Tuesday, June 28, 2011



Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Look at these sheep.  They really stand out against the back drop of green grass.  They are white, fluffy, and pure.  White is the color of purity.  Purity is a good thing.   Let's look at the next picture below.

Now? Not so much.  They look nice and white when they are compared to green grass, but once you place them up against sometime a lot whiter and more pure like fresh snow, the flaws and dirt become obvious.

That's sort of what Jesus does.  Jesus is Pure.  He is Holy. He is perfect. He is without defect.  We are not.  Sometimes we'd like to think we or someone we love is like the pretty white sheep standing in a lush green pasture, but truth is we are all are or were like the dirty white sheep standing in the snow.  We need Jesus.  Jesus is the only one who can make us pure and clean us up to be like Him.

It's very easy to get caught up in I'm a good person, I do good things, and I don't know why I need this Jesus.  It's also easy to be very critical of others faults or presumed faults while ignoring the much worse ones you have. 

Which sheep are you? Are you the one hiding in the green grass pretending to be pure? It's like putting yourself around fat people so that you look skinny, or hanging out with people uglier than you so you look pretty.  It's like being hurtful or tearing someone else down so that you look smart.  All you are doing is trying to cover up your impurities and hide your faults.

If we hold oursleves up to a higher standard which is God, we realize we aren't as pure. We have faults, blemishes, and defects.  But, don't get depressed or low self-esteem. There is good news. What we all really need to do(yes, this means me too) is look at Jesus who is PURE and compare ourselves to Him. We need to realize we need Him and we cannot be pure without Him.   God makes us pure.  Its the reason Jesus came to earth, lived as a human, died a cruel death on the cross, and become our sin, took our hell, and defeated them all in order to make us pure.  He became our sacrificial lamb. Jesus is the pure white sheep.

We can become pure, only because of Jesus. Not anything we did, can do, or ever will do.  Purity comes from Him.  It is our goal to strive to live pure lives.  We us purity alot of times talking about sex, but purity is really for all areas of our lives.  Anytime we sin, pick up bad habits, or do wrong, we become impure. 

 Dictionary defines Pure as : "free from tainting or polluting matter; clean; wholesome"  This is what God does for us through Jesus.  We get "tainted" or "polluted" with sin, problems, negative attitudes, bitterness, envy, hatred, addictions, etc....and Jesus comes in and makes us "clean" and "whole". 

All of us are born human, therefore we are born into a sinful world and over time, we ourselves become sinful and dirty, and impure.  I know I was dirty once and there was a time I gave up the purity to be dirty again. Thank God He doesn't give up on us!

  Many times we don't realize it because we surround ourselves around things and people and places that mask or camoflauge our imperfections and impurities, we sometimes hide behind them in order to make ourselves look good. However, when we compare ourselves to the Purity of Jesus, we realize we need to be like Him, we need Him, and He is the only one who can truly clean us.  Then we can share with others how they can become pure no matter what they've said or done in the past or present.  God is Pure.

Titus 1:15

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

Psalm 51:7

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Holiday Inn Express Religion

Holiday Inn Express Religion

You remember those cool commercials back a few years ago don't you?  Where someone is an "expert" in something and come to find out they really weren't a Doctor, or a Animal Trainer, but they did stay in a Holiday Inn Express the night before. It went with their marketing campaign "Stay Smart".  I for one enjoyed these commercials, because it showed these people who were just average people trying to do things they were not educated, experienced, or skilled to do, yet they thought they could because they stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. (btw picture of Sarah Palin has nothing to do with article, but only funny one I could find)

Sad thing is we got people who live this way in real life, not that they stayed at a hotel, but they they think they are experts or know about things they don't.   Whether they have grandiose thoughts or are narcissistic or simple delusional by their own thoughts, there are people out there who don't go to church, yet they seem to be experts on the church.  They don't claim christianity, yet they seem to know everything about being a christian and how you should be living and acting.  They don't read the Bible or study it daily or regularly (and some don't even claim belief in God), yet they seem to want to quote the bible.

What's up with that?  Now to be fair, I will say there are some churches out there and some "christians" who do bring on trouble themselves and who do hurt the cause of Christ and give church and christians a bad name, but it's like just anything, they are mostly the exception and not the rule.  However, that being said, I also think alot of people who for whatever reasons have issues with God, the church, or Christians like have this idea they know all about the Bible, God, Christianity, Jesus, and the Church yet don't.  I call this "Holiday Inn Express Religion", thank you I just made that up.

I've had people question my faith, my calling, or my christianity in the past because they didn't agree with something I said, or think I said or meant, or did, or God only knows why?  But, my conclusion is it's because people for various reasons (doubt God, confused, been hurt by the church, judged unfairly by a christian, etc...)  have some sort of underlying issue with God, the church, or christianity, so because of that they try to make the church look bad, look for reasons to discredit the bible, judge christains harshly, or try to use the bible against you by taking bible verses out of context, misquoting it, or saying things not even in the bible(of course even chrisitans/churches do that sometimes defending their legalistic ways).

My point being if you don't believe in God, then you should have no worries, shouldn't have to defend yourself or put down others.  I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I  don't go around telling little kids she's fake or they are hypocrites for trying to push santa on me.   I don't believe in psychics,  but I don't go around condemning and telling them how to read tarot cards or palms or quote out of their mystical books to them.  You see my point? If you don't believe in something, then live like it.  There very few true atheists or agnostics out there. They claim it, but if you are trying to prove christianity false or make religion look bad or looking for reasons to discredit it or those who believe that's real hypocracy.  I agree some religion is bad, but believing in God and having a relationship with Him is not.   Also, there are people who have distorted views of God for whatever reasons?   They are spiritual, but not religious; or they are religous, but not spiritual;  or into other gods or religions or something? I think the biggest issue is people are trying to figure out God and fit Him into their mold, belief system and  lives, when true christian faith in God is fitting ourselves into God's mold and His life and allowing Him to work in us.

People fight and argue, condemn christians, churches, preachers, and faith because of their own demons, ignorance, agenda, or confusion.  They try to use the things of faith (bible, church, etc) against christians, that is why its so imporant for christians to know their bibles, and know why we believe what we believe, and  to be mindful of satanic attacks.  Also, we must realize no matter what we say or do, we are going to sometimes be attacked unfairly regardless.  That is the problem of the attacker and not you.  If you are striving to live like Christ, grow in your faith, and be an example, there is nothing you can do with these so called "experts". Nothing you say or do is going to change their mind, because they aren't willing to listen, because "they already know".  They think they know more about church, religion, christianity, and the bible than you and you can and will never live up to their expectations, but funny thing is they are trying to make people live up to a standard they themselves don't practice or believe in.

Truth is, I'm a christain, but I still don't know everything, I am a preacher by calling, but I still sin and make mistakes(and have a past).  I go to church, read and study my bible regularly, and pray constantly, but do I know everything about God, the bible or christianity? No!  But, I do know I don't know everything and don't pretend.  I've stayed at a Holiday Inn Express and I don't know everything about God. I'm even a Priority Rewards card carrying member of their hotel rewards points and Im still not an expert.  Truth is, if you reject God, choose to not believe, or don't accept christianity, then don't pretend you know everything about something you refuse to accept, follow, or receive and don't worry about those "christians".   In the same token, us confessing christians, do need to work daily to know what we believe and why.   If we are going to stay a christian, we need to "Stay Smart" , learn, and grow from our relationship with God.

I Peter 3:15-16(NIV)
15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things I've learned my first year of marriage

1st Year Anniversary
Saturday, June 18th will mark the One (1) year marriage anniversary for Cheryl and I.  Though many thought Jesus would come back or pigs would fly before I ever got married, it did finally happen.  Cheryl has been a childhood friend whom I grew up with, graduated High school with, and we shared many mutual friends. She was also my sister's best friend.  After High School our lives went different directions, probably as far different as you can be.  A couple years ago, our paths crossed again, of all places on Facebook.  After we renewed our friendship and catching up on our lives and even visiting over dinner with my sister and her family, eventually Cheryl asked me out on date and shared her feelings with me, that were mutual and I came back to WV for a date and we started dating.  I was still living in Indiana at the time, so we did the long distance thing for a few months before I decided to move back to WV.  We dated for 6 more months and were married on Friday, June 18, 2010 in a small ceremony with family in the front yard of her parents house.

I would like to say that our first year of marriage was easy, filled with fairytales, rainbows, and bliss, but it wasn't if I was being honest.  We love each other deeply, we are glad we are married, and people make fun of us for expressing our love on facebook so much, but with any relationship, especially the first year is learning to live with someone new, getting to know each others habits, personalites, quirks, strengths & weaknesses, and everything else in between takes adjusting.   Our first year of marriage not only brought those challenges and blessings, but also the mix of a 37 year old bachelor never married, a person coming out of a abusive married and nasty divorce,  two children(one with mental illness), and also dealing with the recent death of Cheryl's dad about 6-7weeks before our wedding, and some family issues. Can you say it, reality TV?
I'm an analytical person, so I like to evalute, analyze, and look at things (sometimes too much), but I think it's healthy for all couples married or not to regulalry communicate and evaluate their relationship, what's working,what's not?  What can I do better?  what am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? what do I need to change?  What successes are we having, what failures?  What issues are contributing to our troubles or making our marriage healthy?  These type of questions should be asked and communicated in the relationship as well as, personal self-evaluation and constructive criticism from your partner.

After coming out of a unhealthy and nasty relationship I wasn't for sure I wanted to be in another, and Cheryl after being in her long abusive, negative, unhelathy marriage, wasn't for sure she wanted to ever get married again, probably let alone date.  But, we believe it was no mistake that God brought us together and crossed our paths.    I am sure Cheryl has her own list of things she's learning or has learned from being togehter,  because each of us view things different and based on our life experiences, personalities, and relationship with God view or see the world and people and things differently.  But, these are the things I've learned my first  year of marriage (and yes I had Cheryl approve this before posting it for the world to see, I'm not totally stupid.) Anyway, this list isn't in any type of order, but hopefully it can help others, so here goes things I've learned my first year of marriage.

1.  Moving beside your In-Laws not a great idea starting out your marriage.  While this may work for some, it also can cause conflict and with our circumstances was a bad idea. as Forest Gump says, "that's all i got to say about that."
2. Blended families take a lot of work.  Cheryl has 2 children and one who has Asperger's Syndrome(high functioning Autism) and other issues.  Both have issues do the experiences that have face with being children of divorce, especially a nasty one, and dealing with unstable family members.  It has been rough on them.  Having a new step-dad come in the picture is also complicating. It has been an adjustment for all of us, we are still working on.
3.  Talk about things before they happen.   Cheryl and I sat down before getting married and decided what my role would be as a parent and how we wanted to run our home and raise children.  Whether you have no kids yet or both bring in kids from a previous marriage, its' important to decide how you are going to do things before you are faced with them, even then, it still wasn't and isn't easy. Have to be supportive and consistent.
4. Center on God.  No relationship is going to have balance if both people aren't seeking to put God at the center of their lives and especially in their marriage.  Cheryl and I both love God and want to please Him and have him in our marriage, but there are times we both fail as individuals and in our marriage. We are trying to learn to put God first in our personal lives, so we will be the best partner for each other.  It's a struggle because there are many distractions.
5. Learn to Apologize. Sorry doesn't always cut it, sometimes we like to say sorry or we say it so much it loses it's meaning, but I find when you live with someone every day and depend on each other, you at times misunderstand each other's feelings, intentions, or motives.  We end up offending, hurting feelings, or frustrating each other unintentional and you have to learn to apologize often.
6. I'm not the only one.  At least for me being single for so long, i was the only one I had to worry about or be concerned about. Now I have a wife and 2 kids to think about.  It's easy for me to be impatient or get angry easy waiting on them to get ready or them to slow me down, because I am so used to only me.  I'm having to learn that more people  require more patience and more time to do things.
7.Both have Baggage.  Even though I haven't been married/divorced and Cheryl has, we still both bring in baggage to the relationship, just different. The older you are, the more baggage you can accumalate if you don't deal with it.  Even though I was single I still dated and had failed relationships and still have my own "set in my ways" type mentality, though I always strive to not become that way, we still do.  Also, having to deal with an ex-spouse is stressful and also depending on circumstances bringing in past abuses and problems, can complicate new relationships.
8. Ex-spouses stink.  I told Cheryl she might win the award for the worst Ex-husband ever.  He's a treat. I've met many an ex-spouse whether it was people I dated or during my years of ministry to students and people, but no matter how you cut it, dealing with an ex-spouse, especially one that is uncooperative and when dealing with children and custody issues is difficult.  It's a constant reminder of the past, and regret you have, and it's constant interference in your current marriage, whether you want it to or not, especially if you have an ex-who is difficult.  If  you are reading this and have an ex or are an ex and you have custody and children together, don't be a jerk. It's no longer about you, it's about the  kids.  Cooperate, do what is best for the kids. Our kids are used and manipulated and used as pawns and for personal selfish reasons.  Makes me mad and sad and nothing I can do about it.   But, marrying someone who is divorced and has kids is sometimes part of the deal. 
9. Don't get sucked in. It's easy for me to get sucked in to the trappings of dealing with Cheryl's ex-spouse.  Which only causes trouble in your current marriage. As difficult as it is, you have to stay out of it, unless it is a safety issue for them.  Sometimes you need to step it and sometimes, I've had to help Cheryl make a decision, but overall it's best to try and let your current spouse handle their ex spouse.
10. Get rid of Distractions.  For some it's a job, for others it's friends, some it's hobbies, or whatever.  We can have people or things in our lives that come between you and your spouse.  A negative friend or relative who is unhappy in their marriage so they constantly interfere or give you bad advice on your marriage.  Spending too much time at your job, or your hobby. I'm having to learn to prioritize and have balance in my time so that my wife and kids get their fair share of me. 
11. Communication, Compromise, Change.  3 C's easy to remember hard to do.  You have to communicate, over communicate if you have to, regardless of your personality.  I've got to compromise on some of my ideas, wants, opinions, and feelings. And I've got to be willing to change the way I handle things, think about things, and even deal with things.
12. I've got a lot to learn.  My whole life I've tried to prepare myself for marriage.  Learn to not do things the way my parents or others have did, but in the end, I know less than I thought. I've got a lot to learn in how to be a good husband, good father, and good partner.
13. Your spouse is your best friend.  I have been lots of friends and lots of  male friends, but your spouse should be your best friend.
14. Same Team.  A healthy marriage is where both realize they are on the same team. You support, endorse, and have each others best interest in mind.  It's easier to say than do, I'm still trying to learn it.
15. I affect others.  My moods, my word, my ways, etc...effect my wife and my step-kids.  I tell it like it is, I don't hold back, and I can be blunt, stubborn, hard-headed, and "as matter of fact", most times that's a good thing, but sometimes. I have to learn to be sensitive, understand anothers feelings, or consider how they feel or view me and my behavior, attitude or actions.

I am sure there are other things I've learn and so much to learn, this marriage is a journey and each day should be an adventure to learn.  I probably say I'm sorry as much as I love you, but I'm learning and hope to always be learning how to be the best spouse I can be.  I want to grow closer to my wife day by day, year by year, and enjoy the time the Lord has given us together and spend the rest of my life with my bride Cheryl.  I want to be just as happy on my wedding day a year ago as I will be if I live another 30,40, or 50 years.  I also want to love her kids as my own and be the best dad I can be.  Above all I want to honor God!

I love you Cheryl, thank you for loving  me, accepting me, tolerating me, and putting up with me. I pray my experiences and mistakes can help others in their relationships both now and in the future!  I hope to learn alot more this next year!  I leave you with the words of I Corinthians 13 that is our model for how we should love each other, especially in marriage.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

Friday, June 10, 2011


(I'll be away from the computer monday so you're getting my blog on friday instead of monday)


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

My air conditioner is broke in my car. It's getting hot. You know for years people lived without a/c in their houses and cars and got along just fine. You know why? They were conditioned. They got used it, and before A/C they didn't know what they were missing anyway. However, we live in a society today where people are conditioned to have a/c, so when it's hot and humid(for you that live out west look up humid), people can't handle the heat, but really it's they think they can't handle the heat.

Now I'm not martyr, and i'm with the rest of you, I got a/c in my house still and there is no way I'd want to live without it, but I've decided to hold off on getting my a/c fixed in my car because #1 it's going to cost several hundred dollars, and #2 we need the money for other things, so I decided I will go this summer and just suck it up and suffer. (I bet people will not want to ride in my car).

Conditioned. That is what I want to talk about today. We get conditioned(get used to something). and it becomes acceptable or ok. That is what happens with sin or bad habits. The more you expose yourself to something though at first it may be uncomfortable or make you feel guilty, the more you do it or expose yourself too it the less those feelings reside and the more comfortable you get, til pretty soon you are conditioned.

Let me give you an example in my own life. Television/movies. There are things we see on tv now even on network TV that a few years ago, bothered me, offended me, and made me uncomfortable (foul language, content, etc) and now i hardly blink when I hear or see something on my favorite tv show or a movie, why? It's because I've become conditionied by it. Hollywood slowly pushed the envelope and society has slowly caved in, to where what once was awful is now acceptable.

I remember 20 years ago Ellen "coming out" on her tv show and everyone being in shock and it making news, you can't hardly watch a tv show or movie now without gay characters and honestly we don't even think about it too much, I know I don't. I've become conditioned.

I'm tired of being conditioned by the world. I want to exercise my freedom to change the radio station if I don't like the song, to change the channel if something in a show offends me, to walk about of situation if it makes me uncomfortable. Our being conditioned goes alot farther than just tv or music. It goes into hanging with the wrong crowd, dating and marrying the wrong people, and putting up with dishonesty and backstabbing at work. We can get conditioned to anything if we put up with it or tolerate it long enough.

How many of us said we would never say something or do something, yet later down the road we find ourselves doing that very behavior or having that attitude we said we'd never have? Conditioned. We've allowed ourselves to be conditioned. The thing is, it's different for all of us, I might take a strong stand on what music I listen to, but ignore what friends I associate with. I may take a strong stand on what tv shows I watch, but have little thought for how I choose a person to date/marry. I may take a stand for abortion or equal rights, but then I steal from work or look the other way why someone else cheats. You see how we can easily we can give in? not think things through? allow things into our lives? accept things?

God wants us to be accepting of others, but that doesn't mean accepting their behavior, lifestyles, or even becoming a part of their lives if it doesn't honor God. God wants us to live in the world, and not be "of the world. Meaning, we live in this world, we interact and be part of the world, but we don't do so until we become "just like" the world.

I may have to suffer without a/c in my car this summer, but i've already started getting used to it, to be honest, the extra sweating probably don't hurt me any, I need to lose back a few pounds anyway, but it made me realize, I dont need a/c, I want a/c. And you'll find there are lots of things in this world we think we need we don't. And lots more things we've made ok, but they are not ok in God's eyes, and alot more things we accept, that we shouldn't. I can't tell you what those things are for you, because we are all different, but I'd take inventory of your life on a regular basis and see what's sneaking in and what you need to get rid of and what you've become conditioned to that's not healthy and get rid of it, avoid it, or pray about it.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Open Your Eyes

Open Your Eyes

Well the picture speaks for itself, but have you ever had something right in front of you and you couldn't see it?

Everyone else could see it except you? Your husband is cheating, your girlfriend is 2 timing you, your best friend is lying about you behind your back. Your co-worker is throwing you under the table and blaming you for their mistake.

These types of events happen everyday, but some of us, choose to look the other way and not see what is obvious. I wish I had answer, but I don't? People would rather live in a fantasy world or living a lie, than face the truth sometimes.

Truth is, some people aren't very good to us sometimes. People who are supposed to be. People that we were supposed to trust. They lie, cheat, steal, gossip, betray, mock, and hurt us. Why? Different reasons. Sometimes selishness, sometimes jealousy, envy, or unhealthy desires. Sometimes greed, to get ahead, because they think it makes them popular or in control, or because they refuse to deal with their own personal struggles. Or sometimes not sure they even know.

I'm not saying all people are bad or evil, they are not, sometimes those we love dissapoint us or hurt us and it's not intentional, they just mess up or accidently hurt us. I'm not talking about these type of events or circumstances. I'm talking about people who aren't very good people, and we need to avoid them.

We need open our EYES and choose our friends, who we date, and especially who we marry very carefully. We need to surround ourself with people who encourage us, build us us, and are trustworthy. We need to avoid people who are only in it for what they can get out of it, and users, and people that will hurt you and not even feel bad about it, let alone admit they did anytnhing wrong.

People abuse their kids, cheat on their spouse, betray their friends, lie to their bosses, and use people to get what they want and don't blink an eye. These are the type of people we need to avoid. They are life suckers. They are energy zappers, and they are heart-breakers.

We don't want to believe our parent would do that, or our spouse would say that, or our best friend could be that way, but yes, even those we love and trust or should be able to trust, can turn out to be rotten people.

God loves everyone, and everyone is capable of change, but problem is people like this see no need to change, so the danger is they may never, and besides, it's not up to me or you to change them. We can only help people who want help and can help themselves and the rest of them will drag us down to their level, if not step on us as they go by, so open your eyes.

I'm not saying be skeptical or don't trust anyone, I'm saying be wise whom you let in your life and whom you trust. Don't be so naive. Don't be so engrossed with good looks, you can't see the person you want to date is a selfish jerk even though they are hot, or don't be so desperate to not be alone you settle. Don't date people for wrong reasons, let alone marry them and have children. Don't be so obsessed with being popular and having friends, that you will be friends with anyone no matter that they use you, talk bad about you behind their back, or take advantage of you.

I'm not trying to be negative today, I'm trying to be realistic. We have too many of us going through life destroying our lives and collecting baggage because we won't open our eyes and make better choices when it comes to our relationships with others.

We must learn to be objective, look at the facts, and not base our relationships(friendships, working, church, dating, romantic, marriages, etc...) on wrong motives, wrong choices, or compromising right/wrong. If not the cycle of bad relationships will continue in our lives and these relationships end up affecting others as well.

That is why we need to surround ourselves with Godly, christian influences and people. People who are honest, trustworhty, care about others, who are sincere, unselfish, respectful, and treat others with mutal respect. People who protect others and are loyal and are self-less. These are the types of friends, dates, spouses, family, and co-workers we need and need to be. So, open your eyes and get to being that type of person and avoid those who are not!

I'll close with the words of Paul who reminds us the type of people to avoid in:

Romans 1: 28-30

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;