Friday, December 27, 2013

Another Year...

Another year is in the books. Seems like yesterday I had just started to remember to put 2013 on the checks I was writing. Now I face another week or two of adjusting and remembering to write 2014 on checks or anything that I have to sign and/or date.

This past year has been filled with changes. As you recall we moved back from Ohio in June. In September I resigned from my job after spending much time in prayer. My job was taking up precious time with my marriage and family. Eventually my job would have consumed me. As I have mentioned before my wife and I have installed filters over time. Those filters block anything that could quite possibly hurt or threaten our family. We let the good in and keep the poison out. The filter caught my job and didn't allow it through. It is a time of lots of questions right now, but we trust God that he will provide in all ways especially giving us direction. In May I lost my step mom, one of the people that was instrumental in putting our marriage back together. Not only that, but reuniting a family that had been all but destroyed. This Christmas our entire family celebrated it together. Something that hasn't happened in nine years. We had a wonderful time and it was obvious how God has healed every one of us.

As I was getting ready this morning I was thinking about the verse that best represented the past year and the next year to come. This verse is the old faithful.

Jeremiah 29:11 -
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

If I could give last year a theme, it would be rebuilding. It was a time of rebuilding for our marriage, our family, and many friendships that we had lost touch with. I am thankful for God's grace in our lives over the past year. The many blessings that God sent our way. I am thankful for God's timing in our lives over the past year as well. Yes there were times where we were impatient, but God always came through at the right time.  

This next year we have already been making plans. I read something early today about setting goals. Goals need to be that of all shape and sizes. The key being not to have a lot of BIG goals. My wife and I have several this year. One is too carry the momentum we gained from last year into this year. Another goal is to put ourselves in a better position financially. Another goal is to be even more family oriented than we were last year. And the list goes on. But most importantly our goal of doing, saying, and being what God wants us to be is a must. We never want to stray from God and his will for our lives. I really feel like this year will be a year of spiritual renewal and God calling us into a deeper relationship with him as a family.  There are a couple of verses that I like... 

Isaiah 40:31
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. 


Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

We anxiously await to see what God reveals to us in the next year. I believe there are plans that will be far reaching beyond what we ever thought. We may not know what our words or actions might do, but we do know that as long as we are surrendered to God's will, we will experience joy and blessings of having a time of renew with God. I believe when I am writing about 2014 in a year, that I will be writing about how God blessed us, renewed us, and used us according to his riches and glory.  This song is my theme this next year.

 Blessings to you and your family this next year!!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I meant what I said....

Often in counseling when my wife and I were trying to put our marriage back together a question was asked by our counselor. "Did you hand out a consequence?" These are the thoughts that popped into my mind.. "Are you kidding me? We are adults here... can you hand a consequence to an adult?" Well the answer to that questions is yes. Consequences are not welcomed with open arms when pride is standing in the way. 

I recently made a decision to hand a consequence down to another adult. While this was met with the "are you kidding me" response, I truly meant what I said. My intentions are to hold to it. There comes a time as a father and husband, that I must build a wall of protection around myself as well as my immediate family. This situation caused me to have a very stressful week and I lost sleep over a situation that I can do nothing about. I can only leave it in God's hands and file the drama associated with it in the "no drama" filter that my wife and I have installed in our family.

We all know the phrase pride cometh before the fall. The fall for me happened in a jail cell and I came to realize how I had hurt, deceived, and alienated a lot of people around me. But I also came to realize how much God loved me and only wanted the best for me. My motivation? Anger... it doesn't matter what mask anger wears, it is always the same animal standing behind it. I often felt I was justified in my anger and any and every decision I made was motivated by it. It didn't matter who I hurt or lost in my life, just as long as my pride got fed. It was the constant feeling of having to be right and justified in my thinking that fed the pride I was feeling. The anger was destructive and it left a path of destruction every where I went. I was so blinded by pride and anger, I couldn't see what I was doing to those around me. To this day, I don't remember half of the things I did or said to hurt those around me. All I could I do after I let God have control was to ask those I had hurt to forgive me.

Listen, I am not perfect and no one is. I have found it very hard to extend grace in this situation. There are shots of hurt constantly fired my way. I have been wounded hurt and knocked down by it. My question is this... how can a person who says they love me and has always wanted the best for me, hurt me and my family like they have? Well? I have no answer only to say that anger is at the wheel of this persons life and there is nothing we can do but ask God to intervene. I simply have to realize that in my weakness and helplessness that God is at his strongest. In the mean time, I have to step away at a safe distance to make sure that I protect myself as well as the rest of my family.

So my statement to you, the person who has hurt us. We love you and maybe you can't see that right now. Take my word from a man, a father, and a husband. I am doing this because I love you. I am doing this because maybe since you can't really see us, you will see the fog of satan that is all around you. Your confusion will devour you, chew you up, and spit you back out. Pride will be a thing of the past and much like I realized, you will find for a bit that all you have left is a loving God who just wants what is best for you. You see, that is how a father loves his child. Sometimes after trying repeatedly to get your attention, your father in heaven will give you the desire of your heart. That desire is a burning passion of selfishness and pride. It will fool you into a false state of contentment, but soon that too will run out. For you see, you can't be content in any thing other than Christ. Trust me when I say that this false feeling of contentment, your pride and selfishness will all but destroy you. Until you are willing to trust in God and let him have control, the pain you feel, the emptiness you experience and swallow each day will never leave. My friend, God can make you whole again. God can take what is broken and make it brand new. Take it from a recent new creation in Christ. I have left a path for you to follow, it is well marked out and will show you each step of the way. The path was the same one that God laid out for me to follow. God took my pride and selfishness and molded me how I was meant me to be. I became his clay and he became the potter. God refined me in the fire and made me strong in him. Don't let others full you into thinking there is another way.

My friend, I leave you with this. I you man walked the earth seeking the wisest people of all the earth. His only quest was to find contentment in life. Although he knew the person that could provide him with contentment, he didn't know how to find it. Finally on the last day this person met a very wise man. This man led him out to the water. Once their he asked the question one more time. "My friend, what is it that you are looking for?" The younger man answered with a sense of frustration. "I'm looking for contentment and I hear only God can give it. I have been all over the world and not one person has been able to give me a clear answer of where God is at." At this time the old man who was wise held this young man under water. The young man fought to get back above the water to breath. But the old man held him under even longer. Finally after what seemed like a long time the old man let the young man back above the water. After catching his breath, the young man asked "why would you try to kill me like that? You almost drowned me and I couldn't breath." The old man shook his head, looked at him and said, "My son, if you would seek God and the contentment he can give, like you struggled to get back above water and breath, you will find what you are looking for."

My friend, don't drown in the sea of pride that you are in. Seek God much like the young man above fought to get a gasp of air. I promise if you diligently seek God and allow him to completely control your life as you know it, all that surrounds you will be a place of joy, peace, and contentment.

I pray that this entry finds its way to you. I have no way now to communicate how I would like all of this to you. I know in the past, this blog changed my life and changed how my life would go. I pray and hope it will do the same for you. Don't think that no one knows how you feel because Christ died for you, he suffered on the cross for you, he resisted temptation for you, he experienced every pain and loss that you could possibly feel in your life. Christ loves you and wants so desperately bad for you to have him in your life. It is up to you now, friend don't let time pass and it be too late. As long as you have breath, Christ will be waiting with open arms....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Make the best of your time...

I was my parents fourth attempt at having a second child. I don't think I would have been the last, had cancer not claimed my mothers ability to have children. Had I known that I would only get 29 years with my mom, I would have made the most of that time. My mom died when I was just 29 years old. Mom missed the first grand child that my wife and I could have given her by 37 days. There is never a day that I wake up and I don't think of her. Mom is always in my thoughts and my vision as I can't help but to see some type of resemblance to her when looking in the mirror staring back at me. In fact, I would say her memory is all around me in one way or the other. In two days mom will enjoy her tenth year in heaven, but to mom the day in heaven is just getting started.

I was raised in a simpler time where family time was more of a priority and easier to come by as compared to what seems like these days is a scheduled time in the weekly agenda. Electronics were not a priority as the average house hold in those days, had a phone, television, and if you were lucky some new newfangled game console called Atari. At the most there were maybe two TV's and that was considered some type of status back in the early 80's.

As a kid my imagination had to take hold and allow me to do things that today is possible with a trip to the store or some type of app download on our smart phones and/or tablets. Riding bikes, a pick up game of a sport, or using your imagination with you friends and playing a simple game of hide and go seek, cops and robbers, was a way to pass the time during the summer or on the weekends when school was not in session. My all time favorite was sending Hot Wheels down a long winding track against your opponent. Going to church was something you did three times a week. Twice on Sunday and once on a Wednesday night.

Holidays were spent with family with plenty of food and presents if it were Christmas or a birthday. Birthday parties then might be considered boring as compared to the parties for kids that happen these days. For me it was having the friends and family over and getting to spend time with them. Another activity that I loved with my family was camping. Our family went on trips at very least three times a year. We fished, went to the beach and bike rides were always plentiful. We always ended the night with a campfire enjoying each others company. I could go on and on, but oh how I long to have those days back. It seems as I have gotten older, those priorities are a thing of the past. I would do anything to have that time back and relive it over and over again.

At 23 I married my wife and for seven years we were two crazy kids living our lives at will. Then we started our family through the miracle of adoption and birth. All three of our kids have three great stories and you can see how God was in the mix of them all. Frequently my wife and I talk about how busy life has become and that we really don't recall life being this busy when we were kids. Time seems to fly and we are amazed at how grown our kids have become. We still hold onto those values and we do things to make sure that family time is not a "scheduled" weekly time in our house. We do our best to make sure it is daily. Granted there are busy weeks which we will refer to as seasons. But we are determined not to move from one busy season to the next one. Down time is a must to be able to focus on being a family and giving our kids the memories we had when we were growing up.

I say all of that to say this. While some families may have it right, I don't believe we all do. I encourage you to make family a priority if it is not. I miss those days. I miss the big family gatherings that my family used to have. So many other things these days have taken the attention off of family and focused it on being busy. I would do anything to relive those 29 years with my mom. But I have lots of memories of her in my heart that will live on through my family. My kids never knew her, but they know her through me. My prayer is one day that our kids will share the childhood stories with their kids and that they will take the time much like we do now, to be a family. I can proudly say that our kids ask for family time whether it is a meal around the table or doing an activity together of some sort. Time flies and I don't want it to slip away without using it wisely. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Can you hear me now?

We have all seen it, church pillars that have gone to your church for years, have their spot where they have always sat. Some might even act put out if you dare sit in their row or exact spot in that row where they sit. It is as if God can only broadcast his message of hope or inspiration to that one spot just for them. If they sit any where else, they might as well forget about it. My wife and I (see still has something to do with marriage) decided along with our new start that we would sit some where different in our church. You see our broadcast signal of the Holy Ghost was fading in our "old spot" so we decided to move so we could get better signal. Of course I am kidding and you might even sense some sarcasm in that statement. We really don't have a spot, we just like to sit on a particular side because it is different, it is where I usually exit the stage if playing in praise band or singing on worship team. This spot is quick and convenient and I won't miss the beginning of the message. Our pastor usually will start with some type of dry humor to get you immediately sucked into his message. I love our pastor and his messages are on spot every Sunday. After church I came to find out that a lady in our church questioned or made an observation to my wife that we used to sit on the other side of the church. After some questioning the lady summed it up to be interesting.

Here is my take on this, you know if the God is going to get you, he is going to get you. If God wants to use you or get your attention, it doesn't matter where you sit in church. For reference look at Paul's conversion. I question are we so comfortable or stuck in our ways to be fooled by the fact that we couldn't worship in any other spot or place? Is the church the only place where we feel comfortable enough to worship? Let me push it a bit further. We shouldn't be worshiping and praising just on Sunday. It should be every day. There is a song we sing during worhsip sometimes called Every day is a day of thanksgiving. Every day is a day of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, at least it should be. It doesn't matter where you are, it doesn't matter the place or spot you sit in. God simply doesn't care. God wants your attention at all times, he loves your praise, he loves your prayers, and loves the thanks we give for his blessings in our lives.

One of the things that my wife and I have slacked on lately was starting our day off in prayer. We end it in prayer with our kids, but have slacked a bit when starting. It seems like when our days are not protected by prayer filled with thanks, praise, and worship; things can get out of sorts. I mentioned this before, but when life starts to go south, we have to stop and look at what has changed. For us lately it has been neglecting to start our day with God. We have corrected that and will continue to work hard to make sure that it remains the start to our day that God wants us to have.

I am not sure why there are those who come to church focused on where people sit in church. Last I checked there was no seating chart. Honestly I can sit any where and hear what God has to say to me. But I my heart has to be open to what God has for me. But in all seriousness, I should be listening all through the week. If we are coming to church focused on what is happening all around us rather than what God wants right in front of us, we are in trouble. I don't understand this ladies point, I never will because we didn't let it distract us from worshiping and hearing God's message. My wife and I come to church for one reason only, that is one of the places we can worship as one and be thankful for all the God has done for us. But in all reality, we should be listening through the week as well.

We all remember the cell phone commercial where the slogan was "can you hear me now?". I believe the point was that you could take your cell phone any where and still be able to get a signal because the coverage was that great. I think sometimes in our churches and spiritual walk we get so fixated on a certain spot that we don't believe the slogan is true. How many times has God asked us that question? Rather than standing still, we move around trying to fix the problem ourselves. I am not just talking about in church, but in our lives as well. Are you too focused on the things around you rather than Christ in front of you? In other words God is saying focus on me my signal is every where!!  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What does "IT" mean?

My oldest son frequently leaves out the noun of which he is talking about in starting a conversation with me. For example, "Dad did you get a chance to look at it?" My response is usually "Son.. which "it" are you referring to?" Sometimes I really don't understand what he is referring too, but in the mind of a an almost ten year old kid, his Dad should know every thought in his head. Well I don't and can't read every thought in his head or any of our other kids for that matter.

I feel like I have written what I feel like is just about every topic on a marriage that was on the brink of ending. Yes my wife and I for the last two years have been recovering from what seem would be the end of our marriage. I believe that through this blog, I have been more than transparent with my experiences. I have admitted my wrongs, and I have testified on many occasions what God has done for me, my wife, and our marriage. I am positive that there are other couples out there who can relate and could expand on these experiences and most likely talk about different ones. In a perfect world I would love for them to share through this blog what God did for them and their marriages. I can only ask that they would, if they decide not to, that is fine as well.

When I started this blog it's main purpose was so that my wife could see where my heart was when I was not allowed near her or my kids. I prayed that she would get the address. That prayer was answered and you can read about it from the beginning. As I moved on with my wife, I wrote about my experiences during the recovering process and restoring our marriage. Entries became less frequent and since then I have tried to write an entry at least twice a month. As we distanced ourselves from the past and moved toward the future, the experiences have been less and less.

 Looking back over the last few blogs, I found myself writing about a central theme and that was what God can do with all struggles of marriage and life. So, I find myself at a crossroads as where I should move with this blog. Pardon me while I step away from this present thought for a moment... I like to go to movies. I am not the owner of very many movies and here is a reason for that. When I go see a movie, I like to remember it for what it was. I savor that in my mind as being a good movie or a bad movie. Very rarely do I find myself going out and buying/downloading that movie (yes I said downloading, we live in a new age don't we?). If I do buy a movie it is only because it has made an extra deep impression on me. The purchased movie I would have to  enjoy watching again from the comfort of my couch next to my gorgeous wife. There are also movies out there that play frequently on TV and I know that I can catch most of the movie or parts of it as well. I say all that to say this. What do I do from here? Several thoughts enter my mind. I could switch topics and write more generally on family, the spiritual walk with God creating a whole new blog address. I could just stop writing this blog and let it be that movie if you will that you may catch on TV, own, or see just once.

As I am sitting here, I think about my life, expanded family, my marriage, and being a father. Life is never the same and it offers new experiences, challenges, goods, and bads as frequently as I change my socks. Through it all, I depend on God to see me through whatever comes my way. I know that I can go to my Father in Heaven and say.. "God "it" is not happening yet" or "I need help with it". Unlike not knowing what my son is thinking, God knows exactly what IT means when I am talking to him. Not only did I mention my marriage when I said the word IT, the word IT has been used numerous times in talking to God. There have been many "it's" There will be many more to come. I could perhaps write about the past "it's". I could write about a current "it" that satan in all his glory is trying to destroy.
I love my wife more than I ever have. I continue to love her more each day. Our marriage has it's challenges. But these challenges are ones that are more normal than what they once were. We no longer stand out as the couple who had their marriage effected by outside forces, infidelity, or domestic/physical/verbal abuse. Thank you God that we now stand out as the couple who's marriage is a new creation. We stand out as a couple who stuck with it, figured it out and got it right. We stand out as the couple like any other couple who works hard at making our marriage work. We stand out like most others now, because God is the center.

In conclusion... I have loved writing this blog, I have prayed that this blog would be used to touch others. I have shared my heart, I have shared prayer request and those who read this blog have prayed with us on those request. The blog address includes "messeduphubby. This hubby is just the normal "messed up" like most other husbands because THIS HUBBY let God have control. I honestly don't think I have come to a real conclusion as to if I should stop writing all together, or just go in a different direction or continue the course. God has moved us forward towards the future. There are different struggles now outside of our marriage. It very well could be that you will see the next entry about those struggles. It very well could be that this may be the last entry for messeduphubby. I will say this, I am interested in your feed back and I covet your prayers for God's will. I am open for others to share through this blog about their own marriage experiences of how God worked. I know of other couples who have had similar things happen and how God has restored them. I even open to interview and sharing a personal story of redemption, healing, etc of a persons life. I want to be used by God and I want to use whatever means he has for me to do so. Pray with me as I consider what God has next.... Until then may God bless you and keep you!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Who has control?

Well I am into my second month of being a stay at home Dad. I would say it has not been easy. Football season just ended and so things have slowed down a bit. I have found it a challenge to multitask. I honestly don't think there is a man who really knows how to be Microsoft windows. So I give the credit where credit belongs and that is to all the mothers out there. It is tough job, and while I am learning the tricks of the trade, it hasn't been easy for me.

I find myself sometimes with a patience level of zero. Not with my kids, but waiting on the next step of what God has for me. God's will is always floating some where in my thoughts. I have learned not to read into things or over think things that I hear in church. Sometimes by doing that I may tend to get ahead of God and what he has in store. I am also awful at waiting. So while I do the day to day tasks of a stay at home parent, I am constantly waiting to hear from God and what he has for me and our family. I can say with certainty we will not be making another move in the near future. Day by day goes by and God walks with me. When I ask what he wants me to do, I hear a shhhhhh and God gently tells me to just wait. Gods timing is never our timing, but it is always perfect timing. Yeah I know seems cache, but it IS true. Going back through the last couple of years, I have learned that quite well. 

If you haven't figured it out yet, God likes to be the driver and we are to be the passenger. God is not an emergency type of God. You can't just throw him in your back pocket and keep him there as a last resort. If you think for one second that God is letting bad things happen to you, then you have it all wrong. There could be a lot of factors to those bad things. God never said following him would be easy. While God may be allowing things to happen, he is also testing  you to see just how much faith you have in him. Yes I know it is hard to let God have control, but being reconciled and consecrated to God is always the best path for us. I have heard over and over again that things in life should be character building. I can also say that change, storms, and tests are faith building as well. If you are not reconciled or if your refuse to reconcile to what God wants for your life, he may just let you have the desires of your heart to prove a point. In other words God is saying, "ok I'll let you do it your way, but I promise it won't end well" in other words "I told you so". If that happens I can all but guarantee you that you will hit bottom in every way imaginable. Been there done that my friends. I won't ever do it again.

I say all of that to say this. God gives us all kinds of examples in his word of those who tried at first to go their own way. Ultimately these followers of Christ who ignored at first, got it right by reconciling themselves to God. God promises us that if we trust him with everything, we will experience contentment. That is where I always want to be. I don't want to do it my own way. I want to always do it Gods way. These days TOO many people are getting destroyed and devoured by their own desires. God's desires to live in our hearts. God desires us to live in his will. God promises ever lasting life for being totally reconciled and consecrated to him. I want the best for my life and the best for my life is God leading me along.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Around the corner

Been a while since my last post and maybe a few of you have wondered what has been happening. Well in the last month a lot has changed in this house hold. So here are the updates.

On September 6th, I resigned from my job due to the increasing commuting cost, babysitting cost and the time demanded and required to work vs time spent with my family. I simply was not willing to sacrifice time with my family or marriage to complete work for this company. This is a mistake that I made at the last job and determined not to make again. So holding true to the promise I made to my wife, kids, and myself I resigned in the best interest of my promise. This was something that my wife and I had been praying due to the increasing time demands of the job, and while it took patience, God answered prayer and made his will known. So now I am unemployed keeping my eyes on Jesus and walking on the water much like Peter did when he stepped out of the boat.

Matthew 14:22-33
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I am determined not to take my eyes off of Jesus when the wind stirs up things such as a half the income coming in and the future very unclear right now.  I will continue to trust God and his will for my life. 

But wait, that's not all!! Last night I played a little joke on my youngest son and scared him as he was coming around the corner. I haven't been able to escape this in my head. Men we never know what is around the corner waiting to devour us. Keep your eyes on Jesus as men, as husbands, and fathers. When the wind stirs around you, you will not sink. Let Peter be our example of keeping your eyes on Jesus and worship him when he protects us from those things that are waiting around the corner to scare and devour. Praise him because he rescued us when were sinking and our faith was weak. Give thanks for our families, our kids and our wives that God has blessed us with. 

I praise the Lord because he has lead me where I am at right now. I know not what the future holds, but I know the plans that God has for me are meant to prosper me and to give me hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Life on the cardboard

The church that I attend has a cardboard ministry. They usually do this once a year and this year it was on Easter. It was one of the best services that I have ever been too. People testified how God had broke them free of the chains that had held them down. If you are not familiar with this ministry, I will explain it. A person will walk up in front of the church with a piece of cardboard. On the front of it is a brief summary of sorts of their life struggle. On the back, there is a summary of how God changed what was written on the front. So keeping with this spirit, I decided to post mine here.


2 Corinthians 3:1-3

3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
The above scripture was my scripture last week from one of my devotions. I think this is a great example of cardboard ministry back in the days when Paul was writing letters to the church keeping them encouraged and scolding when needed. I can only imagine the letter I might have gotten from Paul a couple of years ago when I was living in sin. I had been taught how to live, how to pray, and how to let God be the God of my life. As the cardboard reads above, I gave up, figured God didn't care and used it as an excuse to live the life I wanted too. I brought my selfish desires up to the front and fulfilled most of if not all of them. It was all about me. I had no faith in God and his ability to take situations in my life releasing me from the chains that caused me to struggle. Before Paul was an apostle, he was Saul. Paul's life can be described as a miraculous change of heart because he found Christ as his Savior. God had called Paul to ministry. Not only was Paul physically blinded for three days, but while he persecuted Christians he was blind spiritually as well. Paul's transformation is amazing. In Paul's life he spent time in jail for completely different reasons than I did. However, it was a night in jail that changed my life. All I had was God and this is what happened. I was now able to see, the blinders of sin had been lifted, and forgiveness was given. Christ had redeemed me. Here is the other side of my cardboard...
 My transformation.... It is my "letter from Christ...written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." You know it is amazing how life changes when God has control. It doesn't get perfect nor will it ever be. But I am redeemed by the blood of Jesus. My faults and my failures don't matter to Christ because he took care of it on the cross. All God asks of me is to give him control. If God can change my life, if he can change Paul's life, he can change yours. I love the song "Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave. It is my life almost perfectly described. I leave you with this song...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back to the basics....

2 Timothy 3:14-17

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 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. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Ever wonder why we sometimes find ourselves in a mess? While talking to a friend who walked a similar journey with his wife, he said to me… “When things are getting messed up in my life or things are not going so well, I step back to see what I am not doing.” This person is like big brother to me and a person who talked me through some stuff at the time I didn’t understand about this journey I was on. It happens to all of us. A Christ centered life is not a spiritual high. It is one of the best, curviest, loopiest, exciting, and emotion filled rides that anyone could ever ride on and it requires us to fully trust the Lord.

In the athletic world when a team is on a losing streak, you will often hear the coach say “We need to get back to the basics”. If you are not doing all the little things right, the big things are going to fail in an awful way. I love the scripture above. We have to remain faithful to our time with God during the day. My devotions feed me, my prayer time feeds me. When I have done both of these, I can go on with my day knowing that I have left everything in God’s hands.

How often in our relationships are we forgetting the basics? When I met my wife I knew she was the one for me. I told my friend that I was going to marry her. I saw her sitting on the bleachers during a church league softball game. I had known of her my whole life. I had seen her here and there. Something nudged me to talk to her. So I did. It was bold move for me, as I am often very reserved with people I don’t know all that well. But when I looked into her eyes, my heart started to beat faster, my stomach flipped and I knew she was my future wife. It was a long chase as she wasn’t giving in easily to my insisting that she go out on ONE date with me. Well she agreed and the rest is history. It really is a story in itself. We are still in the early years of our marriage. We lost site of the basics of what we saw in each other and why God had brought us together. Our marriage was out of sync and messed up for a while. Honestly, neither one of us had a clear site of God nor was he the center of our marriage.  Long story short my wife I got back to the basics, discovered why we fell in love with each other in the first place. We allowed God to be our marriage leader. To this day, we pray about decisions, we don’t make a move without praying through it first. We have gotten to the basics of trusting Christ with our lives, our marriage, our family, and everything that he wants for us.

This weekend I will be singing a song at church. I sang this song two years ago and I wasn’t where I should have been spiritually. In fact, I wasn’t even close.  I had completely lost sight of God. Quite honestly, I had no business singing at all. It was purely performance. It was purely pride. I am lead to believe that God didn’t use me that day I sang it. This past couple of weeks when I found out we were singing this song, I volunteered to do the solo as this song really means something to me.  I am a new creation in Christ because I decided to follow Jesus and give him everything with it. Here are the words.

I have decided to follow Jesus – Geron Davis

I have decided to live for Jesus
I’ll build my life on the strength of his word
I am committed to His purpose and calling
I’ve made up my mind I am going to serve the Lord

I started walking this highway to heaven
with no intention of turning around
made a commitment and I’m gonna keep
he’s leading me up to higher ground

I have decided to live for Jesus
I’ll build my life on the strength of his word
I am committed to His purpose and calling
I’ve made up my mind I am going to serve the Lord

I’ve climbed some mountains
and I’ve walk through valleys
and I am sure that there’ll be more down the road
though I can’t see what is waiting tomorrow
His word is my life and this one thing I know

I have decided to live for Jesus
I’ll build my life on the strength of his word
I am committed to His purpose and calling
I’ve made up my mind I am going to serve the Lord

Are you messed up? Out of sync? Is your marriage not where it should be? Is your life not where it should be? Have you lost sight of God? Do you feel like or are you scared the ride you are on is about to jump the track and end with devastating circumstances? Go back to the basics, find God and trust him, lean on him, and allow him to be your leader. Give everything you have to God. Empty the closet and clean out the corners that are in the dark. Allow him to be Lord over everything. Get back to the basics of what you were taught.  Have you decided today?




Friday, July 26, 2013

Redirection in constant motion...

Both of our boys have ADHD and redirection for them is just a part of our lives. If I were to have a motto for the boys, it would be "Redirection in constant motion". I will come back around to this in a few seconds depending on how fast you read.

Since moving back to Illinois, my commute to work is any where from an hour and half to two hours. I have used this time in the morning to pray. My prayer life has exploded and I have seen so many answered prayers in the last month or so. The last couple of weeks I have been in a valley and cannot figure out how I got there. This valley has been so deep that I made the journey back into my counselors office to talk it through. Well.. I learned something yesterday and there is a lot happening in my life that is directing me away from the basics. My life is constant motion right now. From the time I get up to the time I go to bed there is no rest.

I have been having my devotions and prayer time which is a good start, but I had to be redirected yesterday on the things that I had lost focus on. Praying with my wife each day, having devotions with the kids and prayer time with them. Losing focus on those things have had a negative impact in this family. We simply haven't given every thing to God. My wife has said repeatedly the last couple of weeks, that she felt like satan was trying to get a foot hold in this house once more. Well I have put a stop to that. I can talk about it all I want, but if my actions are not matching my talking, then what is the point? If I go back to the times where my wife and I were having devotions together, praying together and committing stuff to prayer, there was peace. I wonder how many other marriages go astray and head down a bad road fast when they lose focus and site of God.

Well here are some things that were suggested to me. Bond spiritually having prayer and devotions together. Find a couple that you and your spouse can relate with. Friends like this will hold you accountable and help redirect when focus is lost. Never get comfortable with how things are going. Satan will use this to divide you. Time together without kids to reconnect as it is essential to always be on the same page in your marriage and all that surrounds it. Stay away from drama. I can't stress that one enough. Keep doing the little things in your marriage such as compliments, validation, I love you's, assurance. Make sure the poison that tries to make your marriage sick is always deflected and eliminated. There is plenty of poison out there and it comes in many forms of which is to much to list on this blog. I may have referenced poison in previous blogs. Go look.. Last but not least, always be open with you spouse about everything. Mastering communication is key. If you hold in feelings etc.. it may come out in a way that could be damaging to your marriage.

I am on my way out of the valley and God is good. My wife is holding my hand and helping my hike on out. I have been open with her about how I was feeling. I have been asking God to lower me a rope as well. I was there because I lost focus and had to be redirected. Our walk with the Lord is redirection in constant motion sometimes. Keep your eye on God, and don't lose focus on what he has for you.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What your kids see..

I often think of the times that I saw my Mom and Dad being affectionate and as a kid it grossed me out. As an adult I am thankful for that example they showed in front of me and my sister. These days when showing my wife some type of affection, I will hear my kids say “ewwwww stop it!!” or some other comment along those lines. I don’t let it stop me nor does my wife. We both agree not only is it important to show affection in front of our kids, but it is important to know that as we get older affection is still part of our marriage.

So I did some research. I will not bore you with all kinds of stats and quotes like I did on the porn addiction blog entry I did. The research simply states some facts about happy marriages with kids.  I think every married couple with kids should remember some of these. So I am going to list a two or three that I think are important.

Kids from divorced parents do not fare well in long term relationships with the opposite sex as they get older. The trend is in out of relationships because these kids have never seen a great example of how to be married. Divorce has a very profound effect on children.  It really disgusts me when I hear people say that kids are resilient. This is so not true no matter their age. Kids remember things. They remember the fights; they remember everything about their mom and dad not getting along. This alone has a lasting negative affect that could quite possibly destroy every relationship that they are in. Divorce not only affects the relationship and all aspects associated with, but it also affects kids in so many other areas that I could write a blog about these areas alone.  But use google like I did and you can see for yourself. Simple type “How does divorce affect kids” or something like that. A wealth of information will come up.

Secondly it is ever so important to be affectionate with your spouse in front of your kids. I am not saying have a make out session. In my house it is very common for me to approach my wife from behind and hug her. It is also very common for me to kiss my wife here and there. If you were in my house you might even hear plenty of I love you’s said not only by me, but by my kids too. It is just something we do. When sitting on the couch watching TV, my wife is usually right next to me, unless the kids are watching a movie with us, in which case they are cuddled next to us on the couch. I like to hold my wife’s hand when walking if at all possible.  Kids want to feel secure about their family life. Affection one of many good ways to show make them feel secure.

Third… I believe that it is important to help your spouse with chores around the house. Cleaning the house, keeping it picked up, or doing some type of house work sets the example that it is important to help your spouse. Unless I am sick, I am usually helping my wife with the big and small stuff. This shows your kids that it is important to do these things as a unit.

Fourth let us not forget our manners. Showing good manners towards your spouse in front of the kids is important. I think it is important to show good manners towards your spouse. I like to be gentlemen as much as I can. There is always room for improvement for me in this area. I don’t let my wife mow the yard. I don’t let her do things that are my responsibilities as the husband to do.

I think it is important to always be thoughtful in everything you do and say towards your spouse. This is a good rule whether in front of your kids or not. But when your kids see it, they will notice how it makes a person happy. They will do this in future relationships and towards others as well. I try to do something at least once a week to let my wife know how much I appreciate her with some type of thoughtful gesture. My kids have asked me when they notice why I do these things. I simply tell them that your mom is my wife, my girlfriend, and my best friend and I want to always make sure she is happy.

As with parenting, being married is not for the weak of heart. Marriage constantly takes work whether in front of your kids or behind the scenes. But remember if you have kids, everything you do and say has a lasting profound effect on them. If you want your kids to have a happy lasting marriage someday, then start showing them how to do it now. If you want your kids to feel secure in their family, start doing it now. Remember when you got married you promised each other that you would make sure they were always happy. When you have kids, that promise extends to them as well.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What every marriage can do without…

Every marriage can do without a dirty five letter word when it comes to life. Any guesses? Yes you in the back corner of the blogosphere room... Yes DRAMA!! That is correct!! Drama is only good when watching a TV show or going to some type of on stage play. This week has been one of those weeks, where I get so sick of people making mountain out of a mole hill. There are some that are very good at creating drama and do it constantly. These kinds of people allow drama to rule their lives. They feed off of drama, and it is the basis for living their lives. Drama can rule every fiber of their thoughts, personal lives and family lives. Drama has a profound effect on their friends, family, and acquaintances around them. Soon the “dramateers” if you will find that friends are no longer willing to acknowledge them or their drama.  Sort of like the guy who cried wolf one to many times. No acknowledged him and the consequences were not favorable.

Married couples sometimes base their marriage off of the same drama principal above. If marriages allow drama to penetrate, then chalk it up as yet another unneeded challenge. It is sad to say that I have seen a lot of examples of marriages that allow drama to rule their marriage as well as their lives. I ask the questions, as married couples; shouldn’t we as followers of Christ be setting the example of how to be married? Shouldn’t we be setting the example of how not to allow drama to rule our lives and marriages? This is the word of Lord and what the bible says about taking part in drama in life.

Galatians 5:15
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

I look at my own marriage. I have caused undo drama that did damage as you all have read. I think of my kids and what that drama not only did to them, but taught them as well. I think about what that drama did to everyone around me. How my drama that I caused affected them, how it affected their opinion of me, my marriage and my family. I am reminded that with three kids, drama is rampant on some days with sibling rivalry. My wife and I do everything we can to teach them to peacefully resolve their differences. We are constantly teaching to be spiritually minded when conflict arises and there is potential for drama.

It seems to me that participating in drama does damage to a marriage or our personal life. Sometimes that damage will take a very long time to repair. When there is drama people are going to get chewed up, spit out, and the chewers will be as well. When there is drama in a marriage, it will get chewed up spit up, broken, and irreparable beyond recognition. In our house we have adopted a no drama way of thinking and living. We aren’t always successful, but we strive to avoid drama at all cost. I'm finding that when my wife and I need answers in life, or we are faced with a situation that could bring drama our way, we bury our heads in scripture and spend time on our knees talking to our father in heaven. It helps us to not complain but to be content in all situations and with the counsel of our Father in heaven we know how to best handle anything that comes our way. I would rather those see how Christ is the center of our lives, marriage, and family. Maybe our actions might bless others. It’s time we view situations, circumstances, and challenges through the eyes of Christ when faced with circumstances that have the potential to stir drama that could damage our marriages, lives, and families. Enough is enough. Between God’s word, and prayer, we have an unlimited source of answers to all problems in life. Time to start using it.. Nuff said..


Monday, June 17, 2013

Marriages need it too...

The journey is not easy and although you may think you are weak, you are wrong. The journey of marriage is a forever commitment forever.  A man and women should never enter into it unless they know that they know they can complete it together. In other words, until death do you part. Marriage is a machine that is involved and has many moving parts. If one part is broken, the rest of the marriage will not work and it will proceed to crumble. That one part that is broken will eventually cause a complete failure. I don’t care first time married, second or whatever, all parts must be working. I worked in manufacturing for many years. There were times when the whole division or plant was taken down for routine maintenance. If routine maintenance wasn’t done, eventually something would break down, taking down the rest of the plant. When that happened, manufacturing was brought to a grinding halt until the problem could be fixed. Nothing could work until that issue was resolved. 
In the past year and a half I have found out that my marriage requires down time maintenance. Downtime could be a date, maybe just an hour or two to talk or an overnight stay some place. I believe with kids this is even more important, that a husband and wife connect in every way possible during this time of maintenance. Without this time, things just starting falling apart and you will find yourselves doing things separately of each other. Separation will cause distance, causes communication to stop, and the marriage will start to suffer as well as your family. Maintenance is even more important if you have kids. The time alone for you and your spouse is very important. Deciding to raise a family does not mean putting the romance, the connecting, and the maintenance on the back burner. In fact, if you have kids or have decided to start having kids, keeping the marriage on the front burner is even MORE important. It is important to make your marriage even more of a priority. In our marriage we make it a point to intentionally leave the kids or send them away so that there is time to focus on our marriage and why you married each other in the first place. One of my favorite times is when we travel. The kids are usually occupied in the van and we usually do a lot of talking during that time. I could go into why it is important to display how much you love each other in front of your kids; however I will save that for another time. But it is important. Bottom line here is to not lose each other in the hustle and bustle, in parenting, in your career, and any other thing that might try to steal the focus from your marriage. Keep at the center of why you married each other in the first place and always keep it in maintenance and ever expanding. And hey… Don’t forget our father in heaven who brought us spouses together in the first place. God should always be in that center mix too.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Another loss..

When I was 29 I lost my first Mom to cancer. Two weeks ago I lost my second Mom to cancer as well. That would be four deaths in our family in the last ten months. A friend was telling me that the top stresses in life are moving, change of job, and death of a love one. Well that would be all three for my family and I. How in the world does one get through something like this? Look below...

This was a sticker that I took down today that was on the wall in our home as we are preparing to move. This sticker reminds me of several things that have happened over the last year and a half. It is a statement and one that I have often thought when faced with uncertain, maybe impossible, or difficult situations. Apparently according to the stats, it is impossible to bring Mom back from heaven and who would blame her. I wouldn't want to leave either. Moving is difficult and a very involved process, and changing scenery with our jobs, will take some adjusting.

A pastor friend said to me at my Mom's funeral that I was growing up... He continued... if there were no bumps in the road, we wouldn't learn anything. Let me put it into my words, if there were no bumps in the road, how would we come to know how much God loves us and know how his grace is there for us anytime we need it. I think of a family losing two wives and mothers. God promised he would never give us anything that we couldn't handle. Even though it says so in the Bible, it almost seems cliche right?

One thing that my Mom always said through thirteen months of cancer was that God had a plan. It almost seemed as if, cliche was status quo for Mom. Mom knew that God had a plan. In our loss it is very difficult to see what that plan is. In our tough circumstances it is difficult to see the big picture called God's plan. But these bumps in the road are all part of God's plan and lead us to our final destination in heaven. But the secret to getting through these difficult circumstances is to know that all things are possible with God. I never want to minimize anything that God has brought me through. NEVER!!

Whether it is loss, change of job, moving, marriage, family issues, or any other difficult circumstance, God is there through it all. We face many dark and uncertain times in our life. The writer of this blog certainly knows the last couple of months let alone the last couple of years have been difficult, but God has seen me through it all. I can't imagine where I would be with out God's grace in my life.

If you are sitting and wondering where God is, don't doubt that he isn't. I made that same mistake and gave up on God. That one decision got me no where fast. Please if you are sitting where I was at a couple of years ago, trust God with your life today. Without God everything is impossible. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tested and refined by fire...

I am using this blog to make an announcement. It was simply to much to post on Facebook, however, I will put a summary out there. I was originally going to use Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. You know the a time for everything scripture. One that is so popular during sad times to get people through tough times. But I was directed towards another script, and I especially like The Message version of it.

1 Peter 1:6-7

6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

Ten months ago we moved from Illinois to Ohio. If you remember that blog, I was experiencing a surreal moment. It had finally hit me that we were moving. We were leaving a state that both my wife and I had lived in for 38 years. We were up-rooting our family for a fresh try at life. A change of scenery if you will and truly it was. There were hills and no flat land. People were different and the pace of life was not what we were used too. We came by faith trusting God that he would take care of us. Little did we know that my wife and I would learn so much about each other. We were almost eight months into a marriage and life that we had never experienced in 15 years of marriage. Make sense? Are you confused? I'm not. This is now a marriage that we both love and cherish. Nothing will divide us again. EVER!!

In ten months here in Ohio, my wife and I have learned to depend on each other. We have learned to get through the challenges of life that came our way. We learned to grow up and make decisions on our own depending on the Lord and praying our way through decisions we had to make. We were healing and learning to love each other deeper every day and we still do. A lot of decisions we have made by faith and trusting that God would lead us along. Our faith came out pure, tested, and refined by the fire, and proven pure. God had proven faithful to us and taken care of us.

Well the time has come to go back to the homeland of Illinois. There have been many things that have played into this decision. Family is the main reason. There have been many answers to prayer that have brought us to this point. We find ourselves taking the step of faith of going back to where we came from. We came to Ohio to heal thinking that this is where God would want us permanently. At first the visits to Illinois were in the mind frame of "glad we don't live here anymore." and then transformed into "our time is short in Ohio and this is where we belong." When that feeling came to both of us, we committed it to prayer and trusted that if this is what God had for us, then he would open the door that no man could open. Finally the last picture was hung in our house here in Ohio and the call came the next day for a job for my wife in Illinois. I told my wife that if this was God's timing, he would make it happen.We sought Godly counseling. We have spent tons of time in the last month talking through this. We have spent time in devotion, the word, and in prayer. We know that God will provide for this move.Well it appears that it is Gods timing and in less than four weeks we will make the journey back to Illinois.

It appears that God has fulfilled his purpose for us here. The timing was right for us to come to Ohio. Now God's timing is right for us to move back to Illinois for the purpose of our family, not just immediate, but for extended as well. Soon my Dad will lose his wife of eight years to cancer. There will be some transition for him and our family. There have also been other relationships within our family that have healed. We know that this is where God wants us. We are excited for the opportunities for our kids, our family, and to get back involved in the church we love that supported us through our worst times.

Our experience in Ohio has been invaluable. It was the escape we needed at the time. It was one of the best learning times of our marriage thus far. It made us appreciate what we have and where we came from. We know for the rest of our lives that God will lead us, take care of us, and provide for us just as he does for the birds of the air and the creatures that wonder this earth.

So what can you take away from this? Here is your answer. God is good, God will provide, and if you trust him, your faith will be rewarded. God will hide you in the cleft of the rock through the storm and troubles that come your way. When God gives the all clear to come out, a rainbow will show you that you did right and he will do what he promised.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A beautiful flower

One of the things that I may never hand down to either of my sons, is mowing the lawn. There are a few reasons for this. One, I love to do it, it is something about the patterns in the grass that make me feel organized. I am a straight line mower. Second of all it is time where I think about life. Third of all I love the smell of freshly cut grass. This time of year I am mowing quite frequently. Lastly I love to look at the lawn after it is mowed. It reminds me of how beautiful something can be when taken care of with love and care.

This year I even find myself pulling weeds from where the new flowers and hosta's are coming in. In pulling those weeds, God kinda of got my attention. In the past I have just pulled the weeds as best I could without digging deep in the ground to get the entire weed roots and all. I always wondered why the weeds came back almost instantly within a few days. I thought by just giving a good yank on the weed from the ground, it would kill it. As I was working on pulling weeds, I started to dig the roots out as well. The next week came a long and no weeds have grown back in where I had pulled the weeds from the roots the week before. But new ones started to pop up in other places. So with the same process as the others, I pulled those as well from the roots deep in the ground. It really is a never ending process. No matter what precautions you take, weeds are going to happen.

For the past two weeks I have been chewing on this whole "pulling the weed" thing.  I thought about my life and how far God had brought me. I realized how deep sin was rooted in my life. My spiritual life was the flower in the garden and the things that were stopping it from becoming beautiful were the things like sin, acceptance, anger, and approval amongst other things. In fact as you have read from the very beginning, my spiritual life was dead at one point. The weeds of sin had over come me and I had allowed them to kill and devour my spiritual life. I had been strangled from the root level.

Our spiritual life is something that constantly needs to be kept and weeded. Sin is going to try to pop up in different places and if we are not vigilant, our spiritual life will be strangled by the roots of sin. That will lead to broken lives, broken marriages, and broken families. All this from mowing the lawn and taking a gardening util to dig up weeds.

Friends, this blog entry is not complicated, maybe even a little cliche... BUT... the message is clear. We have to be aware of how sin works, how it can destroy our lives and everything we know about it. Sin doesn't take long to starve us (the flower), in face it can be quick. So my point, be vigilant, spend time in the word, spend time talking to our great redeemer, and make sure that we are doing all that is needed to stay grounded in the spiritual dirt that gives us eternal life forever in Christ.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What is in our box...

1 Corinthians 10:13-14

13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
14 So, my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.

The pastor of the church we went to this past Sunday used this scripture. The pastor kept the scripture to verse 13. Usually when a pastor references a scripture I will go just a tad before and after to get context of what or whoever wrote the scripture. It is verse 14 that caught my eye the most and I felt like just maybe the Lord had laid something on my heart. 

I often think there are times where if we beg God enough for something he will give it to us just to teach us a lesson. Sometimes we turn our backs and don't listen at all. Sometimes as children of God we can be such brats. How many times have you said "God if you will just give me this, it will make me feel better" as we stomp our feet and throw our fit. I looked for that quick fix to a problem that had been plaguing me. What I have just done here is put God in a box and limited him to what he can and wants to do. I have reduced God to something we can use or control. Why is it we sometimes refuse to give God complete control of our lives and trust him? If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might remember me wondering if God has said to us " have you had enough yet?" I feel like God will usually say this after I have begged him for that one thing I just had to have. The one thing I just had to have turned out to be the last thing I needed. What a mess I turned something into because of my need to control and keep God in the box. 

Friends I am nearing the point to where I have lived half of my life. There have been many times that I questioned God. I should have shut my mouth and trusted that God would never put anything on my plate that I couldn't handle. There were always times where I was crying out and hoping no more grief or problems would come my way. I have learned putting God in my box gets me no where fast. I can only hope the second part of my life that I trust God more than I did then the first half. I will be working hard on keeping God out of my box.

This year has had it challenges. There have been many times where I questioned God, but every time he reminded me he was doing whatever it was for my own good. I am learning to just sit back and watch God work. But sometimes it is not before God wrestles me to the ground and tells me not to get in his way. 

Listen... I can't promise that life is always going to be easy. I can't promise that a quick fix is always going to take care of your problems. God is not a God of quick fixes. God is a God of permanent fixes.The answers may not always come the way we like them, but they are the answers that God has for us because he knows best. On down the road we will be better because we trusted God in all his wisdom and kept him out of our box. Remember if your plate is full, allow God to clear it for you. God will never over fill it and is always willing to clear if you will trust him fully today. 

OK so what to pray for... It has been a long time since I did a what to pray for section. My life is no longer in crisis mode and I have just wanted to minister to whoever reads my blog. But I am requesting prayer for my mom (step mom, none the less like a mom to me) who is very sick and we are in need of a miracle. Please pray with us for my mom's complete healing. Also pray for the Lord's will in our life as we find ourselves at a crossroads of sorts. We are trust God to lead us a long.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Be careful little eyes what you see.... Part Two

All week I have been thinking about the cause and the effect of why men turn to porn. I am not saying that this is a problem for only men, but like I said in part one, stats don't lie. So here is a stat on women and porn. 30% of visitors to porn sites are women. This however may be the only stat I throw out there in this blog. Please read on and realize how we must guard against against the evilness of porn.

The traditional and God intended family of the past, present, and future is under attack. The family is being attacked on every side. One of those weapons the enemy uses is pornography. Like in war days leaders of platoons sometimes preferred not to be saluted in fear that they may be picked off by a sniper. Husbands/Fathers are head of the family and this is where satan chooses to pick us off at all cost. If you remember in part one I mentioned a stat of the age of which children are exposed to some type of sexual solicitation before age eleven. That is just one cause of a porn addiction.Another cause is emotional. Some people have an emotional opening and porn knows just how to fill it. There are all kinds of ways the emotional holes are formed. I am sure you are filling the blanks here, but like I said in part one, porn says come here and I will make you feel REAL good. Porn is counting on those holes to fill its holes up with lots of money. Porn doesn't care about you. Porn just wants your business. Porn won't be there when you lose everything. Porn just moves on to the next person it can destroy.

Lets look at marriages. Marriages are full of ups and downs. After being together for a while, the home fire starts to dim. Spouses might become board with the differences and likenesses of which they fell in love in the first place. Men and women become lonely and start searching for something that might fill that void. Rather than turning to their spouse and communicating their needs and feelings, they find that emotional and physical need through porn. This can lead to many wrong paths. Desensitization can set in and make you search for even extreme sexual situations just to get that high. Porn can lead to adultery. Porn can lead to violent acts and assaults on others. Porn can lead to anger and may lead a person to make some very poor choices.

 There are men out there who do not want to admit they have a problem. When confronted about it, they shy away from those who want to help. This further isolates them from the reality of the situation.. Men who look at porn most times will lose interest in their wives, and withdrawal from the family. Rather than viewing their wife as their equal, they view them as an object. They find that they are not motivated at all to be the husband and/or father that God wants them to be. When the thought of admitting to their wife what is happening, pride sets in and they avoid it in order not to be ashamed. What these men don't understand, at this point no matter how bad they want to kick the habit, they are dealing with a full on chemical addiction. Quitting cold turkey may work for some, but does not work for all. God can help those who want help. But those who get the help, have to tread the line carefully in order to avoid a relapse. I have mentioned in other blogs and even handed this advice out to others that the first steps of victory are great, but satan is waiting for you to come down from that high to attack again. Since this is the case, I would recommend finding a Christian male counselor to help you gain strength and get to the core of what may have pushed you to this point in the first place. Spend lots of time in God's word. Please don't point blame else where and or deflect it all together. Make no excuse and deal with your addiction head on. Don't be surprised when it comes to your wife and the hurt she will feel. Admitting this to her, is brave in some ways will liberate you from the guilt you are feeling. Ask for forgiveness not only from your wife, but from God too.

Earlier in this blog I talked about holes in ones life. It only takes a small space for sin to work its way into your life. Porn is a sin. Remember that. If you find that you are reading this right now, make sure you sure up those holes in your marriage. If there is one, allow God to fill it in. If there is a hole in  your marriage, talk to your spouse. If you and your spouse cannot come to a resolution, then seek a counselor for help. Don't allow porn to fill those holes. It will lead you down a path that could devour you for good. Recovery is possible and God can free you from the chains of a porn addiction.

Finally, porn is a problem in close to half of the families in the United States today. Satan would love nothing more to see families destroyed, lives ruined, and for you to be devoured by this evil addiction. Seek God out and allow him to rescue you from this terrible thing. Be honest with yourself, your spouse, and God about your addiction. It is never to late to turn from sin and turn your life over to God. It will be the best decision you ever make.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Be careful little eyes what you see.... Part 1

O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
There's a Father up above
And He's looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see

Twice in the past three weeks I have sat in church and listened to husbands admit their porn addictions were either tearing their lives, families, and marriages apart or had torn them apart. All saying that they had gotten victory with God's help. In the past year, I have heard two husbands admit this as well. That is staggering. For every 10 men in church,5 are struggling with pornography. The Call to Biblical Manhood. Man in the Mirror, 6 July, 2004. I know of at least four with-in arms reach that are either battling or have battled a porn addiction.  I personally know of two husbands who battle with this evil addiction. The statistics are astonishing. I have spent the past day or so researching this particular subject. To understand this type of addiction you really have to do your homework. I knew with the widespread outbreak of porn online that the numbers would be high. But some of the data that I have seen is almost ten years old. I can only imagine what current statistics might be. For all intense purposes I am not expert on the subject of porn addiction. But documentation after documentation shows that stats don't lie. I know there are others sitting in church congregations all around the country who battle with a porn addiction in secret. Most are ashamed to admit it in public and in fact to their own families.

To understand a porn addiction is a puzzling thought. I am sure there are those out there that think "well if they would just stop looking at it, the problem would be solved.. etc" Not so fast. Gordon S. Bruin M.A. LPC describes a porn addiction no different than a drug addiction.You can view the full article by clicking here. But I want to quote a paragraph that might clear this up for you. Forgive me if I have quoted this wrong, but Bruin writes.. "In essence, the only difference between a heroin or cocaine addict is the way the drug enters the system.  The brain responds from information received from the eye quicker than from any other source.  Visual information is processed in the limbic system in nanoseconds.   This is why pornography is such a big deal.  Visual information is processed faster than from any of our others senses.   Even the ingestion of heroin or cocaine is much slower in comparison.  The brain responds to visual sexual images in microseconds where chemical reactions take place automatically.  There is a release of powerful chemicals that can overrule the rational brain and drive one to behaviors." Does this clear it up for you? Porn reaches out to men and says "here watch me, I will make you feel better" Porn wants us to look at it. For a few minutes porn promises us a high and a release like no other. It even gives us temporary comfort. Dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin and serotonin combined will give a porn user a great high, but leave them feeling down in the dumps afterwords. When shared with your spouse, these chemicals can create a bond that should last forever. When shared with porn, these chemicals will destroy the way you think of yourself, relationships and how you think of a women The average porn viewer will watch almost seven minutes from start to finish.

In our churches alone the numbers are off the charts. It is awful that there is even a chart for this. But here we go... let me flash some of these stats past you. According to 51% of pastors say online porn is a possible temptation. 37% say that porn is a struggle. 20% of calls that come into the Focus on the family pastoral care line are pastors who are dealing with some type of personal struggle with porn. And the last stat... 57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005). I am sure that 57% is low compared to 2013, in fact I am sure it is probably higher. 

And now the affect of porn on marriages. Here are two more stats. By the way, I wasn't going to include a lot of stats in this particular blog, but I feel you might want to know that even those some of these stats are older, they are very real and most likely higher if the same surveys were to be taken in 2013. So here are a couple on marriage and family. Keep in mind I have a document 40 pages long with all kinds of stats and facts on porn and sex. 47% percent of families said pornography is a problem in their home (Focus on the Family Poll, October 1, 2003). The Internet was a significant factor in 2 out of 3 divorces (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2003 - If we are not paying attention to what our children alone are looking at on the internet, than we are in trouble. On the average a child will be exposed to some type of porn or solicitation of sexual content by age 11. 70% of men between the ages of 17 to 34 will watch porn at least once a week if not more. Like a drug addiction a porn addiction can financially tear a family apart piece by piece. The entire world industry is worth 4.9 billion. Porn pulls in a staggering 2.84 billion dollars a year. 

Folks this is a real problem. It is a serious problem. Right now it is a serious break down in our nation, in the world, in our church, in our marriages and families. Some of these men I know have dealt with these addictions from a very young age. In part two I will discuss why men, women, and children turn to porn. The cause and affect it has on the person and family. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A reason for this season...

I sat in amazement as I listened to the radio on 9/11 as the United States was figuring out that we were being attacked by terrorist using our own fueled rockets in the shape of airplanes. Our world in the United States as we knew it had permanently changed. Everything around us was in question. What attacks would come next? There were lines at gas stations a mile long and even a few attempted to take advantage and rocketed the prices up just as quick as those towers fell. There was literally panic every where. Just maybe the United States hadn't taken those signs leading up to 9/11 as serious as they should have. How sad were the events taking place that would shape the world we live in almost 13 years later.

As I sit here, I think about what the followers of Christ were thinking this very day when Jesus had died on the cross the day before. I think about the disciples and what they must have been going through as they gathered together to figure out what to do next. An uncertain future was facing them.... well as far as they knew. I can't even begin to imagine the agony Mary must have been feeling after seeing her son die on the cross. But on the third day all those questions about what, when, where, and why would be answered!! Jesus had beat death, beat sin, and rose again!! I am thankful that Christ died on the cross for my sins so that I could be free. I don't deserve it and I fall short of it every day. But thank God he forgives when we ask. Last Sunday at church the band did this song by Third Day, By His Wounds.

More so than ever, I am thankful that Jesus saved me from the life I was living. I really don't know where I would be today without God's grace in my life. I honestly don't know who reads this blog, but I wonder where you are at today in your life. I wonder if there are those of you who have daily struggles. You might be at a point in your life where the future is up for grabs. Maybe your marriage is about to take an ugly turn where it shouldn't. Maybe you're facing some temptations that could allow sin to destroy everything around you. Friends, I have been there. I was on the brink and quite honestly I was facing an eternity that would have destroyed my soul. Friends if this is you, I speak from experience that you are coming to a time just like those towers, that everything will be destroyed and come crashing down. Life as you know it will no longer be as sins plan is to conquer, destroy. I invite you today to give your life and everything about you to Christ. Don't wait until it is to late. There are lots of warning signs. Please don't ignore them. Christ is waiting at the cross with arms wide open for you where the ground is level. Jesus loves you and wants nothing but to live in your heart today. All you have to do is ask and Christ will forgive you.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Do you wear a costume?

Seems like this week I have had several reminders of the past. A friend who reconnected with me in the past two weeks. Two great conversations of sharing with him lightly about what is going on in my life. Seems like in the past when I spoke about God, he got uncomfortable and abruptly ended the conversation. The last conversation we had was right after God had broken the chains of sin in my life. I began to tell him what God was doing and had done for me. I don't think at the time he believed me. That was the last time we spoke up until the past couple of weeks. He said he had seen our name while browsing facebook. I believe things happen for a reason and just maybe this was God saying time to heal another relationship. That and a couple of other things have happened this past week that have made my wife and I talk freely and openly about the past few years.

I think about my life and the last three years up until now. If you have noticed, I do this a lot. I think about all of the people that I have had to apologize to for my words and actions. I think about the sinful life I was living and how big of a lie it was. In talking to my wife I explained to her my sinful life and thought process. I would start the day with what conscious I had left and try to justify my actions. But at the end of the justifying, I was left with guilt about everything I was doing. At the end the day and the same thing would happen.. I started those days putting on a costume. A costume of sin. A costume that had selfishness all over it. I costume that had adulterer written all over it. A costume that had dead beat father and husband on the front and back. The sad thing was I couldn't see any of it. I would proudly wear it thinking I was right all the while knowing  deep down inside my heart I was wrong. What I saw on this costume was justification for all that I was doing. In all reality each day was filled with deception after deception. I was lying to myself and to everyone around me. But I was the only one who couldn't see how destructive my life and these lies were. Sin will blind you and make you stupid.

Jesus died on the cross so that we could be free. Jesus lived a life that was free from sin. Jesus knew his fate. Jesus had nothing to prove and nothing to lose. Jesus walked the talk and talked the walk. This reminds me that I always need to mirror that in my life. I have nothing to prove to this friend that reconnected with me. But... I am letting my words and actions speak for themselves. The costume that I once wore, was hung on the cross. There this costume was tossed into the sea of forgiveness and forgetfulness.

We as humans sometimes can't forget how we have been wronged in the past. We sometimes can't forget the hurt either associated with those wrongs. Sometimes things come up that trigger those emotions and give us an all to fresh reminder of the past. When this happens, I can hear the zip of the costume each day that I once wore. I am reminded that my actions need to match my words. I am reminded that the life that God wants for me will slowly come together according to his will. It is like an old house being restored, it takes time until it is back to its original beautiful, new and improved condition. Like that house that was given up on... people who gave up on me might come back around. These people might want to hear what Jesus did for me. They might be looking for hope. I will gladly tell them about the costume and where I hung it. I am glad that Jesus saw something in me worth restoring. I am thankful Christ loved me enough to die for my sins. Christ bore my costume on the cross so that it would be gone forever.