Archive for the ‘January 2009’ Category

Lose Sin, Gain Christ

Posted: January 26, 2010 in January 2009

Right now as I type this blog on my Blackberry Lacy and I are watching one of our only TV addictions, The Biggest Loser…TiVO’ed of course. Such an inspirational show. Its amazing to see the contestants on the show wake up and realize what they have done to their bodies.

They literally ate and defiled their bodies for so long that eating bad had become the norm. There was a part on the show where the doctors actually showed the contestants what was going on inside their bodies. How all the pounds they had put on their bodies was killing them. They were brought to tears because they had no idea what they were doing to themselves.

One of my favorite parts of tonight’s show was when they showed a five hundred pound man how bad his weight really was when they took a normal sized man and put on three hundred pounds of weights on his body to represent the three hundred pounds of fat this overweight man was carrying on his frame.

Once the three hundred pounds of weight was applied to the normal man, he was shocked. He looked at the five hundred pound man and asked,”How can you live like this?” To the overweight man, he had lived with the pain of dragging around that weight so long that it was normal to him. But to the normal sized man, it was almost unbearable.

The sin in our lives that we accumulate is the exact same as the fat weight on the Biggest Loser. Like the contestants on the show, we partake in sinful actions because at the moment, just like eating junk food, it feels good. So we continue chasing what feels good for the moment. Not realizing what its actually doing to us inside. Not realizing how its affecting our souls.

We don’t realize the weight of sin and the hurt that it can cause. Its not until we actually decide to turn to Christ and let Him wash our sins clean that we realize the freedom in His grace that we were killing ourselves.

Every new year the number one resolution people make is to lose weight. But I challenge you, if you are spiritually overweight…dragging around regret and living in a diet of your sins, why not resolve to change things on the inside. This new year let Jesus give you new food to feed on. He is the bread and living water that we need.

Foods with chemical additives taste great. But they are terrible for us. Again, sin is no different. Let Jesus be your trainer this year, and experience life at a greater level.

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Letting Go of Pride

Posted: January 22, 2010 in January 2009

Pride is a hard thing to let go of, especially for a man. This year for the first time ever I gave my pride up, and it was the hardest thing I have ever done. Self image is closely tied to pride. Again, this is especially true for a man. I believe a woman must have coined the phrase, “male pride.” Do you ever hear a man complaining about his wife’s female pride problems? Probably not. Because women are not quite as stubborn as us guys can be. It starts from such an early age.

I can remember back to high school. My mom would pick me up from wrestling practice just like a lot of the other guys parents would do nightly. I remember a few times mom trying to give me a kiss upon greeting me and I dodged her affections saying under my breath, “Mom the guys are watching!!” I had a self image to uphold. I was a macho man….or so I thought. I was all of 120 lbs soak and wet and looked like a starving scarecrow. How I thought I was anything close to macho Ill never know. But it was male pride at its earliest and finest.

My brother was a great example of a follower of Christ. He would proudly wear his Jesus t shirts to school for everyone to see. I had the same shirts, but only wore them around the house. Yep, male pride. I was too cool to wear Christian t shirts. I had to be wearing the latest fashions and doing what the other guys were doing. If I wore a Jesus shirt, what would my peers think? I was way too proud. I’m naturally a very sensitive person. I don’t mind admitting now that it doesn’t take much to get me misty eyed. But in high school and college, I hid my softer side very well. I remember going on dates with girls to see movies. And if the movie happened to have a sad scene I would intentionally begin thinking about something funny to divert my attention.

One time in college I couldn’t help it and after the movie I was busted by my date. “Awww!! That movie really touched you didn’t it?” she said. I was quick to blame it on my allergies, and to capitalize on my lie I drove with her to the local pharmacy and bought some allergy medication to prove my point. When it came to church, male pride is such a strong tool used by Satan to hinder our relationship with God. My whole life in church I was one of the guys who stood with a face of stone as the hymns were being sung by the choir and congregation.

Even though other men around me were singing, I was much more macho than them. Singing was for the ladies. In reality, I was in the minority because everyone else was praising and singing. But even though I knew that, I refused to open my mouth. Oh I knew better, but again, I was too proud. I was a strong confident man and must appear that way. Because to be caught singing obviously made me appear weak….how stupid I was. My pride even extended to resisting God calling to me. I remember distinctly one day in church feeling God tugging at my heart to walk down the isle and get things right with Him. It was such a strong pull. But my pride was stronger. “What would others think; especially my peers in the college group think if I was to walk down that isle?”

There is another term for male pride that we guys would rather not use. It’s called cowardice. You see I had this conception that a real man didn’t show emotion. That a real man had to remain stoic and proud. I see guys that are still like that all the time. And it’s almost comical. I almost want to walk over to them and ask them what they think they are doing. But I don’t, because I can relate. I was once them. If God sees fit, he will get their attention. And I believe once someone truly accepts Jesus into their life, that prideful heart will vanish. In church I am totally different than I used to be. On Sunday mornings I can be seen singing to the top of my lungs with the congregation, although I’m sure with my lack of melodic skills some would prefer I tone it down.

I’ve even been know to raise my hands up in praise if the Spirit leads me. There is a bumper sticker that reads, “Real Men Love Jesus.” I couldn’t agree more. One of the most impressive things to me is to see someone broken by the Holy Spirit. It’s so freeing. If pride is hindering your relationship with God today, make the decision to let go. Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. Pslams 138:6.

One Way Conversations

Posted: January 20, 2010 in January 2009

Growing up in a church youth group you have all kinds of personalities that mix in the group. Some are outgoing and some are shy. Some are jokesters and some are more serious. When I was in sixth grade I met Chris. He was new to the church but such a likeable guy. He could talk to you about anything and everything. He kind of had one of those know it all personalities. But he was such a nice guy it was easily overlooked. One habit he did have that was a bit annoying was his conversation skills…or lack of. Chris was great at talking, but horrible at listening. I could be telling him something and could tell by his response that he was only thinking about what he wanted to say and was not paying very much attention to what I was saying. Conversation with Chris was pretty much one sided. We all knew a lot about him, but I would venture to say he probably didn’t know a whole lot about anyone else.

I remember he called me on the phone only one time to tell me about some award he had won at some kind of fair. He elaborated on this for about five minutes, and then informed me that he had to go. The only words I got in were, “Wow….really…..that’s great!” I believe I could have literally laid the phone down and he would never have known the difference. Chris was a great guy, but a lousy listener. We all strive to know God more intimately. We all as Christians want to be closer in our daily walk with God. And knowing Him on a more intimate level starts with communication. Our pray life. We all pray. Some more than others. But how do we pray? Is it the same repetitive prayer over and over or do you actually speak to God? And if you actually talk to God, what do your prayers sound like? Are they filled with your needs and wants with the occasional “thank you” to God? Or are they one long constant praise to Him?

All of these examples are ways of communicating with God. But if you don’t feel as close to the Father as you would like, it might not be for your lack of communication, but the way you are communicating. Most of us in our prayers communicate like Chris. I never thought about it until this past year, but my prayers were pretty typical. I would express to God my needs and wants and praise Him for being so good and all the blessings in my life. And at the end, I would say my “Amen” and get back to my life. But how often do we give God time to respond? How often do we stop and listen after we pray? That may sound silly to you as we all know that it is very rare that God will speak audibly to us.

But God doesn’t speak verbally, he speaks to our hearts. Have you ever prayed to God for direction in your life and grown frustrated with still feeling lost? You may not be listening. You may be having a one way conversation with God. The next time you pray, before you say the final Amen, stop and be still. Be silent and listen for Him. You may be surprised at the answers you find. And you might find a more intimate relationship with Him. Also evaluate how you come to God in prayer. Do you mean what you are saying?

Growing up I pretty much said the same exact prayer for bedtime and meal time, with a slight rearrangement of words. Matthew 6:7 states “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” We are not to just pray for our words to be heard. God desires a relationship with us. If we are going to thank Him for a meal, we should mean the words we are saying. Really talk to him before chow time.

The same goes for any other prayer time we may have. Recently at bed time, I have gotten in the habit with Lacy of getting down on our knees beside the bed and praying together. I just felt led to do this. I mean, here I am taking to the maker of the universe. I want to show Him through my body language and my prayer to Him that I really want a very real relationship with Him. I want a two way conversation with Him. And personally, I have felt more of Him in my life than ever since making adjustments to my prayer life. It didn’t happen after just one conversation with Him, but came over time….the spiritual growth.

How do you speak to God? Is your conversation one sided or do you allow room for a relationship to be formed? Do you really want to hear God? If so, listen. It may be the missing element in transforming your prayer life from ordinary to extraordinary.

The Broken Vase

Posted: January 18, 2010 in January 2009

Contrary to what Forrest Gump would tell you, life is not like a box of chocolate’s.  Its more like a beautiful glass vase.  A wonder to behold, but so fragile.  But in its frailty, Gods love is able to be shown so brightly and apparent.  Let me explain by telling you a little story.

 Donna was a happily married woman.  Donna and her husband Carl were so in love.  Friends of theirs used to point to them as the marriage they wished they had.  One anniversary Carl had bought Donna a beautiful crystal vase.  She loved it.  Donna always counted herself blessed to have such a wonderful man in her life.  But life has a way of taking unexpected turns.  Things happen that we never see coming.  That we would never dream could happen to us.

 Donna received a phone call late one afternoon.  Carl had been in a terrible car crash and killed instantly.  Her world slowed to a stop.  Her life that was once filled with such joy changed in an instant.  She became withdrawn, and found it hard to even get out of bed some days.  Donna soon decided to move away from the town they had always lived.  The memories were too much.  She packed all her belongings and began filling her SUV with boxes.  The last thing she grabbed before leaving her house was the crystal vase her husband had bought her.  She tearfully began walking towards her car.  Not paying attention to where she was walking, she bumped into a man walking on the side walk beside her car.  She dropped the vase and it shattered into a million pieces. 

 The man looked up at Donna and apologized.  Donna, apparently distraught, looked at the stranger and told him that it was alright.  She got in the car and drove away from the town that once seemed perfect to her, leaving the vase shattered on the side of the road.  In Donna’s mind, the shattered vase represented her life.  Broken and unfixable.  Donna ended up moving back in with her parents.

 About a week after Donna had settled in to her parents house, she got a package in the mail.  This was strange since she told no one where she was going.  She opened the package and unwrapped a beautiful dove made entirely out of crystal.  Upon further examination of the gift, she realized that the dove was made of broken crystal pieced together.  It was her crystal vase.  What was in her mind damaged beyond repair was built back into something more beautiful than before. Donna never knew who had sent the gift.  There was no not or return address.  But she now realized that her life would go on.  And that nothing is ever broken beyond repair.

 Our lives are the same.  Things happen.  Life.  Disappointments, deaths, hurts, things we never thought would be in our lives.  The enemy Satan uses these valleys in our lives to convince us that nothing good can come from it.  That the disappointment and hurt we may feel will last forever.  And that our lives have been broken to the point that they are beyond repair.  Life may never be the same for you, but God wants only the best for you.  He may use your valley to give you a better life than you had before.  And He will, you just have to have faith in Him. 

 Just because life is not the same, don’t think that it cant be better.  Jesus healed the blind, the lepers, the deaf. He turned water into wine.  He performed all sorts of great miracles.  And He continues to do so today.  Trust Him in the valleys of your life, and watch as he turns your shattered vase into a beautiful dove.

Right now as I type this blog on my Blackberry Lacy and I are watching one of our only TV addictions, The Biggest Loser. Such an inspirational show. Its amazing to see the contestants on the show wake up and realize what they have done to their bodies.

They literally ate and defiled their bodies for so long that eating bad had become the norm. There was a part on the show where the doctors actually showed the contestants what was going on inside their bodies. How all the pounds they had put on their bodies was killing them. They were brought to tears because they had no idea what they were doing to themselves.

One of my favorite parts of tonight’s show was when they showed a five hundred pound man how bad his weight really was when they took a normal sized man and put on three hundred pounds of weights on his body to represent the three hundred pounds of fat this overweight man was carrying on his frame.

Once the three hundred pounds of weight was applied to the normal man, he was shocked. He looked at the five hundred pound man and asked,”How can you live like this?” To the overweight man, he had lived with the pain of dragging around that weight so long that it was normal to him. But to the normal sized man, it was almost unbearable.

The sin in our lives that we accumulate is the exact same as the fat weight on the Biggest Loser. Like the contestants on the show, we partake in sinful actions because at the moment, just like eating junk food, it feels good. So we continue chasing what feels good for the moment. Not realizing what its actually doing to us inside. Not realizing how its affecting our souls.

We don’t realize the weight of sin and the hurt that it can cause. Its not until we actually decide to turn to Christ and let Him wash our sins clean that we realize the freedom in His grace that we were killing ourselves.

Every new year the number one resolution people make is to lose weight. But I challenge you, if you are spiritually overweight…dragging around regret and living in a diet of your sins, why not resolve to change things on the inside. This new year let Jesus give you new food to feed on. He is the bread and living water that we need.

Foods with chemical additives taste great. But they are terrible for us. Again, sin is no different. There was a part on the show in which one of the trainers who only was used to eating healthy foods and vegetables had to eat a junk food meal that was normal to one of the contestants.  It made the trainer sick.  Thats how sin should be to us as Christians.  We should be so close to Christ in our walk that sin makes us sick. How will your life change this year?  Will you resolve to rid your life of the spiritual junk food that hinders your relationship with Jesus? Let Jesus be your trainer this year, and experience life at a greater level.

Todays Blog was written by my wife Lacy.  Enjoy!

As I sit in choir on Wednesday, my heart was breaking. I felt so much sadness listening to the topic of conversation. I wanted to say something but just didn’t. The topic that was presented was on the choir and how we worship. How we look while we worship? What people see on our faces when we worship? Then someone brought up that we don’t sing enough traditional hymnals. I just knew this would be an explosion of opinions. I thought to myself “oh, boy here we go!” I had heard in the past people talking about how we needed to sing more tradionals songs but it never really broke my heart. But, that Wednesday night was no ordinary night, I was crushed. The room was so split. Some want traditional, some want contempary music and some wanted a mixture. Everyone was raising their hands to say how or what they thought. Inside I kept thinking to myself “check your heart.” I love to sing hyms and traditional music. Growing up all i heard was hyms so when i came to my church now, i was surprised by the contempary music but at the same time so excited. This was something new to me. So, that night I started thinking about what our Lord was thinking. I imagin he was sad too. I believe with all my heart that God loves hyms and contempary music. I don’t believe he likes one over the other. I believe he doesn’t focus on the music and sound as much as he does at the person singing words about Him. I also believe he sees our hearts. How does your heart look when you sing and praise God, our Lord Jesus? What does your face say about you when you worship? If you don’t perfer a song one Sunday, ask God to give you that joy in your heart to sing before him. I know I myself have done that several times. For example, when a new song is presented to us, I feel as though I can’t worship because I don’t know the song. What a bad excuse. God tells me to just listen and focus on the words. When I do that I am worshiping even though there may not be words leaving my mouth. I am asking you to focus on worshiping Him alone and not weather or not you are singing a hym or contempary music. The following scripture says what I am trying to say better than I did above. Psalm 100:2 “Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” So, please if you are in the choir or even in the congregation worship the Lord not with a bitter heart but with a humble heart. Be joyful! We are so privledged to be able to sing before our Lord.

Time Flys

Posted: January 11, 2010 in January 2009

Its Sunday night. I lay here on my bed, my beautiful wife beside me playing on her phone, my favorite TV show The Andy Griffith Show on the tube, and Lincoln rolling around the bed.  As I try to type this blog on my laptop Lincoln is beating the computer as I start and restart this blog.  I put him on the floor beside the bed to play with his toys, which only makes him mad.  He wants to be in bed.  He doesnt understand that mommy and daddy are trying to just relax before another hecktic week begins.  Earlier tonight I tried to just relax on the couch, but Lincoln wanted me to play cars with him.  So although playing cars was not on my list of things I wanted to do, I jumped in the floor and grabbed one of his trucks….and I loved every minute of it.

There was a time I would huff and ask Lacy to come and grab the kids so I could just relax.  But God has a way of clearing our vision.  My babies wont be babies forever.  They wont always want to sit in my lap.  They wont always want me to carry them in Walmart even though I know they are capable of walking.  They wont always want to wrestle with me at night.  My children need me.  But the time is coming when they will be grown.  The time is coming when they will have to make decisions on their own.  And how I am with them now will most definately shape how those decisions will be made.  I talked to a man at my business who told me he wished he would have spent more time with his children when they were little.  He went on to say that was one of his biggest regrets in life.

I wont be a perfect father.  I know I will make many mistakes alone the way.  But one thing I will make an effort to do is to show my children that they always have my ear.  That I am never too busy for them.  That their problems, no matter how small they may seem to me, are of the utmost importance.  I dont strive to be their best friend.  There will be times when Im no doubt viewed as the enemy.  But no matter what, I hope they always feel love.

I imagine this must be how Jesus feels towards us. As we are called to be like Jesus, has he ever been too busy for us?  Even when we show our anger towards Him, he never turns away.  We may be angry and not understand His ways, but we know deep down that he loves us unconditionally.  I think back to when Jesus walked the earth with the disicpes.  How many times people came to Him asking Him for different needs or wants.  How easy it could have been for Jesus to just tell them He was tired and to leave Him alone for a few hours.  But he didnt.  Jesus knew he wouldnt be walking on the earth forever.  He knew His time was coming where he would no longer walk physically among His children.  Jesus never turned any of his children away because he only had a limited amount of time to set the example for them to live by.

Like Jesus, I wont be here forever.   My days are numbered.  The Lord could call me home tomorrow or fifty years from now.  My life is in His hands.  But while I am here, I have to be an example for my boys. Everyday…every moment I have with them is valuable.  There are life lessons I want to teach them.  Stories I want to tell them.  And love I want to show them.  As we all should.  Our children will grow up fast.  And they need an example to follow.  What kind of message are you sending to your children?  Do they see a mother or father who is so busy trying to take care of the family with cooking, cleaning, and working that they have no time for what really holds a family together?  Or do they see love.  Do they see parents who drop whatever they are doing to watch them play with their new toy?  Again they wont be small forever.  Our Heavenly Father always has time for us.  He always listens to our wants and our problems.  Did you ever think that he was setting an example of how we should be with our own children?  What an awesome God we serve! 

Do your children see Jesus in you?