September-The Other New Year

I love September!

September is my favorite month because the oppressive heat of summer is replaced with what I believe is the most perfect weather in the Midwest. There is lots of sunshine with lower humidity and temps in the perfect mid-70’s range. But finally some rain comes to refresh the earth like this past weekend with the Isaac remnants. In September you don’t sweat to death walking from your car to the front door, but you don’t have to where a sweater or jacket either.

September is also the perfect wardrobe month. Shorts are still okay. And according to the TV series “What Not to Wear,” white is still acceptable. But, if you don’t want to shave your legs for a few days, you can get be comfortable in jeans or slacks without passing out from heat exhaustion. You can wear sandals one day and your designer boots the next. No one cares because it’s September and the seasons are in transition. So they think you either just can’t let go of summer or you can’t wait for winter and both are okay in September.

Because of the aforementioned reasons to love September, it is also the perfect month to play golf! Golf, the game I love to hate. Sounds like an idea for another blog post. So for now, I’ll just say two of the reasons I love golf is the quality and quantity time I have with family and friends and the absolute beauty of creation I am privileged to enjoy while on the course.

September is also the start of college football and I do so enjoy college football. In stadiums all across this country thousands, even hundreds of thousands of fans pack the house to watch their favorite team pummel the other team because maybe this year will be their year. The rest of the millions who can’t get to the stadium (like me) pack their living rooms and media rooms with friend and foe alike to scream at the mega flat screen, jump up and down on the furniture and spill chips and dip all over the floor. It’s as much a social necessity as it is game and I enjoy every minute of it!

And I must just say, that even though the all powerful NCAA has declared this year doesn’t count for The Ohio State Buckeyes, I say…Go Bucks and prove the naysayers all wrong!

But, finally and most importantly September is my favorite month because it is the start to a new year. I know. January One is the start of a new calendar year. But September is the other new year; at least here in America, in part because of our summer break culture.

September is the start of new seasons of life!

It’s the start of a new school year. Yeah, some crazy schools start in August, but I don’t think teachers or students are ready to really get into it until after Labor Day Weekend. Wouldn’t you agree? Young adults start their freshman year in college and seniors start their celebrating way in advance of crossing the stage for the much coveted diploma.

It’s also the start of a new year in many church programs (AWANA, Women’s & Men’s Ministry, Youth Programs, Choir, etc…) After summer vacations and extended weekends, I’m pretty sure pastors and parishioners everywhere are glad to get people back in the pew and back into sweet fellowship.

September is the highest month for births in the U.S. I think it has something to do with the the frigid nights of January.

And I must say September is a wonderful month to be born. I should know. I have a September birth date. Tomorrow as a matter of fact. My son’s birthday is also in September and so was my dad’s. Several nephews and nieces celebrate their birth in this month and so do some in-laws. Lots of friends enjoy their birthday in September. A person could go broke trying to keep up with them all in September.

The ultimate new season; being born!

But here is the ultimate, ultimate new season; being born-again!

Have you been born twice? Do you know that you know that when you die you will liver forever with Jesus Christ in heaven?

There is no better month, no better season, no better day to be saved than right now!

Call out to God. Tell Him you agree with Him that you are a sinner and do not deserve this new life. Then tell Him you believe His Son, Jesus came and died on the cross, shed His blood to cleanse you from ALL your unrighteousness. Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. This is the challenge. This is the only question that matters.

Have you been born-again in Jesus?

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3 

Do Not Be Satan’s Little Helper

This week’s One Another Challenge is purely selfish on my part and I do so without apology. If you need this reminder and want to take up the challenge as well…I welcome the company. But whether you join me or not, I must face this challenge and conquer the mind gremlins.

Here’s My Challenge: Do Not Help Satan Win the Battle for My Mind!

A long time ago I decided, with Scripture proof text, Satan receives far too much credit in the battle for the human race. The old “Laugh In” line, “The devil made me do it,” became (and still is) the mantra for many people, including born-again disciples of Jesus the Christ. But can the devil really make us do anything?

Eve had a choice. So did Adam. God told Cain, “If you do well,will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7 NASB)

God didn’t tell Cain to blame his parents, his brother, Satan or anyone else. The blame for not doing well rested squarely on Cain’s shoulders. (You can read what God thinks of the blame game in Genesis chapter three.) He also told Cain that sin (Satan) was crouching at the door, but he could master it.

Sin (Satan) does not have to have mastery over me. In fact as a follower of Christ sin can only take place in my life, and Satan can only have influence  if I let him.

Over the past few days I have let the sin/s of false thinking and lie belief take up residence in my mind.

Satan didn’t do that. I did!

Remember, Satan is not omnipresent (can be everywhere at once.) Nor is he omnipowerful (all powerful.) Nor is he omniscient (all knowing.) I’m not saying he isn’t a crafty powerful being. What I am saying is we give him far too much credit for our own filthy dirty rags (Is. 64:6) which allows us to feel less culpable.

If he made me think that thought of jealousy or made my eyes stare at that nude photo or if he forced me to harbor hatred and bitterness then I can’t be all that bad. I mean if Satan made me do it then he’s the one to blame. Right?

Wrong!

I have kept in my mind the lie that God remains angry with me about a sin I committed years and years ago. I have chosen not to believe and not to claim God’s redeeming restoration about this particular sin. I have chosen to mull over this long ago sin again and again. I’ve replayed the episode a million times conveniently leaving out the cleansing forgiveness provided by God’s Son (I John 1:9).

How dare I cheapen Jesus’ shed blood!

I’ve been Satan’s little helper. He hasn’t needed to remind me of this sin. I remind myself. He doesn’t have to keep tossing doubts into my mind or help me misunderstand people’s comments or actions toward me. I’ve got that covered. Just like Eve, I chosen to believe his initial lie, “Has God really said…” and then run with it.

But not this week (and prayerfully, not ever again) will I believe the lie that my sins are too deep or too awful for the blood of Christ to fully and completely forgive and redeem!

This week I will not be Satan’s little helper in the battle for my mind! Instead I choose to fill my mind with God’s Truth and the love of His Son, Jesus. Will you join me in this challenge? Will you stop helping Satan in his battle to weaken your impact for The Kingdom? Fight the good fight with me and together let’s throw the bum out!

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:7-8

The A, B, Cs of Loving One Another, “E”

By Elaine Baldwin| @elainehbaldwin

Endure all things. I Corinthians 13:7 “Love endures all things.”

When was the last time you used the word endure in a conversation or in an email? Have you used endure in a text or on Twitter today? If you did it was probably with a tone of discontent and disgruntlement. I know that’s how I most often use this word.

“I had to endure a whole afternoon of mandatory training.”

“I don’t think I could’ve endured one more minute of his demeaning jokes.”

“Can’t endure this heat.”

So, when I come to a section of Scripture about love that tells me I must endure all things in order to love, I am not too thrilled with that concept. It sounds like an awful burden and drudgery; something I will have to reside myself to doing. It certainly is not the Hollywood picture of love that is so appealing.

But a closer look at the Greek meaning helps us see love that endures has to be strong and courageous. It is active. It is an act of the will. And it is priceless.

The basic meanings of the word endure are: to tarry behind, to remain, and to persevere. Biblical endurance means to hold fast to our faith in Christ while in the midst of trials and misfortunes. And loving endurance does this bravely and calmly.

In other words, loving endurance is not for wimps!

The egocentric ignores the buzzing cell phone when a friend calls in the middle of the night, but patient endurance forsakes sleep and walks through the pain with the one who is loved.

The cowardice makes excuses when the call for action comes from the pulpit, but courageous endurance sets aside fear and serves with love the unlovable.

The self-serving clutter their day with more and more of what they want, but selfless endurance empties their desires to make room for love to meet the needs of others.

The social climber jumps over crushed hearts and steps on shattered souls to get to the top of somewhere, but loving endurance tarries behind and pulls the weaker one alongside on their way to grace and mercy.

Love endures all things. We can’t just reside ourselves to this kind of love. It can’t be a “Well, if I have to.” If that is all we have, then that is not love at all. “If I have to,” is the epitome of selfishness and pride; the very opposite of love. And we all know what God thinks of pride.

Check yourself. Do you love with biblical endurance? Or do you love because you have to?

Photograph provided with permission: http://richardsandcompany.smugmug.com/