I have a bad habit that I am really trying to break. When I forget something, I tend to try to look for others to blame. For example, I forgot to remind you of our Wednesday night class at 6:00 PM on our YouTube channel this week (for the record, until we start meeting in person again, our Wednesday lesson will be at 6:00 on YouTube...if you have any ideas for this class, please let me know).
My immediate thought at 5:55 PM Wednesday was something to the effect of, “If Larry hadn’t have said he was going to be at the building at 1:00 Wednesday afternoon, I would have remembered to send the reminder about Wednesday night.”
Of course this is not totally true...actually it is not even the slightest bit true. Plain and simple: I forgot to do a call and a post on Facebook. It wasn’t Larry’s fault, it wasn’t anybody’s fault but my own.
You know, this seems to be a product of our society and culture: blame someone else. If you forgot something, it was because someone else “made you forget.” If you do something and it is wrong, somebody else is to blame.
Stranger still is that even some with a bad case of the “Me mentality” feel this way. It’s all about me...until something goes wrong and then it is anybody BUT “me’s” fault!
I remember a devotional song that we used to sing a couple of years ago when I was a teenager. The words say “If I don’t get to heaven…” (repeated three times) “...dear Lord, it will be nobody’s, nobody’s, no, no, no, nobody’s, nobody’s fault but mine.”
The second verse says, “If I don’t see my Jesus…” The third verse: “If I don’t wear a crown…” Each ends with the personally accountable statement, “It will be nobody’s fault but mine.”
How true this song is! God has done all He can do. Jesus has done all He can do. The ball is squarely in our court.
I’m really trying to break the habit of blaming others for my failures. Here and now, with little things, blaming others may make us feel better. We may find some relief in shrugging off our personal responsibility.
But on the Day of Judgement, there will be no relief if we try to blame others. If we don’t get to heaven, it will not be our parent’s fault; it will not be our preacher’s fault; it will not be our spouse’s fault; it will not even be Larry’s fault (except for if your name is Larry).
It will be nobody’s fault but mine!
When important, historical moments happen, it seems that someone always comments, “Well, I guess everyone will always remember where they were when ___________ happened.”
I’ll admit that some of these historical moments are life changing and we may very well remember where we were when they happened for the rest of our life.
Something I find it fascinating that, with no live sports happening, some sources have taken to playing “classic” games from sports history. For some of these “classics” the game itself wasn’t the memorable part, but a single moment was why we were told, “You’ll always remember where you were when you saw (insert “important” sports moment here).”
Strangely, I don’t.
For example, at one time in my life I was a huge fan of the NBA team in the city where I grew up. “My” team won 5 NBA championships. I always thought I would remember every one of them: what year, who they beat, what the best of seven tally was, and so forth. I stopped watching them (and, I guess, caring about them) 5 or 6 years ago...I don’t even remember when I stopped being a “fan”!
Strangely, I had to use Google to make sure I was remembering the correct number of titles they won...let alone any of the details of the wins.
You see, as our lives move on, those things that we thought were so important that we would always remember every detail (where we were, etc) may fade from memory.
There are important events in our lives that we will always remember. But there are also events that “seem important” at the time that, over time we realize they really were not all that important, so we forget.
That being said, there are a few things we must never forget.
1. Our choice to sin separated us from God...leaving us deserving of eternal separation from God.
2. But God loves us so much that He could not let us stay in this state, so He sent Jesus to die for us.
3. Jesus loves us so much that He was willing to leave heaven and come to earth (can you imagine that!), live the only perfect life, and die the cruelest death so that we can be reconciled back to God.
4. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead!
5. We must choose to obey His conditions so that we can take advantage of this sacrifice and be reconciled back to God.
When it comes right down to it, the only thing that matters is if YOU have obeyed HIM! That’s the only event that we must remember.
No other event in all of history (be it a “triumph” or a “tragedy”) really matters!
This past weekend, I watched a friend’s video of him putting together a swing set/play house for his daughters. Naturally he didn’t record the entire two day project, but just some clips of what he was doing and some thoughts.
I’m pretty sure that the things he was saying were, in fact, planned out and purposeful with a message about current events (after all, he was the youth minister where I was the preaching minister for several years...I’m sure I rubbed off on him some!).
He started by pointing out that when you are working with predrilled holes, sometimes the holes don’t line up exactly...so you just have to do the best that you can with what you have. (He was also quick to point out that he was completely confident that it would be perfectly safe for his daughters to play on when it was finished: the holes weren’t perfect, but close enough to allow things to fit together.)
Such is the case today. Not everything in life is going to line up perfectly. Not everything in life is going to be exactly like we want it to be. Sometimes all we can do is the best we can with what God gives us. In the end, we trust that everything will work out “perfectly safe” (after all, God is the giver - see James 1:17 - and we can trust Him to be sure that things will “fit together” for our good - see Romans 8:28).
A second point that he made was that the instructions (which he read...weird, I know) had the assembler put together different parts of the set before they were all put together.
Rather than starting on one side and moving toward the other side, you assemble the two ends and middle support, etc. before it is all put together. Before they are all put together, all the assembled pieces may look a little strange...but then it all comes together and looks perfect.
Sometimes the pieces of our life may look a little strange...perhaps we may even start to think that there is no way they could ever come together. Yet if we allow the Right One to do the assembly, in the end we find that our life is exactly what He wants it to be.
So as we muddle through this time, remember that eventually everything will fit securely together and that we can trust the Assembler to make certain that it will come out perfect!
As the father of two girls, Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays (honestly, I like all holidays, but Easter is pretty special).
It is special because of what it represents: the resurrection of Jesus...but we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection EVERY Sunday.
It is special because when I was young, it meant some pretty good candy (I especially enjoy the egg and bunny shaped marshmallow candy, in the different colored wrappers...but I haven’t seen any in a number of years).
Neither of these reasons, though, has anything to do with Easter being special to me because I am the father of two girls.
Easter was a time, when the girls were little, that Monica’s mom would make them matching dresses. They were so cute!
After a few years of this, though, one of the girls didn’t like to be dressed identical to her sister. And since it was more expensive and time consuming to make dresses, Grandma started sending money to buy the girls’ Easter dresses.
It was still adorable...Mommy would take each of them shopping and they would be so proud of the dress they picked out. They would do a quick fashion show for Dad, then the dresses would be hung in the closet and not worn until Easter Sunday.
But then there was Easter Sunday, 2013. March 31, 2013 to be exact. That was the day that both girls obeyed the gospel. I am told I “sprinted down the aisle” to meet them...all I remember is being really happy.
I miss those days. This was supposed to be our first year with both girls at college on Easter...but both are home and neither has a new dress.
I miss that this year I will not be able to see the little girls...I mean young ladies...at church in their Easter dresses.
I’m so thankful that, even though this year Easter is different, that it is still the same. I’m so thankful that even though Sundays are different for now, they are still the same: Jesus is alive! He defeated death...so I don’t have to live in fear! Praise God!
Earlier this week, I was talking with someone who related to me a conversation they had with a neighbor (they were careful to make sure I knew that they talked across their backyard fence and were further than six feet apart).
The neighbor commented that he felt that not being “allowed” to attend church services was really a bad thing...because he was afraid that people would get out of the habit of attending and, when all this Coronavirus stuff is done, they will be so out of the habit that they might not return.
As this person related to me this story, I found myself thinking the neighbor was right. Once we get out of the habit of getting up on Sunday morning and attending services, it might be difficult to get back into the habit.
But, at the same time, not being able to meet with you the past few weeks and not knowing when we will be able to assemble together in one place again...well, let’s just say I have a new appreciation for how important meeting with the church is to me.
Then I found myself thinking about how to prevent getting “out of the habit” of attending church. I came up with three suggestions.
First, get up at your regular time for a Sunday morning. Rather than sleeping in, since you don’t have very far to travel for church, stick to your regular Sunday routine.
Second, as part of your regular Sunday routine, get dressed. I’m not necessarily saying to put on the clothes you would wear if we were meeting on Sunday, just don’t stay in you pajamas.
“But nobody is going to see me!” some may object. And you’re right, nobody will see you. But it is a mindset thing. Wearing pajamas means it is time to sleep. Even when we are only able to gather online to collectively worship God, it is time to be awake and thoughtful about what we are doing.
Third, treat our online service like you would a live service. Have your Bible with you. Sing with the song leader (until you’ve done it, you have no idea how awkward it is to lead singing in an empty auditorium...they worked hard, so sing with them). Pray the prayers. Listen attentively to the lesson. “Behave” like you would if you were actually at the church building.
Just some ideas that I hope you’ll employ during this time of social isolation.