Second Chance

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Impossible

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

 

itiswritten

First, some housecleaning. Many of you (okay maybe one) may have wondered where I have been. I haven’t commented on any of your comments here nor have I been leaving comments on your blogs (if you have one).  It is true I have been busy but the real reason isn’t nearly as virtuous as that. 🙂

Truth: the church’s internet has been down for two days. Talk about being hamstrung! About a month ago it went down for close to 3 days. I won’t mention our carrier’s name, but Comcast didn’t do us any favors. One of our own guys (techgeek) had to get our internet up and running. But for reasons we had no clue about, it kept cutting in and out. Odd hours. Odd length of time. Wednesday morning around 5:30 it gave up the ghost. It took us until Thursday afternoon to get it back. I do have to hand it to Comcast for expediting that. Sort of hard to run a business without it. Since I don’t have a computer at home…and since I despise typing on my phone…I read only.

So now you know the rest of the story.

My sermon Sunday is taken from 2 Chronicles 20 where Jehoshaphat faced the Ammonites and Moabites in a seemingly impossible situation. We might say he faced a mountain and had no clue what to do. He couldn’t go around it; under it; over it; or through it.

Often we are defeated by those seemingly impossible situations which want to take us down and stomp on us. Life after divorce. Life after a death. Life after losing a job. Life after watching our world fall apart. We feel overwhelmed. Just like Jehoshaphat. His story, though, is one of the Impossible becoming a testimony to the Possible of God.

Thanks for your prayers. One of my posts next week will give the five steps Jehoshaphat took to make this a reality.

Squandered Resources

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

 

itiswritten

This post is not about the environment or the government or any other “ment.”

I suspect most of us have heard stories like this somewhere along the line:

An old woman, known as “Garbage Mary,” lived in a small town in Florida. Every day she would be seen dressed in her rags, walking the streets, scavenging through garbage cans for food, which she hoarded in her car or in her tiny two-room apartment. She was a recluse with no friends, and while she scrounged cigarettes and ice cubes from anyone available, it was logical to assume she was an old woman losing her mind and on the verge of destitution.

She was picked up by police and confined in an institution. When some officials went to her apartment, they were amazed to find out there was money everywhere. Bank books, securities, oil-drilling rights, real estate documents, and cash, all which indicated she was worth more than 1 million dollars! They also indicated she was not an old woman but a 48 year old college graduate who had inherited a great deal of money when her father died in 1974.

Various reasons for her actions were given, but the tragedy remains that Garbage Mary is a story of squandered resources. She had “value” she didn’t even take advantage of.

In the OT there is a man who “lives” as one who squandered his resources. His name? Samson. And boy did he squander his resources!! Given the leadership of the people of Israel during the time of the judges, Samson had great potential. But he kept squandering it because he had a weakness. Chuck Swindoll called him “a he-man with a she-weakness.” That about sums it up.

This Sunday my sermon is on Samson. In keeping with the series theme of “Second Chance,” I am calling this “Second Chance after Falling.”

If you are like me, your weekends don’t give you much time to read or comment on blogs. I will read but very seldom comment. Because I believe people praying is so important, I have decided to move my weekend post to early Thursday instead of posting it late Thursday/early Friday. I hope it prompts you to pray for me and the church this weekend. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. Thanks ahead of time. 

Failure

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

 

itiswritten

I seriously doubt, if we are honest, there isn’t a one of us who at one time or another hasn’t failed. If you are like me it is, “Seriously? Again?” If there is one thing we all have in common it isn’t hair, heights, teeth, clothing, or anything tangible.

All of us have failed at something. A job. A business. A marriage. A career. A sport. The list seems endless doesn’t it?

Pick a person in the Bible who represents failure and I suspect many will choose the one I will be speaking about this Sunday. Matthew 5. Luke 9. Matthew 16. Matthew 26. If you guessed those Scriptures were about Peter you would be right.

Epic fail. Colossal fail. Especially that last one. Talk about betrayal Judas comes to mind. Talk about denial/failure Peter comes to mind.

But talk restoration and he should also come to mind. That, after all, is what John 21 is all about. Three times Jesus asked him if he loved Him, with the last being an echo of Peter’s own answers to the first two. Three denials. Three questions. Life & ministry restored.

After all, there is a second chance after failure. Peter is an example. Thanks for your prayers Sunday.

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May I ask a special prayer from you this weekend? A local church has about blown apart. We are supposed to have some of the folks visiting Sunday. I don’t mind being a haven for people to get their hearts and minds together, but I am not interested in growing OVCF by “sheep stealing.” Please pray for a right attitude for me and the healing of a breach in the wall for the other church. Thanks.

Running

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

 

itiswritten

This is not a blog about running…so have no fear! 🙂  I don’t run…at all. Not only do I find it a sport I have no interest in, my body also says, “Don’t even think about it!” And I ALWAYS listen to my body. (cough cough!)

This a post…and a sermon…about running from God. For those of you who know the Bible, I can already tell you know who this sermon will be dealing with. For those few who might be in the dark…try swallowed by a big fish as a clue.

Jonah…the classic illustration of someone who ran from God. “I want you to go to Ninevah and preach to them.” “Nope don’t think so.” And off he goes for parts unknown. But God intervenes and to make a long story short, He does exactly what Jonah suspected He would.

I suspect we have all run from time to time. Thinking I know a better way or a better solution, I have gone and chosen my own path. Trouble: running is not the answer. Especially running from God. But fortunately, God gives second chances…even after running.

I’m not interested in debating the truth or falsehood of this story. That is another time and another place. (Although I do believe it is a true story).  I would appreciate your prayers for this Sunday.

 

StartingOver

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

 

itiswritten

Several years ago a book written by Robert Fulghum took the literary world by surprise due to its appeal: “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” In a similar sense, we could say, “All I ever needed to know about God I learned in the parable called the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

I suspect most of my readers are familiar, maybe overly, with the story. But lest we get carried away with the story of the son, we cannot forget the father! To be more clear: this story gives us a great glimpse into the nature and character of God.

The story is familiar. The younger son disses his father in a big way. He goes against all the cultural norms of his day. He disregards his inheritance. He dishonors his father. He demands his birthright. The father really had no choice in the matter. He gives his son what was his and sends him on his way.

Eventually, the son loses it all and finds himself in a pigpen (literally). Coming to his senses, his devises a speech and heads home. His father sees him (which implies to me he was looking for him), and runs to meet this wayward son. The son doesn’t even get out his speech before the father is lavishing love and gifts upon him.

How much like God that is. A God of the Second Chance. A God who takes our mess-ups and meets us there. A God who takes all our mistakes and wipes the slate clean. He lavishes us with love in spite of all we’ve done. He picks us up, dusts us off, and says, “Now…go.” Not in a put-off sort of way but in a “This is a new start. Move on.”

I’ll be using a quote this Sunday which I plan to highlight in my next post. My theme for 2016 is “It is Written.” My first series is Second Chance. I’d appreciate your prayers for me and for those who need to know this truth.

Mistakes

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

I have had a really busy day and find myself behind the proverbial 8-ball when it comes to posting. So I’m going to “cheat.” I’m going to borrow a post someone from the church sent me. It is a bit longer than I like to post but the message is powerful.

We often look at mistakes as the end of the road. This post will change your thinking about that.

I’d like to ask you to read it and come back and comment.

Ricky’sSecondChance

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

This past April through June I hosted a series of posts written by guests about their Second Chance. I started it with this one.  Several of you wrote posts starting here and following each Tuesday after that about a broad range of Second Chances. I asked today’s author to write one and he said, “Yes, but I am notoriously slow.” I was thinking, “That’s okay. I will just put him at the end.” I thought he had forgotten me until late last week I received his post via email. I will let you read his post and then tell you about him at the end.

I was a troublemaker in middle school. Between middle and high school, we moved. This gave me a chance to turn over a new leaf.

In high school I was doing better, but my parents had noticed my grades were slipping. They gave me an ultimatum – get a 3.0 average, or lose my driver’s license.

The driver’s license is the key to every teenager’s heart.

Report card day came. I was just under a 3.0. In my favorite teacher’s class, I had gotten a B-. I needed a B.

I begged. I pleaded. The teacher wouldn’t budge.

I left her desk in the foulest of moods. I headed back to my computer under a storm cloud no one but me could see.

My screen didn’t have my in-progress assignment on it. Instead, it simply read “SUCKER”.

I stared at it for a moment, turning red as my internal boiler turned up the heat.

Then the kid next to me snickered.

He’d been a pain in my side all year, but one I had tried to ignore. Now, though, I felt as if I had nothing to lose.

I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I do recall his chair flew the opposite way he did. I punched until he hit the ground.

I had been given a second chance, and I had just thrown it away.

I glanced up at my teacher, who appeared to be busy straightening her desk. I knew I was in for it, so I simply left.

No one ever said anything. Not my teacher, not the other kid.

Years later, I ran into my teacher. I asked her if she saw what happened, and she had. I asked why she didn’t say anything.

“You had been making an effort to turn things around. So I gave you a second chance.”

Who can you give a second chance to today?

Ricky Anderson is married and has a 3-yr-old son and an almost 1 yr-old daughter. He works in IT and blogs here, but by his own admission does so very infrequently. I’m grateful Ricky is giving me an opportunity to post his Second Chance. Do you have a Second Chance story you would like to tell. Email me at pastor@ovcf.org and I’ll let you know the “rules.” 🙂

 

Yesterday

Monday, October 6th, 2014

In my years as a pastor (over 40) one constant has been there for all those years. In fact, I am seeing it more and more the older I get. No not the lack of hair or any other part of the aging process. 🙂

One constant I have seen is the struggle people have with “yesterday.” Not yesterday as in, the day just passed, but yesterday as in “the past.” Several years ago Pillar did a song called “Secrets and Regrets” which dealt with that theme. I certainly can’t put my finger on why, but it seems like dealing with the past (or holding onto the past depending on your perspective) is becoming more of an issue these days. Sometimes I feel as though hardly a week goes by where I have not had some dealings with someone’s past.

Maybe it is the proliferation of sexual abuse which is so rampant right now.

Maybe it is people trying to find “peace” and come to grips with their past.

I don’t know. So many possible reasons for it.

What I do know is this: people are hurting and carrying a ton of that hurt inside. Some are seeking relief and release from the pain. I want to be there for them…to help them and to point them to THE ANSWER…Jesus.

This past Thursday night I was listening to some new music on YouTube. Jo wonders about me. She says I ought to act my age. (As if that is going to happen any time soon). My music selection is so far apart from hers. This is the group and song I was listening to. I know it probably isn’t most of your cup of tea so here is the link to the lyrics.

There is hope for all the ugly yesterdays…for the ugly today’s…and for all the ugly tomorrows as well.

Why do you think this is more of an issue today? What are you doing to help?

 

Depression2

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Thanks to Kari’s contribution to the Second Chance series, I asked her to post more on Depression. Last week’s post can be read here. It was posted while I was on vacation so it was great she was able to respond to your comments.  Our approach was to do it as an interview. Here is her second installment.

What role did your husband, church, family, etc. Play in dealing with depression? Did you come to faith during this time, or was your faith instrumental in overcoming it?

Had I not had relationships that mattered to me or that I at least wanted to matter to me, I don’t think I would have had hope. The first was the hope of a relationship with God, but more on that in a minute. First, let’s address the other relationships mentioned in the question.

My husband joined this journey with me when I was only 5 years into it. You do the math, and you’ll discover we got together pretty young. I could never do justice to the junk (the kindest word I can think of to describe it) I put him through over the past 25ish years or to the patience he continually doled out. Simply put, he never gave up on me and refused to leave me. He looked me straight in the eye on more than one occasion and said, “I will never leave you.” I get choked up thinking about it. I realize today that him never giving up on me made me unable to give up either.

I grew up in a very rules-oriented church culture, one where God was this distant being who seemed more like a master chess player than like anyone who wanted me to know Him personally. So, the first 28 years of my faith life included what I “should” do, including believing in God. Around age 28, that changed. I began to discover who I was in Christ, and I learned that Jesus not only wanted a relationship with me but that He gave me His Holy Spirit to comfort and help me. I learned that the Bible was a guide for life and not simply a book of rules. This process of correcting my wrong views about God and seeing life from a full-Gospel perspective truly gave me a new foundation to build upon as I began to live more and more outside of the pit.

Not sure how to characterize my family’s role, so I’ll just dive in to some specific examples. My dad was absent a lot and pretty self-focused, which does not bode well for the self-esteem of a little girl. My mom always loved and accepted me no matter my emotional state, but she had struggles of her own that didn’t allow her to do more. My extended family was a non-factor.

My journey out of the pit really began after I had my oldest son. When he was a toddler, I realized that I did not want his memories of me to be ones of a depressed an unhappy person. So, I began the journey for him. My youngest son entered this journey only about 4 years ago, but it too was a pivotal experience in that he needed me to live fully and completely outside of the pit in order for him to not live in one himself. For him, I took steps to fill in the pit of depression that had been my dwelling place for so many years, making it no longer an option.

Now for the role of faith. I don’t remember not believing in God. However, I do remember not really knowing who Jesus was and what role the Holy Spirit played. Learning about relationship with Christ changed everything. My growth in faith coincides directly with my progression through depression and out of the pit forever. Depression was the trial of my life that drew me always closer to Him; it was either that or end my life. Realizing my inability to overcome on my own led me to realize my desperate need for Him.

(Note: If we had time and space, I would also discuss the role of Christian counseling as well as of the books I read in this whole journey.)

Kari will be here to respond to your comments again. What are your thoughts?

Depression1

Monday, June 16th, 2014

When I was running a series called Second Chances, Kari Scare wrote about her struggle with depression. Through a series of questions and emails, I asked if she would consider writing more about her struggle and how she (with God’s help) overcame it. I shot her some questions and we decided to “run it” as sort of an interview. Due to length, it has been divided into five conversations. This is the first. The others will follow at one each week.

Do you mind sharing your story of depression with us? How long did you suffer? What do you think was the cause? How did it affect you? Did you ever feel hopeless?

Depression fully entered my life around age 10 (4th grade). The severity waxed and waned through high school with the lowest points coming during my twenties. Actual diagnoses came around age 22, just a year or so after getting married.

As a child and through high school, I was very emotional and cried easily. I even had the nickname “baby” stick with me from 4th through 8th grade. In my twenties, I became pretty volatile and hit a desperate low, considering suicide at various times. Around age 28, light broke through the heavy cloud in my mind, and I began the climb out of the pit. Still unpredictable emotionally and still a regular pit-dweller, I began visiting the edge of the pit. My 30s can be characterized by discovering and dealing with root causes. Lots of ups and downs still during this time, but the lows became not quite as low and got continually higher as I slowly but surely dealt with the various causes.

The causes of depression for me were many and varied. I held unforgiveness toward an absent father and toward an older family member who showed me porn at a very young age. I had some very unhealthy thought patterns that needed reprogrammed along with some pretty poor relational habits. In many ways, I really had no way to even deal with the emotions of life, not even to identify what I was feeling and experiencing.

Added to all of that, I had some significant health issues (food allergy, food sensitivities, thyroid issues, hormonal imbalance & adrenal fatigue) that made climbing out of the pit nearly impossible. Then there was my inability to take personal responsibility for myself or to even recognize the need to do so as well as being pretty confused about who this distant God of the universe was.

I definitely felt hopeless at times, but there was always the slight hope of a hope that God was real and would not leave me to sink in the mud of the pit that was my life and had been for so very long. That hope literally kept me alive. A positive that came out of that hopelessness, which I know sounds very strange to say, is a realization of how powerless I was to change myself. With all my efforts, I could improve but never overcome. I could skirt the edge of the pit at times but never really be free from falling back in pretty regularly. There was always more struggle than anything else with true victory seeming only a fairytale.

Even as I answer these questions, I remember the feelings of that old life. I need to remember them once in a while and to be reminded of where I came from, so I can better appreciate where I am today. Remembering life in the pit provides tremendous motivation for doing whatever I need to do to make sure I never go back no matter what happens in my life.

Kari has really opened her heart and life to all of us. Any thoughts you want to bring or questions to ask?