Behold – I Do A New Thing

It has been a while since I have written. Between school, work, my podcast, and other ventures, writing has taken a back seat. It isn’t intentional. Though, I often wonder if God gives us a break on things to rejuvenate on our creativity. Maybe it is just to make sure that we have the right perspective or right frame of mind. It could be to have the right motive such as to answer the question of “why.”

I don’t begin to pretend to know what God has for our lives. I do know that He has something planned to blow our socks off. When I say that, it is easy for me to get a sense of guilt because of the whole new frame of thinking that our country has fallen into. However, I know that if we are blessed than we can bless others. It this thought process that has helped me to realize that no matter what – He is in control.

That is why I believe that there are seasons for everything. Whether it be a season for writing or a season for singing, a season for teaching or a season of silence. For it is God who says to His people, “For I am about to do something new” or as it is in another version, “Behold, I will do a new thing.” It is important to see this. God has NOT done the new thing yet. He is about to. This is where most of us fall. We fall between the behold and I will do a new thing. We lose patience. We stop believing. We lose hope. Why?? Because we don’t know what the new thing is or even when it will happen.

I have to remind myself so often that there is a space of time between the behold and I will do a new thing. That space in between is where our faith is built. It is where our hope is built. It is where we have to stand and not fall. God is about to do something new. Do I know what it is? Nope. It must be good because He said “Behold.”

Parenting | Consistency

“Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.”
― Roy T. Bennett

We often find ourselves, as parents, wanting to get out of something we said that we would do. When you work 40+ hours a week, have bills to pay, have errands to run, it is much easier to tell our children “maybe later” and not do it after we said that we would.

To be consistent is to be “constantly adhering to the same principles, course, form, etc.” In other words, our word is our bond. We cannot tell our children to be people of integrity and consistency if we, ourselves, do not do it. 

This even applies to discipline. One thing that we have taught our kids that we have to be consistent in our discipline. If Dad or Mom says that we are going to do something, then we have to follow through with it. It is easier to let it slide after the 3rd time instructing them. The problem with this is that when we promise something good or bad to our children and do not follow through, they lose trust in our word.

Just like the quote says that consistency is the foundation of trust. Isn’t that the truth?! The minute someone is not consistent with us, we lose trust in them. We can’t believe what they say. That foundation begins to crumble. Our goal, as parents, is to be trustworthy and to show integrity so that our children will never wonder of our consistency.

Parenting | Grace

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. ‘
2 Corinthians 12:8-9

As a parent, it is easy to get caught up in our mistakes in parenting. We get so caught up on being the perfect parent going to every single event and being at active in our children’s lives in every single second. The fact of the matter is, there are no perfect parents in this world. Imagine if Mary, the mother of Jesus, had the pressure of performing to be the perfect parent because she was the guardian of Jesus who happened to be the only perfect person on this earth.  She would drive herself crazy.

I know that I have found myself in this position many times. I would think that all is well and my kid(s) would inadvertently do something that would prove that I am not the most perfect parent in the world. If you don’t believe me, read When You Are About To Lose Your… It happens to be one of the most read posts on this site!

We have to give ourselves the grace to believe that we aren’t totally screwing up our children and hoping that they don’t end up on Dr. Phil one day or Jerry Springer. I have to on a regular basis (I am far from perfect at it) remind myself that my children are amazing and that I am just impatient. Either that or they have lost their ever loving minds! I digress.

So – Dad and Mom or Grandma and Grandpa or Aunt or Uncle – cut yourself some slack. His grace is sufficient in your time of need and boy do you need it in raising those children!

Three Lies Disappointment Tells You

The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.
Robert Kiyosaki

I recently had a disappointment in my career that set me back for a few hours. The old past tried to sneak up and drag me down. I was really discouraged about the whole thing and I struggled to shake it.  One thing that helped was after overcoming so many disappointments, I learned a valuable lesson – if you live in the land of disappointment, you will miss your appointment. I had to shake it off. It was difficult, I won’t begin to lie.

Regardless of how successful you are or will become, all people have had disappointments in life. While we are in the midst, we hear the accusations of the accuser. There are multiple lies that we hear but primarily there are three that come to mind.

question-mark-2123967_1920You Don’t Have Enough Faith – You have even heard this from well-meaning…well maybe not well-meaning, but at least someone who has “more faith” than you. The lies that tell you that if you had enough faith that this would never have happened to plague your mind.

 


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You Have Done Something to Make God Mad
– The fact of the matter is that God is not mad at you. Seriously. If God makes disappointments available for each person who displeased Him, there would never be anything but disappointments. Romans 5:8 tells us “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

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You Will Never Advance – This lie is perpetrated when disappointments happen time and time again. The truth is that if we stay here, we will never see advancement. In Psalms 27:13, King David wrote: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”  The hope here is that we see this good while we are still on this earth.

What lies have you heard while you were disappointed?

Parenting | Everything is NOT Handed to You

Nothing worth having comes easy” – unknown

A recent conversation with one of our kiddos led to this comment – everything is not handed to you. We live in a time where children are taught that everyone gets a trophy, everyone gets a good grade, everyone deserves things. Then – they hit the real world and are surprised when they find out that everything is not in fact handed to them.

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It was a rough time in one of the girl’s time at school. They were not doing well in a particular subject and they practically did not try. They wanted us to give them the answer to every homework problem. They wanted us to work it all out for them. In our house, we don’t do that for them. If they sincerely need help, sure, we will help them. If they haven’t even tried then no,  they have to at least try first. They cannot assume that we are going to do that for them.

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We have seen a vast improvement in their skills since then. Was it easy? Oh please! Quite the contrary! They cried, screamed, threw fits, etc. I know, our girls are not perfect as some may lead on to believe. Although they are set up to win, we don’t make them win. They have to earn it. With that, they find more satisfaction. I hear it in their voice when they do it on their own.

How are you teaching your kiddos to do their best?

Marriage | And The Two Became One

It is only fitting that on our anniversary that I write on our marriage. What most do not know is that we have been through hell and our marriage has more than survived – it has thrived. From losing jobs to financial disasters, from lost friendships to betrayal, from health scares to accidents, we have seen some things. If it were not for God’s grace and His help, we would not be the man and woman that we are today. It all started when the two became one.

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At the altar, our pastor spoke a word over us. Whether he realizes it or not, he said: “your marriage will be the example to other marriages.” I am honored that we have held up that very word. There are many who have come up to us and said that they wish that they had the marriage that we have. I am not bragging at all. To God be the glory for it! In a previous marriage post, I wrote about how important our words are. I felt that it be fitting that I speak on the topic of the two becoming one.

It is easy to get married and then try to live separate lives. When I say easy, I really mean that it is difficult. It is only easy after divorce court. Even then, it isn’t easy. That is why when you become one with your spouse, you become one in every area. You are both now in this together. Many will disagree with this premise and that is fine. I believe that when we say I do, our lives are now one. Our finances, our home, our vehicles, our bodies, etc. Marriage is not a joint venture. There is no 50/50 partnership. It is 100/100. Each person giving their whole because they are whole.

The key to a healthy marriage is being one. King Solomon wrote;

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

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As we become one, we are empowered to overcome the obstacles before us.  We are able to break through the hardships that we encounter. Sara and I could not have overcome all that we have been through if we were not in one accord.

What can you today to be one with your spouse?

 

Writing | The Barricade

Lately, I feel what a lot of writers feel which is that I have hit a barrier as to what to write for my readers. I have no end of content as I have three children, a wife, a job, and a church. It isn’t so much the content has dried up. Perhaps it is the presentation on how to get it from the brain to computer to you, the reader. More so, the barrier is how to get this blog off of the ground and into the homes of more people.

I honestly have been stagnant with my writing over the past few months and stagnant before that in the number of visitors to the page. I plan on continuing to write. I plan on giving you my unfiltered thoughts. I am just not sure about where to go from here with this site.  I would love your thoughts on the matter. If you were me, what would you do?

Marriage | With That Being Said…

“Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 16:24 

Bambi-thumper-adultHave you ever heard of the saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” Perhaps made famous by the fluffy wise rabbit called Thumper from Bambi, we can take a lot of great wisdom from this sage advise. It is often easy to pop off our thoughts and tell people what we think but God’s plan for us is to be slow to speak and quick to listen. I believe that this is extremely true in marriage.

One of the successes that Sara and I have had in our marriage is that we are slow to speak. We have not had an argument (knock on wood) in our marriage. I am not saying we are perfect. I know for a fact that we have both at one time or another have gotten on each other’s nerves. Truth be told, it is more me getting on her nerves than anything. We are both pretty laid back and intentional in our marriage.

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What does that mean? We both know that we are going to have bad days. It is a given. Neither one of us has a perfect day especially after all of the hell that we have gone through in our lives. Honestly, we wouldn’t have gotten through these times if it weren’t for this principle. Instead of tearing each other down, we build each other up. We are constantly telling each other how amazing the other person is and how much we love them. Why?

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In a world that is constantly tearing you down, why would you want a spouse or friend be around you to be like the world? I know countless marriages where I hear the spouse completely tear the one that they professed their love for at the altar not long ago. It has to scare the living daylights out of the young people who are wanting to get married but see this as a huge deterrent.

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One thing that I have told every single engaged individual this; quit listening to other’s marriage advice. Your marriage’s success is up to you. You CAN and WILL have a great marriage is you want it.  You would think that this was just a simple message. You would not believe the relief on these young person faces when I tell them this. Sara and I firmly believe that marriage is what you make it.

Is your relationship the way that you want it to be? How can you make it better?

Grateful in the Mist

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

There are few things in life that can rattle you to the core. One of those is having a car accident. When it is happening, you cannot control what is going on. All you can do is pray. It really isn’t much different than life.  You have things that happen in life that you cannot control. A wayward child, an unexplained termination, a divorce, financial loss, cancer, etc. The list could go on and on.

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God’s goodness is not reflected on whether your life is going right or wrong. His goodness is reflected by the cross. His goodness is reflected by His Son. There is no other comparison. I had to think about this during the accident I had. As a matter of fact, right after it happened my prayer was “thank you, God.” Why?  It could have been a whole lot worse.

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I could sit here and complain about the fact that I was in an accident. I could sit here and complain about the fact that I have to look for another vehicle. The fact is that I am alive. I have come a long way. There would have been a time that I would have lost my composure. I would have tried to find blame about it. I would have blamed myself. For me, I made the statement of this; “Blaming myself and being upset will not get my car back and will not reverse time. There’s no reason to do so.”

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The reason for this post is to encourage you of this; life is what you make of it whether you are in control or not. It is best said that the biggest illusion is that we have control of anything in our life. Isn’t that true?  The fact of the matter is that God is in control of the outcome. He is good. For that, I m eternally grateful!

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
Lao Tzu

As a writer, there is nothing more daunting than a blank page. Wait…writer’s block is even more daunting. Then, a very close second is a blank page. You think about what you should put down hoping to avoid judgment and criticism which comes regardless. You don’t feel that your words are worth reading. Yet, you know as good as I do that God downloaded something amazing in your heart to show to the world.

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There is a never-ending flood of opportunities to offend. Just the same, there is a lot of opportunities to inspire. The writer has plenty of chances to captivate the eyes of his or her audience. When they put down their thoughts, it reveals their true self. Just as the words of others can tear one down, the words that are within us carry more weight than we could ever imagine. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that power and death lie in the tongue.

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The page that we found daunting in the beginning is now a page of power. Our voice is heard on that page. Our thoughts are read on it. Our heart is poured out on it. The power of the words we have is carried forever on those pages. Instead of fearing it, we can now wield that power to serve, inspire, love, and care for those who read it.

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The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword. This proverb was written in 1839 by Edward Bulwer-Lytton regarding the fact that communication is far better than war. Not only was the communication better, but it also conveyed something that could not be said while thrashing a sword at someone. The writer and his/her pen can change the course of history. Wow!

If you could write anything to change the world, what would you say?

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Some things in life are better left unsaid. We are so quick to say our own piece of what we believe yet we don’t gather all of the facts before we throw them all up on other people. That has been the reason I haven’t written in the last few days. I would go to type something and save it as a draft yet end up deleting it. Why? It is better left unsaid.

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What would happen if we did the same in our everyday life?  We type out our thoughts in our own mind, review, perform the spell check and grammatical errors before hitting publish. We read it again and decide to trash it instead of publishing it. Our world would be free from the issues that we have!

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I want to challenge both you and me to not publish unless it is appropriate to build those around us up instead of tearing them down. 

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Tell Me That You Didn’t Ask That

I went to the dentist to get my cleaning done. This is not my favorite thing to do. As a matter of fact, I have had my share of dentists and orthodontists visits in my time on this earth. I know the importance of oral health and I decided that I needed to go in. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with the hygienist that I had. She wasn’t very friendly at first and I felt like I was going through an interrogation with all of the questions regarding allergies, health issues, etc.

One of the questions that she asked me was regarding the surgeries that I have had. I told her that with a cleft palate, I have had my share of them. I kid you not the next question actually happened. “What happened? Were you born with it?”  I have to be honest with you that I was speechless for a few seconds. Someone who works with oral health did not know what a cleft palate was kind of scared me. This was the first for me! For those who do not know what it is, let me share with you this definition;

congenital fissure in the roof of the mouth, resulting from incomplete fusion of the palate during embryonic developmentIt may involve only the uvula or extend through the entire palate. palatoschisis” via Dictionary.com
Not to mention the fact that it is obvious when you look at me. I told Sara and she cracked up with me. I could not take this hygienist seriously anymore! I know, it is a bit much and I should give her grace. It blew me away! With that, I chuckled through the rest of the visit.
What is the funniest thing that you have been asked by a professional where the answer was obvious?

When Persistence Pays Off

The past six months or so, I have been preparing for the Security + exam through CompTIA. In order to understand why this is worth writing about, I must take you back to 2017. I had been looking for a job with no prospects. On a whim, I went to a career fair at a local college where I met a recruiter for the New Horizons Learning Center. It was here that I began realizing that my new career field. I started looking into what it would take and by the grace of God, I was able to get a grant to take courses for three different certifications.

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During that time, I was contacted about a job with CSRA that would be a great fit and I could come on while I was working on my certification. The problem was, I did not have the clearance that I needed. I took the courses while I waited for the clearance to go through and was able to complete them. I did not pass the tests when I first took them. I was close many times, but could not seem to clear that hurdle.
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I got the call for me to start at this job and I could start when I was ready. I went ahead and started though I had not gotten the certifications done. The pressure was on because I had agreed to get the certifications in a set time or I would have to look for employment elsewhere. During this time, I found out that I was the last person that was hired that did not have a clearance automatically. Talk about God’s favor!
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Once a month from November 2017 to April 2018, I took and failed every exam. I was truly disappointed every time. During this time, I was also having other issues. I have to say, this was a very stressful time. I often questioned if this was the right direction. I kept looking back at the favor of even getting this job, let alone working for the time I did without the certification. Then, on April 18, 2018, I finally passed my Network +!

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I was so excited. A great weight was lifted off my shoulders. I took a very short time off then started on my Security +. Why? Because I knew it would open more doors. I studied from May to October and took the exam. I failed on the first try. Good grief! It was like a repeat. However, I did not let that get me down. I decided to give it some time and take it again. Well, on February 8th, with God’s grace I passed my exam.

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I know that it may not mean a lot to you. For me, it is a reminder of God’s grace when we are persistent. Read this passage about the widow from Luke 18:1-5;

Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people.  There was also a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’  For a while he refused, but later on he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor have regard for people, yet because this widow keeps on bothering me, I will give her justice, or in the end she will wear me out by her unending pleas.’”

When we are persistent, God listens to us. Believe me, it is not easy! It is hard. However, when God gets us through it we can look back and thank God that He got us through it.  What are you believing God to get you through in 2019?

I Would Have Loved To Have Been In On This Conversation

I was reading in Mark 9 this morning and came across this passage;

“Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!’ All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.” Mark 9:2-4, 7-8 NASB

I would have loved to have been in on that conversation. Elijah, Moses, and Jesus on a mountain top speaking to one another and no one thought to write down the conversation. I wonder what they talked about. I wonder where this conversation could have gone in such a short time. Why was there a cloud obstructing the meeting? Was this a top-secret mission? Was were only Peter, James, and John allowed to go?

Peter, James, and John were among the very few that were able to enter into the inner circle of Jesus. They were with Him with many of the miracles, dined with Him, walked with Him, and yet were not perfect. Just with Peter alone, we all know that there was no way in our religious circle that he would be allowed to hang with the King of kings. Just think, though, Jesus allowed these three into the very personal part of His life at a critical part of what was to come. Still, the vagueness of this conversation still keeps me wondering what was said!

My hunch would be that Elijah, Moses, and Jesus were talking about what was to come in the next short period of time. No one really knows what was said, but I would have loved to have been in on that conversation What do you think was said?

 

When You Can’t, He Can

I was reading about the Exodus today and something jumped out at me that I really hadn’t paid attention to fully before. I noticed it, but it did not fully make sense to me until today. All throughout the first few chapters, Moses responded to the Lord about his inadequacies. For example, Moses responded to the Lord’s direction in Exodus 4:10;

“‘But Moses said to the Lord , “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” ‘ Exodus 4:10

How often do we feel the same way when God puts a dream or a desire in our heart? How many times do you or I have a task that is given to us yet we do not feel qualified to do it? It is then that God reminds us that He will give us the strength and will qualify us to do what He has called us to do.

‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. ‘
Philippians 4:12-13

It is a reminder to us that no matter what desire or dream that God has put into our hearts, He will give us the tools to accomplish. What inadequacies do you need God’s help in?  

 

Book Review | Leadershift – John Maxwell

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In typical John Maxwell fashion, he takes the 11 essential changes and makes them not only understandable but relatable to any person who is a leader or wants to be one. These practical tips will help you to become not just a leader but a life changer to those who follow you.  The main thesis is not that we are doing leadership wrong. It is that we can alter our way of leading and shifting it.

Grab your copy today!

Unknown

One of the scariest things that you and I will ever encounter is the unknown.  The unknown is an abyss of questions, concerns, worries, and fears. At the same time, it is an abyss of hope, faith, and dreams. Still, we find ourselves not wanting to walk into the unknown for the fear that we can never turn back.  The thing we have to remember is that it is better to step into the unknown than to stay behind in the land of regret.

What are you afraid to step into?

Book Review| Everyday Millionaires – Chris Hogan

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I am pretty familiar with Chris Hogan and the other Ramsey Personalities from my time in following this team. It is no surprise that their message is on par with being debt free and building wealth. This book is no exception. Where this book differs from the other personalities is that Chris does not stay on getting out of debt but for a very brief moment which is refreshing. He tackles the myths and the truths of everyday millionaires. This book is filled with stories of millionaires throughout each chapter which breaks up the content to help keep your focus. Each chapter highlights a myth and a truth. At the end of the book, Chris gives you action steps to help you on your journey to becoming a millionaire. Where many other books give you hype, this book gives you everyday life examples without frill, pomp, and circumstance. This book is highly recommended!

Grab your copy today!

Two Years | Despise Not The New Beginnings

It has now been two years since my departure from the ministry. That’s hard to believe. To think that the near decade that I was there flew by, these past two seem faster. Maybe it is because I am older or perhaps it is because we are busier. One thing that I do know is that I have learned so much in that time. Here are 5 things that I learned;

  1. Breaking up is hard to do. When they told me I was fired, I honestly felt numb. I did not have a clear direction other than my family now was thrown under the bus.  It was difficult. After a few hours, I probably cried more than I had in a very long time. I caught me off guard that I would be this emotional. Fortunately, I got to say bye in my own way to all of those I left behind.
  2. Change is inevitable. No matter what phase you are in your life, change will happen. Whether it is good or bad, change is inevitable.  And change is good.  When we stay stagnant for too long, we find ourself complacent and bored.
  3. You are replaceable. I worked so hard at that job that I was trying to make myself indispensable. The problem with that is that we are all replaceable. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you are not the hottest thing in the fire. You, my friend, are replaceable.
  4. Know your worth. I am not saying this in pride. I am saying this, though, as a fact. The person you work for does not know all of your qualities, your abilities, and the like. They have limited knowledge. Don’t sell yourself short!
  5. Not everyone has your best in mind. Just because someone has the label of Christian, Believer, Child of God, etc. etc. does not mean that they have your best in mind.  I don’t think that it is intentional that they have their own agenda in mind. With that said, your agenda does not matter to them.

These are just a few things I have learned. Not long after I left the ministry, I wrote Unpack: Life Lessons of an Unemployed Rockstar which you can grab today for .99!

When God Says No

I come from the religious ilk where prayer is something you do over your meal and what you do at night before bed.  I honestly don’t remember a relationship being formed or anything like that. Just saying a prayer. After I left that church, I started looking for something that would help me to grow. Fast forward 2005 when I began watching televangelists and going to a non-denominational church. I wasn’t versed in the Word but knew that God wants the best for His children.

After some time, I began reading more and more of the Word of God. I listened to the preachers on TV (not all of them but some) make the statement;

“If you ask God for anything, He will bless you with it!”

The problem with this statement is this; sometimes God says no. Sometimes that very thing that you prayed for and asked God for is the very last thing that you need! For example, I know for a long period of time that I would pray that girl I was with would be mine forever. I would feel heartbroken that God didn’t answer my prayer. In 2006, I met Sara. My prayer changed. My desire changed. I wanted God to guide me to the woman He wanted me to marry. Just like dominos falling down one after another, Sara and I fell in love and got married.

What would have happened if God answered my earlier prayers? I would have missed out on the most awesome woman I have ever met. No, I am not saying that because she reads my blog. I mean it. She is exactly what was best for me. She balanced me and completed me.  God had the best in mind when I thought I knew best.

Have you ever had God say no?

 

When Grace Prevails

It is a vicious cycle, isn’t it? You lose your temper. You drop the notorious F-bomb. You run the red light. You commit some egregious sin. Whatever the case may be, you have failed and now, you feel absolutely horrible. We just can’t shake the shame. We can’t seem to forgive ourselves. It is here that Grace prevails.

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God;  it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 NET

God’s grace has saved us through faith. Here’s the thing that caught me – it is not from works so that no one can boast. Neither you nor I can take credit for it! The simple truth is that we need to forgive ourselves and move on. There are people in this world that cannot forgive themselves. They live a life that is miserable. What has it accomplished? Nothing.

Today, I want to challenge you today to forgive yourself and move on because God has already done it and there is nothing that you can do to change that.

 

Thoughts | Did I hear from God or was that last night’s pizza?

Have you ever stepped out in faith thinking that you heard from God only to find out that it possibly could have been last night’s pizza? We have all had that feeling. If you haven’t then just wait, it is coming! Seriously though, we all have that moment when we think that God has spoken clearly to us that thing will happen in a certain way if we step out in faith.

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Just because you may have missed God doesn’t mean that you were wrong to step out in faith. He knows where you are at when you made the decision. I am a believer that since you stepped out in faith, God will honor that faith in some way. He will honor us when we step out in faith. Even if it was last night’s pizza.

Book Review | The Allies:Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and the Unlikely Alliance That Won World War II

51acrqo1k6lThe Allies was a great book that captured the heart and soul of these three leaders. Each leader’s life is chronicled from beginning to end in a great way in this book. I was amazed at the details that the author put into not only the people but in the events that surrounded the war. Though it is a large book, it is an easy read. This book is certainly geared towards the history enthusiast.

Get Your Copy of The Allies Today!

Nope – I Do Not Always Understand

“I don’t think that we’re meant to understand it all the time. I think that sometimes we just have to have faith.”
– Nicholas Sparks

Just when you think that Murphy couldn’t do any more damage, he decides to sideswipe you. You just can’t seem to get a break, yet there’s complete peace about what is going on all around you. I have heard it best put this way; “chaotic peace.” Over the past twelve years, this is where we found ourselves. It seems like we can’t escape this cycle that never ends. But I know one thing that is for sure is that He never ends either.

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Perhaps, I should start with the reason that I decided to write this. For twelve years, Sara and I have seen some of the weirdest things happen in our lives. We have had car trouble, house issues, health woes, financial hardships, etc.  One may bring up the fact that we are tithers and according to Malachi 3 when doing so that the devour is rebuked for our sake. It would be easy to question God and wonder why these things happen if we are tithers. It would probably be even easier to doubt that it would be to know in faith that God has taken care of it all.

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In a previous post, I referenced the time where I came to God and made the statement that I just simply did not understand. God’s response in my heart was that He did not call me to understand, but to trust Him. The response honestly took me off guard.  Aren’t we, as human beings, designed to understand all things and learn them? Then I recalled a scripture that I have always remembered since I was a child out of Proverbs 3:5-6; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” In some translations, it reads “and He will make it plain and straight.”  Our trust is not in the government nor people, our trust is not in ourselves or our own ability to provide, but our trust is in Him.

 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13 NLT

This is one of the most quoted scriptures that you will find in the Christian vernacular. The problem with this is that we find ourselves reading it as I can do everything. The intention of this passage was not that we can do everything, but that we rely on Christ’s strength to do everything.  I am so grateful that during these trials that we are seeking our true Provider. Our trust is the ultimate Father. I believe it’s so important that our children see that our trust is in God regardless if we understand or not. When they become older, our hope is that they will trust Him. Sure, it would be easier for you or me to automatically go into the woe-is-me mode. I will tell you one last thing before I leave you and it’s found in Ephesians 6:13;

“Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”

Having done all that you can possibly do that the crisis demands…stand. Stand firm. Don’t quit. Press into what God has in store for you and not what the enemy tries to throw at you. Regardless of your understanding or lack thereof – stand! 

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A Dream of Unity

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

He would have been 90 years old. A life cut short by an assassin’s bullet, Martin Luther King, Jr. curtailed the status quo and went forward into the history books to change the world. His speeches and his thoughts can be found in millions of places around the globe. His touch can be felt in every Civil Rights activist’s march. His stamina and determination can be felt in the halls of the most prestigious universities, government buildings, and civic centers. He helped bring to light the perils of the African American community.

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A far cry from many who protest using violence to get their message across, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man whose protest was one of peace. Was this man perfect? No. However, his message was received by many who knew that even in his imperfection, he would speak hope and truth into the lives of millions. I am not sure what he would think of the world today. I would pray that he would be proud that there has been changed since his passing in 1968.

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I believe that he would be honored to see that his legacy changed the way we all live today. I believe he would be proud that no longer are there segregated bathrooms, restaurants, schools, and the like. I believe that he would be proud to see African American leaders in our nation’s capital. I believe that he would be proud to see his children, his grandchildren, and his legacy marching forward into the next generation.
I also believe that he would be disappointed in some areas hoping that the work he had done would bring unity and not division. I believe that the dream that he had for America would outweigh the forgiveness that we all have towards our brothers and sisters. I believe that he would desire to see that instead of victim-centered life that all men and women would live a victorious minded life. The dream that he had for America was one of unity.

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His hope was to drive out darkness with the light of Christ and with the hope that all men would one day come together in one accord. I have enclosed the video of his speech at the national mall in Washington DC in 1963 entitled “I have a dream.”

You Be You

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
— Steve Jobs
Ever find yourself trying to live the life that your parents always want you to have or your friends think that you should have? At one point, I found this to be true in my own life. I tried to measure up to someone else’s expectation of the perfect, Christian life, only to find myself disappointed and confused. I am so blessed that Sara and I are on the path of living our dreams that God has for us, whether it be the vision someone has for our lives or not. You will always disappoint the person who is trying to change the life that you are living; you will never be disappointed when you live the life that God always wanted you to have.
In my years in ministry, I would try everything I could to adapt and change myself into whatever the leadership would want me to be. I would change how I talked, how I communicated with our partners, how I would pray, etc. It was never enough. It took a cold day in January in 2017 to make me realize that no matter what I did, they would never be satisfied. I wasted so much time trying to change me that I lost myself in the nearly ten years I was there. Now, I am doing all I can to be what God has called me to be.
Have I arrived? Not at all. I still struggle with it. Even today, I have to remind myself that I cannot be what I am not to people who do not want to accept me as I am. I know – that was a mouth full. It is the truth. You cannot and you will not be able to please people. The great thing is that you don’t have to. You don’t even have to please God. He’s already pleased with you!
Right now, I would like to challenge you to step back for a moment and ask yourself this question; who am I? Not who am I to other people or who am I supposed to be to other people. When you ask yourself the question of who you are, it is here that the growth begins. First, you may want to get religious about it. That’s fine.
However, you need to be honest with yourself. After asking the question of who am I, it is time to ask the question of who do I want to be? And last, ask who do you want to be remembered at the last breath you take?

Fear | When the Unseen Robs Us

‘But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. ‘
Matthew 14:29-30 

While I was reading Matthew 14, I came across the text above and thought about how Peter might have felt when he recognized what was going on as he got out of the boat to walk on the water. The issue at hand was not that Peter got on the water. He wasn’t afraid of that. What caused him to fear was the wind.  The wind is unseen. Sure, the effects of the wind are noticeable. However, the wind itself is not.
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We are not so different than Peter. We have great fears about unseen things every day. We fear sickness, death, failure, etc. These fears rob us of the great things that God has in store for us.

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Although we have been talking about the invisibility of fear, we simply cannot ignore the tangibility of fear. In the 1930s, we witnessed one of the most difficult times in United States history. At this time in history, the United States was in midst of the Great Depression and there was a lot of fear throughout the country. There were not enough jobs, money, food, etc.  Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in his inauguration address on March 4, 1933, where he attested;

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.”

It would have been easy for the citizens of our country to panic and many of them did. However, it birthed one of the greatest generations. Each person who came out on the other side were better for it.

As I was studying for this post, I came across this thought from entrepreneur Sandi Krakowski who said;

“FEAR is faith in the wrong kingdom. Fear is believing in the lies more than the truth. Fear is trusting in loss more than blessing. Fear is partnering with the enemy rather than all of heaven!”

Could you imagine if we could take our fear and cultivate it to the right frame of faith? What great things could we do?!

What are you doing to break the cycle of fear?

Thoughts | You Have Something to Offer

You always have something to offer. The widow brought her offering. The prostitute washed the feet of Jesus with her hair. The woman poured perfume on Jesus’ head. Abram brought his tithe to Melchizedek. The rich man offered his tomb. You have something to offer. Regardless of what you are lacking, you have something to offer to someone else. You have something to offer to your community. You have something to offer to your church. You have something to offer to your family. You have something to offer to Christ.
The world may tell you that you have nothing to offer. The problem with that is that the world does not have a clue about the greatness that is put inside of you.  They haven’t tapped into the gift that you have within. If these people that I talked about earlier have something to offer, you are no different.
Go ahead. Find out the gift that is within you. Find what you have to offer. Now, go offer it!

Thoughts | Breaking into Greatness

 

Never be ashamed in trying to better yourself. The world would try to hold you back and cause you to question your motives and your rights. Don’t be alarmed! You’re not experiencing something new or unknown. Millions debunked these feelings and moved forward towards greatness. Just think. If Abraham Lincoln listened to the constant rejection at the polls, he would not have been President. If Colonel Sanders listening to failure in his life, he would not have given us KFC. If Helen Keller listened to the thoughts of being both deaf and blind, she would not have gone to be a great influence for the disabled community. The list could go on. They went on to become the greatest in their craft simply because they did not listen nor did they give up. They persevered.

Just think of the chick. The chick has to break through the shell to come into this world. At first, you don’t think that it will ever happen. It pecks at the shell. It doesn’t break through right away. It will peck for what seems like forever. Eventually, it will break through the shell to become something great. What would happen if that chick simply gave up? It would die. The same is true for you and me when we give up on the greatness that is inside of each and every one of us.

What greatness are you hoping to break through?

Thoughts |He Helps

I love God’s word and I love when I find something new in it that I have never read before. I came across this gem in Luke;

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,  saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”  And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.”
Luke 22:41-43 ESV

What stood out for me was; And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.”  I am glad that some of you have seen it. This is where it jumped out at me. Not only did it jump out at me, when I shared it with Sara, but it also jumped out at her as well. What really jumped out was the fact that God sent an angel to strengthen His Son during intense prayer. God saw fit that in Jesus’ humanity to send help. Not only did God see fit to send help, But He also sent strength. 

Now, it may be simple to you, but to Sara and me, we saw see it this way; if God saw fit to send His Son help, He would send help to us in our humanity. God provides a way regardless for us to receive help in our time of need. He allowed Jesus to experience humanity to relate to those He would save. 

What has jumped out at you recently while reading God’s Word?

Thought | Love Takes Time

Have you ever heard the saying that “love is spelled t-i-m-e?” It is so true. You cannot buy love. Money does not make someone feel loved. Things do not make someone feel loved. Sex does not make someone feel loved. Anything material does not make someone feel love. The list could go on and on. So often, we find ourselves using these things to substitute time. You cannot sustain a quality relationship whether it be with a child or an adult without time.

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Could you imagine if God Himself could not find time for you? You go to Him in prayer and there’s a loud busy signal or a message that says “Sorry, I’m busy right now. Leave a message?” It would be kind of odd, to say the least. The fact of the matter is that God spent a whole day creating a relationship with man (see Genesis 1:26-31.)

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I was approached with this recently with one of my children. I won’t go into the details out of pure respect but one of the things they said was this; the person doesn’t love me because if they did, they would spend time with me (paraphrased.) It is a profound statement. Now, I am not saying that to love someone is to spend every single moment with them. It can be as simple as sending them a card telling them that you are thinking of them or stopping by for a visit or even making a phone call. Sometimes we get so tied up in the thought that love has to cost money when in fact it all comes down to time.

What are you doing to be intentional with your time today to show the person that you love that you love them? 

 

 

 

Thoughts | In Awe of God’s Provision

I paid our bills yesterday and one of them is a portion of our mortgage payment. I was looking at the balance was surprised. I usually check it once a month, but it slipped my mind in December.  When I checked it today, I was floored. So many things flooded my memory of what we have gone through. Here are just a few;

  1. We are a single family income with 5 people that make well below the national household income.  Before the birth of our 2nd child, Sara and I made the decision for her to be a stay-at-home mom.  Sara was miserable at work and she was missing out on all of the milestones with our oldest. She had dreamt for most of her life of being a stay-at-home mom. One day, she came home and was just beside herself about her job. I told her to quit after her maternity leave. On October 6, 2009, Sara became a stay-at-home mom.  When you have three children, the cost never really goes down. There are doctor appointments, dentist appointments, clothes, school, sports, etc. There is no end to the expenses that you have!
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  2. We are debt free minus the house. On February 29, 2012, we paid our final debt off after one of many major events that happened in our lives. In July the previous year, I was involved in a car accident that totaled my vehicle. A few months later, our only means of transportation which was our van blew a head gasket. At this point, I wasn’t making much more than $30,000 annually. Needless to say that we were broke. In the winter, we had someone bless us with a check and asked us to buy a car. It was a good amount for an older, used car. I searched for several weeks and just could not find one that I was at peace. In a last-ditch effort, I put on Facebook that I was looking for a car. I received a message from someone who was selling two and asked if I was interested. They sent me pictures and I was less than impressed. However, I felt that I needed to at least give it a try.

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    I looked at one of the cars and immediately felt that I was supposed to buy it. I shot him a price and they took it. After writing the check, I drove the car home. Ugly as sin, the car drove like a dream. I got to the house and did our checkbook. I balanced the check that the person gave us with the check that I had just written for the car. The difference between the two left us with plenty left over. I had a thought; “I wonder how much is left over on the student loans?” Looking at the balance of the student loan, we knew exactly what to do. Pay off one of the student loans in full.

  3. I was unemployed for eight months and still kept up with our bills. In 2017, I was suddenly let go from my job after nearly 10 years of employment. At this time, we had put back our fully funded emergency fund suggested by Dave Ramsey. I looked for a job and was coming up empty. I decided to go to a job fair at a local college and came across a place that does IT boot camps to help you get certified in the IT field. It was here that I found my passion for IT. I was not working, however, the people sent me to a place where I could get assistance in paying for this boot camp. In the meantime, I sent my resume to a friend of mine who does government contracts with the DOD. It all began to fall into place.
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    Though I did not work, our bills never fell behind. We depleted the emergency fund. More importantly, God made the money stretch by putting people in our path who helped us financially. It was a long wait, but it was all taken care of.  The fact is our emergency fund was depleted the week I started working. Even to the wire, we saw God’s hand in it all.

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Why am I telling you this? No, I’m not selling you on MLM. I’m selling you on GOD. I am selling you on the fact that God is faithful. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus was speaking; “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” You see, we could not do what we have done making less than $35,000 annually during this time on our own. It had to be God. Why? Because if we took the credit for it, He would not have gotten the glory. 

Today, I checked the balance on our house.  To you, it means nothing. To us, we celebrate because we see the hand of God on it. Without the help of God, this number would not have happened.  We aren’t anyone special. We followed God’s principles.

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I am still in awe of God after looking at this. Only He could do this and He gets the glory!

What has God done for your life that exceeded what you could ever imagine?

Hope | When All Else Fails – Have Hope

You will be rewarded for this;
   your hope will not be disappointed.
Proverbs 23:18

Could you imagine this promise from God’s word coming to pass in your life? Knowing that if you don’t give up and if you persevere, that your hope is going to be rewarded should be the catalyst of your faith that God will fight on your behalf.  I love the fact that God, in His infinite grace, brings us out of the despair and in the hope that we will overcome.

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What is this hope that is talked about all throughout scripture?  The best definition that I have heard is the “confident expectation of something good.” I am not just expecting something good. I am confident that it will happen. Hope is vital. Hope is essential.  Without this hope, we feel utter despair. We need hope.  I want to have that overwhelming hope. I am grateful that we are given the expectation of something good in our lives otherwise we would be doomed to sorry for the rest of our lives. God’s word is very specific about how important hope is to His people.

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.  Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:19-20

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       Hope isn’t something that is flippantly written throughout God’s word. It isn’t a “well I hope it happens” or “I hope that it comes through.” Hope is a powerful word that we can be assured that God will fulfill in our lives.  Will it happen automatically or quickly? I won’t yes because that is not entirely true. More often than not, hope fulfilled takes time. Patience is at practice here because we don’t always see it happen right away.   I have seen in my own life that it came to pass sooner than it should have.
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       I have always wanted to be married and a dad. It was my dream growing up which I looked forward to. For a while, I thought it would never happen. I eventually swore off dating and decided that I was destined for singleness. A bit extreme, but that is how I felt at my young age. Not long after I moved to St. Louis, I met my beautiful bride in an unexpectant way and not in my timing. Not long after we met we were married and began having our family.  Sometimes, God will use a move or something unexpectant to fulfill the hope that is in your heart.

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       If you are losing hope or feeling hopeless, know that you are not alone. Even now as I type this, I have struggled with having hope that anything better could happen for our family. Just like you, I have to remember that God is a God of hope that I can trust in.

What are you doing to restore hope in your life? Do you often feel what is the point of having hope? Comment Below – I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Thoughts | To Dream Again

For nearly 20 years, I have had this dream. I mean a big, hairy, audacious dream. A dream that in the eyes of other people is impossible. For me, it was impossible. In 2016, we were getting closer and closer to getting this dream launched. Then the unthinkable happened. The rug was pulled out from under us. A new journey had begun in our lives that would erase all the hard work that we had made.

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When you have that happen to you, it is very hard to dream again. You start to wonder, “what’s the point” or “why try when everything is against you?” It is easier to stop dreaming than to dream and have it taken away. The only problem is that you miss the destiny God has for you. You end up just surviving instead of thriving. Then, you become bitter.
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How do I know these things? I was there. When all of this happened, I had to learn to trust again and to dream again. I had to learn how to not be afraid of the unknown. I also had to learn that just because one person does you wrong does not mean that all people do you wrong.
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Now, I have to learn something new. I have to learn to dream again. I have to learn how to let go and draw strength from God in order to start dreaming again. The faith that God has given me has to help me to be able to see the unseen even through the hurt.

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Are you struggling with this? You are not alone. Comment below your thoughts, what are you dreaming about, and any other thoughts!

Thought | You Didn’t Order That

Thomas…..

Oh, where did I go wrong, Thomas? I simply wanted dinner with my family. Instead, we have a thought for Customer Service and entertainment for the evening. I guess I better start over for those who are not included in this inside information. It was the 30th of December and we had just gone ice skating with the family. When I say we, it wasn’t me, it was everyone else. That’s not all that important.

What is important is that we were all hungry and stopped at a Steak and Shake. Normally, we have okay experiences with Steak and Shake. however, this one was a bit out of the ordinary. We sat down as a group together (there was 11 of us and I gave Thomas a lot of leeway on this) to have dinner.  The hostess let us know that they were out of kids menus and that she would go over what they had. We assumed that she was our waitress.

This was where the action started. Ten munites later, a man comes over to take our order and introduces himself as Thomas. First, he takes Sara’s order. Then he goes to Maleah. I am thinking as he skipped over me that he was doing the ladies orders first. He then said “Sir, what would you like?” to my father-in-law or so we thought. Jay started talking and the waiter cuts him off and says, “No I was talking to her” pointing to my sister in law. At this point, we all stared in shock in the way he was taking our order, but then again, maybe it was how he remembered things.

Nope. He plum forgot about me until after several people telling him that he forgot about me he realized this. I give him my order. After a while, our orders started coming out. I should have stopped him. No really, I should have because when came out with four plates and he couldn’t remember whose was whose, that should have been my warning. He gives me my food and Sara gets hers. He goes to give Jay and Wendy their order. He walks off and comes back with the sides. He gave Jay his chili and then proceeds to ask, “Who ordered this other chili?” Wendy piped up, “I did,” His response?

You didn’t order that. The look on her face was priceless. She told him that she did indeed order that. Around the mountain of people, we go and he gets to Braeden (Wendy’s son). Thomas went to give him the food and Braeden told him “I did not order this, I ordered something different.” Thomas proceeds to argue that he, in fact, did order that and slammed the plate down in front of him.

At Burger King, you can have it your way. Not at Steak and Shake. Not with Thomas. Nope! You didn’t order that. Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot stand horrible customer service. I give a lot of grace to those in the food industry because I know what it was like. However, when you consistently argue with the customer regarding their order is correct or not, you have failed the test.

Flashback | Barack Obama: You Didn’t Build That

I had a chat with the manager about that as well as our bill being incorrect because he had entered in our food incorrectly. She graciously fixed that error and apologized.

Thomas. Friend, waiting tables may not your forte. Maybe I am wrong and being a little bit harsh. However, in the food industry, it is vital that you listen to your customers and respond respectfully and tactfully. The customer may not always be right. The customer should be honored.

Thought | You Cannot Fill A Well With An Empty Bucket

Let me start by saying this, the post that I am writing is in no way meant to bring condemnation. This post is to encourage you to be your best self for you so that you can be your best self for others. With that said, you cannot fill a well with an empty bucket. Let me explain.
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For nearly 10 years, I worked in ministry full-time. I gave everything I had to ministry. I sacrificed time and energy to make sure that everyone was taken care of. I also sacrificed my time to learn new skills and go back to school to better our family’s opportunity in the marketplace. In the end, I had nothing left to give. I was dry. The well of information, of encouragement, of faith, was all dried up. What happened?

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At the end of the day, I had not replenished what I had given. I drained everything dry. Like the title says you cannot fill a well with an empty bucket. What I had to learn was to do these simple tasks to refill my bucket.

  1. Talk to God. I know that there are many of you who read my posts that do not have a faith journey. I write through the lens that I am living and I had to first learn to talk to God. He is the only One who can truly refill me and direct me towards my purpose.
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  2. Write it Down. I began to write down my thoughts. Now, I did not do this every day, however, I did it as often as I could recall. At first, you won’t do it every single day either. That’s fine. Just start a process and you can change it down the road. We aren’t trying to be religious…we’re just trying to refill a dry well. pen-389401_1920.jpg
  3. Read. Some of life’s greatest ideas come from reading. I have chosen to read a daily devotion from YouVersion, a daily reading from a John Maxwell Leadership Daily Reader, and a non-fiction book. I have a list of books that I am working on for 2019.  You can download it free Book List!
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  4. Dream. This has been probably the hardest thing over the past two years. Dreaming when you have had your life turned upside down, but like the Bible says, people without a vision die. I want to be filled with hope.
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  5. Encourage Yourself. This is not a new age thing. The Bible even tells us that David encouraged himself. If it was good enough for the great king, I figure it would be good for me. This refills you with encouragement and promise.
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  6. Remove the Negative. This means people, images, news, etc. Anything that is bringing you down with negativity, its time to remove it.
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These are just a few things that are currently helping me to refill the well.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

What are you doing to be the best you and refill your well?

Parenting | Just Because It Is Hard Doesn’t Mean You Can Quit

For the past three months, I have been working a weird schedule that has had our home in upheaval because it was so difficult to plan for anything with our family. I would work from 930-530 three days a week and 7-3 two days a week. Now, I know what many of you are thinking; that’s a piece of cake schedule! The problem with children is that they have expectations. They have thoughts of what reality is and that reality is this; nothing is supposed to change…period.

It was so hard to change my schedule. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with my family or that I did not want to be home at all. It was a season that I had to set what I thought aside and take one for the team. I was glad that I could help. We needed the help.

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The thing about kids is that they don’t fully understand reality. The first thing they think about when they don’t like something is to quit and do something else. They do “what feels good.” It isn’t reality! One of the girls said, “Dad, why can’t you just quit?” My response? “Do you like to have lights? Do you like to eat?” I know. The reality, right?
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In a day where it is easier to just quit when the going gets tough instead of getting tough, I will do what I have to do. Why?  In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon wrote

Commit your activities to the Lordand your plans will be achieved”
Proverbs 16:3 HCSB

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If you give the things that you are doing to Him, He will honor it. Sure, you are going to have to sacrifice time, energy, and maybe even money. Fortunately, I am back on my old shift again and it is normal again. The kids and the wife are Here’s the thing; if I have to do it again, I will do it. Why? Because you gotta do what you gotta do.

Thought | Reflecting To Break Free

“Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.”
Yvonne Woon

I am not one to dwell on the past. After many years fighting anxiety, fear, worry, and all the other things that come with it, I have purposed to look ahead. I have to admit that even though I don’t like to dwell there, I like to visit there. Why? I don’t believe that I would appreciate where I am if I did not recall where I came.
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The year 2018 brought a lot of surprises after the “crisis” of 2017. I had to overcome fear at a whole new level. Not that 2018 was a horrible year. It was a challenging year. I had to overcome the fear of losing a job, the fear of not having enough finances to support my family, the fear of messing things up, and so much more. What I learned in 2018 is these two things; no matter where you are on the journey, God will get you through it if you allow Him and He will lead you to victory.

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I recall one particular situation where I was at a loss as to what I needed to do. Through the whole ordeal, I wanted to do something. However, that small whisper quoted the scripture;

“Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
2 Chronicles 20:15

I had to hold onto this and not allow fear to get a hold of me in this season. Things settled down and I am at a place of peace, thankfully I can rest in Him and not in the fears that try to conquer me.

What has 2018 taught you? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thought | Forgive Me While I Try Not to be Cynical

I try not to be cynical. It is not something that I want to do. The old adage “if you don’t believe anything good will ever happen, you won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t” kind of rings a lot in my life. Naturally, I am a negative person. I have to force myself to believe that there are good things that happen in life. I have to make a concerted effort to be a positive person. The coffee mug could be half full of coffee and I will think “well…I am almost out of coffee….”

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But seriously, over the years I have certainly developed this toxic gift that I am constantly working on. I don’t want to be cynical, but you guys out there in the real world make it really hard for me not to be. When someone has been working their whole career to get ahead just to be left behind constantly, it is easy for that person to believe in the old adage that I mentioned earlier. When our finances continue to hit a brick wall, it is hard for me to be glad for the guy who was able to pay his house off and start his own business from scratch without borrowing a penny. My hope is that I can become as successful as Abraham Lincoln….without all the failures… Don’t believe me? See the list;

Time Line of Failures of Abraham Lincoln

1832- Defeated for State Legislature

1833- Failed in Business

1835-Lost his Fiancé

1836- Nervous Breakdown

1838- Defeated for Speaker

1843- Defeated for Nomination for Congress

1848- Lost Re-nomination

1849- Rejected for Land Officer

1854- Defeated for US Senate

1856- Defeated for Nomination for Vice President

1858- Defeated again for US Senate

1860-ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Time Line Source – http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/education/failures.htm. Retrieved 10.01.14.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Galatians 6:9 NLT

I was surprised that this article did not mention that Lincoln had lost two of his four sons to death while they were children and one while he was in the White House. Not to mention that his wife was clinically insane. Lincoln had a lot of opportunities to develop an attitude that was toxic. It would have been easy for him to become cynical.

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It is easy to think only good things happen to certain people and the rest of us are left behind to remove the manure. It is important that we have our eyes set on greater things and better things. I am not proclaiming some message of weird witchcraft. But I am saying that the Bible verse from Proverbs 23:7 which reads “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.” If you are thinking doom and gloom, do not be surprised if you get doom and gloom. If you think your kids are hoodlums, do not be shocked when they are arrested for disorderly conduct…okay, that may be a stretch. But do not be shocked if they grow up causing trouble. If we can get our minds around this, what power would we have as men of God? Amazing!

What are some ways that you get out of the funk? 

Book Review | Killing the SS

39304806First, I am a huge fan of the Killing Series by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. They have captured many historical events both the United States and abroad.  This one is certainly no different. Killing the SS captures the essence of post World War II and the criminal proceedings that followed. Mostly, the authors track some of the primary actors in the Third Reich of Germany under Hitler. I honestly was taken aback with this book. I anticipated that the book would be about Hilter. This was not the case. His cronies and those hunting them are the central themes. You will not want to put this book down.

Get your copy today!

The Most Unlikely Audience

Imagine with me a clear, star-filled night. You are surrounded by sheep as far as the eye can see. Nearby is the lead shepherd and he is keeping watch over the flock. It is so quiet that not even the animals are making a noise. From a distance, you start to notice something quite strange. At first, you can’t tell what it is but as time moves forward, it gets brighter and brighter.
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It is still so quiet that you could hear a pebble hit the ground. Little do you know, that is all about to change. The light is now so bright that you have to shield your eyes. The starry night now appears to be as bright as day. Right above you is what appears to be a man in a robe.

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The only problem…okay, one of the many problems with this would be that this creature is flying and not walking.  Suddenly, the creature speaks;

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 

The sky lights up even brighter and there are hundreds upon hundreds of the same creature flying saying;

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

And just as fast as the bright lights came, the men in robes disappeared and it was all over. The stillness of the night returned. Obviously, there was way too much excitement to fall asleep. The men got up and went to the town of David.

Could you imagine how these men felt? The announcement was not given to any royalty. No noblemen received the news. As a matter of fact, these men were low on the socioeconomic totem pole. They had to have felt not just honored but in complete amazement! God chose the most unlikely audience to announce the arrival of His only Son!

If God can look upon a shepherd to give him the most important news of a lifetime, how much more would God be willing to choose you?

 

Thoughts | Well, That Was Unexpected

Imagine yourself in the feet of Joseph and Mary the day before Jesus was born. On a journey to Bethlehem, the had to go for between 80 to 90 miles to the City of David for the Roman census. The trek wasn’t an easy one for a pregnant woman and her husband. The night before the birth, Mary had to have been exhausted and ready to be done with this trip. She may not have complained out loud, but in her mind, she had to have had a few thoughts. Nothing could have prepared them for the moment they came to Bethlehem.

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That was unexpected. Going around the city, they were trying to find a place to rest. This wasn’t 2018 where you could go on Travelocity and book your hotel. You were not guaranteed a place to sleep. Praying that the inn owners would have mercy on them, they went to each place. There was no room. Each place, due to the census, was packed to the rafters in people. There was no pity. There was no handout. There were no exceptions. There were no entitlement programs. The fact was that they would have no place to go.

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That was unexpected. The King of kings was to be born albeit they did not know when or where and there was no place for Him. There was no room for Him to enter the world that He would later save. There was no pomp when Mary entered Bethlehem. It was business as usual and the fact that the King was to be born soon had no effect on the people.

That was unexpected. One inn owner would have mercy on their travels. All he had was an aminal stable to offer. There was no plush bed or warm blankets or air conditioner nor heater. It was a barn. Plain and simple. Joseph and Mary were humble enough to accept it. You and I? We’d balk at the notion of sleeping where animals lay.

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That was unexpected. The journey came to an end and now it was time to rest. All this time, Joseph and Mary thought they were here for the census only to be surprised with the birth of Jesus. Mary wasn’t expecting this. Joseph wasn’t anticipating this. As a matter of fact, they did not have the book on What to Expect When You Are Expecting. They only had the angel that told them that God would be with them.

From the time Jesus was conceived, His life was full of unexpected events. Even to this day, we see that the Christian walk is full of unexpected events. Well, that is, unexpected to us. God isn’t surprised and will never be. He already has the plan mapped out. No different than the walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem for Joseph and Mary.  Throughout scripture, I believe that God shows up in the unexpected. That is when we see His power most often.

Relationship | When We Don’t All Fit In

I am not going to fit in…and that is okay. It is safe to say that Sara and I have not always fit into the normal crowd. We are amazing people with great hearts and a stable home. However, it doesn’t mean that everyone likes us. As a matter of fact, we just don’t fit in. No matter where we go, we seem to be on the outside. It has taken me a while to accept it, but that is okay.

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Now, just because I say that I have accepted it doesn’t mean I like it. What it means is that we are set apart from most people. We are fortunate. We have each other and our intermediate family is extremely close. We used to ask the question, “What is wrong with us?”

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I never fully got the answer, but I did come across this; “But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:8-9 (TLB) The thing about this passage is that when we are chosen by God Himself, we are not chosen to simply blend in but to stand out. We are not called to be chameleons but to be a white tiger. Maybe not a white tiger, per se, but it is a good example.

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The white tiger is a tiger in the wild in the Indian states and stands out in the crowd. You cannot miss it. As a believer, we are called to stand out. If we blend in, why would anyone want what we have if it is just like what they already have? That is why I can say “I am not going to fit in…and that is okay.”

Book Review | The Go-Giver Series

51sLS7otdkLThe Go-Giver is a great tale of Joe, a salesman who needs to make a quota who meets an important businessman. What Joe doesn’t know is that his life is about to change forever. With 5 life-changing principles, Joe will learn how to be both successful and happy.  You will easily get lost in this story. This book is a tale that will not only encourage you, but it will challenge you to be all that you can be.

Grab your copy!

 

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The Go-Giver leader is a great tale of Ben, an acquisition specialist who is looking to help acquire a family owned business only to have it interrupted by a nosey companion of his friend. Though this companion is a bother, he has learned several key trains to help him. His approach to this acquisition is forever changed and he will ultimately have a life-altering decision to make. It will challenge you to be the best leader that you can be!

Grab your copy!

Parenting |When you are about to lose your…

As a parent, you want to believe that you will never lose your…well, for the lack of a better term – crap with your kids. Unfortunately, the other day, I was unsuccessful. I am not proud of it. However, I am not upset about it either. Let’s replay the scenario. Now, out of respect for my kiddos, I won’t use the names. I will, however, elaborate why I lost my….crap.

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The girls had their Christmas program and they all had their outfits pick out a week before. Mom had gone through their dresses, had them try it on, and had them get them ready. Sara is an amazing mom and is a lot better at the organizing than I am. I used to be pretty good about it, but she puts me to shame. The night comes when the program was to happen. We all eat tacos for dinner (the kids had been begging and it was a quick dinner for Sara to throw together) and the kids commenced getting ready. One of the said children came into the kitchen. That’s when the party started. She fell in love with this dress. She even tried it on. She put it on recently and just loved this dress. Oh how much she desired to wear this dress until it was time to put it on then suddenly she doesn’t think that it fits right. You know how dresses just magically change overnight (insert sarcastic fatherly tone).

 

But seriously, she had “loved” this dress until an hour before we were supposed to leave. Through tears and screaming about how much she hates it then saying she wasn’t going, I had a heart to heart with her. At this point, I am no longer cool dad. Sara is in the bedroom upset which is completely understandable. The other two girls have run off into their bedroom to finish getting ready which is code for “dad is about to lose his…crap.” Dad has had enough.

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There are two things I cannot stand – mistreating my wife and lying to me. So far, it is not looking pretty. I sat her down and asked her why she was acting this way. She would not tell me why she was acting this way. For 15 minutes we are having this discussion. When I say “we”, I mean “me.” Why? Because she is sobbing over a dress that she just loved to have and now doesn’t like it because “it doesn’t fit right.” Finally, after this 15 minutes of conversation, she lets out that she’s upset because of my work schedule. We have had this discussion before. We have been down the road. This is where I decided to change course.

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“Just because life doesn’t happen the way you want it does not give you the right to treat people like dirt.” She got quiet. I continued, “You are not a victim here. You have a roof over your head, food on your table, a Dad and a Mom who love you regardless of how you treat us. You have to buck up and move on.” How often do we act the very same way with God? We cry we scream, we yell, we treat others wrongly, all because our lives aren’t going as planned. Then God reminds us what is in His word and then we have to face the hard reality that we need to buck up and move on. One good thing that comes from Dad losing his…crap, is that not only is the child learning a lesson – so is the parent.

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Don’t ever be ashamed of losing your…crap. You are not perfect. Repent. Move on. Then write about it…it is good therapy.

 

Together We Run

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
                                                                                                                           1 Thessalonians 5:11

In a recent article, I talked about the reasons why we go to church. It started out with an emptiness that I felt about the purpose of going to church. Throughout the article, I spoke about the true reason why we should go to church and that was to encourage one another. I don’t believe, however, that the end of the story.

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In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, King Solomon wisely wrote;  Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” This is one of the primary reasons that we need a church family and not just a country club to join. It is a place to join together, buckle down, and embrace life!

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So, I went a little strong on that in the first two paragraphs. Perhaps I am little overzealous on the topic.  However, I am a firm believer that before we can reach the world, we have to first reach within. We have to first love on the unlovable…in our churches.  Jesus spoke in John 13:34 that we are to “love one another” as Christ loves us. As we walk to the next verse it says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

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Did you see that? It is by the love that we have for one another that people will know that we are His disciples! We were not designed to live life alone (see Genesis 2:18). Throughout scripture, there are plenty of places that you will find God relaying to His people to build a relationship with one another and how imperative it is for them to do so. Why?
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For me, the answer lies in Galatians 6:2 where Paul writes, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” The people of God do not have their act together. How do I know that? Carry each other’s burdens. Yes. Perfect people do not have burdens and God’s people, in fact, do not have their act together. Heck, I don’t have my act together. Why do you think I write this blog?! I digress.

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God wants you and me, as believers, to carry one another and help one another through the tough times. Doing this, the people of the world will see something in us that they will desire. I know this because so many people will go to the bar to have community and feel accepted for who they are. I am not advocating for you to go to the bar, let’s keep your focus here! If someone comes into the church and automatically senses something amiss with the people of God, they are not going to want to stick around.

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My goal is to be the solution to this. Nope. I am not perfect. It is just that – at goal. My prayer is that I acknowledge when I see someone come into the doors of our church and be one to show them the love of Christ. First, I have to begin within the four walls of my church to love people…just as Christ loves us.

 

 

 

In the Shadow of the Almighty

I am amazed at the awesomeness of God.  I seriously stand amazed at what God is doing and will do for His kids.  In Psalm 91, it says that “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Right now, I believe that we are experiencing the peace of God by the rest of God.  We are to be resting in Him in the shadow of the Almighty.  Following the “rest” of God is “This I declare of the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him.”  We are refugees of this world in the arms of Christ as we fight on.  It is so easy for you and I to preach to one another.  The hard part is living it.

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Several years ago we discovered a major leak in our kitchen.  We had been soaking towels from time to time and could not figure it out.  I moved everything in our mudroom out thinking it was coming from the wall where our bathroom is.  Dry as a bone.  I looked by our water softener, which we haven’t used since we moved in, dry as the desert.  I looked at Sara and said, “it’s the fridge.”  I was avoiding that because you and I know that it’s not cheap buying a refrigerator.

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The easy thing to do is to rant and rave at the fact that, yet again, we are forking money out that we don’t need to be spending in our one income family.  I have to sidestep here and will readdress this at a later time but for a one income family with three kids, God has been taking great care of us.  The hard thing to do is to stand back and go, “God we need a great deal.”  Where’s your faith?!  Speak to that fridge and tell it to dry up in Jesus name!

Let’s be real.  Perhaps God wants to bless my family with a greater fridge.  Maybe someone will give us a new one.  Maybe we will find the deal of the century.  What if we didn’t?  I look at the three Hebrew boys in Daniel who were commanded to bow to the statue of the king and refused.  It was said that even if God didn’t save them, they still would not bow down.
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Instead of losing our peace or losing our hair, we are, in the shadow of the Almighty, to come to Him and pray.  I had been reading a book called “Just Like Jesus” by Max Lucado which has revolutionized my way of thinking.  One of the chapters was on “being led by the unseeing hand.”  What would have happened if I had been lead by my own hand?  The next verse of Psalms 91 would not happen.  “For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague.”

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But Will, your fridge was leaking.  How was that rescuing you?  This question may arise in your mind which is valid. There are always tests that we live in.  The enemy loves to have a cackle to try you on what God’s word says.  The enemy knows the word and if he can get you off track, he can get you out of the shadow of the Almighty, he will do it. Be led by the “unseen hand” by being in communication with Him.  I am finding myself more each day being challenged in this area.  What would have happened if I had not communicated with the Lord my need? He would not have had the opportunity to fight that battle for me and I would have been off track for what He had planned for me.
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With fridge leaking, my peace is not if my appliances are working, my faith is not in the finances to replace the item, my thoughts are not on who is going to help install it, my focus is not on the principal of the matter.  My peace is in Him who gave me the focus to focus on Him who will provide a way even where there seems to be no way.  What are you doing this week to be in the shadow of the Almighty?  How are you communicating with Him?  Are you communicating with Him? Open the lines of communication with your heavenly Father for He desires to talk to you about everything.

What are you doing today to communicate with the Father?

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Salvaging Christmas

For years, there has been an all-out assault n Christmas. Never has there been a time in our country’s history where people were so offended and Christmas is no exception. I guess it would confirm what the Bible has told us from time to time about the end days. From the fact that the world would be “lovers of self” and “they will hate you as they have hated me“, I have witnessed the hatred of God’s people simply because they believe that this little baby would grow up to save the world.

These are the same people who believe that believe that we should be tolerant of all people…unless you are a Christan. The tolerance only goes so far in today’s society. However, I have to look back at the life of Christ. There weren’t very many people that were tolerant of Him. They were so intolerant that they would nail Him to a cross. At Christmas, however, it isn’t about the intolerance of a society that we should be focused on. It isn’t the intolerance of God’s people towards one another. It is a time where the true meaning behind it is salvaged for all mankind. Christmas isn’t just a bedtime story to tell of a man and woman who traveled forever to have a baby in a barn. No, it is a story of salvation that came in the most unlikely package to an unexpecting world that would find their lives changed forever.

This is Christmas.

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God’s Ultimate Repayment Plan

        Although I have not completely arrived, I know that I am on my way to the freedom of knowing that I am not God. You may laugh, but we often treat our lives as if we have all control over it and that we are the center of the universe. Have you not seen the stock market? Have you not heard of the housing market? Have you not seen the prices of a Starbucks coffee? For the love of Pete, you have to almost take out a loan just to get a Venti Vanilla Latte, not that I am advertising my all-time favorite flavor but it takes an act of God to afford it.

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       I know that so often we find ourselves blaming God or asking God why things happen in life. Stay with me as we go together in the Word and discover the ultimate repayment plan that God has made for His children. Like most companies, Frito-Lay has a Money-Back Guarantee on the back of its packages in small, almost illegible print. But if you don’t like their product, you call the eight hundred number on the back and complain. If you don’t like the packaging, you can call them and let them know. Already I can hear you saying, “Where’s God’s 800 number? I would like to place a complaint on this packaging He put me in.”

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       Let’s be realistic, it could be a lot worse and it may get that way if you keep that attitude. Back to the point, many companies will repay you for the ‘wrong’ that occurred. Whether it was poor customer service, a bad product, or unreliable services, the company will, at times, repay you in the form of money or additional services. Where are you going with this? Turn your Bible to Isaiah 61:8 and let’s take a gander at what God has in store for us today.

“For I, the Lord, love justice, I hate robbery in the burnt offering, And I will faithfully give them their recompense And make an everlasting covenant with them.”

        The fine print that God gives us if you will, is that instead of the trouble that people give you or the injustice that people do to you, He (GOD) will repay that injustice. Where do we find that? In Proverbs 20:22, wisdom says that the Lord will repay. There is a portion of that which we don’t like to hear very often or at all. “Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.” We often want to get back at the person right away and show them who is boss. We want to get even and do it without even thinking twice about it. However, it says that if we wait on Him, He will save us. There is not a maybe in that verse. If we try to get back at someone, there is a high possibility that we will fail.

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inigo-thumb-375xauto-2548With God, that repayment by Him is a 100% guarantee. In several places in scripture (Deut. 32:35, Ps 94:1, Heb. 10:30) God instructs us to leave it to Him to repay the judgment. How awesome is that! We get to let the almighty Jehovah fight out war and we get to sit back with our cup of coffee and newspaper while He does it. Okay, maybe not with those things but the fact is it takes more courage to admit that the battle is the Lords (1 Sam 17:47) than to run into the fight to obtain revenge. It brings back memories of an old movie called “The Princess Bride.” Throughout the whole film, one of the characters vowed to obtain revenge for his father’s death. His whole goal in life was to duel with the man who killed his father. He practices the lines that he will say, he practices the moves and rehearses the scenes over and over. But in the end, he dies. Bummed?

 

      It is the very same principle in our lives. If you go around with a big chip on your shoulder wanting revenge because someone did you wrong or you are harboring unforgiveness, you are no better than this character who wasted his whole life looking for the man who killed his father to get revenge. God has already declared that you have won this victory, He knows the outcome, He has spoken to you to give it up and let Him deal with it so let Him deal with it. Let Him give the repayment. Let Him be the one who bears the burden. Let Him be the one who carries more than you can bear because you cannot carry or bear this alone. You cannot repay what anyone has done. Jesus said it best on the cross, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”

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         We need to ask God for His help and divine assistance. In closing, we find ourselves in Psalms 43:1 which is “Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.” Apart from God, you can do nothing, my friend. Trust in Him, believe in Him, and follow His calling. If you have failed in the past and have done stupid things, forget about it. If you have asked for forgiveness, quit talking about it. God has already forgotten about it and so should you. Is it easy? Absolutely not! But you have people praying for you, you have people thinking of you, and with the help from Almighty God, you will overcome evil with good. He’s not leaving you nor is He forsaking you. Stand firm and stand strong! Let God repay and let Him be the victor and stop being the victim.

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