Moving Past Your Past

By Doug Fields

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–and I was the worst of them all. But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. The others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. –1 Timothy 1:15-16 (NLT)

I must confess–I don’t have a wild and raunchy past that would make for a best selling action movie. My history is fairly bland–not very colorful at all–pretty much beige with a few streaks of tan. Don’t get me wrong–I occasionally express a worldly “wild side.” Sometimes I’ll empty my shopping cart without returning it to its parking lot cage. And when I’m in my “mean mood” there are times I don’t recycle. While I might not have the sordid résumé of some, I know God clearly sees my very real sins.

So it’s obvious that I’m not Charles Manson Jr. … but, let’s be honest, most people aren’t. We’re not running from the law. We’re not hiding criminal records. We’ve never spent time in jail. We just do boring-sin stuff and do it over and over and over.
But, we’re still haunted by our pasts. Our present-day lives are checkered with memories of our poor decisions and actions. For all these things, we suffer guilt and that guilt is a roadblock to pursuing your best life now.

Take heart! The Bible is filled with men and women with rough pasts and yet God used them to make a difference in the world. There is no sin God can’t forgive. There is nothing you have done in your past that God can’t redeem. The straightforward encouragement here is to know that, if you’ve asked God for forgiveness, He has forgiven you. Remind yourself of this every day if need be, because God wants to use you.

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! –Psalms 32:1-2 (NLT)
 Do you know who wrote that? King David, who was an adulterer and murderer earlier in his life. King David truly understood forgiveness–and he called it a joy.

The joy of forgiveness should draw you closer to God, not keep you distant. If God has let go of your sins, now it’s your turn to let go of them. Stop reaching back into your past and pulling those sins out. You’ve got to move past your past…God has. Say this aloud, “My past is gone. Truly gone. Thank You, God!”


  1. Read and reflect on verses that talk about forgiveness (see “Further Reading” below.)
  2. Find someone you trust and talk to each other about your pasts in the spirit and attitude of James 5:16.


    1 John 1:9; Romans 8:1, Psalm 103:12, James 5:16

Saving the Tadpoles

By Leslie Snyder

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. –2 Peter 3:8

There is a story of a man who was walking down a dirt road. It had been a rainy week, but with the sun overhead, it was now hot and steamy. Small pools of water remained in the grooves of the dirt road, but most were evaporating quickly. The man’s attention was drawn to a small pool of water. In it were hundreds of tadpoles furiously fighting for life. Overcome by compassion, he looked around for something to put them into. He found a small container and scooped out as many as he could with the intention of transferring them into a nearby pond. Satisfied with his plan, he headed toward the pond. On the way, however, he stumbled, fell and dropped the container with its precious cargo. The tadpoles spilled onto the ground, wiggled in the dirt and died.

This story isn’t too far from our own. God saw us struggling, fighting furiously for life, dying in our sins. Unless someone had enough compassion to free us, there was no hope for escape. Freedom came in the hands of Jesus. His invitation to follow Him, trust Him and believe in Him would bring salvation. And unlike the story of the man and the tadpoles, we can trust Jesus to hold us close to His heart and never fear an unfortunate ending.

2 Peter 3:8 reminds us of the fact that the Lord is patient and His desire is that no one will die in their sins. His desire is that all will come to repentance. Are there people in your life who need to hear this promise? Maybe you’ve stopped praying for someone who seems out of God’s reach. Be encouraged. God is faithful and His timing is sure. Be diligent, pray daily, and trust God to fulfill His word.


Make a list of 5 people who need Jesus. Pray for them daily and for opportunities to share the truth of God’s love with them.


John 3:16; Romans 3:23-24; Romans 5:8


By Leslie Snyder

There is a time to weep and a time to laugh. — Ecclesiastes 3:3a
One of our family’s favorite songs is from the musical, Mary Poppins. “I Love to Laugh” is sprinkled with laughter and often begins a contagious wave of the giggles. The lyrics give a bit of insight into this silly gift of laughter:

When things strike me as funny
I can’t hide it inside
And squeak – as the squeakelers do
I’ve got to let go with a ho-ho-ho…
And a ha-ha-ha…too!
We love to laugh
Loud and long and clear
We love to laugh
So ev’rybody can hear
The more you laugh
The more you fill with glee 
And the more the glee
The more we’re a merrier we!
It’s getting worse every year.*

Some think that Jesus was always serious, that He never laughed. It is true, that it is never recorded in the gospel accounts that Jesus laughed. Still, Jesus knew the Scriptures. He knew the passage from Ecclesiastes, that there is “a time to laugh.” In Luke, chapter 10, after Jesus has sent out 72 of His followers on a mission and they had returned and given their report, we read, “And he (Jesus) said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning…’ At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, I praise you Father…” In my own mind, I don’t see it a stretch to envision Jesus laughing.

Recent statistics share that laughter peaks at the age of four, meaning that four-year-old children laugh more than they will at any other age. Statistics also reveal the healing power of laughter. Laughter decreases stress, releases natural mood-lifting endorphins, fights off depression, and strengthens the body. It is also a gift from God and music to his ears. So, whether you are four, 40, or 94, or whether you snicker, tee-hee, or enjoy a full-belly laugh, find time today to laugh.


1. How is your sense of humor? When was the last time you had a really good laugh?
2. How does laughter affect your life? How can it serve to strengthen your life as a Christ-follower?


Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 66:1; Isaiah 55:12; Galatians 5:22

*”I Love to Laugh”, lyrics by Sherman & Sherman

Learning to Say “No”

By Doug Fields

Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. –Jeremiah 6:16

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned during my journey as a Christian is summed up in two little words you’ve heard before: “yes” and “no.” Christians tend to use “yes” a lot, but “no“, not so much. I want to challenge you to say no more often so you can say yes to the things that matter most.

While saying no results in many personal benefits, it’s a difficult word for many Christians to utter because Christian culture values yes. We learn to say yes because we want to please others–it just seems so Christian–and we don’t want to let people down, risk others thinking less of us, or become the target of disappointment or anger.

Does this sound like you? Do you want people to really like you? Do you dwell on it when you learn someone is angry with you? Can you identify with the “logic” that says, “I am a Christian, I care about people, and I’m supposed to help others–so when asked I must figure out a way to say yes at all times?” If so, welcome to my club! Actually, I’m trying to cancel my membership and after many years of fighting, I’m almost out of the club. I think my speech goes something like this: “Hi. I’m Doug, and I’m addicted to busyness, people-pleasing, saying yes and the belief that my busyness is a unique season that will soon end.” Okay, that’s me in pursuit of health and recovery. So, if this is you too, I know how difficult it is to read this and even consider adding more no’s to your responses.

Think about it: is busyness really getting you what you want–or need? In the end, busyness makes us feel important but cripples our relationships. Busyness feeds our egos, but ultimately starves our souls. Busyness fills our calendars, but fractures our families. And busyness props up our images but shrinks our hearts.

Is there a gnawing sense in your gut that you can’t keep up the pace–and in your heart-of-hearts you don’t want to? Good! Take a deep breath and let’s go after some hope. You may be at a crossroads in your life and learning to say no is exactly what you need. You need to learn to say no to the many good things and wonderful people so you’ll have space to say yes to God, yes to the important people in your life, yes to what matters most. So I want to challenge you now: in today’s Scripture, we read, “ask where the good way is, and walk in it…” In this case, the “good way” is saying no–have the courage to walk in it and find rest for your soul.

1. Do you say no enough? Why or why not?
2. What can you say no to this week that will enable you to say yes to something that matters most?

1 Corinthians 6:12

Redeeming Rejection

By Doug Fields

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. –2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Growing up, I was lousy at telling jokes. But, I love to laugh. I love teaching with humor–my thought is that tough truth always goes down a lot easier when the congregation’s mouths are open. So, about fifteen years ago, I took a stand-up comedy class hoping to improve my skills. The first four weeks we developed and practiced a routine, and then we had to perform a fifteen-minute set at the Improv–a local comedy club full of real, live people who weren’t our classmates.

I must admit, on the night of the big show…I completely bombed!

People started booing after my first few jokes. They totally rejected me. So, I stopped and started and stumbled through my whole routine–everything I had so carefully crafted–and I still had ten minutes to go. Even people closest to me said things like, “Yeah, Doug, that was rough.” It was one of the most humiliating moments of my life.

But do you know what the experience did for me? It made me more compassionate. If you want to try anything risky in your life, invite me along–I’ll be there to cheer you on! (And I promise not to boo!) I have a huge heart for anyone who does anything on stage in front of other people. I know how hard it can be. You can bet I won’t reject you.

There’s something that happens whenever you take that which has been rejected and broken in you and offer it to others in the form of compassion and understanding. This is the type of love that can change and help other people and open their hearts to the ways of God.

God is in the business of redeeming rejection for His glory. He can make all things new! Our part is to cooperate with His plan. Our own rejection can empower us to be more compassionate to the sources of our rejection. We can see them through God’s eyes. The rejection loses its power over us. We can then be tools in God’s hands to heal the pain of others’ rejection. And isn’t this what you want to be–someone God can use to heal others?


1. Who has or is rejecting you? To whom do you need to offer compassion?
2. How might feeling and expressing compassion to this person help redeem your rejection?


Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 3:8

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