An Eight Track Mind

Do you remember eight track tapes?

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I won’t even try to remember what year it was, but I do remember the day that the furniture store delivered our new console entertainment system! It had an FM receiver, a turn table and (wait for it) an eight track tape player!

Even more exciting than the technological wonder before me, the store had left a demo tape in the player, Jimmi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsies – SCORE! A bonus Janice Joplin tape was discovered in the storage area.

Have patience, I’m a pastor and you know the spiritual application is coming!

A couple weeks ago when my pastor was speaking about how memories were recorded like cassette tapes in our minds. I chuckled and thought, “For some of us its more like eight track tapes.”

That kicked off a flood of thoughts about how old and hurtful memories are like a box full of eight track tapes kept in the attic. We don’t really know why, but every once in a while we climb up, pull one out and play it.

Most of the time what we keep in the box is worthless and there is no real benefit to getting that stuff out. Here’s why.

Like a box full of eight track tapes:

I. Hurtful Memories Are Outdated

The only thing that can be listened to on eight track tapes are oldies. What is on the tape has been played over and over again until it has worn out. Nothing new has been recorded on eight tracks in many years.

Most of the memories that hurt us are oldies. We have rehearsed them over and over, sometimes for years. The problem is, unlike a tape that eventually wears out, these memories will play over and over until they wear us out.

The burden, the pain, and the guilt can weigh on us emotionally, physically and spiritually.

II. Hurtful Memories Are Expensive

ET1An eight track tape can only be played at great expense. There is only one way to play them and that is on technology that is 40 years old.

If you can find an eight track player in good working condition it is probably worth more that its original cost.

When we pull a hurtful memory from our box in the attic, we do so at great expense. If we allow our thoughts to drift to a hurt from years ago, it can cost us our present and corrupt our future.

It’s amazing the high price we are willing to pay to hold onto our memories.

We make the decision how high a price we are willing to pay.

III. Hurtful Memories Are Poor Quality

At this point in time, any eight track tape is over 40 years old. Over time, the magnetic tape that holds the recording begins to break down and stretch.

As a result the recording (not that great to begin with) becomes distorted. Eventually the tape will become inaudible or break. If you were there, you remember splicing tapes!

The more we replay harmful memories the more they deteriorate in quality. As the facts become more and more distorted we tend to splice in our own interpretation of what happened.

We add to and embellish the story. We demonize the people involved. Eventually the story has little resemblance to the original event.

Because we are sinners born into a broken sinful world, we have all been provided with a box full of old hurtful memories. Most of us struggle not to replay them over and over every day.

How can we break the cycle?

Discipline Your Thoughts – you are the only one that can load the tape.

A counselor once said, “We must learn to speak to ourselves rather than listening to ourselves.” When the distorted, outdated, hurtful thoughts begin to play, speak truth to yourself about how God sees you and loves you.

Focus On Better Things – this verse is a great example for us, Philippians 4:8

Work Hard To Forgive – Most of the hurtful memories we have are effective against us because we refuse to forgive someone who has hurt us. The tape will always be in the box, but when we truly forgive, we have nothing to play the tape on.

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Which of the three steps above can you take today, to stop replaying hurtful memories.

If this has been a help to you please share it with your network or leave a comment below.

Kinks In My Hose

“And we guarantee it will work!” The only words less believable are, “We are going to lower your taxes!”

Most of us have experienced the frustration of spending good money on a product, only to have it fall short of it’s promised performance?

A wise man once said, “You get what you pay for.” Two years ago I bought a cheap garden hose to use in my back yard. This hose was a pain. When I rolled it up, it developed so many kinks that it folded more than it rolled.

The kinks made the simple job of watering flowers much more difficult than it needed to be. It took longer to get the water flowing through the hose than it took to water the flowers.

The next year I spent the extra money for a hose that was “guaranteed” not to kink. You guessed it, the hose kinked because… of course it did!

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I was convinced that the kinkless hose had worked fine for everyone in the world but me!

It works for everyone but me! Have you ever felt that way about your relationship with God?

  • We believe that prayer only works for select few. Most of us know “that person” who when they ask God for a blessing, God replies, “Here take two!”
  • Or we believe that the good parts of the Bible only apply to highly favored individuals.
  • Have you ever felt that God loves everyone but you? I say that jokingly (but not really).

Deep down we know these things are not true, but sometimes when our lives are filled with kinks, we feel that way!

Three things to remember when your life gets kinked up:

1. God Allows Kinks

Someone once wrote that, “There is nothing in life that touches us, until it has first passed through the hands of God.”

It’s kind of tough to accept, but it’s true, in Christ we can trust that the kinks that are there, are for our good.

If it were not for the kinks in life, would there be a time that we turn to Him alone for guidance, protection or provision?

Without the kinks God allows, our faith would cease to grow!

If we were transparent for a moment, how many times in the last week have your thoughts turned to God without some type of kink being involved?

2. God Uses Kinks

Sometimes God uses the kinks to move His people.

The persecution of the first church in Jerusalem would surely been viewed as a kink. But God used that kink to start a worldwide missions’ movement.

Ultimately, a kink is how we had the opportunity to hear the Gospel!

Many times what we see as trials (kinks), God is using as opportunities to move His plan forward.

3. God Limits The Kinks

God has promised not to let the kinks grow beyond what we can bear (I Corinthians 10:13).

He has also promised that when the floods of life threaten to overwhelm us, that He will be there to walk with us through the floods (Isaiah 43:2).

The kinks we are facing are temporal, they will not last forever. One day we will see and understand their benefit – the hard part of this sentence is – one day.

If God has allowed the kinks, can we trust that He is using them for His good and ours?

In I John 1:5 we read that in God there is “no darkness at all.” This means that as His children we have nothing to fear from God. How different would things be if instead of doubting God because of the kinks, we worked at praising Him for the work He is doing through them?

Kinks2Could we grow in our faith by seeing the kinks as evidence of His love for us as He brings us to trust Him more and more?

We can begin by praising Him for caring enough about us to allow a kink in our life!

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Does God Care How We Do Devotions?

Have you ever just wanted to punch someone in the face for going on and on about how wonderful their morning devotions were?

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It happens to most of us at some point. We get up with the best of intentions only to experience DGS (devotion guilt syndrome). DGS causes us to skip, or feel inadequate about our devotional time. We have heard the what, where, when and how message a million times, yet so often we choose to begin our day unequipped to face it.

Ever been there? Why does the thought of doing devotions seem so daunting to us?

·      Many simply don’t know how to go about it. After all, the thought of coming into the presence of God is an intimidating thing that you would not want to mess up.

·      Others feel like they are not properly equipped. If you are not a pastor how can you begin to understand those sixteen letter theological words and Old English phrases.

·      Some believe that devotions really do not make a difference (and they would be wrong).

·      The big one is, “I JUST DON’T HAVE TIME”, (they also would be wrong).

Just to be transparent, all the illustrations above have been true in my life at one point or another. Two quick thoughts and we will move on:

·      Work at being intentional. Set aside the time each morning (or evening). Set an alarm to get you up early or to remind you that it is time for some God time.

·      Accept the fact that there will be Devo2days that you have, Duhhhh Devotions. There will be mornings that you are exhausted, distracted or you are just not feeling it. Befaithful to push through those days. Those Duhhhh Days will often transform themselves into the best devotions.

One common question is, “What we do for devotions?”

Many people are intimidated by devotions because they feel they need four songs, a three-point message and an offering to be effective.

While everyone has an opinion about how to do devotions, in the end all that matters is that they are meaningful to us!

[bctt tweet=”Don’t develop devotions that are meaningful to others, develop something meaningful for you.” username=”michaelkduff”]

Let me share three quick devotion hacks for those with a crazy lifestyle.

1.     A Devotional Book

There are hundreds of resources out there that can spark your morning devotions. Most of us over 30 have encountered books like “Our Daily Bread” and “Days of Praise” which are still available today.

A daily devotional book that is set up for each day of the year is a great tool. I would suggest a book written in contemporary English for morning devotions because it requires less concentration on unfamiliar words. Remember, some mornings you will have the Duhhhh’s.

I am currently using Paul David Tripp’s book “New Morning Mercies“. Each day can be read in about 10 minutes and then it connects you to a related Scripture. It is an excellent resource.

2.   YouVersion

If you find yourself doing devotions on the fly (we know it happens) the YouVersion app is a valuable resource to have on your smart phone or tablet.

Devo4YouVersion provides many different Bible reading plans in many different versions of the Bible.

One added bonus is that many of the Bible versions can be listened to during drive time or at the gym. What’s wrong with strengthening body and soul at the same time?

3.     Social Media

While social media can have its negative side, it can also be a tremendous resource for devotional blogs, podcasts and webpages.

Many of these sites can set a spark that will get you into your Bible or listen to while getting ready for work.
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Some of these are “non-traditional”, but again the intent is not to develop devotions that are meaningful to others, but to develop something that works for and is meaningful for you.

Anything that will bring you closer to God on a daily basis is a great thing. The most important part of daily devotions is just doing it!

If this has been helpful to you, please share it with a friend. If you have a resource to add to the list above, please share it in the comments section of this page!