Naming Our Illusions

Naming Our Illusions

Dear Friends,

Each person is of extreme value and worth to God. There are no inferior human beings, for we are all His daughters and sons. Our texts today challenge us that there are people who cannot speak up, who cannot protect themselves, who are not protected. The Word of God challenges us to receive the truth that the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for those people whose back is up against the wall. But are we, his people, willing to number ourselves among those who are wall-bruised?

Jesus proclaims freedom to the captives, sight for the blind, freedom for the oppressed, and Jubilee this year. Are we ready for all that? God is close to the broken hearted. The question is, are we close to the broken hearted?

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father,

We humble ourselves before you and come eager to hear from you. We thank you for freedom, for deliverance, for protection. We know that there are many who are less free, who are still bound, who need a voice, and the deliverance that all your children should enjoy. All that we need comes not from any earthly person or government, rather it comes from you. We pray your Kingdom come, your Will be done here on earth in us.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

What is sin?. . .

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The Cure For Affluenza

The Cure For Affluenza

Dear Friends,

Recently a story out of the Los Angeles Airport shocked air travelers all over the United States. An undercover operation had revealed that baggage handlers at that airport had been going through baggage that had been entrusted to their care and were stealing items out of the baggage. People were rightfully outraged. When you buy a ticket and turn your luggage over to the airline you expect everything you give the airline to be there when you arrive at your destination. If it gets stolen along the way you feel cheated, robbed and violated.

Yet so many infected by Affluenza are doing just that to God. In Malachi 3:8-10 we read the following, “Will a man (or a woman) rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts. ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessings that there will not be room enough to receive it.’”

Affluenza is that disease where a person refuses to give from what God has given them. This plague which has swept through America is deceiving its victims into believing that happiness can be bought and the accumulation of things can somehow fulfill a longing within. The plague of Affluenza has so poisoned the soul of our culture that the identities of many have been formed by the possessions that have now come to possess them.

Infected by the disease of Affluenza many now dread the thought of leaving this world because this is where their heart, possessions and identity exist. Jesus said in Matt. 6:21, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” That is why…

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Are These Promises For Me?

Are These Promises For Me?

Dear Friends,

My heart is heavy because of the restlessness, the sad struggle that plays out before me every day. So many people are the victims of rootless poverty that seems endless. As I was preparing this sermon I met a man who said he had just been wandering around for days. He hasn’t slept because he just wants to get back home to Kansas City. He says he just needs enough money for a one way bus ticket. But as I listen it becomes clear that he came to this area homeless looking for work on craigslist and when it didn’t work out, he’s headed back to the same situation. He wants to go back to his fiancé who is giving birth right about now. And he’s just wandering around trying to scrape together whatever money he can get to be back in time for his baby’s birth. That’s his story.

There are so many more stories like this one. No real plan beyond, “Maybe I can find a job” or “I’ll make it somehow.” When I ask, “Who knows you?” I’m told, “Well, my fiancé has a cellphone without any minutes.” The travelers aid society we partner with needs verification. They don’t want to just move people around who don’t have contacts in the destination city. I recommend some other ideas to this man. Ways he can settle for a few weeks in order to rest, eat, find work, and then travel in time. He turns it down and walks out.

I walk over to our front desk and ask a group of men who are crowding the phone operator to have a seat and assure them that their requests will be answered in time. A young man yells out, “I just want a hygiene kit.” I answer him by name and say, “You’ll get it when we call your name.” With that he calls out a curse on the building and on my father by name and walks out. Just because he doesn’t want to wait five minutes. So much impatience and hostility. So much controversy and weariness. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As we set a course for our lives based on God’s word, we can learn to fear Him and walk in His ways.

Let’s go to the Lord now in prayer…

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Experiencing A New Beginning

Experiencing A New Beginning

Dear Friends,

Life has a way of swallowing people up and then spitting them out on the ocean of hopelessness and despair.  Perhaps you are one of the growing multitudes who have experienced such.  Wouldn’t it be great to start over and to begin to live a life free from all the hurt, pain and poison of the past?  Such freedom is possible if you will but let God’s promises and provisions unfold in your life.  In Is. 43:18, 19 He tells us, “Forget what happened long ago!  Don’t think about the past.  I am creating something new.  There it is!  Do you see it?  I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands.”

We are able to experience a new beginning because of the forgiveness provided through Jesus Christ.  This forgiveness has been made available because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins through His death and resurrection.  To be forgiven means to be set free from the sins of the past to the extent we can receive the new work God wants to do in us today.  It also means letting go of the hurt and pain that others have inflicted on us as let God’s forgiveness flow through us in the lives of the ones who have hurt us.  It is this miracle of forgiveness that allows us to experience a new beginning.

Through the forgiveness and love of Jesus Christ it is possible to…

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Grace Must Answer Grace

Grace Must Answer Grace

Dear Friends,

I think there’s a terrible misunderstanding about what a gift is these days. We’ve all become so accustomed to buying and selling and paying for subscriptions to various services, that the quality of free gifts has become swallowed by the maxim, “the first one is always free.” Gifts are used as incentives anymore. A bait and switch tactic. Draw them in with the gift and then hook them. Keith Green sang about how Jesus was not a “salesmen who will sell you the things you just want to hear.” What sort of quality do we look for in gifts anymore? And what is expected of the giver? More importantly, what sort of gift was it when God gave his only son for this world?

Now if I offer you this antique taxidermied squirrel, would you think that strange? Or this dapper bowler hat, could you use that? Most of you would answer no. We’re accustomed to picking out our own items carefully, irrespective of what people might think we need. We might take a gift so that a giver won’t feel bad, but…

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Standing Firm in the Victory

Standing Firm in the Victory

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

When I encounter hopelessness and depression I have to do something more than engage in fight or flight.  Psalm 143 shows me a better way.  There I see the  Psalmist David is desperate.  He cries out, “O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.”(verse 1)  Like David, I must admit I sometimes feel like declaring, “my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed” (verse 4).

As I continue to meditate on Psalm 143 I see that not only does David identify with my needs but he also shares some very practical steps to live victoriously when it seems that the world is falling apart.  He says, “I remember the days of long ago” (verse 5).  There I see that the first step for victoriously living, David says, is recalling the situations God brought me through in the past when the situation seemed hopeless. (Example, 1 Sam.30:1-20)

The second thing David does is to meditate not only on the promise of God’s Word but also upon the wonders of His works.  This includes not only God’s miraculous intervention in times of hopelessness but also the works and wonders of His creation.  But the wonders of God’s works go far beyond creation.  As John 3:16 says,…

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Content with the Miracle

Content with the Miracle

Dear Friends,

My little girl has a problem. She really wants this particular art set for Christmas. But from looking it up everywhere online she has determined that it is out of stock, so she knows she can’t have it. The more she thinks about this, the more upset she becomes. She moans out loud and writhes around on the couch holding her tablet device. “I really want it”, she says.

It’s that time of year for wanting and not knowing, not realizing her wishes. She asks me about it and of course I can’t answer any questions about Christmas gifts. I usually bow out of knowing what everyone is getting every year, because I don’t want to divulge anything and get myself into trouble. So I have to be hopelessly vague. “Honey, you just have to trust that your family has your wish list (it’s hanging in huge letters on a list that takes up half of the refrigerator) and knows what you want and will do the right thing.”

That answer does not satisfy this 11 year old. Ten minutes later she asks again, “Dad, can you look up this art set on your computer, please?” “No.” She no doubt feels like I don’t care, and that her wish will never be realized. I cannot say one way or the other whether her wish will come true. I have to wait with her for her miracle until Christmas Day. Yes…

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The Water Sheep

The Water Sheep

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,

What does Christmas mean to you? Some would say it is the celebration of the birth of Christ and yet they give more attention to Santa Claus than they do Jesus Christ. Others would say it is the coming of the Prince of Peace but these same individuals remain silent, as a materialistic cult of hateful individuals try to shut down the only remaining overnight shelter in the downtown area.

In Matt.1:21 we see that the real reason we celebrate Christmas is because Jesus was born and He will “save His people from their sins.” The reality of this fact offers hope to those who realize that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Yet even though we were sinners destined to hell, God loved us and came among us. The symbols of Christ’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life are everywhere during the Christmas season. There are Christmas trees, brightly decorated to remind us of the fact Jesus is the light of hope in a dark world. The evergreen Christmas tree itself reflects life even as all the other trees have lost their leaves.

Then there is the candy cane….

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When Trees Talk

When Trees Talk

Dear Friends,
The trees were talking as I went walking. That is what it seemed like as I walked down that path in the city park on that hot Sunday afternoon. I would regularly leave the path to seek refuge from the heat as I walked in the shade under the trees scattered throughout the park.

I needed answers from the Lord. Here I was a year older and facing the same financial burdens with the work of New Life Evangelistic Center that I was encountering this time last summer. As I walked, burdened down with questions about how New Life was going to find the money to fill overdrawn accounts at the same time it faced a growing mountain of bills, all of a sudden I noticed the oak tree in front of me. As that tree stood firm it was almost like it was shouting at me saying,

“Look at me Larry, I’m older than you are and I’m still standing. I have faced drought in the summertime, cold in winter when I didn’t have a leaf on me, but I’m still standing. Why do you keep carrying your burdens from year to year? Turn them loose, God is faithful. He brought you through last year and each year before that and he will take you through this.”

Then I looked up into that big oak tree that stood before me. Its trunk was so wide that I could not come close to wrapping my arms around it. The branches of this oak spread out into the sky, displaying its covering of leaves and providing the shade I was enjoying. Each leaf seemed to be crying out to the heavens and unto me. “God is faithful, God is faithful, just trust and obey.”

This tree was speaking to me through God’s first language of creation. As long as I saw that tree as an object in a park I couldn’t hear its voice. A Wintu Indian once said, “The white people never cared for land or deer or bear. When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots, we make little holes…we shake down acorns and pine nuts, we don’t chop down trees. We only use dead wood. But the white people plow up the ground, pull up the trees, kill everything. The tree says, “Don’t I am sore. Don’t hurt me”, but they chop it down and cut it up. The spirit of the land hates them… the Indians never hurt anything, but the white people destroy all.”

The most tragic thing is we have become so good at our destruction and we have so many excuses for our lifestyle which sees not only trees, but the rest of creation as mere objects and things to be used for our own gratification. The sad thing is we are the ultimate big losers who can no longer hear God’s voice as it speaks through his first language of creation.

As I continued to walk, determined to hear further what God had to say about the burdens I had brought upon myself, I came to that huge old mesquite tree. I had grown up seeing, those trees in South Texas, but this was the first time I had focused on one this large, this far north. As I listened to what this tree had to say, I felt led to go to Jeremiah 17:5-8. The tree spoke from these verses as I thought about its roots that went deep into the earth. With those roots it drew water from the unseen underground rivers which allowed it to remain green even in times of drought that Mid America experienced last year.

“This is what the Lord says: cursed is the one who trust in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places in the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

These verses from Jeremiah 17:5-8 were reminding me that like a tree, which continues to stand firm year after year even when the heat is on and the drought is present, I am to also remain faithful and be productive. As verse 8 said, by not giving into worry I don’t have to be controlled by fear and I can still produce fruit of love, joy, peace and kindness.

I was learning that by looking at the trees and listening to the lessons of faith that the trees were trying to teach me I was gaining a deeper understanding of what it was to eat from the tree of life. Revelation 2:7 says, “Whoever has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

Eating from this tree of life involves abiding in the presence and power of God both now and for all eternity. This is possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is Jesus who asks, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” (Mark 8:17-18).

Thomas Berry has pointed out that “The religious traditions need to awaken again to the natural world as the primary manifestation of the divine to human intelligence. The very nature and purpose of humans is to experience this intimate presence that comes to us through natural phenomena. Such is the purpose of having eyes and ears and feeling sensitivity and all other senses. We have no inner spiritual development without outer experiences. Immediately when we see a flower, a butterfly, a tree, or when we feel the evening breeze flow over us or wade in a stream of clear water, our natural response is immediate, intuitive, transforming and ecstatic… The difficulty is that the natural world is seen primarily for human use, not as a mode of sacred presence primarily to be communed within wonder, beauty and intimacy.”

David had such a relationship with God and his creation. That’s why in 1 Chronicles 16:30-33, he was able to declare, “Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Let the trees of the forest sing; let them sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.”

As I looked up into that tall pine tree I noticed that about fifty feet up it started to bend. That tree was firmly anchored, but as the years passed by something caused it to start bending, yet the tree stood firm and were singing, “The Lord reigns”. It had withstood the storm and now it was showing me I was to stand steadfast, unmovable always abounding in the Lord. That pine tree through its presence was telling me, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brother (Larry) stand firm let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

This pine tree was teaching me that serving God was not just a fast paced hectic business of going from one crisis to another. I was to spend more time observing the trees and the rest of creation as I sought the creator of all things. I was reminded that seeking God involved daily reading the scriptures, praying and engaging in God’s first language of creation.

Trees are amazing gifts from God. They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen so that we can breathe. Without trees, topsoil erosion takes place and crops won’t grow. Another wonderful thing about trees is that they don’t discriminate against whoever is planted next to them. You never hear them screaming or trying to move because there are homeless in the area, or that a low income senior housing project is being built, or students from a poor neighborhood are being sent to their school district. If you are thinking that is because trees don’t have much of a choice, they can’t move, then by that thought you are admitting that humanities free will gives them the opportunity to sin and discriminate. After all scripture clearly teaches that it is God’s will that we love our neighbor, regardless of the color of their skin or how much money they have, as we love ourselves.

Thomas Merton the great monk, poet, spiritual writer and social activist writes, “Man can know all about God’s creating by examining its phenomenon, by dissecting and experimenting and this is all good, but it is misleading. With this kind of knowledge you don’t really know the things you know, you only know about them.” What Merton is saying is that studying trees involves more than just cutting them down and counting the rings in their trunk or evaluating how much wood they have. It involves seeing their flowers, leaves, branches etc., as God reveals himself through the creation of his trees. Merton goes on to say, “The pale flowers of the dogwood outside this window are saints. The leaf has its own texture and its own pattern of veins and its own holy shape. Again, sense of the importance, the urgency of being, fully aware, experiencing what is here, not what is given by men, by society, but is given by God and hidden by society.”

Thomas Merton goes on to describe what it is to be in the woods seeking God and observing and listening to the trees. “And now in the woods, I once again revisit the idea of simply staying here, in the woods- with great interior freedom and applying myself to the main business, which has nothing to do with places and does not require a beach of pure, white Caribbean sand, only silence and a curtain of trees. All around us, the steep hills were thick with woods and small gnarled oaks, clinging to the rock. Along the river, the slender poplars rippled with the light of the afternoon and green waters danced on the stones to go out to walk silently in this wood. This is a more important and significant means to understanding at the moment, than a lot of analysis and a lot of reporting on the things ‘of the spirit.’”

Isaiah 55:6-13 tells us how we can hear the mountains and hills burst into song and the trees clap their hands. We read in these verses how by seeking the Lord and trusting in His ways, we will see the thorn bushes of pain in our lives converted into Jupiter trees of strength, power and endurance. In these verses we are told to:
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”

It is time we stop seeing trees as immobile objects that teach us to only sit there and be couch potatoes. Trees talk if we will but listen to them. As we walk among the trees we will embrace the moment and be challenged to stand steadfast in spite of the trials and tribulations. It is remarkable how trees can cause us to seek the Lord. As we see that tree faithfully standing there year after year, we are reminded that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and for that reason we must be rooted and grounded in the promises of the scriptures. As we accept the power of God’s word we will go forth in a peace and joy that will cause even the branches of the trees to look like they are clapping with praise unto the Lord. The thorn bush of worry will be transformed into an ever green pine that will continue to remain green and full of life even in the mist of adverse circumstances.

As trees provide shade, fruit, oxygen and so much more they continue to teach us how to be effective and productive in the work and will of God as we daily surrender to him. Remember God has given you the gift of trees. Thank Him for them and continue to let them talk to you through their example of steadfastness.

Yours in Christ,
Larry Rice

Starting Over

Starting Over

Dear Friends,

Wouldn’t it be great to start over – to begin to live a life free from all the hurt, pain and poison of the past? Such freedom is possible if we will but let God’s promises and provisions unfold in our lives. In Is. 43:18, 19 He tells us, “Forget what happened long ago! Don’t think about the past. I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands.”

Through the forgiveness and love of Jesus Christ it is possible to start all over but we must learn to live in the now. Unless we learn to live in the midst of the new things God is doing now we will be trapped in the hurts of yesterday and enslaved in the worries of tomorrow. With Jesus as Lord of your life, today can be your Masterpiece for “this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it”(Psalm 118:24). God is a God of the Now! As we are freed from the regrets of yesterday and the dreads of tomorrow we are able to create success in our lives by focusing on today. Today is the only time we have. It is too late for yesterday for that ended last night. We can’t worry about tomorrow, “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34).

We can start all over as 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has past away, the new has come.” It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins that He provides that allows us to start all over. Through the living Christ God provides water in the “deserts of life” and “streams in the wasteland” of hopelessness and despair. In order to experience such we must practice living in the “now” of the presence of God.

I know from personal experience that as I live in the now I must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Only then can I experience a peace that passes all understanding in the midst of these troubled times. The challenge is doing this every moment of everyday. As I strive to live as a new creation in Christ I find myself awakened to the wonders of God’s creation that “the world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts” (Ps. 40:5, Message Bible). As we walk through the wonders of God’s creation we will not hear the birds sing, feel the refreshing breezes, see the wonderful sun sets, or touch or smell all that He has created for us today unless we live in the now. The hurts of the past and the fears of the future will block out God’s blessings of the present unless we live in the now.

I have found that in the midst of overwhelming odds I must not lose hope. I must let God’s power at work this day flow into my very being. I need to know in the depths of my soul that even though the dark nights of injustice surround me, the bright dawn of deliverance will soon arrive. Archbishop Oscar Romeo declared prior to his death by an assassin’s bullet, “Don’t be led astray either by the allure of power and money or by following false ideologies. True hope is not found there either. True hope is not found in a revolution of violence and bloodshed, and hope is not found in money and power – neither on the left nor on the right. The hope that we must account for and that makes us speak with valor is found in Christ, who reigns even after death, even after murderous death. And with Him reign all who have preached his justice, his love, his hope, and his peace.”

When I am feeling over-whelmed with the hurt, pain, injustices and hopelessness of life, I know from experience that when I call out unto the Lord He will answer. It is like a literal fulfillment of Is. 43:20, 21 where God says, “I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”

The deserts and wastelands can be found in the face of each hurting, homeless and hungry person around us. It can be found in the loneliness of the jail cell, the nursing home and the hospital bed. This brokenness is all around us. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “We have lived under the agony and darkness of Good Friday with the conviction that one day the heightened glow of Easter would emerge on the horizon.”

This glow of glory has come. Christ is risen and now He tells us, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live” (John 5:24, 25).

Many who were previously dead in their hopelessness, fears, and sins can now start all over because of the life that Christ provides. Those captive to this materialistic self-serving world will consider the ones now alive in Christ to be extremists. But we shouldn’t be surprised by such a reaction. After all, those who crucified Jesus said he was an extremist. Believers today, who have started all over have died to themselves and have been resurrected unto Christ Jesus, to the extent that what touches His heart also touches theirs. Such individuals are always called extremists.

As a new creation in Christ, God has chosen you to manifest His love in this time and in this place. While this miracle unfolds, you will see Him do exceedingly above what you can ask and think. We read in Exodus 1-15, Psalms 59-72 and Acts 1-7, God will take ordinary people such as you and me and will do extra ordinary things through them.

Whether it was Moses, Peter, or Stephen, we see individuals who were set free from themselves to the extent they were able to start all over and serve God and those in need. Such freedom is a result of committing our lives to Christ as Peter declared in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Such a commitment sets us free from the paralysis of the regrets of the past and the fears of the future. Jesus enables us to start over in the now as we trust Him as the source of our salvation.

When one starts all over God often trains his great men and women by placing them first in insignificant positions, allowing their desires to serve Him result in serving others. For Stephen this meant being involved in the distribution of food to the needy. Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law when God spoke to him through a burning bush. God tells Moses “I will be with you” as Moses returns to Egypt to liberate the children of Israel. When we start all over, things may seem to get worse rather than better. That is why we must trust God with the problems we are facing now and not compound them by worrying about the future or allow ourselves to be frozen in the hurt and the abuse of the past.

Like waves lapping at a shore, generations of abuse tend to follow one another. Each generation can trap the next in resentment. As a result untold thousands walk around angry with their parents or someone else who has mistreated them in their past. Their lives are confused, their emotions crushed, and their ability to help others who are in need destroyed. Those experiencing such need to start all over and experience the liberating power of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you feel your parents or someone else in your past plucked away at your self-esteem, feather by feather, until you stood naked and defenseless in the world. All that is left is rage, fear, and anger living in an unforgiving heart. As a result, sadness is kept locked behind the door of your life. Many choose to bury their anger out of fear that it will become a raging fire, burning out of control. Yet anger has to go somewhere. As a result it may seep out into our daily environment like illegally dumped toxic waste, in the form of depression, substance abuse, promiscuity or spurts of inappropriate rage or dreams of wild revenge. For many who have been mistreated, anger is their first name while blame is their second name.

The time has come to stop denying the hurt and then, once acknowledging it, stop blaming others for it. Start all over and let the love of Jesus Christ heal you now. Every rip in the fabric of a relationship needs the binding of God’s love. Such a binding involves making the “quantum leap” where, like an electron aimlessly circling the nucleus of resentment, we receive a new burst of energy which thrusts us around the nucleus of God’s love. This spiritual quantum law is summed up in Galatians 5:13-15 which says, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Revolving around the nucleus of bitterness causes such destruction. Receiving the energy of Christ’s love, provided by His death and resurrection, results in life and liberty from the tyranny of the mistreatments of the past.

As long as you continue to hold on to your bitterness, you will continue to be a victim. Yes, you were deeply hurt in the past, but the fact is you cannot change the past. What you can change is your perception of it and the feelings, which enslave you in the present. That is why you need to start all over and respond in a positive way to the invitation that Jesus gives in Matt.11:28 when He says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

When I get all wrapped up in the memories of the past or the worries of the future I am not able to experience God’s blessings in the present. Worry keeps me from experiencing the wonders of God’s creation in the present. It fills me so full of self there is no room for God. When there is no room for God there is no room for other people. This worry and fear can drive us to depression or a self-centered spirituality that does not include the needs of others. That is why we must spend time alone with the Lord in prayer and daily Bible reading.

As we spend time alone daily with our Lord Jesus we will not be a “Stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears” (Acts 7:51) who try to spiritualize the freedom that Christ provides to such an extent that we see no need to fight for the justice of the poor and needy. We will as new creations in Christ desire to be a part of God’s work for He “will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight” (Psalm 72:12-14).

Let us arise moving forth by faith, knowing that, “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is His name” (Exodus 15:2-3).

As we start all over believing that God is starting a new work in us let us realize that the way we choose to invest our time today directly affects our future. If we waste today, worrying about tomorrow, or regretting the lost opportunities of yesterday we won’t capitalize on today’s potential. There is a dieing world out there waiting for a people to arise who will declare, “send me O Lord. Use me to be your instrument of healing, hope and salvation.” We must make the most of the days we have left. Moses wrote, “Teach us to number our days” (Ps. 90:12). We all have a purpose for living. As we live out that purpose in service unto God we are able to make each day a Masterpiece that will survive for all eternity.

Don’t forget that the choices you make today will directly impact your tomorrows. Live each day fully for the glory of God. Share in both word and deed with everyone you meet that there is hope because Christ is Risen. Reject sin and let the Word and Spirit of God fill you to the extent that this day you will become His Masterpiece, glorifying God both now and for all eternity.

You will become God’s Masterpiece as you choose today to start all over living in the now and developing an attitude of gratitude. Starting all over means determining that your priorities will be based on the Word of God. It means making a decision to have your thinking Christ centered and that you will keep your commitments to God and others.

Now let’s start over and let the Lord fill our hearts and mind. May we determine through the grace of God to let Jesus be Lord of For truly, “this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).

Yours in Christ,
Larry Rice