Monday, January 27, 2014

What Are You Capable Of?

Last September, some people at the plant where I work were talking about having a contest to see who could lose the most weight in a month.  We'd all put in $10, and whoever lost the largest percentage of weight would collect the money.  Well I decided to join in, and ended up winning.  We continued this each month until December, me winning 2 out of the 3 months, it was pretty cool.  Deciding to take the month of December off so we could celebrate the holidays and eat with no reservations, and come back and start over after the new year with a 3 month competition.

Well we are well on our way to completing the first month of our three month stint, and it's going pretty well. As of yesterday I was down a little over 12 pounds for the month, almost 5.5% weight loss.  I think I may be in either 2nd or 3rd place right now, but that's okay because I have staying power and have realized something about myself during this process, and that is I'm capable of anything I set my mind to.

I made a decision to participate in this contest, and in order to do it, I was going to have to change my eating habits.  No longer would I be eating dessert after every meal, nor would I be eating many carbohydrates, which just turn into sugar in your system.  I won't tell you it has been easy, I really enjoy a good sugary snack after a meal, but even as my body craved the sugar I was denying it, I kept telling myself, there's money involved here and you don't want to lose it.

What I have realized about myself is this, I can do anything I put my mind to, as long as I have a goal or reason to do it.  I didn't actually start dieting because of how I looked, I already knew I was a good looking guy regardless of how much I weighed, I did it to be a part of something with my friends, and to lower my blood sugar, which had gotten a little higher than it needed to be.

I think we are all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for.  We look at things around us and think, I could never do that, when in reality we can doing anything we choose.  We've been sold this bill of goods by the enemy of mankind into believing if something is hard, then we can't do it.  I've listened to my body scream at me to eat something, but I've just told it to wait a little longer.  I've pushed myself just to see how long I can make my body wait and in doing so have learned something about myself, that I'm capable of so much more than I thought.

What about you?  What are you capable of?  Do you want to do something in your life, and have been afraid to take a risk, or to try for fear of failure?  Why not get a plan, and just see what you can do?  I know changing eating habits may not be a huge thing for you, but it has brought me to a new and different place in my life.  I think now at 50 I'm just realizing what exactly I am capable of.  Never to old to learn.

Strength and honor for the Kingdom and the King!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Where Do You Live?

I have lived on this planet for almost fifty years now, and the more years I've achieved, the more perspective I have gained as well. I have an opinion on just about anything, if you don't believe me, just ask, it's something we "older" fellas just do I guess.

I was making a late night run to WalMart last night, and as I drove down the country road which would deliver me to the store, I noticed from the beam of my car's headlights a frog hopping from one side to the other. Now those little suckers can leap pretty far.  He made it across the road in like four or five bounds, which is something that I couldn't have done even in my youngest and most limber years.

After seeing this, my mind went to other critters God has made, like the grasshopper.  At my work, I have an office which is in a tower.  It's approximately forty to fifty feet in the air, and you reach it by climbing two flights of stairs. The other day there was a grasshopper on the walkway by the door.  I thought, "How'd he get up here?"  As I got closer to him, he leaped right off of the platform, (bet that was a shocker for him) and I was amazed by the leap he made too, it was almost six feet.  Something pretty awesome for an insect who is not much bigger than a couple of inches long.

Life can get us so busy that we can miss what is right in front of us.  Let me ask you a question, where do you live? When you go about your day, what is it that you see?  I'm reminded of "Alice in Wonderland"; when she fell down that hole in the ground she ended up in a fantastical and magical place. Everywhere she went she encountered amazing and incredible creatures. True, this is a make believe story, but I think if we'd actually open our eyes to what is around us, we would see that we too live in just as fantastical a place.

I mean do you ever think about it?  God could have made this place so very bland, but He didn't. I don't like snakes; and my son and I actually killed a Copperhead on our front porch the other night, but as I looked at the pattern and colors on the dead snake I thought, "Wow, those colors and pattern on him really are cool."
This was the third species of snake which we have found in our yard this year. There are between 2500 and 3000 varying types of snakes in the world, and all of them look different.  Really?  I mean that's pretty incredible don't you think?

God created the Earth and filled it with millions of wonderful and incredibly amazing creatures.  Then He set mankind in the midst of it and told us to rule and reign over them.  I find myself a lot of days in the hustle and bustle of making a living, but forgetting where it is I actually live. And I, just like you live in an amazing place full of wonder, if I will just take the time to open my eyes and really experience all that God has made.

Strength and honor for the Kingdom and King.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Do You Have A But?

I was at church this morning listening to my Pastor teach, when he mentioned a story from the book of Numbers chapter 13.  In there you will find the story of Moses sending the twelve spies to go in and check out the land that God had promised to the children of Israel.  When he said that the Lord told Moses to choose out one man from each of the tribes to send, something went off on the inside of me, and I'd like to share it with you.

Take a look at Numbers 13:1 - 3: The Lord now said to Moses, "Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites.  Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes."  So Moses did as the Lord commanded him.  He sent out twelve men, all tribal leaders of Israel, from their camp in the wilderness of Paran.

If you know the rest of the story, the twelve men spent 40 days spying out the land and found that it was indeed a great place, and everything that the Lord had said it would be.  The thing that jumped out at me this morning was the fact that each of these men were leaders.  They were not your run of the mill guys, they were leaders of their tribes, and when they returned they reported to Moses about how the land was as great as God had said.  They had great things to say about the land, yet, that was not where ten of the men's focus was directed.

If you look at verse 28 you will see what the ten were actually focusing on.  Numbers 13:28: But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified.  We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!  Back in verse 22 it said: Going north, they passed through the Negev and arrived at Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai - all descendants of Anak lived.  (The ancient town of Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian city of Zoan).

That last part in parentheses is interesting to me because Abraham (the father of the Israelites) had lived there  and probably knew some of the descendants of Anak.  This is important to me, because they are stating a fact, but one that really is irrelevant to their report because I'm pretty sure they had heard stories about father Abraham living in Hebron.  In other words the descendants of Anak were not unknown to them, nor was this  a pertinent fact.  Instead of focusing on the goodness of God and what He had for them, ten of the twelve spies chose to focus on the challenges before them.

The stories in the Bible were given to us as examples for us to learn from.  What most people miss is how this and other stories relate to their walk as a Christian (myself included).  Let me ask you, are you a leader?  Before you answer no, let me assure you that you are.  Oh, you may not run a church, or a fortune 500 company, but each one of us is leading someone, if it is only to conclusions.  Our lives are on display, and the things that we do and say matter.  People are watching us to see how we will react, and what we will do when the challenges of life arrive.  Just like the millions of Israelite people were watching those twelve leaders to see how they would react.  When the ten said that the promised land was not attainable, the masses followed their word instead of God's.

Life is full of ups and downs, and victories and defeats but it is in our attitude where God works miracles.  I heard it said one time that we don't have to take care of supernatural, that's God's department.  All we have to do is the natural part, and God will take care of the rest.  What happened in this story is the leaders forgot the supernatural that God had already done for them, and focused solely on the natural.  Their "buts" got in the way.  How about you?  Are you spending more time focusing on the buts in life or on the God who overlooks the buts and leads us to victory?

Too Much Change Is Making Me Think What's Wrong With Me?

I felt the need to write something today, it's been quite a while since I've written anything.  This blog is something I do to help me, a form of therapy if you will.  If you choose to read it, thanks, but know that I'm writing it to try and figure some things out that have been running through my head for a while now.

You may or may not know my story, so let me give you the "Cliff Notes" version of what has been happening with me for the past three years.  Three years ago in April of 2010 my  youngest son decided in a moment of extreme emotional duress to take his own life.  Being called home by my daughter to find him dead on his bedroom floor changed my life to say the least.

After that day, things that I once found important just weren't any more.  I found myself back at the shoe store listening to people agonize over their decisions on which pair of shoes was going to make their lives better and truthfully I just wanted to scream at them, "It's a pair of bleeping shoes!  It doesn't really matter at all!"  I began to see in people this reality of things that so many people thought important, and I just couldn't stand it.

I would hear people talking about what they wear, where they live, what they do for vacation or how the car they chose to drive is so important and would make their lives better and think, no, what would make my life better is if my youngest son weren't dead.  Material things literally took a back seat to anything else in my world, and being forced to listen to people talk about material things and how important they were to them would just piss me off.

As time passed, people moved on with their lives.  I'm not bitter about that, I fully understand it, but for me it seemed like time began to slow and even stand still.  Little things would remind me about Noah, and I'd be right back at the day of his death.  I never got mad at God or anything like that, I would just find my emotions back in that day.  It was like being in some type of a loop that would replay over and over again.  I'd go so far, think things were getting better and then bam!  I'd be right back on the floor praying to God to bring my son back from the dead.

What was problematic for me was that the grace of God carried me through the initial grief and pain to such a degree that I have never known, that I really thought I was over and past all of the heartache and suffering that my son's decision had brought to me.  It wasn't too long after Noah died, that I left the shoe business.  It wasn't in the way that I would have preferred, but none the less I found myself without a job and on unemployment and looking.  I was experiencing another change in my life.

A few months later I accepted a job at a factory in town and became a part of the blue collar working class. My job has me there at 6 AM and staying sometimes as late as 8:30 PM.  I put in long, hard hours in order to support my family.  I don't complain about it, I'm willing to do whatever for my family, and am happy to do so. God said if you don't work, you don't eat, and that the man who doesn't provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever.  So to work I go, and I thank God for the provision He is giving us through my job.

Another change that has taken place is that I don't get to spend nearly as much time with friends like I was accustomed to doing.  This change in my life has left me feeling alone and at times having to fight off the bitterness  that tries to consume me when I hear about all the fun things my friends are doing together, things I used to do with them.  I'm happy that my friends are able to do things together, I really am. It's just tough to know they are out having fun together and I'm either at work or having to get to bed so I can get up and go back to work.

All this change in three years has brought me to a place of asking, "What's wrong with me?"  I feel angry, sad or upset most of the time.  I get mad at the people closest to me, and then just want to be left alone.  I don't think I'm depressed, but do see the symptoms of it at times.  It is a very strange place for me at this time in my life to say the least.  I still do the things that I'm supposed to do; go to work, do things around the house, go to church, etc. but truthfully there are times when I want to scream and run away.

There have been so many times at church where I see that everyone is happy to be there and participating in all the activities that are going on, and I just want to throw up my hands and leave, thinking this is not for me. No one understands what I've been through or even am going through right now. It's really weird to be in a room of 400+ people and feel totally and completely alone.  I've experienced so much change in the past three years, and it is taking its toll on me I'm afraid.  Even the things that used to bring me joy, now aren't and that concerns me greatly.

Counseling is in my near future, and I am grateful that it has been provided for me and my bride, because I know that I for one really need it.  I understand that change comes to everyone, I'm just ready for my life to get back to something better than it's been for the past three years.  I know that I have something God designed me to do on this planet, and I want to do it, but lately it just seems like the wind has been taken out of my sails.  I want my life to be better than it is right now, I'm ready for my life to be better period.

If you have made it this far in my ramblings, I'd like to ask that you pray for my family and me.  We are not who we used to be as a family, we are different now.  I know that God has us securely in His hands and is taking care of us, but knowing that people are praying for us really helps me at times.  Thank you.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cell Phones & Selfishness


I just spent a weekend with some incredible men, learning how to be a better husband, father and man.  One of the  greatest things about this weekend was that I had no cell service and I actually turned off my phone.  That was so freeing for me. Now it's not that I get a lot of text messages or phone calls anyway, but to be free of it was amazing, and I loved it!

I've noticed something that actually kind of bothers me about cell phones, and that is how much people's noses are stuck in the stupid things all the time.  We've all experienced it, you get together with family or friends and 90% of the people in the room are more focused on the life in that little screen than the life going on around them.  You try to have a conversation with someone, you make a comment or ask them a question only to realize that they didn't hear what you said, because their attention is on that little screen.

To be really honest about that, it makes me feel horrible when that happens.  When this happens to me, something inside feels diminished.  Like I'm not important enough to be heard.  I'm sure you've had that happen to you, how'd it make you feel?  The funny thing about this is how we fool ourselves into thinking that we are being more social.

Distraction is the one tool of the enemy that really works well.  He doesn't have to cause us to blatantly sin to mess us up.  I'm reminded of something from C.S. Lewis's book; The Screwtape Letters.

The following excerpt from The Screwtape Letters is, I think, one of C.S. Lewis’ most sublime arguments. The senior demon, Screwtape, is trying to help his new tempting nephew, Wormwood, keep the new Christian sliding away from his faith. Within this part of Letter XII are several brilliant quotations and key points of subtle spiritual struggles.
As this condition becomes more fully established, you will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations. As the uneasiness and his reluctance to face it cut him off more and more from all real happiness, and as habit renders the pleasures of vanity and excitement and flippancy at once less pleasant and harder to forgo (for that is what habit fortunately does to a pleasure) you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”. The Christians describe the Enemy as one “without whom Nothing is strong”. And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.
You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,
Your affectionate uncle
SCREWTAPE

I have to think that if C.S. Lewis were alive and writing this today, he would have added cell phones to the list of things to distract us from the goal.  There will be those who say, but you don't understand I have to stay in contact with so and so, or with this or that.  But I would ask, why?  Why is it so much more important to be on that phone with people who are not in the same room with you?  Before cell phones and internet access 24/7 there was a time and a place for staying in contact with people. We made time to do what needed to be done, and it worked.  Why won't it work now? It will, we just have to make time for what we need to do.  We have to prioritize our time, and make the time for everything that is important to us.

I feel that if relationships are what Jesus is after, and there is something which diminishes those then perhaps it is being used by our enemy to keep us from where we need to be going.  Just a thought.  Strength and honor for the Kingdom and the King!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Man You're Leading No Matter If You're Right Or Wrong

I was reading the story about Achan found in Joshua 7.  It's the story about what took place after the first battle the Israelites faced in the promised land.  God had commanded that they utterly destroy Jericho and all in it except for Rahab the prostitute and the family she had with her.  He also said to not take any of the plunder as it was holy to the Lord.  All the sliver, gold and bronze was to be placed into the treasury of the Lord.

Achan took some silver, a Babylonian robe and a wedge of gold, hiding them in his tent.  When it was discovered, he told Joshua that he had coveted it, so he took it.  On the instruction of the Lord, Joshua and the elders of Israel took Achan, his family and all he had and placed them outside the camp.  Then all of Israel stoned him and his family, then burned everything they had.  Removing the sin from the camp of Israel.

Nothing is said about his wife and children knowing what he had done, but yet they paid the price for his sin. In this age of grace that we live in, so many times we want to overlook this story and think that it doesn't apply to us today, but these stories are given to us for examples, so we need to learn from them, regardless of living in grace or not.

What I see here men, is that what we do, and the decisions that we make daily (right or wrong) affect our families.  They will either bring good to them, or bad, and it's because of us as the leaders of our homes.  This is not to say that our wives and children get a pass on life, and that everything that happens is because of us, no.  They still have a will, and they still have choices to make too, but when it comes to the family, the buck stops with us as President Harry Truman said.

What we do in leading our family may be one of the most important things that we as men can ever do.  Part of the reason for the decline in America's history is due in part I believe to the lack of fathers, and the leaders of the home standing up and doing what they must.  Too many men have either given up, or just never began to lead.  They're too busy working and trying to get a little extra pleasure for themselves.  And families are falling by the wayside because of it.

And not all of the pleasures are sinful; some guys make lots of time to play golf, and a little time to play with their kids.  A man told me one time that he didn't know what to do with his kids, he just was at a loss of what to do.  I told him to just do whatever it was that they liked to do with them.  I remember when my oldest child Micah was a little boy, probably around three, when I would come home from work to eat lunch I would spend about ten minutes in his room on the floor with him playing with action figures.  We didn't talk as much as we just were together playing, and when I would leave to go back to work, he would look up at me with the biggest smile on his face.  That ten minutes I could have been doing what I wanted to do; reading, watching television or napping, but instead I would take that little bit of time with Micah and the dividends it paid were huge.

Now I'm not saying that we should never make time for ourselves, we should.  Actually if you're not making time for yourself, you're going to end up losing it and going off on your family.  What I'm getting at this morning is that you are the leader, right or wrong, and whatever you do is going to affect your family, right or wrong.  And ultimately the decisions that we make as the heads of our families will determine the direction that they go.  I'm pretty sure that when Achan took that stuff he wasn't thinking about his family and what might happen to them, even though they ended up paying the price for his decision too.

You are male by birth, but you become a man by the decisions you make each and every day.  Lean on the Holy Spirit to help you make the right choices.  And if you don't know the Holy Spirit, I'd love to tell you more about Him and what His role on the earth is for you and your life.  Email me at godsfirstknight@yahoo.com and I'll talk to you about Him and get you some information too.  You can do this men, fight for your family, it's who you were created to be!  Strength and honor!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Respect and Honor

I'm not an old man (yet), I plan on living to a ripe old age as the Bible calls it (Genesis 25:8 & Job 5:26), but I have lived a few years on this planet (49) and in that time have learned a thing or two.  I may not be as wise as Solomon, but I do have some wisdom that I have learned; some the hard way and others easier.  One thing I have always told myself is that when I see something that is out of whack, I will speak up and address it, and today I feel the need to do just that.

There is something that has crept into my church in the past couple of years, something that while not really a bad thing such as flagrant sin or hypocrisy, it is something which left unspoken will cause us as a family a problem if it is not nipped in the bud.  And it is a simple thing from a more simple time, and it is called respect and honor.

I remember as a boy that whenever my parent's friends came to visit, my brothers and I would refer to them as mister and misses so and so, never by their first names.  Oh there were a few of  them who would say, call me by my first name, mister so and so is my father, but we were never allowed to call them by their first names until much, much later in life (I was up in my twenties before I ever referred to my dad's friends by their first name and even then it seemed weird to me).

There is a respect and honor due to people older than ourselves, but not just that, there should be respect and honor given to those who are leading us at Word of Life as well.  I have noticed the lack of the use of the term "Pastor" lately, and it is something that bothers me.  Now please understand me, I don't refer to Pastor Chad Stewart as Pastor because he has me asked to, in fact if he had said to me, "David I need you to call me Pastor when you address me." there is something that would rise up inside me and say, "Don't tell me!"  (And yes, this is an area of weakness in me that I am working on).

I don't like it when men of God tell others what they are to call them.  I feel that it is something that must come from a person's heart.  You see, when I call anyone Pastor, it is something that I do out of respect to the office that they hold, not because they have told me to do so.  For me it is an honor that I give freely to the person in that position.  It's like love, no one can make you love them.  You love a person because you have made a choice to do so, and it is the same way when honoring a man or woman of God.  When you refer to any of those on staff as Pastor, you are honoring the office which they hold.

The Bible says that the only place where Jesus could do very little work was in His own home town.  And like that, at Word of Life, if we are not careful we can become so familiar with the staff that we inadvertently begin  not honoring and respecting the office of the Pastor which God has given to us.  That office and those in it will just become Chad, Jesse, etc. And in doing so we will miss out on a lot of what God has for us as a church.

I know that when Pastor David (our founding Pastor) was with us, had he said something controversial from the pulpit, he would not have been booed, yet Pastor Jesse was just a week ago.  Some people would say that it is because he is younger, that they cannot receive from his ministry, but I would ask why is that?  Why is God unable to get through to you from this tattooed youth minister?  If your television cannot receive the signal from the local television station, it's not the television station's fault, it's your tv's.  Just like that, if you are unable to receive from a man of God because of his age, then perhaps there is something wrong with your receiver?  Just a thought.

I have no problem following a younger man, if God has placed that man into the position to lead the church, and I know that God has placed the men and women on our church staff there to lead us.  We need to honor and respect them and the offices that they hold regardless of their ages or the way they look or act, because it is the right thing to do, not because they have told us to do so.  And I don't always call Chad Pastor.  If we are out at the movies together or doing something in a social setting he is my friend and I call him by his name.  However when I am talking to him while he is in the office of Pastor I call him Pastor, and I place our friendship to the side.  It's all about knowing when the relationship is a friendship and when it is the Pastor/Congregant dynamic.

So please hear my heart in this today, let's respect the office of the Pastor and give the honor due to those on staff by referring to them as Pastor, not because I've told you to, but because from your heart you want to.  And as we do that, I believe we will see more and more in the realm of the supernatural take place.  So there's that, strength and honor for the Kingdom and the King.