Saturday, December 20, 2014

Holiday Time: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

 Is it just me or is the most wonderful time of the year one of the most stressful times of year also? I have noticed that over the last seven years of marriage that the holidays tend to be more anwry than any other time of the year. When we were first married we had a huge fight our first Christmas because of something our son did to his cousin, it didn’t help that my wife was pregnant at the time. Then going back 20 years my father passed away just before the holiday season really got started on November 4, 1994. So that makes this a tough time of year for me. I do however remember one of the last presents that I ever got from my dad and i still have it to this day.  It was a stuffed teddy bear that was brown with a bow tie on we named it “Brownie” I know not super creative but it was the best I could do I was eleven at the time. This makes me sad thinking about it,  but it also makes me happy because I can still recall that last Christmas with my dad. 
     However, the holidays are not all bad. I have two sons who love Christmas and I know that one of them loves Jesus still not sure about the other. While one believes in Santa Claus and the other does not. That makes things a challenge around here trying to keep the oldest from spilling the beans. But each year we all get a new ornament from someone, usually the boys are getting the ornament from their grandparents along with my wife who gets one from her grandmother, and my wife buys me a new National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation ornament (that is my favorite Christmas movie). During Christmas break we will make cookies and generally watch a  lot of Christmas movies. The last several years we have gone caroling with members of our church through different neighborhoods. We are trying to instill in the boys the true meaning of Christmas that it is to celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While I personally don’t believe this is the day he was born on, it is the day we choose to celebrate it with the rest of the Christians around the globe. 
     The sad thing is not every Christian gets to celebrate Christmas like those of us here in the United States, there are countries that being a Christian is agains the law and you could go to jail or even die for your faith. I hope that my boys will never have to experience that kind of persecution in their lives, but if they do I pray they stand up for what they believe in.  This is also a hard season because not everyone can afford to do for their families like others can and it makes people feel less than. While it is not intentional it still happens. What we have to hope and hold on to is the day when the New Heaven and New Earth will appear and we no longer have to worry about this type of celebration because we will be enjoying the presence of Christ. I now that this post was a little more personal than some of my others and I hope you don’t mind. If you enjoyed this post will you comment and let me know. Because my goal is to create content you enjoy not just for me to be spewing words on the screen. 

I leave you with this: What are some fond memories you have of the holiday season?

Friday, December 19, 2014

New Endeavors

This is season of my life where I am trying something new. I have joined a writing program called Tribe Writers. It is something I hope will be a good benefit for me and also for you my readers. It is helping me to find my voice in how I write. I am not sure if you guys like having the more personal side of me, or if you prefer the deeper theological side of me. I know for me it is easier to create the content that is personal with a small mix of the theological. I love to hear from you guys as to what are you looking for and how I can help you find that. While I plan on continue writing how I am, I want to try my best do do things that interest you.
     Speaking of new endeavors I have recently gotten into the world of Twitter, and I am hoping to reach 100 followers sooner than later. If I can do that I plan on having a book give-away. By now you may be asking yourself why do I care about all of this? And that is understandable. I hope you care because at some point you were blessed by a piece I have written and I want you to continue to be blessed. I am not the first person to do any of this. It is good to try new things in life because you never know what you will actually succeed at. I am finding out who I truly am and finding what makes my voice unique. If you would like to let me know what you think about my previous works I am all ears.
     Just remember I am not the only person to ever do something different the prophet Elisha was a farmer before he became a prophet. Jesus was a carpenter. Paul was  a tent maker. David was a shepherd. These are just a few examples of men in the Bible who entered into new endeavors from what they ended up becoming. So this is a step on my journey. Yes, I am still planning on becoming a pastor, but that doesn’t mean I cannot write on the side. I have several friends who are already pastors who do some form of writing along with their main job. Who knows maybe this will be the ministry the Lord chooses to use for me to bless the world. I can only hope that you will stick with me on this journey. It is going to be a fun ride (I hope). I cannot guarantee that I will not have some missteps along the way, but I’m going to enjoy the trip. Because it’s not just about the final destination its about the trip along the way. 

What is a new journey in life you are starting on? What impact are you anticipating on having?

Running Away!

I have to admit that I can be rather obsessive about numbers. Like how many followers I have on Twitter, or how many page views did the blog have today. That is not necessarily a good thing, because when I allow those things to rule my life it becomes a god thing. I personally do not want any other gods in my life other than my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Isn’t it easy though to allow functional saviors to enter lives? I know for me it can be, I cannot speak for anyone else. One thing I do know is that it can be destructive to our lives, because they can become all consuming. Where do you run if you are not running to the Lord? My guess is you are running to your functional savior, whether that is drinking, smoking (of either sort), writing, or even family. Yes I said it family can become a functional savior in our lives that will keep us from turning to God when we need to the most. 
     It is easy to try and discount that we are not running away from God, when in reality we are. You know I can think of one story in the Bible in particular when someone should have done what God wanted to do but instead he ran away. Can you think of who I am speaking about…? Times up! I am speaking about Jonah. God had given Jonah a plan of action that he wanted him to take and Jonah thinking that he was wiser than God proceeded to run away to the land of Tarshish (his functional savior). If you don’t know the story let me give you a brief synopsis. God tells Jonah that he wants him to go to he land of Ninevah to preach to the people there and Jonah decides he doesn’t want to do that. He boards a boat head to Tarshish. Along the way a great storm arose and the men on board the ship were afraid and began throwing their cargo overboard, until Jonah said that it was his fault. Then he has the men throw him overboard and the storm calms. While in the water Jonah is swallowed by a giant fish. And lives in its belly for 3 days. After that he is spit up on the the shore and goes and does what he should have initially done. 
     All of that to say when the Lord is our savior we should trust him and run to him, not away from him. He does not have plans to hurt us. While somethings may be unpleasant for us they are ultimately for our good.(Romans 8:28). So please if you feel the Lord pulling you in a particular direction do not run from him and make things harder on yourself go where he is leading it will be a blessing to you and those you are called to. I know there were times in my life I wanted to run away and not follow, it wasn’t until I got on the correct path that things started making sense. I would always run from my calling saying I couldn’t find a school to go to and earn my degree, then the Lord showed me an online school Liberty University which is where I completed my Bachelor’s in Religion and am now working on my Master’s of Divinity.

What do you need to stop running from?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Everything is Not Meant to Last Forever!

At least that is what my wife keeps telling me. I was telling her how I was afraid to turn off a 20 year old ceiling fan because it may no want to turn back on. And her response was “It is not supposed to last forever.” But something inside of me wanted to cry out thats not right. Things should last forever, so we don’t ‘have to keep re-buying the same things over and over again. I cannot say much this fan has been in our house for almost 20 years. But this conversation brought to mind something else for me and that was the resurrection of believers. You may be asking yourself how did we go from a fan dying to the resurrection of Christians. It’s simple actually, one of those things dies never to be reborn while the other dies once to live and never die again. 
     I hope you know which is which. It is only through the blood bought promise of Jesus Christ that we get the option to live forever in heaven with all three persons of the God-head. How easy is it to want to try and run away from the inevitable. I know for me there are certain things that I just don’t want to admit to and things coming to the natural end of their usefulness is one of them. However that is not the case for Christians. We do not run out of usefulness, we will be like the creatures covered in eyes, and others around the throne of God signing “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God almighty.” (Rev 4:8) Something that should give us as Christians comfort is knowing that though we will die in our bodily forms we will go on to live forever with God in the forms of new bodies or heavenly bodies. Christ in talking with Martha breaks it down to her that we may die only to live forever. (John 11:25-26) Find some peace in that and allow it to bring comfort to your soul. That everyone you love who is a Christian has been given the same promise. This does not mean that I have it all together and know everything there is to know about the resurrection. I do know that Bible says that there will be one in due time. That sir/madame is enough for me. 

What do you think should we be excited that we are going to live forever? Or is it scary to think about? 

P.S. Don't forget we are having a book giveaway when we reach 100 followed on Twitter. So go and follow to stay up to date with our posts. 

Life is hard, but God is good, 


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Unexpected Circumstances

How often do we freak out when something unexpected happens? I know I do almost every time because I have realized I'm a control freak. Just today Monday the 15th,  both of my macs decided to die in one way or another. So I am writing this blog post on my phone. I'm trying to remain optomistic but it is hard. It is so much easier to expect the worst in any given situation. 
A question I have is "is it that way with God?" Does he look for the worst in us, or does he see the best in us? I would argue the latter if we are in Christ, because he no longer sees us but sees us thru Christs righteousness. How wonderful is it to know that God looks at us as believes and sees his Son, & even sees us as sons and daughters. 
That is awe inspiring. Just like the fact the gentleman I get my machines from took the in trade toward a newer Mac. We are now new creations the old is gone the new has come. That is not what we expect to happen to us. I'm not sure what we expect, but being considered new in Gods eyes, for us that is hard to understand. I was happy with my old(er) machines. But it doesn't hurt to have something a little newer. In the same manner there are some aspects of your old life that was okay. Now just take those aspects and run them through the filter of Christ and you have something newer. 
All of that being said does not mean I won't still run into some challenges with this Mac, the same way we are gauranteed to have struggle and conflict in the Christian life. 

What are somethings you weren't expecting that turned out for the good?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don't Despise the Small Things!

The title of todays post comes from what was  gleaned from a church service on 12-14-14. That was the biggest take-away I got. Don't despise the small things, because they can turn into great things. One thing that comes to mind are two of the biggest computer companies in the world, Microsoft and Apple. They both started out small, but with a vision. And they didn't let anything get in the way of that vision. Because they new the potential that their product had. This is a lesson I am begging to learn. While I do not have a huge following right now, I believe I will one day as long as I continue to produce material people can use. 
     My hope for this post is to encourage you, maybe even challenge you! What do you have inside of you that you are about to let die because you are upset with your meager beginnings? When I first started this blog I was happy when I had 10 visitors a day. Now I am averaging around 140 a day. Which for me is great. Do I think we can do more yes, I DO! But, I know it depends on the plans the Lord has for me and this ministry of writing he has given me. Another reason not to despise small beginnings is because that is exactly how our Lord and Savior started out. He was not born in some fancy mansion in Jerusalem no he was born in a manger  in Bethlehem. He would go on to live a normal life until the time his ministry started. He was not drawing big crowds at first either. It wasn't' until people started to take notice of what he was able to do that he grew a following. The biggest problem with Jesus following is they were always in it with the whats in it for me category. Which is okay some of the time, we have to be willing to give back. Sometimes it is the smallest gestures that make the largest impact. Looking ahead there are things we learn from Christ interactions with the disciples. 
     Christ tells the disciples a parable about the mustard seed being the smallest of seeds, yet when it is planted becomes the largest of all garden plants.(Mark 4:30-32) While Jesus was referencing the kingdom of God in this parable we can take a lot away from it.  There is another reference to a mustard seed I like for our context just a little bit more. Jesus is speaking to the disciples and tells them that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed  they can move mountains.(Matt 17:20) It lets me know that I can start out small in anything and still have potential to become more. I don't know about you but I long to do big things for the kingdom of God. While my faith may be small, God says its all I need. It will grow over time as I exercise it.So for my faithful readers I am VERY appreciative of you and say THANK YOU for all of your support. If you have been blessed by this or another post would leave me a comment letting me know. It is just one small gesture to help me to continue trying to be a blessing to you all. 
Life is hard, but God is good!

What are you exercising faith in to see it grow? What is your small thing?

Monday, December 15, 2014


     What comes to mind when you hear the word gratefulness? There are several different things that jump out at me when hearing that word, they are more concepts than things. I think of humility. I also think of generosity. Both of those things seem to play a role some way or another in gratefulness. It takes humility to receive something with a grateful attitude, while it takes some one being generous to give making it possible to be grateful. 
     The best picture we have of this combination comes from God to us. God is gracious enough to come down to this world in the form of a man to take on a burden that is rightfully ours. That is generously giving of ones' self. This gift requires humility on our part because a proud person will not accept what has been shown to him in his need of forgiveness. (1 Cor 1:18).  I know for me I thought all Christians were crazy hypocrites. It wasn't until I came to know Christ personally that my view changed. It takes a change of heart to begin to  understand the riches that are found in the kingdom of God.
     We can learn great lessons from our relationship with Jesus on how to be grateful. While Jesus walked this world he often appreciated all that was done for him, such as the women who took care of him. One instance that comes to mind is when a woman anointed His feet with nard, washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. (Luke 7:36-50).  This section of Scripture show that both Jesus and the woman were appreciative of the actions the other took. There are many people in the world who need some assistance and will be eternally grateful. 

Q: What are somethings you are grateful for from this last year?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Beating a Dead Horse

     Have you ever done a task and felt like you were beating a dead horse? Well that is how I started to feel after this last eight weeks of class. I was working on a homiletics class on preparing a sermon. The sermon was on Philippians 1:12:18, and almost all of my course work for the last eight weeks has centered around this one portion of Scripture. I have had to do a lot of praying in the last week to get the needed motivation to finish this sermon. There were a few faithful FaceBook friends who offered up prayers alongside of me, and the words just started to flow. 
     I am not sure why it was so hard to write this sermon compared to others I have written in just a few days. Like I said I think it was because I was beating a dead horse. While I am positive some of my contemporaries have a different take on this set of verses I had exhausted my knowledge and understanding of them. I will more than likely post the sermon here on the blog in a few days. There are several verses that help me realize that the work I do is not just for men but for God and they are 1 Cor 10:31, and Col 3:23-24. It is easy to get wrapped up in all the preparation of writing and never actually sit down and write the sermon. I must say that I enjoy all of the work that goes into it and learning how to come up with better illustrations has been helpful. This class has taught me some things I can use in  my own ministry here with you all(my readers) and with the world at large such as those I preach to on occasion. 
     I know that it is not easy to do something that at times can feel like a drudgery, but let me encourage you to finish the work that is set before you. In the end you will be proud that you set your mind to something and finished it and it did not beat you. There will be times you just can't do somethings and that is okay too, give yourself permission to know when those times are. But, don't give up just because something gets hard, if you need to ask for help. For instance my oldest son is one of the smartest kids I have ever met (I'm not just saying that because he is my son.) He is in the fifth grade reading at and eleventh grade level. But lately he has been struggling with his math homework and needing more help. He wants to quit because it is hard and everything has always come easy to him, at least pertaining to school work. We won't let him quit we encourage and help as necessary. I know right now you are asking yourself "What does that have to do with anything?" The answer is simple, if we let him quit he would never learn how to persist in life, and deal with those dead horses that will arise. Have you ever heard the saying,"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" That is the process I had to use in writing this sermon heck even writing this post. 

It's your turn now, what dead horses are you struggling with? How can I help?