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!

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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.

Come On Guys!

On my 30th anniversary vacation with my bride, I had the opportunity to notice something which has bothered me for many years. While riding buses to and from Disney, many men stayed seated forcing ladies to hold onto the handrails while the public transportation delivered us to our destinations.

On the worst trip home to our hotel one night, the bus was packed and I thought I heard cows mooing in the back, a lady said to her daughters who were standing next to her, “I guess there’s no gentlemen on this bus.” This got me to thinking, is chivalry dead? Are men just selfish and don’t care anymore? Or more likely, are boys no longer being taught what it means to be a man who acts like the knights of old?

One thing my dad did teach me was how to treat a lady. And it has always bothered me when I see men seated while women are standing. It’s not because they’re weaker or anything, truth be told, women are way stronger than men will ever be. You try pushing a person out of your body and then let’s talk. No, the reason to offer your seat, is it is the right thing to do.

Knights lived by a code which governed their every action. Most men today live by the code of “I’m gonna get mine and to heck with everyone else!” This is why you see these boy-men remain seated while women stand.

There’s a knightly code in the movie Dragonheart that I love, and it would be a good one for all men to aim to live by. It goes like this:

“A Knight is sworn to valour, His heart knows only virtue, His blade defends the helpless, His might upholds the weak, His word speaks only truth, His wrath undoes the wicked.”

Maybe some of these words don’t mean anything to you. Words like valour, virtue, truth, but they should. Every man should live his life with valour, virtue and truth. Without these things we are men to be most pitied. Dads, teach your sons well, lead them on the quest of becoming true, chivalrous men in this age of darkness. Do this and they will become shining beacons of hope for the next generation. There’s a great book called Raising Modern Day Knights, pick up a copy and train your sons.

And the next time you have an opportunity to offer your seat, hold open a door or do any other chivalrous act for a lady, do it and you will feel something triumphant rise up inside of you. And you will make this world just a little bit better in the process.

Stop Trying to Cook a Burrito in Your Crockpot

If there is any area where men miss it in life, it’s in their relationships with their wives. First off, most of the men I meet today are just hooking up with gals and not even marrying them, but that’s a whole different blog for another day.

The men I meet who are married mostly complain about the lack of sex in their lives. Their wives are either not into it, are too tired or just so mad at them they really don’t want to get naked with their husband. And what makes matters worse, is these men are usually their own worst enemies and don’t even realize it.

There are several reasons for this but the main one is probably communicating with their bride. Not talking at them, but to them. Actually taking the time to turn the tv off and listen to what they are saying, without just trying to fix things.

One thing that I’ve learned in almost 30 years of marriage is that communication comes long before the act of sex. I heard it said once that sex starts in the kitchen. Meaning, it’s doing things around the house and talking with your bride which is going to help get her “in the mood”.

Men are hardwired for sex, the wind blows and we’re ready to go, women on the other hand can take a little while to get there. It’s like the difference between a crock pot and a microwave. Both will cook your food, just one does it really quick while the other takes some time. Men are microwaves and women are crockpots.

It’d be like trying to heat up a frozen burrito in your crockpot when you’re starving. You can throw it in there for a few minutes, but it’s going to be icy cold in the middle when you eat it. And who wants an icy cold middle in your burrito?

Men it’s going to take a little while to get her to the place you can get in 30 seconds, so be patient and do the little things around the house which mean something to her. And then take some time to have a conversation with her, listening to what she says without trying to fix it.

Doing these two little things can enhance your sex life like nothing else, only one last word of advice, be sincere and don’t do these things just so you can have sex. She will see right through you and you will not be having sex for a long time.

Remember fellas, we’re in this for the long haul, get to know your wife; what makes her tick and what ticks her off. Learn to do the things that make her tick and not do the things that tick her off and your sex life will get better and better.

Here’s What I Think

There comes a time in every man’s life where he has to say what is on his mind, and today is that day. I’ve been known as an opinionated man for most of my life, always sharing my thoughts with anyone willing to listen; sometimes to my chagrin. After fifty-four trips around the sun, I have learned to choose when to speak my mind and when to hold back those thoughts. Today I will not hold back my thoughts about marriage and the role men have in this gift given to us by God. This is what drives me to my keyboard; to talk about what men are doing to destroy their marriages.

Selfishness is the chief cause of marriage failure today. When one or both partners are doing only what is best for them and not for their spouse, calamity will not be very far behind. It aggravates, no, let me say it pisses me off when a marriage fails because the husband was unwilling to do whatever it took to make his bride the center of his world. As the father of a daughter who faced divorce last year, it has only strengthened these thoughts in my heart of hearts. And before you say it’s not always the man who leaves, I’ll agree with you and say women leave too, but why would she want to leave if her man was doing everything he could to make the marriage work?

I really believe a man should be loving his wife like Christ loved the church, this is what it takes to make his marriage last. But what does it mean to love your wife as Christ loved the church? To answer this let’s look at the whole passage of Scripture. It’s found in Ephesian 5:25 and says,

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her.”

He gave up His life for her. And this sir, is what you should be doing for your bride; giving up your life for her. In doing this, your marriage will become stronger. In my life, I find myself doing things I don’t necessarily want to do, but I know by doing them it makes my bride’s life better and this brings me great joy. This doesn’t mean a man should never have time for himself, because husbands and wives should spend time alone and with friends, this helps make your marriage healthy too. But your first thought should always be about your wife and her well-being over your own.

When my daughter told me her husband of two years had packed his bags, took his game system and left town, I was devastated for her. This was the man who had taken me out for coffee to ask for her hand in marriage, the one who told me all the things he was planning for their life together and what he wanted to do to make her happy. Now she was telling me the one who had promised to take over from me and care for my little girl had just up and left? I guess the old saying, ” You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” really is true.

Come on men, wake up! Take the reigns of your life, take some responsibility for your marriage and do whatever it takes to love your bride like Christ loved His before it is too late. We have no one to blame but ourselves if we let our marriages fail.

What Does It Mean To Be A Man? Part 1

“Be a man!” “You’re the man!” “Fight like a man!” What does it really mean to be a man? I’ve heard it said, and said it myself before, you may be male by birth, but you’re a man by choice. For too many years there has been this unspoken thing about what it means to become a man that the world has foisted upon us. When you have your first alcoholic drink, you’ll be a man, once you start shaving, you’ll be a man, when you bed your first woman, you’ll be a man. But honestly nothing could be further from the truth.

Being a man is a choice you make each and every day of your life, sometimes hour by hour. But before you can make that choice, you have to know what it really means to be a man, and what the job description entails. This is something which has been lost and not passed on to boys from their fathers in many, many years. For whatever reason, fathers have failed to teach their sons how to be men, and when movies and television came along, boys were shown what the world said it mean to be men so naturally because of the vacuum left by their fathers, they began to follow this instead.

Men were created first by God, and Adam, the first man was placed in the Garden of Eden and given a job; to cultivate it and name all the animals. It was while he was in the process of naming the animals he noticed every one of them had a counterpart, but for him there wasn’t one to be found. God put him to sleep, took a rib and made Adam a helper in the form of the woman Eve. When he woke up, he had a wife and a new job; to be a lover, leader and provider. He was to love his bride, lead her and provide for her. And this is what it really means to be a man. If you are going to be a real man, then you’re going to have to work these three things into your life as well. To not do them, is to not be a real man, plain and simple.

One of the most exasperating things I see, are guys who treat this role in their lives with disdain and selfishness. They live by the mantra of I’m going to get mine and the heck with the rest of you! Selfishness is the enemy of manhood. In the next few blogs I’m going to talk to you about what it really means to be a man, and I hope if you see yourself lacking in any way that you will make the corrections necessary.

It’s time men stood up and took their God given roles back, be the men the world needs and stop being like Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up but lived only for himself.