1. Abundant Life

Many men would love to lead the life of Sean Connery. Tall, handsome, and dashing, Connery played the glamorous part of 007 in six James Bond movies. Connery travels the world to shoot movies in places as exotic as equatorial Africa or the Orient. In addition to acting, Connery works as the executive producer of films, a position of considerable power.

Yet when asked in an interview why, at age sixty-two, he continues to act, Connery gave a surprising reply: "Because I get the opportunity to be somebody better and more interesting than I am."

Many people feel like Connery. Their lives aren't all that they could be. They aren't as good as they should be. Something is missing that even glamorous acting roles cannot fulfill.

Only Christ makes a person's life what it can be, should be, and must be.

Topics: Christlikeness, Salvation

John 10:10

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2. Acceptance

In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Doug Cumming writes:

Lonnie J. Edwards, a physical-education instructor... was explaining square-dancing to his fifth-grade class at Hooper Alexander Elementary School in DeKalb County, Georgia. As he called the children to their places, boy-girl, boy-girl, Nancy, a little redheaded girl, said she was not coming. She started to cry and walked away, carrying a towel over her hands.

Edwards approached the twelve-year-old child cautiously. With her back to the other students, Nancy privately revealed why she couldn't possibly hold hands with boys: she had been born with only her pinkies and two partial fingers. Amazingly, she had hidden her deformity from teachers—she was able to hold a pencil—but the students knew about it and were cruel to her.

Gathering himself, Edwards said, "Nancy, we can't do anything about this problem, but I can help you overcome it and become the best you can be. Now I want you to hold your head up. From this moment on, you will no longer use this as a limitation."

Slowly, Nancy gave him the towel, which he never returned. Four days later Edwards began the square dance as Nancy's partner. Soon all the children seemed willing—even eager—to touch Nancy's hands.

That was in 1971. Over the next two years, Edwards continued to encourage her.

Today, Nancy Miller, thirty-eight, can do almost anything she sets her mind to, including play the piano and type about sixty-five words a minute. Married, she lives in Orlando with her husband and four children....

"I grew up because of one man," Miller says.

Do you know someone crippled by shame? In the presence of others, be the first to show you accept that person. Acceptance is a precious gift we all can give others.

Topics: Community, Love, Shame

Matt. 8:1-4; Rom. 15:7

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3. Acceptance

According to the Chicago Tribune, on Monday, August 26, 1996, tragedy struck a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, family. Two boys found their twelve-year-old brother Samuel dead in their yard. He had hanged himself from a tree. Beneath the tree were a step stool and a flashlight.

There was little mystery about what had provoked Samuel to end his life. Samuel had a weight problem, and this would have been his first day at a new school. He had told his family that he was nervous about going to school because he was afraid of the teasing that would likely come from the other children.

There are few things more painful than shame. One of the great kindnesses we can do for others is to take away their false shame through acceptance and affirmation.

Topics: Affirmation, Appearance, Cruelty, Fear, Humiliation, Insults, Mocking, Peer Pressure, Shame, Suicide, Youth

Ps. 34:4-5; Rom. 15:1-7; 1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 12:2

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4. Accountability

On February 26, 1995, Barings, the oldest bank in Britain, announced it was seeking bankruptcy protection after losing nearly one billion dollars in a stock gamble. At the time Barings went under, the bank held assets for Queen Elizabeth, some $100 million according to Time magazine.

In late 1994, the chief trader at Barings's Singapore office began betting big on Japan's Nikkei market. Then disaster struck. An earthquake hit Kobe, Japan, and on January 23, 1995, the Nikkei plunged more than one thousand points.

Barings Bank lost big money. But instead of cutting his losses, Barings's Singapore trader doubled his investment, apparently hoping that the Nikkei would rebound. It didn't. As the Nikkei continued to plummet, Barings's London office put up nearly $900 million to support its falling position on the Singapore investments. Finally Barings ran out of capital and declared bankruptcy.

How could one twenty-eight-year-old trader in Singapore lose nearly a billion dollars and ruin a 233-year-old British bank? According to Time, the problem was lack of supervision.

London allowed [the Singapore trader] to take control of both the trading desk and the backroom settlement operation in Singapore. It is a mix that can be—and in this case was—toxic.... For a trader to keep his own books is like a schoolboy getting to grade his own tests; the temptation to cheat can be overwhelming, particularly if the stakes are high enough.

Without accountability, temptation becomes all the more tempting. Accountability protects us from ourselves.

Topics: Deception, Integrity, Management, Risk, Temptation

Prov. 4:26; 10:9; 14:8; 2 Cor. 8:21; Eph. 5:21

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5. Acknowledging God

In World Christian, John Huffman describes one unforgettable moment with his daughter. He had been away from home for several weeks on an overseas missions trip. When his airplane landed, he could hardly wait to see his wife and four children, but he and the other passengers were detained in customs for two hours. Finally the customs officials allowed Huffman to proceed to the lobby, where hundreds of people were anxiously waiting for family and friends. Huffman writes:

There was such a press of bodies, I knew I would not be able to pick my children out until I walked up the ramp, past security, and got out into the open. But my three-year-old daughter, who had managed to squeeze her way to the front of the crowd, began screaming at the top of her lungs, "Daddy! Daddy! That's my daddy!" She must have shouted that at least five times, when suddenly she broke free from the crowd, and bolted past the security guards, still yelling, "Daddy! Daddy! That's my daddy!" She literally flew into my arms and began kissing and hugging me. What a welcome! I have never felt so loved and acknowledged in my life. It was a wonderful, fulfilling moment that even today brings a warm and happy feeling.

That, says John Huffman, is what God feels like when we acknowledge him in worship.

Topics: Children, God the Father, Worship

John 4:23-24

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