End Offense, Choose Love

“Work like you do not need the money.
Dance like nobody is watching.
Love like you have never been hurt.”

No doubt you have heard this quote or some variation of it at one time or another. It can be heard during speeches at a wedding reception and sermons at church. You will find it written in graduation and birthday cards. Chances are, you have shared these words of advice with someone yourself. But do you know who said them?

It wasn’t a poet or some great philosopher who gets credit for being the first to string these three lines together. Was it a preacher or some wise teacher? No! It was none other than Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige, a professional baseball player, who is credited with this quote.

Significance is added these positive words of wisdom when you know a bit about the man who said them. ‘Satchel’ Paige was one of the first African Americans to play in the major leagues after they integrated in 1947. He was one of the greatest pitchers who has ever played the game and today he is the Hall of Fame, but in those days, he was on the front lines of a battle that extended far beyond the baseball diamond.

You can imagine the prejudice that he had to face every time he stepped into the locker room to prepare for a game. He endured the chants from the crowds not only when his was the visiting team but also in his home stadium. He was mocked and belittled by those in the media who disapproved of the integration. Yet in spite of all of this, ‘Satchel’ Paige determined that he was going to love like he had never been hurt! He refused to live his life offended.

Mark Twain said that if you ever find a dog on the side of the road that has been hurt and abandoned and you take that dog home and feed it and care for it, that dog will never bite you. And therein lies the chief difference between a dog and a man.

It is the people that you love the most that can bite you the hardest and hurt you the most. Just as sure as you are reading this someone is going to hurt you; someone is going to let you down; someone is going to stab you in the back. You have to choose, are you going to be offended and hold a grudge, or are you going to love like you have never been hurt.

If you want to end offense, choose love.

If the Sun is Still Shining…

You know that you should feel something and you wish that you could cry, but the tears stopped coming a long time ago. You are left with the emptiness of guilt, shame, and remorse that is the result of a struggle with sin. As you attempt to stand from your latest fall, you can’t help but wonder, “How can something so empty be so heavy?” Maybe you have sinned too much, gone too far, fallen too low, or just made an unforgivable mistake. “How could God love me?” you wonder, “Will He really forgive me?”

Let me tell you how you can find an answer to this question. Ask yourself, “Is the sun still shining?” If the answer is “yes,” then the answer is “YES!”

Photo by Denis Collette...!!!

Isaiah 31:35-37 (NLT) “It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and this what he says: “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” This is what the LORD says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the LORD, have spoken!

This Scripture is even more amazing when you consider its context. It is surrounded by warnings from God through the Prophet Jeremiah that judgment and punishment is coming. God repeatedly warns His people that Babylon’s army is coming and their only options are to surrender and accept the punishment from the LORD or die.

These three verses shine a ray of hope onto a set of dark circumstances. In no way do they make light of sin, for the justified punishment from God will still come. But these verses are a reminder that any punishment and any consequences of sin we face before that final judgment are not for our destruction. Rather, if we submit to the correction of God, it will always bring us back into proper relationship with Him.

So you may be wondering if God will forgive you again. Ask yourself, “Is the sun still shining?”

Even Here?

I have been thinking a lot about the Grace of God recently.  I am simply amazed by the places in my life that God’s Grace reaches into and changes.  I am learning more and more that I could do nothing were it not for God’s Grace.  His Grace leads me to repentance.  His Grace helps me to be obedient.  His Grace gives me victory.

I certainly don’t want to make light of sin.  I don’t adhere to a doctrine that teaches we can live however we want and do whatever feels good because God’s Grace will cover it all.  In fact, that is an extremely perverted grace.  It robs from the true meaning of Grace.  No, Grace should lead us to righteousness.  Grace gives us the desire to be obedient and pleasing to the One who gave the gift of Grace.

I do, however, believe that there is no place that Grace can’t reach you.  If you are breathing and Jesus hasn’t taken His Church out of this world, there is still hope.  If you are worried that you have fallen too far or sinned too much, the very fact that you are concerned is proof enough for me that you aren’t out of the reach of God’s Grace.  There are only two things that can come between you and Grace; (1) your will (you don’t desire grace/don’t think you need it) and (2) the lies of the enemy.

Many of you have probably heard this often repeated verse about sin:

Sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go.
Make you pay more than you ever wanted to pay.
And keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.

Certainly, this is true on all accounts.  But I would like to add one line to this; someone may need to hear it.

Sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go.
Make you pay more than you ever wanted to pay.
And keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.
And Grace can reach you there!

Yes, Even There!

Is His Blood on You?

Their shouts of anger have become our prayer for pardon!  The irony of what they said…

“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but [that] rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye [to it].  Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children.” (Matthew 27:24-25)

They said it with hearts full of anger.  Wanting only to be finished with this Jesus.  “Who cares, Pilot!  The blood won’t be on you.  Let it be on us and on our children!  Just crucify Him!”

We say it  with hearts emptied in repentance.  “We have failed you, Jesus.  We are sinners.  We need your forgiveness.  Let your blood cover me and my children!”

Good Friday.  Is His blood on you?

“…and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

I’m The Best Failure Ever

Too soon for my first guest post?  I think not.  I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine.  His name is Brad Titus.  He is an inspiring writer, a preacher of Truth, and he has a great mind.  You should read his blog if you don’t already.  Enjoy!  Leave Brad a comment.

I’m not perfect.

Most people aren’t.

A friend of mine has started blogging and he recently talked about one of those types of days where you just want to reboot … as he put it, an epic fail day.

I was thinking about my failures – there are a lot of them – and what I’ve learned from them over the years.

I learned that receiving the Holy Ghost doesn’t mean that you won’t fail again. Two days after I first received the Holy Ghost, I lied to my German teacher and forged my dad’s signature on a test. God doesn’t write us off when we disappoint Him.

I learned that God can take dead, dry bones and make them live – following a three-year period where I couldn’t reach God, a late-night prayer meeting brought a refilling of the Holy Ghost that started an entire new season of spiritual growth.

I learned that a righteous man isn’t righteous because he never falls, but because he keeps getting up. After crying out for grace and then turning to spit  in God’s face time and again, I reached a point of total brokenness. God opened doors and placed me in a rehab program in California, where I was tested, tried, equipped, and restored. Since that time, God has opened doors in my life and used me in ways that I never dreamed possible.

I’m not perfect, but I do my best to walk after Christ. When I fall short, I don’t stay down. I rise up again.

If this post blessed you in anyway, please leave a comment for Brad.  Thanks for Reading!

Your Title Here

Pay Attention! Give this post a title in the comments section.  The best/most creative title wins a $10 Starbucks Gift Card! (Winner will be chosen Friday).

In my first post, I had said that one of the things that I would be writing about was failures.  Now, I have to admit that even as I wrote that, I didn’t think I would actually write about any of my failures.  But today, that is what I am going to do.  I am doing this for two reasons; (1) because God is merciful, and (2) maybe it will help you…or me.

I’m sure you know about and have experienced that deal.  You know, that one where things are going good.  You just got out of Indiana District Men’s Conference (or you had some other wonderful God encounter), everything is cloud nine, and you are feeling great in the Lord.  The DEAL is, the enemy doesn’t like that.  And he is an expert at knocking you off your feet when you begin to run.

Well, needless to say, I got the raw end of the deal today.  To say that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed is an understatement.  I woke up downright mad.  No reason in particular.  I just didn’t feel like ___________. (You can feel free to fill this in with anything).

If you know me at all, you know that I am a list person.  I got stuff to do.  I have a whole list of stuff to do, and today was no exception.  So I drug my weary, whiney self out of bed and started working on the list.  Problem was, when you don’t feel like __________.  It’s hard to get _______ done.  And my attitude went south.  I mean, I was nasty.

And at the end of the day, this is what I accomplished:  Almost nothing crossed of my list, I was mean to my mother (she is in bed, I have to apologize in the morning), I was mad at other people (people who didn’t even know that I was mad at them and that I didn’t even have a reason to be mad at), I made myself feel like a complete and total loser, and worst of all, the great connection that I had felt with the Lord just yesterday…it was gone.

But I’m so thankful that we can come to Jesus when we fall.  Where would I be without His grace?  I would be the person I was today.  But, Jesus loved me so much that He died so that THAT person does not have to live.

“Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise” (Micah 7:8)

To anyone that has ever been knocked down, His hand is reaching to help you back up.

So…what’s your title?