others.



A Good Conversation

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ImageA few years ago a movie hit the big screen, The Last Samurai. If you saw that movie you may remember a scene where Captain Algren and Katsumoto Moritsugu exchange names. To Algren’s chagrin, Katsumoto declares that they had a “good conversation.” I was reminded of this scene after seeing a post on the Heart Prints blog by Missie Jenkins, (http://lissalomo.tumblr.com/post/30971919319/have-a-conversation); which led me to this…

Missie wrote:

Have a conversation….. tonight- do everything you can to have a conversation…. let the conversation be worthwhile and happy and full.  Let it be something that is honest and serious and deep and yet fun and peaceful and joyful.  Have the kind of conversation that can be life changing…one that can make you feel GREAT from the inside out.  I share this with you today because I did it and want you to do it too.  Yesterday, I was kinda having a down day— I don’t know why— but at the end of my night- I spend a long time in a great, great conversation… it changed my heart- it changed my “stinkin- thinkin”- it made me feel- well, amazing.  The conversation started with me— sitting outside on my front porch in a rocking chair… all alone with just me and my Father.  I talked to Him- I cried out to Him— I begged Him for strength and for a greater faith.  I told Him there was no way I could make it through without Him.  I told Him that I knew He knew all of my secrets but that I wanted Him to hear them from me-so I confessed to Him.  Then I told Him I loved Him.  I loved Him so much that I wanted to be better and do better because of Him.  I told Him that there was nothing and no one that mattered more to me….and I meant it.  I also told Him that I would fail Him again…. but that I wanted to try, to try hard to show Him how much it meant that He had given me life— and not just life but a GREAT LIFE.  Then I took out my Bible and I read this passage— read it- I know it is probably in  your memory but read it— For God so loved the world that He gave His ONLY son- so that whoever believes in Him would not be lost but have eternal life. — Wow.  It was something I needed to see…. it means something- it means He really really loves me. — Have a conversation.

In a time where we are pulled in what seems like a thousand directions with work, school, church activities, entertainment, and who knows what else; Missie’s reminder of what is truly important is a breath of fresh air. The bonds we have with family and with God will see us through. She was right when she said, “Wow”.

Consider how often Jesus sat with others or with God and simply had a good conversation:

Joh 6:3  And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

Mar 2:15  Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him.

Mat 24:3  Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Luk 19:5  And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

Luk 10:38  Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.

Mar 1:35  Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

My friends, take a little time today; sit and be with the ones you love, with God, and simply have a good conversation…it will do wonders for your soul.

Words To Live By

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                From time to time I have had the privilege of looking through a ‘preacher’s Bible’. I am referring to that Bible which has been used by a preacher for many years. They are often easy to pick out among others. One of the first things you might notice is the duck-tape holding the cover together or the rubber bands around the outside to keep notes, bookmarks, and even pages from falling out. Speaking of pages, they are stained along the edges from many years of fingers seeking knowledge of God. You will not hear the crinkle of a ‘new Bible’ here.

OldBible2

                This Bible has circles and arrows pointing out one verse from another. Some places are underlined and others highlighted. CIA code breakers would have a hard time figuring out the pattern of how verses are marked and referenced. Greek words are scattered everywhere. So many notes can be found in the margins that you might think a whole book could be written from them alone. In fact, some have; Wayne Jackson wrote a book titled Notes from the Margin of My Bible.

                Thumbing through a Bible such as this is humbling. It becomes a diary and testament to one man’s love for his God. The weight and responsibility of a teacher of God’s word can be felt within the lovingly worn pages. I asked once, “how do you decide what verses to highlight? Are they just special to you or do you have some other pattern?” You see, I was interested so I too could have an impressive looking Bible. How foolish, how selfish of me.

                This kind, older preacher smiled and then chuckled. He went over to his desk and pulled out a stack of index cards three or four inches thick. They too were stained with age and use. He explained that when he was a young preacher his friend and mentor told him to begin memorizing scripture. “You’ll ne-er regret et”, he mimicked. The handwritten cards helped him memorize and keep scripture fixed in his mind. Only then would he highlight them in his Bible. I swallowed a lump in my throat as I flipped the pages. There was not a single opening without verses highlighted in one color or another, some in colored pencil, others in marker. Here in my hands was a lifetime spent following in the footsteps of the savior. My eyes tear up just contemplating the sacrifices he must have made through the years and the number of souls that will one day be in heaven due to one man’s humble dedication to God.

                I have fondly recalled all of that to hopefully encourage you in this; teachers, preachers, dads, moms, Christians, we all grow weary from time to time. Life presents us with trials that will test our faith. Sometimes we just seem to run into a case of writer’s block that lasts longer than we hoped, and other times we are afraid to become more for God than who we are now. During those times, might I suggest, if you can, look at an old duck-taped, rubber-banded, circled, arrowed, and edge darkened ‘preacher’s Bible’ and consider that God has blessed us with a great gift…His word, direction, and love, all waiting for us to simply reach out and accept it. You just may be awed at how humbling and inspiring it can be.

Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. (Jer 15:16)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  (Jos 1:8)

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. (Psa 1:1-3)

Who At The Door Is Standing

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DoorWhat a beautiful song and message this is! My soul stirs within me as we sing this hymn, and it makes me acutely aware of the Lord’s tremendous love and patience. Think about these words from the second stanza:

“All thro’ the dark hours dreary, knocking again is He; Jesus art Thou not weary, waiting so long for me?”

            Many people wait so very long before submitting to Jesus and becoming Christians. Thankfully He is enduringly patient. We, as Christians, often procrastinate in our coming back to the Lord after we have sinned. Christians and non-Christians alike lay awake at night, pricked by a guilty conscience. That’s what the song is talking about, during the dreary hours, Jesus is “knocking” on the door of our hearts and hoping we will reconcile with Him. Consider the thoughts of David as he expresses the heaviness he feels in his heart: (Psalm32:4) “For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.” Have you ever felt as David did? What a terrible burden it is to bear, and the really horrible part is that we choose to place that burden on ourselves!

Here is the response the Lord wants in the third stanza: “Door of my heart, I hasten! Thee will I open wide; tho’ He rebuke and chasten, He shall with me abide.”

The Lord wants to abide or live with all people. Of course, He can’t abide with all people as they won’t all submit their will and ways to Him. That is the thrust of the song. He is waiting, waiting, and waiting…standing at the doorway of our heart, patiently enduring our silence, just waiting for us to open up. The refrain of the song ends with this statement: “If thou wilt heed My calling, I will abide with thee.”If” is such a small word to have so great a meaning. “If” will keep people separated from Christ. However, if we do His will, He will be with us forever. He will be with us through the good times and the times when we don’t know how we can continue. He will be there on Judgment Day and tell God that we are His and to welcome us home.

Have you let Jesus in? He is still patiently waiting outside the door of your heart. When will you let Him in or allow Him back into your life? Don’t make Him wait long as we may not be here to answer the door tomorrow.

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