Children come to us with impressionable minds––just like a sponge.
However, as adults, we understand that old habits are hard to break. All the things I said I’d never do, I find myself doing. All the character blemishes I recognized in my parents are suddenly recognizable in me.
Some of my flaws are humorous. Others are annoying. But there are those that I absolutely hate––these are the ones that really affect me.
The Apostle Paul had the same struggle. He said “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
How do you stop doing what you hate?
It’s an upstream struggle––attempting to change your behavior. It almost seems impossible. You try. You fail. You try and try and try.
Personal transformation is the ticket. Old habits need to be replaced. Patterns need to be broken. Thinking needs to be switched over.
Bottom line: we need help from above. Only God can give us the power to act differently. A complete reliance upon human willpower will crack everytime. God specializes in personal transformations. He’s had generations of experience.
God uses the Bible as the source to bring about personal transformation. The Psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” It gives practical instruction. It offers lots of earthly examples. It directs our paths.
As parents, we should never complain when our children are asked to memorize scripture. We should encourage and reward that activity. It is the best thing we can do for our children.
If and when their lives are ever faced with darkness, the more they know about the God of Universe the better off they will be. Intellectual information can only take a kid so far. Spiritual truth can carry them through the roughest storms.
When you begin to spend time in God’s Word, you realize that it has the ability to change you. No other source can change you. Others can move you. They can enlighten, educate and entertain you. They can even help you. Only scripture has the ability to change you.
That’s why we fill ourselves with God’s Word. The things we hate most about our behavior are realigned in the presence of scripture. After spending time with the Bible, you will find yourself operating differently.
Daily reading has the power to give you faith . Your prayer life is increased by the study of scripture. You become familiar with the God to whom you’re speaking. You understand His ways. The more you know about God, the more you become like Him.
The main source of information about God has been––and continues to be––the Bible. If you want to know about Him, read His earthly autobiography––astonishing accounts of how He’s worked throughout history.
Purchase a Bible that is easy to read. There are so many options available today. Set aside time each day to just that.
Read it with two goals in mind. First, take the posture of a student and do your best to understand what it must have meant to the initial audience. Research the culture and the language, doing your best to unearth it’s original meaning.
Secondly, always conclude with the possibilities of what God is saying to you. Allow the words to speak to your unique situation. Review your life, searching for possible personal applications. Always leave room for personal transformation.
Try it for thirty days. You won’t be the first one to be surprised how much better life with God can be.by Pastor Doug
High school reunions produce lots of surprises. Mine did.
Scott, the guy who, back then, had it all became the guy who has nothing much. Ann, the girl who seemed to be going nowhere, actually arrived somewhere in a spectacular way.
Life has a way of exposing the method in which we handle potential. Some waste what seems to be unlimited potential. Some find unknown sources and make loud splashes at these school gatherings.
Samson, the long-haired, strong-armed Bible action figure, left high school with assigned purpose and incredible potential. Remarkably high expectations were set early in his career. He was a guy who had it all––a sculpted body, a bright wit and lots of swooning women.
Yet, by the time of his twentieth reunion, he had traded in his enormous God-given gifts for a woman named Delilah, a fresh haircut and a life of ruin.
Great strength in one area of your life does not make up for great weakness in another. It’s important to keep a healthy balance in your life between your successes and your failures. Samson’s great strengths––his might, power, leadership and wit––were overestimated when compared to his glaring weaknesses––his selfish motivations, lack of self-control and unchecked sensuality.
God’s guidance will never overwhelm your will. You must ultimately take responsibility for your decisions and actions. God sees the potential in your life at birth. Sometimes, however, you lose focus, allowing your weakness to run rampant. His best is often forfeited for fleeting passions.
A lack of accountability leads to disaster. Confession is good for the soul. Sharing the details of your life with God is not for His benefit, but for yours. Being transparent with God and others will sharpen your potential.
You begin by opening up daily to your Creator. Allow Him into the secret places of your life. (Remember, you’ll never tell Him something that He doesn’t already know.) Doing so, however, will bring you health and forgiveness. Refusing to do so will stifle growth.
It is also vitally important that you find somebody in which to confide––to share your heart. Every superhero needs a sidekick––a Robin, a Tonto, a Lois Lane. Samson had none. There was no one to keep him accountable. In regards to his potential, it would have been interesting how his life would have been altered had he but one honest friend in which to share a confidence.
Here is a list of questions that could have helped Samson stay focused. Use them with a trusted friend––checking in weekly.
1. Have you been with a member of the opposite sex this week in such a way that was inappropriate or could have looked to others that you were using poor judgment?
2. Have you been completely above reproach in all your financial dealings this week?
3. Have you exposed yourself to any explicit material this week?
4. Have you spent daily time in prayer and in the Scriptures this week?
5. Have you taken time off to be with your family this week?
6. Have you just lied to me?
It is important that you are careful with whom you confide. Samson confided in Delilah. She became the caretaker of his heart. He lacked sound discernment. His judgment was impaired by his passions.
Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”
It is important to evaluate your environment. Daily time with God and His Word needs to be mixed with righteous companionship. Spiritual community is always more than just social––it‘s healthy accord. You need others. They need you.
Accountability is confession. Confession is healthy. Health breeds potential. Potential should never be wasted––use yours to the glory of God.
Then, you’ll be prepared for your next class reunion, especially the eternal one!by Pastor Doug
I hated waiting.
From the back of our Ford station wagon on our trips across America, my brothers and I would impatiently ask a series of questions, “When are we going to get there? Are we almost there? How much longer? Can we stop now? Can we go to the bathroom?”
My father––eventually worn down––would pull into the next Stuckeys Truck Stop and pacify our impatience.
I hate waiting.
I hate being put on eternal hold by computer tech support lines. I hate waiting in line at amusement parks. I hate waiting for my food to be served. I hate waiting for the light to change. I hate waiting for the “scheduled” medical appointment.
I hate waiting lists. I hate waiting rooms. I hate waiting for my wife––while she stands in line––for the women’s restroom.
I hate waiting for the answer I want now.
I. Want. Now.
Why do we hate to wait?
• We live in a fast world. We have fast lanes, fast foods and extra fast microwaves. We enjoy quick, pithy newspapers. We push our kids to grow up so quickly––making sure that they sign up for every imaginable opportunity. We are in a hurry to get everywhere––except, of course, where we already are.
• We live in a culture in love with quick wealth. Shows like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” hype up the facade of true earthly happiness––big money earned overnight. Lotto fever teaches us that anybody––at least anybody with a ticket or two––can get rich fast. It seems that internet stock trading has made everyone else instantly wealthy.
• We think with a sitcom mentality. A sitcom mentality teaches us that all of life can be solved in a half hour. In that amount of time, Beav and Wally always got out of their jams; Marsha and Bobby always worked together to solve their tragedies. Even Sydney Bristol worked through all her struggles quickly. We grew up watching genies, aerial nuns, and even talking horses solve problems in thirty minutes or less.
Everybody is constantly rushing. Nobody likes to wait. Although this is an epidemic that has effected every generation of humanity, our technologically-advanced world is all the more under the vise of impatience.
You are probably anxious to be done reading this article. I admit, I am anxious to be done writing it. We are all so anxious!
God is fond of making us wait. It is not a cruel scheme. It is part of His plan to help us develop character. God always keeps His promises. He does so on His time––part of His masterplan for our best interests. The Bible is full of stories of people just like us––folks who struggle with patience.
Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was asked to wait. God promised Abraham and Sarah that their offspring would become a great nation, a large family. Sarah waited and waited and waited. She grew old waiting.
She reached the point of impatience and decided that she could not cope with waiting any longer. She took matters into her own hands. She decided to help God get His plan into action. She gave Abraham her maidservant, Hagar, to produce children. She adjusted God’s promise by concocting a plan of her own.
Much of time, we do the very same thing. When we reach the point of impatience, we begin to adjust, fix and manipulate our circumstances to fit our unique desires. Instead of waiting on God, we replace the experience of His providential care with our feeble and hurried efforts. We cheat ourselves out of so much.
That point of impatience led her to despair. She concluded that what she was waiting for was something that wasn’t going to happen. In her laughter at God, she essentially gave up on His word, His promise of a child. She lost faith in the promise He had made.
What parts of your life seem to be on hold right now? Do you understand that this may be God’s plan for you? Can you not wait a bit longer?
As much as you may hate to wait, you do benefit from waiting on God. The scripture says that “those who wait in the Lord will renew their strength.” In those moments of waiting, you are given the capacity to prepare for what will unfold. People who wait for God are promised a future where they “will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
God wants you to wait. You don’t like to wait. God’s strength comes through waiting. Do not trade that in to rely on your own strength. Understand, that by waiting, you are letting God build character in your heart––allowing God to shape you and mold you. Waiting also allows God’s perfect plan to unfold––not a hurried, fragile plan of your own doing.
God wanted Sarah to wait. Finally, in her nineties, God gave her the child He had promised years before. In fact, she had to order a crib at the rest home! In her prime of life, she was finally ready for His answer. This time, she laughed with God. It was well worth the wait!
Take time each day, as a necessary part of your prayer life, to just wait on God. Wait patiently. Allow Him to control your circumstances. Allow Him to fill your heart and mind with peace. Be a testimony to all those around you. Just slow down and wait.
Someday, when God comes through––in the perfection of His time––you’ll be glad you waited.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust . . .
Have you ever wanted to learn more about prayer?
Prayer is talking to God. Communication always takes two parties. We were created to communicate with the Creator. Throughout the Bible, prayer is not only encouraged, but modeled.
The Psalms are a wonderful collection of prayers––prayers prayed from a variety of emotions, almost all involving praise. How refreshing it is to find refuge in words that describe authentic human experience!
Jesus gave his disciples the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” It begins with praise. This time-honored prayer begins with a recognition of who God is, and praise is directed towards Him. This is a model for how you should pray, too.
You should always begin your communication with God by giving Him praise. Prayer that begins with praise is balanced and effective.
Praise establishes your frame of mind. When you take time to applaud before ask, you have a cleaner, purer framework. God must be awfully kind to field so many urgent requests that never get proceeded with any type of personal recognition. It is always good to properly recognize and identify the God whom you are addressing. Praise establishes that accurate focus.
Praise releases God to work through you. It redefines your perspective. When you grasp a proper vision of God, you understand that He is more than able to meet your needs, to see you through. The longer you are alive, the more you realize that your availability far exceeds your ability. Your abilities and skills can only accomplish so much. Your availability, however, allows God to do His will through you “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Praise is admiration. It is a recognition that God is bigger than
you––He is bigger than your problems, bigger than anything. Grasping His grandeur leads you to awe. God is awesome. Praise is intentionally recognizing His wonder and might.
Praise is appreciation. When you think of how astounding God is, you are motivated to praise Him. It is an act of estimating the true worth of all that God represents. What He does is related to who He is. Who He is and how He still treats you––even with all He knows about you––should cause you a great sense of appreciation.
Praise is expressing gratitude. It is giving God thanks for all He does––how He gives good things to those He loves. He loves you. He loves me. I cannot speak for you, but I know I am certainly not always lovable. Yet, He still loves me unconditionally. For this, I give Him thanks. So should you.
So, begin your next prayer with a time of praise to God. Start by praising Him for what He does––what He has done, is doing and will continue to do.
Praise Him for His creation. The Psalmist joyfully shouts, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” The heavens and the earth are saturated with the marks of a loving Creator. All the interesting birds, the unique flowers and the various trees speak to the wonder of a Creator. Every direction you look points you to stand amazed before an inspiring God.
Praise Him for His blessings. Stop and consider all that God has done for you. Realize that all you have has been loaned to you for a brief lifetime. He owned it. He will still own it. He is presently being kind to you. His blessings should never be forgotten or taken for granted. Always take time to praise Him for how you’ve been blessed.
Praise Him for His forgiveness. Never forget that God knows everything about you and He still decides to love you. When asked in repentance, He is always willing to forgive you––forgive the ways in which you’ve hurt Him as well as others. Generations of folks have found solace in His forgiveness. The Psalmist wrote, “When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.” Always take time to praise Him for how He has forgiven you.
After praising Him for what He has done, praise Him for who He is.
He is great. He is larger in size or dimension than anything imaginable. In other words, if you could see Him, it would blow your mind. He is considerably dominant in degree, power and intensity. There is nothing on earth that begins to equal the beginnings of a description of Him because He is indescribable. He is grand. He is vast. He is immense. He is, also, worthy of your praise.
He is loving. God’s very nature is love. He can be no other way. Real love comes only from Him. He is the beginning of love––when you experience true love, you experience God. He loves you. Take time to bask in that love––praising Him for who He is.
He is faithful. God’s faithfulness continues through all generations. My grandparents found the same God that I have found. My grandchildren will discover that He has not changed. He continues to be a constant in our ever-changing world. He never has to adjust to the times. He is always way ahead of our latest. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Praise Him for His faithfulness.
He is just. I am completely baffled by how God will be able to sort out all that we have done. However, pure justice always involves consequences––both rewards and punishments. I am so relieved to know that God is just. I have peace that He will operate His judgment in righteousness. No “legalese.” No distortion of the facts. No human error. God has the capacity to cut to the chase justly. That gives me one more reason to praise Him.
He is patient. The Psalmist wrote, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” What good news! What a wonderful relief it is to know that God is patient with me. I know I’ve given Him lots of opportunity to use His patience. I want to praise Him for who He is!
So, go ahead and talk openly and freely to God. Bare your soul. Tell him what is on your mind. Just remember to start out with praise!by Pastor Doug