Let The Ignorant Be Ignorant Still

The Bible is a great book; one I believe can lead and guide you into a life you may have never expected was even possible. It is one of life’s greatest tragedies that people just don’t read it. For many, many years the general population wasn’t even allowed to read it for themselves, let alone have their own personal copy. It wasn’t until the 16th century when England’s King James commissioned it to be written in the common tongue, and the rest as they say is history. No longer do we have to have a man tell us what God is saying, we can discover all He has for us on our own.

It amazes me how many people in churches all around the world, sit in their sanctuaries waiting for their leaders to spoon feed them the Word of God. People I talk to who tell me they really don’t read the Bible, often use the excuse, “Well I didn’t go to Bible School, so there is no way for me to understand it.” How ignorant, but then the Bible does say to let the ignorant be ignorant still. (1 Corinthians 14:38) If you are a born again believer in Jesus, then the Holy Spirit dwells within your heart, and it is He who is the great teacher.

I remember back when I was a new Christian I was trying to decide what my next step was going to be; whether to just work, or go to bible school. I had been praying for weeks about it, and one night at church we had a guest speaker who walked up to me and in front of the entire congregation said, “This is what God wants me to tell you. Just as I have used ignorant and unlearned men before, I’m going to use you.” There was laughter and my friends ribbed me saying, “He just called you ignorant.” But what this man of God said to me brought peace to my heart and I knew right then that bible school was not for me.

This didn’t stop me from becoming a student of the Bible however. I have been reading it for almost thirty years now, and I am amazed every time I see something new and different that I had never seen before. Scripture says the Word is alive (Hebrews 4:12), it is unlike any book ever written or ever will be written. It leads, guides, directs and corrects us no matter how old we are, what education we have or don’t have. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring back to our remembrance every thing Jesus has said, which is found in the Bible. (John 14:26)

Maybe you haven’t been reading the Bible like you used to, or maybe you haven’t read it at all, let me encourage you to start today. Download the YouVersion bible app here, it has so many different translations of the bible, you’re bound to find one that appeals to you. Don’t wait, start today!

Living in a story much larger than my own…won’t you join me? You Can Do It!

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No Man Is A Failure Who Has Friends

Yesterday was a day of celebration for the family of some of my closest friends. It was the wedding day of their youngest daughter Ashley, and the ceremony was perfect and she was stunning in her wedding gown. As I was enjoying my morning coffee before leaving for the festivities, I was spending time looking through pictures on my Facebook page. As I clicked from picture to picture I began to reminisce about the things Ashley’s dad and I had done together. You see Terry and I were very good friends; more brothers actually than friends. He was the man I could go to with anything and everything, and I was this for him too. Ours was the picture of what a true friendship should be.

The reason I say “we were friends” is because he died and went to be with the Lord almost a year ago. It was a shock to say the least; it was sudden and totally unexpected. Now I won’t wax philosophical about his passing, because this is not the purpose of my blog tonight. I’m writing about friendship and what it means to be a friend. And I do know I will see him again one day. I guess this means we are still friends. Ha!

Back in May, I, along with six other friends of mine received a text from the bride to be, asking if we would be willing to stand in for her dad in some of the pictures and then dance with her in his place. To say I was honored is an understatement. “I answered back immediately my acceptance of her offer by replying, “Absolutely, I’d be honored to.”

Dancing with Ashely

With tears in our eyes as we danced yesterday, I told her how proud I was of her and the woman she has become, and how proud I knew her dad was of her. This was an easy thing to tell her too, because Terry and I had talked about her often and he always beamed when her name came up in conversation. My friend loved his two girls and was just about the proudest dad I’ve ever known. No matter what was going on in Heather or Ashley’s lives he could never say enough good things about them. It was one of the qualities I loved the most about Terry. He was such an awesome cheerleader for his kids.

Rainbow

As we celebrated the ceremony with Ashley and Jason, off to the left of us all in the sky a beautiful rainbow appeared. I couldn’t help but think about how Terry probably asked God to do a little something special for his baby girl since it was her special day. It is exactly the type of thing he would do too. Yesterday was just an awesome day; one I won’t soon forget.

While yesterday was my good friend’s daughter’s day, I couldn’t help but think a little bit about how much this friendship we took the time to cultivate has meant to both of our families. It may have started out as a mutual love of movies and pop culture, but grew into a brotherhood which has enabled our two families to become one. And that my friends is a good thing, and I am eternally grateful for it too.

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.

For I Am Costanza…Lord of the Idiots

My best friend Terry and I shared a love for the television show Seinfeld. We spent many years quoting lines from this hilarious sitcom and even would call or text each other on every occasion we were able to live out a moment from the show. (Finding a Kenny Roger’s Roasters in Manila was a highlight for both of us.)

One of the more memorable and funny episodes is called The Apartment, and in it George Constanza is wearing a wedding ring in a social experiment to try and get dates with more women. Towards the end after having his plan backfire, he makes the statement, “For I am Constanza, lord of the idiots.” It makes me laugh even as I’m writing it now. I have picked up this line and use it whenever I’ve had an idiotic moment in my own life; something which happens more often than I actually care to admit.

In my fifty-three years of life on this planet, I have had plenty of opportunities to play the idiot, as I’m sure we all have. There are times however when I feel I’m actually setting the bar for idiots everywhere to be judged by. But during the times of my lunacy I don’t think this way, it’s usually after the fact. And once this realization hits me, I really feel dumb. Those are the times where I want to crawl under a rock and hide, it can be so embarrassing.

This past week at work I had a couple of extremely difficult days and a Constanza moment raised its ugly head. It was so bad one day I actually thought about fleeing; just going to my truck and leaving without saying a word to anyone. In my entire adult life I’ve never wanted to run away from anything and this shocked me. Thank God it did, because it was this shock which woke me up from my lunacy and got me to asking what was really going on my life.

These Constanza moments come to me whenever I perceive things are not going my way. It’s like my default button is to act like a fool whenever things are not going the way I want them to. Yes I realize this sounds horrible, but truth is truth, and as they say, the first step in fixing a problem is realizing you actually have one. The man who is not self-aware is the man who really has a problem. I realized the issues I’ve been having and have begun to rectify them, making the necessary changes towards becoming a better man, which will be another blog altogether.

What I want you to realize today is you’re not alone, there are millions of us out there. And just like in the Seinfeld episode as George is confessing his idiocy to Jerry, a lady in the background starts yelling out the window to the runners, “You’re all winners!” to which George says, “But suddenly a new contender has emerged.”

 

 

 

 

Why Is Everyone So Angry?

“There is a way which seems right unto a man, but in the end lies death.” ~ Proverbs 16:25

I’m sure every man has taken a path he thought was the right one, only to end up somewhere he never anticipated. I know I have more than once. It always seems to be during times when my emotional level is extreme I will inevitably make the wrong decision. At almost fifty-three years old, you would think I would have figured this out by now and made some corrections to disregard the choices which lead me towards the wrong pathway.  But I’m nothing if not consistent I guess and am still learning.

Have you ever done this though? Been faced with a situation which emotionally threw you off of your game and instead of taking time to step back from the situation and evaluate it from every angle, you just leapt in where angels fear to tread?

Why is this do you think? Could it be because emotional upheavals in our lives feel as if they are personal attacks on us and therefore we respond without thinking? Or perhaps they are just something which is interfering with what we perceive as our normal routine and we don’t want it upset? Whatever the case, I think it would be good for us (well me actually) to look into this a little closer.

The world we live in is crazy. Have you noticed how quickly people seem to fly off the handle and confront anyone they think is hindering their life in some way? Think about road rage, or accidently cutting in front of someone at the grocery store. It seems to me people are itching for a fight nowadays more than ever.

I remember a time back after the terrorist attacks of 9/11; I had gone home to eat lunch and on the way back to work had decided to drive my wife’s minivan and fill it up with gas. I noticed the line of cars waiting as I pulled up to the gas station; everyone was panicky and the word on the street was all the gas stations would run out of gas soon. As I circled the lot looking for the best line to get in, I noticed a pump had just opened up and maneuvered my vehicle into position to fill up.

As I placed the nozzle into the tank opening, a lady walked up to me and began yelling at me about how I had cut her off and stolen her pump. She screamed about how I had almost killed her kids and should be ashamed of myself. Shocked, because I had actually not seen her at all, I removed the nozzle, apologizing and told her by all means take the pump. She insisted I stay put, but I wouldn’t have it and said, “Mam, I’m very sorry about taking your pump, I didn’t even see you. Have a nice day.” Getting back into my car, I began circling the lot once more.

Telling my wife the story later, it was almost comical to me. It must have made her feel better yelling at me and maybe she was just scared, but all I could think about was how it wasn’t a big deal for me to move to back of the line and let her get her gas. It sure wasn’t as big a deal as she was making it out to be. I think many people feel like they are going to be taken advantage of and instead of letting this happen they attack first before realizing what is actually going on.

What we (I) need to do is to really take a look at these situations from the other person’s perspective first and then make our next decision based on that information. I think it would really save all of us a lot of grief in the long run. I mean after all, are the things we fight about really as important as we think they are at that immediate moment? Probably not. And isn’t it better not to have to apologize for being an idiot?

What Will You Do?

“What will you do when they catch you?”

“What will you do if they catch you?”

“What will you do if they break you?”

These three questions are lines from the upcoming Star Wars movie Rogue One; due out in December. (I am so excited!) But this morning as I was contemplating some things at work, they came to mind. In life sometimes there are things which happen outside of our control, and it is what we do when presented with these challenges that make or break us.

Each and every day we are presented with challenges; either at home, work, with our friends; no one is immune. Problems are like wolves chasing us down; we all have to deal with them eventually. But the situations we face aren’t really the problem, they are common to us all. The real struggle for each of us is how we deal with the problems when they show up; do we fly off the handle and go ballistic; looking like a fool, or do we passively just take it, only to gripe about the situation later to our loved ones? This is where the real battle lies; in how we deal with them.

“What will you do when they catch you?”

” What will you do if they catch you?”

“What will you do if they break you?”

Troubles are coming for you, do you have a plan to deal with them when they arrive? I must admit I usually don’t and end up regretting the responses I make when I’m presented with a challenge. I think one of the reasons I have such a hard time with this is because they mess up my routine. And who among us wants our routine to be upset? Humans are creatures of habit and when something interferes with that, it upsets the apple cart so to speak.

We have to work on being able to step outside of ourselves when these moments come and look at them objectively. For instance, I know at work when given the opportunity to add some more to my workload, it is not because my boss has decided to hurt me. On the contrary, it is because there is a situation which needs to be handled, and he has come to me because he knows I can get it done. Of course sometimes it takes me a minute to remind myself of this and make sure I keep my attitude in check.

These wolves which are nipping at our heels do their best to catch us and eventually break us; this is their job and they are good at it. What we have to do is stay one step ahead of them. And doing this requires the ability to keep a good, positive attitude when you can feel them breathing down your neck. 

As loud as they are yapping, you’ve got to be louder in voicing your positive attitude to yourself. And it can be hard, because a lot of times the other voices around you aren’t so positive and it can feel as if you are fighting a battle on two fronts.

The one thing I know, but have to remind my self daily, is I have what it takes, there is more to me than meets the eye and I am destined to do great things. Regardless of what any other voice is trying to tell me, these things I know are true for me and they are true for you as well. You just have to believe them and remind yourself daily.

So if these problems of life catch me, I’ll just not let them break me, because I’m better than that and so are you!