Sunday, July 28, 2013

Watching Replays

The other night I came home from church and decided to watch the replay of the Open Championship. When leaving earlier several players were in contention but none were ahead enough to potentially declare a winner. As I was watching, a friend called and told me Phil Mickelson had won. Several emotions stirred within me when hearing the news. The first was disappointment. Each golfer was on the last half of the match and no one likes to hear the results prematurely. The second was surprise. I never thought Phil had a chance. To me he appeared to be a long shot if one were betting on who would take home the trophy.  The third was elation. Mickelson is one of those professionals with a bag full of class.  He is a fan favorite and someone I love to see win. Although, hearing the news I continued to watch to see the genius strokes that brought the victory. The next morning at breakfast I told Marsha, a house guest of ours, what I had done.  I said to her, “I watched the replay of the golf game last night and guess what, Phil Mickelson won again.”  Then it dawned on me, it doesn’t matter how many times that replay is shown, Phil will always be declared the winner. It doesn’t matter if others dislike the results, despise him, if they want their favorite golfer to be declared the champion, the results remain unchanged.  However, the best news for you and me is this. The same holds true in our spiritual lives.  We as children of God have been declared winners. Regardless of how much the enemy tries to hold us in contempt, condemn us, or cries for a change of venue, it does not change the verdict. We are “more than conquerors through him that loves us and gave his life for us.” So if you are ever in question go back and watch the replay. Phil still has the title and the trophy. As a believer you do to. Replays are the past that enable us to see the results in the present. Jesus said “It is finished.” That replay declaring your victory is always available for review and holds the timeless truth that our championship remains—past, present, and future.       

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Light is Always Left On

Motel 6 has a great commercial slogan, “We’ll leave the light on for you.” The inference is that whatever time you find yourself traveling, whether it be the daytime or three in the morning you know there is a place ready to take you in. While some hotels advertise their amenities that include all sorts of bells and whistles; state of the art gyms, big indoor pools and executive centers, this is not the thrust of the campaign phrase for Motel 6. The point of their advertisement is that they are always available for the customer. Their chain may not compare in price to the Hilton or Hyatt, but they are always open with the light on. The same can be said of God. In the Old Testament we learn that strict orders were given for a fire to be left burning on the altar and a light on the lamp stand. These flames were to remind the people that the altar was always open and that God was always available. Even today the Jews have a light that stays lit above the ark twenty four hours a day, even when the rest of the lights are off. It is their Motel 6 sign. This light signifies that God is still open for business, and is available when people need to talk. And when one comes to the altar it is a moment that offers multiple opportunities. For example if I go to Motel 6 and pay the usually modest rent for the night, the motel room is mine. I can sleep, eat, exercise, work all night, or watch TV but it is mine. What happens there depends on what I bring to the experience. When Isaiah checked in it was for reassurance; Elijah needed rest; the prodigal son reconciliation. Contemporaries find the same options when they turn towards the light in the worship experience.  Many need encouragement, spiritual nourishment, and some intense introspection. However, whatever the reason people find what they are looking for. The message for Motel 6 while coined over the last decade has always been the slogan for God. Both say come on by “We’ll leave the light on for you.” And both say “When you do you’ll be glad you did.”  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Forgiveness: Moving Beyond Our Mistakes

In 1985, Coca-Cola introduced “New Coke,” abandoning the formula that had made it one of the world’s leading brands.  When the public reacted with outrage, the company rethought its decision and 77 days later reintroduced Classic Coke. Sergio Zyman, Coke’s chief marketing officer, was the man responsible for what is considered one of the greatest mistakes in business history.  Forbes Magazine commented, “If ever there were a failure destined to kill a career, New Coke was it.”  Soon after this debacle, Zyman left the company, but instead of giving up he persevered, became a consultant, and eventually was rehired by Coke in 1993.  Later he started his own company and became so successful that he was named by Time magazine as one of the three greatest pitchmen of the 20th Century. Zyman has written that the New Coke failure “turned out to be a roaring success,” in part because “we were willing to learn from the experience and to change our minds.”  The executives at Coca-Cola put aside “company pride” and admitted their mistakes. It would be wonderful if humans, especially Christians would learn this lesson.  Many times when a mistake is made, people assume their life is over. This results in feelings of failure and guilt.  But the Bible says that if we make a mistake or sin that God is ready to forgive us. As a result the issue is not God’s forgiveness that stands in question but people’s ability to forgive themselves.  Many respond by saying, “I can’t get through this.” Others say “I won’t move beyond it.”  But God says we can and should. “Your offense as horrible as it might seem is not beyond the scope of my mercy and grace.” So if you are being hindered by past mistakes let me encourage you not to give up or to hold onto them.  Rather confess your sins and receive God’s forgiveness.  His will is that you get a fresh start by moving beyond your mistakes. There’s no better time to make the decision than now; by doing so you can move beyond the past into a sinless, guiltless life enjoying the beauty of forgiveness.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Plea for Mercy

Humor is the venue that has a way of bringing us to a place of reality. For example, a woman who had her picture taken was totally disgusted with how it looked. Storming mad, she walked into the photographer's office, slammed the picture down on his desk and said, "That picture doesn't do me justice." He responded, "Madam, with a face like yours, you don't need justice, you need mercy." While you are laughing let me ask, “Have you ever thought about how much we, too, need mercy?” You see one of the things we find difficult at times is to admit where we are spiritually.  Although filled with good intentions we find ourselves walking at a distance from God singing the all familiar tune “It’s me Oh Lord Standing in the Need of Prayer.” And more often than not that prayer is one for mercy. We pray it knowing that if God gave us what we deserve, we wouldn't stand a chance. We deserve justice, but we receive His mercy.  Why is that? It’s all because the Father knew we had need of it. When created, man received the capacity to fail but also to receive. The Creator refused to provide one without the other. That being the case the writer of Lamentations tells us how the Father provides for His children during those days when his eyes see an ugly snapshot. “Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.” He concludes by saying, God--“Great is your faithfulness.”  That being said, just remember on those occasions when you are having a bad day and feel less than spiritually photogenic, you might want to make a plea for mercy.