Monthly Archives: January 2017

Don’t Look Back


I ran several different events in high school for our track and field team. Besides working on our form, our coach gave us another bit of advice: never look back. Looking back costs you time, disrupts your form, and changes your wind resistance. We were told, “Even if you hear footsteps close behind, don’t look back. Just look straight ahead at the finish line until the race is over.” What was good advice for track is good for us in life.

Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil” (NLT). It’s hard to stay in a straight line when you’re not looking forward. My son is a perfect example. He’s constantly looking everywhere except where he’s going. I keep reminding him, “Look ahead or you’ll run into things, fall down and get hurt.” 

We all need to be looking where we are going. What God has for you is not behind you. It’s ahead of you. Yes, your past happened, but it’s not where you’re going, it where you’re leaving. Think of Lot’s wife. She looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. The Angels told them to keep moving forward and not to look back. I don’t think it was an instant change to salt. I think she got caught up looking back, forgot to move forward, and was covered with the salty soot from the destruction. 

In Philippians 3:13, Paul wrote, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,” It’s hard to forget the past and the things that happened, but if we allow them to distract us from our future, we could end up like Lot’s wife. We could become stationary and get stuck in that place. We need to be looking forward to what lies ahead so we win our race. Learn from the past, but keep looking where you’re going or you’ll run into things, fall down, and get hurt.

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Hidden Sins


Years ago, I found myself sitting in my room holding a loaded 12 gauge shotgun. I had two people in mind as I sat there knowing where and when they’d meet. At that moment, I realized that every sin lives in me. It’s only waiting for the right circumstances to be woken up. It scared me to death that I could be capable of such a thing. I put down the gun and drove for over an hour away. I then parked on the shoulder and sat there fighting the mental battle to not return home. I didn’t want to make an emotional decision that would affect the rest of my life. 

David knew that struggle as well. The wrong circumstances plus the wrong thoughts equals the wrong action. In Psalm 19:12-13 he prayed, “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin” (NLT). He found that certain circumstances awoken hidden sins, and the more he thought about it, they became deliberate sins.

I think this is something we all struggle with at some point in our lives. We get caught up in a moment and time, combined with our emotions, our thoughts have He ability to run wild and direct our actions. A momentary weakness creates a lifetime of regret. A hidden sin in our heart, when woken up, can cause us to do or want to do the unthinkable. David prayed against those. He didn’t want to be controlled by thoughts that caused him to sin against God and others. That’s why he continued the prayer to go a step further. 

He prayed, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” If thoughts control actions, why not pray that his thoughts be pleasing to God? That’s something we can do too. What we think and meditate on grows in our lives. We choose to entertain thoughts that develop hidden sins or we choose to meditate on good things. Proactive prayer can keep us from the hidden sins lurking in our hearts. 

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Being Rescued


One evening in Cairo, some friends and I rented a sailboat on the Nile river. Our driver sailed for a while down river with the flow. Then when it was time to head back, he sailed side to side to go back upstream. As he got to the far side of the Nile, he lost control and sailed us deep into some reeds. We couldn’t get out and had no phone or radio communication to come rescue us. We yelled for help, but none of the other boats were coming close enough.

As it began to get dark, our hopes of being rescued were going down. We were getting hoarse from yelling and we were getting bit by mosquitoes. We climbed on top of the overhead canopy where there was enough wind to keep most of the mosquitoes away. Finally a boat with a motor on it saw us. They found out we needed to be pulled out, left to get rope, returned, and rescued us. Each of us had no voice and were covered in mosquito bites, but we were safe.

Being in need of rescue is not a fun place to be. It’s hard to find hope when you’re helpless. I’m thankful that God doesn’t leave us hopeless or helpless in the times of our greatest need. He hears us when we call out to Him. He sees us in our struggle. He rescues us when there is no hope. He is our very present help in time of need. If you’re in need of being rescued in any fashion, call out to Him today. He will meet you in that place and do what only He can do.

Here are some verses on being rescued. 

1. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
Psalms 18:16-17 NLT

2. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.
2 Corinthians 1:10 NLT

3. Is anyone crying for help? GOD is listening, ready to rescue you.
Psalm 34:17 MSG

4. And so the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials and how to keep the wicked under punishment for the Day of Judgment,
2 Peter 2:9 GNT

5. Do not say, I will repay evil; wait [expectantly] for the Lord, and He will rescue you.
Proverbs 20:22 AMPC

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Fruitful In Affliction


Joseph’s adult life was marked by many afflictions and sufferings. His brothers turned on him to kill him. They decided to sell him as a slave, and he was taken to Egypt where he was sold. He worked as a slave until he was falsely accused of raping his master’s wife. After spending many years in prison, he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker only to be forgotten. For 13 years his life spun out of control and seemed to be going away from the dream God gave him. 

What he didn’t know was that God was setting him up to fulfill that dream. Through it all, he developed the character necessary to be a leader that would lead a nation through a crisis. We don’t know about the dark nights he must have questioned God. We don’t get to read how hopeless he felt at times. We don’t even get to find out the depth of his affliction, but we know it was there. He went through these things because he was human like us.

We get a sense of it by the names of his children after being made second in command of Egypt. His first son was named Manasseh which means “God has made me forget all my troubles.” The name of his second son is even more telling. Genesis 41:52 says, “And the second he called Ephraim [to be fruitful], For [he said] God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (AMPC). Not only did God help him to leave the past behind him, He helped him to become fruitful where he suffered.

Whatever pain or suffering that you have endured or are enduring, know that God has not forgotten you. He is fulfilling His plan in your life and will cause you to be fruitful and prosper because of what you are enduring. Even if the pain is unbearable, in time God can help you to forget these troubles like a mom forgets labor pains. The joy that comes after is greater than the pain you endured because life is born. Just as God developed Joseph, He is developing you so you can be fruitful in the land of your affliction.

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God’s Hiring


As a kid, I remember praying, “Lord, I’ll go wherever you want me to go….except to Africa.” I don’t know why I was afraid of going there, but as a kid, that was scary to me. For many of us, we don’t mind serving God as long as He doesn’t uproot us from our way of life. We might pray, “Lord, use me any way you want, but please don’t make me leave my family or this area.” We don’t mind serving, but we don’t want to be a foreign missionary.

One day, as Jesus was ministering to people, He looked up at the crowd waiting for Him to touch them. His heart broke with compassion for them. He turned to His disciples and told them to look at the crowd. He then told them that the harvest was ready to be brought in and that they should pray that God would send more workers to help Him. That tug in your heart to want to be used by God anywhere except abroad is an answer to those prayers.

The great news for those who don’t want to travel far away, is that if you will look up and around you, there is a harvest everywhere you go. In Matthew 10, right after Jesus told them to pray that, He sent them into the harvest. Before they left, in verses 6-7, He told them, “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood” (MSG). 

I believe He’s saying that to us. We do t have to travel to a foreign land to find lost people. Start nearby. There’s a Harvest right outside your front door. You don’t have to be an eloquent preacher to help bring in the harvest. You just have to know what God did in your life, and begin telling it to one person at a time. That’s how a harvest is brought in. He’s still looking for laborers. Will you look up, see the harvest, and be willing to help? God is hiring laborers in your neighborhood.

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Following Footsteps


When you do something that’s been done before, we say, “You’re following in their footsteps.” I have friends who have followed in their dad’s footsteps to become police officers, others who followed their mom’s to become teachers, and others who have followed in a mentor’s to become entrepreneurs. Each of us are following in someone’s footsteps. Have you considered whose they are?

I believe we each should have someone ahead of us that we look to in order to challenge us to be better. I also think that we should have others behind us that we’re leading. I’ve heard it said that successful people do what successful people do. In fact, many books like “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “From Good to Great” have been written so we can follow in the footsteps of people who have successful habits.

While that’s important, I believe having spiritual mentors is more important. There should be Christian people in your life, whom you look up to, that you can emulate. Their prayer life should challenge you to pray better. Their Christian walk should encourage you to keep going. Their acts of love towards others should ignite a desire in you to do the same. Their understanding of Scriptures should cause you to study more. You may already have someone like that in your life. If you do, let them know. If not, find someone who can be that person.

Proverbs 2:20 gives us this advice, “Follow the steps of good men instead, and stay on the paths of the righteous” (NLT). If we want to stay on the paths of the righteous, we need to be following in the steps of those who are on them. Look around your life for the people that God has placed in it for you to follow. He doesn’t leave us alone in our pursuit of Him. He’s given us people to follow. Reach out to them, find out their habits, and follow in their footsteps as they follow Christ. 

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Abandoned 


To abandon someone is to quit supporting them or to give up on them. If you’ve ever been through some of life’s toughest circumstances, you know what it’s like to be abandoned by some of your family or friends. You find out that there are people in your life that you can count on, and there are people that you can’t. When you’re looking for advice, a place to regroup, or just a shelter from the storm, some people that you seek out will abandon you. Some of the ones who you thought would support you through thick and thin give up on you.

David was a person who knew a thing or two about being abandoned. He was forgotten by his father, disrespected by his brothers, shamed by his wife, chased by the king, and dishonored by his son. The people in his life that he should have been able to count on, turned their backs on him at some point in his life. He knew a thing or two about rock bottom. He looked for those he could count on in times of trouble.

In all of his searching, there was one who never abandoned him. God. David wasn’t a perfect man either. He cheated on his wife, had a man murdered, and did some unthinkable things. Yet when he sought after God, he knew that no matter what he had done, God would not abandon him. He knew that there was nothing he had done that God couldn’t or wouldn’t forgive. When others gave up on him, God never did. In fact, God said he was a man after His own heart. 

You may have walked David’s shoes. Maybe you’ve been abandoned by those who love you or you’ve abandoned the things you know are right. Either way, if you will seek God, He won’t abandon you. Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know you, Lord, will trust you; you do not abandon anyone who comes to you” (GNT). It doesn’t matter what’s been done to you or what you’ve done to others, you can find shelter, hope, and forgiveness in God when you seek Him out.

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