What’s Ahead?

Like most men, I love cars. And cars, like people, are all different. Some are  flashy sports models while others are family sedans. Some come equipped with automatic transmissions and others may come equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. Two door – Four doors. Convertible – hardtop. A lot of variety

A lot of variety but there is one similarity that they all share;  they have a windshield and a rear-view mirror. The windshield by design is rather large in comparison to the rear-view mirror. Obviously, it’s more important see where you are going than where you have been. While looking back occasionally does have a purpose, looking forward should be where are our main focus is.

It is so sad to see people living in the past. They cannot overcome how they have been hurt or how they have failed but constantly looking back hinders our forward progress. The Apostle Paul wisely said, “ Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,…” Philippians 3:12. Good advice as we come to the end of another year.

“Your most important work is always ahead of you, never behind you.” Stephen Covey.

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Two Journals

Several weeks ago, I celebrated my sixty-ninth birthday. I know that does not make me unique, but it did cause me to reflect on my childhood. There were things we did as a family that became traditions for us.

I fondly remember every Saturday evening my dad and I would watch professional boxing on television. Of course, we could not watch such an event without refreshments! EVERY Saturday evening we made root-beer floats. And it had to be Dad’s Rootbeer. No substitutes, please.

To be honest, I really didn’t like watching boxing and I still don’t. The rootbeer floats were good, but it think looking back what made it so special was just Dad and me spending time together.

An elderly man was rummaging through his attic when came across a box that contained two journals, one was his and the other was his son’s.

As he opened his journal, the old man’s eyes fell upon an inscription that stood out because it was so brief in comparison to other days. In his own neat handwriting were these words:
Wasted the whole day fishing with Jimmy. Didn’t catch a thing.

With a deep sigh and a shaking hand, he took Jimmy’s journal and found the boy’s entry for the same day, June 4. Large scrawling letters, pressed deeply into the paper, read: Went fishing with my Dad. Best day of my life.

You Just Look Like…

We have all experienced it. At the birth of a baby, someone might say, “He has his mother’s eyes, or nose, or chin”, whatever. At a family reunion, someone might remark, “Doesn’t he remind you of his Uncle Fred?”  An angry mother might yell, “You are just like your father!” 

When my grandson visited me for the first time at my church, several people commented, We don’t have to ask whose grandson he is! He looks just like his granddad. ” briceblog You may or may not resemble your relatives but as Christ-followers, people should be able to see the likeness to our Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…” John 14:9

When we bcome a part of His family, we begin to look like Him. Everday we should become more and more like Him. We bear the family resemblance right now; we will one day be like Him more fully. “We don’t know what we shall become in the future. We only know that, if reality were to break through, we should reflect his likeness, for we should see him as he really is!”  1 John 3:2 

Do people notice your resemblance to the Savior? They should. In Acts 4:13 we read, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”  [Emphasis added]

Life Defined

gameYesterday I watched the video “When the game stands tall.” (Highly recommended) The De La Salle Spartans (High School football) have just completed an incredible 151 consecutive victories and 12-straight state championships but it ended when they played against Bellevue on Saturday, September 4, 2004, in a 39-20 loss.

Needless to say, the team was more than upset. The assistant coach gave them awesome advice. “Don’t let a game define who you are. Let the way you live your life do that.” 

What Is In A Name?

My father was hooked on old western movies! One of his favorite actors was Randolph Scott. So much so, he wanted to name my youngest brother after him. Luckily my mother intervened, somewhat, and he ended up with the name, Randall Scott.

Names are important. Whether you are stereotyping a group of people or calling someone a name to demean their character. Name-calling is usually derogatory. Such is the case found in Acts 11:26 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” That “name” was used a term for mocking this new ‘sect’ of the Jewish religion. That attitude of cynicism has made a full circle and is now militantly being attacked.

My father told me that that having a good name was something to strive for. He said he could go into our small town and get a loan from any bank just because of his name. “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches… Proverbs 22:1 Do you even care how those around you view your name? I’m not talking about the actual name. Mine is Gary which I share with millions in America.

A good name really speaks to your integrity. It’s about your reputation and the character you have inside. It identifies who you are from a moral and ethical standpoint. Essentially it is what you are all about. Three reasons why a good name is better to pursue than great riches:

  1. A good name provides stabilityWhen you have a good name people can trust you. That trust is a stabilizing factor in your relationship with them.
  2. A good name is eternalRiches are fleeting.A good name however is theoretically eternal. How many men and women of history are still being spoken of in a positive light? Wouldn’t it be special if that could be you?
  3. A good name brings loving favorThe ending phrase of Proverbs 22:1 says, “…loving favor rather than silver and gold.” People will love you for having integrity. They will appreciate you for showing kindness, mercy and attention to their needs. They will stand up and support you when you are bombarded with unwarranted attacks.

Live in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called: Eph 4:1

Balance

One of the the most useful bits of knowledge I have gleaned from life is the importance of balance. There must be balance between work and family. There must be balance between studies and recreation. Chapter three of Ecclesiastes is all about balance. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..” Verses 1 

One of the keys to a fulfilled life is not only knowing which season of life you are in but also accepting that it. I went to the doctor today and he reminded me that my body is aging and I cannot expect it to respond like it did when I was forty. It is a fact that I have to accept and live with it.

Balance sometimes means understanding that not all wrongs will be made right immediately. King David learned this fact. In Psalm 73 he struggled with the prosperity of the wicked. He lamented the fact that there seemed there was no punishment for their wickedness. But God gave him understanding [balance] in verse 17 “Only when I came into God’s holy place did I finally understand what would happen to them.” 

God is a God of balance. He will right wrongs and bring justice. God is in control and He never makes a mistake! “…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Genesis 18:25

Unexpected Teachers

There is no question that Jesus is often surprising but it’s not often that Jesus seems surprised. Outsiders have a way of doing what even Jesus doesn’t appear to anticipate: A Roman Centurion shows great faith Luke 7:8-10 ;  Jesus praises a Canaanite woman for her persistence in asking Jesus to heal her daughter Mt. 15:21-29

Sometimes outsiders’ faith exceeds the faith of us churchy people. If we would open our eyes, we might see an open spiritual door where we expected a brick wall. If we would just listen, we may find the gospel of hope in a rented movie, on a top 40 song on the radio or a neighbor’s conversation. Many times we miss learning opportunities because we are not intentionally looking for them.

Maybe your agnostic friend could teach you about faith. A teenager with body piercings may give you hope. A Jewish coworker may teach you how to deal with a difficult boss. The Holy Spirit may use these people to speak to you.

God is at work at all times in all places in all people.”For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”