Your Second Chance

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

Thomas Edison

Imagine yourself awaiting execution for a horrible crime you have committed against the king. A man awaits in a leather hood, wielding a large ax. You kneel before him, melting with the fear of a sure and impending doom. Then another man steps forward, the son of the king, and he stays the executioner's hand. He then orders you released and kneels in the very spot that you were in only a moment ago. Understanding dawns on you at just what the son is doing for you. You try to stop him from taking your place but he shakes his head, looks deep into your eyes and says, "I am taking your place. All I ask is that you live for me". And you go away, filled with love, determined to meet his request.

Now imagine yourself the very next day, preparing to do the work of the one who paid your penalty. You look at the schedule that day - the schedule of the son of the king who took your place - and you decide that it is filled with things that are simply beneath your dignity. There is a lot of service to others and, frankly, it looks too much like work. So you walk away from your duty without even a backwards glance and you return to your old ways.

Ridiculous story, isn't it? Yet when you think about it there are billions of people who have temporarily escaped the sword of the executioner because the real Son of the real King has taken their place. And, quite frankly, while they liked the sentiment of the grace that saved them, the life that they are called to looks too much like work. And... they miss the greatest opportunity of an eternal lifetime.  How about you?

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:6, NIV

You May Begin!

For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin, but there was always some obstacle in the way. Something had to be got through first, some unfinished business; time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. Bette Howland

I cut this quote out of a Reader's Digest in the early 80's and have it under my glass blotter on my desk where I can see it every day. Sadly, it all too often has described my own life. How often it has seemed that real life was waiting to be lived just around the next corner. But, every time I turn that corner, I find another long and winding avenue of things still to be done before I can begin my life.

It's like when we were in school and about ready to take a big test. Maybe it was one of those important assessment tests or a college entrance exam, and we just sat there, waiting and waiting, while the proctor explained the rules and waited for the correct time. Then came the big moment: "You May Begin!"

So much of our lives seemed to be a suspended animation where we are just sitting, sharpened Number 2 pencil poised, waiting to turn our tests over and begin. To our detriment, the most common area of our life that seems to be placed on hold is that of our service to God. We have become convinced that as soon as our life slows down we will become more faithful in our church attendance. We are positive that as soon as things fall into place we will dust off our Bibles and become daily students of God's word. We are certain that , just as soon as we get past this one big thing, we will get serious about our prayer life. And our lives become one hollow promise after another of "as soon as".

The fact is that this life is one big test. God wants to know if we will serve Him in good times and bad. Will we live as Christ expects us to live even when our obligations mount and we seem to have not even one spare second left in our schedules? It is during these hectic times that we need God the most. It is then that we need a calm and the peace that passes all understanding to return to our lives.

So, if the frantic pace of life has got us down and we are ready for God's peace to take control, perhaps we just need to get a grip on what is really important in life and say to ourselves: "You May Begin!"

...for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12,NIV


Yesterday & Tomorrow

He was going to be all that a man should be, Tomorrow. 

No one would be better than he, Tomorrow.

The world would have known him had he ever seen, Tomorrow.

But the fact is he died and faded from view,

And all that was left when living was through

Was all of the things he was planning to do... Tomorrow

Leroy Brownlow

I can relate to this poem. I’ve had so many noble things that I wanted to do, but they were so noble that they needed more time than I could give today… so I put them off until tomorrow. After a half century of life, I’m just beginning to realize that tomorrow never comes.

Just as bad is the multitude of great things that I was going to do, but didn’t get to, yesterday. The comfortable thing about yesterday is the fact that it is already gone. Since no mortal can get the past back, I have often comforted myself with the thought that I really would have accomplished all of those admirable things if time had just not run out.

So,I find myself living between the two worlds of yesterday and tomorrow in this magic place where there are no responsibilities and no consequences. After all, yesterday is past and tomorrow has yet to arrive. Since I have scheduled all of my really important things for either yesterday or tomorrow, I have today’s calendar wide open for all of the things that really don’t matter.

Might this possibly describe your life, as well? If it does, may I recommend that you make begin to do what you know you really need to do… today.

As God fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

II Corinthians 6:1-2, NIV


Words of Praise

It does no harm to speak a friendly word.                                                                                                              

Louis L'Amour

Think of someone that you admire or enjoy being around and chances are they have been an encouragement to you. Think of someone that you would just as soon avoid and the likelihood is that they rarely have anything encouraging to say. I was taught this truth by a group of nine year old girls.

Now, girls are different from boys. I learned this important lesson the first day I ever coached a team of little girls. I had coached many boys teams, so I thought I knew how to coach. Make a boy run a lap after he's got himself in trouble and he takes it as a badge of honor. He's been bad, but he's man enough to pay the price.  Girl's, however, take it personally as I found it when I had one 4th grader run a couple of laps for a minor discipline problem. She ran her laps quick enough but then collapsed in a heap of tears. The other little girls gathered around and patted her and spoke soothing words to her - I just stood there, dumbfounded. Girls are different from boys!

After that, I came up with "the speech". I explained to the girls that whenever they did something wrong, they would run. Once the laps were finished, everything was okay. I was not mad at them and, when the lap was over, all was forgotten - I still liked them and we were still friends. From that day forward I gave the same speech on the first day of practice and never again had this particular problem in all the years I coached little girls.

I also learned something else that day: Little people, like big people, need to hear praise. It's not that there is aren't times for criticism, but I have found that encouragement is far more powerful in motivating people to the type of behavior that is desired. An added benefit is that people love and respect someone who encourages them, if for no other reason than it takes love and respect to offer encouragement. And, most of us generally love those who love to us. If you haven't already, why not find some word of genuine praise for someone today. It will make their day and yours!

Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.                                                

I Thessalonians 5:11, NIV


Why People Don't Strike in Small Towns

This one will probably get me in trouble, but here goes anyway.

Like a lot of people, I have been watching with interest the goings on in Wisconsin. In case you've been away from a T.V. or radio for a week, you know that the teachers are on strike. You know that some lawmakers  have left the state in order to prevent a vote on teacher's pensions. You know that many teachers have called in sick, then showed up in a snow storm to protest their plight. You know that doctors have been openly committing fraud by signing sick notes for these teachers. What I have been wondering is why do you never see teachers pull these type of shenanigans in small towns?

Maybe it's because they are already used to making sacrifices. Maybe it's because the people whose kids they teach appreciate their effort. Maybe it's because most people in a small town only dream of getting a pension, but don't mind providing a reasonable one for their teachers as long as these teachers are willing to do their part. Maybe it's because a teacher in a small town wouldn't think of calling in sick, and then showing up in public, because public liars are not considered to be cute or clever or smart - just liars.

Maybe it's because teachers in small towns wouldn't think of insisting that the kids that they teach be burdened with providing them with a rich retirement. Maybe it's because... they believe in God.

You see, when you believe in God, you are not as likely to commit fraud, or lie, or leave your job, or bankrupt the kids you are teaching before they are even old enough to vote or have a job. I know that the situation in Wisconsin is a bit complicated, but not so complicated that it requires dishonesty.

So, to all you teachers in small towns and large who have never felt the compulsion to break God's laws or man's to get what's coming to you - thank you! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We pray that you will get what is coming to you. And, to those who do feel compelled to lie cheat and steal to make sure you get what's coming to you, we pray for you as well. We pray that you will repent so that you don't ever have to get what is coming to you!

The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward. 

Proverbs 11:18, NIV