If I Can Do It, You Can Too!

Do you ever wonder if you actually have what it takes to (fill in the blank)? I know I do, scared-boy1and it’s happened more than I’d care to admit in my fifty-plus years. At times I feel like I’m just a scared little boy hoping his mommy or daddy will come to his rescue. Feeling this way drives me nuts, especially when I’m called upon to either; one, know what to do, or two, need to have the right words to say in any given situation. But I’ve learned whenever I’m feeling inadequate or stress is trying to eat me up, to turn to the truth of God’s Word and things always turn out for my good.

Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I didn’t say my problems magically disappear leaving me with nothing but sunshine and rainbows. No. Often I find myself in a maelstrom, my emotions swirling in numerous directions all at once. It’s in these times I remind myself of the words Jesus said in John 16:33.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

What I’ve learned is, if I stay “in Jesus”, then I too will overcome the world. Notice He didn’t promise to take the problem away, He said you would just overcome it. Sometimes we have to go through the challenges of life in order to find the victory on the other side.

At the time of this writing, I am almost fifty-four years old. And in all those years I’ve had plenty of opportunities to live out this overcoming type of life; some of the storms I’ve been in were easier to weather than others, but regardless of their intensity God has always seen me through and been faithful to His Word. I won’t say those times were comfortable, because they weren’t, but they were useful in making me the man I am today.

I can honestly say without God’s Word to guide me through this life, I wouldn’t have made it through many of the things I’ve been forced to endure. The truth is, I want to share my life and experiences with you in an effort to help you see how you can overcome in life too. God is no respecter of persons, meaning simply, He doesn’t like one person more than another, and what He has done for me, He will do for you too. But let me say it doesn’t just happen because we want it to, we have to do the work so to speak. What I mean is God’s Word works, but only for the person who is actively seeking God and being what the Bible calls a “doer of the Word”.

This life is yours, if you want it. But you have to be willing to follow what God says in His Word. And you can do it too, all you have to do is begin reading the book. And in this day and age, reading God’s Word is easier than ever. With the current technology, you can have at your fingertips (literally) more translations of the Bible than ever before. Youversion phoneDownload the YouVersion app here for your smart phone and you will be amazed at how many versions you will have access to; everything from the easy to read translation to the hardcore study bible scholars prefer. And even if you really don’t like to read, there are several translations which have audio included and they will read it to you.

The bottom line here, or the take away if you will, is if you want the life Jesus talked about in John 16:33 you are going to have to put in the time and effort to learn what His Word says. The Bible is like an instruction manual, it tells us how our lives should be lived. Sure we can figure out some of this life without the manual, but if we want to truly experience all the benefits, we will need a little more instruction. Join me in the coming weeks as we take this journey together and I share how I’ve overcome some of the biggest obstacles in my life, with the help of God and His Word. And in the process it is my hope you will find out that you can do it too!

Living in a story much larger than my own…

Is Jesus Against You Carrying a Firearm?

I was a part of a conversation yesterday about owning guns and protecting yourself in the case of a home invasion. A comment was made about how I was against guns; which is not true and I said as much. I believe in the Second Amendment of the Constitution which states:

“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

I actually said, “I believe every person has the right to own guns and should if they so desire. And if someone breaks into your home to steal from you or do you harm, you should empty the clip into them. What I don’t believe however is owning a gun, or carrying it will bring you peace.

And herein lies the biggest problem about guns; people thinking their lives will be more peaceful because they own and carry a weapon. I’m not saying you shouldn’t carry a gun, what I’m saying is you shouldn’t believe you will be more at peace because you carry a gun.

I dated a girl way back when and her family were gun enthusiast to say the least. There was a rifle by each doorway, a pistol under everyone’s pillow and in the glove box of all their cars. Not to mention two of the meanest dogs I’ve ever seen. When I arrived to pick her up; she had to take the dogs and put them in the garage because they would have tried to maul me. I actually had to stay in my car until they were put up. She was cute, but we didn’t last long and it was okay by me.

If guns (and dogs) brought peace, then this should have been the most peaceful family ever, yet they were all afraid of what might happen to them, thus the plethora of firearms in the house. One thing which made me a little afraid was there were several small children in the home and every weapon was loaded and ready to fire with a round in the chamber.

Peace, real peace comes from knowing the Savior of mankind, Jesus. He made a statement which I live by:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I  do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus promised me peace, His peace and this is good enough for me. So my peace doesn’t come from having a piece on my hip, even though I’m not opposed to anyone having one. 

Peace, the real peace which brings with it contentment and the knowledge of things going to be okay comes from being centered in the love of Christ and trusting in this knowledge daily.

So if you want to own firearms, by all means purchase and maintain as many as you want, just don’t trust in the weapon to bring you peace.

 

A Life Well Lived

Darkness. Confusion. A cloudiness in my soul. This is what I am experiencing on this Saturday morning in July. Today I read a report about a man who has been one of my mentors for the past several years; more of a sage really, a man who has shared his wisdom, wit and life with me and countless thousand others.

The report was not good. It’s a story of a valiant fight pitted against an enemy who has spent many years of relentless attacks against my friend and his family. Craig has spent this time fighting like the true warrior he is. Never giving up in the face of this battle and continuing to love his family well in the process.

While I only had one physical interaction with this man, (he literally pushed me out of the way to make his way towards the stage at an event, it was done in good humor too) in one of my darkest hours a simple two minute phone call from him changed the course of my feelings for this man irrevocably.

Ironically, I am listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack as I write this and the music playing now is the song after the death of Gandalf; which brings another level of sadness to my heart.

I won’t try to explain why this is happening to my friend and mentor, as I truthfully don’t know. I won’t cheapen his life by trying to use my finite mind to explain the why’s of this disease which has attacked him. I will say this, he has fought this thing with every fiber of his being, spiritually, mentally and physically and shared his successes and failures along the way. If nothing else, he has shown me how a true man of God fights alongside Jesus against terrible odds and wins.

You might be confused when I say he wins when he is now in the care of hospice. He wins because to quote Gandalf from the Return of the King;

Gandalf: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain curtain of this world rolls back and all turns to silver glass and then you see it.”

Pippin: “What? Gandalf? See What?”

Gandalf: “White shores and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

Pippin: “Well, that isn’t so bad.”

Gandalf: “No. No, it isn’t.”

And while I am saddened by this turn of events in my friend’s life I will not be sorry, for his journey is not ended, only his location will be changing. I will mourn his passing, though not for Craig, but because of the journey his family will soon be taking. Having walked this path myself; I know the Lord of Heaven and Earth will be right there beside them every step of the way.

Let me say this; thank you Craig McConnell for living and loving well in this life. You have inspired me more than you may ever know. I’m one of those who can honestly say I am a better man because of you. I love you brother and look forward to the day we can sit and laugh together on the other side.

Live well today men and love those around you fiercely.