Removing My Planks!

ImageScripture says, “Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your friend, ‘Friend, let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye’ when you cannot see that big piece of wood in your own eye! You hypocrite! First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend’s eye.” –Luke 6:41-42 NCV

It’s high time I take this verse seriously.  I have no control over what anyone else does whether good or bad.  Even if I could control them, I’d have no right to make judgments until I get all the sin out of my own life.

I have carried grudges for so long against some people.  Doing that, someone once told me, is like me drinking poison and expecting someone else to die!  That’s is a deadly way to live especially for my spiritual life!

God, help me to do all that I can to find the people I have held grudges against and lift the burden of my heart by telling them, “I’m sorry.”  Help me to do this with a sincere heart and completely put all grudges behind me so that I can see clearly to work on my own sins.  Lord, help me to realize that the burden of judgement lies with You and You alone!  May I find forgiving hearts in others, but if I don’t, let me see that I need to forgive anyway to release my heart for Your ministry and work!  I pray it in Jesus’ Name AMEN!!


The Right “X’s”

Do you ever have those “things to get done” things and just feel like there are so many distractions in life that you just couldn’t find a way to get anything done well??  If that question makes sense to you, then you must understand.  

I tire of continually thinking I’m just one project away from happiness.  I mean really!!??  I think, “If I could just finish X, I would be complete.”  What I’m learning is that in this life “X” never gets done.  There’s always another “X” to put in the last one’s place.

God help me to focus on the right “X’s”!  In Jesus Name!  AMEN!!


Memory

As I convert all my home movies to DVD, I am reminded again and again how valuable memory is.  I’ve walked back through my life from roughly 1988 to 2004.  I still have many miles of tape to go through, but today’s recordings really struck a soft cord in my heart. 

As I went through 2003-2004, I watched the baptism of our twins Britney and Brandon at Creekside church.  I saw my son Brandon play a great game in the 2004 Dixie Youth World Series as we hosted the Florida state champs.  We lost a heart breaker 1-0.  I then watched Tabitha and Danielle march in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome at the Bands of America to my favorite show music they ever played–Tapestry of Nations/Chaos.  We won our third consecutive BOA Class A championship that year.

Through memory I relive the times spent close to one another.  We shivered in the tough cold of Atlanta loading and unloading equipment as band parents.  We spent countless hours preparing for the World Series (Britney also played in one of those) with practices.  To have your children learn about Jesus and come to the waters of baptism is the greatest feeling in the world.  I remember Britney saying, “We were born together as twins–we will now be born again together.”  Wow!!

It’s strange how memory works.  So often I can hear a song, experience a smell, or see a video and have the same exact feelings that I had the moment it was actually taking place.  While watching that baseball game–knowing the outcome before it started–I found myself routing on our team as though we were playing it today.  (We still lost 1-0).

In God’s word, James tells us that life is a mist that appears for a short time and then vanishes away.  I know it sounds trite, but it really does feel like yesterday that these things happened.  The mist of time is swiftly passing by.  I don’t want it to go so fast, but it seems I can do nothing about it.

This August, Lord willing, I will turn 50 years old.  It’s difficult to even write that.  I shudder to think about how fast the next 50 will pass by.  By the way, all of you who are older than me, please stop reminding me that the second half goes faster. I really don’t need or want to hear that right now. Ha!

God help me to spend the second half of my life better than the first.  Help me to be the husband, father, and grandfather You want me to be.  Help me to strive after the things that will mean something.  As I leave my youth, help me to mature as Your man.  Overrule all the mistakes I’ve made thus far, Lord, and help those around me to only sense more deeply that I have been with You.  In Jesus Name, AMEN!!


Learning to Let Go

How many times have you heard the expression, “Let go and let God”?  I think I understand what that phrase means, but more times than not I don’t adhere to what I think it means.

First, what I think it means.  I know that there are many situations and circumstances that are just simply out of our control as parents, spouses, ministers, teachers, co-workers–just being human puts in life situations where we are totally out of control and just don’t know what to do.  Quite frankly, even when we think we know what to do, we really buck against it.  It’s just our nature.  

I think “letting go and letting God” means that we have already decided that in whatever place we find ourselves, He is in control and we are not.  If we enter into all relationships that way, it takes so much pressure off.

Now for my situation.  I’ve been holding on to a grudge for many years. Today it hit me square in the eyes just how much it has controlled my life.  I have been guilty of pride, selfishness, anger, maybe even hatred for some, jealousy, and all the nasty thoughts and emotions that come to those who harbor such feelings.

In an attempt to protect my pride I have been defensive and sarcastic in conversations with people about said grudge!  I find myself walking away from conversations asking, “Why did you just say that?” or “Why do I feel such a need to defend myself?”  

Today that same conversation started again with someone and I found myself becoming defensive just like many times before.  I noticed that when the conversation started, my lovely wife of 30+ years just dismissed herself to the restroom.  When she came back, she just looked at me with love and compassion and said, “You need to let this go.”  Then five minutes later, the very person I was talking to said the same thing.  I just simply broke down and asked right there if they would pray with me.

You see, this week I’ve attended the Tulsa Workshop and learned so much about the nature of who God is and who He wants us to be.  The one glaring phrase that has come from today was from our brother Patrick Mead.  He said that we need to approach people “with arms wide open and hands empty of stones.”  I have no right to be judge, jury, and executioner.  And I certainly have no right to cast stones with all the sin in my own life.  This message has set me free.

I have some plans when I get back to the office on Monday.  I am having a burning ceremony.  I have in my office a particular article that I took great offense to many years ago.  Why I kept it is really a mystery!  I used to say that I kept it as a testimony to the pride and arrogance of people.  Low and behold–the very thing I thought was a reminder of others’ arrogance and selfishness was simply serving to keep me captive.  I have been captive to my own arrogance and jealousy.  No more!!  Letting go is long overdue!  I’m done with that chapter of my life.

Dear God, help me to let this go and give it all to You.  I proclaim love for these people in Jesus name.  I pray for their continued success and that many souls be brought to Jesus.  I thank You for Your grace and mercy!  Praise Your Holy Name!!! Through Jesus!  AMEN!!!


The Definition of Insanity

Most of us have heard Einstein’s definition of insanity, “doing the same things over and over, but expecting different results.”  There’s no way to argue with this point of fact.  It is a truth like 2 + 2 = 4.  There’s no changing it.

However, it seems that no matter how much I agree, I find myself trying to change this fact by the way I live.  In the south we call it “beating your head against a wall.”  In a sense, I myself am the definition of insanity.

The best way for me to describe this in my life is to talk about my process of dieting.  I’ll eat right for a few days, lose a few pounds, feel good about myself, give myself “permission” to splurge, and then “take a couple of days off” assuming that it won’t hurt me.  That leads to a weekend where I proclaim, “Monday is a great day to start back again.”  A week later when I step on the scales, there it is–the truth!!  Insanity strikes again!

We do the same thing spiritually.  We vacillate between good and bad, doing the right things and allowing the wrong into our lives.

Here’s the way Paul described it,

“We know that the law is spiritual, but I am not spiritual since sin rules me as if I were its slave.  I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate.” –Romans 7:14-15 NCV  

This is THE spiritual struggle.  We all find ourselves in it.  The question is, “How do we escape this pattern?”

It’s really all about how we THINK.  As Paul continues to write he says,

“If people’s thinking is controlled by the sinful self, there is death. But if their thinking is controlled by the Spirit, there is life and peace.” –Romans 8:6 NCV

But how do we get to this kind of thinking?  Is it really about choice?  Is it really about lifestyle?  What is it that compels some to be successful in their thinking and others to fail?  Why can I not always choose the right thing?

I think it’s less about my will to “think” and more who is in control of my spiritual mind.  Our very power to be and to do what God has called us to is wrapped up in the power of the one who rules us.  Listen to Paul’s answer again.

But you are not ruled by your sinful selves. You are ruled by the Spirit, if that Spirit of God really lives in you. But the person who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ. 10 Your body will always be dead because of sin. But if Christ is in you, then the Spirit gives you life, because Christ made you right with God.”  –Romans 8:9-10 NCV

Thanks be to God for Him giving us Jesus–the very power who helps us get out of this insanity.


Pride Leads To Destruction

“Pride leads to destruction; a proud attitude brings ruin.” Proverbs 16:18

“Proud people will be ruined, but the humble will be honored.” Proverb 18:12

Don’t you you just love people who are proud of themselves!  They prance around like a prize winning stallion!  They talk about their accomplishments as thought they were the only person ever to have achieved success!  I especially love it when they run over people they are close to as a show of power and control!  They love to keep their thumb on those who are weaker than themselves.

I hope you’re getting the sarcasm of all of these statements.  In fact, the exact opposite is true.  No one wants to be in the presence of cocky, prideful, people.

The irony of pride is that it always catches up with us.  I know that to be true in my own life.  Like all sin, it will find us out!  It’s amazing how I can look back in my life and see the places where I was on top of the world in some situation, get a little (or a lot) cocky about it, only to have God remind me how small I am without Him!

Just think about the places in your life where you have the most control.  It may be at home, work, school, in a marriage, in a dating relationship, with friends, etc.  In those situations where you have control, how do you wield your power?  Do you take care to not act like you are better that those around you–even if the truth is that you are?  Do you exercise caution when handling the feelings of others around you?  Do you go out of your way to serve instead of be served?

Jesus has to be the greatest person to have ever been born.  According to scriptures, he is perfectly sinless (Hebrews 4:15).  Yet, the only place that I can think of where Jesus describes His own character, He says, “I am gentle and lowly in heart…” (Mathew 11:29 NKJV).

Did you get that?  Jesus says, “I am gentle.”  He is creator!  He is almighty! He is awesome, but never forget His example of being gentle.

Lesson?  Let us be gentle to all those around us–especially those to whom we are the nearest.


Misunderstood and Offended

In my “profession” where I teach, preach, and write, there are ample opportunities for me to say things that hurt other people.  Of course hurting others is only one facet to a huge diamond.  I can also be very easily misunderstood.  I can be taken out of context.  I can be generalized, which means, people can sometimes feel that what I say applies to “all” of a particular group, when I didn’t mean that at all.  If I thought long enough about it, I could come up with a few more items on that list.

I can recall my mother saying things like, “I know you better than you know yourself.”  She did this partially because it was somewhat true.  She also was wrong many times about that–not that I was allowed to say that she was.  When parents say those kinds of things, they too generalize and make all kinds of assumptions.  Sometimes they get it right, but more often than not, the simply have misunderstood.  The point here is to not make any assumptions about what another person might say.

How do you deal with misunderstandings?  Are you easily offended by others?  If so, why so?  If not, why not?

I think we would do ourselves a big favor if we could practice discipline in the choices we make as to what we will and will not allow to offend us. After all, when we allow others to control our thinking to the point that we get easily hurt by things they say, we are basically giving control of our thinking and actions to everyone who is around us.

What are some thoughts you might add to this conversation?

Scriptures to think about:  1 Corinthians 13:5, Proverbs 11:12, Matthew 18:15-17, Colossians 3:13


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.