Friday, September 30- What Is SYATP?

     Americans LOVE acronyms. We never met and acronym we didn’t like. Here are a few, gleaned from the “300 most popular  internet acronyms”. 

AFAICS- as far as I can see
ANFSCD – and now for something completely different
AWHFY- are we having fun yet?
AYPI- and your point is?
BAC- back at computer
BEG – big evil grin
BION- believe it or not
BTDT- been there done that
CDIWY- couldn’t do it without you
CTS- changing the subject
DITYID- did I tell you I’m distressed
DMMGH- don’t make me get hostile
FOCL- falling of chair laughing
HOAS- hold on a second
LIMH- laughing in my head
NOTTOMH- not of the top of my mind
TNSTAAFL- there’s no such thing as a free lunch
YMMV- your mileage may vary
     So, those are some of the most currently popular acronyms. You may use some of them, you may use NONE of them. But have you heard of SYATP? Let me give you an hint- you are NOT likely to see it in a text or chat room. It stands for See You At The Pole. And now you’re saying, “Great! See You At The Pole. Sounds awesome!…What IS it? Well, here you go!
     In early 1990, a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas, came together for a spiritual retreat. In the middle of it, they felt compelled to pray and they drove to three different schools that night. Not knowing what else to do, they gathered around the school flagpoles and prayed. From that, a vision grew across Texas that would come to be known as See You at the Pole. That vision was shared with 20,000 students in June 1990 at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. Then, at 7AM on Monday, September 12, 1990, more than 45,000 teenagers met at school flagpoles in four different states to pray before the start of school. The next year, on September 11, 1991, at 7AM, an estimated one million students gathered at school flagpoles all over the country. The movement has only grown since then. 
     SYATP was recently held- on Wednesday, September 28. In our community, students and leaders gathered around both the High School and Middle School flagpoles in prayers. It was a powerful image- teenagers and preteens, who could have stayed in bed a bit longer or simply gone into the school a bit earlier, instead chose to gather around a flagpole, in front of their peers and their teachers, and pray. Absolutely amazing! It gives me such hope for the future…and the present!
     Next time you feel inclined to rail against “these kids today”, picture the millions of kids around the country who gathered in prayer and know that the future is in good hands!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- A(nother) Life Lesson From Raccoons

Thursday, September 29- The Spiritual Gift of Reading Bad Handwriting!

     Everyone has spiritual gifts. Some people are good at music. Some have the ability to listen well to others. Some are really good with their hands. I…ready?…have the spiritual gift of reading bad handwriting! (I know, right? Pretty impressive!) 

     Now you may be chuckling and shaking your head at me right now, but it’s TRUE! In fact, it is SO true that it gets tested almost every week! At my church, we have attendance sheets that folks fill out every Sunday. Some people have marvelous handwriting and it is perfectly legible. Some have so-so handwriting and it is readable. And some have really bad handwriting and it looks like a foreign language! As my Office Administrator enters that information in the computer every week, she will often come to me and say, “What does this say? Does it say, ‘Grifnizt?'” I will look at it, slip into “bad handwriting mode” and divine that it does NOT say ‘Grifnitz” but in fact says “Wilson”! Tada! Another successful performance by the Reader of Bad Handwriting! Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be here all week! Try the veal! Be sure and tip tour waitresses!
     So (all modesty aside), I am really good at reading bad handwriting. Why? Because I HAVE really bad handwriting! And I’ve had to try and read i8t all these years, so I have LOTS of practice! When I was earning my Master’s Degree, there were times when I literally couldn’t decipher what I had written in my notes. And let me assure you that it’s NOT easy to study for a test with notes that you can’t read! So…I developed the spiritual gift of reading bad handwriting! (I’m considering going on tour, having people bring their bad handwriting on stage for me to read. I think it will WOW the crowds! Or…maybe not!)
     So, with my rather dubious spiritual gift as a backdrop…what can YOU do? What gifts has  God given you to share with others? And before you say, “I can’t do anything!” I say, “Horse hockey!” You CAN do something- everyone can do something. I firmly believe that God has  uniquely gifted everyone. I believe that everyone has some gift that God has given them that most people don’t have. And I also believe that we were given those gifts and talents for the express purpose of sharing them with others. Therefore, if we are “keeping out light under a bushel” as it were, if we are not sharing our gifts with others but instead keeping them to ourselves, then we are not living or life the way God intended us to. 
     How can you use the gifts you have for the benefit of others? What can you do that not many others can that you might share with the world for God. You CAN, and SHOULD, make an impact. It doesn’t mean you have to go out and change the entire world in one afternoon, and if you don’t your a big stinking failure. Instead, it means go out and change ONE person at a time! Make a difference in one life today, and you will actually make a difference in TWO…them…and YOU!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- What is SYATP?

Wednesday, September 28- On the Road to Forgiveness: Roadblocks to Forgiveness

     (Wednesdays are Bible Study Day here at Stick With Jesus. Today we continue our current series- On the Road to Forgiveness.)  So far in this series, we’ve looked at what is at the heart of even needing forgiveness- sin. We’ve looked at the difference between forgiving and forgetting. We’ve looked at what else forgiveness is not. This week, we look more closely at what gets in the way of forgiveness- the roadblocks if you will.

     

     We all sometimes say- “I know I should forgive, but I just can’t find the strength to go through with it.” We all also sometimes say- “I know I should forgive; I just don’t WANT to!” Why IS that? What gets in the way of true forgiveness? Let’s look at 4 main roadblocks to forgiveness:
 
1. Lack of responsibility. We have a hard time owning up to our own failures and shortcomings.
And if we can’t see past our own faults and mistakes, how can we possibly move toward forgiveness of others? We 1st have to be able to admit that we’re not perfect, that we’re capable of hurting others.
Matthew 7:3-6- “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
      Why do YOU think it’s so easy to notice the problems in others but miss them in ourselves?
 
2. Unresolved emotions. Hurt, fear, bitterness, revenge, anger, and hatred are major hindrances to forgiveness. But the appeal that those emotions have is a perverted one at best. We tend to like the pure adrenaline rush that comes with our plans of retribution. We know it’s wrong…but it feels SO good!
     Have you ever been afraid of forgiveness? We often fear forgiveness because we think it will look like approval of someone else’s actions, that we are tacitly giving them permission to do it again. We fear that forgiving makes us vulnerable. Have you ever been so mad at someone that you “couldn’t see straight”? The Bible says- In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.(Ephesians 4:26-27, 31) An unforgiving heart is good soil for anger. Anger gives birth to resentment, bitterness and hostility.
     Have you ever plotted something bad against someone else? The Bible says,Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” (Proverbs 24:17) Revenge makes us want the offender to suffer the same discomfort we did. This does an end run around forgiveness. Don’t seek revenge- leave room for God.
     Have you ever thought: Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord…but only if He acts on my behalf? God has more power to pour out wrath than we ever could. So- let God do the heavy lifting. Let Him do all that marvelous smiting. The Bible says, “’It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. (Romans 12:19) Warning: this approach doesn’t always turn out the way we might like. God has this nasty habit of extending mercy and forgiving people!
     So what DO we do about those unresolved feelings? The Bible says, But what I tell you is this: love your enemies and pray for your persecutors; only so can you be like children of your heavenly Father, who makes his sun rise on good and bad alike, and sends the rain on the honest and the dishonest. If you love only those who love you, what reward can you expect? Surely the tax-gatherers do as much as that. And if you greet only your brothers, what is there extraordinary about that? Even the heathen do as much. There must be no limit to your goodness, as your heavenly Father’s goodness knows no bounds.(Matthew 5:44-45) If we refuse to let go of these feelings, we’re hanging on to destructive forces that are in direct contrast to forgiveness. These emotions and forgiveness simply can’t co-exist.
3. Thinking we can do it on our own. That “pioneer spirit”, or as I call it “bootstrap  theology”, is a marvelously human quality. But the Bible says, Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.(Matthew 9:5-6)
It also says When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:20-21)
      Only God can truly forgive. That’s the secret to real forgiveness- it’s divine.
 
4. Misconceptions about forgiveness. As we talked about last week, we struggle with forgiveness because we misunderstand it. If we believe the lies about forgiveness, it’s natural we would avoid it at all costs. But the truth sets us free. Author William Meninger said: “Forgiveness…is not forgetting. It is not condoning or absolving. Neither is it pretending nor something done for the sake of the offender. It is not a thing we just do by a brutal act of the will. It does not entail a loss of identity, specialness, or face. It does not release the offenders from obligations they may or may not recognize. An understanding of these things will go a long way towards helping people enter into the forgiveness process.”
     Forgiveness requires courage and humility. Without those, we run away from the situation, hoping it will go away. Absence doesn’t heal; time doesn’t heal- God does the healing.
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- The Spiritual Gift of Reading Bad Ha
ndwriting!