“The best inheritance a father can leave his children is a good example.” - John Walter Bratton
Throughout the years, I have received many gifts from my father. As a child, I looked forward to Christmas and birthdays, at which I would receive the toy or trinket I had been wishing for most. Even to this day my father has bequeathed to me more than his fair share of benevolent gifts. Although I have received many monetary gifts from my dad, the greatest gifts cost only pennies.
“The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”
“The will of God is always a bigger thing than we bargain for, but we must believe that whatever it involves, it is good, acceptable and perfect.”― Jim Elliot
As I look back, I can see the specific will of God unfolding in every stage of my life. From my teen years, through Bible College, as a youth pastor, and now as a pastor, God has been directing every step of the way. I can honestly say along with others, that I would have been terrified had God shown me everything when He called me.
“What interests me so much about the characters of the Bible is that they make mistakes but God uses them anyway, in important ways. Nobody’s perfect, but God can even use our imperfection.” - Fred Rogers
One of the most unfathomable aspects of God is His ability to use fallen man to accomplish His purposes. Even a life that is moral and outstanding, is still full of sin, disobedience, and failure. These attributes are just part of our very nature. Yet in the midst of our failures, God’s grace is actively at work making us usable for His Glory.
“Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and overindulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success” - Rick Pitino
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” - Harry S. Truman
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” - Viktor Frankl
In modern history, there is not a stain of inhumanness like that of the Holocaust. Millions were killed by the Nazi’s in their attempt to create a “perfect” world. In the midst of the horrors of the concentration camps, there were some determined survivors. One such survivor was a intelligent man named Viktor Fankl. Although, we could identify many individuals who overcame much and came out better, this man encapsulates the power of right thinking. Viktor had a revelation while in Auschwitz; though his captors held every power over him, they could not take his will, his volition, his inner freedom. He had a choice to allow them to own him, or to be free on the inside.
“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” - Harold Coffin
“If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang.” - Charley Reese
We live in a highly competitive society which likes to compare everyone and everything against everyone and everything else. As maturity sets in, many understand that worth is not found in the perceptions and opinions of others, but in acceptance by God alone. Unfortunately, for every person who finds completeness in Christ, there are dozens more who squabble about for recognition from everything else. This is abundantly clear in social media, where self-worth is based on the number of “likes” and “comments” a person receives.
“I’ve been blessed by the Hand of God. Though I fail, He blesses anyhow. There are no words to tell just how good God has been. I’ve been blessed, so blessed, blessed beyond measure” - Song: Blessed Beyond Measure
Someone wisely examined that counting blessings when unable to sleep is a much more profitable exercise than counting sheep. We can easily begin to feel slighted and cheated in life when we focus on all the negative and wrong that has come our way. If we would but shift our focus, we would easily see that we have indeed been blessed beyond measure. God has given us so much good in our life, and there is so much to be thankful for.
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;” - Deuteronomy 30:15
Choices should sometimes require no thought. Like the choice between a switch across the rear end or doing a simple task, like picking up a piece of laundry. Growing up, my mother was the disciplinary I feared most. She used the metal end of a fly swatter and was quite proficient at getting her point across with that thing. The last spanking I ever received was when my mother asked me to pick up a article of clothing and throw it in the washer. I refused with some added sass, and I was met with the alternative, a whooping.
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to accept what is true.” - Soren Kierkegaard
There are few things less painful in life than being deceived. It is a fairly unpleasant experience. As a sixth grader at Springtown Middle School, Pokemon cards were “all the rage”, and I was in love with the things. What made these (or any other collectible for children) so fun was trading them. Learning what was rare and common and then trying to get a good deal out of trade. Well, one day I got duped. Believing I had received one of the rarest cards in a fantastic trade, I was devastated to learn it was a fake. To put it shortly, I was deceived.
Any fool can reject truth, good, and blessings - unfortunately most do.
It is a devastating thing, when someone has two options placed before them: a beautiful beneficial one, and a devastating destructive one. And they elect to choose the latter of the two.
To see a young person nominate for the path of sinfulness is heart-wrenching. It makes you begin to question, “what could have been” and “if only”? Unfortunately, I have people who’s lives have crossed my path who made such decisions. There was such potential for good, such opportunity; but instead the easy unprofitable way was chosen.