In Awe of God

“There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.”
― C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

             A couple of years ago, I went camping in Missouri with my family and we just enjoyed the beautiful nature that was created around us.  On the first night, the sky was so clear you could see all of the stars in the sky as far as the eye could see. I was reminded of Psalms 8:3-4, which says “When I view and consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained and established, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of [earthborn] man that You care for him? “  Could you imagine all those stars in heaven being numbered and known by their name by their Creator?  In Psalms 147, the psalmist wrote “He determines and counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names.” After reading this, it puts in perspective of how awesome God really is.

        I used to find myself saying “awesome” so much that I could hear God saying “is it really awesome?”  When God spoke that into my heart, I looked up the word awe and awesome. The meaning was this “have an overwhelming feeling of reverence.”  I just couldn’t imagine saying that ice cream made me have an overwhelming feeling of reverence. I mean, I love it and it makes me feel good but does it make me have an overwhelming reverence for it?  I don’t think so. I had to then ask myself, am I in Awe of God? Whenever we talk about God, do we talk about Him as “the big man upstairs?” Or do we talk about Him as the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning, and the End?  

        We serve a God who cannot be destroyed and cannot be outdone.  We serve a God that presented Himself in the form of a babe that grew to be a man who died on the cross so that you and I can have a relationship with Him.  No longer is there a barrier between him and me. No longer is there an awkward silence or delayed response. Now, it is you and God. There is no one to cut in the line in front of you.  There isn’t any dial tone. There is no busy signal. There is no rejection. You and God are One on one. How incredible is that? It’s not a deep message; it’s not anything that you have to fast and pray on to figure out.  It’s pretty simple, our God is an awesome God!

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Beyond Easter | A Quest for Jesus

“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:42

         It can be really easy to find ourselves right after Easter finding ourselves on a quest for a better self.  It can even come across that we are changing our lives for the better. It can be easy to give up because it doesn’t happen over night.  However, I challenge you to read through this to help you to live beyond Easter and into a quest for Jesus.

        It’s been pretty recent that I have had the Spirit of God really move in my life in many areas of scripture.  As I turn from page to page, I find myself finding a new message. It’s overwhelming at times and I can see myself not being careful with hearing His voice through the thoughts.  I have been on a quest for a little while to know more of Jesus. When we get saved, we know that He loves us and has died for us. The gist is for many Christians is that He is a figure on a cross that we thank God for.  It’s sad to say, that is how most of the Christians of today feel. God has placed a few of these thoughts in my heart to analyze.

  1. Do I Take the Time to Listen to God?

        God has been so good to us and desires to have a personal relationship with us, yet we find ourselves so busy that we forget God is even in the same picture.  We find ourselves being Martha instead of Mary. I was inspired by the story of Mary and Martha in the sense that it reflects the church of today. The Martha church is all about doing and all about works.  The church wants to go out into the world and teach the nations. It is a noble cause but there is an ingredient that we have left out and it is Jesus. We take him along in our box and say, “Ok Jesus, if it be your will let it be done.” And when troubles arise, Jesus is still in the box and we are the ones rebuking the devil.  

         Now, we know this is a metaphor and we know Jesus cannot be locked in a box.  But we might as well put it him on the side if we do not allow him to be the center of our focus.  Mary desired to know more about Jesus. Mary always reminds me of a little girl who goes up to her grandpa’s feet and sits while he’s telling stories.  She is so engrossed in the story that she loses all thoughts of the things that are being done around her. She wants to hear every word, she wants to imagine the things that are happening, and she hangs on to every word.  

        There’s something about Mary in this story that can be out of balance too.  Now, Mary wasn’t doing this but I have to address this portion too. Mary did not forsake all things around her and live in a bubble.  I am sure she worked too but the point is that she did not let her “works” become number one in her life. I have been finding myself lately busy all the time.

        2. Do I Give God My Best or What’s Left?

        Sara and I lead a busy life between church, our children, family, and friends and it is so easy to put God on a shelf.  Certainly, we can find five minutes to talk to Him but honestly isn’t He worth more than five minutes? I read a quote today from Mother Teresa, “Each morning I meditate on Jesus.  I then go and look for him in disguise.” This really touched me in a way that I never would have thought. It is so easy to say, “Good morning, Jesus, thank you for blessing so and so, so and so, in Your name…”

          But what about really meditating on him?  The dictionary refers to meditation as a way “to consider as something to be done or affected; intend; purpose.”  We have to purpose to talk to Jesus each morning. We have to meditate on him and the Word. We have to do it all in balance and not completely disregard our jobs or our housework, but have to spend…should I dare say, that we should desire to spend time with the King of kings.  

       I am just amazed at how good our day goes when we give Him the morning.  It’s a revelation of the principle of first fruits. I heard a teaching on the first fruits and it is so powerful in the thought; the first fruits of a harvest are the best, they are the sweetest, juiciest, and the firmest.  The last of the harvest is bland, tasteless, and weak. God wants your first fruits because it is your best. I have to add to that. You are your best in the morning. We don’t feel it at first but we are rejuvenated, we are fresh, we have rested the night before for the most part, and we haven’t been ruined by the world.  God wants you when you are fresh not when you are flesh. If you are flesh, you are dry and have nothing good to offer.

         3. Am I doing everything I can to Know Him

        I find it interesting that we glorify those that live a lie.  The actors are merely people who get onto the screen and live a fairy tale that does not equate to what happens in real life.  How many times have you popped into a painting and went riding on a horse? How often do you end up with the prettiest girl? Wait, I have done that..ok, bad example but you get my point.  We often glorify something that is completely not true. We veer our lives around them, we set our DVR’s to record them, we can’t wait until the next episode. Then suddenly, we wonder why our marriages aren’t working out or why our children act the way they do.  Now, I am not saying that movies and television are evil and must be done away with. There is balance, you can watch movies and television but when it comes to God, what do you do more of? The average American watches television almost every night for more than two hours. (Stats on television watching and the amount that the movie industry makes) Sure, we want to escape the harshness of the world because our lives are in turmoil but when it all boils down to it, what is true in the end?  God wants a moment with you today. He wants more than an simple blessing of the meal. He wants your attention more than you’ll ever know. Did you know our God is a jealous God? Many would think, well if that’s the way it is then why serve Him?

       Wouldn’t you be jealous if your spouse spent more time with a friend than you?  Or when they are on the internet for hours and only spend ten minutes with you? God has the same feelings.  He wants more than ten minutes with you every Sunday and Wednesday. He desires for you to know Him. In Psalms, God calls us to “be still and know that I am God.” I am amazed of how often God uses small words to prove a point.  God wants you to “know”. To know is to have full knowledge of the truth. What would we have if we truly knew God in His core essence? Get to know God and get close to Him. The only thing certain other than death is God. Be ready and be prepared.

        4. Is Everything I Do For the Glory of God?

       But if you are fresh, you can change the world.  I love 1 Corinthians 10:31 that says, “So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.”  I think it is important that in everything that we do, whether it is talking on the phone or going out to dinner with a friend, or whatever the case is but that it is all for God’s glory.  

       Many people would like to dispute certain activities because it doesn’t state them clearly in the Word.  I really believe that this verse captivates what the rest of the Word says and doesn’t say. For example, many Christians believe that it is ok to drink.  I used to believe this until I read this verse. When you drink an alcoholic beverage, does it glorify God? The non-believer that is next to you or even watching you when you do so doesn’t think so.  “Well, if I do it at home it’s okay because no one sees me.” In Matthew 10:26, it says “there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known.” Just because you are alone and believe that you aren’t being watched doesn’t mean that God isn’t watching.   It is not for the person next to you that gets the glory or yourself but it is God. God desires and demands that He be glorified. It seems kind of harsh to the human mind but if you think about it, God doesn’t want another god to overtake your life and cause you heartache.

        Drugs can be a type of a god and it leads to diseases and pain.  Television causes millions to sink into depression. Putting your trust in people can lead to reliability issues.  God is constant and never changes. He wants you to rest your eyes and your attention on Him and Him alone.

         5. Am I Searching for This Jesus?

          I refer back to Mother Teresa’s comment, “I then go and look for him in disguise.”  What are you doing to glorify Him and are you looking for the attention? Or are you actively looking for Him in the disguise of a beggar or a friend or someone else in need?  In Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’  How powerful it that?!   We have the opportunity to search for Jesus in the eyes of the needy, the orphans, the widows, the lonely, and so much more.  What are you doing to look for him in disguise? Are you casually driving by a homeless person or are you bringing him a meal?  Are you casting a blind eye of a widow whose yard needs mowing or are you cleaning her windows too?

The Reason I Do Not Post Rants Online

In a day and age where it is so easy to type something up on social media, create a website, blog, send an email, text, etc, it is even more easy to speak our minds.  It is easier to fire now and ask questions later. How many times have you run across a social media post that made your stomach sink because you knew something was amiss about it? Or when you overheard a well-meaning person saying not-so-well-meaning thoughts about someone you know?

Case in point – we have been dealing with several issues over this past semester with one of our daughters. She was getting bullied by someone at school and they were causing problems in the classroom.  We addressed it and it seemed to be all taken care of. Then, she came home saying that this person had done something wrong to her again. I addressed it with the teacher, principal, and vice-principal of the school. They looked into it and got back to me.

A week later, I followed up with the teacher to see how things were going. A few things had come to light about her story with the teacher and I had to get to the bottom of it. Sara and I sat down with her and talked about her story. We already knew beforehand that there were a few holes in it but they seemed minor and easy to misinterpret. After a few more minutes, I began to realize that she made the whole thing up. I probed her for a little more info and finally, she admitted that she had made it all up to get even with the girl for all that she had done to her.

Why am I telling you this?  How many times have you seen someone go Facebook or some other platform and blast their opinions out there without getting all of the facts? It would be easy to just sit down and type out or post a video that blasted someone or a school about their policies and about their handling of the kids. Do they always get it right?  Absolutely not. Do I always get it right? You guessed it…absolutely not.

One thing that I have tried to follow is the principle found in 1 Corinthians 13:9;

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!

Ouch! For me, this scripture really affected how I look at the situation that I am in.  I only know in part! You only know in part! That means we don’t know the whole story and we shouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions.  In James 1:19, we read the text that steps on all of our toes;

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

What would happen if we, instead, would be slow to type and quick to listen? instead of vomiting our opinions of a situation that we only know in part of that we would go to God and pray for His direction (See James 1:5). Friend, can I make a challenge to you?

Be Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, and Slow to Get Angry.

Developing a Spirit of Expectancy

“Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”
1 Kings 18:41

         At this point, the region was under a great drought. They hadn’t seen rain for quite some time and they found themselves in desperate need of water.  Could you imagine Ahab’s face when Elijah told him that there was a mighty rainstorm coming?  I guess I could see the face of a shock and surprise or great speculation. Regardless, Ahab obeyed Elijah and Elijah went about doing his own business. 

“So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, ‘Go and look out toward the sea.’  The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.’ Seven times Elijah told him to go and look.”
1 Kings 18:42-43 

Notice, Elijah sent his servant out seven times to see if there was rain on the way. Elijah did not lose hope when the servant came back the first time. He began to develop a spirit of expectancy.  He wouldn’t have sent the servant out seven times unless he knew it would happen.  It would have been easy for him to give up and say “I have tried so many times and still I haven’t seen it come to past. I might as well give up.” Instead, Elijah sent his servant out again.

“Finally, the seventh time, his servant told him, ‘I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.”
1 Kings 18:44

I sense some sarcasm here. Wouldn’t you? I can’t read between the lines, but I wonder if Elijah’s servant had enough of this running back and forth to see if there was any rain coming. Then again, it could be that he was so full of faith that he believed that the very small cloud was an answer to prayer. Elijah, perhaps, knew best;

“Then Elijah shouted, ‘Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

Now – that is powerful! Can you imagine the look on the face of the servant? There was probably a shocked expression. You have to admit, you’d be shocked too. And God did not waste His time on responding to their faith. 

“And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.”

 What does this all have to do with you and me? We have to become like Elijah. We have to become the servant who ran and looked for rain. We have to become Ahab who, even before he saw the cloud, go eat.  We have to get to the point where when we feel that God is speaking greatness and a dream in our heart that we don’t doubt but that we develop a spirit of expectancy.  Right now as I write this, I would love to tell you that I have perfected this.  I would love to say that I am developing a spirit of expectancy.

I have to be honest with you. This past year has shaken me to my core. Though I have been in peace through most of it, I have a hard time dreaming and believing that the rain is coming. I don’t believe that Elijah was without doubt.  He was human. Just read the next chapter! I believe that even in our own disbelief that we have to build that spirit of expectancy.  In Mercy Me’s Even Ifthere is a line that reads “They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Good thing, a little faith is all I have right now.” Just imagine if faith the size of a grain of mustard seed is enough to move mountains (see Matthew 17:20 ). 

I believe that we have to believe that we will see our dreams come to past in our lifetime. We could all have a theological debate and split hairs over what each of us believes in. I want to propose this to you; would you rather expect something big and get something small or expect something small and receive nothing? 

I love this song from Elevation Worship and I hope it ministers to you!

William J. Howell

Don’t Miss Your Opportunity

“Never give in! Never, never, never!”
Winston Churchill
October 29, 1941
Harrow School

This quote came from a speech that Winston Churchill had given to the at Harrow School at the height of World War 2.  During this time, Churchill recounted the war’s history and the struggles that they had gone through in order to persevere. He instructed these very students to remain strong and faithful during the dark times with the encouragement that they could, indeed, overcome. In the dark days that we go through, we need the Winston Churchills to encourage us to overcome.

Imagine, though, we had just given up on everything that we dreamed of all because we were worn out from all of the trials.  What would become of all of the Albert Einsteins, Thomas Edisons, Henry Fords, and other famous men and women if they had given up before accomplishing their goal?  Thomas Edison was famous for saying after the lightbulb’s creation; “I did not fail 10,000 times. I found 10,000 ways that it didn’t work.”  We’d probably be living in the dark and not enjoying the lives that we had if Edison had simply given up after so often failing.

In Chip Gaines in his book Captial Gaines: Smart things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff, Gaines writes;

“Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from that pursuit. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t taken a few chances—sometimes they panned out, but even when they didn’t, I never let failure break my focus. If you believe in something, you gotta go after it.”

When we take the fear out of failure, it is just another adventure.  Because Chip and Joanna Gaines decided to head feet first into their ventures, they did not allow fear to overtake them. Let’s look at someone who allowed fear to keep them from amazing things.

        Recently, I read this story of a man who gave up before something great would have happened.  Bjarni Herjólfsson was a Norse-Icelandic explorer who traveled between Norway and Iceland on a normal basis as a merchant.  At one point, he had decided to visit his parents only to find out that his father had gone to Greenland.

        Setting his sails towards Greenland, a storm erupted causing his boat to veer off course. After some time, he finally came to land. However, he did not get off the boat and explore thinking about being home. He turned the boat around and headed back to his homeland. Little did he know, Herjólfsson saw America. But because he refused to get out of the boat and went back to something familiar, he missed out on becoming the first European to find America. Rumors swirled for many hundred years about lands to the West, but no one had successfully sailed to them until Christopher Columbus in 1492.

       How many times have we been like Bjarni Herjólfsson?  We hit storm after storm while finding ourselves completely defeated. We let defeat seep into our hearts and we give up on the things that we believe that God is calling us to do.  Today, I want to encourage you to set your sails, prepare for what lies ahead, and go!

In The Midst – I Know The Plans

 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

It may be one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. Before you stop there and go “I know this already,” hear me out because I had a revelation recently in this scripture. Maybe you already knew it, but I didn’t know this; God made this promise during in the middle of their captivity.  Say what? Let’s look at the first verse;

Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.

In the middle of their captivity, God spoke into their hearts that He would do great things for them and not evil. When I came across this, it lit up like a lightbulb to me. So often, we think that when things are going right in our life that this is where God does great things for us. It isn’t true. Israel had been held captive by their enemies for quite some time. I am sure that they had been ready to give up. But God, through the prophet Jeremiah, spoke to their hearts that it was time to rebuild their lives even in the midst of their captivity.

John Maxwell wrote in the John Maxwell Leadership Bible;

“Even in Israel’s darkest hour, God assured the people of His plans to prosper them and give them a hopeful future. Just so, even when we don’t see immediate results, we can remain assured of God’s ultimate blessing and benefit. The fruit may not come immediately, but it will come ultimately.”

       Wow! Could you imagine even in the midst of all that you are going through to know that God has an ultimate plan that is coming for you?  Will it be easy? No!  I wish I could say yes. But all throughout scripture, we see that God’s people did not have it easy.

  1. Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-10) Abraham left everything behind that he knew into a land that he did not know to take hold of a promise that he had not seen. Along the way, he encountered countless obstacles but still, by faith, persevered.
  2. Sarah (Hebrews 11:11-12) Sarah gave birth to Isaac at a very old age. Before this, she went almost 100 years without bearing a child which, in Bible times, was frowned upon. It was considered a curse from God if you could not have children.
  3. Noah (Genesis 6) Noah was born into a world that was chaotic and evil. God decided to while the slate clean and start all over. He chose Noah to build a huge boat in the middle of the desert. That seems all fine and dandy until you hear that it had never rained and there weren’t any boats. He was ridiculed and slandered. But he never wavered. The flood came and he lives with his family to repopulate the earth.
  4. David (1 Samuel 18-31:5) A very long portion of history, David was chased by Saul because David had the anointing of God on his life and was considered more favorable by the people.  This made Saul jealous, resentful, and murderous. Crazed by this jealousy, Saul attempted to kill David only to find his own demise by his own sword by his own hands.
  5. Job (Job) We all know about Job. Plagued by trials, Job lost every single thing he had. He had “friends” that made you want to say “with friends like these, who needs enemies?!” Job lamented throughout the book only to have God remind him sternly that He was God and what He can do. Then, God restored everything to him…and then some.

I could go on and on. Not to belabor the point, but in the middle of our adversity God is working things out for our good. No matter how hard it is, no matter the trial we go through, no matter how many times we want to give up, God is still working it all for our good.

I don’t tell you this just because it’s some feel-good message. I tell you this because I have been there. I have been in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death time and time again. I am there right now. But I have to have some sort of hope that God will redeem it all. When I read this verse, it put it all in a whole new light for me. I hope it has for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Day of Small Beginnings

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”
Zechariah 4:10 NLT

I used to hate these words; “Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.” Geeze. How long do I have to wait for this small beginning to become big? When will that breakthrough occur? When will I see the day of plenty?! I know, you being holy, have never uttered these words. But I have and plenty of times. Recently, I walked out of a testing center for an exam that I was taking and just failed it. I had studied so hard only to find out that I had flunked it. Really?!

What I felt at the time was utter defeat. I am not going to lie. I was upset. But one thing that I went back to was this, in my earlier days I would have just given up. Now, I see it as a challenge. I will not despise the days of small beginnings. Just think about Jesus.

At 30, Jesus was an unknown son of a carpenter. No one knew who He was. He hadn’t performed any documented miracles. He laid low. So low that he lived in a town that people would ask “can anything good come from Nazareth?”* One day, Jesus was at a party and the people had drunk up all the good stuff. His mother, knowing who He really was, said that it was time. Time? Time for what?

Jesus would respond to his mother ““Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”** His mother knew that the time was coming and instructed the servants to do whatever he said. Little did she know that Jesus would step into the miracle that would solidify His ministry on this earth. The servants did just as Jesus had told them and the rest is all history. 

But what would have happened if Jesus had gotten stuck in the days of small beginnings?What would have happened if His mother hadn’t felt the nudge to tell Him? I challenge you today to get beyond the day of small beginnings. Prepare for the day of plenty.

*John 1:46

 

Don’t Give Up On God

       I remember saying that time and time again as a young person in the faith. I always made excuses for not giving money in the offering whether it be that there be an important event coming up or “I didn’t have it.” I came to a crossroad in my walk with God in 2006 while I was starting over in life.

      Fresh out of bankruptcy I moved to Saint Louis, Missouri where I began my life as a file room clerk at Washington University. I didn’t have a lot but that was alright with me because it was better than nothing. Everything seemed to fall into place for me while I was getting settled in my new apartment in North County. Shortly after my move, I started dating my wife to be and we attended the church that she grew up in and every Sunday there would be a teaching on tithing. It would honestly bother me because I started to feel like most people feel when they hear the teacher get up and talk about it; it’s always about the money.

      I decided one day to challenge God on this principle. Every time the message was given, it was always given with Malachi 3 where the people of Israel were challenged to test God on their giving. As I began this journey, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect but what happened next changed my perspective on it. In the first week of my tithing; I blew out two tires within days and my car was broken into. That’s not encouraging for a new tither, but I was determined to see God move on this principle.

      Let’s fast forward ten years later. At the time of this writing, my income hasn’t gone up substantially. I haven’t seen a new BMW plop down in front of me. I haven’t had a gold watch fall into my lap. I haven’t received promotions and increases like many of my brothers and sisters in Christ claim will happen when I tithe. Wait, don’t shut me down yet…I have a point. In Psalms, David wrote, “I was young and now I am old yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread.” Sara and I have never lacked anything that we need. We do not have a fancy house or fancy cars but we have a home that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, we have money in the bank for a rainy day, we have children that are healthy, and no debt besides our home.

         “Well, that’s fine and dandy for you Will but I am up to my ears in debt and I can’t afford to keep the lights on!” I remember those days. This message isn’t for the millionaire. This message is for the dad who has been struggling with three jobs and hasn’t had a decent paycheck. This is for the dad who is trying to get his children fed. This message is for the man who has been struggling to get his mortgage paid for.

        Friend, this is to encourage you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This is to encourage you that if you don’t quit there will be a harvest (see Galatians 6:9). This is to encourage you that when you get that pink slip or that red letter on your door to focus not on the paper but on the Provider! Don’t you give up because some man told you that you would never make it! Don’t you quit because you get some kind of notice on your door because you didn’t have the money at the time to pay it! Don’t you quit because some voice is telling you lies and filling you with negativity! No! You push in and press into what God has for you! I am not saying God is going to send you a BMW but what I am saying is that My God WILL Supply ALL your needs! In Matthew 6, Jesus said that if you being fathers who are evil will provide food for your children how much more will your Heavenly Father provide for you? That will preach on its own right there! God is in the business of providing!

God’s Not Impressed By Your “Do”

Have you ever been driven by results? As a man, I have to admit that I hate to fail.  In creating this blog, I feared that it would never take off….and it still may not take off.  What I can tell you is that I am driven.  I want to see my Google Analytic results going sky or the sales on our site increase.  Nothing could set me up for what God had in store for me next.

One thing that I have never been able to shake up until recently is work.  I have always been driven by works.  I was always worried that someone was upset because I didn’t do good enough.  If someone was upset, I would take on the responsibility for their unhappiness not realizing that I was trying to play the part of God.  Let me explain.

Growing up  I would say to God “If you will…I will…” “If you do…I do…” thinking that I could manipulate God into doing what I wanted to do. The only problem was, God doesn’t go by what we do but what He has already done. We often, as Christians, have a works oriented mindset. We find ourselves walking down the road negating what happened on the cross. We decided our eternal destiny by standing on what we can do when Christ already conquered in turn trying to take the place of God.

God has not given us the authority to work our way into grace.  He already conquered it on the cross long before we even decided to sin or fail.  Before you and I were even knit our mother’s womb, God decided to send His Son to die for the sins that you would commit long after you were placed on this earth.  The authority of grace lies in the cross and in the cross alone. Without grace, we would find ourselves lost and deserted. Instead, because of the cross, we can now find ourselves free.

Grace does not give you a get out of hell free ticket or a free ticket to sin. No, grace causes you run from sin. Grace causes you to want to show love to the Father. Grace causes you to come to Him instead of shying away from Him. Beyond Grace? Now you can see Him in a new light.

Opinion | The Modern Day Press

Recently, I have been watching the political climate of our country and listening to what people have to say in the political arena and in the public arena. I have many amazing people on my page the follow me and many of them have opposing views than me. I am pretty quite typically about my political views and what I think. I have been watching our President over this past year and how the press has treated him. First – you may disagree. But please refrain from putting rude comments on my post. I don’t do it to you, please don’t do it to me. No – seriously. Don’t.

(1) Over the past few months, I have listened to the different press conferences that have been made whether it was the President or his staff and witness egregious attitudes from those in attendance. The individuals claim to want to unify the country and ask questions about what the President is going to do about bringing the country together yet in the same breath yell at those to whom they are asking questions of. Does anyone else see something wrong with this?

(2) Do you remember a time when the President spoke (regardless of party affiliation) that people would show respect for him? Or even allowed him to answer their questions without their interruptions? I remember a time when if the President was going to speak, regardless of what we thought of him, we would show respect to him. Each time I listen to these reporters in this Press Conference today, I wonder what is really going through their heads when they address the President. Multiple times they over spoke him, tried to catch him in a lie, yelled at him, etc. I was honestly appalled and have been in recent years when I listened to the press speak to the President.

(3) Do we really expect our country to be united when we ourselves cannot do the same in our own homes, churches, and communities?

To quote President John F Kennedy;

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

I firmly believe that regardless of who is in the White House that we should be respectful. I can respectfully disagree with our President on certain things (regardless of which President that I am speaking of.) I pray for our President – especially this one. I have never seen such vitriol, vile hate towards him. I pray that God will direct him, give him wisdom, protect him, show him the right paths to walk, to make decisions for our country that will serve our people, and to reflect the office with great intentionality for the good of this nation. God bless the President of the United States.

The Seed Does Not Return Void

A while ago, we pulled into the church parking lot and I was prepared to drop everyone off at the door when all of a sudden the hood filled with steam. It is never a good sign to see the steam fill the hood and the thermostat reading hit overheated. I parked the van just to watch it drain coolant down the parking lot ramp. I went inside and got our seat for church then headed to get our classroom set up. I had our tithe in my pocket and needed to fill out the envelope. Here’s the crazy thing; I didn’t second guess myself in giving our tithe. Why? It’s not mine to keep. It is holy unto the Lord and I refuse to rob Him of it.

It may come across as being extreme for some who read this. However, I learned very early on in my journey as a Christian that when I put the seed in the barn, I will have plenty left over in the end. I am not saying that you should be irresponsible with your finances. What I am saying is that there will be times that you will find yourself in a place where you just know that you have to plant the seed.

Not long after this occurred, we were given money above and beyond what we needed to repair the van. Never wavering, we have seen God move mountains with our little faith. There are times where I know it would be easier for me to doubt God than to trust Him. Then, He shows up and shows off.

Regret | A City Not Worth Remembering

It’s hard to believe that I have entered into my mid-thirties. I have had a lot of time to look back and wonder what I have done over the years, as well as, where I have come from. I have had a lot of time wondering what I could have done to be further along in life. I could take time to stand in the City of Regret. As a matter of fact, I lived there for a long time. I am grateful that I have learned how to pack my bags and leave the city and move to freedom. Sure, I could reminiscence about what I could have done or even the wrong that I have done in this life. The only problem is that I left the city so far ago, I don’t even remember what my address was. I have heard this story time and time again…yet it still is pertinent to today;

Leaving the City of Regret

I had no plan on taking this trip but found myself packing. I knew that no good would come out of this journey but the sucky baby in me went anyway — to the annual “Guilt Trip”.

I got a ticket to fly with “NORTH WISH I HAD Airlines”. I got my tear up baggage which I could not check and carried it myself all the way. It was weighted down with a ton of memories of what might have been. No one greeted me as I entered the feeling crappy terminal to the “Regret City International Airport”.

As I checked into “Last Resort Hotel”, I noticed that they’re hosting the city’s most prestigious event, the annual “Pity Party”. I heard many of its leading citizens would be there so I wasn’t going to miss out on that.

First, the “Done Family”, you know – should have done, would have done, could have done. Then the big in the industry “I Had Group”, you probably recognize ole wish I had and his entourage. Of course, the dazzling couples Opportunities would be present, Missed Opportunities and Lost Opportunities.

The biggest company is the “Yesterdays”. Too many of them to count but each has a sad story to share.
Then “Shattered Dreams” would surely make an appearance and “Their Fault” would regale us with stories, I mean excuses – about how things had failed in his life. Each story would be loudly applauded by “Don’t Blame Me” and “I Couldn’t Help It”.
Well, to make a long story short, I went to the party thinking that it would help. But as usual, I became depressed. As I thought about the stories of failures brought back from the past, it occurred to me that the remainder of this trip and subsequent pity parties could be canceled by ME!

I realize that I didn’t have to be there.
One thing going through my mind, I can’t change yesterday but I do have the power to make today a wonderful day. I can be happy, joyous, fulfilled, encouraged , as well as encouraging to others.

So, I left the City of Regret immediately.
Am I sorry for mistakes I’ve made in the past? Yes!
But there is no physical way to undo them.

If you’re planning a trip to the City of Regret, please cancel your reservation. Instead, take a trip to “Newness Town”. It’s nice here so I got a permanent resident. My neighbor, “I Forgive Myself” and “The New Starts” are so kind and helpful.
By the way, you don’t need to bring and carry a heavy baggage. All load is lifted upon arrival.

God bless you for finding and living in this great town. When you come, look me up. I live on “I Can” Avenue. You won’t miss it, it’s by the famous Lake Love and Joyful Park across the street.

(C) Larry Harp

The City of Regret is a sorrowful place to live. But God will take us through and allow us to come out on the other side. Don’t fall for the lure of regret but instead head to Newness Town where life is a whole lot more carefree.