Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas Baby!

Well, it is certainly getting closer to Christmas so I don't know how much more I will be writing in the coming days, so I thought I would go ahead and write one for my lovely wife today.

If you have been reading long, you have probably picked up on the fact that I am not that great with words.  In fact most of the time I am worse when it comes to verbal words than I am with written word.  I think one of my biggest downfalls is how I use my words with my wife.  I'm not perfect, but I really try not to say anything negative to or about her, on the other hand though, I am terrible at complimenting her.  It's much easier to write it out that it is to vocalize it.  I'm not sure why, but it just is.

If you know my wife, you know how amazing she is.  I couldn't ask for a better wife.  She longs to make our family more like God's family.  She wants each of us to have the best relationship with God we could possibly have.  If you listen to our boys very long, you will know how much God plays a part in their lives and that He is not just someone we talk about on Sundays.

Now, while that is important, she doesn't stop there.  In trying to do what is best for our family, she was willing to take on the task of homeschooling our kids.  I can only imagine what that is like.  While I do help, occasionally (not very often), I can only imagine the responsibility it actually takes to make it happen.  While I believe I got a decent education from the school I attended growing up, but I know my kids will learn so much more from their Mom and the curriculum she chose to go with than I ever did.  I can already tell it in how much Noah knows and how much what he is learning really impacts his life. 

I've never had a GREAT paying job, but God has always provided me with a job that let us pay our bills.  While sometimes it has been hard, the sacrifices we have made have always turned out to be worth it.  While I don't know that I would call it a sacrifice, one of the things we have had to give up was most convenience foods.  When I say convenience, I mean fast food, and other quick and easy stuff.  In doing so Marcey has taken it upon herself to create new and wonderful meals.  Many times she has taken it even beyond the basics to learning how to make everything from scratch.  I know it takes a lot of time and work, but the end results in both our health, finances, and taste is outstanding.

Speaking of health, I can only imagine how much different I would eat if I weren't married to her.  I know I may sound like a kid when I say this, but she makes sure I get my fruits and vegetables. While I don't mind eating either of those (in fact I quite enjoy many of them) she does what she can to make sure that I am eating healthy.  Ok, so her reasoning behind it is kinda selfish, but still I am so thankful.  She recently told me I need to eat healthy, because she wants me to be healthy when I am older and not die and leave her alone for years.  Like I said, kinda selfish, but I'm glad. I want to spend many years with her as well.

Which brings me to my next point.  We have had our fair share of problems.  One of the things I love about her most, is that she was willing to work through them with me.  With such a high divorce rate these days and divorce being so accepted as the answer for any and all problems, it would have been easy to decide to end it a long time ago. Not that either of us wanted to, it just would have been easy. It takes a lot of work to work through problems rather than run or give up. I am so thankful she was willing to be tough and work through them.  It has brought us so much closer today.

We were talking the other day, and this will be our 10th Christmas we have spent together.  Now, I am not yet 30 so that makes it more than 1/3 of my life.  To me that sounds crazy. My brother is not even 20, so more than half of his life my wife has been present.  Putting things like this into view makes life seem so short.

In essence, today I wanted to just tell my wife, Merry Christmas, and thank her for all that she does.  She has helped make my life what it is today and helped me see more of who God wants me to be.  She has been God's voice when I refused to hear what He was saying any other way.  She has been my supporter even when I was wrong.  She has comforted me when I was hurting and needed a friend.  She has looked after me, when I was ignorant to needing to care for myself in a different way.  She has been there for me, shared in fun with me, and gone along for the ride when I was doing something she didn't necessarily want to do.  I love and appreciate all that she is.

God has certainly used her in my life.  I am so thankful for her and the fact that God has allowed me to have this time with her.

I love you, Marcey!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Divorce might be wondering why I am doing a divorce blog post so close to Christmas.  Well... I think divorce is a serious issue in our country.   I started thinking about it today while watching this video.  Check it out and let me know what you think?   I think their idea could work.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Three Trees...thoughts

If you haven't yet read through my last post, take some time to read it.  It is a great Christmas story and I would love to find this book for my kids.

First, I want to share that I heard the story on the Wally show.  Wally was sharing how he can't read the story without crying.  I don't know that I have ever read a story and cried, but as I listen to him read the story, I could feel the emotion and got a glimpse at something I may not have internalized before.

After he read the story, he mentioned how often we think we want/desire one thing and yet God has bigger plans for us.  I couldn't agree more.

As I listened and thought about my life, I see how things in my past, have really got me down from time to time.  I see times when I too, have thought I had good intentions and desires and yet, because God sees the bigger picture He hasn't always given them to me the way I think He should.  The more I think about it, the more I begin to wonder how much control I truly believe God has.  I know I say that God is in control,  but do I ever really walk through life really believing that. I would tend to say that I lean more to believing God has control of the moment, rather than the future as well.  I guess it's hard for me to grasp the fact that He already knows my future and has a plan for me and has dreams for me.  I think working at realizing He does know the future would help me understand so much more in my life.

The other interesting part to this story, and something I think about every once-in-a-while, is understanding the fact that God had a plan for each of those trees.  We can't ignore the fact that God is creator and created the three trees to be used for those specific reasons.  While, the story is fictional, it makes  a great point.  Going along with scripture, if we can believe that God was able to use these trees to accomplish His purposes, how much more could He use us?  I think understanding that can change our life.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Three Trees

I heard this story on the radio this morning. While I do believe I have heard it before.  I wanted to share it today.  At this point, I plan on discussing it more tomorrow.

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: " I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I'll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!" The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on it's way to the ocean. " I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world! The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. I don't want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.

Years, passed. The rain came, the sun shone and the little trees grew tall. One day three wood cutters climbed the mountain. The first wood cutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell. "Now I shall make a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!" the first tree said.

The second wood cutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It's perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the second tree. " I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!"

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last wood cutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the wood cutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me." He muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the wood cutter brought her to a carpenter's shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, or treasure. She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals. The second tree smiled when the wood cutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and awed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river, instead she was taken to a little lake. The third tree was confused when the wood cutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" The once tall tree wondered. " All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God..."

Many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. "I wish I could make a cradle for him." Her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. " This manger is beautiful." She said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and a thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She new she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and the rain. The tired man awoke. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten wood pile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hand to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pharisaical No. 2

So, I have been thinking the past little bit about different ideas and things we do, just because it is either what we have been taught or what we have always believed.  I started thinking about it really when my wife and I were talking about Christmas and how so many things we do around Christmas time actually have a way of being adaptations of "secular" traditions/beliefs that someone along the way has used as a teaching moment and opportunity to share Christ. 

If you haven't had the opportunity to check out "Buck Denver asks, Why do we call it Christmas?" I would highly recommend it and I believe everyone has something to learn from it.  Appears to be a movie for kids, but adults will love it too.

Anyway, back to the point, I think many of us, myself included, should take this time each year to evaluate what it is in our life that we have been "doing" that really no longer serves as value to our relationship with Christ and the only reason we do it, is because it's what we have always done.  Then, decide if we need to add meaning back into it and find a way to give it real meaning to our relationship, or move on from it and look for an opportunity to relate to Christ in another way. 

I call this Pharisaical because the Pharisees had a bad habit of worshiping the rituals rather than worshiping the one true God.  They made everyone about doing what was right and avoiding what was wrong that they missed the opportunity to really worship God and understand that it is a matter of the heart rather than a matter of duty.

I wonder how many things in our lives have gotten in the way of our relationship, because it is part of our religion and we have missed the opportunity to see what more God has to offer us. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In the way

I was reading in Luke chapter 12 today when I came upon a story that I remember laughing about, oh-so-many years ago when I heard it read out of "The Message." 

And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’  But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’  So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” -Luke 12:16-21 NASB

As I read through the story, I began to see a bit of myself in that story.  Not in the sense where it is necessarily talking about covetousness, but rather in the fact that in all that was going on, he lost sight of God and his connection with Him.

For me, it is easy for me to get preoccupied with what all is going on in life and little by little rely more on my own strength than on my relationship with God.  Every once-in-a-while I get to a place where I notice I am not spending as much time with God as I want or as I used to.  It's not like I just say one day that I don't want to anymore, it's that I let things gradually slip in the way of our relationship.  My focus gets skewed and I am certain I miss out on things God is trying to teach me. 

When I think about the story I wonder if he had a decent relationship with God prior to the year of abundance.  Maybe the year was a year God blessed him so that he could join in blessing others with God by what God had given him. Maybe he was close but as things started doing well, he forgot to spend time with God.  He decided he had worked hard enough and wanted to a take a few years off and just have some fun. While taking time off and having fun are not bad in themselves, it's obvious that God didn't approve of him keeping all of it to himself and not giving back to God.

Maybe it's time start evaluating life and seeing places where I may have began to lose focus of what God is wanting to do in my life.  Where have I forgotten to put Him first?

****Wondering what we found so funny about that passage?  In "The Message" it says
"Fool! Tonight you die!"   Just never thought I would hear that come out of the Bible.....then again The Message really isn't a Bible.

Monday, December 3, 2012


So, I saw this today and thought you might enjoy it.  Being as I have kids watching these videos reminds me so much of my kids and how interesting they make our lives sometimes.

Friday, November 30, 2012


As I look back over my life, I think the times I struggled most in my walk with Christ are the times that I thought I was doing "good enough."  While our relationship with God is not about what we do, what we do is certainly a reflection of our love for Christ. 

I think so often we get in a "rut" and forget that God has so much more to offer us if we are willing to accept it.  Most often it comes in the form of making us more like Him. 

I was talking with my wife the other day about why some people seem to never change with time even though they say they have a relationship with Christ.  As we were talking I came to realization that even I have been guilty at times of either not listening to what God is challenging me to change in my life or not paying attention to the fact that God is asking me to better myself in a certain way so that I can be more like him.

I think the church failed us in this area when it talk about being "sanctified."  So many have taught that being "sanctified" means you have "arrived," and can no longer sin.  I don't see it like that.  I see sanctification as our response to Christ's saving us from ourselves.  Sanctification is not an arrival but rather a journey of choosing to be more like Christ and striving to be more like Him each day.   As humans we can never attain the "destination" on our own.

The beauty in it all, is that what we often seem to struggle with, is a desire to be free.  We fear that if we become more like Christ we will lose our freedom.  What we don't realize is that those struggles are the chains that bind us from being free and that the freedom in Christ is so much more than what we can imagine.

I have to admit, I have struggles.  We all do.  Being willing to admit we make mistakes and that we do struggle is the first step in being free. Refusing to acknowledge we have a problem or something we need to work on in our lives is a trap satan sets for us so that he can once again attach a chain to our lives and keep us from really being free. 

I want to be free.  I want to experience what more God has for me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Would you?

So this story came out today on The Blaze and I had to share it.  While it sounds like it has made quite the impression on Facebook, it is a good reminder of how open our eyes and heart have to be.  I wrote a couple days ago about the spiritual poverty of our nation, but this is truly an example of someone who is in need.

To give you the basics of the story, a police officer happened upon this homeless man who didn't have shoes. It was cold enough that night that another officer stated that he had two pairs of socks on himself and was still cold, so he can only imagine how this gentleman felt.

The officer proceeded to go into the Sketchers store near by and buy the man a $100 pair of all weather boots.

To me, when I hear a story like this I see Christ in action. I do believe there are people nearby to many of us who are in similar situations, we just have to be prepared to truly see. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Your Sign

So for a while now, I have made it a habit of reading church signs.  I find it quite interesting to compare the "messages" that are being sent.  For instance, there is one church in town who for years has had a little sign and chain to the entrance to parking lot, that states church parking only.  On the other hand, there is another church who posted on their church marque the message "Commuter Parking Available Anytime."  I don't know about you, but if I wasn't a follower of The Way, I certainly would consider going to a church that allowed me to use it's parking lot to park if I needed to rather than telling me I wasn't allowed if I didn't go to church there.

Another aspect I find interesting is who the messages are directed to. Personally, if I had a marquee I would make sure my messages were relating to the needs of people and directed at people who had no clue who God is.  I know it's hard to imagine, but so many churches have portrayed God in such a wrong light that many don't know the true God and so many children have grown up with very little understanding of who He is.  I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in how we view church, we forget how "outsiders" might see it.

I think churches should be very conscious of what message they are presenting, but unfortunately many spend very little time or effort on them and the message could really be turning away.  Want to see what I am talking about?  Just try "googling" church signs and click on the images tab at the top.  There are many you can laugh at, but some are just plain sad. may be wondering what this has to do with you.  Well...while many of us don't carry a marquee with us everywhere we go, we do all present a message to others.  Think about what that message might be.  Are you presenting a message that is primarily for the follower and so you can relate to followers pretty well, or could you be one who portrays a message of love for those who aren't following?  Who is your target audience?  Is it the same as Christ's? 

Just something to think about.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Where I belong...

Every once-in-a-while I hear someone say, God has put you right where He wants you to be.  I have to admit, while I do believe this statement, I sometimes struggle with internalizing all that it means. 

First, before I get too far I need to explain that statement. When I look at the statement, I believe it means we have been born into a place where God can use us.  Sometimes, He will ask us to move, and we do have free will to go against that.  What I am saying is that God has a way of working us to a place where we can rely on Him.  Sometimes, that comes from a hard circumstance or event in our life and sometimes it comes from our upbringing or anywhere in-between. 

The other side of that coin is that when we begin to walk with Christ and have a real relationship, He has a way of working us into the place that He wants us to be.  For instance, while I believe God has called me to ministry, I struggle with putting the "ministry" before my relationship.  I do much better when I am not so focused on doing all the "right" things and am actually able to focus on my relationship with Him and truly have time to develop relationships with others.  (Which is where ministry actually takes place anyway)

I would have to say the real reason I struggle with truly believing this whole idea most of the time, has nothing to do with not wanting to be where I am.  The hard part for me is dealing with the fact that I am immersed in a culture that is so focused on what we don't have when in reality we have so much.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in that mindset and constantly want more when so many all over the world have so much less than we could even imagine. 

Now, to me, I have a lot of stuff.  God has surely blessed me, and I believe God has done it for a reason and as I walk with Him, He will reveal how I am to use what He has given me.  On the other hand, I wrestle with the fact that some have so very little and many have nothing to eat.  What makes me so different from those people? 

My wife shared a quote with me the other day by Mother Teresa, it read.
The spiritual poverty of the Western World is much greater than the physical poverty of our people. You, in the West, have millions of people who suffer such terrible loneliness and emptiness. They feel unloved and unwanted.
These people are not hungry in the physical sense, but they are in another way. They know they need something more than money, yet they don’t know what it is. What they are missing, really, is a living relationship with God.

 That statement made perfect sense to me.  It resonates with me.  It speaks to what God has been teaching me.  While feeding people and taking care of their physical needs is important, the need for people to feel loved, cared for, and wanted is a real need. If we can truly meet those needs, then we can introduce them to Christ. This is where I am able to understand that statement.  God put me where I am because He has taught me how to love people, how to care about people, how to make people feel wanted.  I am where He wants me to be.  I am in a place that He has prepared for me. 

Sometimes it just takes a change in the way we view things to really wrap our heads around why God has put us where we are.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hey You!

So...I couldn't really come up with a great title, so I thought I would use something that is representative of what I want to write about, but not necessarily the best approach. I'll explain later.

Over the last week or so I have been to the store more than I normally am. (or at least it feels that way)  While I was out I noticed several people that I knew in one way or another, but have lost contact with over the years.  Many of them I haven't seen or spoken to in well over 10 years.  Many of them I have very little in common with and really have no reason, in particular, to even worry about having a relationship with them.

It dawned on me after one such incident that God might be opening my eyes to a group of people that I could reflect Christ to.  I don't know that He is calling me to really spend a lot of time investing in people from my past, but rather acknowledge that I do know them and that I can have a conversation with them with very little commitment. 

The more I think about the number of people I see that I know but never talk to, I am challenged to question whether my heart is right towards all people or if I struggle with this humanistic thought of still giving different people value based on what they can or can't do for me. 

I wonder what a difference I could make in someone else's life if I only just took the time to say "Hi, how are you?" and truly mean it?  Who knows what God could do through one small interaction between people, after all you never know the hurt someone else has and what is going on in their life if you don't ask. 

Anyway, it's just a thought. 

Oh, in reference to the title....I wouldn't suggest you saying "Hey, You!" when trying to interact with someone you haven't seen in a long time.  I would recommend coming up with a better approach.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Alright, so everyone needs a bit of amusement today to get it started.

I also would like to share that these kids have to be about Taylor's age.  I have found it hard to listen to him from time to time without picturing these guys acting out his story.   It's quite humorous to be able to identify with. 

Have a great ThanksGiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So Pleasant

I went to Wal-Mart in the later part of the evening to get a few things we needed.  I had quite a few things and I knew the transactions where going to take a while.  I always hate to take up a lot of the cashiers time with just one person, because if anyone ever gets in line behind you they begin to get frustrated with how long it takes.  On the other side though, I don't know that anyone has a real choice in the matter, regardless of how much stuff you get, you have to go through a line to pay for it.

There were only a few available lanes so I picked a shorter one and began to put my things on the conveyor belt. The cashier was an older women and seemed very kind and sweet.  Not to be rude, judgmental, or anything like that but she very much reminded me of Mrs. Doubtfier.  I don't know what it was, but that is what came to mind when I began my conversation with her. 

The transaction was taking a little while and she had a couple issues along the way with the register, but I just waited patiently.  I knew it was about time for her to get off work, so I hoped I wouldn't be the reason she got out late. I always struggled with my attitude when I worked in retail and someone came in the last 2 minutes of my shift and made me stay 15 minutes late.  Yes, I know its only 15 minutes, but at the end of an 8 hr shift, your just ready to be done.

After I paid, I told her thank you and wished her a happy Thanksgiving and she responded with, "Thank you for being so pleasant."  "Transactions aren't always that way."  As I began to think about that, it began to intrigue me.  What made my interaction with her so different than any other?  I hadn't been excessively nice, but rather treated her with respect and patience.  Could people really be that "un-pleasant" to cashiers at stores.

I think back to when I worked in retail and sure I had my ups and downs with various customers, but I don't know that I would have told a customer, "Thank you for being so pleasant."  It makes me wonder how others have been treating her?

I know there are people out there that are very demanding when it comes to going through a register at a retail store.  Not to be judgmental at all, but I can only imagine the various "types" of people that come through the lines at Wal-Mart.  It seems as so many more people are becoming demanding and develop this sense of entitlement, I can only imagine what it is like to be a cashier there.  I'm pretty certain I don't ever want to have that particular job.  It would be very stressful.

Anyway, my whole point is, as we come into a season of Thanksgiving, we need to remind ourselves of what all we have to be thankful for and make sure we don't become one of those that are "un-pleasent" to interact with.  It could be so easy to think of the people who serve us as just doing their job, but in reality it is so much more than that.  They put up with a lot of crap that they should never have to put up with. 

I think Jesus would have spent time loving on cashiers at stores.  He knows how hard it is and what they have to go through.  Let us be a reflection of Him during this holiday season and treat the people who are serving us with a respect and love and make each of our interactions, "so pleasant."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Through the lens

Today's post somewhat goes along with yesterday's.  Not necessarily in that it has to do with my kids, but rather an interesting thought(s), to me anyways, when it comes to how we see the world in which we live.

There are people out there who are always overly happy.  They have always drove me nuts.  I don't know if it's because of how negative I can be at times or if it has to do with the fact that I would love to be able to be that full of joy.  Now I know the Bible talks about being full of joy and being able to have joy even in the midst of hard times.  As I listen to people like this, more often than not, they are genuinely happy because they have LEARNED how to appreciate many of the things life has to offer.

I know I struggle with this.  It's really easy to get caught up in the here and now and what is going on and forget to slow down and really look at things.  I wrote a blog quite a while ago called Looking vs Seeing which somewhat touches on this same subject.

Since I have started photographing more, I think God has been giving me the opportunity to really enjoy His creation.  I have a 30 min drive to work each day on a road that goes mostly through country side (if you call it that).  The more I travel that road the more I see how beautiful some of the trees are.  I have seen amazing sunrises, picture perfect moonlit skies, and numerous other scenes that I wish I had my camera for.

I wonder how many times in life we really miss all that God is doing and all that God has given us, because we move so quickly and refuse to slow down and really examine our surroundings.

I keep coming across this phrase by great photographers called "spray and shoot."  It's a reference to how most amateurs shoot.  We find a target that we think would look cool in a picture and we shoot and shoot and hope that we got one that looks good.  I used to do that more than I do now, but I am still bad at it.

The better a photographer gets at the craft the fewer shots that have to actually have to be taken. Not because there are less targets, but rather they no how to capture the real moment.  They have LEARNED how to see more than just what the average person sees.  They see light, the see subject, they see background, they see detail, they see so much more than the average person.

I once heard a story about a photographer who hiked 5 miles to a mountain side to shoot a sunset picture.  He got to the spot, set up all the equipment, prepared himself for the shot, and then....put it all away and went home, never taking the shot.  When asked why he said the shot wasn't right.  All the elements he was looking for weren't there.   Yet, to so many of us, we would have said hey, that looks good lets just shoot that.  I would fall into that category, I'm sure.

In a nutshell, what I am saying is that I think we spend too much time trying to do more and forget that God gave us so much to be thankful much to much to appreciate and yet we miss it because we are too busy or too focused to slow down and truly enjoy...truly appreciate....truly see what is right in front of our noses.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chapter 8 - Language

A couple weeks ago, I spent some time hanging out with Lilly.  Everyone else was somewhere else (can't remember now) and so I was just having some fun with her enjoying seeing her plan and try new things. 

One of her favorite things is doggies.  She loves doggies and makes a noise very much sounding like doggy.  It's rather cute to see her get so excited over the fact that there is a dog nearby.

We were playing outside, when she noticed our dogs and began to call them.  Now, her call isn't really anything she says, but rather she has heard us make the kissing sound to get the dogs to come, so she does that, really well.  She kissed at them and kissed at them trying to get one of them to give her the time of day.  Neither would even come close unless I called them over.

As I thought about that interaction, I began to think about how Georgia and Sadie need to learn to
"hear" and "listen" to Lilly the same way they listen to us.  Then my thoughts changed to the idea that we have to learn to listen to God in the same way.

I know for a fact, that I have heard from God.  I have heard from Him in several different ways and if you read back through some of my older blogs, I cover several of them in some detail.  However, I know there a lot of people out there that well say they have never heard from God.  I wonder if maybe God talks to us quite a bit, but many times we just don't realize God is talking to us or we just plain ignore it because we want to do our own thing. 

So as I sat there and watched the interaction between Lilly and our dog Georgia, I saw the genuine love Lilly had for the dog and all she wanted was to be close to the dog and play with her.  I couldn't help but  look at my life and wonder how often I have missed spending time with God because, like the dogs, I was too focused on something else and didn't realize God was talking to me or ignored Him talking to me. 

Sure there are going to be times, and I can show you several in the Bible where God gives people really no choice but to hear Him, but I think there are so many times we just miss out because we aren't listening for Him. 

I don't want to miss out.  I want to know what He has for me.  I want to bask in the love that He wants to show me. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Bible ~ a love letter?

One of the greatest things about reading the Bible is that regardless what you have done, there is always someone in there that has either done the same thing or "worse."  What I find amazing is that God still uses those who make mistake after mistake after mistake. 

We have been studying Abraham for a while now in our Connection Class (similar to Sunday School) and if you break it down piece by piece the man royally screwed up many times, yet when he would return back to God and reestablish the communication with God, God would begin to use him again. 
There are so many other stories just like this in which we can read about God doing the very same thing. 

I used to hear call the Bible called a love letter and that always confused me.  I had read the Bible and it sure didn't seem like a love letter to me.  That is until most recently. 

I think one our greatest weaknesses as humans is our pride.  We want to hide our mistakes and keep them as far away from others as possible. We either think of ourselves as less than others, because of how bad we have screwed up, or we think of ourselves as greater than someone else because of how much they have screwed up. In reality, we have all screwed up and I would venture to say that all people have sinned in a way they are not proud of. 

I have written before about the importance of being "real" with each other.  When we are "real" God can begin to shape us.  God can begin to change us into the person He wants us to be.  Hiding who we are only builds up walls and destroys relationships.  That is why satan wants us to feel like we have to, because relationships are key to our relationship with God.  God wants us to be in relationship with each other and like I have mentioned before our love for God is only as great as our love for our enemy. 

Recently as I have been reading the Bible, the love letter concept has become more of a reality to me.  I can see where God is saying, "see, no matter how you screw up, if you turn around, I am still here."  That is true love.  Loving someone, no matter how bad they screw up, mess up, or push you away.  The Bible really is a love letter telling us He will be there for us and telling us to love people the same way. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Well...I haven't been blogging much lately, mostly because I've gotten a little more focused on photography recently.  Through the course of events I've started shooting for other people to make a little extra money on the side and to support my hobby.  It's been an interesting experience thus far, but I am excited to see what the future holds.

What I have found interesting though is how easy it is to get so focused on other things that we forget to slow down and keep God as number one in our lives.  I know that is one of satan's biggest tools is to get us so busy doing something that God has allowed us to do, that we can easily forget God in it all.  I've had to really deal with this recently.

On the other side, however, I find it interesting how God made us to be creative beings.  I know God is creative, have you seen the things He has made.  Sometimes I wonder about what it is like for God to see us be so creative in so many ways.  By being creative, I mean all the positive creativity, not the negative side where we look for "creative" ways to get what we want or to do what we want to do.

Do you ever wonder if God has a "refrigerator" with the images of things we have created hanging on it?  Most parents here on Earth do something like that.  They want to do remember what their kids created.  My refrigerator is covered with different things my kids have made.  It brings joy to us as parents to be able to look at them and see something so creative come out of our kids.   I can't help but think God does the same.  Creativity makes us more like Him.  After all, He did make us in His own image and I don't think that actually means to make us to look just like Him. 

Anyway, just take some time and think about it.  Creativity can be so hard, especially if you are predominately left brained, but I think it brings God joy to see us being creative and really using the talents, abilities, and brains that He gave us.

Friday, November 9, 2012


So far today it feels like I am more "clear" in my head than I have been all week.  I don't really know what it has been but the time change or something has caused me not to be able to put together thoughts like I wanted to, to be able to blog.  Today though, as I headed to work I heard a CD I haven't listed to in a while.  I couldn't help but feel like God was outlining my last few months in three songs.  While I feel like I could write more, today I just want to leave you with these songs to listen to and I will give a brief synopsis of how God reached me with that song.

Maybe you have heard this song, maybe you haven't.  When I first heard it, I was in a place where I really felt like I needed God to be my strength.  I was struggling to find truth and knew my only option was to rely on Him.  It really is a beautiful song.

Last week I shared a song similar to this by another artist, but as I listened to this song this morning, I couldn't help but wonder if God was trying to tell me something back when I would listen to the CD more and I was just to stubborn to hear it.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in trying to "understand" God or "figure it all out."  I wonder if sometimes instead of spending so much time doing the same thing we have always done and trying to analyze everything, we could just put it down for a while and really work on loving people.  Isn't that what His story is about anyway.  The whole Bible spells out a story of a Creator that loves His creation and gave His only son to die so that we could be reconciled to Him.  It is the greatest example of love and yet we look for some many other things we need to be "doing" rather than just realizing it's as simple as truly loving as God loves.

This last one, just really spoke to me in that when we realize how far we have gotten off track and missed the point of it all there is hope.   There is mercy.  There is grace. I couldn't help but share as it it is just a reminder of how even if we have been distracted we can just turn and run back to God and He will be there for us.

I love their music and this CD has really reached me in a lot of different times.  If you want to listen to more of their music a lot of their songs are on YouTube.  Here is a list of the rest of the songs on the CD.  It's worth finding time to listen to.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Election

Well... it is over.  The election didn't really end the way I had hoped, but in reality was there really going to be a good way to end it?  Sure I had a different presidential candidate in mind for winning, but my only reason for that was because of the possibilities that are available to the a second term president who no longer cares about being re-elected.

On the bright side, I know God knows what He is doing. I look back at Israel and how many bad kings they had and how many good kings they had.  It never changed whether God was in control or not. He was always in control and just used those bad times to really bring His people back to Him.

I look back through the Bible and look at our nation and they ultimately tell the same story.  Sin is present and God is evident.  Sin comes to destroy and separate us from from each other and God comes to build up and mend our broken relationships.

Our country is full of broken people.  Like I have been saying for some time, people have become less caring about each other and want to hide themselves.  Christians in general haven't really been any better.  We push people to "be better," make better choices, and to become like us, rather than allowing them to be who God created them to be.  We don't embrace God's creativity rather we get mad at those who don't believe the exact same thing we do.

While I don't like what is happening to our country, was it ever really any better?  Has the drive for "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" ever been a good way to look at it?  Aren't those things only found in God anyway? Truly living life is only found in God, have true liberty should be a reflection of our service to God, and wouldn't pursuing God really be pursuing happiness?  Maybe it is a good way to look at things, we just have been so focused on the here and now of it that we forget that God has to be the center of it all anyway.

Basically what I have come down to at this moment is that if I continue to work on the things that God has laid on my heart over the last 6 months and truly work on developing the relationships He has called me to, things will be ok.  He is still in control and I trust He knows what He is doing. There were true followers in the Bible who had to endure the "will" of the people and God used them.  I want to be someone God is able to use.  I want to be someone God can show Himself through.  I want to be the me He created me to be.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What to say

I have been trying to come up with something to say for the last day or so.  I have found myself in a place where I don't really feel like I have anything to share.  I have a lot of great things going on.  I have had an opportunity to work on restoring some relationships, to work on building some relationships, and as I continue to go through "Hearing God" by Dallas Willard I get more and more conformation about decisions my wife and I have made over the last year or so.

I feel like God is working in our lives, but I have been in a place of rest for the past couple days.  Not that the whole day was restful, but it wasn't chaotic either. I know I need to take advantage of this time as life often moves very quickly and if we don't take advantage of the time then we can easiy lose focus.

Right now, I am asking God for guidance in what my future holds.  Like I have said many times my life is in a place of peace right now where I can accept where God has brought me to.  I try not to get too comfortable as I know God has plans for us. He has been showing me new possibilities and helping me to find new ways to make a little side money.

I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I have spent a lot of time over the past 15 years trying to come up with new ways to make a little extra to support my hobbies or the like. One of the most recent ones is photography.  I love taking pictures of my family.  My little girl has become an inspiration of a lot of my pictures, as before she could walk she was an easy target to shoot.  I have recently become fortunate enough to have the opportunity to begin shooting for others which will help me expand my arsenal, if you will, of camera equipment.  While I don't believe I will ever make a living from it, as a few of my friends do, it is a joy to be able to spend time like that getting to know people while providing them with an inexpensive opportunity for photographs.

Really, what it all boils down to, is that I am in a place of rest, and I am so thankful for what God is doing in my life right now.  He has blessed me and has shown me so much about how often times we take for granted all the things He does in our life.  Sometimes we just need to stop and admire all the "little" things we have to be thankful for.

Friday, November 2, 2012

God's Will vs Your Will

I was listening to a book on CD this morning called Hearing God by Dallas Willard.  In the book he made the statement something along the lines of, if you are listening for God's voice you will seldom end up where you intend to go. 

I thought about that for a few minutes when I realized that's exactly how my life has gone so far.  I can look back over the past few years and can really see where I had desires to do one thing, but God told me He wanted me to do something else.  Sometimes even in the midst of doing what I thought He told me He wanted to do, He would guide me in another direction.

I think about the Paul's store, where in Acts it says that He was prevented by the Holy Spirit from going to Asia.  Paul had said earlier that he had intentions of heading to Asia, but God changed his direction.  We don't know exactly why, but God's plans were bigger than Paul's.

I guess what I really want to say is, is that we need to be in tune to listening for God's voice in whatever manner He so chooses to speak to us.  I wonder how many times we haven't been listening and He has been trying to speak to us so we end up where He didn't want us to be.  I'm sure I have made my fair share of mistakes. I am just praying that my heart, eyes, and ears are ready to see/listen when God is trying to change my direction.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

American Apology

As we are in the last week before the election people are publicizing their political views more than ever.  Facebook is loaded with people posting adds or endorsements for candidates, people complaining about people posting adds or endorsements for candidates and people complaining about people complaining about people posting adds or endorsements for candidates. It's a viscous cycle.  The opposing sides talk bad about the other side and do whatever they can to make their side look a little better. 

As I have in the past waded through the differences between the two sides I often wonder how things could be any different.  While some might disagree with me, I have found things on both sides that I really agree with.  I think we should help the poor, but I don't think it should be just a handout.  I think we should help those who don't have jobs, but I don't think we should just give them money.  I don't think drugs should be illegal.  I don't think abortion should ever be legal.  I think the government should be able to tax, but I don't think they should redistribute wealth.  I think the education system is important, but I don't think the government should be in it.  The list could go on and on, but that's not what I sat down to say this morning.

As I look through the list of what I agree and don't agree with I began to wonder where the church is in all of this.  Why have some of these ideas ever been accepted?  Is it because the church isn't doing it's job?

I have a habit of lumping "the church" into one big category.  I know there are some churches out there that do a better job than others, but the truth is we have all failed from time to time.  Whether it be something we have said, something we did or didn't do, or a relationship we refused to mend/build.

I have this notion that if the church would be willing to say, "I'm wrong" once in a while or "I'm sorry I hurt you," things would be a lot different.  Instead we are willing to destroy people and "send them to hell" just because they believe differently than us.  We choose not to build relationships with people because they are different or it may be a challenge.

I look back over the issues and see how most of them could be solved if we as the body of Christ would just step it up and build relationships. We would know when people are in need and be able to help them with more than just money, but we could help them get back on their feet. We could support and show love to the woman who decides not to have an abortion rather than scorning her for either a decision she made or being raped.  We would teach people through our relationships that shame is not something God wants for us.

I think we who America an apology. For too long we have not been Christ to those who are hurting, those who are in need, and those who really need us.  We have become of the world in that we want to be isolationists and want to keep our problems to ourselves rather than apologizing for the fact that we don't know all the answers and that we make mistakes.

We as a body struggle with pride and many of us have become just like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son.  Too busy looking at all the good we have done and how we haven't been "rewarded" that we forget the we already have access to all of what God has for us.

We need to quit blaming the countries issues on everyone else and realize that many of us are the problem. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Women as Equals

This morning, I started reading  the blog of Donald Miller and his topic of the day was whether women wanted to be treated as equals or treated as men.  I found the article interesting as I have been struggling with how our culture deals with women in today's world.  He goes on to explain that women would rather be treated as equals rather than as men because men interact differently with each other than women would ever want to be interacted with.  Check out the thoughts, its quite interesting.

I have been wrestling with this topic for quite some time because I believe our society is doing women an injustice.  I don't believe women are equal to men.  Hold it, I know what you are thinking....that statement could have easily offended some of you.  I have had this conversation with my wife numerous times and she understands my opinion. 

The reason I say they aren't equal to men, is because no where in the Bible does it say they are equal.  It says they are a weaker vessel, and that certainly makes them not equal.  I do believe they are just as important as men and valued by God none the less.  What I believe is that men and women are on different "playing fields" and shouldn't be compared to one another at all when it comes to being "equals."

Now, I could go on and on with my thoughts on the roles of men and women, but I am sure some of you would disagree.  What I want to do though is challenge you to look through the Bible and see if your views of men and women align with what the it teaches.  If you are married, really do your research.  You owe it to your spouse.

Long story short, I think we as a society have really committed a great injustice towards women.  We have lost sight of the roles God intended us to have and many both men and women have sought after our own desires trying to validate our existence. We forget that our existence is already validated because God created us and God wanted to create us.  He created both Men and Women to fulfill His purpose in different ways.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Is it fair?

 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’  But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius?  Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’  So the last shall be first, and the first last.”  -Matthew 20:1-16

I have been thinking a lot about this passage recently. I don't really know why, but my mind keeps coming back to it.  I just can't help but wonder how often we are like those who began work in the morning and get frustrated at the end of the day when everyone is getting paid the same as us even when they didn't work all day.  We agreed to it, after all. 

On the other hand, I try to think about it like Jesus said, as in it's like the Kingdom of God. How often do we grumble at God because we have been "good" for so long and others who have become new believers get the same reward as us?  Maybe we don't grumble at God, but our actions towards others are unloving which is just like grumbling at God. 

I don't really know what God is trying to show me with it other than it doesn't matter how much work I do or how late in the game I actually begin to play we are all equal in His eyes.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that from time to time I start to shift from doing things out of love to doing things out of duty and trying to earn my keep.  Do you ever go through a period of time when you look back and realize what you had been doing wasn't out of loving God, but you were trying to earn His favor?  It's hard to believe that regardless of what we do we have His favor. 

It's times when I forget, that I really have to try and think about my love for my wife and kids and how my love isn't based on what they do for me.  I will love them the same no matter what.  They can't earn any more love from me.  I love them whether they make good choices or make bad choices.  God's love is so much great than mine.  Why do we forget that and believe Satan's lie that God only loves' us for what we can do?  Is it because that is how we treat other people?  

Like I said, I have had these thoughts running around in my mind for a while now and I had to put them into words.  It goes so against everything that the world tells us is right.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Proof of Your Love

I know I have heard this song many times before. Lately God has been dealing with me on this exact concept.  When I heard this song this morning, it made perfect sense.  I just had to share.

1 Corinthians 13 - NASB
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

This is the making of the video. Maybe even more thought provoking that the actual song.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Saving Lives

So, I came across this story yesterday and I just had to share it.  Such an amazing story.

From Storyline Blog:

Meet Don Richie. Don is 84 years old and recently received a bravery medal and the Order of Australia, the country’s second highest civilian honor. He got the award because he saves lives. Here’s his story:


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

See vs Truth

Like I mentioned a couple days ago, I have a few thoughts that I really wanted to elaborate on from this past weekends conference. I know I quoted him yesterday, but Dr. Rick Rigsby made another statement that I really believe could impact how we view ourselves and our circumstances.  He said, "Never focus on what you see, but on what you know to be true."

As I began to ponder about this idea and looking back over my life I can see His truth in my life now where during the experience I couldn't see God.  I will admit there have been times since we have been back to Fulton that I have questioned whether I was where God wanted me or not.  Then after doing life for a while I can begin to see where God has been working.

If you have read much of my past blogs then you know that living in community and discipleship are a big deal to me.  I think they are vitally important and God calls us to live that way.  Over the last couple years I have met several people that believe quite the opposite, or so it would seem based on their actions.  It's during these interactions that it becomes easy to discouraged. When you feel like something is so important and others seem to think it of little value, quite a internal conflict can occur.  It is during these times that we have to rely on what we "know to be true," and let go of "what we see."

I didn't really know what to expect when going to the conference this past weekend.  I knew it was for men, but men's conferences can go all sorts of directions.  What I found interesting is that God began to clarify some of His truth's in my life, by reaffirming the importance of discipleship.  He even gave me some extra tools to use in reaching out to those who I believe God has called me to disciple.  His truth became evident in a time where I could have easily been confused by what I saw and how I was feeling.

Then yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend about the importance of living in community.  We talked of how it often seems that others don't want community and they want to be, what I would call, "isolationist."  The seem to want to life on their own, so much that we could easily begin believing it has something to do with us.  This is again where we have to believe in God's truth rather than what we see.  God created us to live in community and what I have found is that even those who seem to want to live a life of "isolationism," often want relationship and for others to care about them, but have bought into the lie that they are different.  The conversation itself was such a blessing to me, because I identified with what he was saying.  I identified with how he was feeling.  Yet, I knew the conversation was orchestrated by God so that I could see His truth in my life and could be reminded of it.

Sometimes we get so focused on what we see that we can't see His truth.  It would have been so easy in all of the situations to just give up and feel like I have been wrong in believing in the importance of community.  It would be easy to try and just hang on to the past and even wonder if our view in the past was skewed and wasn't what we make it out to be. That is when I am reminded by God that His truth is truth and sometimes it will be hard and sometimes it will seem like its not going to work, but if we focus on what we know to be true what we see can be changed.

Ask God to show you HIS truth and I guarantee it will change what you see.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV

Monday, October 22, 2012

Whatever It Takes

Over the past weekend I had an opportunity to go with a group of guys to an event  called "Men at the Cross." It is a conference that speaks to the fact that men need to disciple men. I have been blogging about that for quite some time now, and while I didn't really know upfront that was the focus of the conference. I didn't really know what to expect other than I would be spending some time with guys from the church and hoped to develop some new relationships.

For me the conference was so short that it came across almost like a machine gun firing.  While it had a great message there were lots of points that were "fired" that I had to write down, because for me they needed more thought.

One such point is based off the statement, "Make me like Jesus, whatever it takes."  Dr. Rick Rigsby said that he has been praying that prayer for quite some time now.  As I listen to him share about what that looks like and means to him, I wrote that phrase down, because I wanted to examine that prayer in my life.

While I can't say that I pray those exact words, my heart has been in that place several times over the last several years.  What I find interesting is that when my heart gets to that place, God allows things to come into my life to teach me how to be more like Jesus.  It is not an easy place to be.  I don't know that I can even say that I succeed in seeing it as such most of the time, at least until God has me go through a series of events to finally see the point He has been teaching me.  

As I write this, I can't help but think, "I wish God would just be more logical."  I know that God is very logical and His wisdom far surpasses mine.  That is the way it has to be.  I don't want a God that I can entirely figure out.  Knowing the fact that God knows so much more than me gives me comfort.  It's amazing how often our "logic" is actually so illogical when it comes to the way God views things. 

So here I am today, in front of each of you asking God to "make me like Jesus, whatever it takes."  Maybe today can be a day that you can begin examining what that looks like in your life and if you are ready to say the same thing.  I guarantee you it will not be an easy journey, but from my journey I can say it is worth it.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV

Friday, October 19, 2012


A couple days ago I talked about our blessings and how sometimes they can turn into our curses if we let those things get in the way of our relationship with God.  For some time now I have been thinking about how much stuff I really have and if I would ever be willing to give it up to live a simple life.  While it doesn't sound easy, I do think it would be worth it in the long run.

I recently came across a video of a young teen who built his own house for less that $12k.  When I look at the cost of his house and how simple he would have to live I am somewhat envious of the whole idea.  I understand that you have to give up a lot and it would be challenging, but I think it would bring its joys along with it.

I can't quite convince Marcey this is the way we should live, especially with 3 kids, but I would love to someday help my kids build houses similar to this so that they could say they own their own houses and start off their adult life debt free.

Anyway, I couldn't help but share this video.  I am just so intrigued by it. It reinforces the idea I have had for a while of being able to live in community with others and not rely so much on the things the world tells us are good.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


 But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ,  so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.  -2 Corinthians 2:5-11

Our Pastor shared this passage with us the other day, and immediately I knew it was something God was wanting to share with me.  As I read it, I could just hear God speaking to me saying "I have this under control. I am testing you to see if you really love me the way you say you do."  I think that is a hard statement to hear.  Nobody really wants to be tested, especially when they know God will test you at the places you know you struggle with.

As I read over it, I see a challenge to love someone who you know is struggling.  Sometimes that struggle with be something that causes you a lot of pain or unrest.  God is challenging me to move beyond myself and to choose forgiveness.  Not just forgiveness, but forgiveness followed by love.  A love that goes beyond just moving past the situation, but rather running into the situation and trying to be an encourager and a support for someone who may not have any true encouragement or support coming from anywhere else.  

God forgives us.  God shows us love.  Satan wants us to hold onto hurts and pain.  Satan doesn't want us to forgive. Satan's way brings torment and suffering.  God's way bring a peace that will pass all understanding.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I ran across this earlier yesteday and I just had to share.

Sounds like a pretty good challenge to me.  I know I have often wondered if I am a drain on people.  I have a couple friends that when I am around them I can't help but feel lifted by them.  Which makes me wonder if they are lifting me am I bringing them down?   I have been around those types of people too.  The type that no matter how much you give always want more and really drain you mentally and physically. 

I think the challenge here comes when you look at the opportunity we have to really be a gift to a friend rather than a drain.  Could it be that more often-than-not the way we view ourselves is how we actually act in return becoming that drain that we hope we are not?

Just a thought.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I heard someone the other day talk about how blessed we are to be Americans.  They talked about all the advantages we have, all the resources we have, all the stuff we have, and how much better our lives are than people in so many other places of the world.  Something about that statement didn't seem right to me.  I mean, I do believe God blesses us and gives us what we need but are we truly blessed by the things that we have?

A while back I mentioned I was watching a movie by Louie Giglio who was talking about how people pray.  One of the things he pointed out was that people always ask God to bless them in one way or another; Bless this food; Bless the hands that prepared this food; Bless this time we have together; Bless our conversation; etc.  The list can go on and on.  I began to look at my prayers and sure enough I was asking God to bless various things depending on my time of prayer. 

He went on to talk about how God promised to bless Abraham and how we have been blessed through that promise.  God blessed us when He sent Jesus to die for our sins.  He doesn't need to bless us in any other way does He?  Do we really need more?

I've been thinking about all the blessings God has given me over time and I can't possibly ask Him to bless me more.  Then today I was reading and I came across this passage:

"Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.  Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets." Luke 6:20-26

After reading it I couldn't help but feel warned by the "woe to you" lines.  We as Americans are rich, we (for the most part) as Americans are well fed, we who are Americans love to laugh, and as Americans we want people to speak well of us.  While I know God blesses people with each of these things, I think the "woe" comes from the fact that our heart can be ever so consumed with these areas that they actually become our own detriment. In reality most of our struggles as Americans fall under one of those categories. 

So back to the original statement.  I do believe we have been blessed with many things as Americans, but those things oh-so-often have become our curse.  Maybe our relationship with God would be strengthened if we weren't so "blessed."

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Wine

And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.  And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’”-Luke 5:36-39

I would have to say that I have read this many times, but never really applied to or attempted to apply it to my life.  While most of the references made sense, I will honestly say that I didn't really take the time to examine the possible applications...that is....Until today.

Jesus was talking about the new covenant God was making with us.  It goes back to what Matthew had shared Jesus saying in Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill."  What He came to do was not repair the old, but to fulfill it and to create a new covenant.

For me, when I examined it this time I began to look at my own personal beliefs over time.  I thought about the times when I was taught mostly about the things that I shouldn't do and how living a life for God meant not doing x, y, and z plus 1000 other things.  It was a life of trying not to do wrong and when failing God would send you to hell.  I reckon that to being like the Old Covenant.  They had a lot of laws that they had to follow and the religious leaders kept adding new to it.  There wasn't a lot of positives other than you were allowed to stay a part of the community and you had some hope of not going dieing an eternal death.

It was mostly about control by the religious leaders and ultimately gave some people more value than others.  If you appeared to be doing "better" than others that is all that mattered.  The heart really meant very little as long as your actions were correct.

I see the new covenant as Christ reconciling us to God and freeing us from the law that kept people from truly worshiping God with their hearts.  The new allows us to be free and calls us to a life of relationship out of love which expresses itself through actions.  When we realize we are not trapped to a law and don't have to go through our lives trying not to do wrong, we are free to have a relationship which God that changes us.  It changes us so much that our love that we have for God helps us to not desire to do those things that separate us from God. We want to do right.  Our love wants to flow free.

Unfortunately there are so many that get stuck in this old way of thinking and believe that "The Old is good enough."  They, like me, are trapped in a religion that is all about rules and looking good, that they miss the relationship God wants to have with them. If you think about it, how can someone so focused on doing the right things and looking the right way ever find time to focus on God and spend time getting to know Him?

Don't settle for "good enough."  Embrace the relationship and the love that is God and let Him show you what He has for you. 

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV


The last few days have been challenging to come up with anything to write about.  I have  a few ideas, but it just feels like my mind doesn't want to work right to put together the thoughts I want to say.  I am in the midst of trying to find clarity on how to handle a conflict.  The problem is, all too often, I let the conflict get in the way of everything else.

I don't really like conflict at all.  I hate feeling like there is conflict.  The more I go through life though, the more I can see why God calls this world broken.  There are so many broken relationships because of conflict the world really can't be anything but broken.  I know the root of broken relationships is sin and ultimately satan wants our relationships broken because that will create a separation between us and God.  

The hard part for me is finding that line of love.  I believe God called us to love everyone regardless.  I believe sometimes love is tough and sometimes love is letting things go.   The hard part for me is trying to decide which battles are worth fighting.  I want to do what God wants.  I want to love the way God would love.

I've been reading the Bible for quite some time now with several goals in mind.  The most obvious one is to know more of God, but I also have a couple other questions that I run pretty much everything I read through.  One of which is this concept of conflict and loving others. I've had many discussions about it with others, looked at many passages, tried to understand the different passages where Paul or other apostles addressed it with the church.  Yet, the answer has yet to be clear.

I titled today Broken, because of how broken the world seems to be.  I know that is why God called us and has offered us the opportunity to have a life that is made whole, but in the midst of life and as I grow older, I can't help but see how many lives that seem out of touch, with the reality of who God is, are completely broken.  I don't want this to be confused with me thinking I am better than anyone, because in reality God created us all the same.

As I work through this conflict, my eyes have again been opened to the brokenness that is all around us.  The brokenness just creates more conflict and the conflict creates more brokenness.  That is the joy of who Jesus is and what He did for us.  He came to fix that brokenness and to repair the conflict.

Jesus said "the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few" and I believe that.  It's evident everywhere you turn.  I have to believe though that there are some that aren't ready to be part of the harvest and aren't "ripe for the pickin" yet.  I guess that is where I struggle more often that not when it comes to those relationships.  It's hard to sit by and watch as they are "ok" with their lives and don't mind living in the state of being "unbroken" and in "conflict" with God.

I hate being in that place.  Being in "conflict" with God hurts when you know it gets in the way of the relationship with Him.  That is the beauty of being able to come broken before Him and allowing Jesus to make us whole again.

Anyway, I can't really come up with a good way to end this thought.  As you can see it is somewhat of a circular pattern that is running around in my head.  I'm just glad God has it all figured out and is a lot smarter and wiser than me.