Who Is This Uncircumcised Virus?

Today during the message at church, a thought occurred to me I have never had before. Thanks to my Pastor, Paul Daugherty for such a great message, but most importantly for bringing this little bit of insight to me, by way of the Holy Spirit. When I wasn’t a Christian, just a small boy in the Methodist church my parents attended, I knew the story of David and Goliath. I paid extra close attention I’m sure because we share the same name, and I often wondered if I could have done what he did when facing down the giant.

What I never thought about until today however, was what the people around David were really thinking prior to him actually confronting Goliath. I know what his brothers thought when he showed up to bring them food and find out for their father Jesse how the war was going. They were mad at him, saying he’d just come to see a battle, of course at this time there hadn’t been any battles. It had actually been forty days, and on every single one of those days, Goliath came out and taunted King Saul and his army saying, “Come out to fight us. If you defeat us, we will be your slaves, but if we defeat you, you become ours.”

David showed up one day just as Goliath was making his usual speech, and what he saw was the Israeli army running away from the battle lines, saying things like, “Have you seen him? He’s a giant!” But an interesting thing happened as well, they also reported to David how the king had promised to give his daughter in marriage to the man who defeated Goliath, and making his family free from having to pay any taxes. When David heard this, he went to another man asking what would be done for the man who killed the giant, and it was reported to him the same thing. David’s response was different from that of every other man, he said, “Who does this uncircumcised Philistine think he is, that he is allowed to defy the army of the living God?” It wasn’t too long before this was reported back to King Saul, and David found himself standing in the king’s tent.

What I hadn’t seen until today, was how the army of Israel had been watching Goliath spew his taunts in their direction for forty days straight, and not one of them had enough faith to face him, including King Saul. It was probably easier to believe the report of how they were all going to die because of this giant looming before them, with each passing day. Talk had to be about how big the giant was, and what a man of this caliber could do to each and everyone of them. By the fortieth day, Goliath was probably like Superman to them, invincible. The difference between the army and David however was in the reporting. David didn’t know who Goliath was, but the army did, because they had been focusing on the problem before them for forty days, instead of on the God who had saved their nation time and time again.

What struck me today was how the year 2020 with it’s Covid virus fear inspiring pandemic was an awful lot like Goliath standing before the army of Israel. I’m not denying the fact people contracted this virus and some of them even died, just as David never denied the fact Goliath was a giant, he just properly called him what he was; an uncircumcised Philistine. The use of the word “uncircumcised” is covenant talk. This meant Goliath did not have an agreement with God like each and every one of the Israeli men in the army did, so he was subject to the man who did have a covenant with God. David even went on to say he had killed a lion and a bear while watching his father’s sheep, and this Philistine would be no different; God would help him in this battle just like He had in those others.

One thing about David however, he did listen to the reports of the older wise men in the room, respecting his elders. He even tried wearing King Saul’s armor to face the giant. But ultimately told the king he had never worn armor and it would just get in his way, opting to stand against his enemy with the clothes on his back and a sling in his hand. It’s interesting he felt he had to face the giant with what he knew, and not with what man thinks is important. I think we should listen to the reports, just not make them our focus. But when we’re told we have to do something which goes against what we know and believe to be right and true, we have to stand up and say, “Thank you very much, but who is this uncircumcised virus? I’ll face it head on with God, that’s what I’m going to do,” and then go and do that.

One thing you should know however and be ready for, is when you stand in faith against a giant, the crowd around you will ridicule you. Standing in faith goes against what the crowd says and does, if it didn’t, then everyone would stand up in faith and defeat the giants in life. I’m sure you’ve experienced it at least once in your life, being ridiculed for saying or doing something the world around you will not do because of fear. People who are operating in fear instead of faith get mad at the ones who are using their faith, and will do just about anything to make you feel like you’re the one who is in the wrong.

I believe it is time for us to stop being like the army of Israel, walking in fear every time the media reports something about Covid or any other media filled frenzied event. Then, we need to go down to the stream, find some smooth stones to put in our shepherd’s pouch and be ready to sling stones back at the enemy who is trying to keep us Christians quiet. And it’s definitely time for those of us who are Christians to stop being timid (play awe inspiring music here) and to stop running away from the problems, but run towards them, facing head on whatever is set against us, with a tenacity that is written about in our instruction manual (the Bible). I think if more of us would stop listening to the crowd and focus on hearing God, we would see amazing things happen just like did in the Bible.

Well, there’s that…for the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Chivalry and a Woke Culture

Chivalry is a code of conduct which enables men to navigate through the society in which they live. I have always thought of it as the guidelines which give me the ability to know how I should act in any given situation. Chivalry is a choice to do the right things, at the right time, for the right reasons. But does the society we find ourselves living in now even want chivalrous men? The code I like the best I found in the movie Dragonheart. It says,

A knight is sworn to valor. His heart knows only virtue. His blade defends the helpless. His might upholds the weak. His word speaks only truth. And his wrath undoes the wicked.

For many decades now there has been an all out assault on men. Culture, the media, even hell itself has been working tirelessly in an effort to put men into this box labeling them as idiots, children or predators. And while this has been going on, most men seem to have been asleep, or possibly worse than asleep, they’ve believed the lies; accepting as fact that these were the only options available to them, going ahead and becoming the very things society has accused them of being. I’m not saying men are just victims and should be given some leniency for the stupid things they have done. I believe every man should be held accountable for his actions; this is one of the core values of chivalry.

On the other hand I do think we’ve got to get to a place where as a society we stop laying blame and staying so focused on the past. The culture we’re in right now seems to place more emphasis and energy trying to erase the past, rather than using it as a tool for learning what not to do again. As George Santayana is quoted as saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It seems we can’t forge ahead into a newer and better future because society is too focused on past failures and working to change and rewrite history. And if we lose our history, then we are condemned to a cycle of repetition.

When I see statues or paintings of historic figures, they cause me to want to read and find out what the person did. Just this week I saw this picture of a young lady defacing a statue of Matthias Baldwin. (The picture was taken back in 2020) Now I must admit I didn’t know who he was and figured from all the BLM rhetoric, he must have been a slave owner or something. So I did a quick Google search, and you know what I found out? Well here, let me show you:

Baldwin was a devout member of the Presbyterian Church and a consistent donor to religious and secular charitable causes throughout his life. In 1824 he was a founder of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1833.

In 1835, he donated money to establish a school for African-American children in Philadelphia and continued to pay the teachers’ salaries out of his own pocket for years thereafter. Baldwin was an outspoken supporter for the abolition of slavery in the United States, a position that was used against him and his firm by competitors eager to sell locomotives to railroads based in the slaveholding South.

Baldwin was a member of the 1837 Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention and emerged as a defender of voting rights for the state’s black male citizens.

Why on earth then would this lady vandalize his statue? I mean it appears he was all about black lives mattering, long before BLM was a thing. Probably because she doesn’t have a clue, and our woke society believes in removing anything they deem negative in this world as a way of showing they no longer celebrate it. When this happens, they remove any hope of people actually finding out what these historical figures did; both good and bad.

When a society doesn’t trust its people to come to the correct conclusions for themselves, just wanting everyone to take the loudest voice’s word for it, isn’t this kind of squelching free thought; which by the way is protected in the United States Constitution. It’s interesting to me that for a group of people who say they are tired of hearing what we “boomers” have to say, telling us in effect to just shut up, they are ironically doing the very thing they’ve been accusing us of doing all along; telling everyone to believe their narrative just because they say it’s the right one.

It’s time for those of us who strive to be chivalrous men, to stand up to the intolerance and begin once more to adhere to the code of conduct laid down for us so many years ago. It’s time we start to treat women, all women with respect; opening doors for them, showing our children that their mother is the most important woman in our lives, getting off of our butts and going to a job to provide for our families, speaking the truth always, and defending the weak and helpless. Being men of our word, owning what we say and do for what is best for society not just ourselves. Only when we as men step up and live by this code of conduct will the world change and become a better place.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom.

Today Above All Days

It was while on vacation during a casual conversation over breakfast with my bride this morning I was reminded about how life changed so drastically for us eleven years ago. It’s hard to imagine eleven years have gone by since the suicide of my youngest son Noah. I won’t bore you with the details of that day again; I’ve posted something about it almost every year since his death, so no need to rehash the past. But I will say from the onset here, if you have thought about, or are contemplating your own death as you read this, please don’t do it. We need you here, even if at this moment it doesn’t feel like it.

Suicide is an insidious tool the enemy of mankind uses to thwart the things God has intended to happen on this planet. You may not realize it, but you are here on purpose, because you have a purpose (Thanks Pastor Paul). You may not know or understand your purpose, I can attest to this myself, because at fifty-seven now, I’m still working to realize my what my purpose and full potential is supposed to be.

One thing I do know about this day eleven years ago, is God knew it was coming and was prepared to walk with us through all the chaos, sadness and anger we were about to experience. Many people told me they were shocked that such a good Christian family as ours would have to walk the road we walked. I’m not saying we are perfect, no family is, but we were at the church every time the doors were open and all three of our children not only attended church, but were very active in doing the actual ministry of Jesus. Noah was the most prolific of all of us at talking to people about accepting the Lord.

The thing which saved me on that day and every day since was the Word of God; specifically John 10:10. It says, “The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy. I (Jesus) have come to bring you life and life to the full.” This is what I call a defining Scripture, because it explains what is actually going on in every situation of life. You can know where things are coming from because of it. If it brings death and destruction, it’s the devil, and if it brings life, then Jesus. This is why I used the picture from my phone on this blog. Every time I see the time 10:10 or even just the numbers 1010, I’m reminded of this passage of Scripture. And as I stood by our trampoline a few hours after they had taken Noah’s body away, this is the passage which kept repeating in my mind. It literally helped me run to God and not from Him.

I don’t know what you may be facing, but I know this one thing; there is a battle going on around you each and every day. It’s a battle for your soul; to either help you or hinder you, and if you are unsure of who is doing what in your life, or it will bring confusion to the point where you will blame God when bad things happen, when it is obvious because of this Scripture it is the devil, (the thief), who is bringing the problems.

Knowing John 10:10 didn’t bring my son back to me, but it did help me to understand what was going on and be able to navigate through the murkiness which tried to cover our family for quite a while. I don’t claim to be a Bible scholar or anything, and I’m definitely not perfect by any means, but I do know this one thing, having a working knowledge of God’s Word is what kept my family not only in church, but following and serving Jesus to this day.

It’s never too late to start reading God’s Word either, even if you don’t understand what you’re reading. I’ve always told people, I eat green beans, but I can’t tell you what they do for me nutritionally, I only know I like them and they’re good for me. It’s just like that with the Bible, even if you don’t understand what you’re reading, it is doing something for your spirit.

And it has never been any easier to get access to the Bible. You can download the Bible app from Life Church at your app store; it’s a free download and has many translations of the Bible to choose from. I prefer the New Living Translation, but there are so many available, you will be able to find one which speaks specifically to you. The main thing is to just start reading it and see where God takes you.

For the Kingdom, and the King…Shalom.

A Father’s Love

If a picture paints a thousand words is how the song “If” by David Gates starts and it’s a very true statement; a single picture can say way more than I ever could. And that’s just what the picture I’ve posted here does for me.

When I look at this picture (which is the background on my phone) it reminds me of the love that God has for His children. It’s a love that passes any type of human understanding, I mean come on, the Creator of the universe wants to spend time just being in my presence? Wow! This humbles me every time I think about it.

There are two things in this picture; one that Everly has a complete and utter look of wonder on her face as she’s looking out the window and two, her dad is holding her feet, not to keep her from falling, but just showing his love for her by being close.

This one picture says more about God’s love for mankind than any other picture I’ve ever seen. I just wanted to share it with you and say, God loves you this much and just wants to spend time in your presence today. Why don’t you slow down just a hair and let Him surround you and hold your feet while you gaze out in wonder at all He’s done for you?

Strength and honor, for the Kingdom and the King!

Stop the Nonsense

Let me say right here at the get go, I may piss you off. Understand this though, I’m not trying to, but if what I think and write down today makes you mad, then so be it. Sometimes a fella just needs to get some things off his chest, and today feels like that kind of day for me. The world we live in now is upside down, and not in the cool way we saw in Stranger Things, no this world has no sense of itself anymore. We’ve got people actively trying to silence other people because they don’t agree with their position on a myriad of topics ranging from kid’s books to politics. This time on planet Earth has seen an increase of social awareness which is unlike any other time in the history of mankind.

Social injustice isn’t new, but it is the new thing people have jumped on. It sickens me to see anyone being singled out and treated differently for whatever reason. I understand it too, I have been singled out for my love of all things Star Wars, or enjoying the entertainment industry too much. Those who have done this to me think as a man I should be enjoying things like sports, cars and women who are not my bride. I kind of live by the attitude, if it’s important to you, then I’m happy you’ve found something which brings you joy. Just because I don’t happen to like it, doesn’t mean it is my place to make you feel inferior because you do. And herein lies the problem, this time we live in seems to be, if I disagree with you, then you’re wrong until you change and see it my way.

Take for instance this term “woke”, and don’t even get me started talking about how it is a grammatically incorrect way to use this word and makes you sound like an idiot when you use it. (I told you I might piss you off, here we go) This word “woke” isn’t new either, it started being used in the 1940’s, it’s just seen a resurgence in the past few years. Basically the term “woke” means alert to injustice in society, especially racism. And before you think I am a racist fool, let me say right here and now, I don’t have a racist bone in my body, I think and believe ALL men and women are created equal and have the same rights given to us by Almighty God. As I’ve always said, if you don’t have what you want in life, then get in God’s Word and find out what is promised to you. I’ve read through the Bible many, many times and I have never found anything about the Word of God only working for one people group.

The thing which makes me mad about all this nonsense going on in our world right now, is the double standards of it all. I mean there was a time where people were wanting to rename schools and airports, tearing down statues and dismissing anyone who didn’t agree with their ideals, all in the name of righting wrongs which happened hundreds of years ago. Now I don’t know about you, but this is silly, when right now in our society we have some of the same people screaming about the death of black men at the hands of the police producing materials which is socially offensive and just down right crude.

I hear people screaming about being offended that a bottle of syrup has a black woman’s image on it, but then Cardi B puts a song out last year titled WAP, which is an unadulterated piece of vocal pornography. There is screaming about past social injustices done to all ethnicities in the world, but when are we going to hear about the social injustices done today? It seems as if the people screaming want to change the past, but ignore what’s actually going on around them right now. I’m not saying what was done in the past was right, it wasn’t, and I cringe when I hear about the atrocities which happened, and I pray they never happen again. But as writer and philosopher George Santayana has been quoted as saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (Interestingly enough he was Spanish born too.)

Removing things which happened in the past doesn’t change the past, it just leaves a void in which we are not being reminded about things we should not repeat, ever. It seems the things people really want changed are all the bad things white people did in the past, but let’s don’t talk about the horrible things being promoted and sung about in the pop songs of today. Let’s don’t talk about the rampant drug use, sexual abuse of children, sex trafficking, broken homes, nonexistent fathers, how the most important thing women can do is twerk and be used for nothing more than men’s enjoyment. Yeah, don’t be “woke” about that, but be “woke” to the fact George Washington had slaves and tear his statues down.

To summarize here, I am not racist, I don’t believe anyone who owned slaves should have, nor do I believe women are men’s play things. I’m not a neanderthal nor from one of those skin headed whites only groups. I am a God fearing, husband, father and PopPop who just thinks things have gotten out of hand and we need to go back to some of the true values the Bible speaks about, and give all this social justice stuff a rest for a while. I mean if we did what the Bible said to do and love God and love our neighbors, there wouldn’t be any need for all the screaming, shouting and nonsense we’ve seen in the past years.

Yeah, so now you know what I think, hope it didn’t piss you off. Strength and honor for the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

It’s About People Dummy

This morning I received a phone call from a coworker telling me about how another coworker of ours had died. To say I was shocked is an understatement. Death has a way of doing this thing where it creeps up on us, rearing its ugly head when we least expect it. I’ve heard it said how we never know what a day may hold until we actually enter into it and experience things much like turning of the pages of a good book to reveal what the story holds, but today’s story wasn’t starting out too good.

Driving to my mother’s house, I had some time so I decided to pray for this young man’s family. Having lived through the death of my youngest son ten years ago, and my father just last year, I found myself in a very introspective mood as I prayed. I began to think to myself about my coworker and the interactions we had in the few years I knew him. As I was thinking along these lines, I was reminded of a scene from the movie Master & Commander in which the captain of the ship gives a eulogy for a crew member who has died.

The simple truth is, not all of us become the men we once hoped we might be. But we are all God’s creatures. If there are those among us who thought ill of Mr. Hollom, or spoke ill of him, or failed him in respect of fellowship. . . then we ask for your forgiveness, Lord. And we ask for his. God be praised.

As I mulled this scene over in my mind I couldn’t help but wonder if I had failed this man at work in the respect of fellowship. I know I didn’t think or speak ill of him, but did I do everything I could have in being a good person to him? Which then led me to question my interactions with everyone I come in contact with. As I said I was in an introspective mood, and if I was to answer honestly, I probably have not done the best with people in the respect of fellowship. Let me say here and now, if you’re reading this and I have ever treated you in any way which made you feel anything other than valued and validated by me, please forgive me.

You know it is so easy to give lip service to ideas without truly living up to them. What’s worse though is when you give lip service to something you believe in, and actually think you are living up to it. And that is where I found myself during this time of travel this morning; realizing I have been real good at talking about it, just not so good at walking it out. Man I love these times when God shows up and stirs my pot so to speak. It’s painful to come to this type of realization, but at the same time if you can push past the fact you have fallen short in an area, ask His forgiveness and make the necessary changes, life can be so much better.

At 57, I realize God is not through with me yet. (Thank You Jesus!) And while I was never intentionally mean to my coworker, I could have been a better man in regards to my fellowship with him; asking about his life, family, hopes and dreams. While it may be too late to do this with him now, it’s not too late for me to make changes with everyone else I come into contact with. And this is what I intend to do, and promised God I would start doing.

This isn’t a quick fix, and truthfully I’m not really even sure what this is going to look like; after all I’ve had 57 years to become the way I am, and I am smart enough to know it’ll take time to make changes. But I do know this, somedays I’ll do great and others I may not, but like in all the great stories, the sun always shines a little bit brighter after there is a gloomy day. So on the days where I miss it and perhaps fail in terms of offering fellowship to those around me, I’ll get up the next day, quote Lamentations 3:23 and try again.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Do You Really Think They Care?

The definition for the word cynicism is as follows; an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; skepticism. Viewing the world we live in, and the way things are going in the United States right now, I guess you’d have to call me a cynic. In 57 years, I’ve seen my share of elections and have been on both sides of the winning column. So please understand me when you read what I’ve written here, I’m not at all bothered by the fact that my guy didn’t win the election. I’ve had this happen enough times to understand there has to be a winner and a loser. Whether I like the guy who wins or not, I can deal with it. As we prepare to move into what I feel personally is the darkest time in our history, I can do so with the knowledge that I am an adult and will continue to act like one.

When I say I feel we are moving into the darkest time in our country’s history, I truly believe this, and here is why. There have been too many “coincidences” surrounding this election to believe there was anything other than an all out assault on the conservative ideals and people running for office who believe in those. I don’t say this because my guy lost, not at all. I applaud the other side for the masterful job in manipulating the Covid-19 situation into something to be played against President Trump with the help of the news media. And using fear as their weapon convincing the population it was in their best interest to stay home and instead vote by mail.

The biggest reason I feel like a cynic is the pure unadulterated hatred for Donald Trump. Honestly I just don’t get it. I mean, I didn’t like Bill Clinton or Obama, but I didn’t hate them like people hate Trump. I didn’t believe either of these guys had the best interest of the people of the United States in mind when they led, and I still don’t. But I got the impression Donald Trump does care about what was best for all Americans. Now before you go on a tirade about the personal life, beliefs and actions of Donald Trump, I’ll save you some time. I think more than half of what the man said was stupid at times, and didn’t agree with his personal assessments. But just because I don’t like what someone says, doesn’t mean he can’t do a good job and make some headway.

Watching everyone clammer around and talk about how great this upcoming administration is and how they are going to be the saviors of the United States makes me chuckle. Every time I heard Joe Biden talk about how he was going to bring in great paying jobs and change the course of the economy, I wished someone would have asked him where the money was going to come from? You see, when you have everything handed to you, and taken care of for you, you lose the ability to understand what’s really going on with the common man. Make no mistake, these people who tell you they have your best interest at heart, look into their past and see what they’ve done back there.

Therein lies another thing about this upcoming administration, if Joe Biden hasn’t done anything in his 47 years of public service, why do we think that now all of a sudden he will? See it just doesn’t add up for me, so therefore I feel like a cynic. Will I protest the new administration? No. Will I state what I believe? Absolutely! One thing I love about the United States of America is free speech; you know that little thing called the first amendment to the constitution? It simply says this:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The greatest thing about the first amendment is it means I can say what I believe and you can say what you believe. Without fear of being persecuted for it. What I think the real issue is around free speech is that people are unwilling to sit down and listen to each other. You are entitled to your beliefs, and I need to be polite enough to let you share them without acting a fool, and I should be treated in the same manner. The problem comes when you close your mind to a person just because they believe different than you.

It’s still the beginning of 2021, what’s say we all try to get along, and maybe even do something for your fellow man without hope of any type of return. Honestly, we don’t need the people in Washington to live our lives and be good citizens, we just need to do what is good and honest and true. Really if we all ignored the politicians and news media and just got to know the people in our communities, all of our lives would be so much better. I think it’s the people in Washington who need us, not the other way around. And this goes for the media too. Without us giving ear to all their commentaries and horse pucky, they really wouldn’t have anything to do.

Just my take, thanks for taking the time to read an old stuck in the mud guy’s thoughts. For the Kingdom and the King…Shalom!

My Manhood Is Offended

To start with, I’ve not been watching a lot of media coverage of what happened in Washington this week. Most of it has just been snippets here and there, but from the little I’ve seen, there is one thing which has bothered me, and it is the politicians who decided to pull their support from the President at the first sign of difficulties.

I should say here too, this blog is my opinion, and at this time in America I’m still entitled to it, just as you are entitled to yours. I’m not hoping to change your mind, I’m just stating mine. I also don’t care if you disagree with me. Another great thing about living in America, is we can have disagreeing opinions and still be civil towards each other. It is a choice we can and must make however.

The thing which bothered me so much this week, was seeing Republican men who I had admired from a distance back paddle and start acting like Democrats. Their actions looked more like people drowning in the water, scrambling for the last floatation device; not caring who they pushed under in their attempt to save their own lives. There are some words I could use to describe these men, but I’m working on doing better with my use of language this year, trying to keep my French at bay.

One thing I have always tried to do is be a man of my word. Psalm 15:4B says that good men keep their promises even to their own hurt. Basically this means, if you say something to someone, you are to own up to what you’ve said even if it costs you something. The men who pulled the rug out from under President Trump, and for that matter the people they are supposed to be acting on behalf of, took a chance to save their own political necks and ran for the hills. It disgusts me!

One of the main problems in this world, is men do not honor their word any longer. Talk is cheap as they say, and unless your actions meet up with the words you say, they don’t mean anything. And herein is the biggest problem in politics today, it’s not about governing well and helping Americans, it’s about sucking the tit of big government for as long as you can and trying to stay in office for as long as possible.

Men who do not honor their word; saying one thing and doing another need to be horse whipped. Of course that doesn’t go with the kinder/gentler world everyone wants nowadays. But then I’m old school and think we need men who are not afraid to do what they say and stand up for what is right and good and true regardless of the consequences. These pantywaist men in Congress, whose only claim to being men is they have a penis but not a backbone need to move on down the road.

We need real men again. Not those men who were degrading to women and thought because of their sex they were entitled to do whatever they wanted without consequence. No we need men who love God, their families and working to make the world a better place than they found it.

In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge stated;

There are three desires I find written so deeply into my heart I know now I can no longer disregard them without losing my soul…I search the pages of literature, I listen carefully to many, many men, and I am convinced these desires are universal, a clue into masculinity itself. They may be misplaced, forgotten, or misdirected, but in the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. ~ page 9

If we are to make it as a society, and at times I wonder if it is possible, we are going to have to get back to being men, real and authentic men who embrace these three values deeply and live them out. If not, and we continue to see these men who are supposed to lead us take the easy way out, capitulating to the opposition in order to line their own pockets and make life easier for themselves, then I’m afraid we might be doomed as a society.

So come on men, step up and do what men are supposed to do, stop being liars and mean what you say and say what you mean. It’s not always easy, but then when is anything worth having easy?

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom.

Living Outside My Default Settings

Why is it my mind automatically replays over and over offenses I have received? It’s almost as if I don’t even have to be thinking about the thing, it just pops into my mind and before I know it I’m reliving the whole event over and over again. Why does my mind do this? Am I the only one this happens to? If so, does this make me a freak? All valid questions, and ones I really want answered, because it is really difficult to walk as a Christian when these scenes from my life are on replay in my brain.

The Bible teaches we are to forgive those who sin against us, and if we do not, then our Father who is in Heaven will not forgive us our sins. (Matthew 6:12, 14-15) This is a huge deal because it is conditional. This means in order for God to forgive me, I must forgive others. Yeah, but how do I do this when my mind seems to be replaying the sins directed at me?

I love the phrase on the picture I chose for this blog, it says, “There are people who live their whole lives on the default settings, never realizing you can customize.” ~ Robert Brault. This brings hope to me, because it makes me believe there is more to life than just allowing things to happen to me and being forced to live with them. One of the things God has done for mankind is to give us the ability to choose how we are going to respond to things. Just because something bad happens to us, it doesn’t mean we have to allow this thing to change our perspective on life. We have been given the tools to choose how we are going to see any given situation; good or bad. It’s up to us how we respond when something happens to us, not the situation’s. And this is great news!

One thing I’ve learned in fifty-seven years walking this planet, it’s we live according to what we believe and the words we speak. It’s a spiritual principle which works for any human on this planet, saved or unsaved. If you believe something in your heart, and do not doubt, but believe the things you say will come to pass, you will have whatever you say (Mark 11:23-24). And interestingly enough, in verse 25 Jesus went on to say, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Hmm, interesting, we’re back to forgiving people for sinning against us.

Even as I’m writing this, I’m beginning to see a pattern here. One way to keep these things from replaying themselves in our minds is to immediately forgive the person who sinned against us. And listen when you are forgiving the person, you’re not saying what they did to you wasn’t wrong, it may have been. What you are saying, is that you are releasing them from your mind and heart and refusing to hold their sin against them. We never forgive someone for their benefit, but for our own. Holding onto the offense is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill them.

Won’t you join me in this new year and begin the process of changing the default settings in your life and truly forgive all of those who have sinned against you. Forgive them, and let it go.

For the Kingdom and the King, Shaom!

Let’s Do Better

For the last fifty-seven years my birthday has been on New Year’s Eve, I suppose it will be for the next fifty-seven to now that I think about it. In all of those years, I’ve always been prompted with the idea of making the new year better than the last one. I think we’ve all done it, written down our hopes, dreams and aspirations only to fall back into the routines of life in just a few short weeks. Or at least I hope I’m not the only one this happens to.

Many people have complained, whined and cried about the year 2020, I truthfully have seen some pretty amazing things; haven’t missed a day of work, continued to see the blessings of God in my life and was introduced to the most beautiful baby girl which has earned me the title of Pop Pop. There have been some sad things as well; my dad passing away (not due to Covid), friend’s family members having died (due to Covid) and our family vacation being extremely too short. But with all of this, I guess 2020 wanted to get in one last kick.

So yesterday was the most miserable day I think I have ever had at work. Usually, I’m pretty upbeat and optimistic with whatever is going on, but yesterday I guess I was off of my game, and unwilling to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, which is funny, because the day before I did, and did well. Anyhow, yesterday just sucked. For those of you who know me, for me to even use the word “sucked”, it should be obvious how bad a day it was. For starters, I had to fix a situation at the very beginning of my shift (6 am) in order to keep the mill from losing production. And I had to do this, while trying to do the things I already have to do at the start of my shift, so I was behind.

Also with it being the end of the month and year the sales department decided to bombard us with an abundance of shipments going out. Funny how at the end of the month trucks magically appear to take these loads, but are hard pressed to be found during the actual month. And yes, before you say aren’t you being a little whiney? If this was a situation which only happens once in a while, I’d just accept it like a champ and move on, but when it occurs each and every month, there becomes a pattern which makes my life and the lives of the rest of the guys I work with more difficult.

As I ran to meet each and every need requiring my assistance I found myself around 5:00 pm thinking, “Hey, we might get home by 6:00 pm.” That’s about the time we were told we needed to get another load ready for the truck which had been overlooked. The truck arrived two hours earlier than that, and it would have been cool to get the load ready while it was daylight and not raining, but instead we had to tally the load in the dark, holding flashlights, clipboards, and umbrellas trying not to get the paperwork wet, not to mention ourselves. Now I don’t hold this against anyone, I really don’t. Accidents happen, and I’m a big enough man to forgive, especially when I make enough mistakes in my own life daily. I’ve only written about it so you can get a glimpse of yesterday from my perspective.

By the time we were loading the last three trucks for the day, the rain was coming in sheets, with a stiff north wind making the temperature about twenty-eight degrees. It was brutal. As part of my job, I have a vehicle to drive from place to place, but as luck would have it, it was broke down. I was driving another buggy, but one with only a windshield (thank God for that) but no doors, so I was parking it facing the wind to as minimize the amount of cold and wet I would get. Out of the blue, one of my coworkers starts yelling, I didn’t know he was aiming this barrage of words in my direction until he stormed closer to where I was sitting. It was at this point I realized he was mad at me for not loading the truck, or even offering to help. Should I have, probably, but with the day I was having I was just trying to make it until I could go home.

Now in hindsight, I did not handle the situation in the correct way. He shot off a bunch of cuss words at me, and I fired right back. To say I was mad is an understatement. Was this guy justified? In his mind he was. Was I justified in what I said back to him? In my mind, yes. Now a day later, reviewing this in my mind and applying God’s Word to it, obviously the Holy Spirit has been reminding me of the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:38-39 Amplified:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth [punishment that fits the offense].’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person [who insults you or violates your rights]; but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other toward him also [simply ignore insignificant insults or trivial losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity, your self-respect, your poise].”

Yeah, great words to live by, wish I would have done that yesterday. But this is what I am writing about with my blog today, “Let’s do better!” I’m going to work at driving the words of Jesus further and deeper into my heart, by not only giving them mind space, but actually living them out in the real world. It obviously doesn’t happen just because I read it, I must put it into practice. Like Jesus said in James 1:22:

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”

I will be making my part in the way 2020 ended right with my coworker, because regardless of how right I may have felt I was justified in my behavior, I was wrong and need to make it right. How about joining me this year? Let’s do better, and see God work in our lives in a larger way in 2021. For the Kingdom and the King, Shalom and welcome to the new world!


Attitude Is King

I remember a time when I was in high school watching our basketball team playing. The majority of the team became frustrated when the team captain refused to pass the ball, instead choosing to showboat and basically play the opposing team by himself. The man had tons of ability, but no leadership skills at all, and it ended up costing us the game. Now the really funny thing was watching him cuss his teammates out afterwards, saying they didn’t know the first thing about playing as a team.

One thing I’ve realized in all my years is that your attitude about things is way more important than ability to do them. I’ve seen men with way more skills get passed over for the guy with a good attitude. Ability is great, but if you’re attitude doesn’t match up you might as well be spitting in the wind.

There’s a story in the Bible about King Saul, the first king of Israel, whose attitude got him into trouble. He was instructed by God, through the prophet Samuel to destroy the Amalekites, and leave no one and nothing alive. Look at this:

“Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭15:7-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God said to destroy everything, but look at what happened next:

“When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!” “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded. “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭15:13-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Saul did not do what God had instructed him to do, in fact he even refers to God as the Lord your God. Saul had the ability, he just didn’t have the right attitude, and it cost him.

“Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Listen to what the Lord told me last night!” “What did he tell you?” Saul asked. And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission and told you, ‘Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.’ Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?” “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭15:16-23‬ ‭NLT

The sad thing about this story is Saul had the potential to be a great king. He had the loyalty and respect of the people, but he lacked one thing, the proper attitude. And it cost him everything. He was never the same after this, even though he went on to be king for many, many years.

If we are to get ahead in life, we must change our attitude to reflect positively in every situation. This doesn’t mean you have to like every situation, it just means you have to keep a positive and upbeat attitude as you navigate through the various challenges and people you face in day to day living.

So, chin up, look for the good in everything and keep that attitude beaming forth! For the Kingdom and the King!

Star Wars: The Prequels

I was perusing through some Star Wars fan sites I enjoy (most of the time) and came across another hate filled post about George Lucas’s fourth film in the Star Wars franchise; Episode 1, The Phantom Menace. It’s always been interesting to me how people feel the need to tell the world how much they dislike this particular film. The hatred and actual venom poured out towards Ahmed Best and Jake Lloyd for their portrayals of Jar Jar Binks and little Anakin Skywalker are both totally uncalled for and show how much these people really are losers in life. And like my mother taught me, “If you can’t say something good, then don’t say anything at all.”

That 70’s Show
Season 1 Episode 20
A New Hope

I started loving Star Wars back in 1977 when the movie first came out. I was very much like Eric Forman in That 70’s Show when he saw Star Wars for the first time. Mouth agape, heart beat rising and bated breath. Once the movie was over I couldn’t wait to see it again, and again. I’m sure I am somewhere in the neighborhood of having seen the original Star Wars movie of a thousand times or more. And it never gets old to me, and I know it never will. This is why I am so shocked every time I hear people complain about these movies.

The thing about The Phantom Menace was it showed us one of the most hated villains of all time while he is just an innocent little child. We knew (spoiler alert) going in that this kid would turn out to be the father of Luke Skywalker and turn the universe upside down, leaving a wake of destruction unlike anything seen before. I think people were hoping George would show us someone unlikeable, or intrinsically evil from the beginning. I thank God he didn’t. Anakin needs to be sweet, and willing to help, this is one of the things about his character which makes his fall so much greater in later movies.

George Lucas has said in more interviews than I can remember how he made these movies for kids. Why do people get so upset with characters like Jar Jar Binks, R2D2 & C3PO? What is wrong with a little comic relief? You have to remember when he released his movie back in 1977, the movies being shown at that time were gritty, dark and truthfully not a whole lot of fun. He wanted to bring back the types of movies he remembered from his childhood; ones that had adventure, suspense, and a little comedy in them. And I believe with the Star Wars movies he did just that; gave us movies we could enjoy and would stimulate our imaginations.

One of the fondest memories I have with my kids around this time was the Podracer game on our Nintendo, all four of us could race and we would laugh and taunt each other throughout the evenings. “Poodoo!” was one of our favorite phrases. Also my son Micah had a Jar Jar mask he would wear and walk around the house in that Jar Jar lope saying, “Meesa called Jar Jar Binks, whosa are yousa?”

Count Dooku x2 vs Yoda - Battles - Comic Vine

I thank God George made these movies for kids to enjoy, because some of my best bonding times as a parent with my kids was around these movies. One funny little story, when they released Episode 2, Attack of the Clones in 3D, I took all three of my kids to see it. I told my youngest son Noah, “This is going to be so cool, Yoda is going to be 30 feet tall!” What I meant was the screen is three stories tall so it was going to be huge. When we were walking out of the theater, I asked him what he thought about the movie, and he said, “Yoda was the same.” I said, “What buddy?” and his reply was, “Dad, Yoda wasn’t a giant, he was the same size.” It was at this point I realized he had misunderstood what I’d said early and thought George changed Yoda from three feet tall to thirty. Ah the mind of a child, truly wonderful it is.

I wish people everywhere could let go of their fear, and just get along. It’s like Yoda told a teenage Anakin, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” And not to put a political spin on this, but isn’t this what we are seeing now? Fear leading to anger, anger leading to hate and hate leading to suffering? We need to forsake the dark side of the force as a society and follow the light side of the force; putting our own selfish ambitions aside, and as a true jedi look out for the needs of the many.

Well, there’s that, for the Kingdom and the King, shalom.

Holy Two Face Batman!

I’m sure if someone didn’t know me personally, but made decisions about what manner of man I am from my social media postings and blogs, then who I am and who you think I am would be painted with two different brushes. While the truth is, who you see before you in this blog and on all of my social media posts is one and the same guy, obviously if you were to sit down with me over a cup of coffee and we discussed the very same things I write and post about, you would probably think I was not the same man who wrote them. Mainly because of the difference between reading what someone says, and actually listening and having a conversation with that person.

As a matter of fact, this very subject came up over a lunch conversation with my bride and a friend today. People are constantly getting upset with things people post online, and usually what the upset person gets aggravated with isn’t even what the author intended. Without being able to hear the inflection in a person’s voice, or see the intent within their eyes, it is hard to actually understand what they are saying.

It’s like why punctuation is so important when you’re writing something for people to read. For example if I write, “Let’s eat grandma.” versus, “Let’s eat, grandma.” even though I use the very same words, without putting that little comma behind the word eat, it turns my words into a heinous act. Hearing how someone says something is like putting the comma in your sentence; it helps to get your point across.

One thing I’ve seen so much of over the past few months is how many people are giving us all a piece of their minds. And while I am all for talking about what you believe, I have to ask myself is this really worth the effort I am going to put in before I post it? Does this mean I get it right every time? No, absolutely not, but this shouldn’t keep me from sharing my thoughts and ideas. Instead, if I end up posting something I should have taken a little more time seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit about instead of plowing ahead, I need to own it and make it right to anyone I’ve offended.

Now this brings up a whole other thing, in today’s society, we have people who get offended at every little thing out there. And as a fifty-six year old man who gets up each and every day and spends my entire day outside doing things I don’t really want to do in order to feed and provide for my family, I don’t have a lot of patience for anyone who gets their feelings hurt and needs a special room for coloring and petting puppies to help them feel better about themselves. (Too much, too harsh?)

Jesus told us in Matthew 5:37, “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” So understand when I write, post or say something, it will always be the same. Now you may not like what I have to say, and you know that’s okay. Nobody ever said life was about getting everyone to agree with you. But one thing you will find out about me is these things I believe, I believe because of what I’ve found in the Scriptures. I have a basis for what I talk about, and I would hope you do as well. Again, this is not to say I’ve never made mistakes before, but I do always own them, as I would hope you do as well.

To wrap this blog up, I hope you understand everything I say will come from the place of letting my yes be yes and my no be no. No wishy-washiness here, no just repeating what other people say without owning it. I’m going to own each and every word or picture I share, you can believe this, and if it turns out I offend you, then don’t hesitate to tell me. Because I can’t make it right if I don’t know I offended you.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

God Favors the Bold

A while back on a Sunday in the year 2020, (the year was posted for posterity and when read in years to come) my Pastor made the following statement, “God favors the bold!” Today in the message he brought to us, he showed a video where several ministers from around the world were quoting him and thanking our church for standing up and doing things to help people during this pandemic. And with the things we’ve seen, it is a true statement that God does indeed favor the bold.

Since the beginning of COVID-19 and the shut downs, I have been unusually quiet with my posting on social media and writing my blogs. Oh, I’ve posted a few things and written a little, but it has all been for the most part pretty tame. Honestly, this is in most part because I have not really seen what, if any changes I could make with my little presence in the cyber world. My quietness is not because of a lack of things to say though, as I have never had trouble sharing my thoughts, even though many people disagree.

As Pastor Paul spoke this morning, I began to question my reasons for staying quiet, and part of the answer if I was to tell the truth (which I always do) was out of fear of alienating people who follow me.

Pastor’s message was based out of the story in the book of Daniel chapter 3; where the three Hebrew children refused to bow down to the King’s golden idol and ended up being thrown into the fiery furnace, only not to die, but bringing great revival to the land. All this happened because they stood up for what they believed in.

Ultimately in my life for the past several months, I have been staying quiet mostly trying not to make any waves, or make anyone mad. This morning I decided to change all of that. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not going to intentionally go out of my way to make anyone mad or upset with me, but I have decided it is time for me, as a Christian man to stand up for those things I believe in.

Pastor Paul made a great comment today when he said, “Stop limiting your compassion to only those who agree with you.” I want anyone who is reading this (all the tens of you -ha!) to understand my compassion for all mankind is full, and regardless of whether or not we agree on everything I do not hate you, nor do I wish anything but goodness for you. This is another reason I have been quiet; fear of hurting someone.

Let’s just agree here and now how we can have differing views and still be civil. I know I will undoubtably upset you with something I say, but know this is not my goal. Truthfully my goal is to get conversations started, and I’m pretty sure if we agree to disagree, but stay compassionate towards one another this is a doable thing.

Here we go, come on Jesus! I am a Christian man, who believes what is written in 2nd Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Everything I write is going to be based on my belief in the Bible, this is a non-negotiable for me, but feel free to question my beliefs as I will feel free to question yours; all continuing to remain compassionate towards each other.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Problems Are Only Opportunities In Work Clothes

I had a thought this morning on the way to work, and it involved situations where I tend to get aggravated or irritated in life. What occurred to me, was in these times what really causes these flare up of my temperament is me becoming inconvenienced. It rarely is the actual situation I get upset with, but having my life altered to a reality I had not previously considered happening.

To say we humans are creatures of habit is an understatement to be sure. We like to have things the same; day in and day out. We live for the opportunities of being able to enjoy moments and have them play out the way we think they should in our heads. And anything which causes a disruption is looked upon as evil and something to be conquered rather than lived through.

Now to say at 56 I am just now beginning to understand this could be deemed embarrassing, or it could be looked upon as if the remainder of my life is about to become even better than I could ever imagine. You know if I’m going to go one way, why not go the way of positivity instead of negativity, huh?

When something disrupts my preconceived notion of what I think should be happening, what should my response be? I’ll tell you what it usually is, chaos. In any given situation in my past, my self talk might go something like this, “Well great! Now I’ve got to go and do such and so. Why is it ‘they’ can’t do this for themselves? Why am I always called upon to do these stupid tasks?” When in reality, perhaps I should look at it as, “WOW! They really trust me to get the job done.”

Being inconvenienced in life is a given. After all, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But be of good cheer, for I (Jesus) have overcome the world.” John 16:33. We are called to be problem solvers, not problem explainers.

Recently I have begun listening to a complaint once, then looking for a solution from the person bringing the complaint to me. If they’re either unable or unwilling to devise a solution, and instead continue to complain about the situation, I extricate myself from the conversation. After all, if all we ever do is bitch about problems without finding answers for them, what use are we really?

Complaining about things is easy, it’s actually the default setting in humans. Just like any piece of equipment, the default settings are there to get the system up and running, but default settings aren’t written in stone, you can customize them to whatever you need them to be. Just like I can customize my remote control for instance, I can customize my responses to those things which cause the disruptions in my life. And when I change the way I see things, and begin looking for solutions instead of just griping, then this is when my life begins to be fuller and richer, and as in work, I begin to see the benefits of being a problem solver and not just a problem griper.

Let’s get out there today and be the answer to the problems of the world. In finding solutions to other people’s problems, we actually find our lives becoming more fulfilled.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Wearing A Mask Or Not, It Is Showing Us Who You Are

I will start today’s blog by saying I am not in favor of forcing people to wear face masks in the effort to control the mass hysteria surrounding the covid virus. I’m not a doctor, nor have I ever played one on tv, but I can read, and the surrounding controversy concerning this is too difficult to follow for anyone. I mean, we’re told by authorities masks don’t prevent the passing of this virus, then we’re told they are. There are so many opinions out there, it is almost impossible to keep up with how fast they’re changing. And while I don’t believe the masks work, if I see people wearing them, I don’t confront them about it. Live and let live I say.

Now with this being said, it has been a couple of weeks since the nation’s largest retailer decided to enforce a mask only policy while shopping in their store. This was a decision made by the people in positions of leadership within Walmart, and truthfully, it is their right to make such policies. Heck, if they wanted to, they could put up signs saying they will only cater to people wearing grass skirts and it would be legal. It is after all their business, and while forcing people to wear grass skirts would obviously challenge their bottom line, they could do it and there would be nothing any of us could do but wear grass skirts if we want to shop there.

What is totally out of line however, is the jackasses who feel it is their responsibility to accost the employees by yelling and screaming obscenities at them when they are instructed to put on a mask. These people say their rights are being trampled (and I agree) but it is not the ten dollar an hour employee who made up the rules, they are just the unfortunate souls who have the privilege of catching the flack about it. And I sincerely hope they are being recompensed with hazard pay for it.

Having rights does not mean you get to trample on the rights of others. I’m sure Walmart has made this decision less for the health reasons and more about the chances of lawsuits appearing in their mailboxes. I can see it now, the headlines could read, “Man Sues Walmart For Contracting Covid-19 While Shopping For Cat Food”. Don’t think it could happen? Remember McDonald’s changing the temperature of and the documentation on their cups of coffee because a lady in the drive through spilled her’s and got burned? I still don’t think McDonald’s was at fault, but that is another blog for another time. The bottom line is while you may feel your rights are being trampled on, you can choose to not shop at any stores who have implemented this policy. And you don’t have to yell your choice to the person standing at the door not allowing you to enter.

I have made a personal choice not to wear a mask. I do tend to shop at Walmart, so when the mask policy was implemented, I started shopping at Reasor’s. When they went the way of the mask, I went to Warehouse Market. Who knows where I’ll end up next, perhaps fasting? The way to hurt companies that do things you don’t agree with is to stop supporting them with your cash. I will pay a little bit more for something somewhere else to stay true to what I believe. But I don’t go out of my way to tell the employees what I’m doing, that doesn’t do anything but make me feel good about myself, and show them that I’m really an asshole.

So, wear the mask, don’t wear the mask, the decision is yours. Just as it is your decision whether you act like an asshole or not. But we will know the truth, and do probably just what the Walmart employees are doing and laugh at you for showing us who you really are with your decisions.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom.

Freedom, What’s That?

I’m truly amazed to see the world, in the state it is currently experiencing. People I thought I knew, taking sides against things I believe. Mind you, I’ve never thought for a moment everyone would think the way I do, but right now I’m seeing people who I thought shared the same ideology with me standing on the other side of the issue.

If you would have told me even a year ago we would be seeing mandated face coverings in order to enter a store to buy groceries, I would have said, “Not in America. We’re not a third world dictatorship.” But here we are. The largest chain store in America, Walmart & Sam’s Club posted they would start mandating face masks to be worn by customers shopping in their stores, starting on July 20th. Turning them away if they are unwilling to comply.

Now I have just enough of a “Don’t tell me!” attitude, that truthfully I will not shop at Walmart or Sam’s Club once this starts. I will find other ways to supply my family with food. I jokingly stated yesterday how I thought maybe Bible scholars had gotten it wrong, and the “mark of the beast” talked about in Scripture could be face masks instead of a microchip in the hand or forehead. After all without a face mask you will be unable to buy food. Could it be?

The one thing I know is this, I have seen our personal liberties slowly erode away since COVID-19 hit the scene. I don’t think for a moment it isn’t real, there have been too many cases to say otherwise, but the last I heard the survivor rate was something like 99%. To hear the news media and the social media experts tell it, we are only one step away from death to us all however.

“So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.” is what Senator Amidala said in Star Wars: The Clone Wars at the creation of the Galactic Empire. The people were all afraid, so they allowed their enemy (Palpatine) to take away their liberty with the lie of bettering society. I can’t help but think we are dangerously close to this now too in our own society.

My biggest concern about this mask issue, is not the mask, it’s allowing our liberties to be given away; little by little. I have no problem with you wearing a mask if this is what you have decided to do, I have a BIG problem when it is being used by government to control people. And don’t think for a minute that’s not what is going on. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our freedoms here in America, what’s next? Gun control, mandatory inoculations, a one-child birth policy, food lines?

You can call me old fashioned, a Neanderthal, or just plain stupid, but mark my words, there is more coming down the pike, so don’t be surprised when more of your freedoms and liberties are taken away, little by little. And when they are, don’t gripe about it, because remember how many were for it.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”

Today is the 244th birthday of what has been called the greatest nation on earth. I don’t know who actually coined this phrase, but I do whole heartily agree with it. Being a sometimes student of history, I found it interesting to read Patrick Henry’s speech to the second Virginia congress today. Something spoken 245 years ago still has truth in it for today’s America.

So many protesters and rioters (and I know it’s not all of them, but these are the ones who seem to have the airwaves now) have claimed they are on a mission to change America, and this is the new war to be fought. It seems the way they are choosing to fight it however is by destroying our past. Ironically, Patrick Henry spoke about this in his famous speech. I loved the following paragraph so much I felt it needed to be added to my blog.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided,” Henry said, “and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.

I am appalled at what I’ve seen on television in the past several weeks. Truthfully, never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought to see this. Protestors tearing down statues and working to rewrite our nation’s history. Before I go further, I do not think everything that has been done in our past is good or should be glorified, but I do believe it is part of who we are as a nation. I don’t glorify my own sordid past, but I do remember it so I don’t repeat the things I am ashamed of. If I just pretend they never happened, changing the narrative, I’m doomed to repeat my past mistakes. And we, as a nation, if we are not careful will fall into the same trap. As the old saying goes, “If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.”

One thing I admire about the protestors, the real protestors, not those who are being bussed in and paid to agitate the crowd. (Nothing new here either, the Pharisees did the same thing to Jesus, look it up Mark 14:55-60), is their zeal to see change happen. This is a good thing, and believe it or not is not something new to this current generation, there has always been people who wanted to see change happen.

Most of the dialogue today is about change and how bad things have been for the minority class in America, and I totally agree that in my America everyone should have the same rights; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as stated in our nation’s declaration of independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Every man, woman and child in the United States should be treated as equals without ever looking at the color of their skin.

As he spoke, Henry held his wrists together as though they were manacled and raised them toward the heavens. “Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty”—Henry burst from his imaginary chains and grasped an ivory letter opener—“or give me death!” As he uttered these final words, he plunged the letter opener toward his chest, mimicking a knife blow to the heart.

Men and women from our past gave their lives for the most part in standing up for what they believed in. Many of the founding fathers of our fledgling country actually died penniless and broken because of their belief in a better way of life for everyone. I wonder how many of those protesting now feel this passion and have this conviction? I mean it is easy to give lip service to your ideals, but when it comes right down to it, are you really willing to die for what you believe in?

I’m not asking those who are protesting for change to actually kill themselves, that would be horrible and no one should do this, and for the record I don’t want anyone to lose their life. But I ask you this, if you are so willing to destroy our nation’s history and change the narrative for your beliefs, are you also willing to lose everything you have in the process? It’s an honest question and one only you can answer, it cannot be answered for you. Happy birthday to the United States of America, and God bless you!

Strength and honor for the Kingdom and the King!

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

In Matthew 24:12 Jesus while talking about the signs of the end times before His return makes this statement, “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.” Well I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but it would appear love is in short supply these days. People just don’t care about their fellow humans as much as they used to.

Social media, which was touted as bringing the world closer together, has in fact driven us all further apart I’m afraid. Something which could in fact impact the Earth in such a spectacular way, has instead become perverted and become a tool used to drive wedges between people. I for one was excited about the internet when it first became popular, and for a time I found a community of believers who understood me and where I was coming from. It was a joy.

I still have a presence in cyberspace, and for the most part I play nice while visiting, but much to the chagrin of my wife, from time to time I have been known to get on my soapbox and share my opinions with the world. One thing I have learned is to not take myself too seriously, and for sure not take the things said to me personally. I feel if you are going to put yourself out there, you have to have thick skin and be able to roll with the punches.

One thing I have noticed however which concerns me greatly is the lack of respect for people which seems to be growing in the world today. This “love of many growing cold” as Jesus said. In one interaction on Facebook a young lady and I were talking about the topic at hand when she posted, “Okay, boomer.” When I read it, I had to look up the definition of what these two words meant so I could understand what she was actually saying to me. Here’s what I found: The phrase “OK Boomer” is a pejorative retort used to dismiss or mock the attitudes of older people, particularly baby boomers.

I try to not be out of touch, or just set in my ways for the sake of being stubborn, but I also think I have a little bit of knowledge just for the sake of having traveled around our sun 56 times. I’m not the smartest fella, but one thing I learned growing up was to respect those men and women who were older than me, not dismiss them out of hand because their ideas weren’t the same as mine. And believe me I thought a lot of older people’s ideas weren’t altogether great when I was younger too.

I get wanting to affect change in society, to want to make the planet better for the next generation. I think anyone who just wants to take and not give something back should be challenged. But the way to challenge the status quo is to talk it out, listening on both sides and coming to a conclusion of what will make things better. Throwing temper tantrums, dismissing out of hand any idea which is different than yours and then just generally disrespecting anyone because of your ideals is just not right. Those who do this need to check the love in their hearts, both young and old.

I know I don’t have all the answers, truthfully no one does. And I commend this younger generation who is trying to make changes to leave the world better than they found it. All I would ask is in the process, see what those who came before you did, and learn the history they lived through. My fear is society will just dismiss out of hand the things we’ve endured in the past, and in so doing will force my grandchildren to live through some of those horrible things because they didn’t learn the lessons.

For the Kingdom and the King, shaom.

God, What Do You Think?

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says, “But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” Honestly, this is something I struggle with. What I mean is, most of the time, and for most of my Christian walk, I have gone to God when things get tough, or I find myself in a bind. Rarely do I manage to go to Him first before making the decision to do something.

It’s humbling to actually admit this, mainly because I’ve been a Christian for 30 plus years now. Truthfully, it’s kind of embarrassing really, I mean asking God for direction is like Christianity 101, it’s one of the basic tenets of faith. But if I’ve learned anything in my time here, it’s we can overlook the closest things which are right in front of us if we are not careful.

So what does asking God for direction look like? Are you like me, and sometimes the things in the Bible kind of go over your head? You read something, or hear it taught and instead of it sinking right in, it just sort of flies right past you? Jesus said we were to strive and aim after the God’s way of doing things and being right, but what does this actually mean? Where can we find what that really looks like?

I know for me, I’m more of a visual learner; for instance, if we are going to play a new game, I need someone to show me how. I can read the instructions all day long, but I will still be unable to play it right. I need someone who can understand from reading to show me. Sometimes reading the Bible alone doesn’t help me to understand how to implement the things in it, like reading the instructions for a new game. I need to see some practical application of the principles.

The definition of the word seek is,

  1. attempt to find (something).
  2. attempt or desire to obtain or achieve (something).
  3. ask for (something) from someone.

When Jesus tells us to seek Him, He was saying we should attempt to find, desire to obtain or achieve or ask for something from God. He goes on to say in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.”

This is not a one time thing. Ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking. What is He saying here? It seems to me perhaps God is wanting to see if we are serious or not. It is pretty evident here Jesus is telling us we will get our answers, but not on the first try. Have you ever had a child want something from you? They come to you and ask for whatever, and do you stop what you’re doing and run out to get it for them? No. If so, you are spoiling them, stop that. Ha!

I know in my own life, my kids asked me for things, and sometimes I waited to see if they were serious about what they were asking for, or if it was just a whim on their part. If they kept asking about it, then I would work to see about getting it for them. Yes, I did spoil my kids at times, bringing home gifts and toys for them, just because I wanted to see them smile. Writing this, I think God is showing me this is what He likes to do too, but sometimes He is waiting and watching to see if I’m really serious about what I’m asking, when I’m actually asking.

This may or may not help anyone but me, but this is okay, because I have found a flaw in who I am as a Christian, and realizing you have a problem is the first step in solving the problem. For me, this means a more dedicated time of seeking God daily. Not just reading my Bible and checking it off the list, or praying for the protection of my family daily. But closing my office door, and spending a little extra time each morning talking to God, including Him in my day more. After all, the truth of the matter is, God doesn’t really care as much about what I do every day as He does spending time with me. And if the God who created the whole universe and everything in it wants to spend time with me, shouldn’t I be a little bit excited to spend time with Him?

Yeah, like I said earlier, it’s a little bit embarrassing, but sometimes it takes being embarrass to get you to move, and so today I make the decision to move towards God and begin asking Him what He thinks about my day and what I should be doing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

God Doesn’t Need Your $$$

I’ve been writing for a long time now, and a while back I renamed my blog “Stuff My Father Says”. There has obviously been a lot of my opinions in the things I’ve written about, but ultimately those thoughts of mine are rooted and grounded in the Word of God. Often when I write, it’s because of a desire to help others learn the things I have. A few times it’s just because I want to see if I can get a rise out of people. I’ve been somewhat successful on both counts. Today is one of those days I want to see if I can get a rise out of you, while helping at the same time.

This time in history is a weird one to be sure. Never in my fifty-six years have I ever seen anything like it. I find myself at this time in my life experiencing what the writer David said in Psalm 37:25, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” In this time of pandemic craziness, (who knew toilet paper hoarding would ever be a thing?) I can honestly say my bride and I have seen the blessings of God to such a degree it almost seems as if nothing has changed in our lives.

To God be the glory and praise for this, it’s not because Cheryl and I are such financial wizards, actually quite the opposite is true. But thanks to God and His Word of truth in the area of finances and giving. I can honestly say our giving has gone up during this time and not down. Actually last night at drive in church, we were in a race to see who could give towards the Dream Center faster. She won, but ultimately we both did.

When you talk about tithing and giving, it can become a polarizing topic for many. Fewer things can get people worked up faster than talking about asking them to give their hard earned cash to the church. Yet, it is a command of God, and actually the only way for you to enter into His financial plan for your life. Like it or not, it’s the truth. You can believe it or not, the choice is yours, and God will not love you any less if you never give a penny in the offering plate. But I honestly believe (because I’ve lived it) if you give with a willing heart, God will bless you more than you could ever know.

Many people will tell you that tithing is a rule from the law of Moses and with the sacrifice of Jesus we have been redeemed from the law. However this is a thought which is in error in my honest opinion, because tithing was from the very beginning and way before Moses ever received the law from God. Before we get into that however, let’s get on the same page about what tithing actually is and means.

My good friend Pastor David Emigh taught the tithe is three things; it’s 10%, it’s the first fruits and it’s holy. 10% is easy, if you have $100, you give $10. It is ten percent of all the money you get. It’s the first fruits, which simply meant, it is the first thing you give. I don’t pay my bills or put gas into my tank until I’ve given my tithes to my local church. And today, with online giving, and texting to give, it’s never been easier. On the morning my paycheck is deposited into my bank account, I get online and take care of all my tithing and giving before I do anything else. It is also holy, which just means it is not for secular use. Like I use to tell the kids when I taught children’s church, the tithe is not for buying candy bars and sodas, it belongs to God.

Now that we talked about what the tithe is, let’s look at some places in the Bible where tithing are talked about but not in the law. First let’s go to Genesis 2:16-17 “But the Lord God warned Adam, “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.” The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a type of the tithe.

But wait, there’s more, look at Genesis 14:18-20 “And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.” Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.”

Great Dave, but those are Old Testament passages, did Jesus say anything about tithing? Well I’m glad you asked, look at Luke 11:42, “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.” Also this is found in Matthew 23:23, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”

But if God doesn’t need my money, then why do I need to tithe and give? Two reasons; first, it is a command and we are told to do this, and second, because it is the way God chooses to bless His children. It also is a barometer for your heart, in other words it will reveal where your heart is with God. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Ultimately I cannot nor would I tell you what you need to do with your life. I can encourage you with the things my Father says, but ultimately you have to decide for yourself. But one thing I can say, as a Christian for over 30 years now, I have seen God come through for Cheryl and me on so many different things where it concerns our giving and financial life, you will never be able to tell me God doesn’t want us to get into His financial plan by giving. We’ve tried out giving God, but He constantly is blessing us more than we can ever hope or think.

One last thought, in the book of Malachi, God says, “Test me in this (the tithe) and see if I will not open the windows of Heaven and pour you our a blessing you will not be able to contain.” Malachi 3:10. What do you have to lose? He is basically placing a stick on His shoulder and saying, “I dare you to knock it off.” Give it a shot, I can honestly say if you give your tithe to the local church you are attending, then God will open the windows and pour you out a blessing just like He said he would. Go ahead, try it, you’ll be glad you did!

For the Kingdom and the King, Shalom!

Destined To Win, Choosing To Fail

I’m amazed during this pandemic, quarantined time in history how many people are choosing to live in fear instead of trusting the Word of God and all of His promises. I’ve been binge watching the show Designated Survivor, (spoiler ahead) and in it the deputy director of the FBI is forced to decide between duty and family. In season 1, episode 13, after having chosen his family over duty and still losing his son, he says, “Twenty plus years on the job, and all it took was for her to show me that she had my son. And all of my training just goes out the window.” When I saw this scene I couldn’t help but think about what’s going on now with the Covid-19 hysteria.

I have watched, as I’m sure you have, all the hype and endless news reporting about how this particular strain of the flu is going to be the end of civilization as we know it. It’s crazy out there, but I’m not writing today to discuss the pros and cons of how the media and leaders have handled this crisis. I want to bring it home as I always do, into your backyard and discuss how you and I are dealing with this crazy time. After all, we are not going to be judged by what the media did, or even what our leaders did, we are going to be judged by our own actions.

Let me just put this out there for everyone to see. One of the craziest things I have noticed in the past couple of months is the reactions of Christians. As a born again believer myself, I think we should be living the way Jesus told us. I mean after all, wasn’t it Jesus who told us we would have trouble in this life (John 16:3)? If this is the case, why do so many Christians act as if they are doomed now? Why is it that many of the Christians I see are touting medical data more than the data which can really help us, the Bible?

You’ve seen them in check out lines with baskets full of toilet paper and other supposed necessities they are afraid will run out, wearing masks and latex gloves. The people with “Jesus is the Answer” bumper stickers on their cars, the ones with the Hope of humanity living in their hearts, but you couldn’t tell it because they are acting just like the rest of the world. Jesus admonished us in Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

As a Christian, we should be the light of hope in this crazy time. We are the ones who have the answers, not the medical community. And don’t get me wrong I appreciate all the medical community does, but science isn’t the answer, Jesus is. I’m reminded of the woman in the Bible who is referred to as the woman with the issue of blood. I can’t wait to meet her and find out her name, I’m sure every time someone says, “The woman with the issue of blood.” she probably wants to scream, “My name is Abigail!” Okay, I digress, back to what I was saying, she went to the doctors and all she did was spend all her money, but never got better. It wasn’t until she touched the hem of Jesus’s garment that she was healed of her disease. As a Christian, when I meet someone who is freaking out about this flu, I need to be a calming agent of change for them, not someone who jumps on the bandwagon calling for the end of the world as we know it.

If we are Christians, which means followers of Christ, we should be believing God’s Word in and out of the storms of life. God’s Word works, in the good times and the bad, but if you watch some Christians, you would think it only works when times are good. This sends a mixed message to the world, who my friends do not have the answer, they need the answer. And Jesus is the answer, and we are called to bring the answer to a world in stress.

Ask yourself, why do you believe God’s Word? Is it because you’ve seen Him answer and perform His Word time and again, or are you just parroting what you’ve heard the preacher say? Remember the sons of Sceva in the Bible (Acts 19:11-20). These seven brothers tried to cast a demon out of a man saying, “In the Name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches…” and the demon responded by saying, “Paul I know, and Jesus I know, but who are you?” Then proceeded to strip those seven men and send them streaking down the road. In order to have and use any authority given to you by Jesus, you have to know Him personally.

If this time has shown us anything, it has weeded out those part time Christians who went to church because it was the thing to do, and not because of their personal relationship with Jesus. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not blasting anyone who is struggling, this thing is real and needs to be addressed, but we’ve got to do it as true, born again Christians who bring the light of the Gospel to a hurting and scared world, not by adding to the fear by acting as if the Word of God cannot handle things.

It is time to start to act on what you believe. If you believe the Bible, then get it into your heart, quote it and share it with all of those around you. You can watch the news, but counter all the negative stuff with the positive things you find in the Bible. Oh, here’s a thought, stop just listening to your Pastor and start reading the Bible for yourself. My friend Pastor David Emigh used to say, (and I’m paraphrasing here) “It’s the amount of thought and study you put into the Word of God which will bring the amount of virtue and power in your life.”

Folks, it all comes down to this, it is up to each and every one of us to live in victory in our lives. God has done all He is going to do for us to achieve this victory, but it ultimately falls to us whether or not we have it. The work is done on God’s part, now it’s up to you. And it doesn’t happen just because you say a prayer and ask Jesus into your heart. That’s the first step, but there are thousands of more steps after that first one on the path towards victory. You can do this, just get into God’s Word, don’t wait, now is the time!

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Who Do I Look Like?

Every day I look into the mirror, and what do I see? Well first off a very handsome galoot, who only gets better looking with age. Ha! No, every day as I gaze into the mirror to make sure my hair is in place and there are no major anomalies with my face, I also see the man no one else does; the inside man, the part of me which God sees, my heart. This is what God looks at and is most impressed with. I’m reminded in the Bible where David the shepherd boy is called a man after God’s own heart. Oh to hear those words spoken over me by my Heavenly Father.

One thing I’ve thought for several years now, but haven’t really addressed is the current state of the body of Christ as we know it. For years it seemed the church (and me included) was so legalistic. Follow the rules, do what’s right, never let anyone see you have any flaws or mistakes. In other words, be perfect, because Jesus is perfect. Out of this grew the resurgence of the message of grace, and we left the one ditch and ended up in another.

Now everything is okay, we don’t call sin sin anymore for fear of offending someone. It’s as if we’re afraid to speak up because it might hurt someone’s feelings. It’s as if we didn’t learn anything from Jesus, I mean He addressed the sin in people’s lives, but did so in a way they didn’t feel condemned or worthless. He went around helping those who needed the help without becoming like them.

The church I feel has in effect become the world we live in, instead of being different. Truthfully when you watch a lot of ministers lately, can you really tell any difference between them and any one of thousands of motivational speakers out there today? It seems we are quick to try and be relevant to this generation; adopting their style, speech, and mannerisms yet in the process failing to speak the truth of God’s Word for fear the people we’re speaking to might leave to go somewhere else.

Not to dismiss the Covid-19 pandemic and a world in fear, but I have begun to wonder about the people who call themselves born again believers. I’ve heard a lot of them say things which prove they are in just as much fear as the rest of the world. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have problems, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” It should not catch any believer off guard when things like this happen, Jesus told us it would.

Matthew 24:3-14 says,

Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world? ” Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

This doesn’t mean things are bad at all, it means we are closer to the return of Jesus than ever before! These are exciting times we live in. I heard a testimony last night from the director of the Tulsa Dream Center, an organization which, has been feeding thousands of people who have been laid off and are in need. He said at the start of the week, their food supplies were gone. Friday was coming and they had no food left to help. Then they got a phone call from company after company wanting to help by donating food. And yesterday when the time came they were able to help feed over 10,000 people. Talk about loaves and fishes.

I believe what Covid-19 has done for many believers is start to shake them awake. They are starting to open their eyes and look into the mirror to see just exactly who is looking back at them. It’s like the I Love Lucy episode with Harpo Marx, click here to watch it. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but maybe we’re just a cheap imitation, mimicking Him to fool the masses, but really missing the point about being Jesus to those around us? Are we the real deal or just a copy cat trying to live our best life instead of bringing the best life to those around us?

For the Kingdom and the King, Shalom!

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.