Monday, September 8, 2014

Green Eyed Monster


Life is a very interesting and fickle thing.  One day you’re on top of the world, and the next you can feel as if you are on the very bottom of it, and for no reason at all.

Jesus said in John 10:10 says the thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy.  Did Jesus mean this in actuality?  Did He mean physically the devil would steal, kill and destroy?  I believe the answer to this is yes, but also so much more than that.

Do you have dreams, aspirations or things you feel strongly about doing?  I know I do.  I have felt for years now I was destined for some great thing the Lord wanted me to do.  I have dreamed about helping other people come to the knowledge of God’s Word and fulfill the purpose for what God created them for.

John Eldredge’s work through his many books helped to birth this desire inside of me.  It is something which is a passion of mine now, to help men become who God wants them to be.  Yet at times I feel this dream of mine seemingly gets further and further away.

It’s like being at the beach, you decide to get in and swim in the warm salty water.  So you begin paddling and enjoying it, when you look up and see you have now been swept down the beach by the current.  You began in the water with your family on the beach in front of you, and after several minutes you are now a quarter of a mile away from them.

This is what it feels like for me right now.  I have always tried my best to give an accurate description of where I am in life, and what is going on with me.  And it has always been easier to do so in writing.  I’m sure there are times when it may come across as whining, but I assure you this is not what I want to do.  Writing this out is actually a form of therapy for me, and in the course of helping myself, if what I’ve written can help others too, then I feel in a little way I’m actually doing what I am designed to do.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.  I feel as if my dream of helping others has been, or is in the process of being stolen from me.  It seems the harder I try to do what God has designed me to do, the further away from it I get.  This is one of the reasons I have been getting out of bed thirty minutes earlier each day just so I can do some more writing.

What about you?  What are your dreams?  And are you living your dream, or has it been stolen from you as well?  You know it’s an interesting fact about the word thief in John 10:10, it actually means a “pilferer”.  Now in case you didn’t know what a pilferer is, it is a thief which steals a little bit here and a little bit there.  He doesn’t steal it all at once; he just takes a little at a time.  He does this because it is harder to notice.

If our enemy was to come in and steal everything all at once, we would stand up and resist him.  But if he can take a little here and a little there, we end up in a place where we didn’t even realize we were being stolen from until our dream is almost gone.

This is where I find myself today.  I’ve allowed the enemy to steal from me by looking at what others are doing and have done in their lives.  Instead of rejoicing with others, a lot of times I’ve stood back and said, why them and not me.  Oh, I’ve not said it out loud, or to anyone.  But it’s been there in the back of my mind, lurking around stealing from me.

So what do I do now?  How do I go about getting this fixed?  A thief once caught in the act, won’t be able to steal any more right?  Not unless I continue to let him waltz in and do so.  It seems to me then the answer is to resist the enemy and not let him steal anything further, which I will do starting today.

I’m a little embarrassed about admitting this, but sometimes I have to be open and transparent like this to get to where I need to go to fix whatever is going on with me.  I have been jealous of others and their successes in life, instead of being happy for them.  I believe now this may in part be why I’m not where I desire to be today.

Jealousy is a big old green eyed monster which if allowed will consume you to the point of being irrelevant, which is where I’m afraid I’ve been heading.  The saddest thing about this is I believed I was going in the right direction the whole time.  Starting today, I’m going to do everything in my power to work at getting this green eyed monster off of my back, and get back to doing what I know to do.

If you are a praying person, I’d appreciate your prayers of support as I begin this journey of getting back to where I can be relevant and living the dream which God placed in my heart so many years ago.  And as always thanks for letting me get things off of my chest.

Strength and honor for the Kingdom and the King!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I'm Excited!

I realize I haven't written anything in a very long time, and I'm soon to remedy this situation.  But I am so excited to announce my latest book is online at Amazon.com, that I decided to share about it here on my blog.  Click the link to go and check it out!


http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Me-Ephod-~~Encouraging-situations-ebook/dp/B00N85LQSE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409737668&sr=8-1&keywords=bring+me+the+ephod


And I sure appreciate your comments too!

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!