Rear View Mirrors
Did you ever consider why your rear view mirror is so much smaller than your windshield? It’s because we should be infinitely more concerned with what’s ahead of us than what’s behind us. We may glimpse at the past, but we must fully focus on what’s present and future. Frankly, there’s a high probability that we will wreck if we are overly fixated on what’s happening behind us. Paul the Apostle wrote a similar admonition, “…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NLT) I learn from my past, but I live in the present and long for the future. It’s a safe way to live.
Want to go to a really small party and have no fun? Have a pity party! There’s only room for one person, because no one else wants to come. You’ll have to laugh at your jokes, cry over your own stories, and clean up after yourself. While parties are meant to make us feel better, pity parties always make not only us feel worse, but they’re downers for anyone foolish enough to accept our invitation. As a matter of fact, you can’t even get God to attend a pity party and He’s omnipresent. But when God throws a party they’re filled with joy. His invitation says, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying, be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT) I like God’s parties! They’re just better!
The Winning Side of Expectations
Are you disappointed because something you were really looking forward to didn’t happen? Has it left you devastated and discouraged? Let me offer a thought on how to get on the winning side of expectations? It’s made my life infinitely better. Expect nothing from others and much from yourself. Assume other people will not necessarily do what is right or what I hope, but be completely committed to do right and respond well no matter what happens or what others do. In the end, what I do is my responsibility, what others do is theirs. Lastly, even when I mess up and respond poorly, I must remember what the Bible says, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts…” (1 John 3:20, NIV) I like God and, the really good news is, He likes me.
Abandonment and Rejection
Have you struggled with abandonment and rejection? I know I have! I left my family at 11 years of age to live in an oppressive boarding school, and never lived at home again. It created deep wounds inside my heart. I felt completely abandoned and rejected by my father in particular who is in control of the decision. Because of that experience I’ve had to really concentrate on learning to trust that, though my natural father abandoned and rejected me, my Heavenly Father never has. It’s been a long process, but one I have far more victory in then I could ever have imagined. Many years ago, this Bible verse greatly encouraged me, “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” (Psalm 27:10, NLT)
Have you ever been used by someone else? And then, when they were done with you, you were discarded. Your usefulness had expired. It can be one of the most hurtful experiences in life. Sadly, it happens all the time: in relationships, in jobs—used and discarded, out with the old and in with the new. Once, during an extended time of worship in the presence of God, He spoke clearly to my heart, “I don’t want to be used.” Wow! It jolted me! I didn’t just want a relationship with God; I was using Him for what He could do for me. As none of us want to be used, neither does God. Perhaps you would like to join me in this prayer, “God, I don’t want to use You! I want to live for you…to know You! I want to love you! That’s what I really want!”Word Count: 149 words
Would it surprise you if I said I’ve learned far more from my failures than my successes? Actually, we all need to fail in order to learn about what we each need most. It’s called grace! I can’t fully appreciate who I’m called to be, until I fail to be just that. One Christian leader defined grace in a similar way, “Grace is the empowering presence of God enabling you to be who He created you to be, and to do what He has called you to do.” (James Ryle) As God is the difference-maker in each of our lives, unless we see our desperate need for Him, we’ll try and live without Him. This always leads to un-fulfillment. I was created by God and for God. Only when I acknowledge this can I find my true purpose.
Depending On the Vine
All of us would rather show off our fruit than let others see where we’ve been pruned. But without the pruning we would eventually lose our dependency on the vine. Then, in time, we’d think we are the ones who produced the fruit, rather than the vine being our source. Jesus said, “…every branch that bears fruit (the Father) prunes, that it may bear more fruit…Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:2, 4-5 NKJV) “Prune me Oh God, that I may bear fruit that looks like You.”
We live in a world that mistakes freedom for being free. Sure, we have license to do whatever we want, but there is always a consequence, a cause and effect for every action. My name Francis means “free one.” During my reckless years I was free to do whatever I wanted to. But free love cost me so much, I’m still making payments. Only when the Son of God set me free did I experience God’s promise, “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NIV) The Bible challenges us, “…you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13, NLT)
Disappointed With the Church
Have you been disappointed with the Church? I know I have! It reminds me so much of me, at times, its depressing. I wish I was more consistent, more loving, everything God asks me to be. But, often, I’m not. Paul the Apostle described it this way. “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t… Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:18-19, 24-25, NLT) Yes, the church is imperfect, just like the people who are part of it, but the moments we genuinely reflect Jesus give me hope that He who has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion. (Philippians 1:6)
The Sound of Your Voice
Do you like the sound of your voice? God does! The Bible says, “The LORD hears His people when they call to Him for help.” (Psalm 34:17, NLT) Growing up I didn’t like the way my voice sounded. I wanted it to be deeper, richer. Now, I find it ironic that I’m on radio. God’s got a great sense of humor. But it also demonstrates that God is far more gracious than critical. He focuses on what really matters. The Bible says, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT) Maybe, if God likes the sound of my voice, I should like it also. Let me take it one step further. If God likes me, I should like me too.
God’s Known You Forever
We may be just getting to know God, but He’s not just getting to know us. We’ve been in His heart since the beginning of time. God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV) Growing up I felt like an afterthought to my natural father, but that’s never been what my Heavenly Father thinks of me. He’s been waiting for my life to come forth since time immemorial. Each of us is given such a unique part of God’s heart that we actually bring Him pleasure. The Bible says, “…the LORD takes pleasure in his people…” (Psalm 149:4, ESV) Even when I don’t take pleasure in me, I take comfort in the reality that God does.
Loneliness & Fellowship
Are you lonely? If you are, you’re not alone. There’s a woman in Korea who makes $9,000 a month dining with people online. Though studies have shown people who believe in God are less lonely than those who don’t, even Christ-followers can have a broad web of connections through social media but still be lonely. Acts 2:42 clearly states that one of the four essential dimensions in the early church was that they devoted themselves to fellowship: a deep expression of love between Christians. I once asked a man who had a large library of early Christian writings what one aspect of the New Testament church most impacted him. He said, every Sunday believers had “love feasts,” where they spent much of the day breaking bread in fellowship. Sounds like a God idea!