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!


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!