My Monday Morning Cup: Life is Better When You Laugh

Good news doesn’t get as much attention as bad. We’re more apt to gawk at a car wreck than notice the planes successfully navigating the blue skies above. People doing bad things dominate the headlines, burying the good works of many. Good news is thrown in like a bonus, as if to say “Hey look, life ain’t all bad.”  Even then, it’s usually a story about someone doing something good amid an otherwise tough situation.

The old saying “Misery loves company” remains alive and well in our world today, despite our protestations of love and equality for all mankind. I get it. Bad things happen to good people. Living ain’t for sugar cookies.

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Back in the late 1970s, humorist Erma Bombeck wrote a bestseller entitled “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries What Am I Doing in the Pits?”  The book is a collection of humorous anecdotes about family life back in those days. People reading Bombeck’s tales were often caught laughing out loud, even in public.

My late niece, Natalie, used to say “Life is better when you laugh.” She was right.

It’s far too easy to get mired in the murky swamps of darkness and lose sight of the many points of light. We enjoy the freedom to choose where we focus our eyes. We can stare at the gloom and doom around us, crying “Woe is me!” or we can choose to look at the thousand lights of love and laughter surrounding us.

It’s Monday. Which will you choose?

I encourage you to run toward the light, remembering to laugh along the way.

Blessings.

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Why Do I Pray “In Jesus’ Name” ?

Have you ever wondered why Christians pray “in Jesus’ name”?

Awhile back, a friend of mine and I attended a luncheon bringing together people from different faiths to explore working together for the greater good of the community. The spacious banquet room was filled with about sixty representatives from every faith you could imagine. Naturally, the Big 3 (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) were scattered around different tables. Catholics sat next to Protestants, who came in full-force, hailing from different denominations. Methodists sat next to Baptists, Baptists sat next to Presbyterians. You get the picture.

All in all, it was a pretty cool scene. Once it became time to start, an event organizer opened the meeting with a prayer, ending his prayer in what I consider to be the traditional “in Jesus’ name.” This quickly drew the ire of a Rabbi attending the meeting, who happened to be sitting at our table. He expressed his preference that we forego ending prayer in the name of Jesus as he found it deeply offensive. He pointed to an Imam who sat one table away from us and explained that ending prayer in this manner was disrespectful of his faith as well. The Rabbi pointed out that not everyone believes in Jesus and praying to him is blasphemous in the traditions of some faiths. Needless to say, my friend and I, who are both Christians, were taken aback by the Rabbi’s request. Neither of us had ever considered not praying in Jesus’ name. Had we ever ended a prayer without closing it that way? Yes. Could we not pray that way? Well…NO.

While we did not expect the Rabbi or the Imam or any non-Christian to pray in the name of Jesus, being told that we as Christians could not do so was completely a different story. Thankfully, when push came to shove, the agreement was reached that each person would pray according to their faith traditions while respecting the manner of prayer of others in the room. Whew!

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As a Christian, have you ever wondered why you pray “in Jesus’ name”?

Often, we use phrases in a religious, ritualistic manner without understanding why we do what we do. This is certainly true of praying in the name of Christ. So why do we do it? As believers, the Scriptures serves as our go-to source for biblical insight and faith. So what exactly does the Bible say about praying “in Jesus’ name”?

The Devotional Guy_sharing Gospel

Let us take a look at a few verses:

In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He follows that up in verse 13 saying, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” And finally, in John 16:23-24, Jesus shares, “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul points out that through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we have “boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Ephesians 3:12). The writer of Hebrews states, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaves, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Why Do I Pray

These verses reveal the biblical foundation for praying ‘in Jesus’ name’.

As broken and fallen people, we can only access God through faith in Christ because Jesus died in our place and took our sin upon Himself, bearing the penalty and paying the debt for our sins. Through the atoning work of  Jesus we gain access to God. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life through whom we can connect to the Lord. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are adopted into the Kingdom and become children of God. Jesus has made all things new and brought life where once there was only death.

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Jesus is our advocate. In anticipation of his death on the Cross, Jesus instructed his disciples to pray to God, the Father, in His name. Our faith in Christ opens the door to a personal relationship with God. It is our relationship with Jesus that gives us the privilege of not only entering into God’s presence through prayer, but the assurance of our prayers being heard. He makes it possible for us to have a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

This then, is why we, as Christians should pray. “In Jesus’ Name”.

 

May the Lord fill your life with abundant blessings.

Amen.

RB 

3 Ingredients for Creating a Healthy Recipe of Second Chances

Having had my own battles with addiction I get that sometimes we all just need someone to believe in us and give us a chance. Not that anyone has any reason to help us or find us trustworthy. We’ve spent the better part of our lifetime destroying any ounce of trust people had in us. People who love us don’t want to give up hope, but we can’t blame them for walking away. Lord knows we’ve let a ton of people down, especially ourselves.

Through my recovery, God has blessed me with people willing to give me second chances as well as the opportunity to give others a second chance.

Lamentations 3:21-23

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

What does a second chance involve?

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A Heart of Forgiveness

To give someone a second chance requires willingness on our part to forgive them for whatever it is that they have done in the past. This is true even if their past did not involve us because what they did may go against our own principles and sense of right and wrong. We must look past who they were and be willing to see them for who they are and who they could be.

This is true for me. To get a second chance, I need others to forgive me and look past who I was and see me for who I am and who I can be. This is what God does. Once we confess we’ve messed up and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness, He doesn’t see us for who we were but looks at us for who we are and envisions who we can be. Who we are in God’s eyes far exceeds whatever expectations we might imagine for ourselves.

Matthew 18:21-22

“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’”

A Momentary Suspension of Judgement

It’s hard to forgive if we sit in judgement of someone. We’ve got plenty of our own issues to be concerned about and if you’re like me you’ve made your own share of mistakes. This may sound easy, but it’s not. Recently, during a prayer session with some homeless guys, one individual asked me for prayer for forgiveness and restoration. As I typically do, I asked him for his story–what got him here? When he told me what he’d done, I had to suspend judgement in that moment. My job wasn’t to pass judgement. He’d done his time. He wasn’t asking me for approval. He was asking me to pray for him. So, I did, thanks be to God.

Matthew 7:3

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

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A Kind and Gentle Spirit

You can not have a hard-hearted, mean spirit if you are going to a) give others a second chance or b) have others give you a fresh start. Forgiveness and second chances call for both parties to be kind and gentle in spirit. On the one hand, I must want to see others succeed and do well. On the other, I have to be humble and contrite, knowing that I don’t deserve another opportunity to dazzle people with my shortcomings and failures.

Ephesians 4:2

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Restoration is a two-way street that brings together two people, one willing to help the other and the other willing to receive help. It means showing someone how to fish, not just feeding them. It means doing your part, not just taking. If you don’t cook, you don’t eat.

We all need help sometimes. We all mess up. I know I do. Other times, we find ourselves in the position of being the helper. We may be the only Bible someone reads. What will you do?

 

#secondchances #whatwillyoudo #forgiveness