History Is Not Important

My dad passed away on Father’s Day. Now I’m not writing this for sympathy, I actually had a thought about this while watching the news and seeing people who have lost their ever loving minds pulling down statues and trying to erase history. During this time with family and friends, I’ve heard stories about my dad I didn’t know. It’s cool to hear friends and family talk about him and remember the good times and bad. I have my own memories as well, and a lot of what I know about my dad helped to make me the man that I am today.

Now I see images of people defacing monuments and pulling down statues, acting out in a way they feel makes people realize the mistakes made hundreds of years ago were wrong and something should be done about it today. First off, I’ve never owned a slave, or been a part of the KKK or even thought any person of a color different than mine was in any way inferior to me. I live by the motto, live and let live. I may not agree with you, but as long as you’re not pushing your way on me, I say live however you want. (I do have opinions on what I feel is right and wrong, but I’ll only tell you if you ask).

The thing is about all this craziness and destroying things which are offensive to a select few people, is they are not changing anything by doing this, except to remove an object which could have been used to teach the next generation of what “not” to do. When you pull down a statue to a man because he owned a slave, you may end up feeling better about yourself, but wouldn’t it be better to leave it and use it to teach your children about a time in our history which was not really a good time?

Slavery is and was wrong. It has never been anything we as a people should have done or in many parts of the world still do. Getting rid of images which remind people of the past doesn’t change the past or even help the next generation learn about it. As the old saying goes, “Those who don’t learn from their past, are destined to repeat it.” The problem I have with removing historical things (besides the fact it seems like those doing it are children throwing a temper tantrum) is we are removing things now in America like despots in the past have done. And if you watch the reasons behind them, it becomes apparent it is a re-writing of history so they can move in and take over.

General Robert E. Lee did not affect me personally. I’m not kin to him, and I don’t know anyone who is. I don’t like the fact this military tactician chose the wrong side and fought against the union to continue the south’s ability to own slaves. But I can see a statue of him and understand what he stood for and teach my children and grandchildren what he stood for was wrong. If I never see a statue, would I do even do that?

What happens if during this time of visiting with family and friends and hearing stories about my dad, I hear something about him which is something I don’t want to know, or disappoints me about him? Does it mean I should go through the house and get rid of all his pictures and stuff and try to forget the person he was to me? It’s really the same thing as getting rid of our history.

What I think we need to do is make these places of history places of learning about the past; both good and bad. Because you know, even if one of these historical figures who is remembered in a bronze statue was a slave owner, I’m sure they actually did do some things good; they may have been good fathers or mothers, brothers or sisters, civic leaders who just happened to own slaves. I’m not condoning them, just thinking about how many things I feel I do right, but someone else may not think is right. It’s not really about right or wrong at this point, it’s about learning from our past so we do not repeat it ever again.

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!

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!

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!

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!