Skateboards were the absolute rage when my oldest son was growing up.Our driveway was the launching ramp for the neighborhood kids.One boy would stand at the street and watch for traffic, while another would race down the length of the driveway, cross the street and hit the ramp at full throttle.If he was lucky he would land on the grass next to the sidewalk without breaking anything.It was difficult for me to watch, but hard not to as well.I would stand and peek out the window as the daredevils flew through the air with glee, hoping and praying for a safe landing (They did the hoping as I prayed).
My son learned a new trick and escorted me outside to watch the traffic while he performed.He whizzed down the runway, hit the ramp hard and missed his landing badly.All I saw was elbows and ankles going in four different directions, and the skateboard sailing toward the neighbor's tree."Wipeout!" he grimaced, as he struggled to pull himself off the concrete.
Recovering from life's wipeouts is something we get better at as we grow older.Know why that is?Two reasons... one, we get lots and lots of practice, and the second is the older we are the closer we grow toward the Lord.(Someone said the third reason is that we learn not to take as many chances.Maybe so.)
Have you noticed that, like the good Father he is, God is always around when we fall off the skateboard, regardless of whether we acted responsibly or foolishly?Our Lord is there for us, peeking through the window of our souls, awaiting an opportunity to pick up the pieces and set us on the right track again.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, if it seems that I love you more when I am pain-free, I confess that I have not yet learned how to say thank you with skinned knees and bloodied elbows.I don't ask for preferential treatment just because I am your child, but I will ask that you hasten my spiritual education."Amen and amen.
“Waiting for the World to Change,” a recent segment of ABC’s 20/20 program reported by Diane Sawyer, traced the lives of several children in one of the poorest cities in the United States – Camden, New Jersey.
One child, in particular, named Ivan, was prominently featured.The 4-year-old with the infectious smile was extremely articulate and despite his family’s circumstances, so full of hope.
Watching his daily trials just broke my heart.He, his mother and little brother were displaced often; sometimes resorting to sleeping in a park.They were homeless with very little to eat on a daily basis.
While most of us have some sort of support system, they didn’t.The church tried to help, but didn’t have the financial resources.The grandmother couldn’t help as she is addicted to crack.
Ivan wanted to be Superman so he could help people and he wanted a home for his family so desperately.
His eyes sparkled when he thought of going to school.When the first day of kindergarten arrived he became a little anxious.He looked so handsome in his new uniform, although it was too big for his slight build.His mother comforted him as he boarded the school bus and an administrator reassured him at school.
Ivan was a smart little boy.He could count and responded very well to questions posed by the administrator, but he didn’t know how many meals most folks consume daily.Lunch and dinner seemed alien to him.It was so sad.
Another young man featured was determined to be the first in his family to graduate from high school.He had the fortitude to stay away from the allure of a quick fix - selling drugs.He managed to keep his grades up, despite having to travel some distance to work at a fast food chain five nights a week to help his father support 6 children.
He successfully completed that part of his journey and we rejoiced!
Most of us watching that segment should be extremely angry!The U.S. is spending billions of dollars to help others in far away places, yet we don’t take care of our neediest at home.We should be ashamed of ourselves.
The thing that stuck with me most—these families were asking for a little help and possibly, if they lived elsewhere, maybe they would have received it.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, while I sit in my warm home watching this program on the latest model TV with a well-stocked refrigerator, let me remember those who don’t have even a few basics.
Let me turn my outrage into action.Camden is not unique.There are pockets of poverty in many of our communities.
Let me be reminded and put into practice the words of John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."
Let’s NOT wait for the world to change.With Your help, let’s start changing the world, one step at a time!
My grandmother would tell me often, “Tommy, be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it.”My child-like mind didn’t comprehend the wisdom of those words then.Prayer at that age was much like asking God for stuff, the way I would ask my dad for pocket change to ride my bike to the corner store for a cold soft drink.
“Dear God, I need a new bicycle tire… I want a puppy… I need some new shoes… I saw this fire truck at the store, and I sure could use one of those!”
Maybe God heard a few of those prayers, but I wonder how much they did for Him?Even today, our prayers have tones of self-interests beyond the realm of seeking His perfect will for our lives.What is God’s perfect plan/will for us?Has the heavenly Father created us so that we may always approach Him with our hand out, looking for a quick fix to our perceived needs?
Indeed, God has a plan for His creation and the human race is at the top of the order.He has placed us in a position of authority over the earth and all that is therein.We are in partnership with Him to perfect the work that He began in the Garden of Eden, which means, at times, we must set aside our needs, desires, and wishes, and seek the mind of God to learn what He thinks and wants.He sees the big picture while we tend to stumble over that which is right in front of us for the moment.
The Children of Israel were in the wilderness to learn how to become God’s chosen people.Jehovah provided food for them every day, and gave them strict guidelines for gathering it.But the “rabble” began to complain to Moses that they wanted meat to eat.Prayer was offered to God in order to change the menu, and God sent quail into the camp.Jehovah heard their prayer and answered it.“But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.” (Numbers 11:33)
“So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them.”Psalm 106:15
Beloved, our mission in prayer should be first to listen!Hear the voice of God, ask Him what He wants for us.Knowing His perfect will for our lives removes the need for self-centered requests.When my heart and God’s heart are as one, the stuff will be provided in His perfect time.I would rather live my life in poverty than to pray for riches and miss the vast wealth that comes from knowing the mind of God in all things.
I leave you with this thought:Authentic prayer is the spiritual manifestation of man’s perfect union with the heart, mind and soul of God.
Be careful what you pray for… you just might get it!
My daughter asked, "Dad, can you like help me with my homework?"
I laid a calculator on her desk.
"Dad, that won't help," she said.
"But, it's like help," I answered with a smirk
How many of you have had similar conversations...If I hear one more person say, "It's like… ______ (fill in the blank)" I think I'll scream.My standard response is "Is it like (whatever is being described); or, is it the real thing?"
1st Peter 5:8 (NIV) tells us that "the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (The KJV says 'as' roaring lion).Is he like a roaring lion; or, is he the real thing?
Jesus told us to "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, and will deceive many." (Matthew 24:4)
We are told in 2nd Thessalonians 2:9-10 that "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved."
Satan tries to use your circumstances to get you to accept his lies.But our Lord tells us to give thanks in all circumstances because it is God's will (1st Thessalonians 5:17).
He tries to entice us with all manner of filth, lust and evil.But, we are commanded by our Savior to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (Colossians 3:5-6).
Satan tries to lead us into carnality (living for the physical - especially sexual - worldly or earthly appetites).Our Lord tells us that to be carnally minded is death; to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:6).
The apostle John speaks of the devil saying, "…When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)
Satan is like a roaring lion... but, he is a liar - he has no power over those who love the Lord because we have been redeemed - set free, rescued and ransomed from a state of sinfulness and its consequences and restored to right standing before God our Father (Luke 1:68 and Galatians 3:12-14).
Jesus tells us that anyone who has faith in Him can do what He did (and even greater things) because He went going to the Father and He will do whatever we ask in His name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father (John 14:12-13).So, let's ask for His armor…
GospeLines Prayer:Father, we ask to be empowered through our union with Christ; to draw our strength from Him.Help us put on Your whole armor - the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which You supply - that we may be able to stand against all the deceits of the devil… that we may be able to resist and stand our ground against all evil; and, having done all our every circumstance demands, to stand firmly in Your word.
Help us to hold our ground, having tightened the belt of truth around our loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and right standing with You.Cover us with the shield of saving faith, with which we can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked one.Bless us with the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.Keep us alert and filled with strong purpose, secure in Your grace - Your undeserved favor - and Your incorruptible love.So let it be in Jesus name.
“…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”
There were many quotes and sayings I grew up with in Southeast Texas.One of them was about feeling out of place in a particular situation.That person would be described as a "duck out of water."
I remembered that quote on a Saturday morning while enjoying a one-night-get-away at a beautiful hotel resort south of Houston, TX.I stepped out on the balcony to see the hundreds of yachts in the harbor below.It was a foggy morning, the wind was blowing from the north, but the view to a land lubber was breathtaking.
My gaze fell upon the swimming pool below, following its 180 foot contour past the cabana and the waterfall, I spotted something unusual.I don't know if it was there because of the fog, but it looked perfectly content and appeared that the surroundings were not unfamiliar.It was a mallard duck, swimming listlessly in circles, unconcerned that he was probably in a restricted "For People Only" area.
Being out of place is more about how we feel regarding a situation than how we are perceived by others.Sometimes it's about self-confidence, or the lack of it, that gives us discomfort with our surroundings.Some of us have been told for so long, "You don't belong!" that we have begun to doubt our worthiness.
God has made you in His image and has enabled you to live without fear or intimidation!
While the duck may have looked strange to me, it is likely that his ancestors inhabited that area long before the hotel was built.He was just reclaiming what was his in the first place.
You have a high calling in Christ Jesus!Let no one shoo you away from standing tall in the work of the Lord.
GospeLines Prayer:Lord, give me the bravado of the duck, so that I will not hide when someone tells me “Shoo!You don’t belong!”Thank you for courage which allows me to float around in obscure places, and sometimes even swim against the current of popular trend and meaningless ritual. Amen and amen.