Bouncing Back

2 Corinthians 3:17 declares, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” I want to live in that freedom, but to do that I must be willing to let the Holy Spirit flow through me. I can’t afford to be satisfied. Just this morning I read 1Thessalonians 4 in my devotional. Paul recognized what the church in Thessalonica had done but he said, “I urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to do even more.” (vs. 1, NLT)

Will I allow past failures to take me out, to get me off purpose? In 2Corinthians 4:1, Paul says, “We do not lose heart.” I like the way the New Living puts it: “We never give up.”

When our children were small they loved to play with Weebles. These are little plastic characters with rounded bottoms. No matter how many times you knocked them down, they pop right back up. Their motto; “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” I think we can take a lesson from the Weeble: when we fail, get back up. Bounce back.

There are many examples in the world of those who bounced back:
• Bill Gates failed in his first business venture, Traf-O-Data, but he went on to create Microsoft.
• Walt Disney was forced to declare bankruptcy early in his career.
• Albert Einstein was labeled slow learner in school.
• Winston Churchill failed the 6th grade.
• Elvis Presley was told to go back to driving a truck.
• The Beatles were told forget it, guitar music is on its way out.

Look at those in the Bible:
• Peter denied knowing Jesus but came back to be the leader of the early church.
• David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged to have her husband killed, but he repented and went on to be a great king.
• Moses fled into the desert after murdering an Egyptian. At 80 years old, it looked life his life was wasted, but he came back.
• Paul the apostle described his life in 2Corinthians 11:24-27 (NIV): “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” That would certainly be enough for most of us to give up. However, Paul’s reaction was recorded in 2Corinthians 4:8-9: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” No matter what the devil threw at him, he bounced back.

In my own life, I have had to make the choice to not let defeat stop me from becoming who God wanted me to be:
• Our senior pastor died of cancer in his mid-50’s.
• At age 54, I was laid off from a company I had worked at for 22 years.
• Our son Paul and his fiancé Amy were killed by a drunk driver.

No matter how many times I am knocked down, I will get back up. Proverbs 24:16 says, the righteous may fall 7 times but rise again. I will fall; it’s going to happen. It is a reality of life. We must decide if we will hit bottom like an egg and lie there broken and defeated, will we bounce back to the same level only to repeat the same cycle or will we use that failure to launch into new heights, new challenges, new dreams? Character means I get back up. Proverbs 24:10 warns that to fail in time of adversity means my strength is small. If I am to stand, I must prepare beforehand.

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Let’s learn how to bounce back:
1. Recognize failure is not my destiny. Colossians 3:10 tells us we are created in the image of God. Is God a failure? I need to discover who I am in Christ. 2Timothy 1:7 promises God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. 1John 5:4 tells me I am born of God and therefore I can overcome whatever the devil puts in my path. My destiny is to overcome, to bounce back.
2. Keep a right perspective. Faith sees opportunity where the world sees problems. In the Old Testament, Joseph went through years of slavery and prison, but ultimately God lifted him up to a place of leadership. In Genesis 50:20, he tells his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God intended for good.” Romans 5:3-5 says, “Not only this, but Gill also rejoices in his sufferings, knowing that suffering works perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope: and hope doesn’t disappoint Gill, because God’s love has been poured out into his heart through the Holy Spirit who was given to Gill.” What is the right perspective with regards to trials? James 1:2 gives the answer, “Count it all joy”.
3. 100% committed. “I’ll try.” means you will take the first exit that comes along. “Guess it doesn’t work for me.” You weren’t committed. Luke 9:62 warns, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” When I was installing an underground sprinkler system in our home, I encountered one very large boulder. Could I let stop me? Could I afford to say, “Aw, I’ll just let that part of the lawn die.” Of course not. I dug around it. I must have the attitude toward God’s call that nothing will stop me. I don’t have a price. We have been married for 43 years. That only happened because we were 100% committed, no plan B. Divorce is not an option (murder perhaps?). “If she squeezes the toothpaste from the top one more time, I’m out of here.” “If he leaves his socks on the floor again, I’m done.” How silly. Commitment will rise above resistance. I have read that when a storm approaches, all other animals may hide, but the eagle heads into the storm. He uses the air currents to lift himself to higher levels. Commitment will cause us to soar.
4. Persistence. Have you heard, “By persistence the snail reached the ark.”? Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) encourages us, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Romans 8:37-39 promises, “No, in all these things, Gill is more than a conqueror through Him who loved him. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate Gill from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, Gill’s Lord.”
5. Be aware of the timing. My wife and I work weekly with a personal trainer. As I get more and more tired, I can look at the clock and encourage myself: “Less than 15 minutes to go, 4th quarter.” Let’s recognize that as Christians we are in the 4th quarter. It is time to sprint to the finish line. Ephesians 5:16 warns that we need to make the most of our time because the days are evil. How many drop out close to the finish? You might be right on the edge of your breakthrough. Edison tried over 1,000 filaments before he found one that worked. He said, “Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Let’s get a sense of urgency and finish strong.

Mat 24:13 promises that if we endure to the end, we will be saved. We don’t know when life’s defining moments will come, but if we establish a pattern of obedience, those moments will not catch us unprepared. Psalm 19:11 reminds us, “In obedience there is great reward.”

In my devotional recently I read 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT): “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” Focusing on what will last forever gives us the lift to bounce back.

Michael Jordan, one of the greatest professional basketball players of all time, was cut from his high school team. Michael Jordan spoke of his career: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.

What Voice Are You Listening To?

I had a ring tone on my phone, whenever my wife called I would hear, “Corinne’s calling. Better answer the phone. It’s Corinne!” I knew what voice was important for me to respond to. What voices are important in your life?

I read an anonymous quote, “Your future is determined by the voice you trust.”  How true. We must choose what voice we will listen to or the world will choose for us.

Psalm 1:1-3 says, “Gill is blessed because he doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor does he stand in the way of sinners, nor does he sit in the seat of scoffers; but Gill’s delight is in the Lord’s law. On His law Gill meditates day and night. Gill will be like a tree planted by the streams of water that brings forth fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither. Whatever Gill does shall prosper.”  The wicked, the sinner, the scoffer: those are all influences of the world trying to direct our thoughts and actions. But thoughts directed by the Word of God lead to stability, prosperity and freedom.

Galatians 6:7 warns us whatever we sow, we will reap. The law of cause and effect, action and reaction cannot be altered or bypassed. To change my harvest I must change the seed. My world is being created by what I plant.  I must recognize that every thought is a seed. What are TV commercials but a voice trying to influence my thoughts? Buy this beer and you will be popular. Buy this perfume and you will be attractive.

If I want to change my life, I first must change my thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” 1Peter 1:13 tells us to gird up our minds. That is roll up our sleeves and get to work. John Wooden, legendary basketball coach at UCLA said: “The choices you make, make you.”

Romans 12:2 commands us to renew our mind. I can direct my destiny by controlling my thoughts. Most people just let their thoughts go wherever they want. Where is that? Generally to negativity, self-pity, condemnation. God has a different plan.

Matthew 1 lists the genealogy of Jesus. In it are listed 42 generations from Abraham, 42 fathers. How many mothers? Five. In addition to Mary, there is Tamar (She gave birth to Perez after incest with Judah in Genesis 38.), Rahab (She was a Philistine prostitute from Jericho in Joshua 6), Ruth (She was from Moab, a foreigner in Ruth 1) and Bathsheba (She was also a foreigner, a Hittite in 2Samuel 11-12). All outsiders, rejected, second class, bottom of the food chain. Why are they specifically listed? I think it is so we can realize that God can take our mess and make greatness, regardless of the rejection by man.

2Corinthians 10:5 commands us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I must take responsibility for my thoughts. Will I control my thoughts or let my thoughts control me? By controlling my thoughts, I control my emotions, my attitudes, my actions and my destiny. What I continually think about will eventually manifest in my life.

We must choose between victor or victim. When our son was killed by a drunk driver, we were encouraged to join MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. That organization does some great work but we could not stay in an atmosphere that taught us we are victims. Deuteronomy 28:13 tells me I am the head and not the tail, above only not beneath.

Joshua 1:8 commands “This book of the law shall not depart out of Gill’s mouth, but he shall meditate on it day and night, that Gill may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then Gill shall make his way prosperous, and then Gill shall have good success.” The way I will change core values and thoughts is by repetition. When I first learned to drive, it was difficult to coordinate all the actions necessary plus stay aware of everything going on around me. Today it is second nature. When I learned to type, I had to be extremely focused. After years of practice, my fingers go automatically to the right keys. Repetition. Meditating on God’s Word, repetition will change our thoughts.

Circumstances have no control over my happiness. It is the attitude I assign to the circumstance that does. Several months ago, my wife came into the house crying and agitated. I asked, “What’s wrong?” She replied, “I wrecked my car.” “You seem to be all right. Just tell me what happened.” “I ran into your car!” Well, let me tell you, that changed my perspective. We cannot allow problems to dictate our mood. I think of the story of Paul and Silas in Acts 16. Here they were, beaten and bloody, in the darkest, smelliest depth of the prison. At midnight, what are they doing? Moaning and feeling sorry for themselves? No! They are singing and praising God. Sure an earthquake came and broke their bonds but that was after they had been singing. They didn’t know that was coming. They praised because they knew God and circumstances weren’t going to change that.

Casey Treat, pastor of Christian Faith Center in the Seattle area, said, “Your life will move in the direction of your dominant thoughts.” How I see myself determines the life I will experience. My life will never go too far beyond the picture of myself I hold inside. If I want a better life, I have to start with ME.

What has been tapping on the keyboard to my hard drive? Poor self image is like a virus in the operating system that leads to failure. I would never have started Bible publishing, I would never have gone into jail ministry, I would never have started writing, if I had let self-image rule.

What voice are you listening to?


“I’m so discouraged and hopeless.” or Jeremiah 29:11 “God has given me a future full of hope.”
“I’m such a failure.” or Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ.”
“I’m broke busted and disgusted. I guess God wants me poor.” or Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
“I’m an addict; I’ll always be an addict.” or John 8:36 “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”
“My family has left me. I feel so alone.” or Hebrews 13:5 “God will never leave me nor forsake me.”
“I’ll come to God when I get my act together.” or 2Cor. 5:21 “I  am the righteousness of God in Christ.”
“With my past, I’ll never be anything.” or Phil 3:13-14 “Forgetting what is behind, I press toward the goal.”
“Everyone’s against me.” or Romans 8:31 “If God be for me who can be against me.”
“I’m such a loser” or Romans 8:37 “I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me.”


Events happen in our lives. It might be physical, emotional or sexual abuse. It might be abandonment or betrayal. It might be ridicule by peers or rejection. And we create a story to explain those events, usually a destructive story placing blame on ourselves. It is time to rewrite the story. It is time to get God’s perspective, God’s thoughts.

Ephesians 4:24 commands us to put on the new man, that like God has been created in true righteousness and holiness. In Christ, I am new on the inside. 2Corinthians 5:17 promises we are new creations in Christ.

To succeed takes two things: discipline and perseverance:

  • Discipline: 2Timothy 2:3 tells us to be a good soldier of Christ. We must be willing to do the hard thing.
  • Perseverance: Hebrews 6:12 says that through faith and perseverance we will inherit the promise. Change doesn’t come easy but the end result is worth it.

Goliath mocked David in a battle of thoughts. What giant is calling out to you? What voice will you listen to?