Sunday, September 23, 2012

What To Do When You Step In It

Life is filled with ups and downs which means sometimes you are going to step in it. Let me explain, I take my dogs out walking of the morning. Normal dogs use the grass, but we don’t have normal dogs. Ours use the pavement, so I go behind them serving as the cleanup crew. A few days ago I walked them, they did their business and before I could do the cleanup there were two runners that came by the house. When I went down to do my owner’s duty, guess what? One of the runners had stepped right in you know what. He left his foot prints all the way up the road. I’m sure he did not mean to do this, yet it happened.  Maybe he was overwhelmed and could not see what was in front of him or preoccupied and just didn’t notice. He may have been engaged in conversation with his wife; maybe they were fussing. Possibly he was exhausted and his steps were not firmly planted or  he may have been bumped by his running companion. Yet, another possibility is that he may have been too presumptuous, saying “my stride is long enough I can step over this.” I may never know why he made the mistake but I’m sure when he got back home he was not a happy camper. He either trashed those running shoes or got out the Lysol and started doing some cleaning of his own. The point is he stepped in it and so do we. That’s why our life demands grace.  I do know this was not his first run and most likely would not be his last. Also, I know that if you run long enough it will happen to you. So what do we do when it happens? Well as I mentioned earlier there’s some clean-up that is required. In addition there is the decision to be more observant. This runner may have said, “This is not going to make me quit but next time I’ll watch closer, especially when I get near that preacher’s house.” But the most important thing we can do is continue running. The race is not over just because we step in it.  That’s where grace comes in.  It’s the detergent that washes us and the energy that encourages us to continue.  You may have stepped in it, but life is not over.  Get a grip on grace and finish the race.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Protection Prayer Provides

If we are not careful we can forget about the protection of prayer. When the Jews were threatened with annihilation Esther said, “Let’s pray.” When Peter was put in prison and faced impending death at the hand of Herod, the church said, “Let’s pray.”  They did so because they believed in the power of prayer.  Multitudes of contemporaries share that same belief.  One such case is told by Evangelist Billy Kim about a soldier in the Korean War. The soldier’s superior told him to go out search and rescue the wounded. He said, “I will sir,” but remained in his bunker monitoring his watch. Shortly thereafter the same superior came by again and gave a second order. “We have wounded soldiers out in the field, go search and rescue them.” Once again the soldier said, “I will sir” but stood still looking at his watch. At a certain hour the man jumped up and said, “Now I am ready to go.” He goes out and rescues his fallen comrades all night long. Later he was approached by a fellow soldier and asked, “Man why did you disobey the commander’s orders? What were you thinking?” He replied, “I’m embarrassed to tell you this but I don’t know God and I’m afraid of dying.” He continued, “Before I left home my mother gave me a bible and told me, ‘Son at a certain hour every day I promise I will be on my knees in prayer for you.’ I waited to go until I knew it was the hour my momma would be in prayer. I knew it would be okay because she was praying.” What a wonderful consolation we have in knowing that we are protected by the prayers of our family, our friends, and most of all our Savior. So, be encouraged as you reflect upon the protection prayer provides.       

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fearing Failure

There are so many people that find themselves becoming stale and inactive because they fear failure. Somehow we have come to believe that if we don’t succeed in our task all of our effort is a total loss.  However, nothing could be further from the truth. John Ortberg in his book, “IF YOU WANT TO WALK ON THE WATER YOU’VE GOT TO GET OUT OF THE BOAT” clarifies this point by saying: “Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. Failure is not something that happens to us it is a way we think about outcomes.”  He goes further by giving two powerful illustrations. “Before Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio that finally worked, he tried two hundred unsuccessful ones. Somebody asked him, ‘How did it feel to fail two hundred times?’  ‘I never failed two hundred times in my life’ Salk replied. ‘I was taught not to use the word failure. I just discovered two hundred ways how not to vaccinate.’   Sir Edmund Hillary made several unsuccessful attempts at scaling Mount Everest before he finally succeeded. After one attempt he stood at the base of the giant mountain and shook his fist at it. “I’ll defeat you yet,” he said in defiance, “Because you’re as big as you’re going to get—but I’m still growing.” Every time Hillary climbed, he failed and every time he failed he learned something more until one day he didn’t fail. Some may have seen Peter as a failure when in the middle of his walk on the water he began to sink. But the bigger failures were the eleven disciples sitting in the boat. Again using the words of Ortberg, “Failure does not shape you; the way you respond to failure shapes you.” Peter no doubt thought, “I know what not to do if given another chance to water walk.” I don’t believe he gave up, neither should you. Push back the fear, keep trying and eventually you will get it right—you will not fail.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labor Day Rest

This week we are celebrating Labor Day. It’s a holiday that should be about getting rest, but most fail to take advantage of the opportunity. We know a great deal about working but very little about resting. Some of what we do has the semblance of rest but not the significance. Let me explain by sharing a conversation I had recently with my mother. I called her during the morning hours and she and dad were in the middle of eating breakfast.  She began to explain, “We sleep later some mornings, and sometimes after we wake up we just lie in the bed and rest a while.” She laughed and continued, “It’s something when you are in bed all night and wake up and still have to rest awhile.  That’s what happens when you get old I guess.”  Although humorous there is a message in that story.  Quite often after we have gone through the routine of sleeping we find ourselves still in the need of rest. The reason being we sleep because we have to we rest because we choose to. When we compare this to our spiritual lives we recognize the same principle applies.  We enter into the experience of salvation because we have to, but we rest in the promises and power of Christ because we choose to. This is the message the writer of Hebrews was trying to convey in Chapter four. We can spend long nights laboring in our salvation but satisfaction will only come when we turn to resting in God’s finished work.  Hopefully with age, comes the realization that we need to choose more rest and less labor.