Today Above All Days

It was while on vacation during a casual conversation over breakfast with my bride this morning I was reminded about how life changed so drastically for us eleven years ago. It’s hard to imagine eleven years have gone by since the suicide of my youngest son Noah. I won’t bore you with the details of that day again; I’ve posted something about it almost every year since his death, so no need to rehash the past. But I will say from the onset here, if you have thought about, or are contemplating your own death as you read this, please don’t do it. We need you here, even if at this moment it doesn’t feel like it.

Suicide is an insidious tool the enemy of mankind uses to thwart the things God has intended to happen on this planet. You may not realize it, but you are here on purpose, because you have a purpose (Thanks Pastor Paul). You may not know or understand your purpose, I can attest to this myself, because at fifty-seven now, I’m still working to realize my what my purpose and full potential is supposed to be.

One thing I do know about this day eleven years ago, is God knew it was coming and was prepared to walk with us through all the chaos, sadness and anger we were about to experience. Many people told me they were shocked that such a good Christian family as ours would have to walk the road we walked. I’m not saying we are perfect, no family is, but we were at the church every time the doors were open and all three of our children not only attended church, but were very active in doing the actual ministry of Jesus. Noah was the most prolific of all of us at talking to people about accepting the Lord.

The thing which saved me on that day and every day since was the Word of God; specifically John 10:10. It says, “The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy. I (Jesus) have come to bring you life and life to the full.” This is what I call a defining Scripture, because it explains what is actually going on in every situation of life. You can know where things are coming from because of it. If it brings death and destruction, it’s the devil, and if it brings life,? then Jesus. This is why I used the picture from my phone on this blog. Every time I see the time 10:10 or even just the numbers 1010, I’m reminded of this passage of Scripture. And as I stood by our trampoline a few hours after they had taken Noah’s body away, this is the passage which kept repeating in my mind. It literally helped me run to God and not from Him.

I don’t know what you may be facing, but I know this one thing; there is a battle going on around you each and every day. It’s a battle for your soul; to either help you or hinder you, and if you are unsure of who is doing what in your life, or it will bring confusion to the point where you will blame God when bad things happen, when it is obvious because of this Scripture, it is the devil (thief) who is bringing the problems.

Knowing John 10:10 didn’t bring my son back to me, but it did help me to understand what was going on and be able to navigate through the murkiness which tried to cover our family for quite a while. I don’t claim to be a Bible scholar or anything, and I’m definitely not perfect by any means, but I do know this one thing, having a working knowledge of God’s Word is what kept my family not only in church, but following and serving Jesus to this day.

It’s never too late to start reading God’s Word either, even if you don’t understand what you’re reading. I’ve always told people, I eat green beans, but I can’t tell you what they do for me nutritionally, I only know they’re good for me. It’s just like that with the Bible, even if you don’t understand what you’re reading, it is doing something for your spirit. And it has never been any easier to get access to the Bible. You can download the Bible app from Life Church at your app store, it’s a free download and has so many translations of the Bible. I prefer the New Living Translation, but there are so many you will be able to find one which speaks to you. The main thing is to just start reading it and see where God takes you.

For the Kingdom, and the King…Shalom.

Stop the Nonsense

Let me say right here at the get go, I may piss you off. Understand this though, I’m not trying to, but if what I think and write down today makes you mad, then so be it. Sometimes a fella just needs to get some things off his chest, and today feels like that kind of day for me. The world we live in now is upside down, and not in the cool way we saw in Stranger Things, no this world has no sense of itself anymore. We’ve got people actively trying to silence other people because they don’t agree with their position on a myriad of topics ranging from kid’s books to politics. This time on planet Earth has seen an increase of social awareness which is unlike any other time in the history of mankind.

Social injustice isn’t new, but it is the new thing people have jumped on. It sickens me to see anyone being singled out and treated differently for whatever reason. I understand it too, I have been singled out for my love of all things Star Wars, or enjoying the entertainment industry too much. Those who have done this to me think as a man I should be enjoying things like sports, cars and women who are not my bride. I kind of live by the attitude, if it’s important to you, then I’m happy you’ve found something which brings you joy. Just because I don’t happen to like it, doesn’t mean it is my place to make you feel inferior because you do. And herein lies the problem, this time we live in seems to be, if I disagree with you, then you’re wrong until you change and see it my way.

Take for instance this term “woke”, and don’t even get me started talking about how it is a grammatically incorrect way to use this word and makes you sound like an idiot when you use it. (I told you I might piss you off, here we go) This word “woke” isn’t new either, it started being used in the 1940’s, it’s just seen a resurgence in the past few years. Basically the term “woke” means alert to injustice in society, especially racism. And before you think I am a racist fool, let me say right here and now, I don’t have a racist bone in my body, I think and believe ALL men and women are created equal and have the same rights given to us by Almighty God. As I’ve always said, if you don’t have what you want in life, then get in God’s Word and find out what is promised to you. I’ve read through the Bible many, many times and I have never found anything about the Word of God only working for one people group.

The thing which makes me mad about all this nonsense going on in our world right now, is the double standards of it all. I mean there was a time where people were wanting to rename schools and airports, tearing down statues and dismissing anyone who didn’t agree with their ideals, all in the name of righting wrongs which happened hundreds of years ago. Now I don’t know about you, but this is silly, when right now in our society we have some of the same people screaming about the death of black men at the hands of the police producing materials which is socially offensive and just down right crude.

I hear people screaming about being offended that a bottle of syrup has a black woman’s image on it, but then Cardi B puts a song out last year titled WAP, which is an unadulterated piece of vocal pornography. There is screaming about past social injustices done to all ethnicities in the world, but when are we going to hear about the social injustices done today? It seems as if the people screaming want to change the past, but ignore what’s actually going on around them right now. I’m not saying what was done in the past was right, it wasn’t, and I cringe when I hear about the atrocities which happened, and I pray they never happen again. But as writer and philosopher George Santayana has been quoted as saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (Interestingly enough he was Spanish born too.)

Removing things which happened in the past doesn’t change the past, it just leaves a void in which we are not being reminded about things we should not repeat, ever. It seems the things people really want changed are all the bad things white people did in the past, but let’s don’t talk about the horrible things being promoted and sung about in the pop songs of today. Let’s don’t talk about the rampant drug use, sexual abuse of children, sex trafficking, broken homes, nonexistent fathers, how the most important thing women can do is twerk and be used for nothing more than men’s enjoyment. Yeah, don’t be “woke” about that, but be “woke” to the fact George Washington had slaves and tear his statues down.

To summarize here, I am not racist, I don’t believe anyone who owned slaves should have, nor do I believe women are men’s play things. I’m not a neanderthal nor from one of those skin headed whites only groups. I am a God fearing, husband, father and PopPop who just thinks things have gotten out of hand and we need to go back to some of the true values the Bible speaks about, and give all this social justice stuff a rest for a while. I mean if we did what the Bible said to do and love God and love our neighbors, there wouldn’t be any need for all the screaming, shouting and nonsense we’ve seen in the past years.

Yeah, so now you know what I think, hope it didn’t piss you off. Strength and honor for the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

It’s About People Dummy

This morning I received a phone call from a coworker telling me about how another coworker of ours had died. To say I was shocked is an understatement. Death has a way of doing this thing where it creeps up on us, rearing its ugly head when we least expect it. I’ve heard it said how we never know what a day may hold until we actually enter into it and experience things much like turning of the pages of a good book to reveal what the story holds, but today’s story wasn’t starting out too good.

Driving to my mother’s house, I had some time so I decided to pray for this young man’s family. Having lived through the death of my youngest son ten years ago, and my father just last year, I found myself in a very introspective mood as I prayed. I began to think to myself about my coworker and the interactions we had in the few years I knew him. As I was thinking along these lines, I was reminded of a scene from the movie Master & Commander in which the captain of the ship gives a eulogy for a crew member who has died.

The simple truth is, not all of us become the men we once hoped we might be. But we are all God’s creatures. If there are those among us who thought ill of Mr. Hollom, or spoke ill of him, or failed him in respect of fellowship. . . then we ask for your forgiveness, Lord. And we ask for his. God be praised.

As I mulled this scene over in my mind I couldn’t help but wonder if I had failed this man at work in the respect of fellowship. I know I didn’t think or speak ill of him, but did I do everything I could have in being a good person to him? Which then led me to question my interactions with everyone I come in contact with. As I said I was in an introspective mood, and if I was to answer honestly, I probably have not done the best with people in the respect of fellowship. Let me say here and now, if you’re reading this and I have ever treated you in any way which made you feel anything other than valued and validated by me, please forgive me.

You know it is so easy to give lip service to ideas without truly living up to them. What’s worse though is when you give lip service to something you believe in, and actually think you are living up to it. And that is where I found myself during this time of travel this morning; realizing I have been real good at talking about it, just not so good at walking it out. Man I love these times when God shows up and stirs my pot so to speak. It’s painful to come to this type of realization, but at the same time if you can push past the fact you have fallen short in an area, ask His forgiveness and make the necessary changes, life can be so much better.

At 57, I realize God is not through with me yet. (Thank You Jesus!) And while I was never intentionally mean to my coworker, I could have been a better man in regards to my fellowship with him; asking about his life, family, hopes and dreams. While it may be too late to do this with him now, it’s not too late for me to make changes with everyone else I come into contact with. And this is what I intend to do, and promised God I would start doing.

This isn’t a quick fix, and truthfully I’m not really even sure what this is going to look like; after all I’ve had 57 years to become the way I am, and I am smart enough to know it’ll take time to make changes. But I do know this, somedays I’ll do great and others I may not, but like in all the great stories, the sun always shines a little bit brighter after there is a gloomy day. So on the days where I miss it and perhaps fail in terms of offering fellowship to those around me, I’ll get up the next day, quote Lamentations 3:23 and try again.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Attitude Is King

I remember a time when I was in high school watching our basketball team playing. The majority of the team became frustrated when the team captain refused to pass the ball, instead choosing to showboat and basically play the opposing team by himself. The man had tons of ability, but no leadership skills at all, and it ended up costing us the game. Now the really funny thing was watching him cuss his teammates out afterwards, saying they didn’t know the first thing about playing as a team.

One thing I’ve realized in all my years is that your attitude about things is way more important than ability to do them. I’ve seen men with way more skills get passed over for the guy with a good attitude. Ability is great, but if you’re attitude doesn’t match up you might as well be spitting in the wind.

There’s a story in the Bible about King Saul, the first king of Israel, whose attitude got him into trouble. He was instructed by God, through the prophet Samuel to destroy the Amalekites, and leave no one and nothing alive. Look at this:

“Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭15:7-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God said to destroy everything, but look at what happened next:

“When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!” “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded. “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭15:13-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Saul did not do what God had instructed him to do, in fact he even refers to God as the Lord your God. Saul had the ability, he just didn’t have the right attitude, and it cost him.

“Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Listen to what the Lord told me last night!” “What did he tell you?” Saul asked. And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission and told you, ‘Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.’ Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?” “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭15:16-23‬ ‭NLT

The sad thing about this story is Saul had the potential to be a great king. He had the loyalty and respect of the people, but he lacked one thing, the proper attitude. And it cost him everything. He was never the same after this, even though he went on to be king for many, many years.

If we are to get ahead in life, we must change our attitude to reflect positively in every situation. This doesn’t mean you have to like every situation, it just means you have to keep a positive and upbeat attitude as you navigate through the various challenges and people you face in day to day living.

So, chin up, look for the good in everything and keep that attitude beaming forth! For the Kingdom and the King!

God Favors the Bold

A while back on a Sunday in the year 2020, (the year was posted for posterity and when read in years to come) my Pastor made the following statement, “God favors the bold!” Today in the message he brought to us, he showed a video where several ministers from around the world were quoting him and thanking our church for standing up and doing things to help people during this pandemic. And with the things we’ve seen, it is a true statement that God does indeed favor the bold.

Since the beginning of COVID-19 and the shut downs, I have been unusually quiet with my posting on social media and writing my blogs. Oh, I’ve posted a few things and written a little, but it has all been for the most part pretty tame. Honestly, this is in most part because I have not really seen what, if any changes I could make with my little presence in the cyber world. My quietness is not because of a lack of things to say though, as I have never had trouble sharing my thoughts, even though many people disagree.

As Pastor Paul spoke this morning, I began to question my reasons for staying quiet, and part of the answer if I was to tell the truth (which I always do) was out of fear of alienating people who follow me.

Pastor’s message was based out of the story in the book of Daniel chapter 3; where the three Hebrew children refused to bow down to the King’s golden idol and ended up being thrown into the fiery furnace, only not to die, but bringing great revival to the land. All this happened because they stood up for what they believed in.

Ultimately in my life for the past several months, I have been staying quiet mostly trying not to make any waves, or make anyone mad. This morning I decided to change all of that. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not going to intentionally go out of my way to make anyone mad or upset with me, but I have decided it is time for me, as a Christian man to stand up for those things I believe in.

Pastor Paul made a great comment today when he said, “Stop limiting your compassion to only those who agree with you.” I want anyone who is reading this (all the tens of you -ha!) to understand my compassion for all mankind is full, and regardless of whether or not we agree on everything I do not hate you, nor do I wish anything but goodness for you. This is another reason I have been quiet; fear of hurting someone.

Let’s just agree here and now how we can have differing views and still be civil. I know I will undoubtably upset you with something I say, but know this is not my goal. Truthfully my goal is to get conversations started, and I’m pretty sure if we agree to disagree, but stay compassionate towards one another this is a doable thing.

Here we go, come on Jesus! I am a Christian man, who believes what is written in 2nd Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Everything I write is going to be based on my belief in the Bible, this is a non-negotiable for me, but feel free to question my beliefs as I will feel free to question yours; all continuing to remain compassionate towards each other.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Problems Are Only Opportunities In Work Clothes

I had a thought this morning on the way to work, and it involved situations where I tend to get aggravated or irritated in life. What occurred to me, was in these times what really causes these flare up of my temperament is me becoming inconvenienced. It rarely is the actual situation I get upset with, but having my life altered to a reality I had not previously considered happening.

To say we humans are creatures of habit is an understatement to be sure. We like to have things the same; day in and day out. We live for the opportunities of being able to enjoy moments and have them play out the way we think they should in our heads. And anything which causes a disruption is looked upon as evil and something to be conquered rather than lived through.

Now to say at 56 I am just now beginning to understand this could be deemed embarrassing, or it could be looked upon as if the remainder of my life is about to become even better than I could ever imagine. You know if I’m going to go one way, why not go the way of positivity instead of negativity, huh?

When something disrupts my preconceived notion of what I think should be happening, what should my response be? I’ll tell you what it usually is, chaos. In any given situation in my past, my self talk might go something like this, “Well great! Now I’ve got to go and do such and so. Why is it ‘they’ can’t do this for themselves? Why am I always called upon to do these stupid tasks?” When in reality, perhaps I should look at it as, “WOW! They really trust me to get the job done.”

Being inconvenienced in life is a given. After all, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But be of good cheer, for I (Jesus) have overcome the world.” John 16:33. We are called to be problem solvers, not problem explainers.

Recently I have begun listening to a complaint once, then looking for a solution from the person bringing the complaint to me. If they’re either unable or unwilling to devise a solution, and instead continue to complain about the situation, I extricate myself from the conversation. After all, if all we ever do is bitch about problems without finding answers for them, what use are we really?

Complaining about things is easy, it’s actually the default setting in humans. Just like any piece of equipment, the default settings are there to get the system up and running, but default settings aren’t written in stone, you can customize them to whatever you need them to be. Just like I can customize my remote control for instance, I can customize my responses to those things which cause the disruptions in my life. And when I change the way I see things, and begin looking for solutions instead of just griping, then this is when my life begins to be fuller and richer, and as in work, I begin to see the benefits of being a problem solver and not just a problem griper.

Let’s get out there today and be the answer to the problems of the world. In finding solutions to other people’s problems, we actually find our lives becoming more fulfilled.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

It’s Up To You

One of the greatest misunderstandings in the Christian community I believe is learning what God says for yourself. The world we live in today has countless resources from which to choose how you hear the Word of God. Whether it’s podcasts, video series, books, blogs or even attending a weekly church service, no one can say the information is not out there.

Yet for all the information we have at the tips of our fingers, there are more people ignorant of what God has for them than I believe ever has been. Have you ever gotten one of those “forward this” things in order to get God’s blessings? Or been coerced into giving to something because of the smoothness of a speaker’s convincing words? How can you tell what’s real and what’s not?

It takes a firm understanding of what God’s Word says. But not just what it says, but knowing for yourself what God is saying through those words. In the banking world, when they teach tellers how to spot counterfeit bills, they don’t show them any counterfeit money at all. Instead, they show them real bills and what to look for. Knowing the genuine and authentic bills means you will know a fake when you see one.

It’s the same thing with God’s Word. You have to learn the real unadulterated Word of God for yourself, so that when the counterfeits show up you will recognize them.

Ultimately this falls on you and me personally. I mean if someone is teaching the Word of God incorrectly, you need to be able to determine this for yourself. The great news is, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us and He will lead, guide and direct our steps, but we have to give Him something to work with. If you aren’t reading the Bible, (looking at the real thing) what does He have to work with.

In the next series of blogs, I’m going to talk about what God’s Word says. And don’t just believe me because I say I’m right, check out what I’m saying against the Word of God and the Holy Spirit on the inside of you, and see if He won’t take your someplace you’ve never been before.

For the Kingdom and the King! Shalom!

Authenticity

I noticed on the news this morning Hillary Clinton was in a small town diner handing food and drinks to the patrons there. She of course was dressed to the nines and really looked out of place in what she was doing.

The funny thing to me is how people in power doing these types of things must think it makes them look like they’re down to earth people and authentic. But when I see it all I do is roll my eyes and think, “Oh look, another photo op for the powerful.”

In this day and age in which we live, I think one of the biggest things missing is true and honest authenticity. And it’s permeated every area of our lives too. At work the boss tells you how much you’re appreciated when there is a group of people and then doesn’t have the time to even say hello as he passes you in a hallway. At home with your family, you do just enough to get by so you can feel good about yourself as you spend more time on yourself.

And don’t forget your friends, when you focus on what they can do for you instead of how you can help them succeed in life.

I’m reminded of the movie Remember the Titans where Coach Boone has been telling Coach Yoast that he may be a mean sucker, but he’s a mean sucker to every player on the team, not just some of them. He was authentic and real with every player, not just the ones he thought could handle it or were more important to him.

This is what we need in today’s society, men and women who are not afraid to tell it like it is, do whatever it takes to get the job done without caring how it affects them. And this is the bottom line I think, lack of authenticity is at its core selfishness and an unwillingness to be true for fear it will cause you to look weak. And if I’m not mistaken, it was Jesus who said, “Whenever I’m weak then He is strong.” He perfects us through weakness and being real, honest and authentic.

Let’s get out there and be real today!

Come On Guys!

On my 30th anniversary vacation with my bride, I had the opportunity to notice something which has bothered me for many years. While riding buses to and from Disney, many men stayed seated forcing ladies to hold onto the handrails while the public transportation delivered us to our destinations.

On the worst trip home to our hotel one night, the bus was packed and I thought I heard cows mooing in the back, a lady said to her daughters who were standing next to her, “I guess there’s no gentlemen on this bus.” This got me to thinking, is chivalry dead? Are men just selfish and don’t care anymore? Or more likely, are boys no longer being taught what it means to be a man who acts like the knights of old?

One thing my dad did teach me was how to treat a lady. And it has always bothered me when I see men seated while women are standing. It’s not because they’re weaker or anything, truth be told, women are way stronger than men will ever be. You try pushing a person out of your body and then let’s talk. No, the reason to offer your seat, is it is the right thing to do.

Knights lived by a code which governed their every action. Most men today live by the code of “I’m gonna get mine and to heck with everyone else!” This is why you see these boy-men remain seated while women stand.

There’s a knightly code in the movie Dragonheart that I love, and it would be a good one for all men to aim to live by. It goes like this:

“A Knight is sworn to valour, His heart knows only virtue, His blade defends the helpless, His might upholds the weak, His word speaks only truth, His wrath undoes the wicked.”

Maybe some of these words don’t mean anything to you. Words like valour, virtue, truth, but they should. Every man should live his life with valour, virtue and truth. Without these things we are men to be most pitied. Dads, teach your sons well, lead them on the quest of becoming true, chivalrous men in this age of darkness. Do this and they will become shining beacons of hope for the next generation. There’s a great book called Raising Modern Day Knights, pick up a copy and train your sons.

And the next time you have an opportunity to offer your seat, hold open a door or do any other chivalrous act for a lady, do it and you will feel something triumphant rise up inside of you. And you will make this world just a little bit better in the process.