Thursday, July 29, 2010

A lesson from Rocky

Here's a clip from a movie that I was initially quite skeptical about, but once I watched it, liked it so much that I soon bought it.  It seemed such a ridiculous premise: A beaten up old boxer who had retired long ago coming back to fight the reigning heavyweight champion (much like George Foreman's career when he won an improbable championship fight at 45 years of age!).  And yet the screenplay is so well-written that it comes across as both believable and inspiring.  Most film critics loved it, and it did better than expected at the box office.

But one scene in particular caught my attention.  So much so that I played it over and over until I had a significant part of it transcribed into my journal.  It's a conversation between Rocky and his grown son.  And for a Hollywood movie dialog, it provides a fair bit to reflect on for those of us who are sometimes afraid of what others may think of us, or who can sometimes be discouraged by adversity.

Check it out... and "keep moving forward!"

© 2010 by Ken Peters

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Good Wait

I think my wife and I have probably learned a few things about waiting in the last 20-plus years.  And I'm sure I could learn more (just ask me next time I'm in a hurry in busy traffic). But as I've read my Bible over the years, one thing I know I've learned is that there's a good kind of waiting that God seems to like.  It's not the frustrated kind, or the passive kind.  It's the hopeful and the prayerful kind.  It's the hungry kind that eagerly endures.

I'm coming to grips with the fact that waiting is an inevitable part of a life with God.  Jesus taught us that "at all times [we] ought to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1) even though we may need to "cry to Him day and night" (Luke 18:7) for an answer.  In Isaiah 64:4, it says that God "acts for those who wait for Him."  Though I can find such waiting to be difficult, I believe that if I do it without resentment or offense, persisting in prayer for what I'm waiting for, it can become a beautiful expression of trust that would never bloom so fully if everything in life came quick and easy.  Waiting for the Lord teaches me to focus more on God than on the things I'm asking Him for.  And waiting for the Lord makes it obvious that He is in charge rather than me.

Isaiah 64:5 then shows me what else I can be doing while I wait.  It says that God will "meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember You in Your ways."  That means getting on with doing God's work even as I wait for something that feels so show-stoppingly important!  Put verses four and five together and it looks like they're saying that as I joyfully get busy doing the many good deeds God has prepared for me to do, I'm expressing a trust that God will do the good deeds that I'm waiting for Him to do for me.  My wife Fiona has been amazing at putting this into practice as she has energetically and unflinchingly poured her heart out for the many kids in our church's Children's Ministry, all the while prayerfully waiting for God to do what only He can do to heal her kidneys. She's a wonderful example to me.

And if you can believe it, as I've studied this theme in God's Word, I found a gem of a definition in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (ed. R. Laird Harris)!  Check it out (the italic emphases are mine)...  "Wait [qavah]:  wait, look for, hope:  This root means to wait or to look for with eager anticipation.  Waiting with steadfast endurance is a great expression of faith.  It means enduring patiently in confident hope that God will decisively act for the salvation of His people.  Those who wait in true faith are renewed in strength so that they can continue to serve the Lord while looking for His saving work."

Wow.  No wonder those "who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength" and "mount up with wings like eagles" (Isaiah 40:31)!  That's the good kind of waiting I want to be doing, no matter how long I need to wait.

© 2010 by Ken Peters

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My first job

I was walking home from Mark Hock's house, who lived just three houses down my street.  I think we were about five or six years old, and in those days, Mark and I spent many sunny summer days on our driveways racing Hot Wheels around imaginary cities.  Those Michigan summers of the late sixties/early seventies were all about having fun for us, and whether we were climbing trees, riding bikes, splashing in a pool or playing with toy dinosaurs on a porch, we had a lotta fun.

But as I headed home that day (could've been for lunch, I don't recall), I was distracted before I even got past the first house between Mark's and mine.  I could see a man I didn't recognize banging a hammer in the Mills' backyard, so I went to investigate.  I watched him for a bit before he acknowledged me.  He seemed friendly enough as he greeted me, and after about as much chit chat as any man-on-the-job would care to have with an unexpected little neighbourhood kid, he asked me to fetch him a bag of nails from the back of his truck out on the street.  I recall feeling both eager to help and flattered to be asked by this important workman, and ran with my little boy legs down that long driveway to his truck.  I stared at all the stuff in it, scanning, scanning for the desired nails.  I grabbed a small brown paper bag that seemed to match the description he had given me and ran back, hoping it was the right nails.

They seemed to be, for he received them happily.  And then something amazing happened.  He told me to stretch out my hand, and he placed one thin dime onto my palm.  I'm quite certain that my mouth must have been hanging open.  A whole ten cents!  Aside from my allowance from my parents, this was the first money I had ever received working for someone.  I don't even recall if I thanked him.  I hope I did!  I just remember my wide-eyed excitement at being given a dime for a job well done.  I clutched it in my fist as I ran home to show my mom and tell her the news:  I had just earned ten cents for fetching nails for a workman!

It was a great feeling.  That little dime made a lasting impression on me, and I'm quite sure that that carpenter had no idea how much his kindness impacted a little boy.

© 2010 by Ken Peters

Friday, July 16, 2010

Two words to set me straight

There are still times when I find myself struggling to keep an accurate idea in my head of what God truly thinks of me.  All it takes is a few failures -- or a few not-good-enoughs -- whether in my actions or my attitudes, and I can wonder if God is frowning at me.  But there are two words in Hebrews 10:17 that do a good job of getting my mind back on track with the truth: "no more".  There's something very final and complete about those two words.  But the writer to the Hebrews doesn't use those words in the way we typically do, focused on ourselves in a vain attempt at absolute self-control to get God to like us again.  His focus is on God's thoughts as he quotes God's promise: "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more."  No more.  Never again.

So what does that mean if I sin?  Harsh words said in an outburst of anger -- selfishly insisting on getting my way -- a flash of pride in an unkind remark -- the lust of the eyes on a hot summer day.  Should I assume God doesn't care? That He'll turn a blind eye and pretend it didn't happen?  No.  This isn't talking about an ignoring of sin.  It's talking about not counting our sins against us.  When God looks at Ken Peters, with all my hang-ups, the sins He sees in me are something that He no longer keeps in mind in regards to who He considers me to be!

This sounds astounding -- even ridiculous when one stops to consider how much we blow it in life.  But it's possible because of the blood of Jesus that was shed for us (Hebrews 10:19).  Hebrews 10:22 says that our hearts have been "sprinkled clean" and that our bodies have been "washed with pure water."  Why would God focus on our mistakes and blunders and foul-ups in light of the amazing and eternal cleansing we have His own Son's blood?

Remember:  He remembers our sins "no - more."  That is why I can be encouraged and boldly draw near -- no matter how distracted I may be by sins that God doesn't even consider a factor in His opinion of me -- with "full assurance of faith" in the One who died in my place so that I could be forgiven forever!

© 2010 by Ken Peters