Pastor's Pen
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April 12, 2016, 2:58 PM

You Can Come Back From.............




You Can Come Back From …


   The cartoon was “Dennis the Menace.”  The scene is bed-time prayers. He’s kneeling. He has his hands folded. He’s looking heavenward. He has on his pajamas, cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and his six-shooter is strapped to his side.  The caption under the cartoon reads: “I’m here to turn myself in.”

   Have you ever felt like Dennis? Here is a painfully powerful word. It is the word: Failure. I would imagine that most of us reading this article have somewhere in life faced academic failure, or spiritual failure, or moral failure! Failure is a word that has the power to turn us red inside and outside.  The game was over. The roaring stadium was now silent, empty of fans. The coach entered the locker room. Helmets down on the floor, jerseys pulled off and piled in a wash bin.

“I just want you boys to know that I am real proud of the way you played this night,” he said. “Real proud. We didn’t win, but we did prove to a lot of people what we could do. It was a moral victory.”

   On the way out, a lineman turned to the quarterback and asked, “What’s a moral victory?” The quarterback said, “It’s what a coach tells you when you lose the game. It’s what a coach says to a team when he knows it’s his last season. It’s not who won or lost, but how well they played the game.”  Vince Lombardi

 was right: “Show me a guy who really believes all that stuff about failure not being failure and I’ll show you someone who has played too long without a helmet.”

   Failure … it’s that sinking emptiness in the stomach when you look down the list of grades on the exam. There are your initials, at the bottom.  Failure! You know, the Bible is full of people who fail. That tells us two things about the Bible. Number one, God inspired it. If you or I had been writing it, we would have covered up all those failures!  It also tells us that the God who wrote this Book is a God of grace. It is just a blessed reality that God works with broken and wounded people.

  Take what happened to Peter before the resurrection of Jesus and after the resurrection.

Before, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. And following the resurrection, when Jesus met the disciples on the sea shore, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me …” “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you”.” Then three times, Jesus told Peter “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-19). Peter had a problem and Jesus was there to help him get over it by forgiving him.

   I asked a counselor once, “How long does it take somebody to get over a problem?” His answer, “About as long as they take to get in.” Three times Peter failed, three times Jesus asked, “Do you love me?” I hope you can believe with me that God is more interested in where you’re going than where you’ve been! You can come back from failure and become so well that you bring glory to God even by how you live in the now and in the future.

   Failure is a painfully powerful word. But could I suggest a more powerful word … forgiveness. I believe that the most therapeutic idea in the world is the forgiveness of sins. Trust in Jesus.

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at:



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