Month: October 2010

Choices

Not everything turns out as you had hoped.

Not every dream comes true.

Not every friend stays close.

Not every prayer is answered.

Not every fear happens.

(Sounds like Ecclesiastes, doesn’t it?)

I’ve just been thinking about people and their lives and the choices they have made in this life.   I have lived through the results of the choices that I made.    Over the course of nearly 50 years of me making the choices for my life, it doesn’t take long to see the evidence of the results of those choices.  Some of the choices I have made were exactly the right ones…exactly what God wanted for my life.  However, there have been choices that I made that were not and the results of those poor choices have left marks and scars in my life.  Constant reminders of making the wrong choice.   I am not alone in these poor choices.  Everyone makes them.  No one is exempt.

We all do that….the sad fate of men and women in a fallen world…we all make poor choices.   I’m always in awe as I read 2 Samuel 11 as David makes a whole chapter full of bad choices, and God said nothing.   He simply “stepped off the stage” and waited for David to play out the story.   David took another man’s wife, tried to cover up the sin, and finally had the husband killed.   At the end of the chapter God says this,

“But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

Life is messy!   For all our desire to live for God we still sin.   We still make mistakes.  We still choose poorly.

God is so good to us to graciously love us, care for us, and draw us to Himself.   It is such a blessing to already have our sins dealt with at the cross.   It’s such a glorious thing that God has done to forgive our every sin and take care of it all when we receive Him as our Savior.

The rest of my life is a growing into God dependence, allowing Him to do in and through me what I cannot do on my own (note Romans 7).   It’s wonderful to have the sin issue taken care of, now my life is focused on the constant goal of setting myself aside for His use (sanctification), allowing Him to live His life through me.   It’s messy, and I don’t always get it right, but it’s how He chose to work and it is my desire to be used by God again.

Hopefully that is your desire in you life as well.  My prayer is that the Lord would do for you what you cannot do on your own, that He  would live through you and show the rest of the world what He looks like by the choices you make.

It’s up to you.

Choose wisely.




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Unplanned Detour

First of all, I owe an apology to my readers.  If memory serves me correctly I have only posted a few installments to this blog this month.   That doesn’t mean I haven’t written.  As a matter of fact, I have over 40 postings just waiting to be published on the site.   It also doesn’t mean I have not had visitors to my blog.  So far this month, I have had just over 7000 visitors to my blog site.   People looking for some comic relief by reading my random drivel, I’m sure.

With that being said, I do apologize for not posting more during this past month.  I have received a few emails and inquiries asking me if I was going to post more and I have responded to them, informing them that I will indeed post more often in the future.  However, for right now,  I think I will let most of them ferment a little longer in my “hold” box.   The reason?

I recently learned that certain plans I was working toward would need to be put on hold. I have been so focused on making it happen, that when I changed directions, I was surprised at how it influenced the way I thought about things.  It was a very discouraging, frustrating, and a down right irritation to me. This unplanned detour has left me not feeling  good about posting without having something to say.

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you were willing to do whatever it took to make it happen?  You work out all the details and you try your best to make sure that you do everything possible to be successful.  Only to find out that it wasn’t enough…or it wasn’t good enough?

As I complained to a friend about how frustrated I was at not being able to do what I wanted , he shared this verse with me  from Proverbs 20:24:

Man’s steps are ordained by the LORD,
How then can man understand His way?

I am aware of the fact that I am a tad bit strong-willed.  Sometimes I get so occupied with something that “I” want to do that fail to stop and consider what “He” wants me to do.   The lesson here is often times we make our own plans, but God has a different plan in mind.  Regardless of how good our intent is with what we want to do, sometimes God just wants us to wait on Him. I suppose all of us face these types of situations in our lives at different times, and for different reasons. In my case, my strong-will and my lack of patience are burdens that many times keep me from truly being used by God.

It’s funny how God directs our paths.  It is true…I know that I don’t always understand His ways.  But this truth I know,  He has an amazing route planned for our lives and when we finally let Him lead He takes us on a most wonderful journey.   It’s as if God had all of this lined up for us, but was waiting for us to let Him be Lord over our plans.  I’m so glad that God determines our steps. He has an amazing way of working in our lives if we will let Him lead us down His paths.

His paths, twisting as they seem at times, always tell a much more interesting story in the end and contain the richest blessings.   My prayer is to stay on the path He has laid out for me.  How about you?

God Is Just Not Fair

I remember when I was a kid, I will would repeat these words whenever I felt I was wronged by another person, “that’s not fair!”.   Truth is… it probably wasn’t fair but my mom taught me early on that life wasn’t fair.

I have had this lesson proven to me in a variety of ways over the years.  Without boring you with the details of a sad story about how I was done wrong at some point in my life, take my word for it,  I have lived most of life knowing that life wasn’t fair and it never would be.

It didn’t make much sense to me as a kid, but I now find myself repeating it frequently to my own kids.  As I have grown older, and hopefully a little bit wiser, I have come to appreciate the simple truth of that statement.

Fairness has become the battle cry of our society.  When something isn’t fair, it is viewed as inherently wrong or even evil.  We have gone from a culture and society here in the United States which was built on the idea of equal opportunity and “evolved” into a culture that expects an equal outcome.  Kids do not fail, everyone gets a trophy, and people bring presents to a birthday party for the other kids in the family because they don’t want them to feel left out.  We live in a culture that demands fairness at all times and in all respects.

The problem is – fairness is NOT a biblical concept.  The God we serve is a God of justice, but nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that he is “fair.”  Indeed, the idea of fair is a very human concept.  The Bible never attributes the idea of fairness to God.

Let me explain…

Jesus didn’t carry any swords or spears.   He didn’t have an army behind him. His only weapon was his mouth, and it was his message that got him into trouble.   He made people so angry that they wanted to kill him.

His message was seen not merely as wrong—it was dangerous.   It was subversive.   It threatened to upset the social world of Judaism.   But what kind of message could make the religious leaders so angry that they would kill the messenger? One idea that could anger the religious leaders is found in Matthew 9:13:  “I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” Jesus had a message of good news for sinners, but people who considered themselves good often thought that Jesus preached bad news.

Jesus invited prostitutes and tax collectors into the kingdom of God, and the good people didn’t like that. “That’s not fair,” they may have said. “We have been working hard to be good, and why can they get into the kingdom without working hard? If you don’t keep sinners out, it isn’t fair!”

Jesus was preaching that God is not fair. Most people think that fairness requires equal treatment for everyone, but when it comes to salvation, God simply isn’t fair. Even today, people don’t like to hear that idea.   Good Christian people want God to be fair—but he isn’t.

GOD IS MORE THAN FAIR

God is just…not fair.   The title of this post is “God is Just Not Fair”.  When the word “just”  is used as  it is in the sentence, it simply states that God is “the same as” not being fair.  However, when you use the word  “just” as an adjective the definition of the word changes.  For example,  Merriam – Webster dictionary defines the word “just” when used as an adjective as follows:

1
a : having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason : reasonable <a just but not a generous decision>
b archaic : faithful to an original
c : conforming to a standard of correctness : proper <just proportions>
2

a (1) : acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good : righteous <a just war> (2) : being what is merited : deserved <a just punishment>

b : legally correct : lawful

By definition…it means that God is reasonable, faithful, proper, righteous, deserving and lawful.

So in fact God is  “Just” which is more than fair.  His grace is far beyond anything we could deserve.  God is generous, full of grace, full of mercy, loving us even though we don’t deserve it.

That kind of message bothers religious leaders and all who say that the harder you work, the more you will get; if you behave better, you will get a better reward.  Religious leaders like to have that kind of message, because it makes it easy to motivate people to work hard, to do right, to live right.

But Jesus says, It isn’t so.

If you have dug a really deep pit for yourself, if you have messed up time and time again, if you have been the worst sort of sinner, you don’t have to work your way out of the pit to be given salvation.  God simply forgives you for the sake of Jesus.  You don’t have to deserve it—God simply does it.  You just need to believe it.  You just need to trust God, to take him at his word:  Your sin debt is removed from the record.

But it seems that some people are distressed at this kind of news. “Look, I’ve been working hard to get out of the pit,” they might say, “and I am almost out. You mean to tell me that ‘those’ people are pulled out of the pit instantly, without having to do any work at all?  That’s not fair!”

No,  grace is not “fair”—it is grace—it is a gift we did not deserve.  God can be generous to whomever he wants to be generous to, and the good news is that he offers his generosity to everyone.  It is fair in the sense that it extends to everyone, even though this means that he forgives some people a big debt, and some people a smaller debt—the same arrangement for all even though there are different circumstances.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the church or how many sacrifices you have made; those are nothing in comparison to what God is giving us.  The Apostle Paul worked harder than any of us; he made more sacrifices for the gospel than we realize, but he counted it all as a loss for Christ.  It was nothing.

To be completely honest,  we really do not want what is fair.  Because fair for us is hell. We do not deserve the gift of grace that God gives us. If God were merely “fair” we would all have to pay for our sin.   That payment for our sin would eternal separation from God.  I believe that it would mean an eternity in Hell.  Jesus Christ paid the debt of our sin by His death on the cross.  By His resurrection we have the hope of an eternity in Heaven with Him.  It is a free gift and nothing you  can do will make you worthy of God’s grace.

So is God fair?  No, He is not fair… He’s “just” and I am so thankful that He is.  How about you?


A Chance Meeting… Along the Way

No one seemed to notice him as he stumbled into McDonald’s.  It was evident that he wasn’t able to stay dry on this stormy day.

I immediately recognized him.  I do not know him but I had just passed him walking along the highway on my way to lunch.  As I drove by him,  he trudged through the rain, walking to his destination.  I did not give it a second thought.  Just another homeless man who I pass along the way.

He enters the restaurant and walks towards the counter.  I am sitting at my table with a newspaper spread out and just taking a few moments to catch up on the news.   I don’t know why but I look up from my newspaper and for some reason I watch him as he struggles to get a few coins from his well-worn pants and hands them over to the cashier.  I watch his feeble hands caress the cup of coffee that he just purchased.   The man looks up and his eyes catch mine.  I immediately look down at my newspaper.  I did not want him to see me staring at him.  He obviously had been homeless for quite some time.  I try to resist the urge to look up, I give in and take another look at the homeless man.  He is still looking at me.

His prominent chin rounds out while his lips seem to fold over his gums as if he were missing teeth.  The pale pink-white skin resembles rough parchment paper that had been crumpled too many times.  His eyes are worn but kind,  an indiscriminate color of blue.   He appears older than his actual age. His mouth keeps a permanent expression that is somewhere between a smile and a frown.  The harshness of a hard life lived on the streets fills in the lines on his face and his brown hair hangs like limp thread.

He appears like he wants to speak to me, but I do not know this man.  A small voice in my head says to speak to him but my instinct says stay away.  Something is wrong.  I look back down at my newspaper and force myself to not look up and resist the small voice in my head that is telling me to speak to him.  Eventually he leaves and I see him walk out into the rain.

I pretend to read the paper, I start to wonder about the life of this homeless man.   Where did life take that once innocent little boy, and what twisting, tearing winds tore him apart?  What major event changed the course of his life?  What was his home life-like, and what issues of life was he avoiding?   I wondered if anyone  had ever said, ‘I love you.’ to him?  Did his parents abandon him when he was young?  Did someone break his heart?  I dismiss these random thoughts and try to focus on the sports page and eat before my lunch gets cold.

As my lunch hour comes to a close, I rush to my car because it is still raining.   Suddenly I notice that the man had not left the parking lot.  He is crossing the parking lot heading in my direction.   I turn my head and hurriedly get into my car.  I press the lock button and hear the reassuring click of all the doors.  Next thing I know he is knocking on my window.  I feel the shot of adrenaline cross my stomach and I am on the verge of panic.  I desperately look to see if anyone was around.  No one was.

I reluctantly opened my window a crack.   “How can I help you?” I ask.  I was sure that he was going to ask me for money.  I quickly glance at my cup holder to see if I had any extra change to give him.  It was empty and as he started to speak, I thought that I was going to have to give a few dollars from my wallet.  I notice that his rough, calloused hands went into the pockets of his stained coat. Then it hit me…he was going to rob me.   He looked at me and he said, “I wanted to give you this.”   I started to feel an uneasy , sick feeling in my stomach.  My mind was racing, trying to figure out what this man had that was so important that he would continue to stand in the pouring rain in order to give it to me.   He fumbled around and then he pulled out a gospel tract called, “Where are you going?”  and slid it in the opening of the window.  Before I can respond, I look up and he is no longer at my window.  He was trudging his way across the wet parking lot in the rain and soon he was gone.

I just sit there staring at the worn and torn gospel tract in my hand.  I wanted to tell him that I was a believer.  I wanted to tell him that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.  I wanted to tell him that I believed that Jesus Christ was the only way to heaven.  I believed that Jesus died for my sins and that there was nothing I could do to earn my way to heaven.   Because the debt of sin was paid by His death on the cross, I could have eternal life.  I wanted to tell the man that I had asked God to forgive me and save me from an eternity of hell.  I indeed knew where I was going after I died.

As I sat in my car, with the sound of the rain pounding on the roof of the car, I start to feel the guilt and shame that comes with realization that this man who had nothing and lost everything in his life cared more about the souls of others than I did.  In my shame, I couldn’t remember the last time I had actually witnessed to another person about the relationship I have with Jesus Christ.

There are so many avenues we can choose to take in our life.  There are wrong paths and right paths.  I have taken a journey down both of these paths.  I have learned valuable lessons on each path.  But the sad truth is that for most of my adult life I have traveled a path that could best described as a “gray path”.   This  “gray path” is best described as when a believer lives their life in such a way that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  However, they do not have a real regard in sharing their faith and being a true “witness” for Jesus Christ.  They become very comfortable just living their life, going to church on Sunday’s and for the most part doing whatever they want the remainder of the week.  This would describe me.

Sitting in my car on that raining day, holding that worn and torn tract made me realize that I have neglected my responsibility to be a witness for Jesus Christ.  I believe that God intended for that man to speak to me that day.  I see that I need to be open and not so judgmental.   Along the way of living out my life, I now wonder how many friends will I leave behind because I failed to witness to them.

The truth is that everyone is looking for God.  Many people may not want to admit that but it makes it no-less true.   I should have been the one that gave that man a gospel tract.  I should always be the kind of witness that sheds light on what it truly means to live for Christ.  We have a responsibility to those we come in contact with along the way of this life.


Hearts that never mend,
The tears that never end,
And words that go unspoken every day,
Love we should have shown,
Dreams they could have known;
If only we would have told
Them along the way.

And who are we to say we really love Him,
When all we seem to do is throw His love away?
Will we smile when we stand before Him
And laugh all the hours away,
Or cry for the friends we left behind along the way?

The race is never run,
The battle’s never won,
And time just keeps on turning, burning away.
Bless me, Lord, I pray,
Fill my cup, we say,
While a million souls are dying along the way.

And who are we to say we really love Him,
When all we seem to do is throw His love away?
Will we smile when we stand before Him
And laugh all the hours away,
Or cry for the friends we left behind along the way?

I know that I am a better person and a better witness because of that chance meeting along the way.

The question is…  who are you leaving behind along the way?



Footprints of a Legacy Left Behind

I found myself mumbling out loud as I walked through my office this week.  I didn’t realize I was talking out loud until another co-worker asked me to repeat what I had just said.  At first, I was not really sure what I was mumbling about but then it flooded back into my memory.  I was mumbling something about needing to “go on vacation and disappear for a while”.  Ever have those feelings?  Seems lately I have had them a lot.  Nothing serious and nothing that more than a day off couldn’t cure.

However, there have been times in my life that things were so bad that I just wanted to disappear from life altogether.  Not in the sense that I wanted “end it all”, but rather, I  just wanted to get in my car and drive as far away as I could.  Wherever the car ran out gas,  I would start a new life and get a fresh start.  Now these were just fleeting thoughts and at no time was I serious about wanting to really do that.  They were just thoughts going through my head.  I have lived long enough to know that you cannot run away from the problems in your life.  They will always find you.  What I have learned from these thoughts is that for whatever reason, whether it be due to bad choices we have made in our lives, disappointment, hurt, anger, regret, pain or loss we  all want to remove ourselves from the things and people who caused us such problems.  It is a common feeling.  The idea of getting a second chance and starting over is a strong force to be reckoned with.  But ultimately, no matter how hard we try, we cannot change the events and the trouble from our past.

I am reminded of the powerful influence that my family and friends had on me while I was growing up.   I am a “momma’s boy” and I have always acknowledged that.  Apart from my relationship with Jesus Christ,  my mother’s influence on me has been the single most important factor in making me into the person I would become.   She left an imprint on my life.  A “footprint” if you will.   This “footprint” that she gave has been evident all my life.   I can honestly say that if there is any thing “good” in me I have no doubt that it came from my mother.

As I head into my 50’s, I realize that there have been other “footprints” that have influenced me and left their “mark” on me as I look back on my life.  They would leave a legacy of influence.  This “legacy” that was passed on to me would lay a foundation on the person I would become.  My grandfather left a footprint that has made me want to be a better man.  My dad left a footprint of a good work ethic.  My brother, a footprint of  being true to your core beliefs of fairness and equality.  My sister, that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind and heart into it.   These are the positive footprints that I choose to focus on and take away from their influence on my life.  However, there are “footprints” that have been left in my life that have not been good.   A legacy of anger, failure, disappointment, hurt and loss have all been part of my life.   These footprints have be given not only by family but by my friends as well. I am finding out that there has always  been an influence from those that make up my past.  As much as I would like to, I cannot simply erase the bad  influences by simply wanting to run away from them.   They will stay with me until the day I die.  The goal is to focus on the good influences and put away the bad.

What frightens me the most, is the cold-hard realization that I have passed on my own “legacy”.   My actions and my influence have planted “footprints” in my family.  My footprints have left behind a legacy that my children will have to deal with their whole life.  I know and understand that each of my children have to forge their own path.  Just as I cannot blame those that influenced me as an excuse for not doing right, they cannot use me as an excuse to not live for Jesus Christ.  However,  I cannot help but think of the times that I failed them as a father.  It is overwhelming to me when I think about that.  I think back and wonder, what could have been had I not been this, or had done that.   My footprints will indeed leave a legacy in their lives.  Will this legacy leave a mark  that will be positive and point them to Christ or will it leave a scar that they will carry for the rest of their lives? Only time will tell.

This past January, I wrote a post called, “Scars Earned Along The Path Of Forgiveness” (Click the link to read).  It is one of the most popular blog posts that I have ever written.  I still get “hits” every single day to read this post.  Why?   Well… I know it is not because the writing is so good that people keep on reading it over and over again.  I believe that the real reason this post is still popular is the fact that each of us know that in some way we are scarred.  Scarred by the failures of a parent, failures of a husband or wife, failures by those closest to us. The evidence of a life lived is witnessed by the scars we carry.  These scars can be emotional, physical and more importantly spiritual.  We are scarred from events that have caused us pain or hurt in our lives. We could be scarred by the way we were raised or by disappointments that have come our way in life. Scars are reminders of the result of the choices we have made and some by the choices of others. The deepest and most painful scars are those that others cannot see. Many of them are “earned” and self-inflicted, some are not.  The bottom line is that scars are a part of life.  It is what you do with them that is important.  You can choose to use them as motivation to do better or you can use them as an excuse to do nothing.  I am constantly reminded that the scars that are evident in my life  are there to point me to Christ.   They are reminders of what can happen again if I take my eyes off the Lord.

In closing,  from time-to-time I get asked about the name of my website, “The Legacy Builder”.    I chose the name as a reminder to me that I leave a legacy wherever I go.  I leave a “footprint” and  an influence on those I come in contact with.    My prayer is that for the rest of my life that I will leave a legacy of faithfulness and love for Christ in the footprints I leave behind.

The question is, what will be the legacy of the footprints you leave behind?