I was pulling a cart loaded with about 500 lbs. of merchandise and accidentally brushed against a lady shopper with my shoulder.Of course, I was embarrassed but no harm was done.I quickly apologized and heard myself mumble, "I was looking at what I was pulling instead of where I was going."
I do that a lot.Too often my focus is upon what is behind me rather than the future.There is lots of baggage back there that I would just as soon forget, but I pull it along anyway, and bump into future opportunities instead of embracing them courageously.Paul said, "Forgetting what is behind, I press onward...."
GospeLines Prayer:“Father, help me to see the opportunities ahead of me and leave behind the failures of yesterday.Allow me to live victoriously in the Love of Christ, who has wiped away the guilt of sin and allowed me to press forward toward a new life.”Amen and amen.
Do you know what SOS stands for?In morse code, it is 3 dots followed by 3 dashes and then another 3 dots like this:... --- ...
SOS actually did not stand for anything, originally; "Save Our Souls" (or "Save Our Ships" or "Stop Other Signals") is just a "backronym", or acronym created after the word was properly defined.It just "stands" for the Morse Code pattern of dots and dashes.While it is not an acronym for “Save our Souls,” it is truly a distress signal as the following story illustrates.
Many of us remember popular vocal groups from the 1980s, particularly the Jackson Five and its lead singer, Michael Jackson.A few of us may even remember another group, DeBarge and its lead singer, El DeBarge.Until a recent article was published, I hadn’t given him or the group much thought.That was then, but now he has a more compelling story to tell than highlighting a vocal group that made it big.
While on their ascent, DeBarge seemed destined to parallel their contemporaries and El’s star should have shown as brightly as Michael or Prince.DeBarge had a number of chart-topping hits.Despite assistance from various record companies, the likes of Quincy Jones, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, etc., no one could rescue several of the members of the group, including El from self-destructive behavior.With success came pressure, anxiety and pain.
At age 25, he started using marijuana for the first time, but later, graduated to snorting cocaine and eventually moved on to crack and ultimately heroin.(Older brother Bobby also had a heroin addiction).In 1992, El was a full-fledged addict and as he spiraled downward, he started encountering multiple brushes with the law, serving days in jail here and there.
However, in 2008, things finally came to a head.El was arrested for vandalism, for possession of a controlled substance and for violating the terms of his probation.He finally admitted, “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.It wasn’t about my career, it was about my life.”He went cold turkey to kick his heroin addiction while imprisoned for two years.
El views the experience differently than many of us may have considered.“I was never in denial about the fact that I had a problem.Drugs just had me.When I came out of my addiction (a 22-year drug coma), when God saw fit to have me locked up in prison, that was really a rescue.He let me know ‘I had you the whole time.I allowed you to go through this for such a season, for a reason.And, you’re in prison right now because I plucked you out of the situation.I’m the one who had you locked up for your own sake.But when you come out of here, watch what I do for you.’”
Now 49 years old, El (his three-and-a-half octave vocal range still intact) recently performed at the 2010 BET Awards.Second chances in the music industry are fairly rare and second (or multiple) chances in life…only by God’s grace.
Despite the hold drugs had on El, he never gave up hope.He is on the road to redemption and recovery, and has a bright future thanks to surrounding himself with a strong support system.Since his release from prison, he’s also been in drug counseling, anger management and self-awareness classes.He knows he can’t do this alone.“It’s a testimony of God’s goodness and delivering power.”
Prayer:Father, El DeBarge isn’t much different than many of Your children.He chose to worship another god…a pretty persuasive and toxic one…drugs.Somewhere inside of him, there was something even more powerful…Your presence.
He sent a distress signal multiple times, but it wasn’t time until You said it was time.How many of us have crawled or fallen down into the pit of despair, worshipped other gods, thrown Your blessings away and didn’t know a way out?
God, we thank You for being a forgiving, faithful and loving God…even when we are not deserving.Thank You for saving this man’s soul and most importantly, thanks for hearing our distress calls and for…
Saving Our Souls….
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Who Are You?
Jean Chretien, the former Prime Minister of Canada, was visiting a senior citizen home one day. He approached one of the elderly residents and asked her if she knew who he was. She replied, "No I don't dear, but if you go up to the front desk, they will tell you who you are"
Christians occasionally forget, and become guilty of living a life which discredits our name, bringing shame to our Savior.It is a high honor to be the namesake of the Living God.No one needs to tell you who you are; you only need to go to the precious Word of God to be reminded.
We are His beloved
We are His adopted children and joint heirs with Jesus Christ
We are His sheep and He knows our names
We are His Temple
We are the stewards of His Creation
We are His Workmanship
We are the heirs of Heaven
We are His Chosen ones
We are created in His image
We are evangelists and missionaries to the nations
GospeLines Prayer:O Lord, my prayer is for those who are still trying to "find themselves," through sorcery, drugs, alcoholism, sex, and a myriad of ungodly means which only adds to their confusion.Turn their eyes toward the heavens and their hearts toward the Son.In their futile search for the meaning of life, may they find the richer meaning of eternal life through Jesus, our Lord and our Redeemer.Amen and amen.
A dear friend recently asked, “Why do some people have happier lives than others?”
He added: “I honestly don't have a clue why some people have a great, successful, healthy, and worry free life and others do not.I don't know why some have loving soul mates and others do not.I don't know if God has predetermined these things or not.I don't how much of any of it is caused by us.Can anyone help me answer this question for myself and for others?”
I cannot even begin to answer his question... I think to do so would require understanding the mind of God; and that, in and of itself, is beyond our comprehension. I will offer a small bit of insight that may help (it has helped me).
We live in linear time - we move from day to day seeing only the present, poorly remembering the past, and imagining the future. God sees all time (or maybe no time); He clearly sees what we call the past and what we think of as the future as if they were all the present. He comprehends eternity; and, compared to our short lives, the time we spend in this life is less than a blink of an eye.
Imagine a great novel written by William Faulkner, Franz Kafka, or Virginia Woolf.How many errors could be found in its pages before we would say, "This is not a great novel"? How many before we would say, "It's not even a good novel"? Do the errors change the novel? Compared to most writers, these three are among the greatest ever to grace mankind with literature. Is their success measured by the number of errors on the written page or by the struggles they faced during their lives?
Imagine a beautiful painting by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, or Michelangelo Buonarroti. Can we find brush strokes that are incorrect? Are there flaws in the color or in the canvas? Do we care? The art historian Anthony Blunt has described these artists' paintings as having "super-human quality." He never once mentioned the flaws or the traumas that beset the artists' lives.
Great novels and great art lives long beyond the short lives of the novelists or the artists; their work stands to make any errors or hardships irrelevant in the face of time.
Now, compare our short lives to all of eternity. How can we even say thatsome people have happier lives than others? Our salvation through Jesus the Christ stands to make any errors or hardships irrelevant in the face of eternity...
O.K., I confess....I'm hooked on it!At my local grocery store there is a game machine which is filled with colorful stuffed animals of all kinds.It reminds me of what a cartoon of Noah's ark would look like.On each of my 3 or 4 weekly trips to the store, I almost always feed the machine with money and manipulate the grappling hook to snatch one of the little critters.Although I have become pretty accomplished at it over the years I still have more misses than hits.We have had more than 50 small animals in various parts of our house, grinning their stuffed hearts out and bringing smiles to everyone who sees them.The neatest part about my obsession is that each of the animals is different.They are unique in their own special way, hand crafted down to the last tiny detail.
Every time I tote another one home it makes me smile.As I looked at our collection, I began to think about the imagination of the craftsman who makes them.It reminds me of my Creator, how He carefully made me and you unlike anyone else.But our differences don't stop with our looks.Each of God's children is born with talents and gifts which set us apart for service.Within you, God has crafted a special gift which makes you important to Him and to the world.There is a part of you which blesses someone everytime they see you!The world would be much worse off without you in it.I am glad you are here to share it with me!
GospeLines Prayer:Creator of Eden, Holy Father of Revelation, I adore You for making me the way You did.With compassion You shared Your tears; with heartache You gave me freedom to choose; with agony You blessed me with suffering.You didn't make me perfect like Yourself, but You held nothing back so that I can feel what You feel, and in no small way I can know the mind and heart of my Creator.Thank you for making me in Your image.Amen and amen.