Apple Pie and Amazing Grace: Doing Better than I Deserve

The Question

It came from Africa.

No, it wasn’t an animal trying to eat me, or a disease for which no one has a cure (which is more scary). It was a question, one asked by a Facebook friend in Uganda.

Pastor Ndahayo Shine asked: “How are you?”

imageHow am I? How does an American answer that question? I mean, seriously? What do I have to complain about?

Honestly, at the very moment Pastor Shine’s question popped up on Facebook Messenger I was eating a warmed-up piece of apple pie (as American as it gets).

Pie, I tell you!

I’m eating pie, and I get a question regarding how I’m doing from a man in Uganda. Africa! The place where famines kill more people than the NRA is blamed for!

So, I replied with the following answer:

“I am alive, not hungry, and not hurting. I have a roof over my head, a car in the driveway, and children who love me. My wife is faithful, the police are not after me, and the dog hasn’t chewed anything important in a long, long time. I guess you could say I’m doing better than I deserve.”

Am I Blessed?

So many times we answer questions like “How are you doing?” with things like, “I’m fine,” or “I’m blessed.” However, to be honest – which I try to be most of the time – I’d rather admit to being “fine” than “blessed.”

Why is that? 

Saying that I’m blessed has a sneaky way of implying that those in other places – like Africa – are NOT blessed, at least not as much as me. I mean, what does it say about Christianity and the character of God when those who are “abundantly blessed” are the ones who rarely feel the need to trust God for their next meal? What I own or what’s parked in my driveway is not a mark of spirituality, nor should it insinuate I’ve lived a life more worthy of blessing than my brothers and sisters living in poverty.

If I am blessed at all, it’s not because of anything I’ve done or deserve; I am simply the recipient of God’s grace. I have been allowed, according to God’s sovereignty, to live in a country where leftover pie in a functioning refrigerator is commonplace.

Jesus made it pretty clear who the “blessed” really are. They are the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers (Matthew 5:3-9). And if that’s not enough, “…Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…” (Revelation 14:13).

What I Don’t Deserve

While saying “fine,” I’d bet the temptation to answer the question “How are you doing?” with complaints is almost overwhelming for most. Oh, admit it – you say you’re “fine” because you don’t think the person asking is really that interested in hearing your list of ailments, worries, and irritations.

You probably answer with “fine” because you don’t want to sound like a cry baby or a hypochondriac, right? Because, admit it, you feel you deserve better than what you have; you don’t really feel “blessed,” do you?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t deserve anything but hell. Yet, for some reason God has allowed me to be the recipient of many good things which I don’t deserve, even if I have worked for a lot of it.

I don’t deserve a faithful wife, loving children, and a devoted dog. I don’t deserve to be a pastor, have a regular income, or be respected in my community.

I don’t deserve electric appliances that make life easier or the home in which I live. I certainly don’t deserve the freedom to come and go as I please without having to rely on public transportation or worry about being stopped by thugs demanding to search my car.

How am I doing? What can I say? I just ate pie…because it was there…and I wasn’t even hungry! If I’m blessed, it’s abundantly above and beyond what I need.

God is good, but His grace is Amazing! 

 

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Filed under America, Christian Living, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving

Re-Examining the Divorce Controversy

The following subject comes up periodically, requiring me to give a biblical explanation.  Therefore, for those who may not have done much study on it, let us consider the question of divorce and the pastorate.

My Story

I will never forget the phone call I got from a church in Rome, GA over 20 years ago. Someone on the other end of the line was part of a search committee looking for a new pastor.  They had gotten my resume and were impressed enough to give me a call.  Everything was going well until they asked a very pointed question, “Bro. Anthony, does your wife have a spouse that is still living?”  With an undeniable tone of frustration, I replied, “Yes, ME.”  

Unfortunately, this would not be the last time something like that happened.

What I encountered on the telephone that day was not unusual, nor unexpected, but it stung. You see, even though our (then) pastor told me marrying Valerie would “put the final nail in the coffin” of my ministry hopes, I chose to marry a woman who had been divorced – and there were consequences.

However, I was aware the scripture (1 Tim. 3:2) being used against me was lacking in exposition, and it was ultimately up to God whether or not I pastored a church.  So, after much study, I felt peace that what I was doing was right (but it didn’t hurt when the late Dr. Spiros Zodhiates gave us his approval).

But let me be clear about a few things…

wedding picture fourFirst,  I have never been divorced, so for me the whole argument of 1 Timothy 3:2 should be moot.  Second, my wife was left with no choice but to divorce; furthermore, it happened before she was a believer.  Third, my wife’s ex-husband remarried and divorced again before I even met her. By all accounts my wife was free to remarry, so both she and I were clear from any “adultery” issues.  

Also, I am “the husband of one wife,” and Scripture NEVER said a bishop “must be the husband of one wife who was the wife of only one husband, ever.” Just a minor observation.

So, what DOES the Bible say?

1 Timothy 3:2 says,  “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife...”  Also, verse 12 says, “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife...”  The difficulty with these verses is not what is being said, but how it is interpreted.  

Is Paul telling Timothy that in order to be a pastor, deacon, or elder in a church, you must have only been married once?  Could it even be possible that Paul is saying that a man of God MUST have a wife, because being single would disqualify one from ministry?  These are things that have been debated for centuries.  

Some believe that a pastor, deacon, or elder should have never been divorced (or married to a divorcee) . Others believe that in order to be a proper leader, one must be married.  Still, many commentators believe that the proper rendering of the Greek is “one-woman man,” implying faithfulness and character over the number of wives.  

In reality, what the Bible says is one thing, but as William D. Mounce put it, “The Greek gives us a range of possibilities, but our theology is going to determine our interpretation.” 

I think there’s another way to look at it…

Take a look at 1 Timothy 3 and read through verse 12.  The best I can figure is that there are between 16 and 17 qualifications for the bishop, and between 6 and 8 for the deacons.  All of these are preceded with a literal or an implied “must be,” as in “must be blameless,” or a “must have.”  How does this affect the argument that an elder “must have” only been married once, never remarried, or never divorced?    

Think of any great man of God you know that has stood behind the pulpit and faithfully proclaimed the Word of God.  Has he always been blameless?  Has he always been on his best behavior?  Did he ever get drunk, covet, lose his patience, or curse his wife or children in anger?  Was he ever a novice, a beginner subject to pride? If so, then according to the logic of some, he should never be able to preach or lead in God’s church, for just as a man “must be the husband of one wife,” so he also must be “blameless, vigilant, sober, well-behaved, given to hospitality, patient, never greedy, and always in control of his house and children.”  

Do you see it?  If your interpretation leads you to believe that the bishop must have only had one wife – ever – then the same hermeneutic (the study of the principles of interpretation) should apply to the other “must be’s.”  

  • Must be the husband of one wife” = never divorced.  
  • Not a novice” = never been a beginner in the faith.

Doesn’t make sense, does it?

1 Timothy 3:1-12 is in the present infinitive tense (i.e., must be / dei einai).  The requirements listed are ones that describe a man of character and faithfulness, of sobriety and gravitas; not a beginner or one untried and unproven.  What I see is a list of requirements that may not have always been present in a man, but should be NOW, after God has done a verifiable work in his life.  In other words, the Bible says a bishop “must be,” not “must have always been,” or “must have never done.”  

Paul said, “and such were some of you:  but ye were washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:11

Here’s my point…

I believe that there are plenty who are sitting back or hiding out because someone has convinced them that they are used up and un-usable.  For example, I can think of men right now who, for whatever reason, are divorced.  Yet, these men, now Christians, are sold-out, God-fearing, faithful, Spirit-filled fathers and husbands with proven testimonies and unimpeachable character.  Sadly, however, because of mistakes made when they were young, unsaved, and stupid, they cannot serve as deacons, much less as pastors.  

On the other hand, I can think of several pastors today who were once murderers, drug dealers, fornicators, extortioners, and abusers of mankind (do I need to explain that last one?). Yet, only because they don’t have “divorced” to add to the list of past sins, they are accepted and given full authority as leaders in the church. 

Sad.

It’s time the body of Christ re-examine this issue in the light of GRACE.

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Filed under Uncategorized, baptist, legalism, Independent Baptist, General Observations, Relationships and Family, Divorce

Give Attention to Your Doctrine

Every once in a while I feel the need to do a little teaching. Keep in mind, many who read this blog do not go to a church, never hear a real pastor preach, nor even read a Bible. This might be the only path through which they choose to accept Biblical truth.

I just finished recording the audio for an upcoming radio broadcast. The text from which I preached was primarily the following:

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. … Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. – 1Ti 4:13, 16 KJV

One of the greatest challenges for the preacher is to make sure his doctrine is biblical, not based on human desires, such as the desire to only hear what we want to hear. I am reminded of the what Paul told Timothy in his second letter…

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. – 2Ti 4:3-4 KJV

How many people have literally “heaped to themselves” stacks of books, CD’s, cassette tapes, magazines, study guides, and DVD’s from televangelists, conference speakers, and popular authors who preach what scratches the itching ear? People want to hear what makes them feel good, more encouraged, and can lead to a more prosperous, fulfilled life. Therefore, hearing the Word of God is irrelevant, especially if it doesn’t scratch the itch

The challenge, then, is for the sincere man of God to give priority to what is true doctrine, not the doctrine of men. This takes serious study, a willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit, and an understanding that what is of the Lord might not be popular, or desired.

That’s when it’s important to be “instant in season and out of season.” God knows what we need to be spiritually healthy, so “taking heed” to our doctrine must also include the commitment to serve what what’s needed, not simply what we crave.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, God, ministry, Preaching, Theology

In Their Own Words… The Founding Fathers and Our Christian Heritage

Every year around this time the godless, anti-Christian, anti-religious, “spaghetti monster” fans wear out the keyboards of their iMacs as they hammer any and every posted news article having anything to do with the Christian stones in our nation’s foundation.

Just this week a story about another school taking down a student-donated 92-year-0ld plaque hit the news. The comment sections of various sources that published the story were overflowing with arrogant atheists preaching the virtues of “separation of church and state.” Obviously, their hatred of Christianity (not so much the desire for pluralism) was fueling their snarky vitriol.

As if the trolls got together beforehand and decided what would be the most effective “shut up the enemy” type of argument, one of the most common mic-drop-type attempts to end any defense of the Ten Commandment plaque went like this:

“If you are OK with posting the Ten Commandments, then would you be OK with posting the 5 pillars of Islam or the 7 points of Satanism? If one religion is honored, then all should be!”

Ummm…. no.

You see, the whole reason for posting the Ten Commandments is not to “promote” a particular faith (btw, it’s not just Christianity that claims the TC’s; they came to the Jews, first!), but to recognize the foundational source from which our nation derived its inspiration. Fact is, Islam had NOTHING to do with the founding of our country, especially not Satanism; therefore there is no historical context to warrant the erecting of plaques them or any other religion or religious texts – the Bible and Christianity alone were supremely instrumental to the Founders and the documents they created to form this country.

At the VERY LEAST, the majority of  our founding fathers, even though they did not want to establish a national church or officially promote one religious sect over another, were very religious, and they admitted the country they envisioned would fail if the people inhabiting it were not.

How can I make such a bold statement? Where’s my proof?

I’m glad you asked.

The rest of this article will consist of quotes from our Founding Fathers. Their words should speak for themselves.

In Their Own Words

John Adams (Signer of the Declaration of Independence and 2nd President of the United States)

“It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” – to Zabdiel Adams on June 21, 1776

[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – 1798

Charles Carroll of Carrollton (Signer of the Declaration of Independence)

“Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.” – from a letter to James McHenry, November 4, 1800)

Benjamin Rush (Signer of the Declaration of Independence)

“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” – 1806

“We profess to be republicans, and yest we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuation our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.” – 1806

Benjamin Franklin

(When the Constitutional Convention was deadlocked) “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men, and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise with His aid?” – June 28, 1787

George Washington (First President)

The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this time that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked that has not gratitude to acknowledge his obligations…” – from a letter to Brigadier General Thomas Nelson, August 20, 1778

“And now, Almighty Father, if it is Thy holy will that we shall obtain a place and name among the nations of the Earth, grant that we may be enabled to show our gratitude for Thy goodness by our endeavors to fear and obey Thee.” – private prayer, 1779

Samuel Adams (“Father of the American Revolution”)

“The rights of the colonists as Christians…may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institution of The Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.” – from Rights of the Colonists, 1772)

John Hancock (first to sign the Declaration of Independence)

“In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments . . . all confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that God who rules in the Armies of Heaven, and without whose blessing the best human counsels are but foolishness – and all created power vanity,” – April 15, 1775, as Hancock signed a proclamation for a day of fasting and prayer

John Quincy Adams (6th President)

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government and principles of Christianity.” – attributed to Adams; cited from Pamphlet on American Revolution, 1860, John Wingate Thorton

Roger Sherman (Signer of all four of the major founding documents)

(In a speech to Congress) “Admiring and thankfully acknowledging the riches of redeeming love, and earnestly imploring that divine assistance which may enable us to live no more to ourselves, but to him who loves us and gave himself to die for us.”

Literally, I could go on and on and on… but I have 4th of July (Independence Day) celebrations to attend – and even a couple of weddings to perform! Tonight, I’m going with my family to a baseball game, after which will be fireworks! How American is that?!!

God bless America! And, may we be bold enough and informed enough to fight for the right to publicly acknowledge His blessings, despite what the Freedom from Religion Foundation and all the religion-hating trolls want to accomplish.

Oh, but wait… There’s just one more quote from John Adams that I need to squeeze in… because it has a direct bearing on the historical context of posting the Ten Commandments…

“The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not sacred as the laws of God, and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet,’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.” – Source: The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, 1851, Vol. VI, p. 9

Now THAT’S a “mic drop” quote if I ever heard one!

Happy Independence Day!

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Filed under America, Christianity, Culture Wars, politics

7 Words that Distinguish Our Founding Fathers from Modern Americans

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”

If there were ever any words that are so antithetical to today’s culture, these words from the Declaraton of Independence stand out above them all.

Believe it or not, the founding fathers of the United States of America firmly held to the belief that there are absolute, transcendent truths by which we are able to govern and judge society.

They not only believed there are “truths,” but they believed that these truths are “self-evident.” In other words, they believed that these transcendent truths, rooted in the nature of God, were not hard to find, but plain for all to see, should they only open their eyes. Hence the term self-evident.

Today’s culture has totally rebelled against the concepts of truth and anything that is self-evident. For example, the truth is that God created male and female (Gen. 1:27; Mark 10:6), and what is self-evident are their differences. Yet, modern Americans cannot bring themselves to admit what is obvious, no matter how self-evident.

Not too long ago I read of a transgender activist, Zinnia Jones, who maintains that men who are not attracted to transgender women have “issues”…issues “they should work through.” In other words, Jones believes that biological males who are attracted only to biological females, not trans women, should be relegated to the fringes of society.

In the book of Matthew, chapter seven, we read of two men: a wise man, and a foolish man. Jesus said that a man who listens and does what He says is like a wise man who builds his house on a solid, rock foundation. The foolish man is the one who doesn’t listen to the sayings of Jesus and therefore builds his house on sand. When the storms come, the house built on rock stands firm, but the one built on sand comes crashing down.

A bedrock foundation is un-moving, un-changing, consistent, able to bear weight, and unaffected by the changing weather. However, sandy foundations, although conforming and accommodating, are inconsistent, unable to bear weight, and always changing with the winds of time.

The foundation on which America was built can be found in the “truth” of the Scripture. Without these truths a free, self-governing society cannot not exist for long, if at all.

“[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.”

“[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending
with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution
was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the
government of any other.”

– John Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, 2nd President

Unfortunately, modern Americans are rebuilding America on top of a foundation that is comfortable, conforming, and accommodating, always able to shift with the changing winds of culture. And just like the foolish man that Jesus describe in Mathew 7, our “house” will eventually come crashing down, “and great [will be] the fall of it.”

People wonder how long America will survive. My contention is that it can’t survive much longer. How can it when the very foundational truths on which our liberties are grounded has been reduced to shifting sand?

“We hold no truth, and nothing is self-evident; all is relative to self-identification.” – Modern Americans

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Regret: Let’s Talk About It

The place I preached to myself.

In one of the last sermons I’ll ever preach at South Soddy Baptist, I addressed a subject we’ll all deal with sooner or later…Regret.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been dealing with a little bit of regret, myself, as I leave one ministry behind and move to another. Therefore, even though this subject is one from which all of us could benefit, I think the Lord allowed me to preach to myself.

Below is an expanded outline of the sermon “Dealing With Regret.”


Regret in the Bible

There are several verses in the Bible that deal directly with the subject of regret. Some include the very words of famous Bible characters who have found themselves looking back and wishing things had been done differently.

David

One of the classic Psalms of King David (Psalm 51) is full of regret – regret for what he had done regarding adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite. Read the text, below, and try to get a sense of the weighty sorrow he must have been feeling when he came to realize the depth of the sin he had committed.

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt. God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:7-10 CSB

This kind of regret is a good kind of regret! In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we read that “godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret…” In other words, David looked back on his actions and was sorry for them, wished that they had never happened, and that led him to seek forgiveness from the only One who could offer it.

Job

Poor old Job! I mean, this guy did everything right, yet he suffered in ways most of humanity will never come close to enduring. Is it any wonder why he had regrets? Well, his regrets were not for things he had done, but for the fact that he was born. Just read what he said after losing everything – his children, his wealth, his health, and even the support of his wife – in just one day.

May the day I was born perish, and the night that said, “A boy is conceived.” If only that day had turned to darkness! May God above not care about it, or light shine on it. … Why was I not stillborn; why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? Why did the knees receive me, and why were there breasts for me to nurse? Now I would certainly be lying down in peace; I would be asleep. Then I would be at rest – Job 3:3-4, 11-13 CSB

Thankfully, God knew better than Job that his life was still worth living, despite all he had lost. He had no way of knowing that it was all a test, and one that he would ultimately pass.

Peter

Then there was Peter, the boastful disciple who swore he would stick with Jesus right to the end, yet denied him three times, just like Jesus promised he would do. What did Peter do?

Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. – Luke 22:61-62 CSB

Do you think Peter had any regrets? Of course he did! But how wonderful it was when Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” No coincidence there.

Judas Iscariot

One of the most tragic stories of regret is the story of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Disillusioned the the ministry of Jesus, Judas probably thought he was doing everybody a favor by turning Him over. But when he came to his senses and realized what he’d done, his regret took a deadly turn.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood,” he said. “What’s that to us? ” they said. “See to it yourself! ” So he threw the silver into the temple and departed. Then he went and hanged himself. – Matthew 27:3-5 CSB

Sadly, so many people these days do the same thing Judas did, in some way or another. They do something they regret, and instead of asking for forgiveness, they take their own lives. How different things could have been had Judas just asked Jesus to forgive him! But he didn’t live to eat that fish breakfast with Peter.

Fulton Oursler once said, “Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” When you stop and think about it, that’s pretty profound, especially when you consider that placing ourselves on the cross in the middle removes the only true Savior from the equation. When we take His place, regret is all we have – there’s no One to accept our repentance and offer forgiveness.

Combating Regret

So how do we combat regret? How do we get past the things that we’ve done, the things that we’ve said, the things about which we are ashamed, and move forward?

Let me share with you four things to remember, all based on different passages of Scripture.

Four Ways to Combat Regret…

  1. Pass the past and press for the prize. “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of [it] yet; but one thing [I do:] forgetting what [lies] behind and reaching forward to what [lies] ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NASB).If you’re still alive, you’re still in the race! You can’t win a race by always looking back at the places where you’ve stumbled. Know you’ve messed up, ask forgiveness, then get back at it.
  2. Let the tub drain! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV).Much of our debilitating regret is linked to having never forgiven ourselves, or having never fully accepted the forgiveness we’ve been given by Christ. Do you realize that when you don’t forgive yourself for something that Jesus has, you are essentially saying that your verdict is more important than God’s. In other words, if you’ve been forgiven by the One who died so that you could be, it’s a smack in His face to continually condemn yourself. If you’ve been forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness, let it go down the drain!
  3. There’s still a lion, so stop lyin’ around! “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8 KJV).
    Don’t forget that we have an Enemy. The time you spend sulking over past defeats, looking back into the darkness of your past, or wiping away the tears of self-pity is time you are allowing the devil to sneak back in and do more damage. Keep your mind in the fight and watch out – others are depending on you, too!
  4. Look up and perk up! “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:4-5 NASB).
    What’s probably one of the best ways to combat regret? Keep your eyes on Jesus!

In a letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul spoke as one who had no regrets. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Yet, this same apostle admitted he did things he didn’t want to do, and he didn’t do things he wanted to do – in other words, there were things he wished he could have done differently.

However, when all was said and done, Paul spoke as one who had no regrets, for he had fought a “good fight,” finished the course that had been set before him, and “kept the faith.” The key is that he never gave up, but kept fighting and running until the end.

Alexander Graham Bell said:

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” 

There are so many things I could have, should have done differently, but if I keep looking back at the closed door behind me, the wide-open door of opportunity will never be walked through. I can’t undo or redo the past, but I can learn from it.

So, enough with the feelings of regret – I’m giving it to Jesus, letting the tub drain, and pressing forward toward the finish line.

You should, too. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Depression, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

He Heard! Selah.

“I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.” – Psalm 3:4

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. It’s a musical notation meant to make us pause and reflect on what we’ve just read (or sung – the Psalms were songs). And what better to think about than the Lord of heaven hearing our cries?

I Cried

קָרָא qârâʼ (kä·rä’), translated as “cried,” could mean to recite, read, cry out, or proclaim. But in the context, and especially sense this word has also been used of animals crying out – and since the root of this word has to do with the sound a person makes when confronted unexpectedly, or accosted – I think the cry David made was more like a loud, desperate call for help . . . like the desperate plea from a fallen child.

Just think about that for a moment. Are you a parent? What does it do to you when your child cries out for help? What does that cry sound like to you? When your child is being chased by a dog, or when he falls and gets hurt, does he recite his proclamation of displeasure? You know the difference, don’t you?

So does God for His children when they cry out for Him.

He Heard Me

What an expression of hope! What an expression of joy! David was thrilled that God would actually hear him when he called.

He heard me from his holy hill” was an expression humility…of wonder…of amazement that the Holy One would be mindful of him (Psalm 8:4). But it was also a testimony to David’s enemies who had said previously that there was “no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:2).

Oh, God hears! David wrote this song as a testimony to that fact. He reminds us that heaven is not deaf, but attentive and listening. Our prayers are not worthless words read or recited to a spaghetti monster in the sky. No, there is a God, and He hears His own.

Pause and think about that for a while. 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Selah, self-worth