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Even to a non-movie watcher like me, the headline takes my thoughts directly to the Bill Murray movie that came out in 1993. In the film Murray is a cynical TV weatherman who keeps reliving Groundhog Day while on assignment in Punxsutawney. I am not sure that I have ever seen the movie all the way to the end ... that is, if it has an ending.

Last night I felt like I was having a similar experience. Law and Order was on TV, and I was on the couch. Mid-episode I fell asleep. When I woke up, the same episode was just about to start. About 20 minutes into the show, I decided to take a short walk. When I got back ... you guessed it, the same episode was just about to start once again! About 20 minutes later I went to bed. I have not yet turned the TV on this morning.

At this moment you may be experiencing what Bill Murray and I both experienced: a good deal of frustration as you are being taken back to the same starting point as last Thursday! Yet, I tell you, that pattern in our lives in Christ is very enriching. You see, every time we mess up, or rebel, or wander off path, Jesus comes to us and carries us back to the same starting point. As he does so, he speaks to you and me the same gracious words, "I love you. I forgive you. You are mine." We start over with a clean slate, motivated and encouraged by his behavior toward us to be more loving and gracious - more positive - in our thoughts and behavior.

The new behavior/thoughts pattern goes something like this: "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS; AGAIN I SAY rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4.4-9)

We try to do this. We give it our best effort, yet over and over again we fail. But, Jesus is with us, no mater what, repeating the same story line ... the TRUE story line. He picks us up and starts us over with those same gracious and encouraging words, "I love you. I forgive you. You are mine."

And, you know what, this pattern is something for which we can "rejoice in the Lord always." And we start to realize that in the "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise" idea, the "whatever" is Jesus - the one who over and over and over again ... in greater repetition than Phil Connors ever experienced (even if the film does not end) ... whispers into our aching ears, "I love YOU. I forgive YOU. YOU are mine."

This perfect trifecta is yours ...ALWAYS ... in Christ Jesus.

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