What do you do when you know you’ve screwed up? What’s your next move when you’ve just done something really stupid? When you’re running from God as fast as you can and nothing is going the way you hoped it would, how do you get out of the woods? Well, if you’re anything like me, you try to fix it yourself before anyone finds out what you’ve done. And if you’re as good at cleaning up your messes as I am, you probably find yourself in more trouble than when you began. My instinct is to double down on a bad choice and make mistake after mistake until I dig myself so deep down into trouble that I can’t get out on my own and have to call for help.
Way back in the Old Testament, David did the same thing. God had promised he would be king, but it hadn’t happened yet. Instead of sitting on a throne, he was running for his life from Saul, the old king. Saul was jealous of David, wanted him dead and spent seven years hunting him down in order to get rid of him. David knew that he could trust God. He knew that God’s promise of kingship would come true one day, but his fear overcame his faith and instead of waiting on God to take care of him, he fled the city to make it on his own.
He wound up lying to a priest, stealing sacred food, raiding a museum for weapons and then running for his life to the very worst place he could have gone: right into the hands of the Philistines who also wanted David dead. David made some bad choices, and like most of us, he tried to clean up those messes by making more and more bad choices until they almost cost him his life. He wound up pretending to be completely insane in front of the Philistines so they wouldn’t kill him. He was rolling on the ground, yelling in gibberish, slobbering all over his beard and banging his head against the walls until the king of the Philistines chucked him out just to get rid of the noise and the awkwardness. Not David’s finest moment.
Later on, however, David sat down with a pen and his harp and wrote this really complex song where the first letter of every line was in sequence with the Hebrew alphabet. It was a song all about how God will always take care of you and the main thing we need to do is remember that very thing. The song says that all you have to do is try life God’s way and you’ll find out it just works better. I love that thought. Our instincts when we screw up usually lead us to mess up again and again, but what we need to do is to stop and think. What if I went back to God right now? What if I did this His way? That’s what real, Biblical repentance is actually all about - thinking more. Does it work out when I go my own way or does it get worse? What happens when I actually trust God and do things His way? When you find yourself in the middle of a mess, don’t try to clean it up - stop and think. What if you followed God right now?
What if today was your last day? What if you knew you had only one more chance to hang out with the people who are most dear to you? What would you do? What would you say? What things would be burning inside your heart to tell them? What are the things you would never want them to forget as long as they lived? What if you were in the middle of fighting a huge war and every person you knew was fighting alongside you? What would your mindset be like? If you were in the middle of fighting a war, what kinds of things wouldn’t matter anymore? What would be the things that would burst forth as the most important things in the world?
Would you hug folks more freely? Would you laugh a little longer at a mediocre joke? Would you spend a little bit more energy leaning into a conversation and would you still be refreshing Twitter every forty seconds or so? I bet all of us would take the time to look people in the eye, battle through the discomfort and awkwardness and honestly tell people exactly what they mean to us.
The Apostle Paul had some nights like that. Near the end of his life, he went on a farewell tour of sorts - going around to churches he had started all over the place, checking in, hugging necks, laughing at old inside jokes and tearfully saying goodbye to dear friends because he was on his way to Rome and then soon after that, to Heaven. When he was in Troas, he met with the church there and preached from dinner straight through to midnight. There was a teenager in the room who fell asleep during the marathon sermon. The only problem was that he was sitting in an open window on the third floor of the house. He fell down to the ground, dead.
Paul rushed downstairs, fell on the dead kid, busted out a quick prayer and bam! The sleepy teenager turned tragedy breathed again. Paul led this kid back upstairs, gave him some food and then proceeded to keep the sermon going until daybreak! Why would someone preach that long? Because, this is it! This is for real! We are in a spiritual battle and we’re playing for keeps! Nothing is more important than us walking with Jesus, understanding His love for us, learning to encourage each other and reaching out to the world out there who so desperately needs Him. Your walk with the Lord is critical. It means more than anything else. Don’t get drowsy. Don’t get distracted. Stay alert. Stay awake. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Keep your heart pointed toward love. Be on the lookout for the lonely and the needy and lay your life down like nothing else matters because it won’t be long until we are done and home.
Fairest Of Ten Thousand #389
Are you facing impossible odds today? Are you staring down some challenges you already know you won’t be able to overcome? Does this day seem hopeless before it even really gets going? I know I have days like that all the time. Sometimes, you wake up overwhelmed before you even find coffee or the right clothes. Maybe it’s a relationship that’s busted and strained and then again, maybe it’s an old demon you’ve been defeated by again and again. When things seem impossible, what are you supposed to do? What makes today any different than all the other days where you wind up discouraged and down? Okay, lean in for this next bit because you don’t want to just casually read over it and miss it. Here goes - believe it or not, you have a secret weapon. You have an answer to the impossible and overwhelming circumstances of your life. You have an antidote for the cycle of defeat. Today is a brand new day because of your secret weapon and all you have to do is remember it. At the very end of his life, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to a young pastor named Timothy and said, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead.” You might wonder how a pastor would ever forget Jesus is risen from the dead, but the fact is, we all forget this simple truth all the time. Jesus walked out of His grave. He conquered sin, death and hell and from now on, He is remaking everything. We are starting over everyday. We are clean, fresh, new, powerful and alive in Him, the Living One. All you have to do to be strong in Him today is simply this: remember.
Hey friends, the following post was written by my friend and pastor, Tom Job as part of his weekly encouragement email that goes out to our church with the week’s announcements. I thought it was awesome. I think it will encourage you as well. Take it away, Tom:
Mornin’, everyone!! It’s 6:13 in the am… Wow! Sun’s coming up, the birds are chirping…Down here in Oliver Springs, I’m looking out over fields and cows with coffee in my hands…Ahhhh! My favorite morning smell! Not cows! Coffee! I always like coffee better at my house on my porch than at Starbuck’s or wherever. Mostly because if I haven’t had my coffee yet, I can’t face all those questions they ask you at Starbuck’s. Like when you order your double caffe mocha frappucino or your iced espresso misto Americano (it’s too early for all those choices), they ask, “What name should we put on this order?” Not only do some people have trouble remembering their name before they’re sufficiently caffeinated, but some folks, especially from other countries, have complicated names that can create traffic jams in the line.
One girl in New York City named Shefali Kulkarni, was saying that when they ask her what name they should put on her order, and she answers, “Shefali”, they go, “What?! How do you say it?” So she says it. Slowly. “Ssshheefaallii.” “How do you spell it?” “S-h-e-f-a-l-i”. “Could you do that again?” “Could you people hurry up?”, the folks in line begin to mumble (we’re in New York remember)… So she came up with a simpler name just for Starbucks. “What name on the order, Ma’am?” “Sheila.” No questions. No waiting. No complaining down the line. Shefali calls “Sheila” her “coffee name”. She said that she noticed that a lot of people from other countries have coffee names. When they ask, “What name for the order?”, instead of “Gulliermo”…or “Bohuslava”…or “Evdokia”…she heard names like “Sue” or “Tom” or “Jill”.
I just wondered what it was like the first time Shefali was in Starbucks with their friends…or her mom…and she got up when they called “Sheila?” “Sheila?!” “It’s my ‘coffee name’. Don’t ask.”
Did you know Jesus has a special name just for you? Listen to this…“I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it…” (Rev 2.17) He has a special name that He calls only you. It’s not because your real name is hard to say or spell. He called someone “Hephzabah” in the Old Testament. That’s harder to spell than “Shefali”. It’s just a name that says something special that He sees in you. Something special that you mean to Him. One of the weirdly hardest but sweetest things you could ever do for yourself is to learn to see yourself in the special way He sees you. - Learning His name for you.
And when we’re all together in Heaven and He calls that name… and you answer Him… and your friends say, “What?! Why’d He call you that?!” …just tell ‘em, “It’s the name He used to call me to wake up my heart in the morning… It’s kinda my coffee name”