The Warm Bus

‘These who were hired last only worked one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ – Matthew 20:12

Yesterday morning, I got on a frozen school bus.  I fired it up and immediately got back off so I could scrape the windshield.  I got back on, started driving, and just shivered until about 3 or 4 miles up the road when my bus began to thaw and get warm.  At my first stop, the student got on and immediately curled up in the seat and fell fast sleep.  The bus was so warm and comfortable.  I just smiled and thought about how awesome it was that God allowed me to provide that kind of service.

As drove and just hung out with the Lord, I immediately thought of the parable of the workers in the vineyard.  I thought about how some of the workers complained that they had to work all day, while others only worked for an hour and received the exact same pay.  Not too long ago I would have been right there complaining with them.  I would have thought it the biggest injustice that my 12-hour day equaled the exact same pay as someone else’s 1-hour day.  I have worked in an environment where it seemed everyone was scared to death someone was doing a little more work than someone else.  I hate those environments.

Metaphorically speaking, I think this parable relates to people being saved.  I got saved at 16 years old and have been saved now for 31 years.  Would I be mad that someone my age got saved this Sunday?  At one time, my immature self might have thought, “Well, Lord, that is not fair that this person gets to go to the same heaven and receive the same salvation I did.”  I shudder to think just how little I understood to think like that.

Now, I realize that I’m the one who is insanely blessed because I’ve been allowed to serve and work for the Lord.  Yes, it has been difficult at times, but every difficulty has proven Romans 8:28.  He has worked all things for my good.  Why would I be jealous of someone getting to live life the way they want for decades and decades, then receiving the Lord at the end of their lives?  I’m not going to stand before God and say, “That’s not fair!”  What really wasn’t fair that I, at an early age, got to receive the Holy Spirit and have Him living in me while the other person did not.  What a blessing!

Let’s you and I try to bring as many people as we can into God’s kingdom.  It doesn’t matter that they won’t have to work as long or as much as we did.  Let’s be glad to endure the freezing cold bus for a bit so others can rest in its warmth. 

Lord, I am so sorry for the times that I’ve complained about the difficulty of following You.  I’m sorry for being an older brother complaining that my younger brother, who squandered his life away, is being received by the father.  Help me put all that behind me and look forward to helping many be saved.  Thank You for the blessing of allowing me to follow You for these past 31 soon to be 32 years.  You have been so good to me, and it hasn’t been work at all.  It has simply been me resting on a bus that someone else has warmed up.  I love You so much, Lord.  You truly are the greatest thing that life offers.  Amen.

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Christ’s Home

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.  Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  – Ephesians 3:17

When I first started following the Lord, I really thought the primary goal was to stay away from sinful things.  For example, I thought that when I said a cuss word the day after I got saved that I simply wasn’t saved anymore.  I’d go on to walk many more church aisles so I could be saved again, only to feel as if I’d lost my salvation again because I committed some other sin.

I hear all the time people tell me that they don’t feel worthy to do anything for God because they “aren’t perfect.”  We have got to quit saying that.  Of course, we aren’t perfect in the sense that Jesus never sinned, but we are perfect in the sense that He has given us perfection.  He has made us complete in Him.  He didn’t do this because we earned it . . . He did it because we asked to be forgiven and asked to be made clean by His blood.  Thus, if you are a Christ follower, you are perfect because He is the only one who can give you perfection.  This is why there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). 

Think of someone you’d really like to see saved, maybe someone you’ve already been praying will begin to follow the Lord.  Suppose you could grant them forgiveness and save them.  What would you have it look like?  Would you just snap your fingers and have them suddenly not want to go to bars, not want to sleep around, not go to rock concerts, not cuss, not drink alcohol, not smoke, not go to R-rated movies, and feel free to place other sins here that many of us have been taught will send a saved person right back to hell.  If the person you forgave immediately stopped all those things, would you think they were saved?

I think what well-meaning Christians end up doing is more harmful than good.  Many preachers, at least some of the ones that I’ve heard, preached behavior modification as opposed to giving Christ a home in one’s heart.  The truth is, I would hear how bad my behavior was and constantly run to altars, but it was the preachers who made the Bible interesting, who loved God’s Word that made me want to read it for myself.  The more I read it, I began to want to modify many of my behaviors, not because men told me it was wrong, but because Christ in me was leading me and prompting me to follow Him.  His roots were growing in me and making me strong.

Today, I still want those roots growing in me making me strong.  When I preach, I want to encourage people to let Christ make a home in their hearts.  Then I want to pray that their roots will grow down into God’s love to keep them and make them strong.  If this happens, no person will have to tell Christians what they can and can’t do . . . Jesus will do that for them!

Lord, more than any other point in my life, I see salvation as a growing process.  The parable of the sower makes so much sense.  I pray for any and all who would read today.  Will You make Your home in their hearts as they trust in You? Allow their roots, Lord, to grow deep into Your love and make them strong!  Show me Your glory, Lord, this side of heaven before I draw my last breath.  Revive individuals, towns, and communities through the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Amen

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Getting it All Out There

For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. – Luke 8:17

I honestly do not want my Wednesday Morning Devotional to become about trying to start a church in Salem.  I’ve been writing these things for over a decade and now, suddenly, the number of clicks is no longer in the hundreds, but in the thousands.  I don’t think it is necessarily for good reasons.  After this week, I hope it gets more back to what it was before I announced that I was starting a church service.  Having said that, an old-fashioned church divisiveness has reared its ugly head in my hometown of Salem, South Carolina once again.  I’m going to let you in on everything that I know . . . I’ve got nothing to hide.  If you want to ask me anything . . . I’ll tell you the truth.

  1. On December 4th, I wrote a proposal to Eagle’s Nest Arts Center asking them to allow me to start a church service on Sunday afternoons at 4:00 pm in the auditorium.  The committee met on December 5th, heard my proposal, and rejected it.
  1. The church service happened anyway in the parking lot of ENAC.  There were 30 people, we had a great time of worship, Bible study, and prayer.  We anointed the ground with oil, figuratively planted a spiritual seed, and asked God to grow it.  I prayed for individual lives to be changed, and for the community.  We will have the next service this Sunday (January 8) . . . same time, same place.
  1. On January 2nd, I personally attended the ENAC committee meeting.  I presented them with $212 dollars that we took up in an offering to bless them.  I asked them to reconsider my proposal.  A community member point-blank asked, “What was the reason for the ‘no.’”  There was about 30 seconds of super uncomfortable silence, and we were told that the reasons did not have to be told to the community (at least, that’s what I got from it).  
  1. The committee went into Executive Session, which meant we all had to leave so they could re-vote.  Later that night, a committee member told me that the vote went the same.  I still cannot use the auditorium for my little church services.
  • Now, people are talking . . . in Salem, and on social media.  People want to know why they would shoot down a proposal such as mine.  Some are defending me, and others are saying I deserve to be told “no” because I play music in “beer joints.”  
  • Yes, I play music at breweries and wine bars.  I think it is a great way for me to connect with people and have conversations.  Nothing has caused people to trash me and my reputation more than the decision to do this.  I always pray that God opens the door for conversations to steer towards Him.  I would say about 1 out of 3 or 4 times that I play, the Lord allows a wonderful conversation to happen.  I have prayed with depressed people, ignited praise and worship, and had people tell me about special memories brought back from when they used to go to church.  All this simply by playing spiritual songs and just talking to people that many church people condemn and won’t give a chance.
  • I really want Eagles Nest Church to happen.  I’m asking God to make a way, but in no way do I want to harass or coerce my way in.  God can do anything He wants.  If He sees fit to let me preach in that building, He will make a way.  

All I ask from you guys is to simply pray.  Pray that somehow all these church people who claim to know God will somehow figure out how to get along before we enter eternity.  He made us all different for a reason.  If each one of us would just honor Him to the best of our ability and show Him to our circle of influence, I know it would change our world.  At the very least, it will change the teeny tiny little community of Salem, SC.  

Lord, please pour out Your Spirit on all who would read this today.  Pour out Your Spirit on the little community of Salem.  Work in the lives of the people who say they know You, and work in the lives of the people who couldn’t care less.  In Your time, will You please make a way for me to honor You in that little auditorium that I first walked in when I was five years old.  I love the town, I love You, and I ask that You make a way . . . In Jesus Name.  Send revival Lord!  Amen!

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The First Service

He said to them, “Come and see.”  They came and saw where He was staying and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).  – John 1:39

I spent 30 years of my life in Tamassee-Salem schools.  I went for 13 years K-12 like pretty much everyone does, and then I spent 17 years teaching there.  I’m 47 years old now, so that is almost 64% of my life that I’ve spent there.  I have seen with my own eyes the town’s steady, sometimes sharp decline since the 80’s.  There are a handful of people that want the town to live and are doing what they can to not only help it survive, but maybe one day even thrive again.  I certainly want to do my part.

When I was a teacher at Tamassee-Salem Middle/High, I grew the most as a Christian.  I volunteered my teaching services to the Lord and told Him I’d preach if He opened the door.  I have had so many opportunities to preach to so many groups of people in my hometown.  I even have videos (that you will never see) of me filming myself in the empty auditorium preaching to the “masses.”  I would then watch so I could critique myself and improve.  For years, it has been a dream of mine to hold services in that auditorium.

Well, the time has arrived where this is at least a possibility.  Of course, I have already hit some obstacles, but that is okay.  I’m pretty sure when any follower of Jesus seeks to do anything for Him, evil doesn’t simply roll out the red carpet and offer to help.  Evil resists . . . especially around the birth of anything.  Pharoah wanted to kill Moses as an infant, Herod wanted to kill Jesus as a child, and the Pharisees wanted to prevent the spread of the Gospel in the early church.  Simply put, there will be opposition.  This should surprise no Christian.

Even though I can’t use the auditorium, I can use the parking lot.  I really want the first ever Eagles Nest Church service to be on 1/1/2023.  I don’t know when the next one will be after that, but when the story is told of the birth of this church, I want this service to be part of the foundation.  Maybe my dream dies after this one service . . . I’m okay with that.  But maybe, just maybe, God sees fit to let it live.  

I say all that to invite you to the back parking lot of the Eagles Nest Art Center at 4:00 this Sunday.  I pretty much only chose John 1:39 this morning because Jesus told the first couple of followers to meet Him “at the tenth hour.”  The Jewish day started at sunup around 6 am, so the tenth hour would be around 4 p.m.  I hope you guys will “come and see” what the Lord does.  It will be a super simple service.  I will give you the order:

  1. Sing Praise
    1. Our God is an Awesome God (Rich Mullens)
    1. I Have Decided to Follow Jesus . . . no turning back
  2. Open the Word of God
  3. A time of prayer, anointing, and laying on of hands for God to lead us in 2023.

If just a couple of people come, and this is all we do and all we ever do . . . I think that is just awesome.  If God wants to take it and do more with it . . . I think that is even more awesome.

Basically, anyone who comes will witness a seed being planted into the ground.  Some seeds live and produce more seeds.  Some seeds die and never make it.  I’m looking forward to seeing what this one does. 

I do ask that you say a prayer for the seed.

Lord, You are the great giver of abundant life.  Thank You for every wonderful thing You have done in my heart, mind, and life.  Will You do it in others who don’t know You?  You know that I seek to win those to You who are far away from You.  If it be Your will, use this little parking lot service on New Year’s Day, 2023.  Nonetheless, may Thy will be done, here on earth, as it is in Heaven.  Amen!

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A Christmas Contemplation

Oh what a miserable person I am!  Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God, the answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!  — Romans 7:24-25

This has been a pretty busy, a pretty wonderful, and a pretty emotional week.  I wrapped up the first semester of the school year on Tuesday morning, drove the family to Pigeon Forge that afternoon, came home on Thursday where Tonya and I celebrated 21 years of marriage, did Christmas Eve with my two families last night, and now I’m awake on Christmas Day at 3 a.m.  I am so full . . . literally and figuratively.

I do have to say, I have had the Christmas Spirit like no other year that I can recall.  I think it started back with a radio station doing Christmas in July.  This year, songs that have never intrigued me seem to fill my soul.  I read a Christmas Carol and just cried like crazy when Ebenezer’s heart changed.  I’ve read that thing at least 10 times.  Why have I never cried reading it before?

I think it is because I saw myself in the story for the first time.  I wonder now where I would be had I never invited Christ into my life.  As a sixteen-year-old kid, there were two paths set before me.  One was easy and required no effort at all.  I only needed to keep doing what I felt was right, doing what I liked, and doing what made me feel good.  There were so many people walking that path with me.  It was wide, it was convenient, it was smooth, and it constantly led to an emptiness in my heart that I hated.

The other path was narrow.  There were so few people on it . . . especially people my own age.  I couldn’t walk it no matter how hard I tried.  I would so easily turn around when the path looked the least bit difficult or uncomfortable.  I would so easily refuse God’s nudges to do right.  

That is . . . until I obeyed the first nudge.  I don’t even know why I did obey.  I didn’t want to.  I just became aware of how I didn’t like where disobeying had led me.  There was so much temporary pleasure and long-term dissatisfaction.  At least for this one moment, I was willing to endure temporary pain for what I hoped was the beginning of long-term satisfaction.  I think for the first time I understood the concept of delayed gratification.

Thirty-one years later, I’ve obeyed a lot of nudges.  I’ve disobeyed even more.  I see that, without God in my life, I’d be so miserable.  Like Paul admitted almost two millennia ago, I admit that I am miserable at heart.  I still don’t gravitate toward what is right.  The right thing does not come naturally.  Sin still desires to dominate me, and I still need someone to save me!

Thank God for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!  

Can you imagine what this world would be like had He never come?  Imagine a world where nobody cared about Him . . . where no one had ever been transformed by Him.  I know I’m still spiteful, vengeful, thoughtless, and hedonistic at heart.  My instincts to this day do not gravitate towards what is right.  However, the more I get to know God, the more I know what the right choice is despite my instincts.  Every time, and I mean every time, I have been beyond blessed for choosing His way over my own!

Lord, I truly thank You for leaving Heaven . . . the wonderful peace, and joys of heaven, to come down here to this God-hating earth.  You lived the way You lived and endured all that You endured so a thoughtless kid might, just might, give You his life and surrender his will to Yours.  I honestly can’t believe what You’ve done in my life.  As little as I’ve obeyed, and as little as I’ve done . . . You have blessed me beyond measure.  I love You; I thank You, and I give You every ounce of love that I have in me at this very moment.  I know life will resume, I’ll get busy, and I’ll put You on the backburner more times than I can count.  But I ask Lord with all my heart that You continue to complete the work in me that You have begun.  May You always lead me home!

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Whatever it Takes

My friend, Scott McGaha, wrote today’s WMD.

“So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.” Mark 2:2-4

For as long as I can remember I have loved this story. I think I’ve just always been amazed by the men and their willingness to do anything to get this paralyzed man to Jesus, their willingness to do anything, no matter how unconventional, to get him to the man that word had spread was performing miracles and healing people. As God brought it to mind the last day or so and began to speak to me what I’m now sharing with you, I went back and read the story several times and in multiple translations to look for other things I thought I should point out.

One thing I want to touch on is the way the man is described, “a paralytic”. Being labeled can be painful. Labels stick with you, often forever, and they also tend to get shared by others. Often people will inadvertently create an opinion in the mind of a new acquaintance just by the way they introduce us. Believe me, I know all too well. Some of you may have even heard some variation of this: “this is Scott, he talks a lot.” While it’s true I do enjoy conversing with people, I would be willing to bet I don’t talk nearly as much as people might think, I simply talk to people when I have the opportunity to. And since I spend almost every evening alone after work, it’s not very much. But that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Some of you have probably had some painful labels placed on you. He’s a thief. She’s a liar. You can’t trust him. Don’t believe her. That person’s a ______, fill in the blank. Drug addict, felon, adulterer, failure, and the list goes on and on. Those labels can be hard to ever shake, and they most certainly are painful to always have placed on you.

Another thing I want to touch on is the group of men. I’ve always thought it was only 4, but it’s possible there were others. Regardless, these guys impress me. I want to be one of them. I’ve heard preachers describe them in many ways over the years, but what stands out to me is their love. I say to people constantly and I truly believe it, we all just want to be loved. I can only imagine how badly this paralyzed man wanted to feel loved, how much he wanted to fit in with and just be one of the guys. I imagine long before Jesus healed him his heart must have felt full realizing how much this group of men truly cared about him. These guys didn’t just swing by in a handicap enabled vehicle, roll the man out in his wheelchair and put him in, then drive him down to a special church service and up the wheelchair ramp and inside. They carried him there. It doesn’t say how far, but considering Jesus was staying in this house, I doubt he lived close by. And not only did they carry him there, but when they couldn’t get inside, they didn’t leave and offer to come back another day, they climbed up on the roof and went to work. I don’t care if it was only a thatched roof made of straw, they had to get up there, get through whatever it was made of, and then get him down to Jesus. I know it wasn’t easy. More importantly, I know they didn’t give up.

I can’t help but compare this story to the one in John 5 about the paralyzed man lying by the pool of Bethesda. He tells Jesus that when the waters stir and he tries to get into the water first to be cured, he has no one to help him and someone else always beats him into the water and so for 38 years now he has been an invalid. Scripture says in Ecclesiastes 4 that two are better than one, for if one falls the other can help them up but pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. These two stories are a perfect illustration of that.

Which brings me to my final point, what sort of people do you have around you? And beyond people, what other types of influences? Do they take you closer to Jesus? Or do they take you away from Jesus? What sort of person are you to others? Are you getting them closer to Jesus? Or are you blocking the way, keeping people from getting closer to Him? 

When God placed this on my heart today, I messaged Adam to tell him I had something he could use for his WMD if he didn’t already have something written. And then I felt the rest of this come into my heart, and I want to share it. This is my testimony of what Adam has meant to me and my life.

For those who have never heard me tell it, Adam and I were actually kept by the same babysitter when we were probably around 1 and 2 years old. Obviously neither of us remembers that time, and through our elementary and middle school years I don’t think either of us really has many memories together. It’s like we’re there, but never really interacting. Like two actors in a movie that are never in the same scene. I think we were on the same rec baseball team one time and that only lasted a couple of practices. And then one day, when we were in junior high or beginning high school, we got into a fight. It was really nothing more than a headlock I didn’t think I would ever be able to get out of, and then Adam said, “let’s stop fighting and be friends again.” I honestly don’t think we really had been prior to that moment, but suddenly we were best friends through high school and into college. After that, life began to happen and through the years we’d drift apart and then start hanging out some and then drift apart. But what really is clear to me are the occasions where something could have probably destroyed our friendship, but thankfully our maturity and love for one another didn’t allow that to happen. And thank God it didn’t, because I can tell you there’s been several times in my life where I’ve been spiritually paralytic, and he has picked me up and carried me to Jesus. I know he’s been hurt by some folks who have acted like the teachers of the law in the rest of the story and tried to nitpick and find fault in him just like they did with Jesus. But just like with Jesus, these people didn’t know Adam’s heart. Just as with Jesus, that takes a relationship to truly understand. I know Adam loves everyone, especially those who are hurting. I know he’s taken roles God has asked him to take, even when others told him he shouldn’t. And I know he’ll do whatever it takes to find that lost lamb, even if it means leaving the 99 behind to cast their stones of judgement at him. I know he’s been hurt, a lot more than he’s deserved to be. And I also know he’d do it all again, because I know he loves people, especially the least of these.

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And I Never Thanked Him for It

Then the soldiers, when they crucified Jesus took his garments . . . – John 19:23

So, I finished my book, The Hiding Place.  I highly recommend reading it . . . it will change you.  I want to tell you about another part (in addition to last week’s part) that was so powerful.  She had a sister named Betsy.  When things started to get really difficult, Corrie’s joy in the Lord started to wane.  Betsy’s, however, did not. Betsy was constantly encouraging and had a supernatural zeal and perspective on things. 

One of the things Corrie hated the most was having to strip naked in front of the Germans.  She said it was kind of pointless, seeing that they only made them open their mouth to look inside, would then look at their teeth, and then look between their fingers.  Being nude simply wasn’t necessary.

One day she was despising this, and she opened her Bible to John 19:23 and read the verse.  She thought of how all the pictures she had seen of the crucifixion covered Jesus at least a little.  She realized this was the artist showing respect to the Lord, but she also realized that Jesus was naked.  Jesus empathized with her plight.  

She found her sister and said, “Betsy, Jesus was naked too!”

Betsy simply said, “And I never thanked Him for it.”  

At that moment, I realized that I hadn’t either.

Lord, You took so much humiliation for me . . . all so I could know You!  All so I could be saved.  Thank You for coming into my life.  Help me live for You for the rest of my days!  Amen!

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The Love That You Have

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  – 1 John 4:16

After writing last week’s WMD on forgiveness, I thought I was randomly choosing a book to read.  For years, Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place has been on my list to read.  I figured it was finally time.  I’m not finished, but have already read something that has and will forever stay with my heart and mind.

Corrie was a Dutch watchmaker.  She learned the trade from her father.  She is famous now for providing a hiding place for Jews during the German occupation of the Netherlands.  I’m only about a third of the way through with the book.  Corrie has just begun to protect the Jews by joining and participating in an entire system of protection provided by a national underground network.  As soon as I type and send this, I’m looking so forward to picking back up where I left off.

When she was young, Corrie met a young boy named Karel.  She knew the boy liked her and she sure liked him.  She had her hopes up that they would be married.  Her parents let her know that, from what they understood, that family was looking for their son to marry into wealth.  Corrie still wanted to believe that he would still marry her.  One day, Karel showed up to her house and introduced her to his fiancée.  She was absolutely crushed.  But, through talking to her dad (who I have already learned so much from), she was able to say a prayer that went something like this:  Lord, I had an earthly affection for this boy.  I give to You this love that I had and ask that You replace it with the love that You have for Him.

When that played in my mind, I just teared up and wept for a while.  Corrie goes on to say that four years later, she realize that God had perfectly answered her prayer.  She could pray for the couple and truly want the best for them both.  

Immediately, I mentioned the names of the people who have hurt me the most.  I said, “Lord, I had what I thought was a great friendship and a great trust amongst these people.  I give you the love that I had for them and ask for You to replace that with the love that You have for them.”  

Lord, You are amazing!  The way You teach us and the timing that You have is an absolute miracle!  Thank You for the stories of those who have gone on before us.  Thank You for authors who write about You.  I realize that no real love comes from my own heart.  Real love only comes from You.  Continue to grow this love in me and help me to follow You for the rest of my days.  Thank You so much for what You’ve already done.  I never knew that a heart could feel this free.  Amen!

P.S.  Tell me the names of some books that have grown your faith.  I will mention some of the titles that have really helped me along the way.

The Chronicles of Narnia

Mere Christianity

Screwtape Letters

Lord Foulgrin’s Letters

The Pilgrim’s Progress (This one first and foremost . . . I’ve read it probably 10 times)

The Pursuit of God

Practicing His Presence

The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker

St Patrick by Michael McHugh

Beyond the Dead Forest by Steve Groll (An awesome story about the Golden Rule)

These are just a handful off the top of my head that really, really made an impact on me. 

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Then Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34

I’m working with a couple of kids who have an unbelievable amount of unforgiveness in their hearts.  I’m not saying it isn’t deserved, but I’m watching it deteriorate these two right before own eyes.  I imagine if they hold onto this unforgiveness in their hearts, their lives will be destroyed in the next 3 to 10 years.

Here is the thing though: as I’ve been talking to them about forgiving, I’m realizing that I have a tremendous amount of unforgiveness in my own heart.  I don’t think about it daily like they do, but when I do think about it, this darkness just enters me that I hate.  I wish I could say that I recognize it immediately, but I don’t.  It takes a while for me to realize what is happening.  Then, I forgive, and the light comes flooding in.  If it is this difficult for me, I can only imagine how difficult it is for them.  What has been done to them is easily 10x worse than what was done to me.

As I was thinking about this, my mind went to the first words that Jesus spoke on the cross.  Nobody was asking for forgiveness, yet that is what He gave.  I like to think that Jesus, like I tend to do sometimes, simply was thinking about all the wrongs being done to Him for no valid reason other than jealousy.  The dark clouds might have been forming over Him for the past several hours and He might have even thought for a moment about what He could do to them if He wanted to.  But, instead of allowing that dark place to enter His heart and mind, He simply said, “Father, forgive them for they have no clue what they are doing.”  I’m doing it from a rocking chair in front of a heater years later . . . He did it immediately after being freshly nailed to a cross.

So, one more time this morning, I offer my prayer of forgiveness to those who have wronged me.  It really isn’t all that difficult when I think of the people I have wronged.  I sure do need forgiveness . . . how can I not offer it?  When all that unforgiveness is lying right here beside me and I look at it, it seems so stupid that such a little thing can wreak such havoc when it is inside of me.  No wonder the Lord got rid of it at once.

Lord, You have freely forgiven me . . . help me freely forgive.  I want my light to so shine before men, but that is an impossibility when I hold unforgiveness in my heart.  I go months now without thinking about it, so I know that You are at work and are truly helping me to lay it all down.  Let this be the last time.  Let it be the last time because I truly think of it no more.  I pray for my enemies . . . may You bless them ever so richly, Lord.  I truly believe they simply didn’t know what they were doing.  Give them hearts that want to serve You and Your purpose from this day forward.  Give them eyes to see as You see.  May I never bring it up again.  Help me be like You.  Please make me more and more like You.  Amen

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Bowling Lesson

I will bless the Lord at all times:  His praise shall continuously be in my mouth. – Psalm 34:1

I’ve been bowling in a church league on Monday nights.  I never in my life thought I’d have so much fun bowling.  I love meeting the different teams and talking to the individual members.  Two weeks ago, one of them gave me one of the best lessons I think I’ve ever received.  It is a lesson that I believe I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

He told me that life was like bowling.  Sometimes you will roll a strike, which is what you are supposed to do.  A strike in life means you lived that day right.  When you get it right, you should look up and give God praise.  Sometimes you will roll splits, which can range from difficult to nearly impossible.  Even when we are in impossible situations, we should look up and give God praise.  Sometimes you roll it right in the gutter, which represents getting it all wrong.  Sometimes I run late and don’t hang out with God in the morning.  I proceed to just rush through my day not thinking much of Him.  I go to bed and think that I lived so poorly for my Lord and my Savior.  I used to beat myself up for days like that.  Do you know what I’m going to do from now on?  

That’s right!  Give Him praise!

Monday night, I was trying to put this into practice.  I had just come off three strikes in a row on the right-side lane.  I got to start the next game on the same lane.  Honestly, I got caught up so much that I didn’t give Him praise for the three in a row.  With all the confidence in the world that I would throw another strike to start the second game . . . I threw it in the gutter.  I couldn’t believe it.  So, I went to the ball return and waited.  While I waited, I looked up, and gave God praise.  I thanked Him for the lesson of the gutter ball.  

I don’t know what happened, but I proceeded to bowl the best game of my life after that.  Also, this would be my first ever league game where I acknowledged God after every single frame which, in my mind, now represents a day in my life.  From now on, if I get it right, I’ll praise Him.  If I get it wrong, I’ll still give Him praise.

Lord, thank You so much for the bowling lesson.  Help me treat every day of the rest of my life like a frame in bowling.  I want my life to honor You.  I want to hear the words, “Well done.”  I look forward to my faith becoming sight and being in Your presence forever.  So, Lord, whether I strike today or throw it in the gutter . . . I will give You praise!  You are so worthy!  Amen.

P.S.  I might as well show you the scorecard

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