Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reflections for October 20, 2010

"God Of Another Chance"

The night of October 16 was an exciting time. USC Gamecocks had defeated the Number One Crimson Tide of Alabama. Following the game, I began to play out the remainder of the season in my head to determine what the Gamecocks would have to do to win their division, enabling them to play for the SEC Championship. In my deliberations, Kentucky posed one of the lesser problems to be faced.

The night of October 23 was entirely different. USC had forgotten that you had to play both halves of a ballgame. Kentucky, the team I had not considered a serious threat, rallied in the second half to hold USC scoreless and to score 21 points of their own, giving them the victory. Once again, I laid awake replaying the game. Instead of thoughts of a conference championship, there were waves of disappointment, frustration, confusion, and shattered hopes. As a result, I was not sure I would even bother to watch the game the following week, because I was afraid of another week of frustration.

On October 24 I attended church and listened to a message about God’s great salvation. It reminded me of the price God paid for my forgiveness. It also reminded me of the many times I had stumbled and fell in my life. I have not always stumbled over large boulders. Often times, it has been over the small stones in my path, the things that I least expected. I could not help but think about how disappointed my Heavenly Father must have been in me during these times.

I am glad His attitude toward me has not been the same attitude I had toward the stumbling of my favorite team. While I was ready to give up on them and cast them aside, God has always convicted me of my failure and forgiven me when I confessed my wrong. Instead of casting me aside, He has picked me up, dusted me off, and told me to get back in the game, knowing all the time I would eventually stumble again.

Although I do not have the power to pick up my team, to dust them off, and to put them back in the game, I can at least agree to turn on the TV and to cheer for them in their next game. Hopefully, the outcome will be different. More important, I do have the power to forgive others, when they have sinned against me. I have the power and responsibility to forgive them and to give them another chance, just as God has forgiven me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reflections for October 10, 2010

"Taking Out The Trash"

As my wife and I made preparation for our retirement, we made a commitment to get rid of stuff that no longer served a purpose. We gave away some things but others things had lost their value to anyone. This appears to be an easy task but most of you realize that it is not. For some reason it is difficult to turn loose of the old and to make room for the new.

As I was hauling a van load of things away, it dawned on me that discarding our clutter was much like discarding those things in our life that are not useful but that are negative influences. We all have habits, emotions, and actions that clutter our lives without adding any positive benefit. To the contrary, many have a negative influence. Yet, we hang onto them.

In the Scriptures we are reminded to put aside these things that cause us unhappiness. Take note of the instructions that Paul gave in Ephesians 4:31, 32. He wrote, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (NASB) In Colossians 3:5-8 Paul wrote, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and greed, which amount to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside; anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”(NASB)

The Scriptures above do not give an all inclusive listing but they cover many of the most common sins to which people tend to cling. The tighter one holds to these things, the greater the harm they do and the less chance one has to find genuine contentment in life. Yet, many choose to hang onto them.

The good news for believers is that there is help available, if we are serious about shedding our lives of these destructive forces. His Spirit dwells within us and He is more than willing to help us overcome. The paradox is that victory can only come through surrender. We must reject the influence of the negative and surrender to the positive influence of the Spirit in our lives. If we will walk in His light, the foolishness of holding onto things that destroy our happiness will become clearer by the moment. As we come to recognize the source of our discontent, He will help us overcome it. He can change our way of seeing things and enable us to replace our negative feelings with positive ones.

While we may not share the same clutter, each one of us probably has clutter of some kind that hinders our progress. My prayer for myself and for each of you is that we will replace the old clutter with the newness of God’s blessings in the coming year. We will be more content and we will also become a positive force for good in our world.