Life can change with one phone call, one conversation, one unannounced visit.
No one is guaranteed the next year, the next day, or even the next hour.
What you decide to do with that will determine your life’s trajectory.
Sometimes, it’s not talent or even skill that causes one to survive well.
Often, it’s just sheer grit that causes the survival.
It’s the simple will power to get up, to keep breathing, to continue one step at a time.
You don’t have to be perfection, just live.
You don’t have to be a huge success, just stand.
You don’t have to be the American hero everyday, just fight.
Fight to survive. Fight to live. Fight to win.
There’s always someone coming behind you who needs to see your achievement in real time.
It may be the very inspiration for their next breath.
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
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.
Being in the church culture these days, I hear much said about what a Christian should or shouldn’t say, how a Christian should or shouldn’t respond.
There’s always a new vantage point, a new opinion they needs to be heard, and typically, there will be two or three in oration at various times, even if these are in opposition to one another.
So, who is right and who is wrong?
Who are we to listen to?
Who are we to follow?
Well, for Jesus followers, the answer is abundantly clear, or at least, it would be argued that it “should be.”
Yet, even in the Church Body, there are varying opinions, beliefs and denominations that cause us all to land at various points of standards concerning any one given “biblical rule.”
So again, who is right and who is wrong?
Who are we to listen to?
Who are we to follow?
We definitely need to start in the Word of God. If you claim to be a Jesus follower, that truly should be your book of preference for daily living and lifestyle.
And then, we definitely should start with the life of Christ. If He’s your main guy, then mirroring His examples will definitely be helpful.
And finally, starting with the specific things God loves (there are seven actually listed in specificity), and maybe the greatest commandments of which Jesus Himself spoke might be great beginning.
By the time I do these three suggestions to their fullness, it’s usually bedtime, and I don’t have a lot more time to add more opinions or fingers to point toward all the things everyone might be getting wrong.
Maybe we should all take a step back and begin again.
Maybe we should all take a moment in front of the mirror and take a really long, hard look inside.
Maybe we should grab His love letter to us and begin reading for what it has for US and to convince US instead of all it doesn’t have for THEM and has to condemn THEM.
And maybe, just maybe, by the time we do these three things, we will have given enough time for Him to begin to change us from the inside out.
And then, maybe there will begin to be a whole lot less wrong AMONG US, and we can become a whole lot more effective FOR HIM…
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lordyour God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
There are moments in life when reality settles in. When the hard work of living pauses for just a moment, and you’re able to look back and recognize where you’ve been, what’s been accomplished, and where you’re going.
There comes a time when you realize some sacrifices were necessary to carry on; some were foolish, and still more were simply necessary for survival.
Then, there’s that season of recognition when the fear of the pain is passed, the apathy of the seared feelings has diminished, and all that is left is the confidence of your preservation.
When you’ve walked through the flames of life, innocence may be lost and intimidation may be vanquished, but the growth and strength that rises cannot be denied.
So, walk on, my friend. Walk on.
Be a flame walker. Take the fiery journey.
You can endure.
And then, go and rescue someone from that same inferno.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.
There’s a song by Kathy Mattae, “Standing Knee Deep In A River.” She talks about friendships that we take for granted, and we let them slip on by.
As I grow older, I realize this is a hard truth that many of us either recognize early enough to rescue the few that may remain, or we acknowledge way too late that they’re already gone.
Friendships that are found to be easy and never have “a bump in the road,” a confrontation, or a season where questions arise if it’s really worth it to keep going, are truthfully, not those knee deep waters.
Knee deep water is when you can still jump around and splash, but one slip, and you’ll be under water fast.
Knee deep water is when you can still feel secure in your footing, but let the current get a little faster, and that footing will be tested and reevaluated.
Knee deep water is when you can choose to go a little deeper, explore a little more, or you can choose to step back in the shallow, safer waters and not take the risk.
Knee deep waters is when real friendships learn to survive.
Friendships that are made to last will be found more valuable and cherished when those waters rise.
What kind of friendships are you keeping today?
It might be one that will be a lifeline to your survival tomorrow…
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Sometimes, especially on Monday mornings, you’ve got to remind yourself whose circus you’ll attend and whose monkeys you’ll attempt to tame.
Sometimes, especially on Mondays, you need to remind yourself that only your circus is worth watching and certainly only one due your hard earned money (time and effort) for the tickets.
And sometimes, especially on a Monday, you’ll have to remind yourself that although, those monkeys at that other person’s circus might look entertaining, rest assured…
THEY WILL EAT YOU ALIVE!!
Get out while you still can and go tame your own raucous monkeys!
He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own Is like one who takes a dog by the ears.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Too many people in this world bite, ridicule and wound those closest to them who care the most.
Too many people in this world viciously attack the ones who love them the most because they’re willing to speak truth.
Too many people don’t know who their friends are and walk away from the best.
Too many people embrace the toxic, the loud, and the angry, believing because “they’re family,” that’s what they’re suppose to do.
Too many people hold onto a bloodline that kicks them around and demands they be a doormat when they should say goodbye and not look back.
Too many people keep close those whom should be released and let go of those whom should be captivated.
Look around. Evaluate. Be honest.
Don’t stay out of obligation, fear or routine.
Don’t walk away out of rage, envy or apathy.
Open your eyes to see clearly and hear with precision.
Make wise choices, and make calculated decisions.
You can do this.
And the next generation is depending on you to do it right.
They are watching and waiting.
Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.
If you’ve not read The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, I encourage you to pick up a copy. It is a phenomenal fiction from the perspective of a “strong” demon writing letters to another “weaker” demon, his nephew in training, about their assignment to a Christian and their antics and schemes to keep that Christian from serving their Enemy, God.
It is such an intriguing concept and high can shed many incredible truths on our purpose and plan as Christians to impact God’s kingdoms and the purpose and plans of the enemy to keep us that very purpose. It really is a great read, even if you are not a person of faith or have no concept of the “Christian life.”
This excerpt impacted me greatly as I read it, and it describes perfectly what we are seeing in our modern culture. So many are focused on people they don’t know or with whom they have no interaction on a daily basis, but find it easy to shout blame, find fault and constantly point fingers for the demise of our society.
We are all tempted daily to become distracted by the news, social media, or even “word on the street” as we search for someone to blame for the chaos. When we all should be looking inward at our own hearts, our own attitudes, our own thoughts that ought to be bringing conviction for change.
Not one of us who live on this green earth are able to say, “I am without sin.” By no means, can one of us claim perfection in our actions, our words, or even in our thoughts. We are no better than the most wretched among us. We all are born into sin, are tempted by sin, and are pursued by sin our entire lives.
The only difference between me and the one who receives a death sentence of eternal sin is that I have confessed my sin to the One who can forgive. I have surrendered my life to the One who created me and the boy One who can save me from myself. I have committed my life to His will rather than my own.
That is the only difference.
And that makes ALL the difference.
And that difference is FOR ALL.
This difference can be possessed BY ALL.
So, let us all stop being distracted by the accusations, the lies, and the enticing scheme to keep our eyes averted from truth.
Let us all begin to look inward and find the wrong and seek to find the One who can make it right.
And only then, can we begin to rightly “fix” the world around us.
Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak,and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.