Divine Do Over

DoOver

Bob Carlisle wrote a song back in 1996 that was made popular by Donnie McClurkin, We Fall Down.

“We fall down, we get up
We fall down, we get up
We fall down, we get up
And the saints are just the sinners
Who fall down and get up.”

The song talks about a person discovering the grace of God in His failures – realizing even people of God made mistakes and the grace of God covered them and gave them a new start. We all have different testimonies – but all of us have made our share of mistakes – we have all said and done things that we later regretted and as we take a backwards look at our lives, we know it was the grace of God that kept us. As for me – I am amazed at how the Lord has kept me in spite of me! My testimony is that I faltered, but  because of His grace – it was never fatal!

God does not delight in our mistakes but He delights in our desire  to obey Him. Even when we falter, He sees our hearts and knows whether we are truly seeking His will or seeking to satisfy ourselves. Think about it with this statement – powerful in every way …. 

  • WHEN you desire to obey Him
  • When YOU desire to obey Him
  • When you DESIRE to obey Him
  • When you desire to OBEY Him;

He will honor your obedience with His presence and power in your life!

Sometimes we step out in front of God; moving before we get his direction about something that seems urgent. What does stepping out in front of God look like?  It looks like:  getting something off our chests when we should’ve keep quiet; taking out a payday loan when we need to manage the funds we have; buying that sale item when we don’t really need to be spending; eating that last piece of pie when we know we don’t need it; getting into a relationship that we know is ungodly; compromising our morals because it seems like an easier way; etc.  When we move outside of His will, we are failing to exercise our right to rely on The One who will always guide us to the best action and decision for our lives. When we fail to follow His lead – we will miss out of His best for us.

The great thing about being a Christ follower is that because we are His chosen ones – we have access to His grace. Because we have access to His grace — we always have access to a course correction.  We might have to go back to the drawing board — but He will be there waiting to redirect us – to get us headed in the right direction.  He knew we were going to muddle things; He knew we couldn’t keep His commandments without His intervention; He knew that we would botch even His simplest commands — so, in His great love, He sent us a Savior! He gave us unlimited access to His grace!  When we mess up He has a giant eraser AND a beautiful paint canvas!  How awesome is that?!

Here’s the deal — we all make mistakes; but He, in His infinite kindness towards us, will always be willing to give us a do over. We can rest assured that as we trust in Him and seek to obey Him (seek to OBEY Him!); He will honor us with His direction and His presence in our situation. Take a step back from your situation; your temptation; your stressor — He will gladly guide you in the right way allowing you to start over because it gives Him great joy to bless your life when you are leaning on His understanding and not your own.

Our mistakes do not have to be fatal errors — we really can start over!  CTRL/ALT/DEL — reboot — start again.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way. (‭Psalms‬ ‭37‬:‭23‬)

Walk This Way!

One of my favorite songs ever is Make Me A Servant.  It was a staple in my solo repertoire when I was very young.  I haven’t sung it in in a very long time.

At a recent memorial service the eulogist was speaking about a person who was a natural servant; a willing servant; a skilled and effective servant.  He was also well loved and highly respected.

The eulogist asked the question to the congregation – what would you do if someone of the opposite sex approached you and said they wanted to serve you or take care of you.  I was sitting in a section of mostly women and they all were talking back to him from the pews – “He’d be lying”; “What does he want!”; “I know what he wants!”; “Did you take your meds?”.  People in our section were snickering, but me — well, it made me sad to hear their feedback.  I’m married to that guy, you know — a natural servant; a willing servant; a skilled and effective servant; a man who is greatly loved and highly respected and who came at me that way .. wanting to serve and take care of me. But that’s not the point …..

As I sat there I thought about just how remarkable it would be if every believer would live their lives in such a way that people felt that when they approached them they were saying – “Hello, how I may serve you?”   What if Christ followers everywhere understood that they were called and commissioned by the King of Kings to be servants.

There are so many books out now telling us how to “be” a Christian – I’m not talking about what to believe, but how to live the life. A great sum of ‘how to‘ is right here! “You are God’s dear children, so try to be like him. Live a life of love. Love others just as Christ loved us. (Ephesians 5: 1-2a) In my own words – God says ‘I sent you The Way – so do it like He did it!’.

Do life just the way it was modeled … in love service and love to others!

Pour your life out for the service of others. Your time, talent, treasure – realize who they really belong to and then steward them well – give yourself away and count it gain!

Father – teach my heart to love — to love the way that You have intended.

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

Many find comfort in these words – but for me, they can cause angst.  It’s the word “let” that causes problems for me.  I mean, what am I supposed to do when the trials and problems of life really do give me pause or cause me to have fear?

I know – I know –  I know what you Christian folk are saying, “Jan! take the thought captive, bring the thought into submission with the will of God!” Trust me – I KNOW!!  But that word “let” still gives me a lump in my throat.

I joyfully minister to many. There are issues where the money is just not nearly enough to meet the obligation. There are issues where the illness cannot be defeated. Marriages that are dying. Loss of loved ones that cause family issues in the midst of grief. OR – Maybe your life is on course and you are not only joyful but prosperous.  That is what I tell myself when I encounter people who tell me not to allow myself to worry.  I say to myself that they have no idea what it is like to be in my shoes! What about you!?

Well, I Thank God for His Word!  These words were spoken by the very Son of God, and knowing that Jesus said the words tells me that it really is possible for me to disallow my heart from fainting at the first sign of trouble.

I go on to read Christ’s words in Matthew 24 as he describes the perilous times the world will face but he reminds those that follow Him that they are not alone.  And then I remember that the Word of God gave me another “let” that gives me power and strength – “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 2:5)– and as I continue to read His Word and allow Him to speak to me I am reminded that if I have the mind of Christ I cannot be troubled for it is against the mind of Christ for me to have a troubled heart or mind even when all around me seems full of trouble.  Then I remember that He also told me that if I could only remember at all times that He has already overcome the world – I will know that I too will overcome.

Now, let me say that my heart began to feel lighter and the lump in my throat was less uncomfortable.  Let me also be clear that though my situation may not have changed – I am hopeful, truly, that He desires to, and will indeed, work it all out for my good and for His glory.  So today, you know – later on after I start thinking about my trouble again – the moment it seems that my heart just might faint, I will not let my heart be troubled, instead I will start singing, clapping, dancing and praising Him in advance of my deliverance!  As I praise – it will lift my heart from trouble to a place of triumph and I will not be able to stop myself from rejoicing.

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled! As my mama always told me,  “Just trust in the Good Lord!”

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

A good friend of mine made a very touching public statement about how we (Christ Followers) should bear one another’s burdens as the law of Christ demands. My friend was talking about our caring for one another is relates to physical, spiritual and emotional needs. He was saying that we should care enough about one another to know about a need, meet the need if possible, and walk with one another through to the solution (whether or not the need was met by us personally). In other words – taking another’s need as our own.

When read in context, the Galatians text is probably talking about us bearing with one another as we deal with the enticements and battles that we will face as Christians living in a fallen world. While the scriptural context my friend used was not perfect, the sentiment was right on target!

In James 2 we are asked this question, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and be filled, and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? “

John 15:13 asserts, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

In Romans 12 we are admonished, “be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality”

In Philippians 2:4 are found these words, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

As I reflect on these scriptures, being the cynic that I am, I found myself thinking – do we really bear one another’s burdens? And I said NO – not unless it is a burden that:

  • We feel is worth bearing/something we deem as worthy to be called a burden
  • Will not cost us anything financially
  • Will not cause us to have to inconvenience our time/schedule

I know – I know – those of you who read this and know me well will say, “Jan, that’s just how you think!” – that may be true about my heart and the way I see things. However, I want you to think about your life just over the last year.

  • How many times did you make yourself available to a friend contemplating suicide? (I mean, did you even give them enough attention to know that they were contemplating suicide? Did you get them help beyond their insurance/finances and take the hit?);
  • How many times did you give money that you earmarked for something else in order to ease another’s burden? (Not just money from your savings, retirement, etc. – I mean sacrificially giving that ‘last 2 dollars’ so that someone could eat, sleep, be seen at the doctor, etc.);
  • How many times did you commit to talk with some weekly about a problem/issue until it was resolved? (And did you keep the commitment?)
    Maybe an easier question is:
  • How many times did a person who calls you friend share a need, a serious need, with you and you chose to ignore it or better yet you chose to tell them ‘be warm and be filled’ without doing a thing tangible to help them or to make it better.

It’s not that we can’t do it – but will we do it? Will we allow our hearts to feel another’s pain and share in another’s joy in a real way? Or will we continue to say to one another be warm and be filled?

Love requires that we care!

Next time you tell a friend – “Take a load off!” – mean it!!

Tainted Water …

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Lloyd and I were driving by a village in Ghana once where there had recently drilled a water well for the local community. There were young local children fetching water from the well.  The children were pulling together on one rope to get their bucket out, and then came shock – horror!  They were fetching the water in a turpentine can! 

We lived among this particular people group, and we knew that the container was not washed out with soap and water or bleach or boiling water; it was only rinsed in the local pond until they couldn’t smell the turpentine and then declared it fit for use.  This community clearly needed not only to know that clean water was important but they needed to understand what things would contaminate the water and what was necessary for them to avoid introducing contaminates into their drinking water.  They needed to know that if contaminates were introduced – this water would bring death and not life.

There is a tendency in the Western world to believe that once we have shared the truth of the gospel with people and they have confessed that they believe – we have done our part.  But I am a witness that what you leave behind is a person that believes the truth, but has no idea what the truth is, or what to do with that truth.  They twist it to fit their circumstance, they ignore the parts that they cannot easily understand, some rise to a position of leadership and then exploit the little that they know to their own benefit – – some minister an adulterated gospel and taint the water for entire congregations!  What is the answer???  The answer is to teach the complete gospel.  That means that we go beyond salvation – and take people to the entire truth of the gospel. 

We have to teach people to study the word of God so that they can come to know the person of God.  If they can’t read the Word, we have to be willing to give the time and resources necessary to teach them how to interact with The Word; audio Bibles, simpler translations, etc. After teaching them to read the word or to listen to the word, we must teach them to interact in the word in such a way that it becomes something that they can apply to their life!  When we equip them with these tools – they will know what the truth looks like and are less likely to fall prey to any contaminated word.  When we equip them with these tools then we are preparing them to protect the word that is taking root in their hearts.  When we equip them with these tools – we ensure that the word will bring them to the abundant life that God has planned for them.

But 🙃 – THIS. TAKES. TIME!!  And, be honest, how many of us are willing to give our precious time to another??  I can tell you as one who lives a life of discipleship,  that it is a 24 hour a day commitment.  The women that I disciple call me whenever they need to, they visit whenever they need to, they invite me to delve into places in their lives that I don’t want to go!  And I am also a witness – that you might have an 8 week program – but I have yet to disciple a new Christian in only 8 weeks!  Discipleship is life on life – LIFE on LIFE!!  It means (here I go again!) loving someone as much as you love yourself. Would you drink tainted water willingly?! I think not!!

Making disciples is easily defined as: TEACHING PEOPLE THE WORD OF GOD! TOUCHING PEOPLE WITH THE LOVE OF GOD!

Touching them with His love means that we’ll give our lives to them for the sake of His glory.

Interestingly – our Savior’s last words to us were that we should go, preach, teach and make disciples.  He really did not say go, preach, teach, and get them saved!  We’ve got to be willing to give our whole lives to the purposes and passions of our Savior and King – He wants them to know Him, He wants them to know the Father, He wants them to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  In the words of my husband, “time has come to stop dunkin’ ‘em and droppin’ ‘em” – we’ve got to start counting them as so dear to us that we not only give them the gospel but our very lives. (1 Thess 2:8)