Have you ever heard your kids say, "I am Bored." With as many toys as we have today, it is still possible to get bored. Whether kids have a Wii, XBox, etc. they will still have more fun outside with sticks and rocks then all the toys you can throw at them. At least my boys are that way. They enjoy playing outside with their friends, but from time to time, they get bored. I have to admit, I also do the same thing. I tend to let myself be entertained by vegging in front of the tv.
When I look back on my childhood, I didn't watch much tv. Sure I would catch the occasional Chips and Airwolf when they aired, but for the most part, I was out building deer stands. I loved working with my hands and staying challenged. The older I get, the less active I get. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't we become more active and desire to stay in shape the older that we get. I have often thought that we live life backwards. It makes no sense to me how we work all of our lives, then just have a few years to retire. I think that we should go straight from college into retirement. Then we can work the last few years of our lives. I want to be able to enjoy life as I journey through it.
Since retirement at age 35 is not feasible and possible, then I guess I had better overcome boredom when it sets in and enjoy life. Facebook and Blogs won't give me back time that I could have spent with my wife and children. I hate when people tell me that they have a New Years resolution. It usually implies that they will do something different in January, then they forget about it. Some will attempt to get in shape in 2010, or maybe quit smoking. I intend to spend every waking minute that I have being as involved with my family as I possibly can. After all, if life throws a curve ball at me, I want to be in shape in order to dodge that ball. Stay Active...
For many people, this is a fun and enjoyable time of the year. They get to go home for Christmas and New Years and spend time with their loved ones. They dress up in comfortable warm clothes, snuggle around the fire, and sing Christmas Carols while the fireplace crackles. There is eggnog and cookies in the shape of spruce trees, and misteltoe hangs from door frames while the lights twinkle outside. There are special services at church and wardrobes just waiting to adorn all the little ones. Have you ever wondered if everybody experiences this?
The blatant answer is NO. Not everbody has such an adorable, fun-filled, happy-laced, experience the last two weeks of the year. It is no secret that domestic disputes increase during the Holidays, as do thoughts of divorce. Many people struggle with Rejection in life from their childhood and upbringing. Those same people tend to bring it into marriage and their adult years as well. For many, Christmas time comes and SMACK dab hits them in the face, as if it was a rogue snowball tossed out of no where.
I have several friends that have gotten divorced this year. Do you think that Christmas will be enjoyable for them? Probably not. It evokes emotions like never before. Many will long and hunger for brighter times in their lives.
I have several friends that have lost loved ones this year. Do you think that Christmas will be enjoyable for them? Probably not. They will be reminded of what WAS and not IS. It is hard not to yearn for having things back the way they were prior to losing a loved one. All of the good memories from the past flash before their eyes.
Many people did not experience a very good childhood. Some were beaten, abused, and neglected. The Holiday's tend to dredge up bad memories from the past, that they would rather leave buried somewhere in the depths of their mind.
Just because retail marketers tell you that it is a Happy-Joyous occasion, does not mean that it is to all. I challenge each one of you (myself included) to be sensitive to others lives and what they might be experiencing. They more than likely are not going to come out and tell you that they are stuggling with being filled with joy this season, but you might be quick to call them a "Scrooge" or "Bah Humbug." Let's try drilling down a little deeper with others emotions this Christmas season, and show them the Grace and Mercy that Christ portrayed to us...
As I type this Blog, I mourn as a friend of the family just passed away with cancer. She was 37 years old, and left behind a loving husband and two beautiful boys. Why do bad things like this happen to good people? There is no answer for this. We understand and acknowledge the curse of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. We understand that there will be heartache and sorrow until our Lord returns, but does it make it any easier to grasp? Absolutely not. Last year my wifes aunt departed from this earth at the age of 49 as she lost her battle with cancer.
What is Grief? According to Websters, it is defined as a "Deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement, or a cause of such suffering." We suffer and grieve in life! That is the simple fact, but not easy to grasp or understand. I am not sure that we are built to understand or know grief, yet we are surrounded by it. It was obviously not God's plan in the Garden that Grief would be a part of the process of life. Now it is.
Isaiah 35:10 (ESV) says, "And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
Revelation 21:4 (ESV) says,"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
I don't know about you, but I am ready to Mourn No More. I am so worn out and tired of seeing hurting people that are so distraught with heartache and pain. The one thing that lifts me up, is when I see Believers in Jesus Christ, that allow their testimony to be used for the good of others. This family friend not only fought the good fight, but she finished the race with Pride in her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To imagine the seeds of hope that she planted in the hearts of nurses, doctors, and friends is almost unimaginable.
Prayer: "Lord Jesus, although it is not easy to understand why bad things happen to good people, we know that we have to have faith in you. We know that You long for the day to wipe the tears from our eyes, and replace sorrow and mourning with JOY. So even though we can't comprehend everything at this point, it is our prayer that you fill us so full of your Holy Spirit's power in order to be our Guide through this life. We ask all of this in Jesus' mighty name. AMEN!"
Trust is a finicky thing. Some say trust has to be earned, yet others say that trust is a decision. This brings up a good point as to what is one of life's foundational beliefs. Do I have to have faith that the air that I breathe is going to provide life to my lungs, or do I just put the act of inhaling and exhaling into motion. Trust is sometimes substituted in peoples conversations and thought patterns as synonomous with Faith.
If I trust somebody that is holding a belay line while I am rappelling down a mountain face, then I am putting my life in their hands. Obviously, I trust them with my life. If I board an airplane to fly to Florida, then I also am trusting the airline pilot with my life. Each of these acts can be one time events for me that do not require earning trust. The moment of decision is instantaneously made when I decide to put my life in their hands. I do not interview the pilot ahead of time to see how many hours he has flying a 737. I also do not request the same pilot the next time I fly. So if this is the case, then how is trust lost, and can it only be gained back through the other party earning it?
I was talking with somebody today who shared how their spouse had had an affair. She said that she didn't trust him, and that it might take a lifetime to "Earn" his trust back. I am 100% against divorce, but it is no wonder in our society that we have such a high rate of infidelity and divorces. Once the act of losing trust is lost, then people are not willing to do what it takes to get that trust back. Please understand that I am not saying that infidelity is the only way to lose trust. I have known people that have run up credit cards behind their spouses back without them knowing. Others have had gambling addictions, golf obsessions, etc...
The question that arises is simple. Is Trust a decision or something that you have to Earn. Isaiah 26:4 says, "Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock." Man will fail you, but God is a solid rock. Houses fall, but God remains standing. If I can't earn God's Grace, but rather I have to accept it as a free gift through Faith, then shouldn't Trust be the same way in our lives?
How many times have we seen God's creation manifested to us? Every Single Day!!! It does not take a rocket scientist to see God's creation in everything around us and in everything that we do. With that being said, how many of us have fallen in love with God's creation, rather than the creator. At first glance, it might appear that I am talking about relationships with fellow humans. That might be the case, but what do you adore in life that you elevate above Christ?
Many people worship their material possessions, work, and everything that they feel they have "earned." The truth is that it is just wood, hay, and stubble that can be burned up at any moment. God made us for one sole purpose, and that is to worship Him. We get so bogged down with our toys in life, that we forget what is important, and that is our relationship with our Creator. Because He can not be seen or physically touched, we tend to fulfill ourselves with things that can and will give us instant gratification.
Romans 1:25 says, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised." Are you guilty of this as well?
It is very easy to put things above God. It is far easier to come home and watch tv, rather than spend time with my family that He also created. It is easier for me to go hunting and fishing on the weekends, then to go worship with other believers in a house of worship. It is easier for men to talk about the weather and sports when they get together, then to talk about what God is doing in their lives. I challenge you to evaluate your life and who you are in love with.
Are you in love with God's creation, or The Creator Himself???
As I was driving to work this morning, I heard a letter being read over the radio. It was written from a long lost friend to an individual who was just diagnosed with terminal cancer. The letter went on to say how she was so sorry that her friend from long ago has to go through this, and that she wishes that she could be there to hug and walk her through it. Unfortunately, distance now seperated them, and it was not feasible to fly home.
We all have stories like this. I have friends from High School that I rarely see anymore. Still more from college that are scattered all over this globe. Even in my adult life, I have made and lost friends as well. The question that I can't help raise is quite simple: "Were these friendships an illusion or a Disappearing Act?" I do think that "Life Happens" and we go through different phases of our lives. I also believe that there are those out there that are so selfish that they will use you for friendship when they need it. Hearing this letter read over the radio, made me take pause and wonder if I have dropped or walked-away from any friendships in my life. Have I been so selfish that I pushed people away when I was done with them?
You see it is easy for us to sit back and attempt to keep score of how many times we are rejected in our own lives. We like to keep a running tally of shortcomings of others that were committed against us. The truth is, we are just as guilty! I have been hurt along the way. I felt like I was a "Divorce Buddy" for many men that were going through Divorce and their lives falling apart. All of a sudden when it looks like there might be hope at the end of the tunnel, they don't need you any longer. They don't return your phone calls and go on to make "New" friends with individuals that don't know anything about where they came from, or the trash that I just helped them overcome through God's Grace. Point being, true friendship is not expendable. You can not just throw it away and start afresh. You will not build up any depth in your life if you are always staying surface level. I do believe that we go through certain "Season" of our life, but this should never be mistaken as abandoning the past. I have also had to be reminded that sometimes there is ministry, and still at other times there is both friendship and ministry.
I praise God that Jesus sticks closer than a brother. My brother Michael has always been there for me. He would do anything for me, and would lay down his life for me. That is exactly what Christ did for us. When we can take in the sacrifice that Christ portrayed on the cross for us, then we can start to grasp that relationship of being in it for the long haul. I understand that people move away, and that people get hurt. I also understand that friendships are worth fighting for. Question your life as to whether it was an illusion to begin with, or it just flat out disappeared...
We have all heard people make the comment, "It is best not to talk Religion and Politics." For the sake of discussion (and maybe controversy) I am willing to open up a can of worms. A few years ago if you were to ask me what Political Affiliation I was, I would have said that I am a die hard Republican. I am still a registered Republican, but feel myself becoming more and more of an Independent every day. You see I am tired of politics as usual, and people towing the party line. If you were to ask somebody what they stand for politically, now a days it seems like you have either Democrats or Republicans spewing opposite stances, just to take up the side of their particual party. I am tired of it, and to be honest with you, pretty worn out.
A couple of weeks ago I was talking with some friends of mine. We were reading the newspaper, and Mitt Romney's name was found in one of the news reports. I made the comment that I like Mitt Romney, and one of the guys said, "Too bad he is a Mormon and not a Christian. I can't vote for anybody but a Christian." Needless to say, this sparked a conversation like dry tinder being set ablaze. We have learned that it is not wise to discuss such topics as they tend to get heated, but we do it anyway. Why is it do you think that people are so dedicated to their convictions and beliefs, without really even knowing why they hold them? So many people have convictional beliefs mainly because tradition deems so with how they were raised. Others still are easily pursuaded by others to come over to their side.
The question that I would like to raise is quite simple: "Does a President have to be a Christian in order to get your vote?" I like asking this after a major election, but well prior to a future one. Hopefully emotions have settled down, and I can get your mind running. When my wife had cancer I did not interview only surgeons that were Christians in order to perform the delicate procedure. No, I wanted the best at what they did. Just because you are a Christian does not mean that you have the best business acumen . This is not to say that we shouldn't strive for a man in office that is a Follower of Christ. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying here. I am a strong Christian gentleman who would love to vote only for Christians.
Romans 13:1-2 states, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." This scripture blew my mind. To think that God is in control of all authority, whether we elected them or not. Remember Paul was writing this passage to the Christians in Rome, when Nero was in power, and he was notorious for lighting his walkways with Christians set ablaze. A little hard to swallow.
I would love your comments on this Blog. Is it essential that a President be elected as a Christian? President George W. Bush professes to be a Christian. President Barak Obama also professes to be a Christian. Do we make our decision on who to vote for based primarily on their professed religious convictions, or their proven business track history?
Lately, I have been evaluating what I believe and why I believe it. It is the classic definition of Apologetics. So many people do not know what they believe, but rather what they are told to believe. In order to have a heart felt conviction, it is imperative that you take personal ownership of whatever it is you are believing. For purposes here, I am talking about Christian convictions. Any good pastor will tell you not to just take his word for it, but to study the scriptures yourself to verify what is being taught. So many pastors on tv today do not even use the Bible, but spew "Pop Christianity." It is the newest and latest version of whatever is enabling mega churches to grow so exponentially. This is not to say that mega churches can't be effectual, but rather that many show you how to "Live your best life now" and forget to show you the cross and the way to repentance.
I would like to talk about the difference between forgiveness and repentance. They go hand in hand, but are so rarely taught. Forgiveness occurred 2000 years ago, when Jesus died on the cross for your sins. So many people think that it happened at the time that you Believed and accepted Jesus free gift of salvation By Grace, Through Faith. It actually took place on the cross. Jesus died and bore all our sins on the cross at Calvary. That means that all past, present, and future sins were covered and paid for. I have always said the following when I sinned: "God forgive me and I repent of my sins. I ask you to wash them away with your blood." Here is the problem with that mentality. God does not die on the cross again each time that you sin. It only occurred once, and it was FINAL. The other problem with that theology is to simply imply that repentance can occur at the point of confession. Yes, James 5:16 does say, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." This however is not to be confused with when the forgiveness took place, or anything to do with repentance.
Repentance is the act of doing a 180 away from the sin that so easily entagles you. If you have a weakness of going to a watering hole (whatever sin that might be: Lust, Pride, Selfishness, Anger, Covetousness, etc...) then the act of repentance is turning from your wicked iniquity and not returning to it. So if you go to the watering hole, you can't simply confess repentance verbally, and then go back to the same watering hole tomorrow. The act of repentance takes place in the heart. True repentance is proven the next time we are standing in front of the watering hole, but choose not to drink and to flee from its presence. That Is Repentance.
In 1678 John Bunyan wrote a classic novel entitled Pilgrims Progress. Unfortunately, not many people have read it, even though it is a best selling classic. There is a character in the book entitled "Pilgrim." As Pilgrim is walking down the path of life, he is confronted with an exit ramp that leads straight to a slew of bright lights. The name of this place is aptly named: "Vanity Fair." As he walks through this place, he realizes how vile and filthy it is. He quickly leaves this place and gets back on the road of life. As he travels down the straight and narrow road, he is once again confronted with Vanity Fair. However, this time he remembers that it was a trap waiting to ensnare him, and wasn't the glitz and excitement that it appeared to be from afar. He rejects the possibility of betraying his path, but instead puts blinders on his eyes and refuses to be enticed. THIS IS REPENTANCE!!!
Understand that Forgiveness has already taken place, and the price has been paid. Also understand the true meaning of repentance, and don't keep going back to the watering hole...
I was driving down the road this past week and couldn't believe my eyes. Due to 40mph winds, I saw white caps on a farm pond. Not a sight you see everyday. We are so used to seeing waves and white caps when we visit the ocean or Lake Michigan, but not on a stagnant farm pond. Immediately, I knew there was a story to write about...
When was the last time that you had turmoil in your life? Many of us are currently going through trials, tribulations, and testings. Some might be battling an illness, or a lack of employment. Others might be encountering children that have fallen away from their upbringing. Whatever the situation, the winds of life blow, and blow they may. I have been in such a mindset that when these winds blow and the water knocks against the hull of my life, I tend to command the storm to cease. We see in the Gospels that Jesus commanded the storm to be gone as if it never even occurred. We can speak Peace to the storms of life, but the bigger question is "What are you learning from the storms of life?"
I grew up on 40 acres in eastern Shelby County Kentucky. My neighbor, Mr. McCurdy, had a small farm pond at the bottom of the hill. We used to canoe, swim, fish, and shoot snapping turtles in that pond. One thing I never saw on that little farm pond were white caps. The pond sat smack dab in the valley, where any wind that blew, just went right over top of the water. This was not good, as the algae would build up so thick on top of the pond, that we couldn't even fish. If we managed to find a spot to dip our line, it was constantly getting hung up with pond scum that had acccumulated under the surface. Mr. McCurdy tried everything to keep that pond clean. He would roll hay bails into it (Supposedly that was supposed to do the trick) as well as chemicals. Nothing worked. Natures way of keeping the water churned up was not available, because the pond sat down so far in the valley, the water grew stagnant.
The moral of this story is that sometimes we throw a pity party for ourselves when things are rough in our lives. The wind is blowing and the waves are lapping. We can tend to get in a stupor about oh poor pitiful me. When in actuality, it just might be that you are to have your water churned up. Maybe, just maybe, you are meant to learn something through this and not grow stagnant. God does not give you patience, but rather something to be patient about. If you pray for your family to grow closer, don't be surprised when God gives you opportunities for your family to grow closer. These situations might not be the most comfortable, but God has a plan. I would much rather encounter the storms of life, and learn wisdom along the way, then grow so complacent that the waters never churn.
Do you have white caps in your life, and are you rejoicing that you are able to be shaken up a bit? Or are you content with pond scum in your life, and no growth but mere complacency...
How many times have you seen somebody walking around with their head held low, but their nose up in the air. I know that it sounds like an oxymoron, but it happens daily. Pride is so rampid, that so many people think the opposite of pride, is to go around telling everybody that they are humble. Humility is the polar opposite of pride, but should not be characterized as somebody that "Tells" others that they are humble. True humility is an act. If the Holy Spirit is working in your life, then God's humility will shine forth.
Somewhere along the way, we thought it might be cool in the Body of Christ to shed our robes of righteousness for those that are tattered with ash still clinging to them. This is False Humility. The act of contriving and distorting oneself to the place of humbleness through self. Just as many false prophets will deceive others, and every wind of doctrine blows, so goes those with False Humility. It is the "IN" thing to be humble. The problem is that only God can bring about True humbleness, and not man.
I have seen people raise hands in church and get on their knees in False Humility. How do I know? The Bible says that you will know them by their fruits. Understand that I am not condemning others, but speaking from past experience and conviction in my own life. I have exercised false humility in the past, while at the same time being so Proud that I was Humble! The Holy Spirit can not use a proud man or woman. Pride/False Humility can not reside in the same place as God given Humility.
We are to be bold in our walk with God and walk with our heads held high. When somebody compliments you on your walk with God, you simply say, "Why thank you. I have been very blessed indeed to have God's Grace wipe away the sin in my life." The opposite of this would be the person exercing false humility who might say, "Oh no. It is nothing that I have done. I am not worthy to be called one of God's children." I think that sometimes Jesus wants to slap our cheeks when he hears that. He probably flat out wants to smite us with His Holy Word. Why? Because it is an absolute slap in the face to God the Father for sending His son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins. In addition, it is an absolute slap in the face to Jesus for bearing all our sins on His back when He was beaten beyond recognition. Why? Because He died in order that we might be joint heirs with Him! Praise God! He has made us Children of the King! By rejecting that through our actions, we are telling Him that He was not Worthy enough to forgive our sins.
Humility can only be portrayed through the Holy Spirit. Beware of being proud that you are humble. Pride is the #1 area that I see hindering people from growing closer with God. The Bible says that the Meek shall inherit the kingdom of God. It is always the Prideful men in the Bible that suffer iniquity. Pray and ask God to remove any pride and false humility in your life, and check your heart at the door. Make sure that you are truly emptied in Him, so that He might fill you up with Wisdom...