Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Moving




Moving Day

I actually already moved most of my household goods and office last week when I went back home for Christmas, but what few remaining items I have left will be joining me on Wed. as I head back to West Virginia permanently.

There are always mixed emotions about moving. Ofcourse I've moved so much the past 6 years, I'm nearly a professional, I've given away more furniture than most people have in a lifetime, and I've moved around really too much, but live and learn, can't change the past, and that's what I get for waking up in Vegas.

I'm going to miss many of the students and kids especially who touched my life, i have a tendency to get attached easily, and also the people who befriended me during my time here, but I also am in much need of a change, new scenary, and a fresh start.

I am looking forward to being closer to my family, my long time friends, and especially my girlfriend Cheryl and her kids. She has to be the sweetest girl in the world! I am not sure what my career plans will be just yet? This next job will either turn into something permanent as a career or will be a job until I find something more career oriented. I also hope to always continue to minister and serve the Lord in whatever capacity He can use me.

I def. am ready to feel settled and to put down my roots back in WV where my roots have always been anyway. I've been blessed to be able to move around and minister and meet so many wonderful people and even despite some mistakes, bad situations, etc...God is never done teaching if we are willing to learn.

So, Country Roads, Take me home, to the place I belong....West Virginia, Mountain Mama, Take me home, country roads......

Monday, December 28, 2009

Unlocking


Unlocking

What do you do with trauma? Bad memories? Struggles? Problems? Mistakes? Pain? Hurt? When you’re life for whatever reasons has issues like this, what do you do? Do you bury it? Hide it? Live in denial? Many people try to keep it all in and lock it down and throw away the key, but the problem is that never works? You cannot bury or hide stuff, because it eventually it resurfaces because unresolved stuff is “unresolved” so it comes back in the form of anger, walls, mood swings, resentment, bitterness, poor decisions, broken relationships, turmoil, drama, etc….Junk in our lives does just not magically go away. You can’t sweep it under a rug, pretend it never happened, doesn’t exist, or bury it.

Imagine every time you have a problem or issue that you didn’t deal with, resolve, or handle, and you tried to bury or hide it you were given a 2lb rock to carry around in a backpack. Eventually your backpack would be full of 2lb rocks and it would be too heavy to carry. Emotional baggage is a lot heavier and harder to carry and has more long-term damage to you. It affects your personality, relationships, attitude, faith(if you have any), present, and future.

That is why it’s crucial that you deal with things as they come and do not procrastinate with your spiritual, mental, and emotional health. If you bury enough stuff, it will bury you. You will isolate yourself from healthy relationships, make bad decisions, poor choices, and go from one broken relationship to another and leave a trail of hurt to others in the process.

I think the key is to recognize whatever hurt or pain there is and begin looking for ways to resolve it, deal with it, heal it, or handle it. Whether that is prayer, counsel, medication, or seeking professional help. I think ultimately seeking God and using Him, His church, and His word will help you tremendously. I obviously know if there is serious damage or pain in your life you may need to seek out professional help and avenues. Either way, do not bury, ignore, or try and hide your issues or you will cause even greater damage to yourself and others. The sooner you deal with stuff the sooner you can begin the road to healing, wholeness, and happiness again.

Sometimes we think the best thing to do is keep it to ourselves, hide it, bury it, pretend it’s not there, or act like everything is ok. It’s not ok, and it will never be ok until we deal with it. Some people live entire lives and never deal with their pain or mistakes. Some people, never realize the damage they do to themselves and others by not addressing the hurt or pain in their lives. Sometimes people live an endless cycle of using drugs, alcohol, sex, people, relationships, habits, and hobbies to try and “fix” their pain, only to continue the cycle.

If you need help, get it. Ask people you know or trust to help you. Seek God. Half the battle is admitting you have been burying or hiding or avoiding stuff. It’s time to break the lock and let it out before it destroys you.

“Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you.” I Peter 5:7(NIV)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Burning Bridges



Burning Bridges

Wikipedia describes Burning Bridges as an expression synonymous to the "point of no return", typically used when a relationship becomes irreparable. I guess we think when a relationship is at the point burning bridges is ok, but I personally don’t think it has to be that way or should be that way. I don’t think we should hardly ever burn bridges, but I suppose many times we do either intentionally or sometimes unintentionally because we are angry, hurt, resentful, vengeful, or selfish or immature.

Whether it’s in friendships, dating, marriages, divorce, parenting, or working relationships, many times we choose to burn a bridge in a relationship only for it to come back and bite us or we regret it. I don’t believe in Karma, but I definitely believe in God’s word of “you reap what you sow” and I also believe in God’s divine plan and that paying back wrongs is His job not ours.

The thing is when we burn bridges we are really hurting ourselves. It could be in a job and we get mad and quit without a notice or tell our boss off and down the road a year or two somehow some way, that keeps us from getting another job or we end up needing something from that person and we can’t because of how we acted. It could be in a dating relationship or marriage where we treat our partner wrong and horrible and walk away trying to hurt them as much as possible, only for it to turn around on us when we get hurt the same way by someone else, or we have to live with the pain we caused someone else.

Or it could be in a friendship where you used someone, betrayed their trust, or threw them under the bus, and then down the road you have to deal with that person again in another setting or you lose other friends because word gets out on how you treated people. Many times people do it in churches and church hop or even people get divorced and do it to their ex-spouse, but problem is there are kids involved and they are the ones who suffer for their parents children or selfish behavior. The lists of scenario’s are endless.

I can see burning a bridge with an abusive parent or spouse. I can see burning a bridge with someone who is evil and brings nothing but pain into your life. But, I believe most of the time this is a rare exception and not the rule for every break-up, divorce, job change, or church move. we must be careful to not leave a path of burnt bridges in our path or sooner or later we are going to be on a deserted island with no bridges at all, because we’ve burnt every bridge and we have no friends, we can’t find a job, no church wants us, no one wants to date or marry us, or no one wants to be friends with us. We end up alone because we refused to recognize the cycle of destructive behavior in our lives and do something about it.

The one who ends up getting burned in the long run is yourself. You can’t go through life constantly hurting people, pushing people away, and hopping from one relationship, friendship marriage, job, church, etc..to the other and at some point not end up alone and with a life full of damaged people most of all including yourself.

I would encourage you today, to not burn bridges. To not destroy relationships. You don’t have to date, marry, or be friends with someone that you don’t want, but you don’t have to purposely try to hurt or destroy them. You don’t have to work at a place you don’t want or with people you don’t want, but you don’t want to do anything that ruins or destroys your reputation or keeps you from future employment opportunities. You don’t have to stay at a church you don’t like, but you don’t have to leave a path of destruction when you leave at every church you attend.

On rare occasions you may have to burn a bridge to protect yourself or your family, but I would hope most of us would try to be bridge builders and sometimes just walk away and move on and let go and leave whatever injustice or vengeance up to God. Do not burn bridges, walk over them and keep walking. Also guard your path so you don’t get in relationships, situations, or places you shouldn’t be in, in the first place.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay says the Lord.’” Romans 12:18-19(NIV)

Friday, December 18, 2009

West Virginia Bound


Almost Heaven
Ofcourse those of us from West Virginia know that is state "slogan". I am returning back home to West Virginia at the end of this month after almost 2 years in southern Indiana (20 months to be exact).
After much prayer and debate(with myself and God) I have decided to step out of full-time ministry and relocate back to "Almost Heaven" where "Mountaineers are always free". The state motto, This is free quote day.
I'm going to be working through manpower and starting a new job at the first of the year at Alcon just outside of Huntington. They are an optical manufacturer of the lenses for cataract replacement surgey. I will begin after the new year and not sure what I'll be doing there at this time just yet?
I will be staying with my folks for awhile to save up some money and pay off some debt and see where the future may take me.
As far as ministry goes, I plan on doing some fill-in preaching and looking for a church to get involved in. We are all minsiter's and I do not need a title or a paycheck to minister, but am looking forward to what God might have instore for me next?
I plan on just taking the time to get re-settled in West Virginia and enjoy dating Cheryl and having a normal dating relationship with her and spending time with her, her kids, and her family. If you've did the long distance thing, you know how enjoyable that isn't. haha. I also will enjoy being close to some friends agian I've missed.
I will miss my students and youth ministry at Central in Huntingburg, but feel this is the right move for me and what is best for me and my future. My last day and when I'll be moving back is Dec. 31st.
2009 was the worst and hardest year I can remember having. I am looking forward to a new start and a new beginning back in West Virginia. God is a God of the good and the bad and I am thankful for his faithfulness.
Merry CHRISTmas and Happy New year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Toxic


TOXIC

Toxic is what is used to describe highly poisonous materials, but it also is used to describe people and places sometimes in our lives. We all know people who are in relationships that are toxic or go places that are toxic or who have circumstances/problems in their life that toxic.

Toxic means extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful. Does this sound like anyone in your life past or present? They bring you down? They are abusive? Negative? Suck the life out of you? Tear you down? You had no issues until you met them? You know the kind of people I’m talking about. Could be a friendship, someone you date, someone you married, a relative, a co-worker, or even someone you go to church with.

Maybe there are toxic places that bring you down. A bar, a person’s house, even a church. Maybe it’s a place that you have bad memories? Maybe there is a group of people who are toxic and you need to find new friends or people to hang with or be around?

I am not sure of your situation, but do know Toxic is not a good thing and as long as you are in or around someone or something that is toxic, you will be affected in a very negative way. It will cause great harm to your health if you continue in a toxic relationship, around toxic people, or keep going to toxic places. You will not get healthy or find healing until you can get away from the people or things that is causing you to be sick.

If we were talking about Toxic chemicals, you have the chance of being seriously ill or even dying if you have too much exposure to them and you have to get away from contact and even sometimes be hospitalized and treated to get healed. Sometimes I wonder if toxic people aren’t worse. They seem to do more harm and the hurt is harder to recover from. People and places are toxic for different reasons. Sometimes people are toxic, because that is all they know, they’ve had such a bad life or so many bad things happen to them, they have become a product of their environment and so they are hurting and so they hurt back. Sometimes people are just selfish, cruel, mean, and evil and who knows why? They are users and abusers, and they destroy everyone they come into contact with. Some places are toxic because they are just unhealthy places to be or go or stay for various reasons.

My encouragement for you and myself this morning is to surround yourself with healthy and positive relationships and avoid, remove, or end negative/harmful relationships. Stop going to places or being around people who cause you harm, bring you down, tear you down, or keep hurting you in various ways. Maybe you are the toxic one and are causing all the issues in your life. If you are stop where you are and start dealing with your problems or issues and stop blaming them on others. Accept responsibility for your own messes. Do what it takes to get healthy so that you are stop hurting those you love or care about.

God created us for relationships. God wants a healthy relationship with us. He wants us to want a relationship with Him and He also wants us to have healthy relationships with other people. If there are toxic people or things in your life, run from them. If you are toxic to others, get help.


“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9(NIV)

Monday, December 07, 2009

More good reads

This is a great read. If you like Donald Miller type writing you'll like Vince. This book is a way to look at a relationship with God different that just going to church or doing religious things.


If you like the TV show, you'll like the book. It's an easy read on the different principles that this family values and what makes their family work.

This is one of the better books I've ever read. This book has the ability to really change people's lives if they take the time to read it and apply it to their lives. Full of great quotes, thoughts, knowledge, and I would highly recommend this book.

This is a little book, I'm reading as more of a devotional, but really is a message for churches and how churches miss the point and so do christians about what is really important in life. Quick read and has a great descriptions of wgat churches resembe. (police station, mortuary, museum, , etc).



Hurting people, Hurt people




Our Minister Wade used this quote in His sermon yesterday on “Forgiveness”. I heard this quote several years ago, probably 10 years ago and it has always stuck with me. When people are hurting, they end up hurting others if they do not deal with their hurt or heal in the right way in their lives.

When people become bitter, resentful, vengeful, angry with hate, or they have been hurt by abuse, divorce, neglect, betrayal, etc…it can bring about behavior that is not only not healthy, but ends up hurting those trying to help or hurting those close to us. We not only push people away who care, but we treat them very harsh, even to the point where we ruin relationships because of our behavior and attitude.

People can’t help us when we won’t help ourselves. People won’t stick around forever if they are constantly being yelled at, taken for granted, treated unfairly, or pushed away when all they are trying to do is help and be there. It’s a vicious cycle, that won’t break until we do something about it. We will continue to have broken relationships, whether that is dating, marriages, or friendships because of our unhealthy hurting behavior. We will continue to hurt people, especially those we love and who love us until we deal with and get help for our hurts.

It can mean stop avoiding your pain and start dealing with it. It can mean finally confronting or forgiving someone who hurt you. It may mean going and talking to a counselor or getting therapy. It may mean that you need to seek God and get serious about your faith and allow God to heal you and help you overcome your hurt. It means stop taking out your pain on those who did not cause the pain. It means stop making yourself and others miserable. Get help. Seek help. Find help. Want help.

I have been hurt and I have hurt others, never intentionally, but even if we don’t do it intentionally it doesn’t change the fact we hurt people. Most people who are hurting don’t want to hurt others, push them away, or be mean, but when your feelings and emotions are out of whack, damaged, or remain un dealt with, they really cause chaos, unstability, and a rollercoaster of reactions, emotions, feelings, and behaviors.

I encourage everyone today to stop hurting others by dealing with your hurts today. I would say, healing people, heal people would be a better quote. If we find healing, then we’ll have healed relationships and we’ll help people instead of hurting them. We’ll get help instead of hurting.

“For I AM the Lord, who heals you.” Exodus 15:26b (NIV)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

In the Blink of an Eye



In The Blink of an Eye
It doesn’t take very long to blink, but that’s how quick our lives, circumstances, or things can change. My family has lived on their property in Glenwood, WV for nearly 60 years. Our property joins in with another property and our family has hunted on that property for 50plus years. My dad has hunted on that land for 50 years and I have hunted, hiked, road motorcycles, four-wheelers, and even my pony on that land for almost 30 years. Recently, the property was sold to a different owner and at least this year anyway, we are not allowed to Hunt on the neighboring farm anymore. That quick, all those years of hunting and memories may be just that a memory now.

It’s amazing how your life can be moving along just fine and then all the sudden you get the phone call that a loved one has died suddenly with no warning. Or you’re driving along and BAM, you’re in a auto accident that kills or severely injures you or a loved one. You go to the Doctor for tests and find out you have cancer even though you feel fine. You're looking through some belongings in your house and you find proof that your spouse is having an affair. You discover a friend is lying to you. You come in to work like normal and your boss comes in and tells you it’s your last day.

In the blink of an eye our circumstances and life can change instantly with news, events, and things that are out of your control and sometimes forever. The course of our lives can be altered severely. I am not sure totally why these things can happen. Sometimes because of our own sins or the sins of others. Sometimes because of the carelessness or lifestyle choices of others. Sometimes maybe there is not explanations? It’s just life. People die. People are selfish. Accidents happen. Disease happens. Change Happens.

I’ve been thinking about all the memories and things I had hunting, hiking, exploring, and riding on that property all these years and how much I appreciated all the time I got to spend on there. I am not sure whether the new owner will give us permission next year or ever? But, one thing I do know is I am thankful for what time I did have there. I think we don’t spend enough time focusing on things while we have them, we have a tendency to take our blessings, health, and lives for granted. It’s easy to do, we all do it. We get caught up in our daily, busy lives and schedules and we don’t anticipate or plan for tragedy, life change, or unexpected surprises.

But, in the end that is how life works. It doesn’t always have to be that way. We can prevent some accidents, health problems, life style choices, or relationship issues by making better choices in what we eat, do, or how we live. How we choose our friends, partners, and relationships. But, in the end we are still going to face things that are out of our control. That is why it’s wise to be prepared spiritually. We must draw on our faith in God. We must rely on His strength, power, and wisdom to get us through difficult times and circumstances. We must also count our blessings and take each day one day at a time and rejoice with the good things God has given us and allowed us to be a part of. We also must remember that everything on this earth is temporary and nothing will last, even our very lives. Each day of breath is a gift from God and we do not know when it will be our last, so make the most of everyday by enjoying your blessings, thanking God for what He has given you, and cherishing those special memories, moments, and people.

“When times are good be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made one as well as the other.”

Ecclesiastes 7:14(NIV)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Red Flags



RED FLAGS

Red flag is a semi-official term to denote various attention and awareness indicators and signals, both explicit and implicit. It can used in various contexts usually as a warning or when things seem too good to be true, as well as, unexpectedly good results.-(Wikipedia).


I think we use this term more in relationship, business, or interpersonal settings. Usually when we date someone, are doing business with someone, or interacting with someone in a social setting, we use the term “red flags” because of signals, feelings, or emotions we are getting. Maybe they are telling us to break-up or not marry this person? Maybe they are telling us to stay away from that friendship, or to not do business with that person because they are dishonest, or do not trust that person because their character or integrity is in question. The point is a “Red Flag” is an unseen and unwritten warning to us that something isn’t right, on the up and up, or something bad is going to happen if we continue on this same path.

If you are like me, at times you’ve ignored the “red flags” in life and you’ve paid a heavy price for it. You’ve been lied to, heartbroken, disappointed, burned, betrayed, abused, devastated, angry, frustrated, bitter, resentful, traumatized, or worse. Sometimes we are a victim of our own insecurity, stupidity, naivety, or selfishness. Other times it’s because we trust too much, ask too few questions, we don’t want to say No, don’t want to be alone, don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or we don’t stand up for ourselves.

The point is “Red Flags” are there for a reason. A warning. If you were driving down a road that had a warning sign “Road Closed, Bridge Out” you would not keep driving, yet for some reason in our relationships (professional and personal), we can’t seem to always heed the warnings. They put warnings on cigarettes, yet people still smoke. People are warned of the dangers of abusing alcohol or drugs, yet they still abuse them. People who know you best or know other people warn you not to marry that person or do business with that person, yet we go ahead and live a life full of remorse and regret.

We need red flags at times in our lives and more that needing them, we need to recognize them and use them. When we see a “Red Flag” we usually start making excuses, justifying, and ignoring them. If our heart, mind, or nature tells us we need or want something, then it doesn’t matter the consequences at the time. The thing is our minds and heart lie to us and can trick us. We can ignore the bad behavior of a person because they are physically good looking or because we don’t want to be alone, so we date them or marry them. We need to make a quick buck or we become greedy and think about all the money we could have so we do business with someone who takes our savings or retirement and blows it. We want to be friends with someone so we’ll be popular, fit in, or accepted so we hang out with the crowd or person who is not good for us and before you know it, we are trapped in a life we didn’t want and doing things we never thought we’d do.

Red Flags. They exist for a reason. A warning. Danger is ahead. Harm is coming. Hurt is heading your way. Decisions you can’t take back are going to happen.
Regret. Remorse. Guilt. Shame. Resentment. Pain. Suffering. These things are your future if you do not heed the warning signs. When you see or hear the “Red Flag” take time to stop and evaluate it. Evaluate the relationship, the friendship, the path you are heading down. Evaluate the Why’s and the What’s. Why am I doing this? Why do I need to do this? What will be the consequences? What do those closest to me and care about me and love me say? What does my gut tell me? What does God think of this?

“The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life.” Proverbs 16:17(NIV)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quote to think about

I love this quote from Andy Stanley's book "The Principle of the Path":

"At the end of the day, when you finally reap the results of your misguided(or unguided) decisions, you're not the only one who suffers. Every decision we make that hurts us also hurts the people who love us most. And those who depend on us most will be hurt the most."

Monday, November 16, 2009

user-unfriendly


User-unfriendly

Selfish. Self-seeking. Self-absorbed. Self-centered. These words describe people who use others. They use people for their own selfish gain, motives, agenda, or wants. I think it’s in our human nature to be selfish or to put self first. But, there are extremes where we use people in harmful or hurtful ways. We use people in business to make money, get a promotion, or get ahead. We use people in relationships because we are lonely, needy, insecure, or afraid. We use people in life because we are bitter, resentful, angry, or hurt.

Sometimes people can be selfish and use people and not even realize they are users. They are so self-absorbed with their own pain, struggles, addictions, or problems they don’t see how they are using, hurting, or damaging others. Sometimes people can use people and know they are being selfish and they don’t care. They only care about themselves. Their own feelings, wants, desires, and agendas.

Jesus Christ teaches us a different way. God teaches us that to become first we must be last. Instead of being served we need to serve. He teaches us to put others needs above our own. He instructs us to Love God, and love others. He doesn’t even mention self. Being a Christian or a follower of Christ forces us to take a hard look at “self” and realize we need to change our attitudes, behaviors, thinking, and actions and treat others out of love, respect, and concern.

Though our human nature teaches us to only worry about ourselves, a relationship with God forces us to look at how others feel and how our actions effect others. It’s a process, but if we truly want to honor God we must learn to develop a self-less attitude, a God-centered life, and an others-seeking agenda. It’s not that our wants, needs, and feelings are not important, but we should evaluate our motives, our thoughts, actions, behaviors, and lifestyle choices and decide are these things selfish, self-seeking, or self-centered. Are my actions affecting others negatively? Are my behaviors hurting others? Are my decisions impacting others in a harmful way?

If we could begin to take an honest look at “self” and accept responsibility for ourselves and see if we are honoring God or moving closer to Him or if we are full of “self” it could be the path to having a life that has meaning, value, and peace. If we could become less selfish and more about God and others I think we would have healthier honest relationships, we’d be better employees and employers, and we’d not burn so many bridges or hurt so many people, ultimately we are really hurting ourselves the most with our selfish behavior or when we use people for our own selfish gain. We also should be careful to avoid people in our lives who are using us or who show a pattern of selfish behavior. If you are a user, stop! Start treating people with respect, appreciation, and do not use them or take our your issues on them. Treat others with the love that God shows us.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

Philippians 2:3(NIV)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day


Remerbering those who serve or who have served. Thank you Veterans.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

farting preacher


Maybe you've seen this maybe you haven't, you gotta love Robert Tilton




Monday, November 09, 2009

Perspective



PERSPECTIVE


Our perspective in a situation sure has a way of changing how we act, feel, or respond in situations. Whether it’s relationships, behaviors, habits, lifestyles, faith, or careers our perspective in a situation determines whether we stay married or get divorced, fix the broken relationship or end it, continue with the business deal or break ties, whether we embrace God or blame Him, or whether we face our fears or run from the truth.

Perspective. It can help us make the right decisions or cloud us into make a poor decisions. It can make us blame someone that is not to blame or help us see we need to take responsibility for our actions. It can help us treat people the way we want to be treated or make us treat someone unfairly. It can bring us to be compassionate or caring or it can cause us to become calloused and hard-hearted.

How is your perspective? Is it positive or negative? Accurate or inaccurate? Clear or clouded? Just or unjust? Your perspective on top of a building is different than that of one standing on the ground beside the building. Your perspective of someone’s actions may change depending on how well you know the person. You may think a person is rude or purposely ignoring you when you waved at them and they didn’t wave back or look at you, if you have an insecure or guilty conscience. However if you know them and do not have any reasons to doubt, then you may realize they simply did not see you or were distracted.

How many times have you thought one thing about a person or situation only to realize you were wrong on basing your judgment on a bad perspective. How many times did you think things would never get better or change because you had a negative or hopeless perspective? When our perspective changes in a good way, many times our circumstances, situations, problems, etc…begin to change. God can work better in our lives when we have a Godly perspective.

It’s tough, I struggle with it. Stinkin Thinkin. You think a situation will never change, never get better. It’s because our perspective of it is wrong. When we begin to see things through God’s eyes and have an eternal perspective in our lives, hopefully it will change our actions, behaviors, attitudes, and responses in all aspects in our lives. Things aren’t always as good as they seem and sometimes they are not as bad as they seem. How many times have you seen someone you love dating or married to someone you know is not a good person or good for them or to them and everyone else sees it except them. How many times have you been warned not to do business with a certain person, and you are the only one who can’t see they are dishonest or they lack integrity and you pay for it. We sometimes are the last to see something because we refuse to see it or admit we were wrong.

We need a God perspective. An eternal perspective. An accurate, true, righteous, honest, and realistic perspective of ourselves, our relationships, our lives. It begins and ends with our relationship with and to God. Even God did not judge or base things on outward, temporary perspectives. He looks at the heart of the matter.

“God does not judge by external appearance.” Galatians 6:2B(NIV)

Friday, November 06, 2009


"Sometimes we don't really need answers, we need THE ANSWER. Sometimes maybe even the right explanations wouldn't satisfy us like we believe they would, and we need to realize that the only thing that will truly satisfy us is God Himself" -Vince Antonucci(from his Book)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Swampy Steve



Check out Swampy Steve interviewing for the 100th Annv. at Central Christian Church in Huntingburg, IN.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Silly or not

Does anyone else think it's silly or stupid or funny that christians or churches like to have things, but then they feel the need to have to change the name so it's not "worldly".

  • We won't have a magician, but we can have an illusionist (isn't it the same thing?)
  • We will hire a children's or Youth Minister, but if it's a female they are suddenly a Director instead of Minister. ( I'm pretty sure Jesus said we were all directors, not.)
  • We will have Halloween parties at church, but we can't use the word "Halloween" or "trick or treat" so we have or "Harvest Parties" or "Hallelujah Parties". (guess what? We are still celebrating Halloween and its for the kids anyway)
  • We don't have fundraisers, but we have "donation" events (I say just give your money and we won't have to organize anything to do).

My point is, we get so caught up or worried about things, we miss the point. Everything in this world is not bad or evil. Not everything has a hidden or hurtful message. If we are doing things to reach people for Jesus, honoring God, ministering to our congregation, or whatever, I think we need to stop worrying about being political correct or offending people, and just work toward pleasing God. Our job is not to please people, appease people, or worry about someones deep ingrained opinions that are based on ignorance. We need to stop being so silly because when we focus anything other than God, we are not focusing on God at all. Just a thought.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Conviction


Conviction


Webster defines “Conviction” as “a strong belief”. We can be convicted about morals, values, principles, or right and wrong. What are your convictions? Do you have any?
Are you convicted to be a person of the highest integrity or character? Do you want people to know you are honest, dependable, and trustworthy? Are you convicted about your stances on social issues like abortion or drunk driving? Or maybe you have convictions about certain sinful behaviors like lying, cheating, or adultery, or abuse? The fact of the matter is we need conviction in our lives, if not, we will not stand for much of anything or have any boundaries in our lives.

We need to be convicted when we lie, hurt others, are rude or dishonest. We need to be convicted when we see someone being mistreated, abused, or harassed. We need to be convicted when see things in this world that are wrong and do not honor God. We need to be convicted when our lives do not honor or reflect the power or love of God. We need to be convicted when we handle situations wrong or we need accept responsibility for our actions or we need to face consequences.

Truth is people (including myself) can be convicted of certain things in our lives and then totally ignore other areas of our lives. But, God does not compartmentalize sin. Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong. Lying is lying. Adultery is adultery. Abuse is abuse. Dishonesty is dishonesty. Betraying trust is betraying trust. We cannot take a stand for foul language and be convicted not to curse and then turn around and talk like a dog to our spouse, kids, or neighbors. We can’t condemn someone for drinking alcohol and then we are the biggest gossip in town. We can’t be convicted about lying and then turn around and justify arrogant behavior. You see what I’m getting at? When God comes into our lives He wants to live in all our lives. His spirit convicts us so that we will become WHOLE beings in a relationship with Him. God wants all our areas of our lives so that He can help us be the best we can be and live the best possible life we can live.

I want to have conviction about all sin in my life. I want to always be convicted by God’s Spirit to do the right things and run from the wrong things. I want to take a stand for things that are right and against things that are wrong whether that is social, moral, principle, or personal. I want to honor God in all areas of my life and not just parts. If we truly want to honor God then we must allow His Holy Spirit to work in our lives and convict us of things whether it is things we need to do or say or be or things we need to stop doing or saying or being.

What things are you convicted about? What are you doing about them this week? God will help you and me become the people He wants us to be if we will truly and honestly seek Him and allow Him to work in our lives.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent and praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8(NIV)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Suffering


Suffering

If I had the answer to why we suffer, I think I could put it in a bottle, sell it, and retire in my 30’s to some tropical island. Suffering has no answer, or at least an answer we want. Yet, at times in this life we are called to suffer. Sometimes we suffer because of our own poor choices, decisions, or actions and other times we suffer at the hands of others. Nothing feels good about suffering and no one wants to go through with it.

I can tell you from a biblical perspective that suffering came from sin and because we live in a fallen, sinful world, with people who have free will to sin, suffering is a natural consequence. Yet, even more astounding is that the Bible eludes to the fact that we will suffer because of our faith. If we want to grow and mature in our Christian faith we will face suffering at times, whether that is persecution, temptation, or attacks from satan.

I know we face suffering for different things, disease, divorce, death of a loved one, a break-up, a difficult child, a disrespectful spouse, an evil co-worker, a dishonest boss, and suffering can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental. We can suffer from chronic back pain. We can suffer from years of emotional abuse. We can suffer from temptations to abuse alcohol or drugs. We can suffer from depression, anxiety, and fears. We can suffer and because we are miserable we want or make others miserable. We blame God, we blame others, and we continue to suffer.

I am not sure what type of suffering you are facing right now. I know I hate suffering, but I also know it’s necessary. If it were not for the sufferings I’ve faced in my life, I would not have the strength, endurance, perseverance, and hope I have. I know if it were not for suffering I would not learn the lessons that life has needed to teach me. I know if it was not for a broken heart I would not have experienced love. If it were not for a broken trust I would not have experienced real friendship. If it were not for a broken spirit I would not have experienced grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

We may not always want suffering and we may sometimes suffer and not know why and maybe we never will. Sometimes suffering just plain stinks and we may not deserve the way someone has treated us, made us feel, or acted toward us, but no matter what we can trust that God will use it. He will take it and use it in a mighty way if and only if we are willing and open to the teaching. God will use our sufferings to mold us, shape up, equip us, teach us, strengthen us, and grow us. In time, we can always look back and see where God was with us and where we are better because of what we experienced or went through. It can also teach us to stop doing things that cause us to suffer at our own hands or avoid the people in our lives who cause us harm. Most of all we can learn to truly rely on God in all times, both good and bad.

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
I Peter 2:21(NIV)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Who can you count on?


Who Can you Count on?

Accountability. That’s a word we don’t use every day, but it’s a word we need every day. We need accountability in our marriages, friendships, relationships, parenting, employment, finances, and especially in our faith.

Accountability is basically defined as being held liable or responsible or to give account. We all need that. It keeps us honest, and helps us have the utmost of integrity and character. It can help us keep and stay on the right track. How many of us would lose weight, go to church, be faithful, stop smoking, or have honest business dealings if we did not have someone or people in our lives who helped keep us on task?

No matter the situation or circumstance we need people in our lives who tell us what we need to hear not what we want to hear. Of course we have to give these people permission to enter our lives and keep us accountable. There are plenty of people out in this world who have no shortage of opinions to offer us, but most of them we haven’t ask for or want, but we do need to ask those close to us, that we trust, respect, and value to come into our lives and help us to be and do our best, especially in those areas where we struggle, need work, or know we are prone to fail or fall short.

If you struggle with an addiction you need to ask people to help you avoid those things and monitor you. If you are struggling with honesty or integrity ask people to help keep you honest, or if you are wanting to grow in your faith have people who are going to check on you and make sure you are in church, praying, and reading your bible regularly. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own self and actions, but I believe God designed us to help others, as well as, use others to help us overcome, deal with, or grow through things in our own lives.

We need God to help us. Part of God’s help is providing people in our lives to help keep us accountable. Who will encourage, challenge, convict, and keep on us to do the right things and be responsible for our actions, attitudes, and behaviors. It’s really easy to hide things in our lives and keep them secret. We think we are smart and fooling everyone, even God, but we aren’t. We are only fooling ourselves. We may be able to keep our secrets for awhile, but eventually they will come out and when they do, it won’t be pretty.

Whether you are cheating on your taxes or your spouse, whether you are lying to your friends or your boss, whether you are sneaking to smoke, drink, or do drugs, or whether you are skipping church or avoiding God and Christian friends God always knows and truth always finds itself out. We need to surround ourselves with people who will encourage us, help us, and who will love us enough to help us be the best we can be. Do you have accountability? Will you find it? I need it, you need it, we all need it.

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12(NIV)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More helpful Reads

This is a great book on prayer. How to pray and the importance of prayer. If you want to have a better prayer life read this book. Bill Hybels is a great author and has many great reads.



This is really a small booklet, but is about taking control of your thoughts and overcoming the strongholds in your mind that satan uses against you. Good quick, short read.

This is a book that was developed between a son and father. The son a christian and the dad not a christian. through a series of letters the son leads the father to become a christian over a 3 year period at the age of 73 and answers all the tough questions many skeptics of christianity have. This is a great read.


This is a great little read on the fruit of the spirit. We all could use this type of fruit in our lives.



This lady is such a great writer. She has great insight on our thoughts and our minds and how to have positive thoughts and how everything in our lives begins with our thoughts. A really great read.




Monday, October 12, 2009

Labels


LABELS

Labels. It’s what we attach to people based on our opinions, prejudices, interpretations, or other people’s influence. That person is moody. That person is so grouchy. That person is easy. That person is a liar. That person is a womanizer. That person is a gossip. Labels. We label people and most times those labels aren’t accurate or true, but simply based on our own fears, insecurities, jealousy, or clouded judgments.

How do you want people to label you? Do you want to be labeled a liar or trustworthy? Dependable or undependable? Conservative or liberal? Hypocrite or person of integrity? Flake or real deal? We can’t always control what others think of us, but if we are striving to live good, honest, decent lives then our integrity and character should speak for itself and if we aren’t putting ourselves in compromising positions, even when people might say false things about us, it will not stand up.

But, we also can’t control what others might say or do, but we can control what we say and do. We also can live our lives in such a way where we allow God to work in our lives so that we have accurate and true labels such as honest, dependable, loving, accepting, compassionate, forgiving, and trustworthy. If anyone is going to label me, I want it to be an accurate label. I want my character and integrity to speak for itself. I want people to know my faith and commitment to God.

How do you label people? Outward appearances? Your past? You own personal opinions or prejudices? Other people’s opinions? Or do you base your view of others through the eyes of God. All people are God’s creation. There are bad people in this world who choose to do evil and be evil and we can despise their actions and lifestyle, but we must always love the sinner and hate the sin. We must also realize that the way we judge others, God will judge us in the same way. God also reminds us in scripture that if we do not love others, then His love is not in us. He also says if we want to His forgiveness we must forgive others. God makes it clear to us that we must give the same type of treatment to others that we want and need from Him.

“This is the message we have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”

I John 3:11(NIV)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

verse for thought

"love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends."
Proverbs 17:9(NLT).
I came across this verse in my reading and I actually went and looked at several translations, but liked this on best. It's amazing what love can do when we are able to forgive, but it's also amazing what happens when we dwell on stuff, it hurts our relationships. I hope this verse encourages you today as it has me.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

45 lbs

Before 245lbs
After 200


I have met my goal, in 6 months I have lost 45 lbs. I went from 245 or and now I am at 200lbs (actually 198 as of last night) but 200 is my goal.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Perception


Perception


Maybe you’ve seen this photo before of the kitten looking in the mirror and when he looks in the mirror he doesn’t see a kitten, he sees a lion. It’s all about perception. How you see yourself is how you live, act, behave, or become. If you see yourself as stupid, you’ll make stupid choices. If you see yourself as a success you’ll act successful. If you see yourself as ugly, you’ll think you’re ugly. If you see yourself as a failure you’ll behave like a failure. Our perception is everything.

It’s not just true with ourselves. It true of how we view others, or our situations, or life’s problems or issues. If we perceive someone is not telling us the truth, we assume they are lying even if they are not. If we perceive the worst in a relationship, then that is what we’ll get out of the relationship. If we perceive everyone at work is out to get us, even if they aren’t, we’ll act like they are and treat them accordingly. Perception. It can be accurate or it can be false. More times than not our perception hurts us because we perceive things about ourselves or others that aren’t true and it affects how we treat others, react, live, or deal with situations.

Just think how different our lives might become or be if we would have realistic perceptions or if we based our perceptions on facts, truth, or reality? If we saw ourselves as others truly see us would be have more confidence? Feel pretty? Take more risks? Walk with our head a little higher? What if we saw others or our situations in the light of truth and reality would we treat others differently? Act differently? Handle situations differently? Would we realize that not every person is bad or out to get us or hurt us? Would we stop hurting others?

It’s tough sometimes to see the good in ourselves when we’ve been beat down. It’s tough to see the good in others when we have no trust or confidence in others. However just because one person told us we might not amount to anything, there are a 1000 people out there to tell us how great we are. There might be one person who hurt us, but there are a thousand people out there who we can trust and accept us as we are. We cannot base all our perceptions of people, ourselves, or our situations on past situations, past relationships, or past hurts or insecurities. Each person, situation, issue, job, relationship, etc…is unique and different. It’s hard to not be shaped negatively by our past experiences, but it is also possible for us to be shaped in a positive way by our experiences both our bad and good ones, if we seek God to help us determine our perception. Perception can be a good thing or a bad thing, but it depends whether we see a scrawny kitten or a powerful lion.
Each of us are great in God’s eyes. We are in His image, We are His, and He loves us as we are, but wants to see us reach our purpose, potential, and plan for our lives He has for us. He also wants us to learn from our mistakes, the mistakes of others, and He doesn’t want us going through life thinking the worse because of our past hurts or pains, but to renew our thinking daily and learn to fully trust in His power.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” 1 Peter 2:9a(NIV)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Reminder from God

"He who conceals His sin does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble." Proverbs 28:13-14(NIV)

I came across this scripture in my reading today and I thought it was powerful reminder to all of us (including me). When we try and hide our sins and don't confess them to God it catches up with us and we miss mercy and when we fear the Lord and don't let our hearts get hard we will be blessed and not in trouble. That Solomon was pretty wise.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Whirlwind


WHIRLWIND

A whirlwind comes together when hot and cold air come together. When hot and cold air collide in the right conditions, a whirlwind is started. Given the opportunity to gain momentum, a whirlwind will grow to become a storm of great force and anything that gets in it’s path will be changed and usually not in a good way. Look at the devasation in a town after a tornado hits. That is what can happen in our minds. Our minds can be like a whirlwind spinning around and tossing thoughts here and there, keeping us hurt, upset, confused, or negative. We become unstable. Nothing is tied down or safe in our minds when it is like this.

We go from one relationship to another, one job to another, one church to another; hot and cold, up and down, always finding something wrong with someone or something. It can all go back to our minds. Our thoughts. If we harbour or dwell on negative or insecure thoughts long enough they will keep us unstable, unsettled, and in constant turmoil.

Stress, worry, tension, anxiety, anger, fear, suspicsion, doubt, bad perception, etc…are all things that our negative thoughts can create and they can affect so many things about our lives, if we do not get them under control. Sometimes we can allow our imaginations to run so wild that we’ve convinced ourselves that certain things are accurate, true, or reliable when they are not. We push people away, avoid people, and run from our problems because of these false or negative thoughts that bounce around in our minds like a whirlwind touching down in an midwestern town.

In a booklet I read by Dr. Donald Shorter entitled “Take Control of Your Thoughts” He gives 5 steps to overcoming these negative thoughts. 1. Receiving. We must be willing to receive positive and accurate thoughts from God. When we are negative thinking, it’s hard to let postive thoughts in or to hear God’s voice. 2. Analyzing. We must be willing to analyze the thoughts that we receive into our mind and decide whether they are good or bad, positive or negative, or from God or not. 3. Accepting or Rejecting. We must then after analyzing a thought decide whether we must accept it as accurate or true or reject it as negative and false. Again God will help us with this is we ask. There is no middle ground, you can’t avoid this, we must accept or reject every thought that comes in our minds. 4. Replacing. By this point hopefully you are casting down some thoughts about yourself, others, or a situation that wasn’t right. Step 4 will help us grow by replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Innacurate thoughts with accurate thoughts. 5. Renewing. The final step in the process is renewing our minds to be more like God’s or be more positive or think more accurately. This can be reading more of God’s word, spending more time focusing on Him, confiding in christian friends, or reading books, etc….

Receiving. Analyzing. Accepting or Rejecting. Replacing. And Renewing. A 5 step process to destroying the whirlwind going on in our minds so that we can healthy relationships with God and others. So that we can have peace and purpose in our lives. Maybe you are like me and struggle with the thoughts in your mind, I think we all can learn, mature, and grow in our thinking so that we can become better people and the people God wants us to be.

“Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to Him and what is perfect.”

Romans 12:2(New Century Version)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Faithfulness


Faithfulness

What does that word mean to you? It could describe what two people expect in their marriage, or what friends should have in a relationship. It could mean what parents are for their children. Faithfulness takes the form of honesty, loyalty, trust, commitment, devotion, and an attitude of standing by or for something or someone no matter what.

Faithfulness is something God wants from us. He is always faithful to us and He wants us to be faithful to Him. He also wants us to model that faithfulness out in our relationships with others, whether that be dating, marriage, parenting, children, friendships, co-workers, employees, etc….Faithfulness is not stealing from your company, not cheating on your spouse, not lying to your friend, loving your children when they fail, and staying steadfast in your faith in God when troubles, trials, and temptations come. Being committed to the relationship no matter what.

I wish I could report I’ve always been faithful to God, but I haven’t. I’ve doubted, walked away, rebelled, and tried my own way. I’ve never cheated on anyone I’ve dated and I feel I’ve always been a loyal friend to my friends, but I have failed in my relationship with God. I don’t want to be the best Christian(there really is no such thing) and I don’t want to be the most spiritual. I want to be faithful. I want to show God my faithfulness. God is faithful no matter what. We just don’t always see it because of our own agenda, pain, sin, problems, or issues. He is and He deserves ours.

The only way we really can have faithfulness to God is to take steps that make that happen. We need to be in His WORD regularly and we need to communicate and pray to God daily and often. We should surround ourselves with other Christians who will encourage us, mentor us, keep us accountable, challenge us, confront us, and support us. We need to always remember that no matter where go, what we do, and who we are with that God is always present. God sees our hidden motives, secret sins, and the reality. We must not let our circumstances or problems dictate our faithfulness to God. Many times we face a problem or obstacle and we blame God or turn away from Him instead of seeking Him out or turning to Him for help, guidance, and support. We must always turn to God and never away no matter what we face or go through.

Maybe you have different coping skills, tools, or things you use in your life to help you remain faithful to God. Church attendance and service are important, reading books, joining bible studies and small groups, listening to sermons, reading articles, etc…these are all great things to help us grow in our faith, but ultimately, our faithfulness will depend on our own willingness and desire to be in a right relationship with God. God knows our hearts, our thoughts, motives, and us better than we know ourselves.

I want to show God faithfulness. I want to show it in my life, attitude, other relationships, commitment, service, and actions. How about you? Remember God is ALWAYS faithful to us.

“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”

Psalm 57:10(NIV)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

40 lbs

Well I have reached the 40lb mark. I am at 205 from at least 245lbs in about 5 1/2 months.


BEFORE 245lbs

PRESENT 205lbs





I have a waist again and not a gut
My goal is 5 more lbs to get to 200, we'll see.




Fear This


Fear This


“The Lord is my light and my salvation---whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1(NIV)


I heard a sermon this past weekend while visiting a church (thanks Mike Lynn) and in His message on Courage He talked about FEAR. He said that most people respond to their fears with AVOIDANCE and avoidance takes the form of procrastination, denial, or indecisiveness. We avoid things we fear whether that be physical, emotional, or mental things. When we avoid something whether we are putting it off with procrastination, or we are in denial that there is a problem, or we can't decide on how to face it, so we don’t decide, but really not deciding is deciding, deciding not to face it.

Fear is a natural feeling or emotion. We fear things we don’t know, haven’t tried, or haven’t dealt with before. Like snakes, heights, roller coasters, public speaking, or certain foods. We also fear facing certain situations like confronting someone who has wronged us, confronting an employee who is not doing their job, or confronting a friend in love because you notice their destructive behaviors. We also can fear overcoming things like our own struggles, problems, faults, or issues. We don’t want to face the death of a loved one, our divorce, our break-up, our job loss, or our financial situation. We can avoid, make excuses, run, hide, deny, blame, rationalize, justify, run around in circles, or pretend it’s not there, but no fear ever goes away. It is either faced with courage or it rules our lives.

Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s facing and overcoming something despite our fears. As a matter of fact, God reminds us in the Bible we have nothing to fear in this world because He is our light and our salvation. The only fear we should have is a reverent fear of God because of His power and holiness. Our fear of God is out of respect, but also should be out of love as we develop a relationship with Him. Because of that relationship we can have with God, it gives us the courage to face our fears and with God’s help we can face any fear no matter how scared we are, no matter how big the obstacle, no matter how uncomfortable the situation. The beginning of courage is overcoming our human nature to run from our fears.

Whatever your fears today, know that God is with you always if you allow Him to be and that He will supply the wisdom, strength, comfort, guidance, support, and direction you need to overcome any fears in your life, no matter what it is. God will give you the courage you need to work through your fears and overcome them. You cannot do it alone, but with God you can overcome any fear.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Lessons so far


Lessons so far….

I’ve learned many things in my years of preaching and teaching in ministry whether part-time, full-time, or volunteer. Some of the things have been life changing. For instance, you should never teach something that you yourself do not believe in. You should never preach to others about something you yourself are not willing to practice in your own life. When you lead, you lead by example not by instruction only. Being called to ministry doesn’t make you a better Christian, more holy, or closer to God, but it does require you to accept responsibility for your position, take your calling serious, and realize others are looking to you for guidance, support, and help.

Preaching and teaching are serious business. We first and foremost must be obedient to God and honor His calling on our lives by being faithful and trustworthy with His message and our lives. We must guard our lives carefully or we will fall short, fall away, mislead people, lose our influence or credibility, or lose our passion for our calling. We do not work for individuals or even the local church, we work for God through the local church and the people who make up that church.

It can be the most rewarding career in the world to see people come to Christ, to baptize people, to share in their weddings, child births, and celebrations. And also to comfort them during death, heartaches, and difficult times. But being a minister doesn’t exempt you from your own personal struggles, sins, problems, and issues that everyday Christians and church members face. Minister’s face the same problems, because we are the same people, we just happen to be called into full-time or preaching ministry. All Christians are called to serve, but a few of us are called to preach and teach the gospel as a vocation.

Ministry does require those of us called to a higher standard. We must practice what we preach, believe what we teach, and lead by example. We must overcome our struggles, problems, and issues so that we can lead with honesty, integrity, and bring glory to God in the process. We must be real, transparent, and authentic even in the midst of our humanity. We cannot hide behind our pulpits, our title, or our offices. We don’t have to use our position to give every detail of our struggles or failures, but we must use our life experiences to help lead, teach, and minister to the people we come in contact with in our churches. We must be accountable for our actions and behaviors and constantly evaluate our life so that we can continue to grow in our personal faith, our ministry calling, and our influence. I’m still learning and I still got a lot to learn, but with God’s patience, guidance, wisdom, and will I hope to continue to grow into the man and minister God wants me to be. If I can do that God can continue to change me and then use me to change the world.

“In your teaching show integrity.” Titus 2:7a(NIV)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friendship


Friendship


Jonathan become one in spirit with David, and loved him as his himself.” 1 Samuel 18:1b(NIV)

In the old testament we get a glimpse of what true friendship looks like. King Saul was going to lose His throne to a future king named David. By all rights the throne would have went to Jonathan, but God anointed David to be the next king, yet despite these circumstances and Saul being jealous of David and wanting to kill him, Saul’s son Jonathan had a bond of friendship with David that was bigger than anything, even the throne or His own dad’s anger.

What do you consider the characteristics of a true friend? When you look at your friendships, what makes them your friend? How do you distinguish between a casual friend and a real friend? What is your definition of friendship? I think God’s words give us some hints to what God calls a friend.

1. God is our model for true friendship. (Prov. 18:24-“but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”) We need to model our friendship after God’s relationship with us. God sets the standard of true friendship.


2. A friend’s love must be unconditional. (Prov. 17:17-“a friend loves at all times.”) No matter what the best interest of the friend comes first. You also forgive and accept forgiveness when it comes to a friend.


3. A friend is always honest. (Prov. 27:6-“wounds from a friend can be trusted.”) That means that a real friend will always be honest with you and tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear, even when it’s uncomfortable or they risk making you mad.


4. A friend is loyal and trustworthy. (Prov. 16:28-“a gossip separates close friends.”) The most important thing you can bring to a friendship is loyalty and trust. The biggest mistake you can make is to break that loyalty or lose trust.


5. A true friend is a friend for life. (John 15:13-“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”) Can you say that about your close friends? Would they say that about you? True love is putting someone’s best interests above your own and true friendship I believe is the same way.

The example of Jonathan with David is a great example of a real and true friend. He didn’t care about becoming King, He didn’t care about offending His dad because He valued his friendship with David and honored with his loyalty and love. We all should model our relationships and friendships in this way. How many of us can say we love our close and best friends as we love ourselves and we are one in spirit with them? There is nothing greater than having true friendships. Real friendship. Loving friendships. Loyal friendships. I want to be that type of friend and I want that type of friends. How about you?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

More helpful reads

This is a book from the Pastor at Southeast Christian church written back in 2000. He looks at some different areas and shows how they can be both friend and foe in our lives when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ.

This book deals with how to manage your emotions: fear, depression, anger, guilt, hatred, envy/jealously, and grief. This was a great read and very helpful. We all have emotions to deal with and sometimes get out of whack.

This is a book I am using as a daily devotional, I almost done with it, but it takes different characters from the Bible who have died and tries to teach us lessons from their lives while they were alive. It's a good devotional resource.


This book is on the life of David and was a great read. Alot of principles, lessons, and insights from the life of David, both his successes and failures. If you like reading and learning about different people in the bible, this is a great read.


This book is geared toward high school students and is about dating, but I found it to be a great read, not only because I work with high school students, but because I am still single. This would be a great book for you to buy for your high school children and even read so you can understand them better. Hayley DiMarco and her husband also wrote a book after this one called "Marriable", which is a great read as well.




Monday, August 31, 2009

Letting Go


Letting Go

It is my personal opinion that those 2 words together is one of the hardest things to do in life. “Let go”. There are different things and different times we need to let go of certain things in lives:

· A loved one who has died or is dying
· The pain of divorce
· A relationship or friendship
· Pain/hurt in our lives cause by someone else or our own doing
· SIN or anything that is coming between us and God or His will or plan for our lives
· Struggles/bad habits/negative behaviors/
· Wrongs/unforgiveness done to us or by us
· Negative or destructive thoughts
· Lies, deceit, greed, or selfishness
· Injustice
· Loss
· Grief
· Guilt
The list can be endless at times of the things in our lives that consume us, bury us, eat us up, or weigh us down. Anything from relational, to spiritual, to school, careers, feelings, or attitudes. Letting go can be one of the most difficult things we have to do. I wish I had answers because I am struggling with letting go of some things in my life right now. I do know that I cannot do it alone and neither can you. We need God and His spirit, strength, guidance, and support to let go. We need accountability and people in my life who love me enough to tell me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear and who don’t put up with my excuses or rationalizations.

You cannot heal a broken heart, a broken trust, a broken relationship without sometimes letting go. You cannot heal the pain of abuse, neglect, or suffering without letting go. You cannot heal the hurt, confusion, miscommunication, or misunderstandings if you are not willing to let go. The old saying is “LET GO and LET GOD”. I think that makes sense because without His wisdom, direction, guidance, love, and forgiveness, we are not able to let go of much anything at least in a healthy and productive way. We can learn to let go one situation at a time, one day at a time, one moment at a time, and one decision at a time. Everything takes time, even letting go. Give it to God we can’t let go of things alone. You want a life of peace, hope, and love? Join in as I strive to “let go”.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6(NIV)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mistakes


Mistakes


“And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.”

2 Thessalonians 3:13(NIV)

One thing I find interesting is that there are no coincidences when it comes to what God is trying to teach us. It seems here lately that even through reading, preparing lessons, or listening to others teach I seem to hear the same bible stories, scriptures, principles, or characters. Do you ever notice that happening with you? I’ve been doing a lot of reading and teaching on David and Solomon. Both of these men did great things, followed God, and led God’s people, however they both also made mistakes and like most of us sometimes when we make a mistake if we’re not honest, admit it, and learn from it, we do the opposite which is ignore it, deny it, make excuses, blame others, cover it up, rationalize or justify it, pretend it doesn’t exist and it will go away, or hide from it.

David was in God’s own words “a man after my own heart”, Solomon was given wisdom and blessings from God and called “the wisest person to ever live” yet both of these men made mistakes. The man with the same heart as God committed adultery, tried to cover it up, and had someone murdered. Solomon the wise, married many foreign women and allowed them to bring in their “false religions” and have places built in God’s land where people could worship these false God. Both God’s men, both led and blessed by God, both failed God. There are other people in the Bible who God chose, called, and led, yet they decided to follow their own desires. Peter, Mark, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses, Noah, and the list goes of people who made mistakes.

I think we can learn a lot from these stories and men in the Bible. First, no matter how close we are to God or how good a Christian we think we are, we are all capable of falling away, making mistakes, and not being in God’s will. Secondly, I think we can also learn the best way to overcome a mistake(s) is to face it, deal with it, and learn from it . Thirdly, we need to repent to God and seek His forgiveness and guidance. Finally, we need to move forward and be better because of it. No one is going to go through life mistake free. We are capable and subject to temptations especially during weak times, tough times, problems and struggles. I will be the first to admit my past has many mistakes in it and I hope in my present I will continue to learn from them so that my future will have less of them.

God is always trying to teach us, lead us, grow us, and keep us in His will. We have so much to lose when we make mistakes and fall short and don’t recognize it, deal with it, accept it, and learn from it. We have everything to gain when we like David and Solomon and many others, become better because of the lessons we learn from our mistakes and accepting responsibility and the consequences, so that God can use us again. I would not be writing this devotional today if my past mistakes were still unresolved and not dealt with and not been washed in God’s grace. Thank you God for erasing our mistakes when we truly repent and seek to honor you. As the scripture teaches us, we must never become tired of doing what is right.

Monday, August 24, 2009

King of Deceit


King of Deceit

I’ve been studying the life of King David, the slayer of the giant Goliath, the greatest King to ever live, the “man after God’s own heart”, and the human. David saw a woman that was not his own, but someone else’s wife. King David could have had any woman he wanted, yet He saw Bathsheba, gave into His own selfish desires, compromised His values, and slept with her. That may have been the end of the story, but then she became pregnant. Her husband Uriah was ironically, out fighting on behalf of King David.

David instead of accepting responsibility for His mistake tried to cover it up and hide it. He sent for Uriah hoping Uriah would go home and sleep with his wife and no one would ever know. Uriah was loyal to his fellow soldiers and refused to go home and sleep at his house or with his wife while others were sleeping in tents and camping in open fields fighting. David was getting desperate so he tried to get Uriah drunk so he’d go home and sleep with his wife, no go. He still didn’t. David made a choice. He sent Uriah back to fight with orders for him to go where the fighting was fiercest and Uriah was killed in battle. David, then took Bathsheba after her mourning period to be His wife and she bore a son. The end of the story. David got away with it. His deceit covered with more deceit. He had covered His tracks, hid His sin, and now He could move on like nothing happened…not so fast my friends.

What David had done, how he handled the situation, displeased the Lord. God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David. Nathan told David a story about a rich man who had many sheep and cattle and a poor man who had only a little ewe lamb. The poor man and his family loved the lamb and treated it and cared for it like family. The rich man had a guest and instead of taking one of his many sheep or cattle to prepare a meal, he came and took the one little lamb from the poor man and his family to eat. David “burned with anger” at this story and told Nathan this man deserves to die and he must pay for taking the lamb four times over. I love Nathan’s words to David: “You are the man!” Nathan reminded David of all the things God had given him, His kingship, the palace, wives, the kingdom of Israel and Judah and God said he would have given him even more if that wasn’t enough, but David despised the Word of God by having an affair with Bathsheba, trying to cover it up, having Uriah killed, and then taking Bathsheba to be your wife.

David is confronted with his sin. What does he do? He accepts responsibility. He confesses his sin. He accepted the consequences. He learned from His mistakes and moved forward.

Being a Christian, a minister, an elder, a SS teacher, a deacon, or follower of God doesn’t keep you from the temptations of sin. It is very easy to cross the line in our morals, values, hearts, and minds when we do not keep our focus on God and His truth. It’s easy to be led astray by the world if we do not maintain our integrity and character and keep them in check. What can we do? How can we avoid this pitfall that David fell in? It’s tough, but we can take steps to avoid mistakes or overcome them:


1. We must always realize we are all capable of committing sinful acts if we do not guard our hearts and minds and maintain our Godly and integrity boundaries. David was a man after God’s own heart, but He was still capable of adultery, lying, deceit, false motives, pride, and murder. Not only was he capable, he was guilty.


2. If we do mess up and sin or make a mistake. Stop there! Don’t lie, don’t try and hide it, minimize it, blame shift, or deny it. Accept responsibility. Let it stop there instead of continuing by trying to cover it up or hide it like David.


3. Seek Forgiveness from God and others if needed. Make amends to those you’ve wronged or hurt. Our sins never only affect us. David confessed His sins to Nathan and God.

4. Accept consequences. The sooner we do this the less the consequences. The more we cover up or don’t admit the bigger the consequences. David lost His son that Bathsheba was pregnant with.


5. Learn from your mistakes. Many people refuse to learn from their mistakes because they live in this cloud of denial, or it’s someone else fault, or they’ve got too much pride to admit they were wrong or messed up. David learned from His mistakes and went on to continue to do great things for God. (check out Psalm 51)

The right thing is always the right thing to do.