William Howell

Transparent | Innovative | Relational

 

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“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana

Today, we remember those who lost their lives and the families that suffered these losses because of the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001. It is hard to believe that it has been 16 years since many of us were mesmerized to the television in horror of the images flashing across the screen.  No one had seen an attack of this caliber on United States soil. There were 2996 lives that were taken from this country when 19 men decided to carry out the terrorist attack.  Our world would never be the same…so we thought.

I know that Mr. Santayana had a lot of criticism with the quote that I opened with. There is, however, some truth to it. I remember the weeks following the attacks on our country. There were calls to prayer, open dialog on what we should do, cooperation between governmental parties, and a renewed hope in our country’s foundation. Fast forward to today. I have never seen such division in our country, the dialog is more of a closing argument in a court case, and there are questions in the land regarding the fundamental truths of this country.

What happened in such a short period of time to our country? To me, I believe that we have forgotten the reasons that our nation came together on that September morning. That reason is hope. We have lost hope in so many areas in our country. Hope is an expectation of something good happening. Why are we not, as a country, having that hope? I believe that our nation must come back to that hope and unite instead of divide. I believe that the 2,996 people that died on September 11, 2001, would want us to be in one accord. Remembering their lives is sure to help us to make a difference in the future.

 

I have found myself often early in the morning looking at a reflection. The person on the other side of the looking-glass could scare fleas off a dog. Perhaps if his hair had been more kept or even if his eyes were so bloodshot.  He would be looking as if he didn’t know how he got into bed last night. I know, it doesn’t sound hyper-spiritual.  Stick with me though. You never know where this could go.

Every morning I get up, I go to get ready for my day.  I look in the mirror and make sure that I don’t have gobs of sleep stuck to my eyes.  I also make sure that the hair I have in my head is mine and not strands from my cat, wife, or kids. I look in the mirror and I reflect on what I need to look like for the day.  I make sure that I reflect the image of a successful person.

I have to admit I have been struggling though. I have not been the Godly daddy that I should be.  There’s a mirror that I often fail to reflect on each morning. There’s a mirror that I often have to dust to get even see a reflection in the morning.  I won’t promise or even have a new year’s resolution on it.  There is always room for improvement but thank God I am doing better than I used to.

This mirror, the Word of God, is the litmus test of who I am to become. In James 1:21-25, James wrote on not just listening and reading the word but actually doing it.  In verse 23-24 he writes “For you, if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.”

It’s so easy to look at the mirror in the morning to remove all the junk from your face and hair but the minute you walk out the door, you tend to forget what junk you had to remove.  It’s not on the forefront of your mind for today’s agenda.  I don’t want to be like that when it comes to God’s word.  I want to always remember what I looked at in the mirror so that I can be improving not because I am under some kind of law but it is because I love the One who chose to love me regardless of what I see.

As I reflect on the man in the mirror, my prayer is that he will be a reflection of Christ.  I pray that my children will see their father as a reflection of the Heavenly Father.  I want to be the Godly daddy that I have been called to be.  I don’t want to be weighed down by law, however, I want to be weighed down by His love.

I am a Christian who loves Starbucks. There.  It’s out there in the open. I know that you won’t understand what I just said but as you read this article do you want understand in light of the things that of been said about Starbucks in the past.

Over the years I got caught up in every Tom, Dick, and Harry’s opinion pieces on social media about what company supports what and the like only to find myself starved, thirsty, and naked.  Okay, naked might be a stretch but that’s not my point.

Recently, I saw a bunch of op-eds about a televangelist whose church did not open their doors on the first day of a natural disaster.  You would have thought they denied Christ Himself. The problem is that so many people responded out of anger without all of the facts. Instead of looking at what really happened they posted a bunch of negative stuff about it and spread it to other friends and family. From time to time I know and it’s vital that we know information, however, it can be detrimental.

So when information keeps coming out on social media it brings a lot of confusion especially when it comes from the media. But my job as a Christian is not to let people know what I don’t believe in or what I don’t stand for. My job as a believer is to first love God and then love others. So when I started reading articles about restaurants and stores not supporting Christian values, it brought to light to me that we spend a lot of time telling people what we don’t believe that instead of loving the very people there within those stores.

What if we miss an opportunity to be Christ in the marketplace because of someone else’s opinion?

Dare I say that perhaps we must go in to the darkest of places in the marketplace to reach others? Or am I to become the way it was like the pharisee who said thank God I am not a sinner like this man?

Dare I say that we should become  an example to those who are social media or in real world life? Am I saying that we need to walk into a strip club or into a bar or into the darkest of places in the world in trouble? Most certainly not! I am saying however that we must be flexible to plan that God has. We cannot love our neighbor and love ourselves if we are too busy criticizing and condemning those that God wants us to reach.

Besides how often do we find out that those pieces that we read are false? I know said it is easy to jump on the bandwagon of social media reports.   But today we have to come to the point in our walk with God and we spent the majority of time loving one another. Today I want to challenge each and every one of you including myself to look past the op-ed pieces and move forward to touching someone’s life.

Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
 All day long I put my hope in you.
Psalms 25:5 NLT

I walked into the store to grab something for the car. Looking up and down the aisle, I found what I thought was what I needed. You and I know that men are not known to ask for directions. As I began to walk away but felt prompted to look down at the item. Boy was I glad!  The item I bought said not to use it on certain car parts and one of those parts was one I was working on!

I got to thinking – how often do I go about my life without looking for help or looking at the directions on a product? What about in life? What about in relationships? There are so many things that I don’t know about in life. I can still hear my Granddad telling me, “Will, there are libraries full of books on things that we don’t know.” In life, we need a great reference to help us to learn, to direct us, and to show us a better way.

In a way, it almost seems cliche to say that the Bible is our instruction book. As a Christian, it is ingrained in us to know that the Bible is our instruction book and our guide.  But that is not what this post is all about.  It is about using what you have. We have been given the instructions that we need to get through life. I often have found myself wondering and asking questions only to realize that I never used what I had to find that answer. It is like needing directions to a city yet not using your GPS to get the directions. The Word of God guides us to help us to get to where we need to go.

I have, many times in my life, been guilty of not taking time to read God’s Word. The best thing that you and I can do is to take the time to read the instructions. If we don’t take the time to read the instructions, we have no idea what to do with the situations in life.

I grew up thinking that the Bible was a bunch of rules of dos and don’ts only to realize that it is vital in helping me get through the difficulties of life. Without reading the instructions, I would be lost trying to find my way.

By the way, I found the right product that I needed and it worked amazingly!

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, I was reading about prayer and was reading in Luke 11 where Jesus was teaching the people how to pray. In this teaching, he told them a story regarding a man who was in need who went to his neighbor and asked for help. The neighbor was inconvenienced and didn’t want to get up. In verse 8, Jesus said a powerful statement; “But I tell you this though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. And so I tell you, keep on asking,, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”
The phrase shameless persistence is what stuck out to me. I read the note out of my study bible and it reads “Persistence, or boldness, in prayer overcomes our insensitivity, not God’s. To practice persistence does more to change our heart and mind than his, and it helps understand and express the intensity of our need. Persistence in prayer helps us recognize God’s work.”

The question often asked is “If God honors our persistence, then why does it take so long for it to come to pass?” Daniel experienced this in Daniel 10 when he had been praying for the nation. In fact, he prayed and fasted for 21 days before an answer came. The angel of the Lord appeared to Daniel and said in verse 12 “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels came up to help me and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain…”

Just prior to that, the messenger told Daniel this in verse 11; “And the man said to me, ‘Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.’” You are so important to God and He values your prayers. In Chapter 9, Gabriel said to Daniel in verse 22, ‘Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given.” What a powerful statement! At the very moment that Daniel began praying….a command was given! It wasn’t what he did or who he was but the fact that he began praying and the command was given. That’s how much our God thinks of His kids. Just after, Gabriele said, “and now, I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.” Again, God found that Daniel was precious to Him.

Daniel wasn’t just anyone special. As we read in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus told a story of a widow woman who came to the judge and asked for justice from her enemy. The judge refused to listen to her case and ignored her. However, the widow woman didn’t give up. She went again and again to the judge asking for this justice to be made on her behalf. What was his response? “I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see she gets justice because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!” Jesus didn’t stop here. He went further to show how God views this type of prayer. “Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to him day and night?”

There are many of us that are pursuing God and pressing into something that we feel in our spirit that God is going to do. The enemy will make you feel shame in asking and asking and asking and asking…do not stop pressing into what you know God wants to do in your life. Don’t give up. Keep praying. It’s effective and powerful.

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Often I am invited to review books to help a launch. I love when I get an early preview of it. But here’s the thing, you can get a preview of it too! When you pre-order Mark Batterson’s new book, Whisper, you will receive a limited edition advanced copy of the book and a bookmark. That means you get two books instead of just one and a bookmark. AND Mark will sign it!   Mark gives a tour of his office and with a special offer for YOU! (The video starts out sideways but fixes before the tour.)

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