Random Story for Summer

Kenneth was in junior high school and was excited and eager about participating in a day of Special Olympics events. While his parents watched expectantly from the stands, he ran and won the first race. He was proud of his ribbon and the cheers from the crowd.
He ran in the second race. Just at the finish line, when he again would have won, he stopped, then stepped off the track. His parents gently questioned him. “Why did you do that, Kenneth? If you had continued running, you would have won another race.”
Kenneth innocently replied, “But, Mom, I already have a ribbon. Billy didn’t have a ribbon yet.”

– Clifford and Jerie Furness, A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Another Second Chance Song

Today I was working on selecting the opening video for Sunday. I ran across this song by Rend Collective Experiment called Second Chance.

The lyrics:

My future hangs on this
You make preciousness from dust
Please don’t stop creating me

Your blood offers the chance
To rewind to innocence
Reborn, perfect as a child

CHORUS:
Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it’s where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven’s heart

When sin and ugliness
Collide with redemption’s kiss
Beauty awakens by romance

Always inside this mess
I have found forgiveness
Mercy as infinite as You

(Chorus)

BRIDGE:
Countless second chances
We’ve been given at the cross
Countless second chances
We’ve been given at the cross

Fragments of brokenness
Salvaged by the art of grace
You craft life from our mistakes

Black skies of my regrets
Outshone by this kindness
New life dawns over my soul

Summer

Before I moved to Alaska a Christian from here said this to me; “You need to understand that summers in Alaska are fast and furious and winters are long and furious.” I remember that statement every summer. I have now officially been in Alaska since June 14, 2009. That makes this my fifth summer here. And so far, every summer I am amazed at how quickly it goes. In just the last few days I have been clam digging, four-wheeling, metal detecting, doing yard work for myself and others, I have been to a cookout, spent time preparing for Pop Warner football, shopping at a farmer’s marker and a thousand other little things along with my normal weekly work. I can’t remember getting to sleep any night before 11:30 pm – no matter how early I get up.
Another phrase was taught to me my first summer here also; “I’ll sleep in the winter.” No one really means it, but it does capture the idea of using every single day to the fullest. If the weather is nice you had better not stay inside because it won’t last long. Summer is for enjoying every minute of sunshine that we have been given.
All of this has made me think of life in general. Each one of us is given a certain number of days and we had better use them. Only God knows when my days will be over and it might be soon, so I had better enjoy every possibly minute. I had better use it for God and for good. After all, it’s the Alaskan way!

Second Chance Song

I was listening to a random shuffle on my iPod and a song came up from a few years about by a rock group named Shinedown. The title of the song is “Second Chance.” Here is a portion of the lyrics:

My eyes are open wide
And by the way, I made it through the day
I watched the world outside
By the way, I’m leaving out today

I just saw Hayley’s comet
She waved
Said, “Why you always running in place?”
Even the man in the
Moon disappeared
Somewhere in the
Stratosphere

[Chorus]
Tell my mother,
Tell my father
I’ve done the best I can
To make them realize
This is my life
I hope they understand
I’m not angry, I’m just saying…
Sometimes goodbye
Is a second chance

It is a song about a boy leaving home after failure to get a second chance. The reality is, we may not need to leave our location to get a second chance but we may have to leave something behind. We may have to leave our addictions, our anger, our attitude, our fear or something.

The song is right. Sometimes Goodbye is a Second Chance.

Accepting Blame

One the biggest issues with my children is getting them to accept blame for their mistakes. Whenever they do something wrong they immediately want to blame it on one of their brothers. Those of you with children will certainly understand what I am saying.
I will look out my window and see one of my boys push another one of my boys. I will go out to find out what is going on and then the excuses begin. He called me a name. He pushed me first. He was making fun of me. And on and on.
Lately, it seems the first step in every argument is to get each person to accept responsibility for their actions.
I find that this is not only true with children, but it is more present and true with adults. We want to blame our spouse, our parents, our boss, our neighbors and everyone else for our actions.
I firmly believe that the first step to getting a second chance is for us to accept responsibility for our actions. To stand up and say, “I have failed.” To admit that we were 100% wrong in this situation.
You see, once I accept responsibility then I can experience forgiveness and be set free from guilt. Once I own up to my actions, I can let other people be set free from my anger and frustration. In accepting blame and responsibility we pave the road to have a second chance. Until then, we are captive to our own lies.
Once, one of my children (who will remain nameless) came into Michelle and I’s bedroom after bedtime. He was weeping bitterly and wanted to talk. He openly admitted a sin that he had committed. He was heartbroken and felt like he had let us down. He did not blame anyone else but simply admitted his guilt.
As a result, Michelle and I hugged him and kissed him and told him to never do it again. He felt better and we felt loved and respected. The situation could not have ended better even in an ugly time.
So today I say to you, go ahead – confess your sins and feel the power of freedom.
Admit it. You did it. And you can be forgiven. Praise God.

The Grind

Eight weeks ago I started a new hobby with my boys. We purchased a Fisher F2 Metal detector and started treasure hunting. It has been a great fun to search with my youngest three boys (Hunter doesn’t like it) for buried treasures of all types. During our first two months of hunting we have been able to find some rings, a watch, pins, ear rings, lots of change and numerous miscellaneous items. While we have been doing our detecting I have continued to run into people and have conversations with them about this hobby. I have noticed three common lines of discussion.

1. Many, many men say they have thought about metal detecting and just never got around to it. There is not a lack of interest in this, just a lack of people willing to step out and do it.

2. Numerous people who have never even held a metal detector in their hands have a suggestion on where I should do it. People will see me detecting and their first words are often, “You know where you should take that?”

3. Almost everyone wants to know if I have found any gold or rings or anything of great value.

All three of these have made me think of my walk of faith. They have a direct parallel to my encounters in faith.

1. Many people claim to believe in God, but have never done anything with it. They live with an idea of how nice it might be to have faith and the life it brings without ever trying it themselves.

2. Everyone seems to have a suggestion on how I could live better – even total non-Christians! “If I were a Christian I would take that Church and …” Have you heard this?

3. Everyone seems to be looking for a big act of faith. They want to go on a mission trip for a week. They want to do something daring. They want to be a part of a big miracle. In reality, I have seen the Christian life as more of working though a daily grind. For example, we have found one nice silver ring metal detecting but the rest of the money we have found one coin at a time. I have literally dug over 500 pennies alone. Big finds are nice and they are exciting, but they are not what usually happens. So far, my typical day is $3-5 in change over a couple of hours. Once in a while something big pops out of the ground, but mostly metal detecting is a grind of day to day looking.

Let me be clear – I do not mean any of this in a negative way. I simply believe that a great life of faith is usually not the result of some big event, but the culmination of daily work for God.