Thursday, August 27, 2009

Things I Wish I'd Known

Someone has composed this list (from a variety of sources) of "Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Went Out Into the Real World":

* Never continue dating anyone who is rude to the waiter.

* Some people are working backstage, some are playing in the orchestra, some are on-stage singing, some are in the audience as critics, some are there to applaud. Know who and where you are.

* The five most essential words for a healthy, vital relationship: "I apologize" and "You are right."

* Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

* When you make a mistake, make amends immediately. It's easier to eat crow while it's still warm.

* The only really good advice that I remember my mother ever gave me was, "Go! You might meet somebody!"

* If he says that you are too good for him, believe it.

* I've learned to pick my battles; I ask myself, "Will this matter one year from now? How about one month? One week? One day?"

* The shortest line is always the longest.

* Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect, it just means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections.

* If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance!

There's a lot of biblical truth in many of the statements above, especially the last statement. How often have you done something really stupid and said to yourself, "I wish I could have a second chance"? The truth is, God has given you a second chance. He's given you hundreds of second chances. You're not guaranteed another one, but the fact that you got up out of bed today means that you have one more opportunity to make right anything that has destroyed your relationship with God or others.

Many people have questioned why Jesus has not yet returned like he promised he would. Here's one reason:

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise [to return], as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance! Don't waste it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Learning From Correction

I read recently about a wife who who frustrated at always being corrected by her husband. She decided the next time it happened she would have a comeback. That moment finally arrived, and she was ready.

"You know," she challenged, "even a broken clock is right once a day."

He looked at her and replied, "Twice."

Nobody enjoys being corrected, even if it's done in a kind, loving way. But correction may serve a useful purpose. We need to listen to it and, if possible, profit by it.

As someone has said, "We learn much from the disagreeable things people say, for they make us think, whereas the good things only make us glad."

For Christians, correction should be a stepping-stone to spiritual growth! It's an opportunity to learn what we're doing wrong and what we need to do better. It provides us with the motivation we need to change and mature.

But our pride often stands in the way of our gaining anything from correction. We don't want to admit our shortcomings. We react to admonishment by pouting, retaliating in anger or attempting to rationalize our behavior.

Peter is a good example for us. He had a lot of excellent qualities that made him a great servant of God -- his leadership, his frankness, his energy, his devotion. But there's one quality in particular that helped Peter grow to the great leader that he was. Peter was correctable. And a correctable person is able to learn and grow.

On at least eight different occasions, the Bible tells us that Peter blew it. He sank in the Sea of Galilee. He rebuked Jesus for talking about his death. He spoke out of turn at the transfiguration. He initially refused to let Jesus wash his feet. He went to sleep in Gethsemane. He cut off the ear of Mal­chus. He denied any relationship with Jesus. And he practiced racial discrim­ination against his Gentile brothers at Antioch.

And every time he failed, Peter received some kind of admonition, usually verbal -- from Paul, from Jesus, from God. And each time, Peter humbly received his admonition, then pressed on in his Master's service.

"If you listen to correction to improve your life, you will live among the wise. Those who refuse correction hate themselves, but those who accept correction gain understanding." (Proverbs 15:31-32, NCV)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Leaving Collateral

I accompanied my husband when he went to get a haircut. Reading a magazine, I found a hairstyle I liked for myself, and I asked the receptionist if I could take the magazine next door to make a copy of the photo.

"Leave some ID, a driver's license or a credit card," she said.

"But my husband is here getting a haircut," I explained.

"Yes," she replied. "But I need something you'll come back for."

We are familiar with the concept of collateral. Perhaps many of you have been in a situation, as I have in time past, where you pumped your gas or bought some groceries but then realized that you didn't have any cash. The cashier wanted something (usually a driver's license) as collateral to serve as proof that you would return to pay the full amount.

In the Old Testament, the word that is most often used to describe collateral is "pledge". You may recall the story of Jacob and Tamar in Genesis 38, where Judah had sex with Tamar, thinking that she was a prostitute. As payment, he offered to return home for a goat, but Tamar wanted collateral: "What will you give me a pledge till you send it?" (Gen. 38:17).

Under the Law of Moses, if you needed collateral, you could take a person's garment, but "If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down." (Exodus 22:26) because that's what he used to keep warm at night.

In the New Testament, the word that is most often used to describe the idea of collateral is "guarantee". Three times (2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:14), the apostle Paul says that God has given us His Holy Spirit as a "guarantee" that there is more to come. We can be assured that God will keep all of His promises and give us great blessings (including a home in heaven) because we have the Spirit to serve as collateral.

"For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee." (2 Cor. 5:4-5)

Trust me, that's something God is definitely coming back for!