I RESOLVE . . .

During the last week, of each year, we bring out resolutions, to live by, of the upcoming new year. We resolve to exercise, go to church more, be nicer and drop a few pounds.

I know we have the best of intentions looking forward, so we try to do better. For most of us, we do pretty well with our resolutions say until, February. But do we also take time to reflect on the past year of what has taken place in our lives?

I believe there are four areas of retrospection in which we look back to see what has taken place: the positive events, the negative events, the missed opportunities and the do-overs.

The positive and negative aspects are a given. It’s easy to see what was good and what was bad. But sometimes it’s a little more difficult to see what was missed. This leads me to the fourth category of looking back; The do-over.

The do-over is the most dangerous of the four. Making a choice and then regretting the choice can lead to the following:

• Fear – being afraid to make a decision.
• Bitterness – anger because of results.
• Apathy – non care because of rejection.
• Inferiority – lack of confidence due to rejection.

All of these feelings lead to regret. Regret leads to missed opportunities in the future. What we need as followers of Christ is the opposite of the four feelings of regret. The opposite feelings are:

• Fear – Faithfullness.
• Bitterness – Joy.
• Apathy – Love.
• Inferiority – Purpose.

The bible calls these four feelings as “fruit of the spirit.” Galatians 5:22 says “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

God wants us to live a life with no regrets. Erma Bombeck, who wrote a syndicated column with over 30,000,000 readers put it this way in a column titled “If I Had My Life To Live Over Again?”

“I would invite friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. I would have never bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, later, let’s get washed for dinner. There would be more I love yous, more I am sorrys, but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it, live it, and never give it back.”

Let us resolve in 2016 to live a life with no regrets. Let us love like Jesus. Let us think about the words we use. Let us be givers and not takers. Happy New Year!

Stand Firm,

Jody

Advertisements

SHARPEN YOUR SWORD

image

The Scottish Claymore Sword is the most well known two-handed sword used in battle. Most recently, it was popularized by the movie Braveheart. Anyone who saw the movie remembers William Wallace holding up the sword on his horse and yelling to the top of his lungs “FREEDOM.”
The word claymore referred to “a very big sword.” It was feared in the medieval battles because of its size and sheer power it wielded when it was swung by a warrior. The sword usually ran 55″ in length with a 14″ handle. Thus making it a “two-handed sword.”
Throughout history, tales have been told of Scottish Highlanders, faced against incredible odds, who have overcome their enemies with the help of their trusted “two-handed sword.” This was achieved because of the faith in their training, as well as the assurance of the sharpness of their sword.
Notice what I said. They first had to know how to fight with their sword. And secondly, they had to keep their weapon sharp. Think about how you fight your daily battles. Yes, daily we are faced with a battle from our enemy the deceiver, Satan himself.
How do you fight him? What is your weapon? Hopefully it is the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12-13 says “the Word of God is living and active. . . sharper than any double-edged sword”. We have a powerful sword to fight our enemies. Our weaknesses, to be specific.
Just like the Highlander, we must know how to use our weapon. We must train daily on how to attack and how to defend our ground. But we also must keep our sword sharpened. Proverbs says “as iron sharpens iron, so must a man sharpen each other.” We must not fight the battle alone. We need other warriors to practice with to keep us sharp.
Perhaps you are in the midst of a great battle, and feel you are losing ground. Pick up your sword. Pick up the Word of God. Find other warriors to enter the battle with you. Jesus promised in Matthew 18:20 that “if two or more were gathered in his name, he would be gathered with us.” That is, he will be in the fight with us.
Once again remember the call from Mel Gibson in Braveheart, “FREEDOM.” Pick up you sword and march on. You can have freedom.

Stand Firm,

Jody

GOD DOES NOT SLEEP

image

December 24, 2015

I wrote this six Christmases ago. It still applies to today. Merry Christmas from my family to yours. Stand firm, Jody.
“My wife Kim bought me a CD for my birthday this year which featured the song “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.” I first heard this song as a boy on an Elvis record. I thought it was a good song but never paid much attention to it.

The version on my CD from Casting Crowns was beautifully arranged and I fell immediately in love with the song. But it wasn’t until I attended Christmas Eve service this year and heard the story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that I truly appreciated the song.

One of America’s best known poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), contributed to the wealth of carols sung each Christmas season when he composed the words to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” on December 25, 1864. The poem gave birth to the carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” When Longfellow penned the words to his poem, America was still months away from the Confederacy surrendering to the Union on April 9, 1865; and, his poem reflected the prior years of the war’s despair, while ending with a confident hope of triumphant peace.

Longfellow’s despair did not only include the Civil War. As with any writing or song that touches the heart of the hearer, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” flowed from the experience of Longfellow– involving the tragic death of his wife Fanny and the crippling injury of his son Charles from war wounds. Henry married Frances Appleton on July 13, 1843, and they settled down in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They were blessed with the birth of their first child, Charles, on June 9, 1844, and eventually, the Longfellow household numbered five children.

Tragedy struck both the nation and the Longfellow family in 1861. The Civil War began and Fanny Longfellow was fatally burned in an accident. Henry frantically attempted to extinguish the flames with a nearby throw rug. Failing to stop the fire with the rug, he tried to smother the flames by throwing his arms around Frances– severely burning his face, arms, and hands. Fanny Longfellow died the next morning. Too ill from his burns and grief, Henry did not attend her funeral.

The first Christmas after Fanny’s death, Longfellow wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.” A year after the incident, he wrote, “I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.” Longfellow’s journal entry for December 25,1862 reads: “‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” Almost a year later, Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac, had been severely wounded with a bullet passing under his shoulder blades and taking off one of the spinal processes. The Christmas of 1863 was silent in Longfellow’s journal.

Finally, on Christmas Day of 1864, he wrote the words of the poem, “Christmas Bells.” The reelection of Abraham Lincoln or the possible end of the terrible war may have been the occasion for the poem.
Longfellow’s Christmas bells loudly proclaimed, “God is not dead.” Even more, the bells announced, “Nor doth He sleep.” Longfellow wrote: “The wrong shall fail, the right prevail.” The message that the Living God is a God of Peace is proclaimed in the close of the carol: “Of peace on Earth, good will to men.”

The year 2009 was one of the toughest years of my life. Losing a job, downsizing a house and being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease made me at times want to say there is no peace. But God is so great and faithful.

That is why the words from Longfellow have taken hold of my heart. God is not asleep, He is with me. God will prevail over sin, over disease and over wrong. The Word of God tells us in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

My prayer for 2010 is that no matter how bad things could get, God is on His throne and watching over us ever step of the way. Ring bells ring.”

Blessings,

Jody