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Do You Struggle To Believe God Has Really Forgiven You?

balance-154516_640If my little brother wasn’t such a nice guy I’d be in big trouble now. As the youngest of the family he fell prey to the tricks of our sister, ummm … and me.

Like the time he slept peacefully on the couch and I stuck ammonia under his nose. Back then I thought it was funny. Now, I think that I must have had a strange sense of humor.

Now, Charley is nice, but it must be admitted that he tried to get me back. I slept with one eye open after that, waiting for justice to even the score. He still owes me after all these years so I hope he’s forgotten it.

Something in us believes the score has to be even, though, the scales have to be balanced (unless they are unbalanced in our direction).

“Justice” demands it, doesn’t it? How many times as a kid have you promised, “I’m going to get even with you.”

Maybe that’s why we have a hard time believing that God has really forgiven us, even when we’ve asked Him to, and He promised to do it. Continue reading

Trump, Brexit, Le Pen—There are a lot of mad people out there

 

 

 

 

There’s a palpable sense of frustration, anger and fear in the air all around the world today. In the USA it expresses itself through Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. England shocked the world with its Brexit.

In France, the far-right party of Marine LePen serves as a megaphone for those who are fed up with the status quo.

These feelings always exist but it seems that they are boiling rather than simmering now.

When people get mad good things can happen. In the United States MADD (“Mothers Against Drunk Driving”) was born from the anger of Candy Lightner who lost her thirteen-year old daughter when she was struck by a car piloted by a drunk driver.

MADD claims that deaths caused by drunk drivers have plummeted by 50% in the USA since its founding.

That’s good.

In Germany in the early 1930s, though, people were fed up with economic suffering and shame heaped on them from losing the First World War.  Nazis, communists and others offered solutions for angry people—and paved the way for Adolph Hitler’s rise to power.

The moral of the story is to make sure your anger leads to something better … if you can.

I don’t know how all this is going to play out, though the rage and venom from sides of the political spectrum shocks me. Media—right, left and center–constantly stirs the pot and has given non-partisan journalism a black eye.

Today’s “news” often tells you more about the political bent of the journalist than it does about what has happened.

I Hope …

Here are two things I hope fervently: I hope each of us remembers that we don’t know everything. If we win, let’s remember that we’re sharing this country with others who also love it. Let’s try to understand why others are mad.

Getting 50.001 percent of the vote doesn’t make us right. It just makes us the winner of the election. Sure, that 49.999 percent of the electorate that voted for the loser has some doofuses (That’s the plural of doofus. I hesitated between doofuses and doofi).

But, they also bring another way of looking at things and challenge us to think beyond our limited experience.

Respect the other person, even if you don’t agree with him. Honestly, it’s hard to take my own advice when I watch adults act like two-year olds. These people are going to lead the free world? Help us Lord.

I Hope For the Church

What I hope for the Church is this: That we stop acting as if everything in history depends on Hillary or Donald. Neither one of them has nail scars in their hands.

Where men live together they must decide the rules of how they live together and who will be the leaders in these associations.

It doesn’t work without rules and authority.

Christians can/must be involved in our democratic societies. We need Christian truck drivers, Christian bankers, Christian secretaries, Christian doctors, and Christian politicians.

And no, this last isn’t an oxymoron.

Our problem comes when we think our main recourse is temporal power–politics.

There is a Power who reigns over all and He is the One who decides and disposes. My gripe is that we get so passionate about politics and so tepid about prayer, so red-faced about Republicans and Democrats and so “ho-hum” about a man’s eternal destiny.

Sometimes I think we are like mad bulls reacting to the bullfighter’s red cape. And the “bullfighter” shakes his cape often, simply to antagonize us and see us charge and accomplish … not much.

Our most powerful message is Jesus and the life change He brings. Continue reading

Survivor of the Scorpion War

I survived the first war of the scorpions.

Four years ago I stayed in a duplex located in the countryside for about five weeks. Birds sang, crickets cricketedand I could see a beautiful lake from my front door.

And I was nervous and on edge for five weeks. Drought bit the Texas countryside at the time and it must have brought out the scorpions. I never saw so many scorpions in my life—in the kitchen sink, climbing on curtains, lurking on the bathroom floor, in the garage.

At the end of five weeks the score was Porter 30, Scorpions 0. That’s how many scorpions felt the pain of the underside of my sandal or whatever I found at hand to whap with.

The music of the countryside sounded like: “Tweet, tweet,” “cricket, cricket,” “WHAM!”

“Take that!”

I said the score was 30-0 in my favor but that’s not all the truth. I didn’t get stung but they had me spooked. I was afraid to put my foot on the floor at night without house-shoes. I left my house-shoes on the nightstand or a chair where the little rascals couldn’t sneak in and wait for my innocent toes to wiggle in and stab me with their scorpion stinger.

The truth was that the psychological score was Porter 30, Scorpions 300. They took a lot of joy out of my life.

Although who knows, a mama scorpion who sees a size 11 sandal smash the life out of her beloved young scorpion offspring would probably be traumatized, too.

So maybe it was 300 to 300.

That was why I was a little leery when we moved back into the same apartment recently for five months of visiting churches in the USA.

You know what? The house had been sprayed and I’ve haven’t seen a scorpion, spider or anything except several dead crickets.

And the birds still sing, the crickets, the ones that don’t get too close to the house, still cricket and I’m really enjoying living here. Beautiful countryside. In the morning I step out in front of my house and look at that little lake and praise the Lord.

So, what’s the difference, David? You didn’t get stung last time so what’s the big deal? Continue reading

The Birth of “Yes!”

I wonder if I’m the only speaker who ever said something, then later said to himself, “That was right, but …”

Recently I was preaching. I shared something I had heard.

“When we’re dealing with God we say, “Lord, the answer is yes,’ what’s the question?’”

Warming to the subject I noted, “We should hand God a blank check with our signature at the bottom, then say, ‘God, fill it in for whatever amount you want to.’”

The attitude is right. “Lord, anytime, anywhere, any place.” That is what we should say to what God asks.

The truth of the matter is, though, it sometimes takes us a while to get there. I want to be totally obedient to the Lord, but sometimes when God speaks to me, there are all sorts of things that start squirming inside of me saying, “No!”

And that’s the crux of the thing. The process of getting from, “I don’t want to!” to “Lord, not my will but your be done,” is critical. It’s during that time that we grow.

If we just hand God a blank check with our name and tell Him to fill in the amount, there’s no growth for us there. We need those agonizing moments in the “Garden of Gethsemane” to help us grow.

I don’t think the Lord want docile robots, who obey without thinking. We’re men and women who love God, but are full of all sorts of dreams, weaknesses, aspirations, faults, strengths.

Maybe, instead of saying, “The answer is ‘yes,’ what is the question?” we should say, “Lord, tell me what you want and help me to get to the point where I can say ‘yes.’”

You see, growth comes in getting to the point of saying, “yes.” Continue reading

Do You Know Why You Are Living?

Is your life worth anything?

Andy Stanley tells the story of his niece, Elena I think her name was. When she was five her mother looked for an activity that her daughter could channel her energy into.

The girl had a long body that seemed to be made for swimming. So her mother enrolled her in a swim club. For four years they went to swim meets.

The little one loved meeting other kids and she seemed to like to swim. But when it came time to race, she always finished last.

Finally at the beginning of a new year with the club, mama was driving Elena to a competition.

“Elena, you should try to win the race today,” she urged her daughter.

“Race?” her nine-year old daughter asked, surprised. “You mean it’s a race! I thought we went to ‘meet’ people.”

All these years the girl had gone to swim “meetings” with the idea that the goal was to “meet” people. That day she realized that it was a competition. Her outlook changed and she won the race. And she won at the next meeting and the next.

As a matter of fact, she was the only one in her swim club who progressed to the next level.

Her world changed when her way of seeing changed. Continue reading