Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Archive Post on Being a Seed

Good Morning Everyone,
I just finished reading one of my favorite parables...Its the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8)... Please find it below and take some time to ponder what kind of seed you are. I would like to say that I'm always the seed planted in the good soil, but sadly that just isn't true. There have been so many times I've seen things and haven't really seen them for what they are and heard things, but didn't understand the meaning until well after the fact. I think in addition to being a good life lesson, this parable teaches us to keep on eyes and ears open to the awesome blessings that are given to us each day. This in especially true for those days when you just need a boost. Take time... look for something in your life that is an awesome blessing and share it! There simply isn't enough talk about all the good things. You all heard my praises last week and I will repeat them. My awesome blessings are my family, my friends, and the simple gifts that happen everyday... like a babies smile or a warm message from a friend.

Love In Christ,

Luke 8: 4-15
4While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown."
When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
9His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
" 'though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.'[a]
11"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Archive Post on the Valleys of Friendship

I'm finally getting a lunch break now that my days have been lengthened to a 5 o'clock end time and wanted to briefly hit on something that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Its friendship. It comes in many forms, has many different meanings, and can range from being an acquaintance to truly feeling like blood relatives. It is also, believe it or not, not always easy.

How many people can you call a friend? If you look on my facebook page you will see I have many friends (not as many as my wife, but many nonetheless). Does this somehow mean that I'm popular, likable, reliable, or trustworthy. Or, does it mean that many individuals aren't embarrassed to be associated with me? Who knows the reason, but I can tell you that I know in my heart that there are only a select few individuals that I would rank on the blood relative or family part of the friendship spectrum and if you receive these emails you are there. That being said I want to dive into something a little deeper with all of you and its related to a couple of my favorite verses from Proverbs. They are:

Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity"
Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another"

Ever have conflict with a friend? I'm not talking surface conflict either. I'm talking about a deep routed disagreement on principals, an extreme difference in opinion, or maybe even a hurtful event or exchange that truly damages your heart and soul. You see I've had the misfortune or fortune... however you want to look at it a couple times in the past (probably due to my own selfishness) to be on the giving and receiving end of this and can tell you that if the Devil is going to dance, he's going to be in full swing during what I would call a valley of a friendship. The strange part is that it seems the deeper the friendship, the harder the devil will try to dance. Sadly, for this reason some friendships don't survive.

It is my hope that you never have to experience the valleys of a friendship, but if you do I would challenge you to keep Proverbs 17:17 and 27:17 in mind. With Christ in the center of any relationship it will not fail. Friendship is no exception. It is my prayer that each of you can apply the wisdom in the verses above to your friendships and that I can too. I further pray that the anger and resentment that Satan fosters would quickly leave all of us if we are ever face a challenging situation with a friend. We are here to enjoy each other and the love that we have for one another! We are here to grow as children of our Risen King! Consider this as we continue through this lenten season and if there is something on your heart that you need to let go of, by all means do it or share it. We are only a couple weeks away from the most blessed event in a Christians life. Let us celebrate a little early by keeping Christ-like love close to our heart and the heart of those we love now and always. And after saying all of that I just can't help, but utter "HE IS RISEN"

As always I welcome your perspective. We share and grow together. Drop me an email if you want or give me a call... Take care my friends!

Love In Christ,

Archive Post on Forgiveness

Ok, I just got a chance to type, but had to get a portion of a devotional out. Its only a portion because I realize you might appreciate a quick hitter. Anyway the devotional I read today was about forgiveness. Not just from God, but forgiving others who have hurt you. A D.J. on the River Radio station put it best yesterday "some cuts are too deep for a band-aid". Have you ever been cut like that? Sure you have. The question is how do you respond? The title "how many times" is reflective of this. How many times do you have to forgive someone? Christ tells us in Matthew 18:21-22 that there simply isn't a count. You forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive as much as it is necessary just as Jesus doesn't keep count of our sins. That is not to say we let the other person off the hook, but its to live like Jesus would want us to and strengthen each other in prayer. I for one don't know the reason bad things happen or the reason that we hurt each other, but I know we do. My prayer for all of us is that we can take a lesson from what Christ has said and share the good news through the act of forgiving one another regardless if the offender is worthy of it. That's their cross to bear and pray that they can resolve the guilt that may be on their heart for hurting you.

Again, I will confess to all of you my Brothers and Sisters that I struggle daily with many demons that haunt me. These demons have led me down paths I never wanted to go and in the past have resulted in a hardened heart, damaged relationships, and separation from God. I Pray Daily to be released from the guilt that my inadequacies cause in my life and only hope that the Grace of God will take it away. So you see, in many ways I find myself being a hypocrite for sending a devotional like this to all of you, but then again... its what I've been led to do. I hope God at least has a place for a sanitation worker in heaven ;o) That would be appropriate. So take this devotional as guidance and I ask that you pray for me that I can live my life following the giving and receiving end of all of this.

In Christ,

Archive Post on Expectations vs. Expectancy

Good Afternoon Everyone! I'm reading a book that my wonderful wife got me for Christmas (based on a great recommendation) called "The Shack" If any of you have the opportunity, I highly recommend it. I'll even share my copy when I'm done... just let me know if you want to borrow it. If you have read it you may recall the chapter I'm going to share a synopsis of.

Anyway, one of the discussions in the book is about expectations vs. expectancy. It was good enough that I wanted to share it with you. The discussion clarifies our relationship with God as one of Expectancy not Expectations. Using the context of friendship he describes that If you and I are friends there is an expectancy that exists in our relationship. Regardless of if we are together or apart there is an expectancy that we will laugh, share, and truly be with one another in heart and mind. This expectancy is dynamic and alive and is a gift shared only between the two of us. However if you change expectancy into expectation, suddenly you are now expected to perform in a way that meets my expectations. What could be a living friendship rapidly deteriorates into a dead thing... or something with requirements and rules. It is no longer about us, but rather about what a friend "should" or "has" to do or be. The same could be said about any relationship, but I like this illustration in particular because I've been involved in and may to some extent still be involved in what I would catagorize as a conditional relationship with a friend or friends. What this has taught me is that regardless of the relationship, expectations lead to nothing good and that the expectancy of truly enjoying one another is what its about.

Now let's take this full circle to God. The book talks about God's expectancy of a relationship with us and not of his expectations for us. Ponder that thought for a second. Does it make your mind spin? Think about your friendships or other relationships. Do they have expectations and conditions? If so, are they truly friendships or something falling short? If they fall short, my question to myself and to you would be... what changes are needed to change to a relationship of expectancy and fullness.

The final thing I got from this and want to share is I gathered the author was trying to communicate that God only wants to live in a full relationship with us. Sure we disappoint him when we fail, but rules don't define our relationship with God; the way we choose to give it our life to him does.

Archive Post on Perspective and Parenting

Good Morning Everyone,

And... What a morning it has been! (Any thoughts on where I'm going with this?) Well, I could go many different ways, but will choose to take a moment during my break this morning to share yet another life experience with you all and put it into the context of a Bible verse. During breakfast this morning a co-worker stated "Henry is so lucky to have Chelle and you as parents. You deal with everything so well and will give him the best chance at a normal life." To say I was a little speechless coming from this particular person would be an understatement. The truth in it all is that I've heard that several times over the last 5 months, but would have never expected it to come from this person who usually focuses on the negative of most situations. Also, reality is that Chelle and I have to take each day at a time. I think both of us would argue with you about how well suited we are for anything. Like most parents we barely get through some days (and nights) and pray that God will strengthen our resolve quite often. I, in particular have felt the pain of feeling like I've failed my boys many times and in many ways already, but somehow find it in my soul to dust myself off, get off the turf, and get back in the game. If it were not for my Wife's ability to run on empty quite often and us constantly trying to keep Christ in the center of all of this, we would be far worse off.

Now that I've placed all of that in context I will say that Henry is not lucky to have us as parents, we are lucky to have him as a Son. He has taught me more about strength and character than I will ever be able to pass on to him. I'm in awe of how he manages to work around not using his left arm to get what he wants. I'm also amazed by his spirit and fullness of life. That smile of his literally lights the room. To say that I'm comfortable with being the parent of a child with Cerebral Palsy might be a stretch, but I think I'm well suited for it through Christ and nothing else. God really started working on me hard about two years ago. He never ceases to give the answer, provide strength, and hold my soul when I need it and thus helps me muddle through somehow. The take home message I would like to give you is that its more appropriate for people to say Henry is lucky to have a Father in Heaven that will strengthen two believing parents to do what needs done to match his will. We are mere instruments of his Love and gain strength from the Risen Savior. Now for that Bible verse I promised related to all this (its from the Message so hold on if your not used to it):

Romans 8 31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Archive Post on Patience

Ok, its just me again finally getting a break and time to write... coming off a very powerful meeting last night at my men's group at church and being refreshed by the spirit after giving my witness talk to my brothers in Christ for a second time before our giving weekend. Today I continued reading the New Testament and the Book of Matthew (Our church is reading the whole New Testament this year). What I continue to discover is that I miss much on my initial readings and have to go back and read them again to figure out just what God is trying to tell me. In Matthew, Jesus talks of "Faith" over and over. I don't believe that is an accident.

One of my devotionals last week considered the following verse:
"But if we hope for that which we see not, then we do with patience wait for it" - Romans 8:25

The author spoke of the power of being in the valleys of our lives and using them as learning experiences. Having been in many valleys in the not so distant past, I'm really learning to treasure them as growth experiences. I also recognize that they are not created by God, but God will be there with me the entire time to provide what I need to become stronger in my faith. Being the impatient person I am, I always want the instant solution and the instant way out. This is where my faith is tested most. We all know life doesn't give us those "instant" solutions very often and many times those valleys seem like they will never end. I can tell you that I for one know that they do. I've made a commitment the past year to get back on track and be a disciple for our Risen King. This isn't always easy and I know that I've probably made some around me uncomfortable with my candidness. I'm glad I can count on all of you as my friends and family to be a good sounding board and I hope that if you gain anything from my words, its that I know I'm a sinner, I know I fall everyday, but I also know that Jesus is there to pick me up and dust me off. Praise be to God... God is good... all the time!

Archive Post on Weariness

Good Morning Everyone,

Has anyone had one of those mornings where it seems merely impossible to drag yourself out of bed for the normal activity of the day let alone planning on extra effort (working out at the gym, chasing around 1, 2, 3 or more children or worse comforting a sick child, maybe giving a presentation at work, dealing with difficult people, or fighting through an illness or recovery)?....sure you have! I confess I had one of those mornings this morning. You see I spent much of yesterday trying to comfort a child who had a fever and didn't seem to weather it well while my lovely wife toiled away with the craziness of the pharmacy only to be awakened mid-way through the early morning hours with his brother falling as he tried to get into our bed after being scared by something. Its almost comical as I look back on it, but certainly was not at 5:15 when the alarm screamed out in the darkness. I prayed that if God would just give me the strength to make it to the bathroom, I would somehow drag myself to the gym to run my early morning miles. God delivered and so I went about my normal day, a little energy deprived at the moment, but better for it in some way I think.

You may think that it seems like a typical day to hit the gym before work and get some exercise in, but for me its much more than's my survival plan. I'm going to step back and add some perspective. Those of you that know me well know that early in 1998 I topped the scales at 273 pounds. I was extremely overweight, had debilitating back pain, and generally felt terrible. That's when God blessed me with running. I didn't run miles upon miles at first because frankly I couldn't, but I worked my way into it and managed to finish a couple marathons along the way to losing over 50 pounds. I would like to say that its all a happy ending and it stopped there, but it didn't. The joy of a low metabolism (even on synthroid) also means the joy of working out all the time to remain somewhat healthy. So the part above about dragging myself out of bed has much more significance than it would seem.

I know the plan God has placed forth for me at least in that part of my life and I will follow it regardless of the outside circumstances. In many ways we all face these outside distractions and demons that prevent us from facing the day with a positive face. I often hear it as that voice that tells me I can't do something. That same voice told me I'd never be able to complete a marathon... hmmm, guess it was wrong. I pray that each and everyone of you recognizes something God has blessed you with to overcome even the smallest hurdle in this life. So many of these gifts go unnoticed until we look at them retrospectively. Since this email somehow moved towards my running life I want to share with you a Bible verse that I think speaks volumes on endurance when we are weary. I know everyone is expecting Isaiah 40:31, but I'm going to shake it up for you... try this:

"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV)

I've found there is much to be learned in Paul's letters and really enjoy them. I hope everyone is having a great day and has found that little inspiration to face the challenges life has thrown your way! Run the good race my friends!

Love In Christ,

Archive Post on My Blessings

Did anyone see that sunrise this morning? WOW! Some would probably say the mix of gases and the atmosphere led to the different shades and colors, but we know its just another blessing. Moments like this morning are so humbling to me and remind me of how blessed I truly am. I guess I could take all day to count my blessings and list each of you by name as to how you've brought rich blessings in my life, but I'll keep it generic and let you guess where you fall. Those included in this email have held me when I've cried, watched me fail and rise again to the top of a mountain; been there with me at life's most joyous and troublesome times; inspired me by the way that you provide guidance to children and remain patient doing so; provided me inner strength by a smile, hug, or simple phrase at the right time; made me want to be a better man because of the life you live; forgiven me when I've hurt you and hugged me when you probably wanted to hit me; and held me accountable as a fellow Christian, family member, and friend. Thanks be to God for the blessings he has given me through you. Who you are made a difference to someone and that someone is me!

Have a great Friday everyone! I didn't get a chance to read my devotional today, but wanted to share a verse that Gov. Strickland has on his desk. Yes, I'm talking about a Democrat, but we know none of us is perfect... we can't all have R's behind our name ;o) Just kidding my Democrat friends!

Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

And then another verse just because I like it...Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (NIV).

Much love to all of you,

Archive Post on the Comfort Zone

Good Morning Everyone,

I just finished reading my devotional today and rather than forwarding it, I wanted to share some thoughts that it generated (definitely more personal for those that don't like reading the same old devotional stuff all the time). One of the hardest things for me this past year has been getting myself out of what I would call a "comfort zone". To explain a little further, my comfort zone involved being completely apathetic to my faith. Sure, I was a believer. I can't remember a time when I didn't know Christ, but I wasn't always so bold about sharing it. Some amazing things happened to me this year. I call these things amazing, but could have called them horrific, terrible, depressing, and the list goes on. The difference is that in the mess of this past year I found a new focus in my life. A focus on what is really important and that is the abundant blessings we are given by Christ. I know that it was only by God's grace that this gift was given to me. How else would I be able to survive all these trials?

The devotional today by Rick Warren, author of Purpose Driven Life, focused on sharing Jesus with others. This is such a personal subject and often not discussed openly in our daily conversation as friends and family. The subject is at times even taboo... for some reason we avoid it. I'm sure that some of you may wonder "Why is Steve so vocal about this stuff?" or maybe not. The reason is that I truly believe that without Christ this past year and most of you being vehicles for him, I wouldn't have made it through. I've found the most amazing peace in knowing him more and discovering that its not so much about me, but about God's plan for me. In this morning's devotional the topic of being bold for Christ came up so I wanted to share one of my favorite verses from Acts:

"If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me - the task of testifying the gospel of God's grace." Acts 20:24

Can you think of someone who needs to hear this message? Are they at a time that they would be open to it? Careful... that's a tough one. As most of you know, I wouldn't want to push this on anyone, but the Good News is too good not to share and the events of 2007 have given me a reason to want to share.

In Christ,

Archive Post on Condemnation

Every now and then something from a sermon really strikes me. Sunday was one of those instances. Toward the end of the sermon our lay leader placed a quote on the board by C.S. Lewis. It read:

"There is someone I love, even though I don't approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most..."

We will get to the conclusion of the quote in a moment, but take a few seconds and let this quote sink in. Do you have someone in mind? Is it someone close to you? How do you live with them?
Now for the full quote with the final sentence attached:

"There is someone I love, even though I don't approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me."

Did you look introspectively at first or were you thinking of that colleague, friend, or family member that is the "bad" one? I think in a way we all have a tendency to look past ourselves when thinking of quotes like these. The whole point of all of this was how we should serve those less fortunate (homeless, lost, seeking, etc.) Do we turn our backs or walk to the other side of the street when we see someone in need or do we have a conversation and lend a hand. Think about the following verse when you ask yourself what you can do. It wasn't from the sermon, but I like it so I tucked it in:

Galatians 6:7-10
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

As you think about all of this also consider those that would read the quote above and only think of themselves. Those that live in a prison of self condemnation and pain for their past sins. Pray that they not only feel the forgiveness and grace of Jesus, but can find the true self freedom that he offers. A freedom to serve and a freedom to enjoy this life for the gift that it is.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I wanted to follow up a little on the endurance thing I wrote about on Monday and discuss something pretty close. Today I want to address strength. Certainly when we think of strength we may have pictures of the strong man competitors lifting cars or the power lifters hoisting massive amounts of weight, or any other athlete that astonishes with the things their body can do. But, I have to tell you I think of strength much differently lately. Yesterday while watching the kids during kid swap I was extremely focused on what the three older ones were doing with regard to a "rock band" they were trying to form (picking out costumes and instruments) and didn't notice that Henry was about to do another miraculous thing.

For the past 6 months I've noticed that Henry is extremely interested when big brother jumps on the mini-trampoline in our toy room. He usually just watches, but lately I've caught him trying to maneuver his way up onto the platform. Well, last night he not only got onto the trampoline, he pulled himself up and was jumping! Now that to me is STRENGTH. Strength as seen through a 19th month old that doesn't let cerebral palsy hinder what he wants to do. Strength that sees past the limitations in Dad's eyes to create opportunity for growth. Strength that comes only from a God that is so good he never ceases to amaze and warm the heart. I guess I'm learning and growing as well and finally being able to forget many times that Henry is a special needs child. I'm only able to do this because he consistently proves me wrong when internally have thoughts that he can't do something. I'm learning that "can't" will never be a part of his vocabulary and shouldn't be a part of mine. Henry is doing these things through will power and determination. He is doing these things because he "can". Praise be to God for showing this weak Christian a glimpse of his awesome power. And, Praise to him for the gift he has given me in my two little boys. Both so unique and both such a blessing. They help to humble me and teach me of my shortcomings and strengths. I hope that all of you can take something away from watching and hearing about Henry as well and know that you too are given strength to do anything through Christ.

Philippians 4:13 I can do anything through him who gives me strength.

I'm not sure where this life will lead me and I'm not sure when I will be called home, but I can tell you that I'm finding much more pleasure in the gifts that God provides me while I'm here. I'm so very blessed to be surrounded by all of you and blessed to have an awesome family that gives me reason to smile everyday... if only for a moment. And, usually when I'm not looking for it ;o)

Love in Christ,


I wrote this little thought on the Monday after... the Monday after the US Air Force Marathon that is. I just figured out that I can actually say I ran a summer marathon... not by much, but it was still summer ;o) Anyway, as you can see in the subject line today I wanted to briefly touch on the subject of endurance. I want to do this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost because Saturday's marathon will likely mark my last and also because I want to use it as an analogy of enduring things in life.

Many of you recall one of the most famous verses in Isaiah
Isaiah 40:31 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint"

As I was running Saturday, I did a whole bunch of talking to God. Most of which came after my brief stay in the medical tent for cramping at Mile 18, but some before. Anyway, there was a stretch that all of the runners ran on one of the airstrips. Although it wasn't especially hot on Saturday, that airstrip felt like death valley with the sun beating down. If it wasn't for my constant repetition in my head of Isaiah 40:31 at that point of the race I might have quit. But, I didn't and I know why... because I had an angel or several angels running with me. Some were other runners, some were observers, and some were in the beat of the music from my Ipod, but nonetheless they didn't let me quit. I think that in many ways life kind of plays out that way. Just when you are exhausted beyond all belief and you want to give up you get a whisper in your ear that says you can and will do it. Maybe you don't think of verse above, but it is a good reminder that God is always with us. It may be in the smile of a stranger, the pat on the back from a coworker, or the nice gesture from a friend. Praise be to God for those angels in our lives... without them we would be lost.

In many ways we all have experienced the pain and pride of a marathon. Some literally and some metaphorically. Either way, be proud that you made it through the marathons that you have had to endure and be thankful that we have an awesome God that allows us as weak souls to have the discipline to weather the harshest storms. I certainly have some pride in the accomplishment of finishing my seventh marathon, but know I wouldn't have made it a mile if it wasn't for a deep rooted belief that God will not give me what I cannot endure. I type this today through much pain as my body heals itself and resets for the next race (much smaller from now on). And, my prayer for you is that the next time your mind and body tell you that you "can't"; simply smile and say I "can" if it is the Lord's will. God Bless you and thanks to those that offered support along my crazy adventure. I want to close with a really cool verse that was on one of the runner's shirts that I passed about mile 23 and it stuck with me:

Psalm 119:32 (The Message) I'll run the course you lay out for me if you'll just show me how.

Love In Christ,