Washed Away

I love the meme I saw on social media last week which read, “It doesn’t snow in Louisiana… It pollens.”

It’s that time of year when the greenish-yellow powder dusts everything that sits still for thirty seconds or more. It’s that time of year when antihistamine is part of my daily regimen.

So you can imagine my delight when this morning while I was sipping my coffee, eating some cereal and having some time alone with the Lord, I heard the rumble of thunder and then a downpour of rain. You see, the driveway has been coated with so much pollen that it just wouldn’t come clean. Using the leaf blower only created yellow clouds which settled in other places… only to be replaced by more pollen. But a good hard rain… well, that was just what we needed to wash away the bee and butterfly dust.

You know, sometimes our lives get coated with guilt and regret because of the things we’ve said or done. We may or may not verbalize it to anyone, but it lays there like that greenish-yellow pollen, tinting us till we don’t look like our normal selves and creating an allergic reaction in others around us. But we don’t have to live that way. We don’t have to wear that guilt, shame or regret. If we will turn it over to God, He will wash it all away… just like the rain washing the pollen right off our driveway.

David… a guy in the Bible who cheated on his wife with the wife of one of his closest friends and comrades in arms, and then had the guy killed when the woman turned up pregnant, was later called a man after God’s own heart. How does that happen? Well, in Psalm 51, he comes clean with God. He asked God in the second verse of that song to wash him clean from his guilt. And God did!

He will do the same for you today. All you have to do is ask Him, and the rain of His mercy and forgiveness will wash the pollen of your guilt and regret away in an instant.

There are a few puddles on the driveway as I look out the window right now. Their edges are not tinted yellow. They are not ringed with remnants of pollen. They are clean and clear.

That’s how your life will be if you’ll ask the Lord to wash away your guilt today. That’s why Jesus came and died. It’s what God wants. He’s not trying to hold anything against you. He wants to wash it all away. Just ask.

Re-Birthday

Today, we have much to celebrate. We celebrate today because Alex and Austin share a birthday… or maybe I should say… a “re-birthday.” On this day, three years ago, PR31 had the privilege of leading both boys in prayer as they accepted Jesus Christ as the Forgiver of their sins and the Master of their lives.

In Scripture, we find that Jesus called it being “born again,” and the idea stuck with His followers. Being made right with God and adopted into His family is a lot like having a whole new birthday.

So this day is written on our “Remember” board in sharpie. This day pops up in our photo memories on the phone. This day is for celebrating.

You see, that day in 2016 marked the change of their eternal destiny. Now, they are children of God, not just children of Allen and Angela. Now, they have a future full of joy and hope spent with their loving Creator. Now, they do not have to worry if they are not perfect, because they have a Savior who is, and He is sharing His perfection with them… just because they asked.

If you’re not right with God today, don’t let another moment go by. Do what Alex and Austin did on this day three years ago…

1) Admit you blow it and do wrong things sometimes.

2) Accept that Jesus was punished and executed in your place for those crimes you commit against God when you do wrong.

3) Ask God to forgive you for past wrongs and help prevent you from future wrongs.

4) Invite Him to be in charge of your life, guiding you… leading you… directing you.

Do that today, and guess what? You’ll share a re-birthday with Alex and Austin! And that, my friend, is something to celebrate!


P. S. – If you make that choice today, would you let me know so that I can tell Alex and Austin their choice helped someone else? It would mean a lot to all of us!

Blame or Credit?

I’m going to assume that since you are reading this, you must be human. And since you are human, I will also therefore suppose that you have faced hurt or unfair treatment in your life… like the rest of us. You’ve probably been wounded by people who were supposed to be for you, on your side.

When that happens, it’s normal to feel emotional pain, to feel betrayed, to wonder why this bad stuff is happening to you. That’s okay initially. And some wounds are deep enough that they just simply take longer to heal. That’s understandable.

But at some point on the journey, we need to come to terms with the fact that sometimes bad things happen to good people. The question then becomes… What will you do with the bad stuff that has happened to you in life?

In the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, we read the story of someone who was done really wrong by those who should’ve been closest to him. His name was Joseph, and God had given him big dreams for his life. As he began to share these dreams with his family, his dad discredited him, and his brothers hated him for the dreams. They hated him so much that they started to kill him, but decided to sell him into slavery and tell their dad a wild animal ate him.

There is no doubt that Joseph was done wrong. But it got worse for him before it got better. Though he excelled as a slave for a high-ranking Egyptian leader, he was falsely accused of attempting to rape that man’s wife… and whose word do you think they believed, the slave or the lady? So Joseph was sent to jail.

In jail, Joseph excelled again and even predicted the futures for two servants of the king based on their dreams. They promised to remember him, but one was executed and the other forgot Joseph for a long time. Finally, Joseph was called upon to interpret a dream for the king, and it was then that he rose to prominence as the second in command for the entire nation of Egypt.

A famine ensued, and Joseph’s brothers showed up to get food from Egypt where Joseph had led a successful food saving and distribution plan. When they showed up, Joseph was confronted with a choice. There stood the very guys who had done him wrong. And it was within his power to set things straight.

In that moment, Joseph chose to give God credit instead of giving his brothers blame. Yes, they did bad things to him, but he chose to instead focus on how God used the bad they had done to work for all their good. He probably didn’t see it in the pit or the prison, but he certainly saw it the day they showed up to buy grain from him during the famine. Perhaps that was why he wept so intensely… the sudden understanding of how God had used the bad to set up the good.

I guess the question before each of us today is the same one Joseph faced that day his brothers showed up… Will I choose to give God credit or give those who did me wrong the blame they deserve?

God promises that He will set the record straight on our behalf, and that He will work everything that happens to us in life… the bad as well as the good… for our benefit and His credit… IF we will let Him.

The choice is ours today… Credit or blame? Let’s choose to see how God has worked things out for our good and give Him credit. In the end, we will win with a choice like that!

After This…

Ever noticed how when a child… or maybe even a teenager… has one little thing go wrong, it feels like nothing will ever go right again?  Yet mature adults can look at the situation and say with confidence that everything is going to be okay in the long run.  We burst off-key into song with, “The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there will be sunshine.”  But the child doesn’t see it that way.

We don’t change much between childhood and adulthood when it comes to this, do we?  Oh, it takes a lot more than a skinned knee or our crush dumping us to make us feel like the world is caving in on us, but we have our moments…

Maybe it’s one health issue after another.  Or maybe you don’t get treated fairly at work, and then you lose your job.  Or perhaps your spouse leaves you, and then your kids get mad at you for the split.  It could even be as simple as every major appliance in your home seeming to break down within the same month. Whatever the case, we all hit some rough patches in life when we don’t see a ray of sunlight ahead… only dark times.

Job, of ancient Scripture, knew these kinds of times better than any of us.  He literally had the devil working against him.  He lost his wealth and all his kids within days. Then he got painfully ill.  His friends told him he must have sinned and made God mad… that he needed to repent for being such a spiritual loser.  His wife told him he ought to cuss God out, give up and die.

The crazy thing is, God knew Job wouldn’t cave.  He was actually showing Job off to the devil and everyone watching.  And He intended to bless Job doubly for all the trouble he went through.   But that ray of sunshine was hard for Job to see in the midst of the dark times.

Just like us.  When you get another downer of a report from the doctor… or when finances aren’t rolling in like they had been… or when it seems like everyone is against you… it’s kind of tough to see yourself as a trophy example God is showing off to the watching world.  It just all looks hopeless… and dark… and senseless.

This is why I am so glad for the 16th verse in Job chapter 42.  It reads, “After this, Job lived 140 years.”  After this.  I love that!  It’s like a parent telling their child the skinned knee will stop hurting and will heal up sooner than they think. It’s a reminder to me that… in those times when there seem to be no reasons, and no answers, and no improvement in the situation… there are better days ahead.  I have an “after this” ahead of me.  So do you!

I know it looks bad right now.  I know things are piling up on top of you.  I know there doesn’t seem to be an end to this rough patch.  I know it seems like your friends and family have turned on you.  I know you don’t think you can take any more.

But when God’s involved, you have an “after this” coming.  It may not look like it right now, but you do.  Job lived another 140 years after what he faced, and God blessed him even more than He had before.  And God will be there for you through your time of difficulty.  One day soon, you’ll come out of this rough patch, and your story will record that “after this, you lived and God blessed you!”

Lost & Gained

Like any decent parent who loves their kids and wants to see them happy, I have at times been the old softy who, after admittedly being a little frustrated, have bought a replacement balloon… or two… to replace one that has floated off into the great unknown.  The same is true when ice cream has been dropped, or a new toy broken.  Especially if the boys have saved up and spent their own money on something.

Maybe your parents never did that.  Maybe you’ve never done that as a parent.  Maybe the philosophy you have lived under… or lived by… was “Tough luck, Chuck. Maybe this will teach you, and next time you won’t…”.  If so, I’m sorry.  

I’m sorry because that possibly influences the way in which you view God.  You may think that because your blew it… or messed up something… or lost something… you are bad and need to learn to be good.

But God is a good, loving and gracious Father. Scripture says that He is slow to get angry and quick to forgive.  It says that He delights in bringing joy into our lives.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, we all evaluate our lives when we’ve lost something.  Maybe you’ve lost your health… or a person you love… or a job… or a dream.  Whatever the situation, God sees that you lost it.  He knows how much you enjoyed it.  And He wants to give you something else in its place which will bring you just as much… if not more… joy!

So you made a mistake.  Let Him wipe those tears away.  And don’t be afraid to ask Him to give you something else in its place.  It’s in His heart to do it already.

Fresh

It’s been a long week.  I’m not complaining at all, because it’s also been pretty a good week.  Simply stating the facts.

We all have weeks like that. And I don’t know what you’re week has been like. But I know this…

Tomorrow is a new day, and tomorrow starts a new week.

No matter what this past week has looked like… or felt like… or seemed like… it’s done.  And tomorrow is an opportunity to begin again.  Tomorrow we have the ability to wake up and embrace a greater attitude… keep our commitments more faithfully… choose our words more carefully… give more generously… love more patiently… serve more whole-heartedly.

The prophet Jeremiah… a guy dubbed “the weeping prophet… reminds us in Lamentations 3:23… a book of tears and sadness… that God’s mercies are new every morning.  No matter how bad things have been, each morning brings more mercies to help us through that day.  If you’ve used up all the mercies this week… and even this day held, don’t worry.  Tomorrow, when you wake up, there will be more mercies available to you.

So decide right now to look forward to tomorrow… and to this week… because you’ll have what you need when you need it, if you invite God to be involved in your life.  Tomorrow… start fresh!

Enough For Today

Anne Shirley Cuthbert says to her friend Diana in Anne of Green Gables, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a brand new day with no mistakes yet?”  I don’t recall Diana’s response, but I know mine… YES!!!

As a self-professed guy who tries to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, do right, be good, help others, love and lead his family, and the list goes on… I for one am glad that each day the sun rises and brings with it a fresh start. Sure, I cannot undo my yesterdays, but I can choose each day to point myself in the right direction and start heading that way.

I resonate with Anne’s question. It reminds me of what the prophet Jeremiah wrote in the Old Testament book of Lamentations… “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  In other words, no matter how yesterday went, the Lord loves us and gives us hope for today.  He helps us today.  He forgives and forgets.

That’s good news for imperfect people like me… and maybe you.  It’s good news for those who have a lot of days left. And it’s good news for those who have less days ahead of them than they do behind them. Each day is full of new, abundant mercies for all of us.

Bad day at work yesterday? Get up, get dressed and go back to the office or store or worksite because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Feeling like a lousy parent for mishandling a situation with your kids at a crucial moment?  Roll out of bed, give them a hug, and ask their forgiveness because He has new mercies for today!

Broken relationships that have remained shattered for years due to your negligence? Make the call, send the text, get together for coffee because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Failed a test at school?  Load your backpack, grab your books and get there before the bell rings again because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Staring at a bad prognosis and a lifetime of regrets?  Pick up the Bible, bow your head, ask for forgiveness and a fresh start because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

His love never quits… He won’t run out of mercies… He is always there.  So lift your chin… and lift your heart… and lift your hands… because He has new mercies for you today!