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Kick the Bully in the Pants

With all the cockiness of a neighborhood bully, the thought swaggers up to the door and says. . .Youre a loser. All your life youve been a loser. You might as well write the word bum on your resume, for thats what you are.The average person would throw open the door and let the thought in. Youre right. Im a bum. Come on in.But as a Christian, you arent your average person. Youre led by the Spirit of God. So rather than let the thought in, you take it captive; you present the thought before the judgment seat of Christ. How do you know if Jesus agrees or disagrees? You open your Bible. Romans 8:1 is a good place to check. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.So, give the bully a firm kick in the pantsand watch him run!

You Harvest what you plantPretend youve come to visit me. Im working in my greenhouse. (Neither my house nor my thumb is green, but lets pretend.) Its the perfect spot for flowers and fruit. Youve always thought I was a bit crazy, but what I do next removes all doubt. I strip seeds off weedscrab grass, grass burrs. You cant believe what youve just seen.I thought you wanted a greenhouse full of flowers and fruit! you say.I do, I answer.You ask, Then dont you think you ought to plant flower seeds and fruit seeds?My foolish response, Do you have any idea how much those seeds cost? No thanks, Im taking the cheap and easy route.Think for a moment of your heart as a greenhouse. Consider your thoughts as seed. Some become flowers. Others weeds. Sow seeds of hope and enjoy optimism. Sow seeds of doubt and expect insecurity.Galatians 6:7 says, People harvest only what they plant.

We are all beggars

We are all beggars in need of bread. Give us this day our daily bread, we pray. (Matthew 6:11). You may prefer, We are all hungry, in need of bread. Such a phrase certainly has more dignity than the word beggar. Who wants to be called a beggar? After all, didnt you create the ground in which the seed was sown? No? Well at least you made the seed? Right? You didnt?What about the sun? Did you provide the heat during the day? Or the rain. Did you send the clouds? No? Then exactly what did you do?You harvested food you didnt make from an earth you didnt create. Let me see if I have this straight. Had God not done His part, you would have no food. Hmmm. . .perhaps we best return to the word beggar. We are all beggars, in need of bread!

ResentmentResentment is a prison. When youve put someone in your jail cell of hatred, you are stuck guarding the door. If youre out to settle a score, you are never going to rest. How can you? For one thing, your enemy may never pay up.As much as you think you deserve an apology, your debtor may not agree. The racist may never repent. The chauvinist may never change. As justified as you are in your quest for vengeance, you may never get a pennys worth of justice. And if you do, will it be enough?You see, resentment is a prison. Jesus doesnt question the reality of your wounds. He just doubts whether resentment is going to heal you. What are you going to do? Spend your life guarding the prison jail cell? Or entrust your wounds to Jesus?

The Fathers Outstretched Arms

The prodigal son.Going home a changed man. No longer demanding he get what he deserved, but willing to take whatever he could get.How many years had it been?As the boy came around the bend that led to his house, he rehearsed his speech one more time. He turned to open the gate, but the father already had.Father I have sinned, he said. (Luke 15:21). The two wept. Words were unnecessary. Forgiveness had been given.If theres a scene that deserves to be framed, its the one of the Fathers outstretched hands.His hands call us home.Imagine those hands. Stretching open like a wide gate, leaving entrance as the only option.He forced His arms so wide apart that it hurt.And to prove that those arms would never fold and those hands would never close, He had them nailed open

Running the RaceYou know as well as I do, its one thing to start something. Its something else entirely to complete it. Relax! Dont start what you cant finish is not my point!To be honest, I dont believe you should finish everything you start. Every student with homework just perked up. There are certain quests better left undone, some projects wisely abandoned. Though I wouldnt list homework as one of them! We can become so obsessed with completion that we become blind to effectiveness. No, my desire is not to convince you to finish everything. My desire is to encourage you to finish therightthing.Certain races are optional. Other races are essentiallike the race of faith. Consider this admonition from the author of Hebrews in chapter 12:1, Let us run the race that is before us and never give up!Finish strong, my friend

In Debt

Debt. To be in debt is to owe someone something. If thats true, isnt it appropriate for us to speak of debt in our prayer, for arent we all in debt to God? Arent we in Gods debt when we disobey His commands? Rather than love our neighbor, we hurt our neighbor. Arent we in Gods debt when we disregard Him? He makes the universe and we applaud science. Maybe if I wave at my neighbor or go to church next Sunday, Ill get caught up. But how do you know when youve made enough? Thats the problem. You never can.Romans 4:5 says, People cannot do any work that will make them right with God.Youre going to spend the rest of your days huffing and puffing to get to the drive-through window before the bank closes. Just try this trust His grace! It is God who justifies your account!

Only You and GodWhen I lived in Brazil I took my mom and her friend to see Iguacu Falls, the largest water falls in the world. Id become an expert by reading an article in National Geographic magazine. Surely, I thought, my guests would appreciate their good fortune in having me as their guide.To reach the lookout point, you must walk a winding trail that leads through a forest. I used the time to give a nature report to my mom and her friend. I caught myself speaking louder and louder. Finally I was shouting above the roar. Even my mother would rather see the splendor than hear my description. So, I shut my mouth.There are times when to speak is to violate the moment. When silence represents the highest respect. The word for such times is reverence. The prayer for such times is Hallowed be Thy name! (Matthew 6:9).

Spend Time with Him

C. S. Lewis wrote: The moment you wake up each morning your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job of each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, letting that other, stronger, larger, quieter life come flowing in.Heres how the psalmist began his day: Every morning, I tell you what I need, and I wait for your answer (Psalm 5:3).Spend time waiting on God. And, at the end of the day, thank God for the good parts. Question him about the hard parts. Seek his mercy. Seek his strength.And as you close your eyes, take this assurance into your sleep: He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep (Psalm 121:4). If you fall asleep as you pray, dont worry. What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father.

A Basin of Water

I looked for a Bible translation that reads, Jesus washed all the disciples feet except the feet of Judas.I couldnt find one.A couple once told me about a storm they were weathering. She learned of an act of infidelity that had occurred a decade ago. And as you can imagine, she was deeply hurt.She could have left. Women have done so for lesser reasons.But on advice of a counselor, they went away for several days.On the fourth night of the trip, he found a card on his pillow.It said: Id rather do nothing with you than something without you.Beneath that shed written these words:I forgive you. I love you. Lets move on.Certain conflicts can be resolved only with a basin of water.Jesus made sure His disciples had no reason to doubt His love.Why dont you do the same?

No Small PowerWhere theres no assurance of salvation, theres no peace. No peace means no joy. No joy results in fear-based lives. Is this the life God creates? No. Grace creates a confident soul. His love isnt contingent on your own. Do you find such a promise hard to believe? In John 17:11 and verse 20, Jesus prays:Holy Father, keep them and care for them, all those you have given me, so that they will be united just as we are. I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony.Our faith will wane, our resolve waver, but we will not fall away. Jude 1 says, we are kept by Jesus and shielded by Gods power. And that is no small power! Its the power of a living and ever-persistent Savior.From GRACE

His Kingdom Will Never EndIn Bethlehem, the human being who best understood who God was and what he was doing, is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. As Mary looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His majestyshe cant take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows shes holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel. His kingdom will never end!He looks like anything but a king. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby.Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.God came near!And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:33

Completely Human

When a bookstore owner told me a woman had stomped into his shop, angry, slamming one of my books on the counter, I knew exactly what he was talking about. I wrote that Jesus may have had pimples. He may have had b