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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Don’t Let Yesterday Use Up Today

Don’t Let Yesterday Use Up Today

hymnal

I collect old hymnals. Most are from the early 20th century, but I have a few that date back to the 1800s. I love to admire the covers, all tattered and torn, and the delicate, velvety soft pages.  The musty smell evokes an image of a little country church with wooden benches and hardwood floors and a pot-bellied stove.  In a few of the hymnals you can find page numbers written on the inside cover, now almost faded with time. The strokes are thick and thin, obviously written with a quill and ink. One didn’t just pull out a ballpoint pen and jot these numbers down. These numbers were deliberate, they took some effort; undoubtably a few favorite selections of the singer.

As I thumb through the songs in these hymnals, by mind drifts back across the years and I imagine someone who has long since passed holding this very book and singing some of these same songs that we sing in worship today.  It may have been a father sitting on a church pew with his wife and kids, holding this very book and singing No.48…

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

A bit nostalgic, perhaps, but that’s what we do isn’t it?  In 1940, in an essay titled, “Look Homeward, Americans,” novelist Carson McCullers proposed that nostalgia is a “national trait for Americans…as native to us as the roller coaster or the jukebox.”  Even at my relatively young age I think back on my childhood as a time when summers were longer, the grass was greener, and cartoons were better.  Childhood was Saturday morning breakfast with Grandaddy and Slush Puppies from the Dime Store.

It’s in our nature to look back on the “good ol’ days” with fond feelings and block out the negative memories, but we are often falsely nostalgic.  Every age has had it’s share of problems.  Sure, your grandparents could buy a bottle of coke for a nickel, but they didn’t have running water, or toilet paper, or individually wrapped cheese slices.  They suffered through the Great Depression and two World Wars.  Life wasn’t all roses.  Even in my own family, I’ve come to realize that we’ve had our share of heartaches and trials that I was oblivious to as a child.

There’s an old Cherokee Proverb that says “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.”  I’m not saying we should throw it all out.  Nostalgia is what we do.  So keep the fond memories and smell the hymnals every now and then, but don’t make it such a focal point in your life that you can’t appreciate what God is doing today.  Don’t disdain the new because you long for the old.  Life changes, but He “changest not”.  Things will not stay the same, but you can move forward day by day for the glory of God.  As the Apostle Paul said to the church at Philippi,

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  -Philippians 3:13-14

Strain forward.  Press on.  Some say things are getting worse.  I say things have never really been as good as you remember.  But today… This is the day that the Lord has made.  Rejoice and be glad in it.

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Posted by on March 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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When Life Lessons Backfire

When Life Lessons Backfire

IMG_1710I took all three kids to Stevi B’s (pizza buffet/arcade) by myself this week to give my wife a break (and let’s be honest, to earn a few brownie points in the process).  Part of the proceeds would benefit their school and the pizza is good, but the real reason the kids like Stevie B’s is the arcade.  You’ve been there before, or somewhere very much like it.  In the arcade you exchange cash for tokens, then the kids play their favorite games and win tickets.  Finally, at the end of the night, they add up their tickets to exchange the tickets for toys.  Sounds like fun, but I overlooked one little detail.  I forgot how long it takes for kids to decide what to get with their tickets.  Their little faces were pressed up against the glass for what seemed like hours, making life-and-death decisions.  “Super Bouncy Ball or Glow in the Dark Vampire Teeth?!? Dad, I’ve spent 383 tickets, but what can I do with my last four?!?”

I’ve never missed my wife more than I did in that moment.

Once they carefully selected their treasures we made our way back to the truck for the drive home.  Since the kids spent some of their own money in the arcade, I thought this would be a great time for a life lesson.  Our conversation shifted toward value and worth.  My daughter asked how much each ticket was worth.  I explained that each token cost twenty-five cents, but the number of tickets you received for each token depended upon your skill at the game.  The better you are a Skee-Ball, the more tickets you get per token.  Then I asked the kids to add up how much money they spent in the arcade.  The total was about five dollars each.  So I asked them to look at the cheap, plastic items in their lap and tell me if they were worth five dollars.  And that’s when I learned my life lesson.  My son looked up with wonder and amazement in his eyes and exclaimed, “I got all this stuff for just five dollars?! What a great deal! We need to come shopping here all the time!”

In my son’s eyes, you just couldn’t put a value on a blue plastic samurai sword that he had “always wanted forever”.  Then you throw in a ball, some glow-in-the-dark teeth, and a friendship bracelet… this was a king’s ransom.  I didn’t have anything else to say.  The words “value” and “worth” have never been so real to me.  I remember asking my Dad one time how much something was worth and his reply was, “whatever someone is willing to pay.”  It really is hard to put a value on some things because value is relative based on the object’s merit or importance.

As we drove along in silence and the kids played with their new treasures, my mind drifted to a few scriptures that describe our worth to our Heavenly Father.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” -Matthew 10:29-31

God cares for his creation.  In fact, not even one sparrow dies and falls to the ground without God noticing it.  To us sparrows seem so small and insignificant, but if God values the sparrows so much, how much more does He care for, and value us?  We are more valuable than many sparrows!  God knows so much about us that He even knows the number of hairs on our head! (insert joke about your friend who is bald)

Listen… sometimes you may feel like a worthless pile of plastic junk.  A bent and broken toy samurai sword that’s just one swing away from the trash, but when your Heavenly Father looks at you, He sees a King’s ransom.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2015 in Family, Personal

 

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