Category Archives: New Living

What Did You Say?

You know how little kids sometimes do things without thinking about the consequences?  Well, this is my story of such a time in my life……I was in first grade; maturing and yet so far from maturity.  I wasn’t the funniest kid, or the most popular, and by the end of this story you’ll realize I wasn’t even one of the smartest.

So, it was just another first grade afternoon, standing in line in the hallway before we walked to wherever we were going.  One of the other First Grade teachers was instructing her class and for whatever reason, I began mimicking her.  She had this way about her, which I found really annoying, so I started portraying her to a friend of mine.  Unfortunately, because of my ethnicity (I’m Italian) we tend to be loud about everything even when we think we aren’t, and I drew her attention.  I knew she had quietly walked up behind me when my friend quickly lost interest in my parody, had a brief look of terror in his eyes, and turned around abruptly.  I turned slowly, and there she was with a finger pointed at me announcing my judgment of detention.  Yeah, that was bad, but it got worse because that day just happened to be teacher/parent conference day.  (Told you I didn’t think this through!)

Round 2 – Longest drive home ever – Mom decided to come after school, have the conference, and bring me home.  That was one day I could’ve really enjoyed a long bus ride home.  The night ended with very little dinner eaten, my mouth was washed out with soap (I know – shocking – it’s called discipline, and it did me a lot of good!) and put me in bed early, missing my favorite TV show, Buck Rogers.  Seriously…..I was crushed!

What does all this illustrate?  People can be incredibly unkind.  Who knows how my disrespect affected that teacher; setting off insecurities she may have had as an individual or teacher.  I know, you want to bring some perspective into this and tell me that we all do stupid stuff when we’re kids……move on Doug, it’s in the past, yada, yada, yada.  I get all that, but this is fact: when we choose to yield to our fallen nature, we never think about consequences in the moment because we’re too busy becoming the center of attention, making ourselves appear better than another, or finding value in devaluing another person – and it’s all done at their expense.

A lack of kindness is a clear indicator of a selfish nature.

The Good Samaritan in Luke 10 gives us some direction on what our new nature should look like, especially involving other people.  Here’s some thoughts:

Some people’s lives are a mess and that mess is so obvious that they are probably known by it.  It has actually formed the opinions of others about them.  Yet, their mess isn’t material for your next gossip session, nor should we label people by their problems.  Jesus never instructed us to analyze the hurts of others, instead, we’re to see what good we can do.  The Good Samaritan saw the man in the ditch, wasn’t repulsed by him in that situation, and went to where he was to do what he was able to do.  It even cost him something to help the man, but he was willing to involve himself – his time and material possessions.  You can either build people up or further tear them down – it’s your choice, so choose godly!

That story also reminds me how I’m not so different from anyone else.  The Good Samaritan could have been the one in the ditch.  He could have come through that way at the wrong time and been the one victimized instead.  What would he hope others would do if he was in the ditch?  We rarely think this way because we feel we’ve done what was necessary to be where we are: “I worked hard, I got an education, I married a good person, I’m employable, or I made the right choices.”  This thinking automatically judges the homeless man, the drug addict, the single mom, or the cashier at the grocery store working for minimum wage who didn’t do what was necessary to be or have better.  Really? How unkind, or better yet, what a foolish thought! We shouldn’t overlook how each of us could be in the same place as any person we’ve been guilty of detesting.  Kindness creates in us a level of compassion and thankfulness.  Compassion on those who have not, or those who hurt a lot, and thankfulness to God for His grace on our lives.

God calls on His people to be kind, and if you’re going to achieve it, you’ll have to meditate on the kindness of God.  Why would God send His Son to die for us when we were still sinners; at a time when we hated God and were His enemies?  He did it because He is a kind God who’s love gives opportunity to those who are rejecting Him, in hopes they will repent and choose Him. He is my Father, and I hope today I can be a little more like Him, and show some kindness to those who don’t even deserve it.


Give Me the Chips!

salt chipsI like potato chips.  I am in complete agreement with Lays, it is impossible to eat just one.  My personal favorite is the salt and vinegar chips; whoever invented these should have a national holiday named after them.  For now, until we find out who that very special person is, we could just name it, “Salt and Vinegar Chip Guy Day.”  So, the bigger the bag – the BETTER!  I don’t want one of those small personalized chip bags which come with your sandwich in a meal deal……that won’t do!  I’m going to need to have a lot of those chips, or I won’t be satisfied.

I also love Jesus, and if I love Him then the assumption which can be made is I want to know Him, walk with Him, and be like Him as much as possible.  This is no small bag commitment!  Yet, I find, many believers declare their love for Him, but they only want a little Jesus.  When this happens, there is minimal change in their life.  They don’t put off their ‘old self’ (Ephesians 4:22-24), but they try to find a happy balance between their old life and the new life.  Those lives are not compatible with one another, and one will always win out over the other.  Why do we struggle with letting go of our old sinful practices?  Well, its a matter of chips.

When your former ways are the bigger bag of chips in your life and Jesus is smaller, you know what you have?  An imbalance.  You have a desire problem.  You have a devotion issue.  Jesus can’t be your little bag of chips and be enough because anyone who is satisfied with a small bag of chips is not hungry.  If the small bag fills you, guess what?  You don’t care much for those chips.  If you’re content with just a little bit of Jesus then you don’t really believe He is necessary.  If a small bag of Jesus is enough for you then you’re not pursuing Him.  Whatever is greatest in your life is what you are pursuing; its the big bag.  You’d better make sure its Jesus!

Make Jesus your big bag of chips; a bag you can’t get enough of.  I don’t want to be content with less than all of Him, and Jesus doesn’t want me to be satisfied with less, but more.  Do you want more of Jesus or are you content with less of Him?  If you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you, so give Him a greater place in your life – actually, let Him have all of your life!


Are You Lying to Yourself?

liesHave you ever told a lie?  I know; what a ridiculous question because you have.  Have you noticed what happens the more you tell it?  You begin to believe it too.  Many times our own lies begin to convince us and our perception of reality is changed because what we say happened, actually never did.  Yet, its how we’ve begun to remember it and somehow the lie we tell becomes the truth we believe in.  Unfortunately, there’s no truth to be found at all.

Luke 13:24-30 is one of those passages which disturbs me the most because it reveals how the truth we believe can actually be based on a self-manufactured lie.  If you have this concern too after reading this passage, let me give you one clear directive which will guarantee you won’t live in a false reality where your relationship with the LORD is concerned.

One phrase Jesus says which stands out to me in vs. 24 is to “Make every effort….”…. What a game-changer.  I think many of us would have to admit there have been too many times where we did not make every effort and we expected an impossible outcome.  It was impossible because we gave an effort which can be stated as “good enough.”  The “good enough” mentality somehow lulls me into expecting more while giving less effort.  For instance, we may settle for a marriage which is not ideal because it is “good enough” and so we never work to make it stronger.  Our lack of effort is realized when it crumbles under the weight of the pressure of life because in reality, it wasn’t “good enough.”

We will sacrifice eternity if we think we can live some sort of “good enough” in relation to the LORD.  First, the problem with this thinking is no one is “good enough,” so how could you even think such a ridiculous thought.  Actually, it is easy when the lie becomes the truth.  See, I look at myself and think what is good about me outweighs what is wrong with me, so I’m now “good enough.”

When you dedicate yourself to “make every effort” there is little room to miss the mark.  Jesus knew the most important goal for any of our lives was to find salvation in Him through our repentance of sins within His forgiveness for those sins.  Nothing less will move us to the other side of the threshold except for His grace.

The reality is this….if your life were to end now and you were on the wrong side of that threshold, you would be desperate to get through this door called salvation, but it will be too late.  The decision has to be made in this life.  Rather than be desperate later, make every effort now to ensure you are saved.

Don’t shut out God’s voice to your life, and His direction.  Find joy in His Word of life rather than in things or even people which only last or stay for a time.  Trust in Him, so you will not allow the worries of life or the temptation to gain great riches draw you from His presence.  In other words, keep your priorities straight by making sure He is your first priority…your first love….the One you serve first…….your All in All!

There’s no sense in gaining the world and losing your soul.  If you will make every effort, you will undoubtedly enjoy a fullness in your life which only comes from Him and cannot be duplicated by anything or anyone else.

A Promise that could change your life!

life-change-aheadWhat could happen right now which could change your life forever?  Win a million dollars…..get married…..have a child…..or maybe meeting an extremely important person you admire?  I’m sure there’s many moments or opportunities we could list which seem like game changers for our life’s path.

What about trusting God?  Sure, we don’t think of this one because we’re generally oblivious to it.  Trusting in God is something we think we do subconsciously, second nature, or even in our sleep.  Think about this seriously…..wouldn’t learning to trust God, especially His promises change your life completely?  Let me challenge you briefly to learn to trust God completely, or you could continue to live the way you do.  “What’s wrong with how I’m living?”  Glad you asked, so let’s address two main issues.

When I fail to trust God and won’t live with faith in His promises…..


governs my living.  We all make bad decisions; some more than others.  I’ve not met a person who was insecure and made good decisions.  Insecurity stems from a desire to do, or be, or attain something which you are not able to.  No matter what you do, you won’t be able and this doesn’t merely annoy you, but it makes you insecure.  The last thing we want anyone to know about us is we have limits, and yet we all know each of us is limited…how odd!  If you were to make a list right now of everything you’d like to do or be or have, that list would reveal where your heart is and where you put your confidence.  Where is your confidence?  It’s probably in yourself.  People put their confidence in the same person they know is limited and insecure about.  What you’ve found out even more so is your faith in God is lacking.  Faith in the promises of God guards you against insecurity.  What I have is given by God; whether that is my material possessions, my attributes, or my abilities, and whatever I do not have I can trust God to make up the difference.  What do we call this?  Faith in God, and with faith always comes trust.

When I fail to trust God and won’t live with faith in His promises…..


governs my living.  Have you ever thought, “Why them and not me?”  If so, its because you were jealous.  Have you ever noticed people have such a difficult time being happy for someone else who has what they lack?  We will compare ourselves to others constantly, and pick apart their personality and character to justify why they shouldn’t have and we should have what they possess.  There’s probably a term for this…….oh, what is it?…….Jealousy!  Why do we find it so difficult to rejoice with those who are rejoicing.  We may be jumping up and down, screaming in excitement with them but deep down in the darkest recesses of our hearts we wish it were us and not them…..jealousy………it just eats at us and devours us, so we can never be thankful for God’s blessing on someone’s life.  Jealousy, like insecurity, stems from a life lacking faith to trust in God’s Word.  Faith understands and accepts God gives and takes away, and it receives what God does in either case.  You know what else….faith is satisfied with what God has given and is blessed.  God could give you and another person a cookie.  Jealousy looks and says, “God gave them a bigger cookie!” but faith says, “Thank you God for my cookie!”

If you want a pivotal moment which could change your life then I hope you will ask God for greater faith to trust Him, to be content, and be satisfied with what God has brought into your life.  What you have may not be what others have, and who you are may not be who others are but praise God for what He has given you and who He’s made you to be.  Often our insecurity and jealousy merely stem from misunderstanding how uniquely blessed we are.  The promises of God….His Word, and the faith He willfully gives us to accept both can be a life-changing moment which sets our course for eternity.

What Are You Running From?

runningPeople around you get comfortable with who you are.  They know what to expect out of you and whatever that is they find it acceptable because they call you their friend. People can handle small incremental changes to who you are.  They won’t sweat the small stuff like you deciding you’d rather have your eggs over easy instead of scrambled from now on, or when you decide to grow a beard (men) or get 3 inches cut off your long hair (ladies….well, maybe some guys too!).  See, no one is alarmed by these small incremental changes in preference.  What changes this delicate balance in a relationship is when you become saved which brings a radical change to who you are, how you live, and what is now your primary motivator in life – Jesus.

No doubt, salvation has the ability to cause those around us who are not saved to wonder what we are running from, but in reality we are also running towards something new, as well.

Salvation directs me to….

run from evil desires.  2 Timothy 2:22 specifically says, ‘Flee the evil desires of youth…’ Timothy is a somewhat young minister who has been trained by Paul, and I believe Paul is addressing the need for him to be aware of the trapping associated with being younger.  Yet, this can’t be all Paul means.  It seems just as clear that evil desires are for the immature, those who don’t want to grow up (come to grips with Jesus), and who want to do their own thing and be rebellious.  Sin is nothing to be proud of and as people who have been created by God, for God, it is just immature of us to continue living so willfully in it.  Those who allow sin to run rampant in their lives are like undisciplined children who think nothing of consequences or what tomorrow brings.  They have no mind for what is important or essential and everything, possibly including their own lives, is expendable because like children, they fail to see worth in life, or what is worthy in life.

The believer must be living a life that is running from sin (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:3-6; Revelation 22:12-16).  Colossians 2:21 says of the principles of this world (in other words….sinful practices) “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”  Believer….what are you running from?  Your answer should be from an immature desire to rebel against God and live in sin which will not only corrupt this life, but will destroy the next.

Salvation directs me to…

pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the LORD out of a pure heart.  (2 Timothy 2:22)  What this means is you must:

…….Run after what God applauds.

If we want our lives to please God then we must be saved, but the evidence of this salvation begins to manifest itself in where I seek approval.  Part of the reason people are caught up in sin is they seek the approval of those who do as they do.  As a child of God you should be seeking the approval of your Father – God Himself.  The way we do this is by having righteousness imparted to us through Christ, like Abraham we believe God’s Word to us and have faith in Him so He can declare us righteous, and our whole being is shaped by the right pursuits – faith, love peace.  We have faith in Him, we love what He loves (especially loving Him), and we live at peace with one another.  At peace with one another does not mean to accept sin in others lives, or to stand idly by as they run from the LORD (Ephesians 4:1a; Luke 17:1-4).

……..Run with the right crowd.

Paul tells Timothy in this verse to make this godly pursuit ‘along with those who call on the LORD out of a pure heart.’  What this means is you aren’t meant to pursue Him alone, but He’s given you brothers and sisters in the LORD to run with.

If you want to pursue the LORD, what better way to do this than around others with the same heartfelt pursuit?  I doubt those around you who don’t know Him are spurring you on to live for the LORD, quite the contrary as they have no mind for what He cares about.  I’m not saying you should spend time exclusively with other believers.  If we were all to do this, we would not be effective in our mission to touch the lost with the Truth of Christ.  Yet, we need others who are likeminded in their pursuit of God as we are to help us continue seeking what is right in His eyes.

What are you running from?  Sounds like you’re missing out on something…..doesn’t it?  The only thing the believer is missing out on is the destructive ability of sin in their lives.  Well, it doesn’t sound so bad now……does it?

Pursue Him… won’t be disappointed!

Am I stuck in a rerun?

circlesReruns – past shows of epic proportions are now found on wannabe channels looking to hold onto the viewership of the past.  Reruns are so yesterday….literally.  It’s the same episodes with the same characters, same lines, same jokes, same controversy, and of course, the same outcomes.  After you’ve watched them a few times there is no mystery, nothing to laugh at, and nothing to be excited about.  Maybe you’ve felt like this about your life….it’s always the same old, same old.

Being that we are just days away from a new year, maybe many people should be considering how this year can be new, or at least different from last year.  It’s easy to keep living year after year with very little variation in our lives.  People become discontent with their families, jobs, and even themselves when their life seems to lack anything new or fresh, and each day is the same.  It’s as if they repeat the same day over and over again like a rerun.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says this…..’Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’

I think there are those who struggle with the rerun life because they lack this newness in Christ.  See, when a person submits their life to Christ, repents of sin, receives His forgiveness, and then begins living the pattern Jesus displayed there’s a newness which comes on them.  There’s a new way of thinking and understanding, new guidance (the Bible), new director (Jesus), a new script (how they speak)…..and I’m sure you’re getting this by now that there’s a newness to this life.

It’s impossible to live as we were before Christ and expect the benefits of living for Christ.  Ephesians 5:15 tells us to be careful how we live –not us unwise, but as wise.  The reason a person’s life is the same year after year is because they continue doing what they’ve always done in the old life.  We all should know that nothing old can do anything new or even produce anything new in us.

Are you tired of celebrating a new year but never seeing anything new in your life?  Nothing changes?  Join us beginning this Sunday as we start our new study….Escaping the Rerun life.