when does Jesus give up on us?

The following connects with part three of Tough Guys of the Bible, a current teaching series at Maranatha Church.

When do you write a person off?
How many chances does one get?
If an individual continues to live a life of failure, can we afford to keep providing another opportunity?

The story of Simon Peter in the Bible is an amazing one. Through most of his public life, he is the epitome of impulsive living and quickly spoken but soon broken promises.

It would have been easy for Jesus to quit:
Peter talked too much.
He was a hot head.
He misrepresented the kingdom of Christ.
And worst of all, Peter denied knowing Jesus when Jesus really could have used a friend.

But Jesus must have seen something in Peter that caused Him to keep working with him. He saw something of value, something that could be redeemed and could make a massive difference in the lives of millions of Christ-followers for generations to come. Jesus understood that what was happening in Peter’s life was a huge test. The devil was trying to shred Peter. But Jesus also knew that, in the end, Peter would win. So He kept working with him.

I’m glad he did. It gives me a little more hope for myself and others like me. When we don’t “get it” the first time around, or forty seventh or ninety third, God doesn’t quit.

So how many chances do we get?
I guess it all depends on what Christ sees in us as it relates to potential.
For our sakes, I hope He sees something good in us, I hope He doesn’t give up on us. I don’t think He will any time soon.


Jeremiah 6:16 God’s Message yet again: “Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, The tried-and-true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls. (here’s the part I wish wasn’t true) But they said, ‘Nothing doing. We aren’t going that way.’ (The Message)

Why do we insist on going our own way?

shoes for kids

One of the best things we are working on right now is a little project to put new shoes on the feet of some orphans. At Christmas, Maranatha Church gave new shoes (as well as lots of clothes and toys) to all of the kids at Casa Shalom Orphanage in San Lucas, Guatemala. Since, in most cases, this was their only pair of shoes, they are in desperate need of replacement. We put out an opportunity at our worship services on Sunday for anyone who wanted to buy a pair of shoes for a kid. In usual fashion, the great people at Maranatha stepped up and got excited about the project.

So here is the time frame:
This week – our friends go shoe shopping.
This coming Sunday morning – we bring the new shoes to church with us.
Sunday afternoon – we pack all of the shoes in suitcases.
Next Monday morning – we fly out of Miami to Guatemala, shoes in tow.
Next Tuesday – the kids of Casa Shalom get brand new shoes! All 60 of them!
Next Wednesday, we hop a plane back home, hearts full.

For a few months, Letha and I have been collecting new clothes for the kids. We plan to take these six suitcases of clothes when we go. In all, nine suitcases or about 450 pounds of clothes and shoes will go to the kids.

By the way, Maranatha is also providing new underwear and socks for all of the kids.
This may seem like a simple thing, and no big deal. But if you are a child living at the orphanage, it is a VERY BIG DEAL!

Thanks everybody! I can’t wait to post the pictures upon my return.

a spider

I took this shot on Sunday afternoon. Pretty intricate detail on his web. Also pretty scary looking little guy in the middle. Click on the picture to enlarge.

recovery from moral or ethical failure

The following is connected to the message series, Tough Guys of the Bible at Maranatha Church. On Sunday, we discussed the life of King David and, specifically, his recovery from the sin of adultery and murder. Refer to II Samuel 11 and Psalm 51.

How does one get on the road to recovery, when one has been a complete failure? When compromise of morals and values has been our path, how is it corrected? Is it possible to hold your head up when you know what you have done and everyone else knows what you have done?

It seems that we respond in one of two ways in our restoration after a fall. Either the sin is minimized and we behave as though our collapse is no big deal or we allow the collapse to absolutely destroy the rest of our lives. Depending on the level of the fall and the seriousness of our sin, a more balanced response is more effective.

I am thinking about King David’s disgrace after his affair with Bathsheba (II Samuel 11). He was the most highly recognized man in the country. Everyone knew him and they knew about his sin. They all knew that he fathered a child with a woman to whom he was not married. They knew that he was responsible for the death of his mistress’s husband. How could he possibly ever again show his face in public? How would anyone ever trust him? How could he ever recover his reputation? How could he ever have one ounce of self respect after this embarrassment?

Flirting with over simplification, I will offer a few ideas:

Quit lying: David initially lied about his affair. He lied to his followers, to himself and to God. As long as we are lying about our sin, we will never recover. Step up and be honest.
Start confessing: This is the awkward part. The book of James connects our confession of sin to our healing (James 5:16). Confession is cathartic, it has a way of cleaning us out. Until we confess, we are still deceiving.
Beat yourself up, (to a reasonable extent): Refer to Psalm 51. Failure is a big deal. We are sometimes pretty quick to gloss over the seriousness of our issues. We do believe in grace and know that forgiveness is available. But we should also know that sin has negative consequences. A season of mourning is necessary following a fall and is an important part of the restoration process. Shortcuts are not a good idea when it comes to recovery.
Repent: This word literally means to “think a different way”, to turn around how we are living. In other words, stop doing the thing that is wrong. Repetitive behavior and redundant sin make it nearly impossible to have enough confidence to actually believe in forgiveness and restoration.
Move on: get up, get out of the mud and get going again with life. Wallowing in guilt is counterproductive. Once God has forgiven you, it is time to forgive yourself and get back on track. Word of warning: other people won’t forgive or forget. Thank God that they are not the judge!

Psalm 51:1-12 (NET) “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your loyal love! Because of your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts! 2 Wash away my wrongdoing! Cleanse me of my sin! 3 For I am aware of my rebellious acts; I am forever conscious of my sin.4 Against you – you above all – I have sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. So you are just when you confront me; you are right when you condemn me.5 Look, I was guilty of sin from birth, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.6 Look, you desire integrity in the inner man; you want me to possess wisdom.7 Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.8 Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven! May the bones you crushed rejoice! 9 Hide your face from my sins! Wipe away all my guilt! 10 Create for me a pure heart, O God! Renew a resolute spirit within me! 11 Do not reject me! Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me!12 Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance! Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey!”

some thoughts on ambition

Ambition is not a bad thing, but depending on your exposure, the word can carry a negative connotation. The ambitious types are usually perceived as the money grabbers, the media hogs, the positions seekers. I say ambition is not necessarily all bad. It all depends on how it is defined and carried out. A simple definition of ambition is, “desiring success.” There is nothing inherently wrong with that, now is there?

It is when the ambition gets misguided that we are headed for trouble.

The phrase “selfish ambition” shows up five times in the NIV Bible (Galatians 5:20, Philippians 1:17, Philippians 2:3, James 3:14, James 3:16). Each time, we are warned against it. It seems to me that it is the selfish aspect of the concept that creates the problems. Desiring success that elevates us above others, takes advantage of others or pushes other people down is wrong, anyway you slice it.

So how can ambition be anything other than selfish?

Another phrase comes to mind: Tempered ambition. I will define this as, “chasing the rights things, the right way.” Desiring God’s definition of success is a good thing. Doing the right things the right way is a good thing. Succeeding without compromising our integrity is vital.

Go ahead and be ambitious. In fact, please desire success. Just be sure it is the non-selfish variety.