Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not too bad

As I mentioned yesterday, I have never been disappointed by listening to Louie Giglio.  He always has a way of speaking that resonates with ones soul.  God has truly blessed him in the way he communicates the gospel.

The last couple nights after the kids have gone to bed Marcey and I have taken a few minutes to listen to one of his series.  We have it on DVD and it's called prayer remix.  I don't want to attempt to cover everything he said, nor really discuss prayer for all that mater, but I want to share something that really got me thinking.

If you ever leave your place of isolation someone is bound to ask you, "how are you?"  My typical response is, "not too bad."  For me, without thinking about it, I give that response because it is non-committal.  I don't have to be doing good, and I don't have to be doing bad.  It typically doesn't stem into further conversation.  (On the other hand, the person asking the question is rarely actually listening to the answer, but that is a whole different post to be had.)  I have never really thought much about the answer other than it is similar to that of what so many others give.

In the DVD Louie mentions how often times we ask God to "bless us" or "bless this or bless that" depending on what is going on.  When in reality God has already blessed us in so many ways on top of the fact that we are blessed because of what Jesus did.

He went on to mention how often we have responses just like mine that seem so routine that we forget to think about how blessed we are.  I don't think we need to say "I'm blessed" out of habit, but I think we could say it as a reminder of how blessed we are in spite of all else that is going on. So often we get focused on our day to day lives that we forget that our focus should be on Christ and that if our focus is on Him we have no choice to realize how blessed we are.  I know I am guilty of forgetting that.  I know I can let the day to day stuff get in the way of my overall joy that we should have.  It doesn't mean we have to be happy, but we can still find joy.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that today because it really made me think about how little I realize how blessed I am.  Maybe you do the same as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Worship = Change

As I was looking for something to listen to today while I was working, I came across a message by Louie Giglio.  The title was worship so I really felt like I should listen to it, as worship is a big deal in my life.  As I listened it all boiled down to one concept at the end.  The concept was that if we are truly worshiping God, we will be changed.

I am not going to go into all that he says because that would just be trying to put in a few words what he takes about an hour to say.  What I want to say is that I have seen that in my life.  The times I feel closest to God; the times I feel like I have a true picture of who God is, are the times when I know God is changing something in me. I believe that if we are worshiping God we are changing.

I know it seems long, but if you can find time to watch his videos, Louie never disappoints. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Insecurity is a hard thing to battle.  I am sure we all have wrestled with it from time to time.  For me however, it seems like a life long struggle that really makes me check myself with God quite frequently.

Maybe you have known this about me or could tell from my writing.  I will admit it is much better than it used to be.  God has shown me so many things and I have come a long way.  It is still something that I have to give back to God on a daily basis and ask Him to show me how to learn to leave it with Him. 

My wife once told me that insecurity is just another form of pride and I think that is the truth.  The more I wrestle with it the more I realize it stems from the fact that I have a hard time forgiving myself and accepting God's worth.

I try not to let it control me, but I wonder how much of my life has been shaped by it.  I wonder how much of my life has been less than what it could be because of it.

I look at the life of my kids and imagine all they could become.  They have so much potential.  I wonder if that is how God sees us, but at some point in our life we get hurt and we let it control the rest of our lives.We let something come between us and Him and we reject the notion that He can use us like He wants to use us.  We, like Moses, tell Him that we can't do what He is asking of us.

We were in the middle of a small group series when the question was presented that asked, is it a sin to see ourselves as less than what God sees us?  My answer had to be yes.  I know it separates me from God and the only way to overcome it is to be in constant connection with Him.  Sin is exactly that...anything that separates us from God. 

As I was reading today, my book said one of the best healing methods is confessing of one's sins.  James 5:16 says "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." So that is what I am doing today.  Maybe you struggle with it and now you know I do as well.  Let me know and we can walk through it together.  I think that why God says relationship with each other is so important, because we need each other.  

I mentioned the story of Moses and that even He told God that He couldn't do what God wanted him to do, because he wasn't good enough.  That story does bring me some comfort in knowing that God took someone who was insecure in who he was, had killed someone, and escaped to a place of utter despair and used him to be one of the greatest leaders in the Bible and to really change the course of a whole nation.  It's amazing what God will do if we just let Him.

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, September 24, 2012

Seeing Jesus

Over the past 6 months or more,  I have been on this journey of trying to understand what it is that God wants me to do with my life.  While I am content with where I am at, I am not comfortable.  Normally, we think that being comfortable is a good thing so being not comfortable would be a bad thing.  For me, that is not the case.  While I would love to be comfortable, I can rest in the fact that I am uncomfortable because I know that means God is working on me in ways that I may not even be able to see.

On this journey, I have spent more time reading the Bible than I probably ever have in my life.  Before now I always admired those who said they spent time in their Bible every day.  I wished I could be like that.  I wanted to do that, but I found myself struggling to make connections between the Bible and my every day life.  I even more admired those who could quote scripture or could say that in such and such a book it says this and that.  It was something that I never thought I could really be good at.  While I don't quote scripture very well, the more I read the more I retain and can see God use what I have read to shape my thoughts in every day life.

I recently heard a pastor talk about how we need to be Christ to people. I've heard many pastors over the years say the same thing.  In fact, I am sure I have probably said it from time to time.  You can probably read back through my blogs and find that I have written about it here and there.  Only as I listened God began to reveal another part of this message that I often forget.

If you read Matthew 25: 34-40 you will see that on the day of judgement, Jesus will answer those questioning Him saying that "to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me."

 I had recently read this passage and have had it hanging in my head for some time now.  Not only because of the passage but because I heard a story about a woman who before feeding the homeless at a shelter would pray and ask God to see and remember that all of the people they were going to feed were actually Jesus. Now I know that sounds weird and I can't say that I believe that physically they were Jesus, but I wonder if that heart and attitude is often forgotten when we are trying to "be Jesus" to people.

I completely agree with the concept of "being Jesus," to people and treating people the way Jesus would treat them, but for me, I find in doing, I  easily elevate myself above them in my mind, which is actually going against the message of Christ.  He said that we must become less so that He can become more.  Maybe that doesn't resonate with anyone else, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how often we give people a value.  I think all people are of value, but when we give people a value we make some more and others less.  If we could see them as Jesus then maybe, just maybe, we could see value in all people.

As I continued to think about this idea, I remembered something else that I had recently read in another book that went right along with the same idea.  What if in seeing Jesus in others we can realize the need for change in our lives?  In the book, it said that often times God places people in our lives who challenge us because He wants to work on an area of our life that really needs change.  So, in seeing Jesus in others and letting them challenge us we can actually become more like Christ.

Like I said, I agree with the concept of "being Jesus" to people, but I wonder how often we miss out on how God is wanting to change us because we are sometimes too busy trying to "be Jesus," and forget to see Jesus in others.  Maybe the concepts are just two sides of the same coin.

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, September 21, 2012

We can work it out

I was doing a little research yesterday and I came across this video that I really goes along with a couple different thoughts I have been told recently.  It all has to do with friends. In a meeting I was at just a few nights ago, a gentleman was sharing about how a previous pastor of his had told him everyone needs a dung friend.  A dung friend, you might ask?  Yes, a dung friend.  A dung friend is someone who you can share all your crap with and they will still be your friend.  A friend who is willing to get in the midst of all that you are going through and walk right alongside.

Just a couple days prior to that I had heard a pastor say we need friends who are more concerned with our character than they are with making us comfortable.  I think that is true is well.

Anyway, back to my point.  I found this video, that I think is helpful in understanding what love really looks like in this regards.

Take a look

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Who taught you to fear

As most of you know I am a Donald Miller fan.  He recently started a new blog and as I was reading through this one, I am reminded of how much it is talking about me.  I had to share, because, well, I know I'm not the only one dealing with this.

Below is the start of the blog.

About once each day my dog Lucy runs into the back bedroom and cowers behind the pillows on my bed. It happens when I cook dinner, right about the time I make some noise grabbing a pot from the pile of cook-wear under the counter. You see, when I cook, Lucy thinks something bad is going to happen.


to continue reading click here. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Controlling Me

I want to start out today stating this post is not about what I did, but rather about the struggle.  It would be so easy to make it about look at me, look at what I did, but I don't want that.  I honestly don't.  I want people to realize I struggle to, just like everyone does.  I am not better than the next guy.  I am a sinner that God still has to deal with.

My work has this program set up that if someone believes you have done an excelent job or gone beyond what is required they can request that you be recognized with a giftcard.  I didn't find out about the program till a couple months back when one of the coworkers I work with submitted my name and then later gave me a form to complete to get a gift card of my choice.  It was a blessing at the time, but I can't even remember what I spent the money on now. 

Anyway, a similar situation happened to me today.  However the company is also working on a fundraiser for United Way.  If you are unfamiliar with United Way it is an oraganization that helps a lot of people.  I wanted to say they fed people, but they do so much more than just provide food for people to eat.  It really is a great organization. For the fundraiser they are putting together items to auction off as "baskets" to try and raise a substantial amount for United Way.

When I found out I was going to be getting another gift card, I was thrilled.  I immediately began thinking about how the extra would help and what I could use it towards to make my life a little bit easier.  Then it hit me.  "This money is not yours."  I wanted the money and tried and tried to justify why I should be able to keep the money. I wanted to, but I couldn't shake the thought that I should donate it. 

After thinking about it for a while, I began to think back to some of the struggles I have been having lately.  How my mentality can easily be shifted to only thinking about me and my wants.  I think God was using it as an opportunity to say, "Check yourself, your letting something get in the way of our relationship and what I have for you."  That is when I realized, If I had to put that much thought into it, then it was taking away from my relationship with God.  I had to donate it.  I had to give up what had so quickly gotten in the way of the bigger picture in my life. 

I was listening to "Blue Like Jazz," again this morning when I heard something I hadn't heard before.  Don said something to the effect of, "One of Satan's biggest tricks is to get us distracted.  That is why religion can be such a detriment to our lives.  It distracts us from who God really is."  I have to admit, I was distracted.  I began to lose sight of what was important. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In Truth

I don't really know why it stands out to me, but today as I was reading Judges 9 I came upon a story that really stood out.  It could be that I hadn't heard it before, or it could be that God is really trying to say something to me through it.  All I can say is that I can't seem to get my mind off the story.

In Judges 9:7-15 it says:
Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and called out. Thus he said to them, “Listen to me, O men of Shechem, that God may listen to you. Once the trees went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my fatness with which God and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come, reign over us!’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to wave over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come, reign over us!’ But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?’ Finally all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come, reign over us!’ The bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.’

As I sit back and look over my life, I wonder how many things/people I have gone to asking them to "reign over me?" I know that is something that I struggle with even now from time to time.  I look for leadership, guidance, and a sense of worth from various people and achievements.  It's hard not to.  In essence that is the story of the Bible.  We, as humans, tend to want something/someone to be our god.  We want something/someone we can see, someone who can tell us what to do, someone who can make us feel good about ourselves.  The problem is, in all of these situations in the Bible, if the focus is not on the one true God, it ends in tragedy. 

It's sad really.  As I read through the Bible I see how the Israelites saw God work in powerful ways and do some truly amazing things and yet, it wasn't long before they were back serving someone/something again.  I can't say that I am any better.  As hard as I want to make sure God is number one in my life, it is so easy to let something else start slipping into that place. 

I've seen God do some pretty amazing things in my life.  I have felt God.  I have been in his presence yet, I struggle with truly searching after His truth in my life.  I think that is what it means at the end of the story.  I think we are being asked to make sure we are searching for the truth.  We shouldn't be just accepting anything to be our leader and give us guidance.  We should be searching for that truth that in reality can only be found in Christ.  He says He is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. Why do we accept anything less?

It's hard, but He never says it is easy.  It goes against our sinful nature, but that is who God is.  I must become less, so that He can become more.  I must die to self, so that I can find myself in Him.  I must give up my "rights," so that He can use me.

It's hard....but He never says it will be easy.....

Monday, September 17, 2012


In the midst of a conversation I was having this morning, I began to again realize the amount of pain and hurt there is going on in our world because of parents who are so wrapped up in themselves and haven't ever truly become adults.  In the conversation I was hearing the story of a young girl who's parents are no longer together and neither one really wanted much to do with her.  As I look back at a lot of the kids I went to school with and how so many of them had parents that really took part in their lives.  It seems to only have gotten worse since then.  It's heartbreaking especially when you don't know what to do or how to help.  You hear these stories and I know I don't have all the answers, but I do know that people are longing to feel loved and accepted.  Most often they want to be loved and accepted by their parents. 

I'm really at a loss for what to do.  I know I can pray and I know God has a plan, but it's sad when you see a parents ideals have nothing to do with taking care of the child they were given.

I look at my relationship with my parents and I look at the relationship my wife and I have with our kids and I couldn't help but imagine how different our lives could have been. Sure we have made our fair of mistakes, but everyone does.  It just seems like some people are happy living in their mistakes.  It saddens me.

On the other hand, today I am also struggling with the thought that the more I know about God, the less I really know about Him.  I know it doesn't make sense, but the more I want to learn, the more I realize I have fewer answers now than I did when I started.  I want to be educated, I want to be able to explain more of the Bible to people, but I can't.

I think the reality is that our stories are the only thing we really have to share.  Sure we can learn from the Bible and apply concepts to our lives, but our stories and what God has done in our life is the truth that we can actually share with all certainty.  Maybe that is why the Bible is mostly a bunch of stories.  It's the stories of others lives. It's an example of how important our story really is.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Time Between

Maybe its just me, but every once-in-a-while I get a question stuck in my head that I haven't heard anyone ever ask or discuss before. As I have mentioned a few times, I have been reading through the Bible from beginning trying to draw some of my own conclusions.  One of the things I began to think about as I was reading recently is what happened during that period between Adam and Moses where there appear to have been no formal laws written down. 

I have heard a lot of conversation recently about living by the biblical laws and how people who are trying to say that homosexuality is not wrong try to use Mosaic and Levitical law to justify their opinion.  What I find interesting is that they typically leave out the any thoughts on the fact there were no listed laws in the Bible prior to Moses.

What does that mean for us?  Could it mean that people were either good or bad and God just handled them based on what they were?  How could He punish people for being bad and reward those for being Good if He hadn't told them the difference. I don't know that it is what you could consider a "logical" answer or not, but a Biblical answer would be that the "law" is written on every man's heart.  Which would also go hand in hand with every man will have an opportunity to choose Christ before they die.  They might not always realize it is Christ, but I think it has more to do with a matter of the heart and they can choose to believe Christ whether they know it by that name or not.

For a while when I was younger there was a song and phrase going around that said there was a God shaped hole in all of us.  I think that is true. I think God created us all to have fellowship with Him and in doing so, anything outside of that will leave us feeling empty and a piece of us missing. 

I don't think it is a new concept.  I think its part of how God created all people and once sin entered the world there became a separation between us and God that wasn't there prior. That is was sin is/does.

Anyway, that is just my two cents and thoughts for the day.  It may not really be a complete thought and I don't think I would get an A on this if I had turned it in for a paper, but it's what I have at this point.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

A different perspective.

Every once-in-a-while we allow stress to build up in our lives.  One of the greatest tools God has given us is the ability to laugh and to find humor in stressful situations.  I recently heard an author talking about this and he said that whenever he and his wife got into a what-could-be stressful situation they found something to laugh about rather than getting at each others' throats.   Well, while this isn't necessarily one of those times, this video is most certainly an opportunity to look at things just a little bit different.  I hope you enjoy

I must say a thank you to my wife for introducing me to this youtube channel.  I have to say I have found quite a bit of stress relief  from them lately.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Mile Away

I've been trying to write this blog for over two weeks now.  It's not an easy one for me to write, because I have to make sure my heart is in the right place and I don't just stand on a pedestal point fingers at people.  That is not what this is about.  Rather, its about caring for those people who might be led astray.

Have you ever known anyone that just seemed to be out to gain recognition for themselves?  I think we all do from time to time.   I know it is a struggle I have in certain areas and I fight to keep it in check.  Thankfully, between God and my wife, I can keep it in check most of the time.

I think because I have struggled with it in the past it is harder for me to really know how to love those who are selfishly ambitious and doesn't care.  I don't think it is wrong to be ambitious, but God calls us not to be selfishly ambitious. So, when someone is so focused on themselves and knows they shouldn't be, I am lost on how to respond.

In James 3:16: it says "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing." and in Galatians 5:19-21 it says: "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,  envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

These passages do two things for me. First, it gives me hope.  It says they are deeds of the flesh.  This means that God can give us power over them.  He has designed it so that we don't have to fall victim to our flesh rather we can overcome the flesh and live in the spirit.  Secondly, it lets me know there is a reason I have an inner struggle with people who come across selfishly ambitious.

In the midst of our "political" season, its very easy to see people who are selfishly ambitious. They want fame, recognition, and power. I know there are some out there who do it for the right reasons, but because most who are don't play "dirty" its very hard for them to actually become elected.

The selfishly ambitious want people to see them and so many give little thought to God and His teachings.  When was the last time you heard a candidate openly talk about his relationship with God and how it impacts his decisions?  For me, I just hear....I did this, and I did that.  This is how I voted, and this is how he voted.  I will do this and I will do that;  not once do they mention trying to do what they believe God wants them to do.

Unfortunately, this issue is not just limited to politics, but it infiltrates our daily lives.  What is even worse is that it can infiltrate our churches.   I say worse, because not only is it not of God, but we already have a hard enough time getting out of the way so God can work that one person being focused on themselves and trying to gain can be devastating for what God is trying to do.  I know God has the power to do anything, but just as there are false teachers in the Bible, we have false teachers today.  Personally, I believe when we become selfishly ambitious it is hard for us not to be false teachers, if not by words, but by our lifestyle.

I feel like I can spot this attitude from a mile away.    Typically it is an attitude that is more focused on doing bigger, better, and greater verses letting God do His will.  (I am not saying that bigger churches that do great things are wrong.  I think God can take ordinary people and do some great things and will even help churches grow in size.)  When I look at what Christ taught, nothing says bigger is better.  He is constantly teaching how we must become less so that God can become more. The selfishly ambitious want to become more and want God to make them great.

Their personal lives and life outside church reflects that same attitude.  They always have to live a life of bigger and better.  They WANT what they WANT and God is just what they do on the weekends.  (I know God blesses people with things, so having things is not the problem, but rather the heart and desire behind wanting the things is the problem.) 

As I mentioned last week, I was able to spend some time with some great friends of mine over Labor Day weekend.  As I was around them, I could just feel God in the midst of our conversations.  It was if God was blessing me through the conversation and He was teaching me.  He was showing me. He was letting me know He was there.

I have had different relationships with pastors over the years and yet, only a handful of them have a I actually felt God's presence in the midst of the conversation.  Now, I know its not about feeling, but when God is present, you just know.  I don't know how to explain it other than you know.  I think the opposite is also true.  When we are getting in the way of God, we hinder others from seeing God.  When we are so selfishly ambitious and trying to make ourselves more, God has no where to go in our lives but to become less. 

What I really want to say is, we have to be careful of our attitudes and our motives. When we are in leadership positions in a church, people want to respect and follow that leadership role. I know I've been around a lot of pastors in different capacities and when their heart is not right, I really struggle being able to trust and follow them.  I want to go with them in their journey of helping others to see Christ, but I can't.  It is impossible to follow someone who doesn't know the way and make it to the destination. Personally, I can't follow someone who is leading me to themselves, and I don't think others can either.

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, September 11, 2012

The Tube

Well....I guess you can't really call it "The Tube" anymore.  Can you?  "The Tube" came about because it was a tube tv right?

Anyway, I just wanted to share something my family and I decided to do quite some time ago.  A few years ago, my wife was giving up facebook for lent so I decided to give up TV.  I didn't think at the time it would be a huge deal, but it actually changed how we as a family watched TV together.  I did allow us to watch a couple shows throughout the 40 days, (didn't realize on Sunday you could actually break away from your fast) but they were on purpose and planned.  There was absolutely no mindless TV watching on my part. 

Later that year, when it was time to set up the Christmas tree we decided to move the TV to our bedroom.  Marcey doesn't like to watch TV late at night usually so it was used quite less once it was in there.

Then a crazy thing happened.  We began to find time that we didn't know we had.  We were finding more and more time to do things together and our evenings were lasting longer.  It was crazy. most good things, that came to an end.  We ended up moving the TV back and before we knew it, one show turned into two and before long a whole evening was gone.

After moving into our new house, we realized how much we actually watched TV and how often our nights would be gone before they even really started.  We hadn't really spent time with our kids and we hadn't had a quality conversation in over a month.

So...we moved our TV.

First, we moved our TV out of living room and into the basement where I set up an entertainment area so that if we wanted to watch a Movie we could, but the antenna (yes, we use one of those "things" instead of paying for cable) was behind the TV and really couldn't pick up any stations.  We could move it if we wanted to watch a specific show, otherwise it wasn't used.

Since that time, we have barely used our TV.  Sure the kids watch an occasional show on it and my wife and I occasionally rent movies to watch together, but watching a movie with my wife is actually somewhat special now compared to the every night occurrence like it was once. 

It's amazing to me how little we watch TV and yet for some TV is big chunk of their life. According to "The Sourcebook for Teaching Science" the average  American household has a TV on for almost 7 hours a day and 49% of Americans say they watch too much TV. 

What is it about the TV that has so many of us drawn to it?  Is it just another addiction that helps us get away from all the pain and hurt that we are dealing with?  I am not going to claim that I know the answer or know the reason.  I just know for me it was a way just to make it through another night without really having to be present.  It was really was.

I wonder how much different life would be if we only watched TV with a real purpose.  If we used it as something we could do together, not something that we always do.  Life is so much more than that. We have so much more to give.  There are so many more important things and more important people.  We live amongst a hurting world....and yet so many of us are hiding....hiding in front of our TV.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Day...A Week

If you read my blog much, you know that I like to try and post 5 days a week. (If you didn't know you do)  Anyway, I have been stirring the last 24 hours trying to figure out what I had running around in my head  that really needed to be fleshed out into words.  Writing blog posts helps me.  It helps me put into words things I am thinking in a way that sometimes even challenges me to evaluate what I truly believe.

Today, however, is different.  I can't really come up with anything that I feel is noteworthy other than the journey I have been on for the last week month while. It used to be that in my life I spent a lot of time praying.  I don't necessarily mean the time on my knees, but I felt like I was talking to God quite frequently.  Then through the course of events, I gradually let it slip.  I began spending less and less time while convincing myself the time was still the same. 

A couple months ago I started reading my Bible more.  I knew I needed to and I always had wanted to spend more time, but wanting to in your head is not the same as wanting to in your heart and actually doing it.   Over a matter of weeks I began to really ponder about things different people were telling me.  I had a Pastor that I really admired for what he taught and how he taught telling me one thing and then another Pastor who I am challenged by telling me something totally different.  It was like they were in the middle of an argument on a public platform.  So finally I decided that was enough pushing from God for me to really dive in and begin reading. 

I started at the Beginning, even though I know they tell you not to.  After a while of doing that I added reading part of the New Testament along with it.  Slowly but surly I am making my way through the Bible, trying to read it as if it were the first time.  I am trying to ignore what I have always been taught the Bible says and see what conclusion I come up with.  I don't want to be deceived.

Last week, I decided to try something different on top of that.  While I am reading through the Bible still, I am also going to take a book at a time and really try to break it into sections and look for ways to apply it to my life.

So all of this is fine-and-dandy other than the fact that my prayer life has really been suffering.  So to help with my studying of God's word.

I say all of this because it is part of my story.  It is part of what I have been struggling with.  I can also say that since doing so I have noticed a difference.  It may not be a huge difference, or even one that people will notice, but I have noticed a difference in what God has been sharing with me and in ways that He has been dealing with me.

I can't say that all things are perfect, because I know they can't be.  However, I can say that things are different and I have been able to gain some insight into challenges I have been facing. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

To the husbands

As I heard this, I couldn't help but jot it down and come back to it.  To me there is so much to be said here. This one verse speaks volumes to me so I will try to keep this post as short and sweet as possible.  It will be a bit different than some of my posts before, but I had to share none-the-less.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1 Peter 3:7

I will admit there have been times in my marriage where I haven't been very considerate.  I am sure to this day I fail from time to time. I have learned though, what it looks like to really put an effort in.

One of the first things I notice as I read this passage is that it says "as you live with your wives." How often is it that we see husbands that don't actually live with their wives.  Sure they sleep in the same house, do things together from time to time, eat the occasional meal together, but they aren't really living "with their wives."  This is sad to me.  I can honestly say I don't know that I would be in the same point of my walk with God if it hadn't been for my wife.  I can look back over the last 10 years and see the things God has done, in-spite of my failures to make sure we had an opportunity to live together. While I don't think Peter was necessarily stressing this point as much as I have, I do think he chose his words carefully and put it in there for a reason.

The second thing I notice is how he says we have to treat our wives with respect as they are the weaker partner.  Now I could go on and on about my views of how the whole feminist movement really destroyed our culture, but to keep it plain and simple, men and women are not equal.  Woman can be as smart as men, work as hard as men, and just about anything else to look like they are equal to men, but they are not.  We are on two different playing fields. I don't think Peter was belittling women as much as he was telling us to respect them for who God made them to be.  We are not the same and God has given us both different roles to fulfill. (Unfortunately, those lines have been blurred, but that is a whole different topic)  We are to respect our wife as she is our partner in life and God put them in our life to be with us.

The last thing I notice is that if we ignore our wives and don't respect them, our prayers to God will be hindered. While I have heard this before, I don't know that I have ever really realized it in my heart.  I can look back over my life since I have been married and can pinpoint times when I know my relationship with God suffered because I wasn't able to have real communion with Him.  My method of contact with Him was being hindered because of the way I was living my life.  I too can say that I know my relationship is stronger with God when my attitude towards my wife is right.

This post might not be for everyone, but I know it is something that we as husbands need to consider.  Personally I can see how it all ties into the tri-polar spirituality that has been weighing on my mind.

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  
 1 Timothy 1:5

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chapter 6 - Faith like a child

Maybe all parents get to experience seeing the faith of a child, but for me Noah truly humbles me quite frequently.  Over the past few years we have taught Noah about prayer and worked with him on praying and really thinking about his prayers not just praying the same thing all the time.  I know a lot of kids that recite the same prayer before meals and I admit I have a tendency to do it myself.  Prayer for Noah, on the other hand, is part of his reality.

I first decided I wanted to post this after we spent the last weekend with some friends of ours.  They have a son who is three and so Noah, Taylor, and their son Carter would sit together at another table while we ate. On one occasion, after Marcey had set the food before our boys and Carter's mom had given his food we looked over to find that Noah had all three of them holding hands and was praying for the food before they ate. All I can say is it made me so proud to know that those boys wanted to pray before they ate and didn't just dive into their food.

For me, that is not where the story begins or ends.  Like I mentioned, Noah's reality consists of prayer as a part of his life.  In my life I have found that if I want to see something happen I ask Noah to pray for it.  There is something that happens when that boy prays that is far beyond anything I can truly comprehend.  I know God hears prayers....God answers his prayers.   I don't know how many times I had asked Noah to pray for me to get a new job back before I got my current job.  We all knew I needed something that would be more suitable to having a family.  God answers.

I know the bible speaks in several places about the faith of a child and I wonder if that is where I am hindered.  Noah, just as so many other kids, still have an innocence about their faith.  As we get older our faith gets shaken and (for me at least) I long to have that same faith.  I long to believe my prayers are answered.

Now, I have plenty of reasons to believe, but sometimes the head doesn't always work well with the heart.  I have so many things I am thankful for, and God has done so much for me that I have a tendency not to pray for things because I don't feel like I deserve my prayers to be answered.  I know God loves us and cares about us, but I have a hard time believing in my heart that He has more that He wants to do for me and give to me.

That is why I can say I am truly humbled by my sons ability to pray.

As I write this, a scripture came to mind that says, "pray without ceasing."  I have always took the verse to mean we should always be praying, but what if it is more than just that.  What if it is a reminder that God wants us to be in communion with Him always because He still has more for us.  I say this because as I type this I feel like God is telling me to believe that He still has more for me and wants me to pray to Him and bring before Him the desires of my heart.  Not because He doesn't know, but because He wants to hear from me.

To somewhat top all this off, I have to share a video that a friend of mind told me about this past weekend.  It is of Francis Chan at the passion conference this past year.  I have been a Chan fan since his book Crazy Love came out.  This video is just another reason why I enjoy listening to Him share about God in his life.  For me it is amazing at how this has all come together for me the last few days.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Enabling Others

Like I mentioned yesterday, I was able to spend some real quality time with some great friends over the weekend. It was during this time, a conversation came up about being an enabler. Being around a church, one often gets to see or hear about people coming to the church asking for money. A lot of churches have benevolence funds, but when that money runs out many churches are forced to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” While I hope to never be in that situation, because I know it is a hard place to be in, I wonder if there isn’t a bigger issue that needs to be dealt with.

I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time now. I know God has called us to help those in need and has asked us to love our neighbors, but what if we have created a society where people just expect help and refuse to work or try to work?

I don’t want to get political by any means, but it has been a point of conflict the last couple years. Many more people are LIVING off welfare and not even trying to get a job. Personally, I don’t believe welfare is entirely wrong. I think helping people is good, but what happens when the system is broken and no relationships are formed?

I think that is where we are today. So many people get assistance and abuse the system. In reality the church (not a specific church, but God’s church) should be the one handing out the help. The body of Christ should be developing relationships so they know when someone is in need.

So my real question for today is have we become enablers or are we still helping people? How do you know the difference?

I have been looking through my bible trying to come up with some answers. So far, this is what I have come up with.

In Luke 15:16 (in the middle of the prodigal son story) it says “…and no one was giving anything to him.” I take this as God allowing him to come to a place where he realized he couldn’t do it on his own. He realized he had to make better decisions if his life was ever going to get any better. He couldn’t go on living the same lifestyle he wanted, but had to repent and go back to his father.

In many places it speaks of reaping what we sow and so I wonder if the truth that comes out of those passages speaks to people needing to reap what they sow unless that turn and repent. From everything I can find, when Christ died for us, He reaped what we had sown. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to deal with the immediate consequences, but ultimately the end consequence is that He took what should have been ours. I think the adverse is also true. If we don’t repent we need to reap what we sow, that is one of the only things that will bring us back to God.

In 1 Timothy 5:8 it says, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” As it goes on, it speaks of helping those in need, but only if they have proven that they are trying and not just sitting idle, waiting on others to help them. I think there are so many people now in our world that do this. They feel entitled. They believe that others need to help them and just because life isn’t working out or going the way they want it to, it is someone elses’ fault and so someone needs to help them.

The real reason I write today is because I sometimes struggle with knowing when to help people and when to let them fall. I don’t want to be the one who is enabling them to stay the same and not grow. I don’t even know what to say to someone who is in that situation. I see what God does in my life when I become broken or fall and while it’s not fun or enjoyable, it’s God’s way of teaching me. It is a way of getting me to turn back to him.

I guess for me I just need to pray for discernment and the words to say to someone, if I am to speak. Then follow through with whatever God has given me to do.

I guess I am left with one last question. How do you talk to someone who has become an enabler?

On a side note, I do want to mention that I do believe giving someone an initial hand up is of God. I think it is after that initial hand is when we have to be careful as to if we are becoming enabling or if we are actually helping the situation.

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, September 4, 2012

Great Friends

Great friendships don't come easy. They take a lot of work. I have never really had a lot of great friendships and really I can probably count the number on one hand. They take a lot of work and a lot of time. True friendships are developed over time through being real, being honest, and doing life together.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of getting to spend some time with some of, what I consider to be, my best friends. I can say that, even though I don’t see them very often, because when I do see them, the friendships don’t seem to have lost anything over the time.

I was telling my wife on the way home, from seeing them, how much I missed them and the more I begin to think about it the more I realized why. As I am around them I can sense God. I know we aren’t supposed to look to others to validate us or to be our “gods,” but I think there are people God puts in our lives that really help us see God. Just being around them you can tell God is there.

For me, these sorts of friendships aren’t an everyday thing. Sure, I have my wife and we have an amazing friendship, but there is still something different about being with like-minded brothers in Christ. The connection is deeper than just casual conversation. The friendships challenge you to be more, to examine yourself, and to really search for God’s will. I miss being able to experience that so frequently.

This past weekend was really an eye opening experience for me. It helped me remember and see things differently again. It was a great weekend. I have to say I miss my friends and it sure is glad to know that no matter what life throws our way, I have some great friends that I can turn to.

Life is just better with friends.