Look Away From It, Brother, Just Look Away

Our two boys crack me up!  Last week, we were in town running several errands as a family.  We had made a few stops already and we were working our way toward checking off our final to-do item when we passed a store that Alex really wanted to go into to look at some toys.  (Back story… He recently had a birthday and had some cash he had received for the very purpose of being spent on something he would enjoy.)

Normally, we probably would have stopped, but we had already been out long enough that we were all getting ready to be home.  We had already told Alex we would not be stopping at that store, and he had graciously accepted it… even though we could tell he still really wanted to stop there.

As we turned the corner and passed the store, I heard from behind us Austin say to Alex, “Don’t even look at it. Look away from it brother, just look away.”  We all burst into laughter at the unexpected advice from one sibling to the other. It will probably become one of those sayings which sticks with a family for the rest of their lives.

Then I began to think about what Austin said.  That was great advice.  I don’t know if “out of sight, out of mind” is true, but it sure helps when you’re being tempted by something.

I’ve been asked over the years what my favorite Scripture is.  Truth is, there are so many I love that it really is difficult to select one.  But I usually tell people who ask that one of the most useful verses in all of Scripture for me has been I Corinthians 10:13.  I was challenged to memorize  it in special course for students trying to grow closer in their relationship with God.  It has certainly come in handy on more than one occasion when I didn’t even have a Bible with me.

This is what Paul wrote to help people overcome temptation…

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.

The part that has always stuck with me is that God would show me a way out of the temptation so that I would not have to give into it… so that I could stand up to it… so that I could endure it and come out of that moment victorious.  As soon as I learned that truth… that there is always a way to escape the temptation, always a way to say “no” to it… I began to look for that way of escape in every temptation that came my way.  Often, it is as simple as Austin’s advice to Alex… “Don’t even look at it.  Look away from it, brother, just look away.”

So, if you find yourself tempted today… whether by something small and simple like an extra piece of cake… or by the cashier giving you too much change… or maybe even by something more serious like taking a drink or taking someone else’s spouse, let Paul’s words echo through your heart and mind.  You don’t have to give in.  There is a way out.  Look for the escape. And then put Austin’s words into practice… Look away, brother, just look away.

Treasure Chest

This morning, Alex came into the living room with his treasure chest in hand.  A couple of years ago, PR31 found these little cardboard chests on sale and picked one up for each of the boys to keep their own personal treasures in.  You know, those things that kids value deeply and need a special place.

Well, Alex announced that he had reorganized his treasure chest to make room for his recently received birthday cards.  To do so, he had to take some things out.

Upon his announcement, I said, “Really?”

And he replied, “Yep, I realized a lot of stuff in there wasn’t really treasures to me.”

Mic drop. At least I thought that would have been the appropriate place in the discussion for it.

But then he added, “And you know what else besides the birthday cards I’m putting in there?”

“No, what?” I answered and asked.

His answer made my day… “God.”

Wow!

How perfect that he put together that he values God and so he wants to keep Him in a special place… a place reserved for the things that mean the most to him in life.

You know, we each have a “treasure chest” in which we keep those things which matter most to us.  Jesus said in Matthew 6 that where our treasure is our hearts will be also.

So what matters most to you?  Where is your heart?  Do you have a few things in your treasure chest which really aren’t the treasures you once thought they were?  Do you need to clean a few things out to make room for some new treasures… things you will truly value?

Before I leave you to sort through my own treasure chest today… and hopefully let you sort through yours… there is one more interesting part of the story.  In his treasure chest clean-out, he found a treasure he had been looking for and thought he had lost.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  It was important to him.  The cool thing is that… because he had put it in his treasure chest… it was there for him when he got things straightened out.

My hope for each of us today is that we will take a little time to clean out our treasure chest… get rid of those things that aren’t really treasures… and make sure we include God as the most important treasure.  Then who knows? Perhaps in the process we will find a long, lost treasure we’ve really missed and begin to enjoy it again.

Celebrating A Miracle

Like Abraham and Sarah…

Like Manoah and his wife…

Like Hannah and Elkanah…

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth…

We, too, thought we might be without children our entire lives.  But God gave us a promise. And then He gave us a miracle!  Like those listed above, He gave us a son.  Two, in fact! And today we celebrate the birth of our first son 9 years ago!!!

And in light of our celebration, I pray for those reading this right now who long for the Lord to give them a promise and a miracle.

Because I Just Know

Our family LOVES going to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO!  It so fits our family-friendly, Christian-values idea of fun.  And there is so much for the boys to do.

One of their favorite areas is Half Dollar Holler.  And one of their favorite things to do there is climb through and jump around in the suspended netting of the “treehouse.”  At least, it’s one of their favorite things now.

It wasn’t always Austin’s favorite.

Last night, we sat around watching “old” home videos (from three or four years ago) with the boys.  Captured on video was Austin trying to enjoy the treehouse but with great trepidation.  It was obvious that he was unsure of the safety of that netting suspended ten feet above solid earth.

As we watched, Austin told us that he used to be afraid of the bouncing treehouse at Silver Dollar City because he was afraid he would fall, but that he’s not now.  Sure enough, were you to watch more recent videos or travel with us to SDC, you’d find him tearing through there with no hesitation whatsoever.

I asked Him if he reason that he’s not afraid anymore is because he knows if it will hold me up, it will hold him up. (I mean, I might weigh a little more than he does. Wink, wink.)  I must admit that I was a little shocked when he replied, “No, it’s because I’ve been on it enough times now that I know it will won’t let me down.”

Tested, tried, true.

Reliable, dependable, trustworthy.

Because it has never let him down before, he has unwavering faith that it will never let him down in the future.  And with that, I sat back in my seat, having been schooled in faith by my six-year old.

In Deuteronomy 31:8, Moses… the guy who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, through forty years of wandering in the wilderness, and all the way to the edge of the land promised to the Israelites by God… looks Joshua… his successor who will actually lead those people into conquest of their homeland… in the eyes and tells him, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Never.  It just won’t happen. God won’t let you down.  He is incapable of failing you. And He chooses to never abandon or give up on you.  He will go ahead of you and clear the path.  Then He will be right beside you every step of the way.

We can trust God because He has never let us down.  In fact, He has never let anyone down.  So unlike those investment commercials on the radio, His past results are indicative of His future performance.

This means you and I can relax and enjoy the ride now.  We don’t have to stress.  We don’t have to panic.  We can romp through life full of joy and hope and peace, knowing that He will neither fail us nor abandon us.

If you’re battling a lengthy illness, He won’t let you down.  If you’re dealing with a difficult divorce, He won’t let you down.  If you’re having trouble passing that class at school, He won’t let you down.  If the bills are stacking up higher than the paychecks, He won’t let you down.

So go ahead… climb the steep ramp of the treehouse of life… crawl into the netted area… and jump with confidence alongside Austin… because it hasn’t let him down before and it isn’t going to let him down this time either.

Neither will God.

Oh, It’s Gonna Happen

It’s like our six-year old, Austin, cannot even see the possibility of a negative outcome when he is wanting and believing for something.  He sees a toy or a game that he absolutely has to have, and he begins to tell us about it. As he describes it in detail, he says things like, “When I get it, I’m going to…” Not “if I get it,” but “when I get it.”

In his mind, there is no possible way we would say “no” to his request.  And it’s not a greed thing (though he has his moments… as do I). He is so innocent and full of faith in our ability to provide what he wants and our willingness to bring him joy.

He entered a contest today in which he has the possibility of winning an iPad mini.  In his mind, he has already won. He just has to wait for the contest to come to a close and receive his prize. He doesn’t even consider that there is a chance he won’t win.  He doesn’t consider that other kids might also have a chance to win. The odds mean nothing to him… because he is going to win.

Oh, that I would view my Heavenly Father with such childlike faith!  Oh, to be able to completely exclude any possibility that God would not answer my request.  Oh, that I would never view failure as a possible outcome, only success.

And yet, isn’t that what Jesus instructed His disciples to do… to have faith like a child? What a radical concept that must have been for them. What a radical concept it often is for me.

God is a good Father… way better than me. Surely, I can count on Him to come through for me. There is no reasonable explanation for my doubting. I will win! I will receive! I will be filled with joy… because He laughs with me… and loves me… and lavishes blessings on me.

Of course He does. Why would I think otherwise?

For the record, He feels exactly the same way about you. So put on your faith like Austin & believe for the best to come your way today!

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