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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.

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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.

Where Do You Stand?

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WhereDoIStandTeenagers struggle for identity. Some will work extremely hard, yet be embarrassed by public recognition. Others want to please their parents, but resist too many rules or restrictions. They want to stand out, yet be included; an individual, but not different. It shows in the way young people usually dress. They are so desperate to be non-conformists that they all end up wearing the same things!

Never fear, the culture currently cultivated in our society is racing to the rescue by teaching a system of ‘mandatory acceptance’. If you want to dress in the Goth style, no problem, you are accepted without ridicule. If you wish to live a lifestyle that promotes out of body experiences, gay relationships, living together but not married, recreational drugs, pornography, abortion, justice-love and all sorts of other things….don’t worry, anyone can dine at the table of tolerance without responsibility. You are accepted as long as you do not harm another person. We even have a neat catchphrase that describes ‘mandatory acceptance’, it is called being politically correct.

So, our young people are being taught that it is right to do what you want and think want you want as long as you accept everything as valid. Our society has entered into a time of relative thought where right and wrong is based on personal experience. Morality is defined by each person’s individual situation in life, and absolute truth is thought not to exist. Perhaps though, you recall these words, “everyone did what was right according to his own eyes” (Judges 17.6, 21.25, Prov 16.2, 21.2).

God has shown man that there is such a thing as right and wrong, there is absolute truth. Sadly, if we choose today to voice a dissenting opinion to the world based on scripture, our culture of acceptance hypocritically starts spewing out words such as unenlightened, bigot, hate monger, and racist. None of which describe anyone with a true Christ-centered life.

No wonder our young people are confused (as many adults are), they lack a solid foundation to build on or an anchor for their faith. Their only hope is that Christian parents must bring God into the home and stand on His morality, His truth. As a body of God’s called out people, we must recognize God’s authority over our lives, search His truth, and say ‘thus says the Lord’ without embarrassment.

Let it not be said of us that ‘another generation arose that did not know the Lord’ (Judges 2.10), rather let us respond as the people did to Joshua:

“The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey”

(Joshua 24.24)

Crumbling Home Fronts

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America’s ambassador to Japan, Douglas MacArthur II, served as Counselor of the State Department under John Foster Dulles. Like Dulles, MacArthur was a hard worker. Once when Dulles telephoned the MacArthur home asking for Douglas, Mrs. MacArthur mistook him for an aide and snapped irately, “MacArthur is where MacArthur always is, weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and nights – in that office!”

Within minutes, MacArthur got a telephone order from Dulles: “Go home at once, boy. Your home front is crumbling.” (Source Unknown)

 

            In fact, many home fronts are crumbling away across our nation because spouses do not spend enough time with each other or their children. Parents often work two or three jobs while at the same time making sure the homework gets done, the children are engaged in sports, scouts, or other interests. To be honest, they don’t even spend much time in the same room together, and family meals around the supper table have become a relic of a bygone era

           

            A couple can become more like roommates than husband and wife, spending more time with everything else in life than they do with each other.

 

            Love is a decision to be made and nourished, not just a feeling to be shared once and a while (Eph 5.22-23). A husband must love his wife as much as he cares for himself and wives must give respect to their husband in the same manner.

            God instructs couples to enjoy one another (Prov 5.15-19). How can they do that if they do not willingly build their relationship through mutual love?

 

Parents are to love their children and in truth, most do. Their love however, must go beyond providing for their physical growth and driving them to their games before making sure the homework is done and finally collapsing into bed, exhausted.

Godly parents show true love to their children by bringing God into their homes and making Him the center of it (Eph 6.4, Mt 10.37, Deut 6.4-9).

As God’s people, we have to turn to Him and His way for living our lives. We will be happier when we do. It is time for families across the nation to shore up our foundations, strengthen our homes, reunite with our spouses, and provide our children with the greatest gift of all, a personal relationship with God who loves them deeper than we ever could.