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Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13

incompetentAll of us have people in our lives who annoy us. Most of the time, our annoyance comes from the fact (in our eyes at least) that that person is incompetent in everything they do. One day, years ago now, I was coaching a little league baseball team. I received a call from one of the parents asking for the name and number of my immediate superior. I gladly gave him the information he requested and then asked if he’d mind sharing with me the reason he wanted to talk with my supervisor.

His response when something like this, “I want to talk to him about how incompetent you are as a coach.”

That set me back on my heels a bit! For one thing, the player in question was one of our better players and one that I felt I had a good relationship with. I’d also talked with this dad on occasion and never felt any animosity between us.

My nature, as I’m sure many of ours would be in that situation, would lead me to be very defensive and offended by his remark. Somehow that day, however, I remained calm and in the discussion that followed, was able to diffuse what turned out to be a lack of information and misunderstanding.

Sociologists will tell us that there are two main responses to attack, fight or flight. Jesus offers a third option, forgiveness based on the understanding that we have been forgiven for our faults as well. Jesus forgave us when we were at our worst so that we could be our best for him.

It’s not easy to accept others weaknesses, or as Paul puts it, “Make allowances for the faults of others”. “Making allowances for each other’s faults” involves two actions on our part. One is to realize that we too have been forgiven for many faults. The second is to rely on the Holy Spirit to work through us to forgive and through our antagonist to bring them to a relationship with Jesus.

PRAYER: Father God. I want to take this time to meditate on my faults and thank you for your forgiveness. I ask that your Holy Spirit would give me the power I need to forgive others when their actions are hurtful or offensive to me. Let me show them the love you’ve shown me. Amen.


For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I have a list. Actually I have several lists. Some are written on scraps of paper. Others are stored digitally on my Smartphone or computer. They are work related, personal and, of course, my honey-do lists.

The frustrating thing about my lists is that many of the things on them are things that really wouldn’t take that much time. That’s the issue. Time. I’m lousy at time management. Before you give me a list books to read or ten easy steps to time management let me tell you I’ve read many books and articles about that and have a few more on my list. (Have I already mentioned I have plenty of lists?)

What’s true in my physical life is also true (unfortunately) in my spiritual life. I love Jesus Christ. He is my source of comfort, encouragement, forgiveness, acceptance… (There I go again making another list!)

I have to confess though, that there are many things in my ‘spiritual side’ that don’t get done, or don’t get done well. Like my physical side, most of the time it’s not an issue of difficulty or time consumption; it’s a matter of self-discipline.

Self-discipline. I hate that term. ‘Self’ gives me the picture of who it all relies on. It’s all about me. I need to try harder. I need to organize better. I need to prioritize. I need to delegate. ‘Discipline’ to disciple, to follow a standard. To accomplish what you have set out to do. To suffer consequences for failure.

The Apostle Paul writes to a young pastor named Timothy. It seems like Timothy was almost like a son to Paul. It also appears that this young pastor was ministering in a difficult place and time.

So ‘Father Paul’ writes (my paraphrase), “So remember Timothy. This God we serve has given us the ability to stand courageously, live powerfully, love passionately and accomplish the task set before us by the Lord Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

For someone like me who already feels overwhelmed at times this can be small comfort. I’ve been given the Holy Spirit to accomplish all that but reality screams at me that it’s not working!

Here’s one thing I’ve discovered. I need to continue reading on in Paul’s letter. Just a couple verses later, Paul explains more of life and ministry to his young protégé.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

Did you catch it? The solution to my (and perhaps your) dilemma? Go back and read it again. One tiny little phrase we often overlook, ‘not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.’ Once again, I’m reminded that this life isn’t about my power, my ability, my ‘self-discipline.’

From now on my endeavor is to shelve the old term ‘self-discipline’. From now on my goal will be to live in Christ-discipline. To let his power live in my, through me and in spite of me. I’m not relinquishing responsibility. I’m handing it off to the one who said to cast all my cares on him.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I’m tired of trying to do things on my own. I hereby give you back the reigns of my life as you’ve commanded me to do. Empower me with your Spirit to live a life of ‘Christ-discipline.’ Amen.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

“‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin (1789)

Funny how these words penned so long ago still ring true today. Maybe it’s not really so funny if you think about it. Nor really much to look forward to, is it? Unless you have your head in the sand, you, like the rest of us, have this uneasy feeling in the bottom of your stomach.

Perhaps you are going through some personal issue with your relationships, your job, your kids or your finances. Maybe your health isn’t what it used to be. Maybe you are looking back on life and wondering how you got where you are, and why you haven’t accomplished what you hoped to do.

It’s not hard to get discouraged with the way things are. Politically and economically the world seems on the brink of disaster. If that weren’t enough, if war or bankruptcy doesn’t get us, natural disasters and new disease outbreaks will!

Part of the problem we all have is that we see just a small slice of the pie, a tiny square of the jig-saw puzzle of life. Wouldn’t it be great if we could back up and get an eagle-eye view of the landscape of this journey we are on? To be able to get high enough to see what is on the other side of that mountainous obstacle that seems to be sapping your strength?

There are many reasons why that’s not possible. The obvious one is that we are finite beings only capable of understanding a small part of the dimension we are in. Looking beyond that would just be too much to take in.

The good news we need to be reminded of (constantly?) is that we have someone who sees the final curtain. He has the whole thing planned and when it’s done we’ll give him (and us) a standing ovation for making it through!

One of my best friends is a drama director at our local high school. I’ve watched him direct plays for years and have been involved in some community productions with him as well. It never ceases to amaze me how he puts certain changes in the script to match the cast and situation. There have been times I’ve thought he was crazy, only to watch the play in its finality and realize everything worked out just right.

When life seems to be out of control, remember this. We are not in a play where all the actors and actresses are going their own way, doing their own thing, using their own script and ideas to accomplish a stunning and understandable end!

Life is a play of sorts in which we have a small part to play. Our director has each scene precisely choreographed for a stunning and grand finale in which we will meet him face to face.

Paul says ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER, not just a few. Our part? Love God. Trust God. Do the work of grace, mercy and forgiveness.

PRAYER: Father God. Great Director. Even though I question and worry about what is going on around me, help me to remember that my part may be small, but you have assured me it will work exactly according to plan. Amen.

You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord. Now keep on following him. Colossians 2:6(CEV)

About the only thing I remember from my high school psychology class is an experiment run with a fish in a large aquarium. I don’t remember why it was run, but the results have stuck with me for a lifetime.

Sociologists put a large fish in a glass aquarium. The fish was allowed to swim freely about this large tank, but its food was always put in the same spot on one end of the tank. The instincts of the fish taught it that it could get food at a certain time, in a certain spot every day.

The next step in the experiment was to put a clear glass pane at the halfway point of the tank with the fish on one end and the food on the other. The fish would try to get to the food, but the glass pane prevented it from doing so. Food was placed in its normal spot but the fish couldn’t get to it. It became violent. It slammed its head against the glass in effort to get to the food but to no avail. Finally, it gave up. It simply stayed on its end of the tank. When the glass pane was removed and its freedom was returned the fish simply stayed on its end.

There are many lessons that can be taken from that experiment, but one that I think of often is how it pertains to those of us who have chosen to follow Christ. At the very beginning of our journey, we enjoy the euphoria of knowing our sins are forgiven; of realizing that someday we will spend eternity with Christ; of being reunited with loved ones on the other side.

Then adversity slips in. It can slip in under the guise of old habits. It sneaks into relationships that either intentionally or otherwise tries to pull us from our walk. It creeps in unaware through apathy. It saps our energy through expectations we put on ourselves or others put on us.

Adversity leads to failure and with failure comes a desire to try again but the glass pain of adversity thwarts us until we quit trying out of fatigue, frustration or fear. We find our little corner is comforting and we grow complacent. We know that someday we’ll be delivered. Until then we are content to stay where we are, unaware that we are growing weaker and less able to withstand the rigors of life.

It’s time to remember that when Jesus died on the cross for you, he didn’t do so in order that you can remain stagnant. Having Christ in your life isn’t a ‘get out of hell free card’. Adversity will come. Hard times will attack. There will be times in your life when you just want to quit trying. Don’t do it. True spiritual growth and strength comes when we determine within ourselves to keep up the good fight. Stumbling and falling is inevitable, but failure isn’t an option for the true Christ-follower. And the best part of all? When you fall (not if, when) Jesus is there to pick you up.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, there are so many times when I’ve let the glass pane of adversity and struggle keep me from the fresh food of your word. Empower me with your Spirit to overcome the adversity that keeps me from fulfillment in you. Amen.

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord! Psalm 31:24 (AMP)

The amount of courage we have is dependent on what we put our hope in.

If I put my hope in my own ability to follow God I’ll be frustrated. I’m weak. I follow my own desires far too often. Selfishness sneaks up on me at the least likely time. I’m full of lust. My past haunts me.

If I put my hope in relationships I’ll be lonely. People fail us. The promise things, but fail to honor that promise. They all too often put demands on me that I can’t fulfill, or if I do fulfill them to the best of my ability, expect more.

If I put my hope in finances I fall short. Too many times that I have way too much month at the end of the money and if I do have the finances to get what I want, it’s often outdated by the end of the week.

Putting hope in religion is demoralizing. Religion puts far more expectations and demands on me than God would ever do. Churches seem to be ivory palaces full of dead man’s bones. Pretty on the outside but full of politics, judgmental attitudes and hypocritical leaders on the inside.

If I put my hope in living healthy, you know, doing the diet thing, exercising, and all the rest, someone else always seems to be trimmer or enjoying life more than I. And I still get sick. Some of the ‘healthiest people I know’ have suffered from debilitating illnesses or accidents that have robbed them of life.

Maybe you have felt some of the feelings listed above. Your strength to go on seems to have left you. Increased effort has only brought increased frustration and feelings of failure. It doesn’t have to be that way.

If we put our hope in God’s hands our frustration turns to a realization that our success has never been dependent on our ability. God has never put much hope in our ability to follow his rules, that’s why he offers me Jesus. That’s why he offers me forgiveness and grace.

He’s never measured our success by the amount of money in our bank account or the number of friends we have on social networking sites. He’s never demanded anything that he doesn’t first give us the ability to follow through on. He knows your heart. He knows your deepest fears. He knows your past and wants to walk with you into the future.

Losing hope? Frustrated? Worried? Tired of losing sleep. Have courage based on a loving forgiving God. Worship and praise him for fact that he has reached down to give you peace through his son Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Father God, there are many things that scare me today. I have lots of worries; lots of fears; failure seems to follow me wherever I go. Thank you that I can find my hope and rest in you. Help me have courage through your son Jesus Christ. Amen.

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