Second Chances

John 21:15 – 19
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry [thee] whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He saith unto him, Follow me.

I love The Word Of God for many reasons, one of which is when He points you to a certain scripture. you may have read it time and time again, only for Him to reveal something that you’ve never even thought of before. Today I was reading John 21.

This part of John has always confused me a little. I’ve heard great Men Of God open up so much from these passages. What blessed me today though, was something very simple, but extremely powerful. Before I even knew it, God was turning on the lights in the corridor of my understanding.

The first five words of John 21:15 hold a revelation, “So when they had dined . . .” He reminded me of another time, not too long before, where they had dinner. It was called The Last Supper, and during it there was this conversation.

Luke 22:33 – 34
33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.
34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

The Lord Jesus said Peter, you will deny three times. Here is where I rejoiced, how many times did Peter declare his love for God in John 21? Three times! The Lord asked, and three times, Peter answered the way he had wished he would have a short time before.

At the previous meal, Jesus said, where I’m going you can’t follow right now, but you will follow later. At the end of this meal, Jesus told Peter “Follow Me“. In between those two things though, He told Peter how He would die. That might seem morbid to you, but if I were Simon Peter, it would reassure me.

In other words, “You don’t have to worry about fear the next time, I will give you the strength to stand at that day.” Aren’t you glad that He reassures us that we don’t have to worry about failing through fear. He was essentially telling Simon, “This is a do over! I’ve given you the opportunity to do what you said in the previous book, to go both to prison and to death for me.”

History records that not only did the Apostle Peter follow The Lord willingly as a martyr, but his wife did also. The man who had refused to be associated with Jesus, now gave his all. He instilled his love for God, first in his own family, and then the world. Peter had learned his lesson, and summed it up in 1 Peter 4:19.

19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Pre Calvary, Simon Peter thought he could be brave on his own. Post Calvary, He knew that true bravery comes through God. He also knew, from past experience, that His Creator would create another opportunity for you to do the right thing.

If you’re reading this today, and you feel broken, incomplete, or damaged beyond repair, remember the fisherman. The same man who once declared I don’t know the man, stood outside of an Upper Room and proclaimed Him. He would publish the name of Jesus from Jerusalem to Rome. The good news is, so can you and I.

If you’re in need of a second chance, God is still in the business of giving them, and it all starts with a conversation. We call it prayer, but it’s talking to Him. It’s the beginning of a process that can take you from denying you have a problem, to proclaiming His transforming power. He did this for Simon Peter, He did this for me, and He can do this for you too!

Think Differently

I saw the title of a book today, “Steve Jobs The Man Who Thought Different.” Now I know, I love Steve Jobs, but I want to focus more on the title, “The Man Who Thought Different”. To think differently, is to look at something twice. Two often, we are guilty at looking at things once.

If we have a problem, we size up the issues, determine a course of action, and proceed. That’s valuable, only if our first thought is the right thought. This is why The Lord says that their is safety in a multitude of counsel.

In other words, I may be looking at something with the wrong perspective. If I talk to others, their view point can save me a lot of trouble. To think differently shows maturity. As an impetuous young man, I charged ahead. Now, I’m a little older, and I walk slowly forward.

Before we dismiss our problem as inevitable, or unsurmountable, let’s stop a moment. Grab a cup of coffee, maybe a nap, spend some time in Prayer, and look at it again. We may find that what seemed so gigantic yesterday, is much smaller today.

Yesterday, I looked at something bigger and meaner than me. Today I see something much smaller than The God that I serve. A day before, I looked at it alone. Now I see it with a group of warriors on my side.

Steve Jobs surrounded himself with geniuses. People, whom he knew, could do what he could not do. Perhaps that is why he was able to look at things differently. He didn’t view them through the eyes of Steve Jobs the individual. Instead he saw things as Steve Jobs, head of Apple. A company accustomed to doing what others thought couldn’t be done.

So do you have a problem today? Close your eyes tightly, take a breath, and reopen them. This time, don’t look at it as John Smith, view it as a Child Of An Omnipotent God.

Steve wasn’t the only one who thought differently.

Isaiah 55:8, 9
“8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

1 Cor 13 The Picture Of Love

1 Corinthians 13 is the picture of Love. One of my favorite verses says, “Love is kind“. He doesn’t say love is sometimes kind, or once in a while kind. The Apostle simply says that Love’s nature is kind. It is so because God is Love. It’s nature is His nature, as He is, so is Love.

That doesn’t mean Love is always on top of the world. When Christ’s back was split open as blood poured out with every heartbeat, Love was kind. Even prior to that, when He took chords and drove the money changers out of the Temple, Love was kind.

When He sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden, Love was kind. You see, He could have killed them, then and there, but He didn’t. He had a kind plan to save them in mind.

When the money changers were forced out, it was because He loved His people enough to return His house back into a place of prayer.Think about it, an unkind God would have left them there. He was even kind to the money changers. He drove them out, but He cursed the fig tree. They were given an opportunity to come back in the right way. The fig tree withered away.

I said that to say this, as Love is consistently kind, it is continually consistent. Every attribute of Love is constantly present in every interaction with it. You may say, “People’s love hasn’t always been consistent with me.”

My response would be, that’s true, “They were not consistent.” The problem is not their love, the problem was themselves. How often have we made the same mistake? We’re tired, so we don’t do what we did when we were dating. Valentina’s day used to be an event, now it’s a day on the calendar.

I’m not saying you should spend the same amount that you did back then. I am saying that it should be approached with the same enthusiasm. If we made our spouse feel special,when we were really just acquaintances, how much more when we’re two halves of a lifelong partnership?

It’s not just a holiday in February that I’m referring too though. It should be a lifelong 365 day consistent treatment of the ones we care about.

John 13:35
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

He didn’t specify a time period, or if we feel like it, He merely said we would love. Love is _______.
Whatever we expect to receive from that statement, we should work to faithfully contribute to its state or existence. I see areas in my life that I need to work on, but with God’s help, I intend to intentionally and consistently mirror my God and His Love.

With that being said, Happy Early Valentine’s Day Ashley, I love you!

Steps

I know that it’s January, but when I think of the promise that a new year brings, my mind wonders back to December. Of course, that’s not unusual for anyone that knows me. I think back to a certain Christmas special where the hero is persuading the villain that he can change if he wants.

All he has to do is take the first step. A step is a wonderful thing. It holds the promise of a changed life, yet it also has another message, that change starts small! That’s the liberating part of it, you don’t get have to go a million miles in a day, you start with a single step. Then one becomes two, two turn into ten, and so on.

My sister gave a poster once, it showed a man walking upon individual rocks sticking up out of the water. I’ll never forget the caption, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” so even if that first step is awkward, or scary, take it. No one said you had to run at first, no one ever said it had to be graceful. It just has to be initiated,

To a little baby, one step is huge, it’s never been done before. To the Parent it’s a starting point. We don’t start off with huge feats, just taking a few steps. No matter how important, or long the path, it all started by putting one foot in front of the other foot. Even Calvary began with The Master walking towards it.

So, in 2013, don’t get caught up in how long it will take you to get to where you go, instead, get caught up in The One that will walk beside you every step!

Dec 27

It’s December 27 and I’m thinking about what it must have been like two days after Jesus was born. While we know that He wasn’t born in December, think about what happened next. Not so much the events, but the response to those events.

Our Pastor, Denny Livingston, took three Sundays this month to focus on Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. I strongly recommend going to www.pointofmercy.net or pointofmercy.tv and listening to them, or checking out the podcasts on iTunes.

I’m not going to add to them here, but it inspired me to wonder, “What went through their minds two days later?” Now that He was here, there was work to be done. The question is, did they temporarily get so caught up in the work that it lessened the wonder? I don’t think so, but often, isn’t that what we do?

In the business of taking down the tree, packing up the lights, and tossing the wrapping paper, do we forget? This is not a new question, but it is one that should be asked each year. In 2013, we face new battles, adventures, and challenges, but we don’t face them alone.

The God birthed in the Manger was with Mary and Joseph through every step of the way. He didn’t come into their lives to leave them, He came to lead them. Yes, He would die on Calvary, but that wasn’t the end. As the first fruits of the Resurrection, He was clearing the path they, and we will follow.

So let us encourage ourselves in this, Christ is with us daily, even when decorations are a memory. I’m so glad that in both the cold of winter and the heat of July, He stands with me. So Merry Christmas today, tomorrow, and always, for He abides with me!

Leah

Leah, a woman not desired, has been honored by more sermons than she could have ever imagined. I would love to meet this woman with tear stained faith. Her very name can be translated weary. What makes a Mother look at her newborn child and name them weary?

Hard labor is meant to produce wonder, not weariness. This little bundle of joy, this gift of God, was labeled as exhaustion. The blessings of God are designed to produce effort as well as effect. Don’t let the effort lessen the effects that God intends His blessing to have on you.

Leah was not the favored one, but neither was Jacob. Jacob wasn’t favored by his father. Isaac loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Isn’t it ironic that the very person who should have understood and appreciated Leah rejected her? If we’re not careful, the pain that has been inflicted on us, we will inflict on others. How different would the story have been if Jacob had valued Leah more?

The Bible records Leah having many children, but it does not record her favoring one child over the other.The only argument against this, is that she makes no statement when her daughter Dinah is born. I have a different take on this than in the past. Dinah means justice. Could it be that after having son after son, trying to gain her husband’s love, that she had a child which justified her struggle?

Dinah wouldn’t gain Jacob’s favor, but she would be filled with Leah’s love. Is it possible that the mother who named her child weary, didn’t value her daughter? Is it possible that the first disdain of Leah came from her mother? Leah had the opportunity to give her daughter what she was denied.

She could have named her child resentment. After all, she cost her hours of labor, and was not a boy? Her husband wouldn’t value a girl the same way. No, Leah, the rejected pillar, looked at this beautiful baby girl, and named her justice. She was the last child Leah had. The Bible does not record any further attempts by Leah to win her husband’s affections.

Jacob and Leah, the two were more well matched than Jacob realized. They were undervalued, yet they produced more together than there fathers thought they could. Don’t judge yourself by the sticker price this world has pawned off on you.

God didn’t stroll into some random world to kill time. He purposely came to save us. He embraced Leah’s model, the Bible says that there was no beauty in Him that we should desire Him. This descendant of a woman named weary, was called The Man Of Sorrows.

Tear stained faith. Leah wept through being unloved, through hours of labor. No doubt she cried each time she realized it. Every time, all over again, knowing that the baby she gave him didn’t increase her value in his heart.

The Lord Jesus knew what that was like. The Exodus didn’t do it. Giving them Manna didn’t accomplish it. A land flowing with milk and honey didn’t cause it to happen! Rejection after rejection, no matter how many blessings He gave Israel. Then, near the close of His earthly ministry, we see The Lord Jesus looking over Jerusalem with tear stained eyes.

Israel wasn’t the only one that rejected Him. Like Leah, He walked to Gethsemane knowing millions would reject Him. Countless souls have said no to Heaven as they sped towards Hell! God wrapped in flesh, was not in denial.

He knew the whipping post wouldn’t change some people’s minds. Six hours of labor on a cross wouldn’t affect a large number of those He came for. Yet, like Leah, Jesus labored. Like Leah, He saw it through. When it was over, He said, it was worth it.

Hebrews 12:2-4
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

He looked at the children that were produced and said they were worth all the suffering. That we are worth all the tears, all the pain. Leah cherished her children in the midst of her situation. The Lord Jesus cherishes those that serve Him, regardless of the many that turn away.

Maybe you’re in the middle of rejection, or despair. Don’t be discouraged! More importantly, don’t let your circumstances taint your ministry. Don’t judge your Judah by your Jacob! Value your Simeon, knowing that you will be vindicated, because Dinah is just a few blessings away.

Whether on this Earth or Heaven’s shore, your commitment will be justified. So fight while you’re crying. Wield your sword as you wipe your tears! Even though it took years, God saw to it that Leah was both honored and valued. He will do the same for you!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the greatest holidays that we have, especially in these troubled times. It reminds us, not only to stop for a few moments, but to stop and be thankful. Thanksgiving is a word that all can relate too. From a child of two to a man of 102, all have the ability to stop and say Thank You. I’d like to use this blog post to say a few thank yous.

Thank you first to our Creator and Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ. His acts of kindness make Thanksgiving possible. If He had not said, “Let there be light”, then nothing else would have followed. Had there not been a sleeping baby in a borrowed manger, there would not have been a suffering Savior on Calvary’s hill. Too often, we neglect the One that has never neglected us. I would encourage you to take a few moments tomorrow, before the parade, the cooking, and the football, and spend a few moments in prayer. Show the One who has never forgotten us, that He hasn’t been forgotten.

Thank you to our Pastor, Pastor Denny Livingston and our Church. Ashley and I are so privileged to be a part of Point Of Mercy in Nashville. I want to say a huge Thank you to both you and Sis, (His Wife Alonna Livingston), for making such a profound and personal difference in our lives. Thank you Pastor for sharing God’s vision of a place that ministers to every area of people’s needs. Spiritually first, then mentally, and physically as well. Our mission statement at the Church is, “Committed To God, Family, And The Needs Of Others.” Thank you for allowing us to be a part of helping to carry out that statement.

Thank you Ashley, my beautiful wife, for sharing your life with me. I still am amazed at how beautiful you are. What is so wonderful, is that your heart is as lovely as you are. Your kindness and strength sustain me. I am so blessed to have you by my side.

Thank you to my Family and friends. I treasure each one of you. Some men measure their lives by what they hold in the bank. I’m blessed to measure mine by the relationships that hold me in their hearts. Thank you for making me a better man.

Thank you to all that read my stories and this blog. I hope that, even in the most light hearted of my stories, you find a word of faith, happiness, and encouragement. It’s a tough world out there, but remember, you never have to be alone.

May your hearts be fueled by His presence, your homes be filled with family, your lives be fat with friends, and your table be a feast. Happy Thanksgiving!

My Favorite Time Of Year

I love November and December, like many I’m sure, it’s my favorite time of year. It means so much to me on multiple levels. This time of year, we celebrate not just our Savior’s birth, but His life story. I know He wasn’t born at the end of the year, but how better to appreciate what He does in our lives? He first meets us, at the end of our ropes. Time has run out for us, spiritually and mentally. Yet, when He is birthed in our hearts, suddenly a new year begins! No wonder we celebrate! Of course we celebrate, Christ Is Born!

He goes with us through our hard times as well. Like our spiritual journey, His didn’t end with His birth. They hurried to Egypt when it looked as if a mad man would attempt to murder Him. The Lord has experience dealing with trials.

I love the Scripture that says, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” I love it because it not only applies to the actual end, but to perceived ends. There have been plenty of times when I felt my world was ending, but He was there. Like the three Hebrew children, either way, He is with me!

I love this time of year too, because of family and friends. Time for loved ones, time for, well time with them. Time spent with those you love is more valuable than the most expensive stock on Wall Street.

Finally, I love the stories this time of year. Today, I would like to gift you one of my own. It’s called,”The Snowman’s Message”. This short story, in ebook form, is about a Pastor sharing the Gospel in a very creative way. If you would like it, email pruittwrites@gmail.com with Snowman in the subject line.

Thank you for sharing this season with me. I hope you enjoy a small gift, from me to you.

Unexpected Blessings

I’m sitting at Starbucks on a Friday afternoon. No, it’s not a vacation day, it’s a work day. Unexpectedly, I was able to leave early. There is no special reason, at least that my supervisor would pinpoint. I could though, it’s been a stressful week.
It’s been a good week, but it’s had it’s twists and turns. I think The Lord saw that I could use a little downtime. God amazes me at times, even over the smallest thing, He shows me how much He cares.
You see, one of my weaknesses is that I worry too much. I shouldn’t, and I’m working on it, but I have that tendency. I needed a few quiet minutes away, and without expecting it, He blessed me with a few hours.
Sometimes, all you need is a little time. What we do with that time makes all the difference. Yesterday, I was stressed, but talking to The Lord about it helped. He gave me an acronym yesterday for Stress.

S eek
T imes of
R efreshing,
E ncamped in the
S avior’s
S trong arms

If we Stress the right things, we’ll be less stressed! God isn’t saying that we won’t have problems. As a matter of fact, He said the opposite.

John 16:33

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The Lord said, “I warned you that there would be trouble. This way, you can stay calm in the midst of trouble. The reason you can is this, I have already overcame any trial you will face.”
We forget, or ignore that, in those times when we panic. My Dad used to tell me, “The main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing. The main thing is, don’t get excited.” In other words, if I will take a minute and trust God, then I won’t stress.
It’s not a matter of whether or not I’ll be ok. God already said that we’ll be ok. The only question is, how much are we going to trust Him along the way?
I can either stay calm and be an example to others of what God wants me to do. Or, I can hyper ventilate and hear Him say, “See that guy? Don’t act like him!”
I want to be an example of what a Christian should be, and not what they shouldn’t be.
So, hopefully, the next time you see me in a storm, it will be like the Apostle Paul at the time of shipwreck. I want to either swim to shore, or calmly hold on to a piece of the ship, as I float to land. I don’t want to force God to keep me from drowning in a foot of water.
If you’re hurting, scared, frustrated, or weary, let me encourage you today. Steal away and talk to the Master. Prayer still lifts burdens. It does so because it puts you in the presence of the Burden Bearer, and He continually hands out Unexpected Blessings!

Who What When Where

Too often in my life, I’ve been guilty of spending too much time asking why. Why did this happen? At other times, I’ve wasted a lot of energy being concerned over how. How was I going to do this? I’ve found though, that why and how are overrated.
The two twin words don’t bring much comfort. The real productive questions are Who, When, What, and Where. The who matters, first and foremost, because of the Who that loved me enough to give His life for me, The Lord Jesus. When I spend my time and energy engaged with Who The Lord is, why and how lose their importance.
Also, the who can be, who are the loved ones around us. The people that go through our trial with us deserve our time and attention. The Lord laid out the prime example for us when He came to Earth. The Eternal God, the One who is the center of all things, spent all of His time focusing on others. If I follow His example, I’ll show those I care about that I love them more than I love myself.
In the same way, I feel my mind with whens instead of the whys. The when matters because it reminds us of the memories we have with those we love. Remember when we did this, or when God gave me that victory! Memories trump worries anytime.
What, matters in the sense of, What are your priorities? What matters to you? Struggle and tragedy are great times to re-access what we value. What can I do to make someone’s life better or easier? “What can I do to help?”, is always a greater question than, “How did this happen?” One question signals giving, the other is concerned only with receiving an explanation. There is a necessary time and a required place for how, but timing is everything. First, give them a shoulder to cry on, and worry about how later.
Last of all, the where matters. Where are you going to spend the time of your trial? Where is more a location of spirit than of body. It goes back to my priorities, I can choose to spend the time in the pit with my problem, or working for others. I encourage you today to think about the Who,What, When, and Where around you, it’s a good way to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.