Time After Time

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Yesterday I drove over to New Orelans and had a short visit with my mom and dad. I was happy to be able to see them, although it was only for a few hours. Today a crew of 25 college students are headed to the Coast to work with us next week. They have nightly activities planned. Seth Simmons is the energetic campus minister that has organized this trip. He will speak at Central this coming Wednesday night. I am looking forward to them being here this week. We also have some students from Wichita Christian School coming in Wednesday. I have big ambitions for lots of things to accomplish today, but so far I haven’t even started!

Tomorrow I will be speaking from 1 Samuel 1-2 about Hannah’s Heart.  Just about every time I read through this story the tears start to fall. I hope I can talk about it tomorrow without getting all verklempt! Hannah is not like most mothers today, in that she gave her son away to the Lord … which meant being raised in the temple. Actually, Eli the Priest was to raise her son Samuel. Eli does not have a good track record in the child rearing department, but God is involved so there is some hope. Hannah’s prayer in chapter two really touches me. I look forward to exploring the story of Hannah and how her faith in God brought her deliverance and peace. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. A few years ago I assembled a webpage with some Mother’s Day writings. If you would like to see it, it is located HERE.

I haven’t done very well on my diet this week. Making poor decisions seems so easy. It’s also easy to say, “I’ll get started again tomorrow“. Even if you mean it, it’s too easy to say. Saying those words does not make it a truth. And after a long time of saying those words they really start to sound empty. I spent a few hours this week with a friend who struggles with alcohol. He had been drinking some….how much I do not know.  Another friend who struggles with alcohol showed up at church recently. Spending time with them, I’m beginning to see how we’re all in the same boat. I know there are those people who seem to make up their mind and that’s the end of the story. Unfortunately, I think most of us make up our minds a thousand times. Addiction. Sin. Closely related, perhaps twins. Whether you deal with  eating, ciggarettes, drugs, alcohol, porn, television, internet, music, or whatever … compulsive behavior is hard to handle. It is not something that goes away.

Time After Time we fall, get up, make up our minds never to fall again, fall, get up, make up our minds never to fall again. In the mix we tell people that Jesus delivers us from ourselves. Then we fall, get up, make up our minds never to fall again … again. I suppose we can just numb ourselves to it and say, “we’re only human“. Or we can ruminate on our failures and beat ourselves up … ultimately turning to our addiction for comfort instead of God.

What keeps me hanging on? Why don’t I just give up? Because the one thing I need most of all is the one thing that God has in everlasting supply: Grace. John the Baptist said that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Truth empowers grace. I know that when some people hear “truth” they immediately start running down a list of church rules. The truth has to do with who He is and who we are and how we can never get close to him without that other thing … grace. Time after time God forgives me … forgives us. This is true forgiveness in which we are not to hang on to the past and live in it’s shadow. It is true forgiveness in which we are to believe that God is geniuine in his forgiveness … not rolling his eyes at us, or growing weary of extending his hand to us, or frustrated at having to pick us up again.

Grace is not ….

God being ambivalent about sin

God ignoring our sin

God thinking sin is cute or funny

God excusing away our sin

Grace is…

God paying an excruciating price to rescue us from our sin

God acknowledging that we must have Him if we are going to make it

God extending his hand to sinners

God freely forgiving and forgetting and loving

That’s why it will never be trite or cliche to call God’s grace “Amazing”. It really is.  Time after time.

Sometimes you picture me
I’m walking too far ahead
You’re calling to me, I can’t hear
What you’ve said
Then you say ‘go slow’
I fall behind
The second hand unwinds

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you I’ll be waiting
Time after time

Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman

Time after time. Thank you, God.

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