Saturday, March 29, 2014

Life ain't always beautiful

  Isaiah 40:31
"But those that trust in the Lord shall renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary, they will walk an not grow weak"

The world will spend nearly 30 billion dollars this year alone on one single product. That's enough money to buy around 24 private islands, with accommodations. If you are reading this, you have either been subjected to, or have used this product, not because you want to - because you have to.  In public, it's basically law, or at least a dire necessity.  The average family will spend around $2,000 dollars a year, per baby - on diapers. What these do is by far the worlds dirtiest job. What you have to do to remove and reinstall them comes in a close second.  I changed diapers to the point where it became easy.  If there was a contest with men changing diapers against the clock, my world record time would have been epic to witness.   If diapers and dirt are a major concern for you, and you do not yet have kids - please reconsider prayerfully this decision. It will require help from above.  Kids leak everywhere and everything. They drag stuff in the house, and will pick things up put and put them into their mouths that we honestly do not even want to know about.  The cost of the necessary items that one must have to keep a house appearing  holy, livable and sanitized, with kids running around, is staggering.  Seriously it is way over the top.  But in all that chaos and crap - the most amazing thing comes into fruition - a child, a life of our own and their own.  Life is not always beautiful, and with kids, we find it so easy to overlook what it takes to raise them.  Even after the runny noses and the runny diapers - the sleepless nights and the silly fights - many of us do it, and would do it, all over again. That love within us, is the love within our Lord and Creator for his own children as well.  Dwelling upon that kind of love can carry us through the times in our lives that are much more demanding and difficult than diapers...

   ...This week was a rough one from the surface. My favorite uncle was diagnosed with cancer, and to be honest, that broke me down quite a bit.  I also found out my friend in Colorado passed away from cancer (he was only 34) and I have another family member that is about to undergo a double mastectomy in a few days. I bring this up because this message is about finding ways to overlook the struggles that we face,  positively.  As a Christian, it is all about trust, a trust built upon faith,  and that goes well against our sinful nature - placing our absolute trust in something we cannot see, and something that many people do not even agree that exists - sounds a little crazy. But the difference lies in having faith.  Without faith, we just have hope - with faith, we have trust.  Can you imagine getting ready to rappel down a mountain wall, and as you are going over, your friend telling you  "Man, I hope that rope is a good one..."?  Would you trust that rope? Now imagine the same scenario and being told that you could trust the rope, not just hope on it.  The difference is huge because of our perception.  Our walk with God in this life is no different. Proverbs 30:5 puts this in perspective for us:  "Every word of God has proven to be true, he is a shield to those that put their trust in him."  Now think of what Ephesians 6:16 says "...above all, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the arrows of the evil one." My point in referencing these two scriptures together is this:  Faith is trusting, not hoping. That makes all the difference for a Christian - yesterday, today and tomorrow.

   We have to take the good with the bad - that is life regardless of your belief system.  But I can unequivocally  say that Christians have a definite edge in this life, and it is not just about our religion.  Whether it is raising children or facing a poor diagnosis, It is how our faith and trust is manifested in our daily walk that makes our attitude positive and our way safe.  It is a shield.  It is a protection for us when this life not so beautiful. It gives us an internal purpose for an eternal life that we know to be true. We have the promise and reassurance that even when life is hard and tragic an unexpected and painful - we know that still, we can do this because of our faith, not because of our own strength. I love the way God reassured his chosen ones many years ago in Genesis 28:15: "I am with you and I will watch over you wherever you will go...I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you"  If God cannot lie, and his word is true,  ask yourself kindly, without any regard for what this world may throw at you, what do we really have to worry about, besides not having faith and trust in God?  Truth is,  A life in faith is the answer to our troubles. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 is on my top 5 favorite scriptures list.  It states; "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us and eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal"  God is simply amazing in his love.

  So, the kids are out of the diaper stage. Thank you Lord!  That is when the real beauty of life starts. The average cost of raising a child in 2013 for a middle income family is only $241,080.  This figure does not include college tuition, or the tears you will spill on those days when you pray to not lose your ever loving mind.  There will be yelling and screaming,  a broken this and that that cannot be replaced.  There will be sickness and illness and sometimes disease.  There will be days that you may curse Crayola.  There will be nights where you cannot sleep, because they cannot sleep, and I am not sure when this happens, but an age where you become actually afraid to wake them up even though it is 11:00 in the morning.  Life is crazy like that. But is it not beautiful?  Is this not the most amazing thing ever?  Can you imagine trying to describe to a friend over the phone what it is like to be a parent and the joy that is guiding and raising and loving something of your own?  We would tell them about the laughter and joy now in our life- the cute little things that they make us with the very crayons we curse. We would speak of plans and dreams and the times we treasure with our children. It would take us years to tell our friends all of the moments we can remember with them, and because of them. Overall, what we want to see and tell others about children are the good things. Parents are so proud of their kids when everyone else is not. We see the big picture.  We live the big picture.  Made in the image of our Creator - that is how he feels about his own, and I pray we can all take comfort in that kind of love, when life is not, so beautiful.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Todays Headlines and the battle for your Soul.

" which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience."  -Ephesians 2:2

   I have been sick the last few days. This is my first seasonal change into Spring from the West to the Midwest, and the results of breathing and living in this wonderful air that is Southern Ohio has been less of a pleasant surprise, and more of an unwelcome guest. Breathing in what I cannot see makes avoiding the war going on in my sinuses a real battle. Nobody wins besides the medicine man, and in this case, whoever makes Vick's.  This downtime has allowed me to take a minute or two and just look at this world through the eyes of television and the internet - unfiltered. Yesterday, I had the remote in my hand and performed a little study of sorts: every time something immoral came on, I would change the channel. The results were very telling.  There were times I spent less than a second or two before going to the next channel. The winner of the study? Channel 16, Public Television - "Antiques Roadshow".  I was able to watch the whole program.  How very fitting for the message today.

  50 years ago was a world apart from the one we live in. The Andy Griffith Show was an American Institution, The Beatles invaded our radios, and Mary Poppins was Queen of the box office.  Fast forward to now. Let's just take a snapshot of what I found on the front pages online of Yahoo, Fox News and CNN just this morning. I want to make this point moving forward:  In connection with the scripture quoted above in Ephesians, this is the air that we are breathing today, it is effecting our youth, and it is clear who is the ruler of this air when we look at what is permeating our minds through the eyes of our media:

    "Miley Cyrus goes onstage with nothing but her underwear"  Yahoo

    "Musicians who make the most"  CNN
    "Kate Upton topless pic? Not so fast..." FOX News 
    "Duke Student - Porn career is very freeing"   CNN
    "Sponges likely paved the way for all life on Earth"  FOX News

   First of all, I personally do not find any of these headlines to be news - and lets keep it real, I did source the ones relevant to the point I am trying to make. But let us keep in mind these were all front page items on major media outlets. Lets dig a little deeper into the numbers and see how the "prince of the power of the air" operates into gradually demoralizing our minds with these less than newsworthy items. 

   Thus far, there have been 46,400 separate articles written about the Duke student turned porn star. Why is this even on the news?  I mean really, take a minute to soak in what the image and story does to your mind. I know what it does to mine, and it is not Godly - these are the very things I try so hard to avoid. I am simply being honest here friends.  If this was a story of a porn star turned Christian, imagine the deafening silence one would hear from the same sources.  Now to Miley Cyrus. The photograph of her stellar performance at the VMA's was the second most Googled image search in 2013. When did filthy make one famous? And rich?  To go along with her foam finger spectacle, she also enjoyed having the number 2 and 3 most watched music  videos on YouTube - clothing optional. Her segue from Hanna Montana into the person we see today makes me sad to know that this is the new definition of success in entertainment, and do not think that this goes unnoticed by the very children that grew up with her as a role model. Her popularity is driven by demand. If you find it difficult to believe that Satan could be behind what is considered media that matters, and how our minds process and respond to all of this, and its impact on our kids - lets look at what the left hand is doing.

  Note the out of place headline above "Sponges likely paved the way for all life on Earth"  from FOX News. Did you know that this week TV History was made? This quote was taken from an article featured this week on -  "Fox and National Geographic are hoping for a big bang with their new science series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which launched on Sunday to more than half a billion homes in the biggest ever global launch of a television series. The reviews of this program are pouring in, and your religion and faith are the clear losers in this fight. What Ian O'niell of says in one sentence well states the agenda that is Cosmos:  "Overall, “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” is a must-see for everyone. I think this is exactly the mainstream space science show that television has been waiting for since the original Cosmos aired over three decades ago. It links the humanity behind our urge to explore. It separates myth and religion from the scientific method, defining what the cosmos means to us and how bright a future of discovery can be.  Note this please - Myth and Religion are parallel in this context. Do you believe that it is possible that there is a war going on for the minds and hearts of our citizens?  (2 Corinthians 4:4)  From comes something I find just as disturbing - "Evolution is Coming to a storybook near you".  Still believe this is not a war of minds?  The article continues " But in delaying evolution instruction, we may miss an opportunity to leverage children's natural curiosity about the biological world, and to establish the foundations for a more accurate scientific understanding before misconceptions become deeply entrenched..." What "misconceptions" do you think they could be pointing to? This is a headline from Forbes Magazine last month " Creationism has no place in a science class".  And lastly, from's review of HBO's new Documentary entitled "Questioning Darwin", we see just how personal and acute the debate over our origins is becoming "...the real danger is that Creationists have no sense of reason or rationality, and they are poisoning their children so that they have lost the ability to reason..." 

    All I can say to that is wow. We live in a world where the theory of evolution is now the anecdote to the myth, the misconception, and the poison that they believe embodies the religious among us. Couple this trend with the moral decay that is thrust into the spotlight as newsworthy events, and we can see a stage being set for constant and increasing media bias for those who have the fortitude to be faithful today. We are being indoctrinated. We are being manipulated in a gradual manner to accept no God, no religion, and no moral compass as the new normal. There is a war going on that we need to start talking about. It is the battle for your souls, and that starts with our children. The ruler of this air is after our most precious of commodities - our entire living and breathing future. The future of our faith is being waged in a war that is spread visibly across this Nations headlines on a daily basis. If you are a firm believer in the words of the Bible, this will not get better. The way this all ends is when Christ returns. I wonder now, how the media will cover that...


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Becoming a child again

  Years ago, I had the pleasure of helping raise three little girls. There were mornings where I believed waking up that much crazy at one time was as risky as stirring a hornets nest with a short stick...on crutches. You really never know what mood you were going to arouse as they arose. But as they got past being sleepy-heads and began the day, the wonder found in their innocence and perspective remains within me - I was once like that.  Looking back, it is the wide open eyes of those beautiful little girls that I reflect upon today. The way they saw and soaked in the world without prejudice or restraint - these kids would believe pretty much anything I told them, which brings me to my story.

   I had just bought an almost new car, and it had every option one could imagine. Now on the steering wheel, there were controls for the radio - volume, changing the stations and so on. The kids did not know this. They were just happy I played their favorite  songs and tried to sing along with them wherever we went. So I devised a plan to trick them - I would be the only step-dad alive who had complete mind control over the radio. The first time I told them I could turn the radio off with my powers (and by powers, I mean using my thumb and turning the radio off manually whilst making a face that looked of epic concentration) the reaction was absolute shock, excitement and in some regards, terror.  The next week or so, wherever we went, my powers increased.  I was able to change the station, turn the volume up and down at will, I was a mad man now. They were convinced that this phenomena was real, and that I could do anything with my radio controlling mind.  The fun that was being a super hero came to an absolute screeching halt the day we got a call from the school. Apparently, one of the girls was trying to convince the class, including the teacher, that her step dad had powers, and she was crying and well beyond upset that they did not believe her. I can't remember which was tougher; convincing the teacher I was a real innovator, or telling the girls I was a liar. Regardless, I never took advantage of that innocence again.

  I ran across Matthew 18:2 this morning:  "And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you turn around and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.…" Cross referenced with Mark 10:15, the point that Christ was making begins to take shape: "Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."  The unwavering faith children put into the words spoken from the ones that they trust - this is the kind of faith and trust that Our Lord wants from us. I ask myself today, am I putting my absolute faith and reliance in the words of my Lord? Am I receiving his admonition as a child, without question? Children here are the perfect example of what qualities Christ was trying to find in his followers: teachable, simple, humble and malleable. It is the ones who can lower themselves as though they do not know anything who are positioned to receive the truth about Christ and his Kingdom. It goes against our better judgement to not test and try what we see and hear as adults against what we have come to believe as truth. However, the seasons of refreshing that he wants for us in our lives today requires that we lower our otherwise worldly thinking when it comes to his word, and receive his kindly yoke without restraint. I love the simplicity of this truth found at Jeremiah 17:7  "But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.How can we be blessed by this kind of faith? It is this simple..."This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (1 John 5:14). He hears us because we listen to him. That is not too complicated.

  Walking in the ways of our Lord requires that we receive him completely. It is the only yoke that we can assume that lightens our way, instead of adding to our burdens. We take upon ourselves the honor of what it means to be in His love and of His Kingdom by listening to his voice, and we are in turn blessed in that he listens to us in our needs. This is the definition of a perfect relationship, and that is what he wants with his children.




Friday, March 7, 2014

The basis for belief

  No Bible. No Quran. No Bhagavad Gita or Kojiki to read. No holy or sacred books are before you at all - All you have is this to found your argument for God:  The past and the present; the ebb and flow of human history and the creation around you. What is the basis for belief?

  Lets go back in time - way back in time to the practices and culture of men who never had a book or access to one. These folks were lucky to have anything metal, but the evidence shows, despite anything but crude tools necessary for survival, they did believe in something.

  The burial rites during the Paleolithic period are indicative of belief in something, rather than nothing. The extent to which early civilized mankind went to show reverence and ritual in the event of death, as recorded archaeologically,  would suggest a common belief that life transcended death.  Depictions of Gods and Goddesses grace the pottery and other various art forms as early as 5000 BCE. I am not saying that these Gods existed, but why would man, from the recorded get-go, feel the need to believe in something, or anything for that matter? What would compel early man towards a Diety?  During the Upper Paleolithic period of our history, evidence of grave goods and anthropomorphic images begin to appear.  Venus Figurines (that nomenclature is ours, not theirs necessarily) provide insight into how they viewed hunting, which was very ritualistic, and fertility. I would ask that you do your own research into the practices of early man to build your own consensus, as this is just a 10,000 foot view. However, you will find this common theme - civilized human culture had religion. It had belief. If it was not a vision in the sky or a sacred book of antiquity that compelled them, then what did?  Why feel the need to objectify something bigger than life, something they could not...explain? This question does bear some weight, considering they did not even have an alphabet.

   Math. Lets look at the numbers of probability with regards to evolutionary science. Math is science, and as a general rule, we can all agree on numbers. But let us give the Godless the benefit of the doubt for a minute. Assume that mutations are 50/50 - good and bad. We are giving a huge benefit of the doubt here because only 1 in 1000 mutations are beneficial in any organism. Now lets say an organism, in order to make significant advances into a different phylum or class, would require 200 successive mutations.  Elementary statistical theory shows that the probability of these being successful is (½)-200 squared.  The number, if written out, would be a one followed by sixty zeros. In other words, the chance that a 200-component molecular life form could be formed by mutation and natural selection is less than one chance out of a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion. Sound possible? If it still sounds possible that life began and evolved without a creator,  it should be noted that single celled plants and animals have not 200 components necessary for life, but millions of them. If you still have your pen and paper out, calculate one more thing to solidify my argument here: this is just for ONE Species. There are 950,000 species. Of Insects. 

  Lastly, let us look within ourselves.  Regardless of the arguments I have used above, the real answer lies within me, and I believe it lies within you as well.
Does this make you feel anything?

   Have you ever smiled and felt better just by hearing a baby laugh? Have you ever had a child? Is that unexplainable feeling just math, or is it a miracle?  Have you ever looked into the sun as it sets over a watery mirror and felt thankful for evolution? Do you hear a voice inside you that knows to be good to others? Why will we do anything to just survive? What is it that we are living for? Why has mankind historically believed in something, if there is nothing? How does this planet that we live on sustain perfectly the life that it does, each organism supplied with adequate food, covering and shelter necessary to survive and then, reproduce? And why would humankind, if we are just another animal, feel so good inside when we eat food (especially bacon), when we buy our first house, and when we are able to love our favorite blue sweater? And why the color blue? Can evolution answer these questions for you?

  I choose to walk in faith in my life.  Is it popular? Increasingly not, but it makes sense to me. Why do I choose to be a Christian when there are so many religions to choose from? For me, it answers firmly within my soul and my heart why I am here, and what purpose I have, and that our Creator loves us all and wants us all to live the best life possible. I choose to live in and with that purpose, and it makes my life beyond satisfying - it gives my life a greater meaning that I just cannot in tangible measures explain. It is my reality.  I am happy to be alive. I am happy to have life. And within me, my basis for belief is not just math. It is truly, a miracle.



Thursday, March 6, 2014

The weight, the wait, and the way.

     There is just not enough compassion to go around it seems. As a rule, the air of this world is unforgiving, blame game oriented, and people seem to be positioned to accept that things will never change for themselves soon enough.  I am a living testimony to what not forgiving yourself can do to a life.  I used to swear that the answer was somewhere swimming in the bottle - But I would only find the bottom, quicker every time.  I always wondered what the hell I was running from, and where the hell I was going - its a real living hell when I would always end up, where I had always been.  The weight of our mistakes, heavy. Long after the ones we love have forgiven us and moved on, we sometimes find ourselves being more disappointed in ourselves than anyone else ever was. The long road to redemption starts with forgiving yourself, and only then can your way begin.

   For me, I was always a bible thumper, not to be confused with a Jesus freak. Reading scripture and receiving the Word are worlds apart. I learned that knowledge does not equal salvation, and working your way to making yourself feel like you are good enough in the eyes of our Lord - go for it but I can assure you - you will be well learned in futility when it is all said and done (Eph 2:8;9) So much of the peace I wanted to feel was buried so deep within that it was invisible to my soul. I would never be able to believe in grace without...grace. I would always fixate on what I was taught: That very few people would ever be good enough or work hard enough to make it into the Kingdom of God, so my sins followed me as a constant indictment. I was convicting myself all of my life, my own judge jury and prison. Practicing sin was just a way to further convince myself that I was not worthy, nor would I ever be. The day I learned that I was wrong all of my life, all of my life changed.

  I still wonder what God saw within me to draw me to His Son and sanctify my soul with the power that can only be attributed to His Holy Spirit. Only by grace can I ever be considered worthy, otherwise - I am just another sinner sinning.  I can never be good enough. I can never do enough good. But I can now live in the space that is knowing our God is mercy, not just merciful. He is not just loving. He is love. He understands that we cannot forget our past, but we can forgive our past.  With the weight of this world off of my shoulders, my burdens cast on him, the wait is now over,  and my way in The Way can begin.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

And on the Eighth Day...Coffee

   After six long days of making, well, everything, and a solid day of well deserved rest, one could assume with humor and light-hardheartedness in mind that on day eight, the first Divine cup of coffee was poured. While there is no literal mention of this heavenly rite in the bible, it is clearly implied to the very discerning and somewhat far-reaching mind. His word speaks of the following:  "Stay Awake"  (coffee does this) "You who have drunk at the hand of the Lord...the cup of trembling... (this connection is indisputable). Psalm 119:148 - "I stay awake through the night..." (Been there, done that - with coffee) 1 Peter 5:8 says " Stay alert, watch out for your enemy the Devil..." (can coffee help resist temptation? You decide...) and finally, the most direct connection can be found in very name of the book itself - "He-brews".    I rest my case.

  Our creator does want us to feel awakened, anew and ready for our day. Our mornings prepare us for our purpose - the sanctifying of his Holy name. Imagine though, really considering how much more we can be used for His glory if we start our days with the view that we have an opportunity ahead of us, and not just an occupation. Life will always find us having plenty to do, but The Life will always find us having plenty to do in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58) The Psalmist writes in Chapter 59:16 "But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love..."  I once worked with a girl that was so full of energy in the mornings, to be quite frank, it irritated me to the core. The potent combination of coffee and Christ was a bit much at the time, especially for a man who was being driven by a 5 o'clock somewhere lifestyle. In retrospect, her happiness and energy was a reflection of her joy for life that was solidly founded in her love for our Lord, and a reflection of what God's Spirit can do for our soul. We are friends to this day. More importantly, she is now my sister.

  I believe we can impact the world friends, in total silence. (Matthew 7:16) People in our paths notice our attitude, our countenance and our ethic. Because of who we represent in our walk, we are judged by the name we carry: Christian. A positive attitude and outlook on life are intangible, but the effects can be eternal to one being drawn to God through Jesus. Our co-worker may be having a terrible day, a rotten week, and an empty life. It may be on their worst of days, that our spirit motivates them enough to approach us and ask  "What makes you so happy"?  A perfect response..." Let's go grab a coffee, I'd love to tell you all about it..."




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Religion versus Faith. Welcome to my life.

"I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God."  (Luke 12:8)

 I spoke to my mom today back in Colorado.  This was the last time I will ever be able to speak to her again.  Ever. This goes for my dad and brother and nieces and a nephew and a hundred or so friends that once considered me their own brother. Ouch. This is hard to wrap your head around considering they view themselves to be devout Christians. Now I do not smoke or drink or do any type of drugs - I am celibate and consider myself in as much as I can be honest about it, without spot from this world. Most families, when learning of the kind of course I have taken, would be proud. I myself am answering a call in which I must abandon the flesh in order to be a vessel of honor that God can use to bring others to his own, and I must reflect his glory in my every step. The price I pay for telling them I cannot be recognized any longer as a Jehovah' Witness as a matter of conscience because of my love and my faith in Christ Jesus? Absolute silence.

 Christ foretold that his own would have to make some pretty  tough decisions to follow him, including division of families. (Luke 12:52) It was never meant to be easy, but it is the best way to live.  I used to never understand what the terms "In Christ Jesus" and "Power of the Holy Spirit" ever meant.  I read them many many times, but the real depth of how life-changing and transforming God's love as reflected through His Son could be was as foreign as the love one would find outside of a Kingdom Hall being a Jehovah's Witness most of my life.  I had a choice here, and that is what I think my family and friends are most perplexed over. But in writing a formal letter stating that I wanted to be removed from the ranks officially - that is a game changer.  My title now - Apostate. The worst of the worst. In the eyes of a religion that preaches themselves to be the only vehicle God is using for salvation, I am better off not to even have been born. I have no chance of redemption, and pretty much, its lights out for my future. Good thing they don't believe in hell I guess.. At least I just get to sleep for the next billion years in their eyes.  Comforting.

  Truth is, I love my mom more than pretty much anything - I always will and I will always want to. But there is a marked power that faith in Christ Jesus has over any religion, and that is this: cold hard truth. What are my choices?  Deny the power of the Holy Spirit that has effected my life in ways I never thought possible? Live a lie so I can appease two masters? The answer for me was crystal clear the moment I knew that I was being called to use as a member of the body of Christ. Mention this to a Jehovah's Witness and get ready for a barrage of scriptures they have memorized  that will attempt to convince you that and they are the only real truth in this world. Blinded.  I was never allowed to take the bread and the wine.  I was never allowed to be baptized in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.  I was never allowed to imagine that heaven was possible for me ever. I was never allowed to feel forgiven, good enough or sanctified in the blood of the Lamb. I was never allowed to express my utter abhorrence for their malicious abuse of power and scripture. And lastly, I was never allowed to profess that as for me, Jesus Christ was my savior, and not some religion that dictated who was going where and why they were going there and worst of all, when that was all going to happen.

  My new family now - the body of Christ Jesus - His Church.  My new love now - sanctifying his Name and living with the purpose that this life is no longer mine, but his. My new hope now - that I can be used by Him through God's Holy Spirit to bring others into his fold and reflect his love in any way I can, to everyone I can. Today I take comfort in knowing that the silence I hear from the religious behind me, will be filled by the voice of his comfort within me.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Things about me that you should know

  I doubt there are many people out there who know how old I am, not that I have ever actually lied about my age, but I have been around the block for sure.  I love nature, being outdoors (I am a pretty handy landscaper - and I dabble at building stuff).  I also like to fly every now and then and travel around.  I love to fish, and not to brag cause its just not my style, but I could out fish a fleet on a good day, LOL. However, I do like to spend time indoors with my family whenever I can, and I hope nobody I love takes this too personal, but I wish they came by more often.

  I know when I was born, it changed so much for my family. People told my mom over and over again that she was having a boy - I doubt she was too surprised when I popped out though.  She was happy regardless. I grew up in a small town along the river, and looking back, I would not have changed that for the world, even if I could have. Guess it was just meant to be. Growing up, and I cannot believe I am being this personal here on this blog - I always knew I was different from other kids. When I was around 12, when everyone else was playing and having a jolly old time doing what kids do, I wanted to learn. Drove my parent crazy those days when they just did not understand why I could not be like "all the normal kids". They got over it.  I hope.  Reckon I did not turn out too bad.

  In my adulthood, I was able to land some really good close friends, and that is where things really started to change for me.  I can tell you this, with all that I have learned - If you can just find one good friend in this life, DO IT.  It makes a huge difference for them and for you. Trust me. During those times when people thought I was just plain crazy, they were there for me - well, most of the time. And for those times when they didn't  or just couldn't have my back - I found reasons to let them stick around anyway. Truth is, I really did not have too many close friends I could call my own, but the ones that I did have, I will never forget.

 Tragedy struck at 33, and looking back, it was actually the best day of my life, and yours. After a day of pain that the world can still feel, I gave my life for every friend I ever had, every friend that I knew, and every friend that knew me. I live in them now, and to be honest, I just cannot wait to see you all again. Even the ones who did not always have my back, even the ones I always considered family who stopped by ever so seldom to come to my house and visit me for a while - if you really ever believed in me, there is just no way I would not want to be with you again. And I will, I promise.  The one thing I never could do was lie - and that being said - know that I love you still.

Sincerely, and Forever Yours



Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Church that Man built.

  Before I begin, I want to make an admission.  This article is about me - it is about my own feelings and my own failures to recognize and practice the vital need for assembly in any format.  It is written as a call to action for me personally, and a reminder to any who feel the same way that we need to be with and around our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially now.

 Sometimes I watch Sunday morning sermons on TV.  That means sometimes I do not go to a Church on Sunday morning. Almost never.  Watching the word from the comfort of my couch is a pleasant way to ease into the week ahead. At the end of the day, I can rationalize in my mind with a hundred reasons that all make sense to me that it is okay to just sit back and soak in some Spirit without much effort. But there is one reason that should trump all others when this comes to mind, a Church does not need me - But I do need the Church. Please understand this however: Church is not the building. It is the assembly of the body of Christ, minus all of the legalistic and bureaucratic nonsense that has become an expected way of showing our reverence and faith. The direction of the modern church and its impact on the viewpoint of coming together as a body of Believers is a fault all its own. Attendance is down and this decline has been in process for decades. Lets just keep it real. Christ did not build a single solitary Church. He IS the Church.

  This trend of declining attendance has many variables.  "I was reading...where you state that we need to go to church", writes one frustrated Christian to his pastor. ".. Well that's where I have to differ, because it does not sit well with me when the church's concern is one's income...."  " Same old, same old..." laments R.M., who declines regular attendance. "...Opening prayer. Worship. Offertory. Announcements. Sermon. Communion. Closing Prayer. Closing songs. Go back to daily life. Next Sunday. Predictable. Nothing wrong with that per se. Just going in circles. Routine, for me, is a killer...."  "We left our home church in 2004, in search of something more biblical..." says Mike M, who is raising his family in Christ. "...I would like to get my boys to experience church life, and feel if I don’t I am causing them them to stumble,  but when I look at the church today and see what it has become, what are they missing?" Can anyone amongst us disagree with the reasons Christians may feel this way? I for my part cannot. What has the church become? Is the routine that drives some away really found anywhere in the bible? Would you go to a 2,500 seat Church if you knew going in, only 2 other people would be there?  How have 450,000 churches in the United States been built (this is more than all the convenience stores, fast food restaurants and hotels/motels combined) if it is not important to attend a single one of them? The answer is within you.

  Whether you attend a Church or not is a load that each one must carry upon himself. It is not commanded to attend a church, though that idea bodes well for some religions considering the market value of some denominations here in America.  Hebrews 10:25 says we are not to forsake "the assembling of ourselves together."  "Assembling together"  is from one Greek word. Its lexical form is episunagōgē. This word is a noun and it is found in only one other place:  "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). "Gathering together" is translated from episunagōgē. It is obvious in this passage that episunagōgē refers to our being gathered to Christ.The only words that Jesus spoke that co-relate to this specifically, and even vaguely are these: "For where two or three are assembled in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)  

  After the death of Christ - people met in homes, they gathered in public places. They ate together often and encouraged one another in his name;  in passing, on the streets - when they awoke and during the day. It was called back then "The Way".  No Building required.  It was centuries after his departure that the Body of Christ became the buildings of men.  The fast argument for those who disagree with this line of reasoning is "There are so many Christians today, we need more churches and bigger facilities."  Fair argument, and to those who enjoy this kind of format, regardless of if we disagree on this point, you are my brother or sister in His Name and I love you beyond compare. Period. However, It would do us well to reason on this: In the book of Acts, chapter 2 speaks of 3,000 hearing, believing and being baptized on the same day; in the following Chapter of Acts, another 5,000.  In addition, Peter mentions Samaritans, and those in Judea and Jerusalem (no number given) who were saved in Christ Jesus. Its not even the year 50 yet.  Fast forward the year 300 and we find the first known and verified, recorded Church ever built. It was in Dura-Europas, Syria. Here is the question to reason on: Why did it take 250 years for the early Believers in Christ Jesus to build the first church, and in the same amount of time in our Modern Era, 450,000? What was important to these Christians?

  Jesus is the Church. We are his body. Together, we are a force that can change the world. But we cannot make these changes individually nearly as effectively as we can collectively. So we gather together. We encourage each other. We take care of each other. We talk of Him amongst ourselves and we speak of him to those around us. We reflect that WE are the Church of Christ - His Body, and assemble in whatever manner the Holy Spirit guides us to do.  The growth of his Church is a testament to many things: The power of faith and prayer and truth and every word that we believe in His written word and that he saw fit that he would draw those called to his own together. But it just takes 2 or 3. Romans 12:3-5 states " For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."

  Our faith and devotion bind us. Separate, we are parts of a whole. Together we are one. We should all take a good hard look, not at where we attend, but why we attend and feel the need be together and praise his Holy Name, all the while encouraging and loving one another in Christ. We do that as a body that comes together to become His body for the Glory of God the Father. Where there are 2 or more gathered for his name and purpose is Church. It is His Church. We are the Church, not the churches.