Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Bringing Up My GPA - A Morning Prayer

Good morning Lord. Thank You for another day. Help me to see every hour, every minute and every second of this day as precious they are so I will spend them wisely.

Father, I am glad that my girls are doing well in school. They are both working really hard and are very disciplined to stay on top of their assignments. I noticed that they both have come to see the effect every single assignment, every quiz and every test has on their overall grade, either positive or negative. They pay attention to their choices about how hard to study or how much effort to put into an assignment, and know that if they choose to not do an assignment or not to study hard for a test, how much that can quickly impact their average.

Lord, that mindset would have been helpful for me when I was in college. In my first year I did a lot of goofing off and not a lot of studying. I guess all that freedom was a bit much for me to handle, because I didn't handle it well. After failing some classes my first year and being placed on academic probation, I thank You that You helped me to see the need to tighten up. So I did.

I went back to school after that summer with a determination to pull my grades up. I buckled down, went to all my classes, and studied hard. After that semester, I was anxious to see my grades because I was confident they would be much better; and they were, but.... I was still disappointed. My overall GPA had not moved up that much. That's when I realized that it would be much harder for me to climb out of that academic hole than it was for me to dig my way into it. So I knew that I had to stay committed, and that to bring up my average it would take a lot of good grades to overcome the bad ones.

Lord, I see that life is in a lot of ways like school. There are times I have worked hard, and there are times that I goofed off. On that report card in Heaven with my name on it, there are some good grades and some bad grades. Father, the truth I'm trying to stay focused on is that as I dedicate my life to serving You in Your kingdom, I can mess up and do one bad thing that will overshadow a hundred good things. One really bad grade can drop my average.

And I don't mean how You see it from Your eyes Lord, because You grade me on a curve called grace that is only possible because of what Jesus did, and that I believe in Him. But I mean in the eyes of the "great cloud of witnesses" as Your Word says. I know that I stand to be judged by only Your eyes, but I do stand as a witness for You in the eyes of everyone around me. And I don't want my spiritual GPA to be a poor witness for You.

Lord thank You so much for sticking with me through life. You never gave up even when I wanted to. My average is not 100, but it has greatly improved. Thanks for helping me to make sure my good grades outweigh my bad ones. On the wall in my office at work, I have a college diploma that bears witness that Your grace brought me out of an academic hole. Then there's a certificate of ordination on my wall here that bears witness that Your grace brought me out of a spiritual hole too. Thank You for improving the averages in my life.

I love You. In Jesus name. Amen.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

What I hear, What I say and What I actually do. - A Morning Prayer

Good morning Lord. Thank You so much for this new day. I don't know what it has in store for me, but as long as You are in it, it has to turn out to be good.

Lord, I was thinking about my very first car. It was a 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Not sure what made it a Supreme, but I liked it. It sort of became my car by default. My dad bought it used for a family car that my mom drove. But when I got my license, I started to drive it some, then more and more, until it became my car.

I was so proud of that car, I nearly washed the paint off of it. I'm surprise I never slid off the road with all the Armor All I lathered my tires up with. I was just so glad to have something to drive, and I was glad (and somewhat surprised) that my parents trusted me to drive it. Momma even told me I could drive it to school. However, she gave me o e very simple and direct instruction...DO NOT pick up a car load of boys on my way to school. She said I could let 1 ride with me, and that was it.

Father, that made sense to me, and I understood why she said that. But there obviously was some disconnect between what my ears heard her say to do, what my mouth said I would do, and what my brain was actually planning to do. On about the 3rd week of having my license, what little common sense I had gave way to the mounting pressure of all the "Come on maaan". So on my way to school I went about picking up not one, not two, but three of my friends: Mike, David O. & Jody.

Of course that clearly constituted the car full of boys my momma told me not to have. But I wasn't thinking about that. I was just thinking about the fun we were having, and the feeling I had while we were having it. So there we were with boom box plugged into the cigarette lighter (didn't have a tape player) hip-hopping our way to school.

Lord, long prayer short, You know all the details, but next thing I knew, we were resting, drivers side down in a ditch, just in front of my school, having hit another car (which was driven by one of my teachers), with bus loads of fellow classmates driving by inspecting the accident scene, and with a song by Eric B and Rakim still playing on that boom box (titled "Move the crowd" no less).

I was thankful that no one was seriously hurt. However, I must say that my inner person, who can't be strapped into a seatbelt  was crushed. And it wasn't until I was sitting in the state trooper's car, looking in his rear view mirror at the disappointed look on my mothers face that I fully realized the extent of my emotional damages.

Lord.....I don't want that to be my life now. See, You have given me a brand new life that I am so thankful for. A fresh start and a different path. And I probably get that same child-like, foolish looking grin on my face like I did washing my first car when I think about this new life. But at the same time, I hear You when You warn me about certain things. I understand that with my new freedom there must be some boundaries and limitations; not to steal my fun, but to protect my life. And I don't want to find myself having the same disconnect between what my ears hear You tell me to do, what my mouth says I will do and what I actually do. My new life is worth not taking that chance, and I don't want to get this close to You only to find myself wrecked on the side of the road.

Lord, help me to keep it between Your lines. Give me a heart to hear and the mind to obey. I love my new life and I love You.

In Jesus name. Amen.