What Are You Thinking?

We’re living in some strange times right now aren’t we? Who would’ve ever thought we’d be holed up in our homes, working to reduce an infection caused by a microscopic enemy which is unable to be seen with the naked eye. We are inundated with more information than at any other time in human history, and have access to what is happening around the world with the click of a button. And yet with all of this technology at our fingertips, we are probably worse off than any other time in history.

One of the best things a person can do for themselves and those around them is to stay positive and upbeat. It’s not one of the easiest things to do either, because it seems we have been conditioned to default to negative thoughts instead of positive. In the Bible it says it this way:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8

Ask yourself, am I thinking about things in a positive or negative way? When someone gives you a report about what’s happening in the world, what do your thoughts run to; positive or negative? Proverbs 23:7a says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he…” What we think is one of the few things we actually have control over in life too.

I heard a lady say one time, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, I believe what I believe.” It’s sad but true, a lot of people’s lives are destroyed because of what they believe and not what is actually happening to them. If our enemy, the devil, can get you to believe the worst, then the worst is what you will have. But, if you will choose to believe the best, the best is what will happen in your life.

Call it what you like; positive energy, karma, or faith, the truth of God’s Word is whatever you focus on is what you will attract. When you believe something and speak it out of your mouth, this is what controls your destiny. And the coolest thing about this is the fact you are in control of what you think. John Eldredge said it this way in his book The Sacred Romance;

“Power can do everything but the most important thing; it cannot control love…in a concentration camp, the guards possess an almost unlimited power. By applying force, they can make you renounce your God, curse your family, work without pay, eat human excrement, kill and then bury your closest friend or even your own mother. All this is within their power. Only one thing is not; they cannot force you to love them.”

I would say there is a second thing, and that is they cannot make you change what you think. They can apply all kinds of pressure to make you change your mind, but ultimately what you think is yours and yours alone. What do you think the devil was trying to do to Jesus when He went to the wilderness for forty days and nights? He was trying to change what Jesus thought and knew to be true. Look the story up, you’ll find it in Matthew 4:1 -11 / Luke 4:1 – 14.

The thing I love the most about this particular story about Jesus is He didn’t answer the devil’s questions by saying, “Because I’m God dummy.” Every time He said, “It is written.” and then He would quote the passage to answer the temptations. What I love the most about following Jesus, is when we see He do things in the Bible, He did them as a man, and not as God. I like this, because He was showing me how I need to walk this out. Praise God, if I will live by the examples Jesus showed, my life can be victorious on a daily basis, and so can yours.

This is why I preach to anyone who will listen of the importance of knowing the Bible for yourself. You don’t know what is true if you never stick your nose in the Bible. Your victory over life is based directly on what you believe, and what you believe is based directly on what you are thinking. So if your life is not what you would like it to be, change what you are believing, and to do that you have to change what you are thinking. Taking Philippians 4:8 to heart is the best place to start. Also, I would recommend limiting the amount of time you spend watching news reports on what is going on around the world. If you’re going to watch news for thirty minutes, then also read your Bible for the same amount of time. Combat the negative news with the Good News of God’s Word.

For the Kingdom and the King, Shalom!

Has God Abandoned Us?

I heard a person say the other day they were no longer shaking hands with people, not because of the Corona Virus, but because of the shortage of toilet paper. Now I’ll admit, I find this funny, not because of the mass hysteria being perpetrated on us by the media, but the fact someone decided to find a little humor in a serious situation.

As a man of faith in God, I am totally at peace with the chaos trying to reign around us. I’m not making light of what people are going through, I just know Whose I am, and His Word is true, especially when there is crazy going on all around me. I realize the world has called this a pandemic, which the CDC defines as “an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.” But I have to ask the question, “Has it changed God or His Word?” The answer to this is a resounding NO!

I made this statement the other day, “The warranty for what Jesus did has not run out.” What I mean by this, is whatever He did for us, He is still doing for us. Take a look at Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

This is a promise from God for His people. It talks about Him taking care of His people, regardless if there is enough toilet paper or bottled water to go around. God has got His children covered. Honestly, the people who should be fearful are those who do not yet know God. They don’t have anything to lay hold to, no firm foundation to bring stability to their lives. And for these people I am truly concerned. Not because they may not be able to wipe their hineys, but that they will end up in complete and total isolation from God for all of eternity in hell with the devil and his angels.

The place for those of us who call ourselves Christians is at the front lines of what is going on. Having patience with the unbelievers and calling out those in our family who are trying to run the other way. I saw a quote from Mr. Rogers which makes me think of how we as Christians should be acting now.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Fred Rogers

This is who we as the church of Jesus Christ should be, the helpers. Let’s use our resources to help other people in need; whether this be with our finances or actually physically getting out there and taking care of those in need. This is our hour to shine, not cower back and wait for Jesus to come and take us away from all of this. Rise up and be who God has called you to be; a helper!

Strength and honor, for the Kingdom and the King!

Stuff My Father Says About Healing

Let’s talk before we get into this topic today. First off, this subject is a touchy one. In the past, it has cost me friendships, made many people angry and made me reevaluate what I truly believe. Yet through all of it, I still believe what God’s Word says about healing, and I always will.

I will say right at the gitgo here, if you disagree with me, it is perfectly fine. The only thing I would ask of you, is to keep an open mind and search out these truths in the Bible for yourself. Don’t just believe something because dear Aunt Polly or your daddy said it. Study and search for yourself. And not only this, ask God to show you, His Holy Spirit is the Great Teacher standing by ready, willing and able to help you to understand everything.

I’m not a science guy, I don’t understand what makes us sick or allows diseases to run rampant in some parts of the world more than others. What I do know is faith, and if God said something in the Bible, then it is true. It may not be operating fully in my life to the degree I want it to at the moment, but it is true regardless. The law of electricity is still true, regardless of whether or not I believe it. If I grab a bare wire which is connected to a power source, even if I don’t believe it will hurt me, it will. The same is true with the things in God’s Kingdom as well. What you do and do not know will have an impact on your life.

Before we hop into the healing Scriptures, I’d be remiss if I didn’t first off talk about how we receive things in God’s Kingdom. The Scriptures are pretty cut and dry about this, let’s look at Mark 11:23-24; “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea’, and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Yeah, but Dave you don’t know my situation! Hey, save your buts for the Lord. This is Jesus talking in this passage of Scripture. It’s pretty cut and dry. Whatever you believe and say will be yours. This is how you get everything in the Kingdom of God; you believe it and say it, then it shows up. It doesn’t matter who you are either, if you believe something in your heart and say it with your mouth and do not doubt, but believe you will receive, you will eventually get the thing you are talking about.

So let’s look at what the Bible says about healing. Is it for you, or was it just for people in the Bible? Proverbs 4:20-22 says, “My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them, let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.” Cool! God’s Word brings healing to your whole body! The Amplified versions says it this way, “My son, pay attention to my words and be willing to learn; open your ears to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing and health to all their flesh.”

Notice the phrases, “healing to your whole body” and “health to all their flesh“. The words “whole” and “all” pretty much cover whatever ails you. Something which jumps out at me in this Scripture is where it says “for they bring life to those who find them“. I don’t know about you, but this pretty much says to me those who are walking in healing are the ones who are paying close attention to God’s Word and actually looking for them. They’ve opened their ears to the Scriptures and kept them in front of their eyes, regardless of what their five senses are trying to tell them.

This then begs the question, am I actually looking for God’s Word concerning healing? Now here’s what I think, a lot of Christians are running to the doctor in search of the easy fix; you know, a pill or shot to take to fix what ails me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the guy who will tell you to throw away your medicine and just believe God. We have to use a little bit of common sense too. But I will be the guy to ask you if you are running to the doctor first and seeking God second?

I’m afraid in this scientific age we live in, Christians have gotten away from actually believing in God’s ability to heal us, thinking this was needed back in the day before all the medical stuff we’ve figured out in the past 100 years. A prevalent thought is God gave us science, and they in turn have given us a plethora of medicines which tout the ability to fix all of our problems. Have you ever looked into all the side effects of the pills we have nowadays? I mean, sometimes I’d rather have the sickness than deal with all the side effects.

Let’s look at some healing Scriptures or God’s medicine:

Psalm 107:20 “He sent His Word, and healed them.”

Psalm 30:2 “O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.”

Psalm 103:3 “He who forgives all your iniquities, and heals all your diseases.”

1 Peter 2:24 “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.”

Look at that last passage, especially the two words “have been“, this is in the past tense meaning it has already happened. When Jesus was beaten with the whip before He was nailed to the cross, each of the lashes He received purchased your healing. This means healing is yours, you just have to reach out and take it. And as we learned earlier, if we believe it in our heart, say it with our mouth and don’t doubt, then we will have what we say.

If you are not believing God for your healing, then my question must be, why? I don’t know exactly how many Scriptures there are concerning healing, but I know if there were just one it would be enough. I did come across this website which has 102 such verses. Click here to read them. What I know is as you read the Word of God, faith comes. And when faith comes, you believe. Couple that with your speaking what you believe and not doubting, and you will see the miracle of healing operate in your life.

I know it sounds almost too easy to be real, but if there is one thing I’ve learned about my Father in these past 30+ years of following Him, it’s He doesn’t make anything too difficult to do. Jesus wants the best for you, and one of these things is for you to be in health and whole. And besides, what do you have to lose by believing God? Nothing really. As Nike has said for years, “Just Do It!”

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Stuff My Father Says About Money

I remember as a kid, I used to watch the television show, The Monkees. It was always fun, and the music catchy. One thing I vividly remember however, was in their apartment, there was an embroidered wall hanging with the stitched phrase, “Money is the root of all evil.” It was a funny way of explaining how they were struggling musicians who didn’t need money to be successful and happy. Or in other words, money is evil, and they were not because they didn’t have any.

However what my Father says about this is totally different. The actual Scripture is found in 1 Timothy 6:10 and says, “For the “love of money” is the root of all evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” Man alive is this ever a true statement. You don’t have to be rich either to have the love of money operating in your life. A person with $5.00 can be affected by the love of money just as easily as someone with five million dollars. It’s not a money issue, it’s an attitude of the heart.

In Matthew 15:19 Jesus is addressing the root cause of this with His disciples when He says, “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander.” (To see this in context read the full story in Matthew 15:1-20.) It’s what is in your heart that is important and this is where the love of money resides.

Now I understand money is important. We have to have it to survive in life. With it, we pay for a place to live, stuff to eat, clothes to wear, entertainment, etc. It’s not wrong to have things, it’s wrong for things to have us. Money in and of itself is not evil, it cannot force you to do wrong. But when you are dealing with this attitude in your heart, nothing but evil can come of it.

If you want to see where a person is spiritually, watch how they spend their time and money. Say what they will, this will pinpoint just where a person is. I know for myself, I have a love of all things Star Wars (except for that lesbian kiss in the last movie, but that’s a topic for another blog). And it is so easy for people to buy gifts for me. But in the end, it’s all just stuff. I mean, I give away a lot of the stuff I buy, in fact if I find things on sale (which is a rarity) I purchase multiples of them in order to bless people who also love Star Wars.

God is not asking us to take a vow of poverty, not at all. In fact, while the Roman soldiers were crucifying Jesus, they were gambling with each other for His clothing. Now I don’t know about you, but if Jesus were wearing rags, they probably would not have been trying to win his clothing. His garments must have been nice ones, even a little bit on the expensive side don’t you think?

For years, well meaning Christians who didn’t have much, have attributed poverty with piety. Some of the most spiritual and giving people I know have a lot of money. The difference is the money does not have them. It’s a tool they use to promote the Gospel across the world, and consequently because they do this, God has seen fit to bless them with more and more money. The old saying, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” is a very true statement. Why do you think this is? I believe it’s because they understand wealth and what it can do. The question we need to ask ourselves is, do we understand this?

Whenever I’m in a church service and the question comes up about what I can do to help with whatever outreach or building program is going on, I always ask myself if this is something I feel I should support, and then I move on that. It may just be with a $25 offering, but if I feel the leading of God to do something sacrificially, then I do it. God has never let me down yet, and by donating to various causes, my bride and I have never had to go without a meal or miss a house payment.

I heard a man say once, “You can’t out give God.” and I’ve spent my entire Christian life since then trying to. I don’t want to be one of those stingy people who never pays for another person’s coffee or meal. To have to hold onto my money so tightly, my hand starts cramping. I want to be known as a generous man, who loved people more than money. How about you? Do you love money more than anything else? If so, this might be something you would want to work on.

Until next time, for the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

It’s Up To You

One of the greatest misunderstandings in the Christian community I believe is learning what God says for yourself. The world we live in today has countless resources from which to choose how you hear the Word of God. Whether it’s podcasts, video series, books, blogs or even attending a weekly church service, no one can say the information is not out there.

Yet for all the information we have at the tips of our fingers, there are more people ignorant of what God has for them than I believe ever has been. Have you ever gotten one of those “forward this” things in order to get God’s blessings? Or been coerced into giving to something because of the smoothness of a speaker’s convincing words? How can you tell what’s real and what’s not?

It takes a firm understanding of what God’s Word says. But not just what it says, but knowing for yourself what God is saying through those words. In the banking world, when they teach tellers how to spot counterfeit bills, they don’t show them any counterfeit money at all. Instead, they show them real bills and what to look for. Knowing the genuine and authentic bills means you will know a fake when you see one.

It’s the same thing with God’s Word. You have to learn the real unadulterated Word of God for yourself, so that when the counterfeits show up you will recognize them.

Ultimately this falls on you and me personally. I mean if someone is teaching the Word of God incorrectly, you need to be able to determine this for yourself. The great news is, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us and He will lead, guide and direct our steps, but we have to give Him something to work with. If you aren’t reading the Bible, (looking at the real thing) what does He have to work with.

In the next series of blogs, I’m going to talk about what God’s Word says. And don’t just believe me because I say I’m right, check out what I’m saying against the Word of God and the Holy Spirit on the inside of you, and see if He won’t take your someplace you’ve never been before.

For the Kingdom and the King! Shalom!

Things Your Pastor Won’t Tell You

I’ve been a Christian now for 33 years. I know, I know, give me a gold star or something. I don’t say this to garner any accolades or awards, or even good will for that matter. I say it to give you some context of where I am coming from. In these 33 years, I’ve learned a lot, and yet even with three decades of following Jesus under my belt, there is a myriad of things I have yet to learn, and perhaps even need to work on. Yeah, if you know anything about me, you know I really don’t mince words very often, if at all. You will never have to wonder where I’m coming from, because I’ll shoot straight with you. As I tell people all the time, you may not like what I have to say, but it will be the truth.

In 33 years of being a part of the greatest movement to ever be seen on the planet, it amazes me how often people who call themselves Christians will be so selfish and naive. Once while talking with a Pastor, he was dealing with some hard issues at the church. Okay, let’s get real, he had some people who were really making it hard for him to like doing his job. They were griping about every little thing, even down to the color of the carpet and it was taking it’s toll on him.

You see, a true Pastor loves his flock even when they’re picking up stones to throw at him. It’s a hard job; one I couldn’t do, nor would ever want to. But as we were talking, a thought came to me and I told him, “Pastor, what you need is an a**hole who can tell these people where to go. And I can be that for you.” He smiled, thanked me for the offer and said that wouldn’t be necessary.

Well I still stand by my assessment and think this is what a lot of well meaning Christians need; someone to kick them in the keister and get them thinking about something other than themselves. This is what I think one of the biggest problems in the Christian church is today; selfishness. I mean think about it, you say, “I’m mad at the Pastor because he repainted a wall and changed the carpet?” Where in the heck do you even have the nerve to bring that up to him? Who really cares about your opinion in this? And is this a heaven and hell issue?

I get it, you don’t like it, you think it should be something different, but the thing I was shocked about, is the fact we were seeing more and more people come to the church and turning their lives over to Jesus and some people couldn’t see that because of the color of the carpet? I mean, come on people are you truly this shallow?

As I said in the title of my blog, this is going to be things your Pastor can never say to you. This doesn’t mean I don’t love people, I do, but what I don’t like is people who get mad at things which, in the big scheme of things don’t really matter. Christianity is about reaching people for Jesus, the masses are out there dying and going to hell and need to hear about the Lord. I mean isn’t that what Jesus told His disciples? “The world will know you are My disciples by showing love one to another.

Love is the exact opposite of selfishness. Love says, “What can I do for you?” While selfishness says, “What can you do for me?” Love goes against our very nature though doesn’t it? I mean, it is easier for me to talk about someone than to them. With the new year upon us, if you’ve been petty and selfish in your church attendance, make a change, go the opposite way of your past and see what God can do in your life.

And instead of telling the Pastor what you think all the time, encourage them, lift them up in prayer and try and be a help to them. Quit being that one sheep they hate to see coming up to them every Sunday. This will make 2020 the best year for everyone. And if this wasn’t a hard enough kick in your pants, feel free to email me and tell me your concerns and I’ll try a little harder next time. godsfirstknight@yahoo.com

And as always, for the King and the Kingdom! Shalom!

1977: The Year My Life Was Changed

In May of 1977, I had been a teenager for all of five months. I’d like to say I was one of the coolest kids out there, but I was, just as any other thirteen year old boy a complete and total dweeb. I wasn’t sure if girls or toys were the most important thing. Staying in my room, or going outside to ride my bike were my most difficult choices. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great childhood; I lived in an up and coming new neighborhood with kids all around me, who were there to play and help me get into mischief.

One day, my mom took me to the theater to see a new movie which had just come out; Star Wars. Up until this time, Star Trek reruns, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Planet of the Apes movies had been the sum total of my science fiction experience and honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect with this new movie. She dropped me off at the movie theater on a Saturday afternoon to meet friends, telling me she’d be back later to pick us up.

With snacks in hand, I went in and found my seat. Things were simpler back then, the chairs were cooshie, but they did not lean back, well they kind of rocked a little, maybe a couple inches; just enough for the kid who couldn’t sit still to be able to work off his or her sugar rush from the Juju Beans and soda. As the lights went dark, I don’t remember if there were any movie trailers or it went straight into the movie, but I do remember the John Williams opening fanfare and thinking, “Hey, this is different!”

As the music played, the opening crawl came across the screen, and as I read it I remember thinking this could be cool. I’d never seen a movie start like this and the words simultaneously had me on the edge of my seat with anticipation and got me excited to see what this world of Star Wars had to offer.

What happened next totally blew me away. The Tantive IV, Princess Leia’s ship came into view from the top of the screen. I remember thinking, “Man, that’s huge!” But following right after was the Imperial Star Destroyer, and it seemed to take a full minute of screen time for this behemoth to pass into view. I can honestly say it was at this point, less than five minutes into the film, George Lucas had me completely and totally hooked.

It is a moment in my life I will never forget. If you were a fan of the television series That 70’s Show, watching Eric Forman see Star Wars for the first time is exactly what it was like for me. (Click picture to see clip)

My memories of the original three movies all come from my teenage years; age 13, Star Wars, age 16, The Empire Strikes Back and age 18, The Return of the Jedi. Many years later after my children were born, it brought me much joy when I was able to introduce them to this series when George Lucas re-released the original films with added footage on the big screen before making the prequel episodes, and yes I do like the character Jar Jar Binks!

Here I am forty-two years later, and my love for this franchise has only deepened and become more expensive. My office is what most would call a shrine to the god of Star Wars, but I call it surrounding myself with things which bring about some of the best memories I have. And as a writer surrounding myself with creative things helps me to create. (At this point my wife will say I’m justifying my purchases).

The past forty plus years have seen a lot of changes in Star Wars, and I love them all, and yes, even the Star Wars Holiday Special. With the new Disney+ television show The Mandalorian being the first of many Star Wars television shows to be made, not to mention all of the animated series and new movies on the horizon, you could say I will be enjoying Star Wars even with my grandchildren; the first of whom is scheduled to arrive next April.

But if you happen to be looking for me on December 18th and 19th, leave a message on my phone, because you’ll find me sitting in an AMC movie theater experiencing all nine movies in a row. Twenty-four hours of Star Wars bliss for me, and very little sleep. Star Wars Marathon here I come!

For the Kingdom and the King, May the force be with you!

Are You Aware?

Today my bride and I made a trip to Sam’s Club. Getting into the parking lot was an experience as we had to wait for cars to move before we could even turn off the street into the parking lot. Once we parked and got inside, my wife said she wanted to look at some fuzzy house slippers to help keep her tootsies warm. Well we tried looking at them, but another lady was standing right in front of the display, and even though we were talking to each other about the house shoes, she was totally oblivious to our presence. We chose to leave and come back later, since it was obviously more important for her to make her choice than let us do likewise.

And this kind of thing happens all the time. I know it’s happened to you before, you walk into your favorite store to pick up a few items, and as you enter the doorway, the person right in front of you stops to look around and decide where they should go first. After almost running smack into them, I always think, “Are you kidding me? I mean come on, you can’t take five more steps and get out of the way of whoever might be behind you?” The trouble is, most of the time these people don’t realize there is anyone behind them, because they are not aware of their surroundings.

Now before you think this is just an old man’s rant about how people disappoint him in every day life, let me say I understand a lot of times why people do things like this, and I’m always gracious to them (at least out loud, inside my mind may be a different story). We live in a society where it’s all about “me” and what “I need”. It’s been going on a long time, ever since Burger King started telling us we could have it “our way”. But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of those around us.

I’m not talking about letting people walk all over you, but being aware of the bigger picture. Sometimes this involves me letting someone into traffic instead of forcing them to wait. I mean if I let someone in front of me, does it really take that much time off of my busy schedule? No. So I arrive at my destination thirty seconds later, it will be alright. None of us are truly in that big of a hurry.

I leave at 5:30 AM for work every day. Maybe a minute or two faster or slower, but always around the same time. For a week, there was a pickup who was also leaving at the same time. This particular truck always drove five to ten miles an hour under the posted speed limit; usually because of paying more attention to a cell phone than the signs. I found myself getting aggravated every time I would see the pickup, but then I decided what did it really matter? I mean it caused me to get to work two minutes later than I was accustomed too, but I was still on time, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

If it really bothered me that bad, I could have left five minutes earlier. But allowing this person to get me aggravated, only hurt me, I’m pretty sure they never even knew and it didn’t bother them at all. There was a choice for me to make every morning; get aggravated and say things I probably shouldn’t, get all worked up and make my blood pressure rise, with no resolution anyway, or I could just let it go and stay calm and collected. Well I opted to stay calm and truthfully, didn’t see the truck any more after about a week.

There is an old saying which goes, you can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair. What this means is there are some things which are out of your control, and there is nothing you can do about them, but the things which you can control, these you need to. I couldn’t keep the truck from leaving at the same time as me, but I could control how I would react to it. This is what it really means to be self aware.

Next time you feel the need to get aggravated or upset at something going on in your life, ask yourself, is this a bird flying over my head, or one trying to build a nest. Then fix the situation accordingly. You got this!

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Where’d That Come From?

I don’t know how many times I’ve been driving in my truck, listening to some music and drifting off in thought when I arrived at my destination only to realize it wasn’t the place I was aiming for. I remember when my bride was pregnant with our third child Noah, she was plagued with kidney stones and we went to St. John’s hospital so many times my vehicle knew the way almost as if it were on autopilot. I had to physically restrain myself from taking the exit off the highway for years afterwards.

The thing is, in my life, I almost feel as if I’m on autopilot a lot of times when I arrive at something I wasn’t intending to find. I think God uses these times to reveal things to us perhaps we weren’t able to see, or perhaps have blocked from our lives. I know for me, grief is this way. It just kind of sneaks up on you from out of nowhere. And if you’re not familiar with grief, then it can be quite a shocker.

In the past ten years I’ve lost three people who were important to me; my youngest son Noah, my best friend Terry Scott and a mentor, Craig McConnell. I’ve grieved for each of them, but sometimes I don’t think we’ve fully reached the closure we need in order to continue on in life for years and years. The only thing I know about grief is it’s a real pain in the butt. I mean it may help us in the long run, but I’m all about getting things done, so I want my grief to fit into this mold; three weeks and we can move on. But unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case.

I was having dinner with my bride and friend Linda a few weeks ago when this topic came up and I made a statement about losing these three people and how I’ve not completely recovered from it. It just popped out of my mouth in the course of conversation, and truly wasn’t something I have given much thought too. But as I thought about the comment, some things began to fall into place. Not bad things mind you, but situations and the way I’ve been handling things for the past several years.

When something happens in our lives, we either enter into it or we pull back and wall it off. A lot of these things we wall off because of the pain or discomfort they cause us. And who wants to be put into a place of discomfort? So we wall off that area which brings with it things we may not want to directly deal with, sometimes it’s even an unconscious decision our soul makes which we aren’t truly aware of. I think this is why it takes grief so long to get out of our system.

When my youngest son committed suicide in 2010, to say I was shocked is an understatement. But I leaned into the presence of God and stood strong for my family, after all, someone had to. I’m not saying my family wasn’t strong, they were and thankfully we were all there for one another. I remember the first night lying in bed when the tears overtook my ability to hold them back. My bride’s hand on my shoulder and her softly praying for me helped so much. And for the next few weeks I was able to step back and see from the outside in, I thank God for that ability.

As write this, I do so in the room where my youngest son took his life. I transformed this place into a place where I could write words of healing and freedom to help others. This is my call, my passion and everything to me. And to do so in this room helps me to reconcile the loss of Noah, even though there’s hardly a day which goes by I don’t think about him and the man he would have been. I’m not sure it’s actually grief still, but his presence is there with me every day.

One of my mentors in becoming a more true and authentic man of God was Craig McConnell of Ransomed Heart Ministries. Even though I had only interacted with him once at a men’s weekend in Colorado, the words he shared through his blogs were like food to a starving man for me. Whenever he spoke through a podcast or video or his all too few blogs it was as if he “got” me. I understood where he was coming from and it appeared he knew me as well.

When Noah died, I reached out to the Ransomed Heart community of men I knew for prayer, and it was Craig who actually found the phone number for my business and left a voice message for me. To this day, it brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. When Craig contracted cancer it was a shock but I knew God and believed he was going to kick it. After many years of fighting it, he seemed to be on the mend, when things took a turn for the worse and the cancer aggressively took him out in a few weeks. I remember watching the memorial service online and mourning the loss of this man who had helped so many.

Within a few months of Craig’s death, my best friend Terry died unexpectedly while on a mission trip overseas. I think of him often, because you see Terry and I had this love of pop culture which we shared with each other; almost daily. We were especially fond of living out what we called “Seinfeld Moments”; these are little things we would experience which had been the subject of a Seinfeld television episode, and would text each other immediately when they happened. One of my favorites was the time we were in Hong Kong on a trip and saw an actual Kenny Roger’s Roasters restaurant. We stood in front of that sign hollering, “Kenny!” as loud as we could while people looked on. I’ve always laughed at that moment.

Grief for Terry reared it’s ugly head a few months ago, when my phone crapped out and I lost a voice mail Terry had left me on a day I was having a really difficult time. I had gotten in a habit of going back to that voice mail message when things were difficult in my life and losing it was just like losing him all over again. It was a kick to the gut, and this time I felt even more alone. Grief for the loss of my best friend is still pretty fresh and every time I see a show he would have enjoyed it makes me realize how alone I am.

Maybe you have faced grief in your time on this planet, and perhaps you’ve had better luck with it than I have, but if not, understand this one thing, when something causes it to show up, don’t add bricks to the wall, ask God what He’s wanting to do with it and move through it. As a motivational poster I saw stated, don’t run from the storm, your victory is on the other side of it. Grief is a difficult landscape to navigate to be sure, but if we will allow the Holy Spirit to work through those difficult times, we will still miss those we’ve lost, but we will end up better people able to help others who are on the same journey we’ve taken.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Who Really Deceived Eve?

I’ve heard it taught for most of my Christian life that Eve was lied to, or deceived by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, thus plunging us into the chaos that has been the human experience ever since. But is this really true? Was it satan deceiving her, or perhaps actually her husband Adam?

Looking into the account of God giving Adam the instructions for how to live in the Garden found in Genesis 2:15-17, it says, “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the Garden – except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

At this point in the creation story, Adam is alone. In verse 18 God makes the statement that it is not good for the man to be alone. Eve isn’t even in the picture at this point, so the only person to know about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is Adam. Then in verses 21-25 we see how God hand fashioned and designs the woman taking her from Adam’s side. If you do a casually reading of chapters 2 going into 3, it would almost seem that immediately after she was created, the serpent shows up to tempt her.

So many times as I read the Bible, going from one chapter to the next in the blink of an eye, I assume the stories do as well. But this is not always the case. I’m sure there had to have been some time transpire from the creation of Eve to the temptation. I imagine since the Bible refers to the serpent as the most subtle, crafty, shrewd and clever of all the animals, he didn’t just barge in with a frontal attack on God’s children.

The devil has been around for a while and he knows exactly how God works. Remember how he tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness; he waited forty days and then spoke to him using God’s Word incorrectly. I imagine he sat back and watched Adam and Eve for a while, waiting and looking for an opportunity to get back at God. And it probably came one day while Adam and his new bride were walking around the Garden and he was showing her everything God had given them.

They arrive at the center of the Garden where the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was, and Adam says, “Listen honey, this tree, we don’t eat its fruit, actually, we aren’t even supposed to touch it.” Eve not knowing any better says, “Okay.” and off they go back to enjoying the Garden. But you see, the devil knew what God had said to Adam, and I’m sure this is when he saw the opportunity he’d been waiting on. I think it wasn’t the serpent who deceived Eve, but Adam, by not trusting her with the ability to follow God’s instructions for herself.

While I agree Eve was deceived, it was only because she had faulty information. We saw what God told Adam, but what Eve said to the serpent was different. She said, “Look, this tree in the middle of the Garden (isn’t it interesting how Eve doesn’t refer to it as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil like God did when he instructed Adam), we’re not supposed to eat its fruit, and hey! we’re not even supposed to touch it, because we will die.

When we base our relationship with God on what a man says, and not on what the actual Word of God says, we will all be deceived. Adam for whatever reason did not trust Eve with the truth, otherwise he would have told her what God had told him, right? Ultimately we have to put the reason humanity is in the boat its in, squarely on Adam’s shoulders and not Eve’s. Yes Eve was deceived, but because of the information Adam had given her. And taking this into consideration, Genesis 3:6 plainly states Adam was right there with Eve while the whole conversation with the serpent was taking place.

Adam should have used his God given authority over the serpent at this point to protect his bride, stating, “No, that’s not right, we can touch the tree we are just not supposed to eat its fruit.” But instead, probably because he didn’t want to look stupid (and what man does) he remained quiet and passive, allowing his wife to have a conversation with a snake and joined in with her making the wrong decision, thus giving away everything they had to the devil.

Eve definitely had a part to play in this story, but I think you can see now how it really wasn’t her fault that we live in a messed up world. The devil lied to her, yes, but her husband stood by and allowed him to do it. He went passive and quiet instead of aggressively taking matters into his own hands and setting things right. If anyone is to blame, it is Adam pure and simple, the buck stopped with him.

Which makes me wonder men, are we being passive and allowing the devil to speak into our bride’s lives? Are we standing idly by and allowing him to get a foothold into our marriages? What we need to do is watch for the attack of the enemy, preparing to face him down with the full authority of Heaven backing us up. Praying for our brides and lifting them up, instead of blaming them for the state our lives are in. Remember, she follows your lead, are you leading?

For the Kingdom and the King! Shalom!

I Was Bullied For Liking Star Wars

 
I was on a mission trip in the Philippines for the past 2 weeks and while there we traveled to the island of Marinduque. As I sat on the beach I scanned the horizon and saw this building. 

I immediately thought it looked like the little droid BB8 from the new Star Wars movies and quickly snapped a picture anxious to share it on a Star Wars fan site on Facebook that I follow. 


I pointed it out to my wife and friend Linda and explained what I saw. I was met with the typical response I usually get from my wife and friends; disinterest. Not because they are mean, it’s just they aren’t Star Wars fans like me. So their reaction to what I had found wasn’t surprising or upsetting to me, I’m actually used to this from people who just casually watch these movies.


When we got back to the hotel and WiFi, I eagerly posted my picture with the caption “Only Star Wars Fans Will See It” and waited for my fellow fans to enjoy what I was sharing. I checked my post a little while later and found that most of the people who had posted didn’t see what I saw. I thought that was odd, but kept going back to see what others were saying about my picture.


I was shocked to say the least, when I saw mean things being posted about me in the comments section. Several people were downright ugly about it, calling my fandom into question. I’ve been a fan since 1977 and a big one at that. To be told I shouldn’t share anything, and maybe rethink being a fan because obviously I wasn’t, was very hurtful.

I haven’t been the victim of bullying since I was in Junior High, (I’m 55 now) but it hurt, and quite a bit. Now as I said, I’ve grown accustom to my wife and friends shrugging their shoulders when I talk about Star Wars, but this was a fan site with tens of thousands of fans of the franchise. To say I was not expecting to be vilified was an understatement. It actually felt like I’d taken a punch to the gut.


As I sat there stunned into silence, I didn’t know exactly what to do. I mean these were supposed to be people like me; fans of the most awesome sci-fi story ever told. And yet, I felt as if I were an outcast, a nobody, someone who just didn’t belong. I posted about how I felt, and that it was uncalled for to treat a fellow fan this way, saying goodbye and unfollowing that account. It was better for me if I just didn’t see what anyone else said; good or bad at this point, because my feelings were hurt.

Later, as I was waiting to speak to a group of students, I was telling my wife and Linda about how I had gotten an idea of what I was going to talk about because of the way I was treated about the picture, they laughed. I had to explain, with tears in my eyes about how much it had hurt me to have been bullied like that. I told them, I was used to people who didn’t like the franchise as much as me acting as if it didn’t matter, but to have been so excited to share my love of Star Wars with other Star Wars fans and then be shot down like that was devastating.

I’m sure this is nothing to other people, but to me it was a difficult day to say the least. I know bullying happens every day, I’m sure at some point in my life I’ve even probably been seen as the bully. All I know is it was hurtful and there was no reason for people to say the things they had said. Like my mother always taught me, “If you can’t say something good, then don’t say anything at all.” This hasn’t hurt my love of Star Wars, there is nothing that will ever change that, it has been too important to me for too long, but I will always remember the day I was ridiculed by other fans and bullied and will do my best to never be like that to anyone, because it doesn’t feel good.

If you have been the victim of bullying and don’t know who to talk to, click this link https://www.cybersmile.org/advice-help/category/who-to-call there is someone there who will help you out. And if you love something, don’t let anyone ever tell you how you are supposed to feel about that, if you love it, then love it with all your heart.

For the Kingdom, and the King!


Prayer Works!

One of the basic tenets of every faith in the world is prayer. Regardless of what you believe, praying is at the center of every religion. For me, I make no bones about being a Christian. I have been and always will be a believer in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, and while I never have proclaimed to be the best follower of Jesus, I do my best each and every day.

Prayer for me has been somewhat of an enigma over the years. I know what the Bible teaches about prayer, but for whatever reason I have always felt I was lacking just a bit in this area. Ask my children about the nights I decided we were going to pray as a family, only to end up with yelling and crying as the result.

Regardless of this, I have spent thirty some odd years praying to God, in the Name of Jesus mostly if I am honest in my attempt to get something from God instead of using it as a time to spend time with Him. It’s the truth, I won’t lie about it. Despite this however, God has always been a great Father to me and takes what He can get, still choosing to love me any way.

Which brings me to the point of my blog today. A little over a month ago, I was doing my Bible reading and was encouraged by a passage of Scripture I read in Mark 11:24, which states, “Whatsoever things you desire when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

This got me to thinking, what things have I been desiring? At the time I was frustrated because the computer I have been using to do my writing was an older Mac and had updated the latest operating system, but in doing so, it caused the machine to quit working. I had been in a bit of a drought with my writing because of it. I had even broken out a little computer I have, which is almost impossible for me to use because of the size of it. My big old meat paws cause me to type things I don’t want.

It hit me, I need a new computer. I decided to put God’s Word to the test, and I asked Him for a new Apple laptop on May 14, 2019. Believing that I would receive it because He had promised me in His Word if I would but only believe, I would receive.

Jump ahead a little over a month to Father’s Day 2019, and while at my son’s house for dinner the night before I saw he was busy at work on a laptop. Thinking he was working on some multimedia project for work, I asked him if I could use his computer later to take care of some business I had which couldn’t be accomplished on my phone. He said, “No, but you can use your own computer to do it.”  I said, “Son I can’t, my computer isn’t working, this is why I need to use yours.” He grinned and said, “No dad, you can use yours, this laptop I’m setting up with your stuff, it’s yours, Holly and I are giving it to you for Father’s Day.”

I stood there stunned to say the least. God had answered my prayer, and I might add in just a little over a month. Once again He has proven how much He loves me, even when I’m pretty sure what He gets in return from me is nothing compared to what He’s given. He is just so awesome like that!

My blog today is two-fold; one to thank my Heavenly Father for answering my prayers, even though I’m sure I haven’t done anything to deserve it. My praise is totally and completely for Him. But secondly, I want to thank my son Micah and daughter in law Holly for the gift of this laptop. It’s awesome, and I love it so much! I know I will be using it for years to come, and every time I boot it up I’ll think of how God answered my prayer using my kids. I’m a blessed man for sure!

For the Kingdom and the King!

Authenticity

I noticed on the news this morning Hillary Clinton was in a small town diner handing food and drinks to the patrons there. She of course was dressed to the nines and really looked out of place in what she was doing.

The funny thing to me is how people in power doing these types of things must think it makes them look like they’re down to earth people and authentic. But when I see it all I do is roll my eyes and think, “Oh look, another photo op for the powerful.”

In this day and age in which we live, I think one of the biggest things missing is true and honest authenticity. And it’s permeated every area of our lives too. At work the boss tells you how much you’re appreciated when there is a group of people and then doesn’t have the time to even say hello as he passes you in a hallway. At home with your family, you do just enough to get by so you can feel good about yourself as you spend more time on yourself.

And don’t forget your friends, when you focus on what they can do for you instead of how you can help them succeed in life.

I’m reminded of the movie Remember the Titans where Coach Boone has been telling Coach Yoast that he may be a mean sucker, but he’s a mean sucker to every player on the team, not just some of them. He was authentic and real with every player, not just the ones he thought could handle it or were more important to him.

This is what we need in today’s society, men and women who are not afraid to tell it like it is, do whatever it takes to get the job done without caring how it affects them. And this is the bottom line I think, lack of authenticity is at its core selfishness and an unwillingness to be true for fear it will cause you to look weak. And if I’m not mistaken, it was Jesus who said, “Whenever I’m weak then He is strong.” He perfects us through weakness and being real, honest and authentic.

Let’s get out there and be real today!

Stop Beating Them Up

I feel I should start this out with a disclaimer. For most of my life, I have been misunderstood more often than not. I’m not a mean person by nature, I just tend to say what I think quite often without really taking into consideration the thoughts and feelings of others. This is not to say I don’t care about them, because I really do, it’s just in my rush to help people a lot of times my abruptness can come across as mean or uncaring. Honestly whenever someone has called me out because of this type of behavior, I’m always amazed at how I’ve been misunderstood.

Having said this, let me start right here from the get go and say, I’m not out to hurt you or make you feel like less than a person, I really am writing today to help you. I believe if you read my post in the spirit in which it is intended and evaluate yourself, you will be able to see some personal growth in your life. What I’m not saying is I know it all and you don’t, I am constantly learning every day and working to improve myself too, so let’s begin.

I won’t make any bones about it, I’m a born again, Jesus believing, Bible reading Christian and I’m not ashamed to admit it. What I am ashamed of is some of the people who also call themselves Christians and their inability to act decent to people; both Christian and sinner alike. You know the type, they are quick to give you a judgmental glance if you don’t do everything exactly like they do, or talk about something in which they disapproves. And I’m not just talking about they way they respond to people who have yet to believe in Jesus, they’re just as bad when they interact with fellow Christians.

There is a story in the Bible about a godly man named Job who entered into a season of his life where bad things were happening all around him; he lost his kids, his money and his health. Some of his friends came to visit, and by the end of their conversation,  everything was his fault and this is why he was in the state he was in. I’ve met too many Christians who are just like Job’s friends. Some situation arises regarding your health, family, finances, or whatever and they are quick to ask you how your prayer life is, or if you are reading your Bible and praying every day? As if it’s something you’re doing or not doing which has caused the situation. Don’t get me wrong, we can allow sin into our lives and the consequences attached to it can hinder our lives, but not everything that happens in our lives is because of what we do or don’t do.

The thing which irritates me more than anything is someone who sees a fellow Christian struggling and then begins to beat them over the head with their Bible. Not in the literal sense, but they quote Scripture as if it were a club, trying to knock some sense into them I guess. And before you blast me, in my younger days I also did this. I’ve since learned to discern what the person needs and then give this to them. Sometimes they need to hear Scripture, other times they just need to be heard. Learning how to understand what they need is a greater gift than knowing everything about the Bible and yet being unable to connect with the person. It’s cliche to say it, but it’s true, “People don’t care what you know until they know you care.”

In Hebrews 4:12 it calls God’s Word a two edged sword. One translation actually says God’s Word is like a surgeon’s scalpel. A scalpel must be used with great skill, it’s not meant to be used as a blunt object, it must be used with finesse, only then will it bring the healing the person needs.  So let’s lay down our clubs and begin to work at truly helping others, by giving them what they need and not what we think they need.

For the King and the Kingdom!

Life May Not Be Fair, But It Can Be Good

“It’s just not fair!” the boy cried, “Why is this so hard?”
The father stood there in silent anguish wishing he could remove the pain he heard between the sobs. However, he knew the truth and knew no words he could convey to his child would help.

“I do what’s right and good father, and what do I get for it? Nothing!” Balling up his fists, the young man began pounding the pillow under his head. “They’re all out to get me! That’s what this is, they want me to fail!”

Laying his hand gently on the boy’s head, tears forming at the corner of his eyes, he said a silent prayer willing some of his own strength towards his upset child. Tensing up at the touch, he flopped over onto his back and pulling his head away from the hand screamed, “Aren’t you going to say anything? Aren’t you going to do anything? Why are you taking their side? Why do you hate me?”

With compassion in his eyes, the father said, “Son I love you more than anything. I have given everything for you. One day I hope you realize how much I sacrificed in order for you to have the life I want you to have.”

“Whatever! Get out, just leave me alone!”

Looking over his shoulder as he left the boy’s room he said, “Son, I do love you.”
How many times have you been the young boy in this story? Have you ever screamed at God about life not being fair? The truth of the matter is this; life isn’t fair, and it never has been. Since the Garden of Eden and the fall of man, life on this planet has been hard . Yet for some odd reason, Christians feel they are entitled to an easy life once they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And nothing could be further from the truth.

In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jesus said this to his disciples, not to the sinners of the world. If he tells us we’re going to have trouble, then why do we act so surprised when it shows up? Could it be because in our efforts to add numbers to our churches we fail to tell them the whole truth? Are we guilty of painting this rosy picture of life as a Christian and in the process set up people for failure?

Being a Christian doesn’t mean living a carefree, easy existence. It means bringing the light of the Gospel to people in dark places. People are watching us; they face the same challenges we do, and notice when we overcome them. I’ve been asked numerous times, “How did you do it when things got hard?” And my answer is always the same, through the Word of God. The Bible is the solid foundation upon which I stand. This doesn’t mean I always understand how, but I don’t really have to understand how God works, just that He does.

Having a good working knowledge of God’s Word will help lead, guide and direct you when life gets difficult. It’s like having a bank account; if you want to use your debit card to buy things, then you have to have made some deposits into your account. You wouldn’t whine and complain to the bank about not being able to buy things, if you had never made a deposit at the bank. Then why do you complain to God about how tough things are when you never put anything into your “spiritual” account?

Listen, life is going to be tough, get used to this fact. But no matter how tough it gets, you can overcome everything life throws at you with the Word of God. But you will have to make an investment by reading your Bible every day and doing what you read in it. With the Word of God firmly rooted in your heart, you will be able to face the challenges of life and overcome whatever it throws at you.

Seven Years

Seven years or 84 months or 364 weeks or 2,555 days or 61,320 hours or 3,679,200 minutes or 220,752,000 seconds.  However you want to track the passage of time, this is how long it has been since my youngest son Noah was lost to me due to suicide. I’ve written about this before; usually at this time of year when I am forced to relive the events which happened on that day. But this year I want to write something a little different.

It was back in the first part of March I was thinking about Noah and I began to ask myself what day he died on. It took me quite a while to remember, actually having to go back through my Facebook account looking for posts from when it first happened. After figuring it out, I felt like quite a failure as a parent. After all, how could a good parent forget the actual day they lost one of their children? It wasn’t until a few days ago when my bride said something to the fact about today being the seventh anniversary and it had crept up on her, I began to think perhaps we had both turned a corner.

When I say turned a corner, I don’t mean either of us has forgotten the day or Noah, but that we have just traveled farther down the road of life. And the more distance you put between yourself and the horrible things which have happened, the easier it becomes for them to take up less space in your every day thoughts. The passage of time is a good thing.

Something I’ve learned in the past seven years is there are no guarantees in life; things have a way of just happening to people; both good and bad. We try to rationalize it when something horrible happens, but there is no making sense of it. We live in a fallen world, in which bad things happen. Another thing I’ve learned is God never changes; He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I know it sounds trite, but regardless, it is the truth. And when crap hits the fan, you have to hold on to what is true if you ever want to have hope of making it further down the road of life.

For me, today marks another year off the calendar and a few more miles along the path I’ve been forced to walk these past seven years. Would I rather not be on this particular journey? Absolutely. I’d love to have my 20 year old son here with me and my family enjoying the life he should be living, but instead I’m living another reality; the one where he is no longer here with me. It’s not my choice, but I will journey on regardless.

The passage of time is a good thing, believe me when I say it. Though it may not look like it when you are in the middle of whatever you are going through, I promise it will get easier the further away from whatever is challenging you. Just do what my family and I have done for the past seven years; breathe, take a step and repeat. Just keep moving forward.

What Are You Afraid Of?

One of the things that our Heavenly Father says in His Word is healing belongs to His children. With all the news outlets focused so hard on the Corona virus, I can’t stress this enough today.

I do know this one thing, God is always true to His Word, ALWAYS! This is the time to ask yourself, “What am I focused on?” It’s a valid question to ask, because whatever you’re focused on is what you allow into your heart, and as Jesus said, it’s what comes out of our hearts which bring the world we live in. (Luke 6:45)

I’m not making light of the situation the world is seeing, but I think we do need to watch what we are focused on. We need to be cautious of knee jerk reactions to situations, case in point, the run on toilet paper around the country. Be aware, but not afraid. As it says in Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.”
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This is a promise from God we can hold onto in trying times. Remember, focus on God’s Word more than on what the news media is saying, believe God and watch how He rescues you once again.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Are You Compassionate or Just Feeling Sorry?

Other than the weather being absolutely beautiful, today was like any other Sunday for me; get up, make the coffee, read my Bible and then head off to the 9:00 AM church service with my bride. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, and truthfully it is one of my favorite weekly routines. Today after church we decided to make our weekly pilgrimage to the Cracker Barrel with our friend Rosie for a little breakfast. The food and fellowship is always great and it too is another thing I look forward to each week.

As we were enjoying our breakfast today, I noticed the hostess seat an elderly man at the table next to ours. He was there dining alone, and as we were almost finished with our meal I thought it would be odd to ask him to join us. But as I watched him, the Holy Spirit on the inside of me began stirring my heart and I felt as if God was telling me to buy the man’s lunch. When our waiter came back to freshen my coffee, I asked him if he would add the man’s meal to my ticket, which he did.

We went about our morning, talking a little longer than usual when I noticed the man asking our server about his check. They talked for a few minutes, and then I saw him stand up, pull out his wallet and place a few bills on the table. I thought he might have said thank you or something (even though I wasn’t looking for that from him), but he stepped away from the table and left the room.

Our waiter came up to me a few minutes later with another check in his hand for me, apologizing as he explained when he told the gentleman someone had paid for his meal, he adamantly demanded the young man bring him his check, that he was quite capable of paying for his own meal, thank you very much.

Now he didn’t make a scene, but it got me to thinking, why wouldn’t someone receive the blessing for what it was, an anonymous person just wanting to do something nice? The way I figure it, God is going to bless me regardless because I was obedient to do what He spoke to my heart. But did the gentleman look at it as pity? Because as I think about it, it was compassion which made me reach into my wallet to pay for his lunch.

There’s a difference between compassion and just feeling sorry for someone. The way I like to look at it is this, feeling sorry for someone is realizing they are in need but not doing anything about it. Compassion sees someone in need and then moves to effect change in the situation. I felt compassion for the man sitting alone, and decided to do something about it. I mean I could have just sat there and thought, “Poor man.” and never did anything to effect change in his life. The fact he didn’t want to accept the change is on him I guess.

I always want to move in the area of compassion more than just feeling sorry for things I see. This doesn’t mean I’m great at it, believe me there have been plenty of times where I have overlooked opportunities because of the inconvenience or cost of them, but I do strive to do better every day. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all did this? I’m going to try and do better, how about you?

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!