I Should’ve Worn My Steel Toe Boots Today

One of the things I love about God’s Word, is how it will let you know when you’ve missed the mark. As I sat listening to my Pastor teaching about the many fruits of the Holy Spirit, it occurred to me how much I was not walking in them. Ouch! God spent most of the morning stepping all over my toes; reminding me of all the times I had missed it with my boss last week.

Now one of the really cool things about God is even when He’s showing you where you’ve missed it, He does so in a way that reveals His desire for you to reach your full potential. He doesn’t do it in a way which makes you feel bad about yourself, but challenges you to do better.

As my pastor listed the nine fruits of the Spirit, it dawned on me I had missed using the first one…badly. Love is the first fruit and honestly if you get this one right, the other eight pretty much fall into place.

What does it actually mean to love however? I know a lot of people think of the mushy, hearts and roses, I love you stuff we are inundated with at Valentine’s Day when this word is used, but really this is more of a by product of love, and not actually love itself.

Scripture gives us the answer in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It says;

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love never fails.”

First off, in order to be sure I am walking in love, I have to ask myself a few questions; am I being patient and kind? Do I get jealous? Am I boastful, proud or rude? Do I demand my own way, am I irritable? Do I keep a list of who’s done me wrong and go over it again and again? Do I rejoice at injustice, or when truth wins out? Do I give up and lose faith? Am I always hopeful, and endure (without complaining) through every circumstance? Do I fail?

Honestly, I cannot answer these questions in a positive way right now, therefore it is evident I have not been walking in love. It’s a sad reality to face, especially at 53; you’d think I’d have this one figured out by now. The good news is though, I can make changes today and begin learning how to walk in love, changing the trajectory my life has been on. It won’t be too long until I won’t need my steel toe boots in church any more…

Living for Jesus and taking Him at His Word daily…

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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!

Who Changes Your Mind?

“I should’ve done more!”  “I could’ve done more!” “What could I have done to make them change?”  “I should’ve said more!”  “I should’ve loved more!”  

These are all thoughts which have run through my mind at one time or another when it came to situations I’ve had in my relationships with people. These thoughts usually come during a time where things aren’t going the way I think they should, or had hoped they would. For many years I tried, (unsuccessfully I might add) to get people around me to see the error of their ways by trying to get them to live by my convictions. It took several years, and many arguments for me to realize the impossibility of this.

I really came to understand this when people would try to get me to make changes in my own life by telling me what I needed to do. I found it very aggravating when they didn’t agree with things I felt were okay in my life, and would try to force me to change. They were never able to get me to see their convictions as my own, and consequently I came to the realization I couldn’t change anyone else’s convictions either. This was one of the most freeing in days of my life too. It meant I no longer had to try and police the lives of those around me, and was finally able to focus on my life and what I was doing.

In James 4:17 it says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” Look closer at what it says here, it is sin to know what YOU ought to do and then not do it. James is not telling us to pay attention to what others are doing, he is telling us to focus on what we ought to be doing. This is where I was missing it, and where so many other people miss it too. God never called anyone to point out the mistakes or missteps of others. He called us to follow Him and to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) In plain english this means God wants you to focus on your own walk with Him and not so much the walk of others.

I don’t mean God wants you to ignore the lives of the people around you. He wants you to be a positive influence on everyone you meet, He just doesn’t need you pointing out everything they do wrong. One of the things I’ve learned in 53 years is I already know when I’m doing something wrong and really don’t need it pointed out. Most of the time, I’m already beating myself up about it anyway. The thing which helps me the most, is seeing someone live out what I’m struggling with in a positive way. When I see someone else overcoming whatever thing I’m struggling with, then I know there is hope for me as well.

Truthfully when someone points out what I’m doing wrong and tells me about it, I just want to scream, “Don’t tell me!” like Arthur Spooner from the sitcom King of Queens. I’m sure it’s the same with you too, none of us like to be told what to do. I’ve found out if I’ll spend more time on what I’m supposed to be doing in my life and stop telling others what to do with theirs, things become much simpler. And as the old acronym K.I.S.S. says; “Keep It Simple Stupid”.

Let’s stop pointing out the things other people can do to change their lives, and work on our own. Because I believe when we get our house in order and follow the Lord the way He wants us to, it will cause those around us to do what it is says in 1 Peter 3:15;

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Living for Jesus with an honest and transparent life…

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.”

 

 

 

 

How Highway Driving Changed My Life

I wrote this a few years ago, thought I’d share it this morning.

Driving my bride and daughter to school this morning, I was struck with an interesting thought, at least interesting to me. As I merged our Dodge Caravan onto Interstate 44, the early morning commuter traffic seemed heavier than normal.

Accelerating my little four cylinder school bus towards the 75 mph speed limit as quickly as possible, I realized that I had become a part of a pack of vehicles in the passing lane trying to pass several semi trailers.

Wolves usually run in packs; they do so because there is safety in numbers. It is unusual to find a wolf running alone, or “lone wolf” as it is called. Also, normally being described as a lone wolf is more of a derogatory term, rather than a good one.

However driving down the busy thoroughfare with semis on my right and six cars in front of me and three more behind. It was at this time I decided while driving on a busy highway, I would prefer to be alone without anyone around me. This also revealed something in my heart; I have this tendency to want to be on my own, rather than running in a group.

Even though I can easily justify my desire on the highway; seeing the safety factor of not being dependent on the abilities of those around me and the possibilities of them making a mistake which could cause harm to my family not to mention damage to my property. In view of my own personal life however, this lone wolf attitude is not something good for me. When trying to apply the same reasoning to my personal life, it comes across as selfish and short sighted.

What this surfaces in my heart is the need to delegate more; to try not to do everything, but allow those who are running with me the opportunity to use their gifts and talents. Thank You Jesus for revealing things in my heart to help me to grow, and to help those around me have the opportunity to grow as well. Who could have known that me driving my van on a crowded highway could have brought change to my life? It’s the little things in life isn’t it?

Be Polite Jerk!

“Good morning Terry.” I said passing a co-worker one morning. “Yeah.” was his reply.  Seriously? I  wasn’t looking for a deep conversation, and his response to me I felt was just a little rude.  It made me stop and think about my own reactions when greeted by people.  Am I fully present in the moment, or am I just in a hurry to get on with what I was doing at the time, disregarding the heart of the person?

Basic pleasantries and good manners seem to be a thing of the past.  And while I try not to live in the past; the things I learned there should be carried forward into the future.  I remember once walking past a teenage boy at my church, greeting him cordially and sticking out my hand to shake his.  He ignored me, and walked right past me as if I weren’t even there.

I turned around, said his name and called him out about his behavior.  As you can imagine from reading my posts, I can be loud and boisterous at times when I need to be; this was one of those times.  He stopped and as I walked towards him, you could see the fear in his eyes.  I said, “Johan (named changed to protect the innocent) when a man says hello to you and sticks out his hand in greeting, a man should return it and speak back, looking him in the eye.  He nodded meekly, shook my hand and went his way.

It burns my biscuits when people refuse to use the most basic common courtesy.  A simple, “I’m fine, thanks for asking.” would suffice.  Our world would be a better place if everyone would just use a little kindness when addressing others.  I myself have not always been the best at this, but it’s not rocket science and I’m working on it.

What I think it really boils down to is people are self-absorbed.  When they care about themselves more than others, they’re less likely to be polite and nice to people.  I don’t think everyone has to be a “people person”, but everyone can learn the basics so they aren’t social misfits.  Really, how hard is it to say something nice to people?

Years ago I worked in a little shoe store.  There was a beauty shop close by where this sweet little lady worked.  Each day she would walk past my store to get a soda from a vending machine and then stop in and check out the shoes.

One day I had decided I would find something nice to say about everyone I met.  When she stopped in to visit, I complimented her on how nice her hair always looked.  You would have thought I’d given her a million dollars.  She asked, “Do you really think so?” And I replied, “Absolutely.  It’s always so eye catching.”  And it really was; she had really nice hair.  This one little kindness made her day.

Let’s make people’s day – be polite, and say something nice today. Now you know what I think, what do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering Alone

The ground is moist and has started seeping into my boots as I make my way through the dense under brush looking for some semblance of a path.  I’m hot and sweating profusely as I duck under another low hanging oak tree branch which has probably been here since long before my great-grandfather was born.

There is an eerie stillness in the air, and my thoughts turn to a favorite book of mine, “The Hobbit”, specifically the part where Bilbo Baggins and thirteen dwarves are trapped in Mirkwood Forest.  “I hope I don’t run into any giant spiders,” I think to myself, pushing aside yet another branch hindering my progress.

I’m not sure what possessed me to go into the woods around my home and take this day hike, but now I’m beginning to regret my decision.  The hours pass by and I become painfully aware of my lack of provisions.  A penknife, small bottle of water in my back pocket and a cell phone getting no signal is all I carry with me.  I realize if I don’t find my way soon, I’ll end up like the guys on those survivor television shows, the only difference being they’re equipped with the skills needed to survive in the wild, and I’m not.

Since I was in my teens, I’ve often wondered if I have what it takes to be a “real” man.  I’m fifty-two now and the crazy thing is this thought still hounds me like a jackal chasing its prey.  Put me in a social setting where I’m expected to have conversations with other men, and I feel as lost as I do now in these woods.

Why do I have this feeling of inadequacy in the presence of other men?  Why is it I feel I don’t have what it takes to be a real man?  Where does this come from?  The answer is simple enough; I was never invited or initiated into manhood as a boy.

I read an interesting article a few years ago about a tribe in Africa.  At around the age of twelve, the men of the village come to the boy’s home and in an elaborate ceremony, literally pul him from the arms of his mother; taking him out into the wild.  There they instruct the boy about what it means to be a man and leave him to prove himself.  The boy must build a house, plant a garden and become a productive member of the tribe before he can ever return home to visit his mother.

This was not my experience.  I was pretty much left to myself to figure out what it meant to be a man.  And since most of my instruction came from the world of movies and television, the knowledge I gained is, shall we say in short supply.  It wasn’t until I realized I was going to have to teach my own boys what it meant to be men and show my daughter how her future husband should act that I really began to search for answers.

I found them in another one of my favorite books, “Wild at Heart” written by John Eldredge.  In it I found the knowledge I needed and like a compass it put me on the correct heading, bringing me to a point in my life where I could actually believe I do have what it takes to be a real and authentic man.

As dusk gathered around me, I pushed aside the last limb and stepped out of the woods.  There in the distance I could see my truck.  Relieved, I promised myself I would never again wander in the woods without a little more preparation.  Yet in my heart something stirred; it was faint, almost non-existent, but I knew it for what it was, the knowledge I do have what it takes and I am a man after all.

Now you know what I think, what do you think?