“DON’T FOLLOW THE PUCK!”

“AGAIN AND AGAIN I SENT ALL MY SERVANTS TO YOU. THEY SAID, ‘EACH OF YOU MUST TURN FROM YOUR WICKED WAYS AND REFORM YOUR ACTIONS; DO NOT FOLLOW OTHER GODS TO SERVE THEM. THEN YOU WILL LIVE IN THE LAND I HAVE GIVEN TO YOU AND YOUR ANCESTORS.’ BUT YOU HAVE NOT PAID ATTENTION OR LISTENED TO ME.” JEREMIAH 35:15 NIV WAYNE GRETZKY IS BELIEVED BY MANY TO BE THE BEST HOCKEY PLAYER OF ALL TIME. WHILE SOME MAY DISAGREE, IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO SAY HE IS NOT ONE OF THE GREATEST. DURING AN INTERVIEW A FEW YEARS AGO MR. GRETZKY WAS ASKED WHAT MADE HIM SUCH A GREAT PLAYER. HIS STATISTICS PROVED HE WAS NOT THE LARGEST PLAYER, NOT THE FASTEST SKATER AND NOT THE STRONGEST PLAYER. YET, HE IS ONE OF THE GREATEST SCORERS. WITH SO MANY ‘NOT THE’, HOW COULD HE SCORE SO HIGHLY? MR. GRETZKY TOLD THE INTERVIEWER, “I DON’T FOLLOW THE PUCK, I GO WHERE THE PUCK IS GOING.” WOW! WHAT A SIMPLE STRATEGY. WHILE THE OTHER PLAYERS ARE CHASING EACH OTHER AND THE PUCK AROUND THE ICE, HE IS WATCHING TO SEE WHERE THE PUCK IS GOING. AS A RESULT OF HIS OBSERVATIONS, HE BECAME A SCORING LEGEND. ARE YOU A ‘SCORING LEGEND’ IN YOUR LIFE? YOUR SUCCESS COULD BE PARTIALLY DEPENDENT UPON NOT FOLLOWING THE CROWD AND INSTEAD FOCUSING ON A SOLITARY COURSE OF ACTION OF WHERE YOU WANT TO BE. HOW ABOUT YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE? ARE YOU A ‘SCORING LEGEND’ IN GOD’S SCORE BOOK? ARE YOU FOLLOWING A SPIRITUAL COURSE THAT WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU SHOULD BE RATHER THAN...

“HOW IMPORTANT IS GOD?”

“‘THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE’, ANSWERED JESUS, ‘IS THIS: HEAR O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.'” MARK 12:29 NIV READ: MARK 12: 28-33 BELIEVERS AND SOME NON-BELIEVERS WOULD BE QUICK TO ANSWER THAT GOD IS IMPORTANT. NON-BELIEVERS MIGHT CONFIRM THEIR LACK OF FAITH AND TELL US THAT GOD IS NOT IMPORTANT OR THERE IS NO GOD. COULD YOU EXPLAIN HOW IMPORTANT GOD IS TO YOU WITHOUT EXPLAINING ALL THE WAYS HE IS IMPORTANT IN YOUR LIFE? IF GOD IS IMPORTANT IN YOUR LIFE, DO ACKNOWLEDGE HIS IMPORTANCE TO HIM, YOURSELF AND OTHERS? IS GOD THE SOLITARY PRIORITY IN YOUR LIFE 24 HOURS OF EACH DAY? IS GOD A GOD OF PERMANENCE IN YOUR LIFE OR A GOD THAT YOU ALLOW INTO YOUR LIFE UPON OCCASION? TAKE A QUICK TEN QUESTION REVIEW. THESE QUESTIONS ARE NOT A TEST. THEY CANNOT MEASURE YOUR SPIRITUAL WALK OR HOW GOD IS JUDGING YOU. THIS IS A PRIVATE EVALUATION WHICH ONLY YOU KNOW THE ANSWERS. USE THIS TO UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU ARE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, WHERE YOU NEED TO BE AND WHERE YOU WANT TO BE. 1. DO YOU START AND END EACH DAY IN A DEDICATED PRAYER TO YOUR FATHER? 2. DO YOU INCLUDE OTHERS IN YOUR PRAYER TIME AND WORSHIP TIME? 3. DO YOU SAY PRAYERS OF THANKS TO GOD THROUGH OUT THE DAY, NOT JUST AT SCHEDULED TIMES? 4. WHEN FACED WITH THE SMALLEST OBSTACLE, DO YOU ASK FOR GOD’S HELP? 5. DO YOU PRAY, THANKING GOD FOR YOUR MEALS BEFORE EATING? 6. DO YOU PRAY FOR OTHERS WHEN YOU HEAR OF THEIR SITUATIONS? 7. WHEN...

“WASH YOUR HANDS”

ONE OF THE LEADING CAUSES OF GERMS BEING SPREAD IS PEOPLE NOT WASHING THEIR HANDS OFTEN ENOUGH. THE COMMON COLD, FLU AND MOST INFECTIOUS DISEASES COULD BE GREATLY REDUCED IF PEOPLE ONLY WASHED THEIR HANDS. NO ONLY DO WE NOT WASH OUR HANDS OFTEN ENOUGH, WE DON’T WASH THEM PROPERLY. STUDIES REVEAL ONLY 5% OF US WASH PROPERLY, WETTING OUR HANDS THOROUGHLY, THEN ADDING SOAP AND CLEANING EVERY AREA…PARTICULARLY THE TIPS OF THE FINGERS AND UNDER THE FINGERNAILS FOR A MINIMUM OF 20 SECONDS BEFORE RINSING. ONE NEWS STORY SUGGESTED, IN ORDER TO WASH LONG ENOUGH, SING THE ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ SONG TWICE AS AN ESTIMATE OF HOW LONG YOU NEED TO WASH YOUR HANDS. I WAS TELLING MY ASSISTANT OF THE NEWS STORY AND SHE TOLD ME SHE HAD HEARD OF PRAYING THE ‘LORD’S PRAYER’ WHILE WASHING YOUR HANDS. HER TIMETABLE PRAYER OF THE ‘LORD’S PRAYER’ IS MUCH BETTER THAN THE NEWS REPORTER’S IDEA. IMAGINE; YOU CAN CLEAN YOUR HANDS AND HEART AT THE SAME TIME! JESUS TOLD US IN MATTHEW 6: 5-15 OF HOW WE SHOULD PRAY. VERSES 9-14 ARE SAID TO BE THE MOST PRAYED VERSES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. “PRAY, THEN, IN THIS WAY: ‘OUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME. YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD. AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US. AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL. FOR YOURS IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY FOREVER. AMEN.’“ MATTHEW 6:9-14 DO YOU PRAY...

“I AM SORRY!”

“BUT ZACCHAEUS STOOD UP AND SAID TO THE LORD, ‘LOOK, LORD! HERE AND NOW I GIVE HALF OF MY POSSESSIONS TO THE POOR, AND IF I HAVE CHEATED ANYBODY OUT OF ANYTHING , I WILL PAY BACK FOUR TIMES THE AMOUNT.'” LUKE 19:8 NIV READ: EXODUS 22: 7-9 AND LUKE 19: 1-9 WHEN YOU SAY YOU ARE SORRY, YOU SHOULD MEAN IT FROM THE BOTTOM OF YOUR HEART. HOW DO YOU TELL SOMEONE YOU ARE SORRY FOR MISSPOKEN WORDS OR WRONGFUL ACTIONS? MANY TIMES WE MAY SIMPLY IGNORE THE TRUTH OF WHAT WE HAVE SAID OR DONE AND HOPE IT WILL GO AWAY. IGNORING OUR HURTFUL WORDS OR WRONGFUL ACTIONS COULD ONLY MAKE THE SITUATION ESCALATE, CAUSE THE FAILURE OF A FRIENDSHIP OR DIVIDE FAMILIES. IF WE HARM SOMEONE WITH WORDS OR ACTIONS, WE NEED TO TAKE VERY SINCERE CORRECTIVE ACTIONS IMMEDIATELY. THERE ARE FOUR STEPS TO CORRECT A WRONG. 1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE SITUATION. UNDERSTAND THE HARM YOU CAUSED SOMEONE ELSE BY YOUR WORDS OR ACTIONS. CLEARLY GRASP THE HARM THAT YOU CARELESSLY OR UNINTENTIONALLY CAUSED. A LACK OF SINCERITY AT THIS FIRST STEP CAN DESTROY YOUR ATTEMPT TO SAY “I AM SORRY” FROM THE HEART. 2. BE REMORSEFUL AND ACCEPT FULL RESPONSIBILITY. BY UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU MAY HAVE SAID OR DONE, YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THAT THE MISSPOKEN WORDS OR ACTIONS WERE NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ANYONE BUT YOU. 3. OFFER AN IMMEDIATE, SINCERE APOLOGY. DON’T ALLOW THE HURT TO WORSEN OR THE SITUATION TO BECOME MORE DIFFICULT OR TENSE THAN IT ALREADY IS. THE SOONER YOU SAY “I AM SORRY”, THE BETTER. 4. MAKE FULL RESTITUTION. RESTITUTION DOES...

“FORGIVENESS”

SOMETIMES WE FEEL OTHERS NEED TO FORGIVE US. WE CAN FEEL SO WRONGED AND SO HURT, WE OFTEN DEMAND THEIR FORGIVENESS. AS OTHERS HAVE WRONGED US, WE CAN CARRY THE BURDEN. FORGIVENESS CAN BE A TWO WAY STREET. IS THERE SOMEONE YOU NEED TO FORGIVE? LAST YEAR OR IN YEARS PAST, WHO HAS WRONGED YOU? HAVE YOU FORGIVEN THEM OR ARE YOU CARRYING THE WEIGHT OF WAITING TO FORGIVE THEM? THERE IS NO REASON TO WAIT ANY LONGER. JUST AS YOU EXPECT TO BE FORGIVEN, OTHERS DESERVE YOUR SPECIAL ATTENTION IN FORGIVING THEM. IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, IT IS A HUGE ONE WAY STREET. WE HAVE A PERFECT GOD WHO CANNOT DO ANY WRONG. SINCE GOD IS PERFECT, THERE IS NEVER A NEED TO FORGIVE HIM. THE ONE WAY STREET WITH GOD IS HIS FORGIVING US. WE STUMBLE AND FALL IN DISOBEDIENCE DAILY…SOMETIMES SEVERAL TIMES IN A DAY. NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES WE FAIL, GOD DOES NOT KEEP COUNT. GOD FORGIVES US. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU BEEN FORGIVEN IN YOUR LIFE FOR GOING AGAINST GOD’S DESIRES FOR YOU? THINK BACK. IF YOU ARE LIKE MOST OF US, THE INTENTIONAL SINS AND THE UNINTENTIONAL INDISCRETIONS ARE PROBABLY IN THE THOUSANDS OR TENS OF THOUSANDS OVER THE YEARS. EVEN AFTER OUR FAILING ALL OF THESE TIMES, GOD FORGIVES. WE ARE STILL HIS CHOSEN TO SPEND ETERNITY WITH HIM IN HEAVEN AND ALL HE ASKS IS TO TRUST AND BELIEVE. IF GOD IS SO GENEROUS IN HIS FORGIVENESS, ISN’T IT TIME TO FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE WRONGED YOU? CAN YOU HEAR GOD TELLING YOU ON JUDGEMENT DAY; “I FORGAVE...