Tuesday, November 23, 2010
When was the last time you were under a microscope? When were you last examined by the world and judged by their standards? Have you ever been torn apart by human authorities to the point that you question your own character, your own integrity, your place with not only your family and friends, but with Christ. I hope the answer to the last question for all of you is no, but I would guess it is at least a yes or a maybe. If it is come ride that wave with me friends. At the end of last week I had to answer for things that made no sense to me at all... I had to answer for being human. I had to address my imperfections among the imperfect when in reality they too have fallen just like I. I can only share that I had to speak to my employer about a couple of items for which they thought I had demonstrated poor judgment. Maybe I did, but nothing different than the culture that surrounded me and certainly not to the extent or depth at which I was accused and dismantled. If you ask me why I'm still there its because I have a passion for what I do and love those that I serve. I will fight with everything I got to stay in my position and do good even when questioned at all times because I have now realized its a fight Christ would have me take on. Its a fight to defend all that is right with being a Christian and demonstrating love for everyone without judgment.
Next time you get the beat down I want you to look up. I want you to remember that human standards, human traditions, and human judgment does not define you. Rather, how you live and love one another does. And, that starts with forgiving yourself when you make a mistake and forgiving others if they wrong you. If we only all lived more like Christ so much pain would be avoided. So much wrong would be made right.
I want to take a moment to thank those of you who I personally leaned on the last couple of days. You lifted me up and allowed me to be whole in Christ again. You reminded me of the Man I was, The Man I am, and The Man I will become... A Man of God! I would offer to be a resource to all of you the next time the "authorities judge you. I may have a ding in my armor, but I'm ready to help.
Love in Christ,
Your yet again battle tested Brother
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I know that is a whole lot of heavy in an opening paragraph, but its something that is on my mind and I will not let go of. Why you ask? Because I am tired of living my life in a box and watching others around me suffer because of what the world does to them and me. We all have a choice. Why not chose to be happy? Why let the world crush you?
Here's some examples (as if you need any): sickness and poor health overwhelm you... it seems like the pattern never ends and being healthy is for others; work is more than you need or want to handle... stress piles up, people make poor decisions, and you suffer because of them; your marriage is NOT smooth... its become increasingly difficult to find "you" in the mix of the craziness and sometimes you question if its more a life partnership instead of the bond you intended; your kids are wild... you sometimes wonder what little monster has climbed inside your child and is on seek and destroy mode; your dreams are sacrificed... you watch others climb to the mountain top, but are not afforded the opportunity to do so because you are the one taking one for the team, you are the glue; you are judged by this world... others look at you like you just stepped off an alien craft and cannot understand how you will not be defined by them or their prejudice; you worry about your past, present, or future... oh, our biggest enemy worry. How foolish we are to think we control any of it.
I've decided I'm going to be happy. I'm going to allow myself to feel, live, and love like God has intended. No more check valves on this Big Teddy Bear. Yes, look out... hugs might be coming your way if you get too close ;o) Seriously, I want to be more for all of you, but knew that I couldn't if I allowed myself to succumb to the stress, worry, and judgment of those around me. Instead I have taken a step out into a very unknown, sometimes uncomfortable place and I hope you will join me. I hope you will let go of it all and "just live" "just be HAPPY" Remember... Your past is not who you are, your present is not exactly what you have become or need to be, and your future is only what you make it... Make it great!
Proverbs 3:13 "Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding"
Are you ready to be happy with me? I pray to Our Risen Savior that you are and you will live wide open. As William Marshall Ruckman says "Jet Pack Activate!"
Love you all,
Monday, November 15, 2010
Yes its Saturday and I'm typing. I'm typing for many reasons, but I think the primary one is for my benefit and a couple of my Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I share this message with you tonight because I feel the need to discuss two very important concepts in our Faith Walk. The first of which is we are broken. Did you hear that? I called all of us broken. Don't believe me? When was the last time you read Matthew 5? Do you remember Jesus discussing the Law of the Prophets and basically laying out what is expected of us? He tells us that if we set aside even one of the least of the commands that we will be called least in Heaven. He then goes on to discuss Murder, Adultery, Divorce, Oaths, Eye for an Eye, and Loving your Enemies. Now for corporate confession. As corporate as it can be for me in this email. Aside from murder if you read the literal interpretation of the text above I have in one way or another somehow violated everyone of the commands. I have fallen just as far as you can, but have also found that you can bounce.
There is a very key point that Christ makes in the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount. It is something that I've read over and over and have only recently been able to put together. Matthew 5:18 "For I tell you, until Heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished." Now I don't pretend to big the greatest Biblical scholar, but I can tell you that it was "Accomplished" on the Cross. Are you following me? What I'm saying is the there is this wonderful thing called Grace. You can take a deep sigh of relief because Jesus knew we were broken and he saved us. He knew before we were born that we would violate many of those commands above. He also knew that if we truly repent we are washed clean. What am I telling you then? Well I'm not telling you to live with total disregard for The Sermon on the Mount... quite the contrary. I am telling you that you will fail and Christ has you covered WHEN you do. I just encourage all of you to keep Christ-like love in your heart and don't allow guilt to burden you. It can be one of Satan's greatest weapons. Someday we will experience Agape "perfect" love all the time with everyone in Heaven. Until then we can do our best to try to bring His Kingdom to earth.
Let me close with Matthew 6:10 "your Kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven". Have you shown Christ-like "Agape" love to anyone lately. Did it feel kind of awkward or did it feel like the most natural thing you've ever done. I hope its the latter... it certainly has been for me. Its a blessing enough just to see them smile. And, more reward than this humble sinner ever deserves.
Hope you are all have a very Blessed weekend and I hope you are discovering and not passing up those opportunities to lift another Brother or Sister in Christ up from trial.
Love to you all,
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Today I want to talk about Joy. Webster defines "Joy" as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight.
When was the last time you felt joy? Is it the same to you as happiness or is it different? Does it really matter?
I bring it up because all too often we are focused on the finish line rather than en"joy"ing the race. I think most of us set the bar extremely high for how we are going to feel if something great happens rather than focusing on the success we achieve along the way. We lose joy through expectation. We degrade happiness through the desire to "have it all". When really there is no such thing. "Having it all" is as fickle as a leaf blowing in the wind. Our lives change, our expectations change, our desires change and we tend to focus on false finish lines to be the source of our joy and happiness. Lately one of my false finish lines is being a perfect Husband and Father. I think I do a good job most times at both, but I don't meet my expectations. I don't come close. I have been praying constantly that God will allow me to enjoy the race and see joy and happiness through the little things.
One such example happened to me on Sunday. I was blessed with not only seeing Will run the length of the field to score a touchdown to help his team win their Flag Football Bowl Game, but I was also there as one of his Coaches running behind him down the field and being the first to slap him a high five... It truly doesn't get much better! The Joy could have been temporary, but is something that sticks in my mind and makes me smile even as I type this. The past couple days God has allowed me to see through the craziness to focus on that one perfect moment and allow it to carry me.
What's your recent perfect moment? Are you using this blessing to carry you as God intended or have you already tucked it away, planning for your next victory in the race to "have it all"? Pause and reflect, pray, and ask God to reveal His blessings to you and maybe a little part of His plan. We don't have to understand it all or "have it all" ... we just have to keep running ;o)
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you
Have a great day everyone! Fall certainly has arrived!
Love in Christ,
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sorry for my hiatus last week. I was in beautiful Sandusky, Ohio at a conference and didn't open my computer. The good part is that the message I'm going to deliver today came to me while I was at the conference.
I was chatting with another manager and asking him how life was going and just making small talk when I learned a great deal about strength and character. This friend of mine taught me a valuable lesson "sometimes its better to think like a Christian and consider the repercussions of ones actions rather than following all of the rules". Now I'm hoping I have your attention. If I don't read on. This manager told me a story about two of their employees who were recently involved in a very sensitive situation with one of his vendors. The employees were good friends with the vendor and without going into detail were involved in a situation that would have defined all aspects of sexual harassment. One of the employees later approached the manager and made him aware of the situation and said they weren't sure what to do, but definitely felt uncomfortable. She later came to him and said all was okay and she was over it. Now I'm not sure if any of you know Human Resources, but I do and I know that the textbook way to handle this is to immediately report the action, follow through to ensure that the vendor is aware of the issue, and to interview all involved.
My friend surprised me when I asked him how he handled it. He said "sometimes we are given the opportunity to examine our choices and they aren't always as black and white as they seem." He then went on to tell me the history of the vendor and the employees and said that if he had reported it, he had the potential to destroy all of their lives in one action. You see there was more to the story than could be seen on the surface and the interview process alone would have made the incident public enough that at a minimum they all would have faced grave hardship. He then told me that he decided to be human and not make it a public issue.
Now I have to tell you I'm not sure I could have been so strong. After all, I'm Mr. Black and White, Mr. Rule Follower. I have such a propensity to do what I'm instructed to do professionally that I don't know if I could have completely considered how those employees and the vendor would have been impacted. My friend taught me a valuable lesson in his short story about a stressful moment in his professional career. Granted, none of you know this person, but I intentionally did not tell you their name because in the Human Resources world they made a huge mistake... actually a potentially career ending mistake in my opinion. One that honestly had me thinking that he was somewhat of a fool. The converse to that thought is that he also showed depth of character I don't know if I possess. And, what he called being "human" in many ways I would call being "Christian".
Have you ever held someone's life in your hand let alone three with a choice you were faced with? What would you do? What would God ask us to do? This is a great example of compassion, character, and Godly Love. You may think this guy is a fool and like I said, I'm not sure I could argue much with you. But, I will say that what I saw was a man that wasn't willing to hurt others just to follow the rules. I saw someone that would put others first and sacrifice it all to protect them. Isn't that exactly what our Savior did? I guess if you look hard enough at every day situations you find Christ like examples shining through.
Now for some scripture that I think relates: Matthew 25:40 "... The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me"
I hope all of you take some time to think about the person I call "the manager". Pray for this person and those with whom they interact. Also, look into yourself and ponder some of the questions above. Not sure if I could have reached the same conclusion. Of course, I believe God was leading this man ... Just as I have faith he will lead me if ever I'm faced with such a choice.
Love in Christ,
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
So the subject line probably serves to produce a picture in your mind. Unless you have lived in a different country, are opposed to movies, or otherwise were predisposed I'm guessing each of you has seen the movie Forest Gump. Well, if you have, you are quite familiar with this line "Run Forest, Run". For a moment take yourself to the part of the movie where Forest is playing football and they give him the ball and tell him to run. He zig zags up the field, past all the players, and doesn't stop at the end zone... he just keeps running.
Now imagine yourself at a flag football game coaching your 5 and 1/2 year old son and you tell him "Will, I want you to run through the sign at the end of the back of the end zone. Run as fast as you can. Don't stop. And, I'll see you at the sign." I didn't think he would take me literally, but sure enough. My son ran and ran. By the time he hit the end zone he was 10 to 15 yards ahead of the closest defender. And, he followed my direction. So much so that he ran into the sign! It was a very proud moment for this Dad and a life lesson on the innocence of allowing yourself to listen to instruction, trust, and let go. Often times we allow our minds to block our dreams. We focus on the rules, the structure, the impossibility rather than running through the sign at the back of the end zone. The analogy here for me is with what Our Heavenly Father often asks us to do. He gives us the course, provides the path, and is with us the whole way, but all too often we are stuck of why we can't instead of just how we can.
I share this with all of you this morning because I am the poster child for "why I can't" do what God asks of me. I make excuses, I ask way too many questions, I stress, I worry, I ponder, I process until I allow the opportunity to be great for God pass. I'm the kid on the flag football field that would say "Dad (God in this case), what if I'm not fast enough, what if they catch me from behind and grab my flag, that sure is far to run, Do you really think I'm good enough for this?". Some of that changed for me over the weekend. Stress had truly caught up with this Man of God. Worry consumed me and I reached a breaking point. I was physically exhausted and needed a boost. I needed a reminder. I got that reminder in the brink of time through my Son. By watching him trust, I gained insight on allowing myself to do the same.
God has given me great challenges in the past year, but more than that God has provided me great opportunity to show his love through my actions. I have stumbled, I have tripped, but I felt his arm on me leading me to my own sign at the back of the end zone. I'm not as good as I should or could be, but I'm good when I allow him to live through me. Today is a reminder for me to continue to do that as I type this to you. I hope you can gain a little insight from this non-dreaming conformist. If I can break the mold, so can you.
What is God asking you to do? What sign at the back of the end zone are you running toward? Will you trust him, not just on the surface, but trust him with your whole heart to get you there? Brothers and Sisters, this life is but a breath. I've often felt mine will be shorter than I would like so I will not stand idle. Please don't waste yours either. Let's not allow those questions and doubts freeze us... let's run toward what Our Risen Savior would have us do without abandon! Run (YOUR NAME HERE) Run! All in the name of Christ!
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24
Love and Peace to you... If I can serve any of you in anyway and at anytime don't hesitate to ask! I don't want my blinders to hold me back from being all I can for you!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
The opening paragraph was to set the stage for a larger question: What is your perfect? Have you thought about possibly shifting your definition or do you keep it nicely tucked in place, protected from the outside world. Those of you that know me, really know me, know that I'm not extremely good at adapting to change. I need change to almost course through my veins and become a part of me before I embrace it. Yes, that's me... stubborn. Therefore my answer to the question above is I used to have a "perfect" and I reluctantly ... okay... almost kicking and screaming have decided "perfect" is what we make it, not how we define it.
I will explain a little further by sharing my perspective on my own life. I thought perfect was doing things right all the time, never failing, never falling. I thought perfect was not only running from your mistakes, but trying to bury them behind a wall that nobody could see through. I thought perfect was the smokescreen that many of us use to live our lives daily.
It took some time and a great amount of study to come to a different realization. I've learned that perfect is not only none of those things, but perfect is the exact opposite. Its falling, failing, making mistakes, mourning sadness, and allowing yourself to be raw. Perfect for me is knowing that I am broken and will continue to be, but I have a God that will not allow me to stay on the turf. He is the hand that no matter what I do or how often I do it will lift me up and allow me to succeed. What I'm really trying to say is that the only "Perfect" is in and through Christ. Here's a good definition of perfect for me today... Perfect for me today is having the challenges of two special needs children, having a crazy schedule that barely allows time for sleep let alone time for anything else; its living life the best I can with what I've been given and trying at all times to keep Christ in the center. Its not conventional, not practical, but its what God is directing me to do and in him I will not fail. Why can I say this? Read below:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Is it time to shift your definition? Could be. Open your eyes, live it, embrace it... because you have "perfect" lives if you allow them to be so.
Love in Christ,
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Do the song lyrics above stir any emotion for you? They do for me. Why you ask? Because believe it or not there was a time and probably still is when I would be afraid to step out on that much faith to grab the hand of Jesus. I so identify with Peter and his fear of "sinking"...
Matthew 14: 25-31
25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
29"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
In that context, I will ask a rhetorical question: Why do we doubt? Is it because we don't believe, is it because we listen to the naysayers, or is it because we haven't seen enough miracles to truly have faith? I'm a fairly dense individual with regard to some things and am probably the reason they invented the rewind button, but can tell you that I get little reminders every now and then.
One of those came last Friday when we received a call from Henry's Help Me Grow Service Coordinator telling us that Henry had received funding to follow through with aggressive restraint occupational therapy to help him utilize his left arm. I'm sure all of you know this, but do to his Cerebral Palsy, Henry doesn't use his left arm for much. The therapy will force him to recognize its utility. Results with similar patients have been amazing so this is truly a prayer answered... especially since we never could have afforded it on our own. This in itself is amazing, but the timing brings chills.
Last week may have been one of the worst weeks of my life due to my own faults. It really had me "sinking" if you will. I was frustrated, impatient, and angry. Henry's therapy was a major load on my brain. We hadn't heard anything for quite some time and I thought it was lost in the shuffle. I allowed it and life to drive me down. Why?.... because I was trying to do it on my own. Just like Peter I saw the wind, became afraid, and cried out! And, just like Peter, Jesus reached out his hand to reaffirm my faith and to let me know that when I can't, he can.
I know I don't speak about little Henry near as much as I should, but can tell you that his entire life is a testament to faith and this recent funding breakthrough is just another example of an answered prayer. There was a time when we didn't know if he would walk or talk and to watch him run, talk, and jump around you now, you would be hard pressed to recognize he has CP. God is truly faithful. I pray that I can remember that more often in the future and I hope that he somehow uses me as an instrument to show others that its okay to be Peter as long as you recognize that our Savior will never let us sink... no matter how great the storm.
Thank you Lord Jesus for giving me the ability to discern the gift you have given me in my little boy and Thanks to all of you for the support you have given our family along the way!
Love in Christ,
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The strangest thing happened to me the other day. I was cruising right along thinking about the gifts I've been given in this life I realized more than ever that those that shine the brightest are also often the ones that would rather be out of the spotlight. As I considered my gratitude towards these individuals I was also reminded that they never truly see themselves as the beacons of light that they truly are. Call it humility, call it lack of self confidence, call it what you will, but I see it as quiet strength. Sure this world needs those that are bold, but it also needs those that live quietly in the background. They are leaders in their own way and give those that are loud, like myself, strength. I am inspired and awed by my Christian Brothers and Sisters that silently serve everyday. You DO make a difference! You challenge others to be lights in their own right and you lead them toward the paths that God would have them take.
Do any of you know someone who silently serves? They may be active in Church, active in the community, but really don't realize how much they do for others. If you do, please take a moment and lift them up. Tell them how much you love and appreciate all that they do. Tell them of their greatest strength that inspires you. I know I'm often remiss in doing this and often find myself lacking courage to do so, but I'm working on it and hope you will too. Don't assume that someone knows all the good work they are doing. Put it into words and let them hear it. Its hard for me to do it in a bulk email setting, but will tell you all that I see your gifts, silent or loud, and I hear them. You inspire me, challenge me, strengthen me, and lift me up. If you can do that for this wretched sinner, you can do it for anyone... So Thank You for helping me and those around you! I am not blind and realize that there are many in this world that probably mock you, degrade you, and make you feel like you are less than you are, but don't ever lose heart and don't ever stop serving! Its not only your calling, its your gift!
1 Corinthians 12:27 "Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it"
Love in Christ,
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Many people (myself included) love the show "What not to wear". For those of you that aren't familiar with it, the hosts, Stacey and Clinton, provide advice on makeovers for those that definitely need a little or a large amount of direction with regard to fashion and style. They work with an individual to completely upgrade their appearance (dress, make up/grooming, and haircut). It really is amazing to watch these folks before and after. Mostly all of the after images are amazing. But, there is a part of me that can't help, but wonder... what happens to these individuals 2 or 3 years down the road?
Why have I taken the time in the opening paragraph today to talk about this? Well, quite simply its because I believe we can draw many parallels with our faith walk. Can you think of a moment when you were so close to Jesus that you literally thought you could reach out and touch him? Do you remember how you felt? Do you remember the strength, the confidence? Well, I do and still get that sense over and over as I watch life transpire before me. I usually feel like the "after" person on What Not To Wear. But, sadly I will tell you that Satan doesn't discriminate and he doesn't always attack the "easy" targets. I found that out the hard way last week. I won't go into details, but will tell you that I had a very rough time last week coming to terms with the fact that no matter how hard you try to preach, teach, and live as Christ would want you to the evil one has ways to beat you down and make you doubt yourself. He can crush your confidence through false accusation, hate, despair, and hardship. But, the good news is that can only happen if you let it.
To help you understand a little more I will tell you that in the past three years I've went through many peaks and valleys. Most of the time I've been able to discern the path I need to take or at least pray through them. During all of this, however, I fell into a little bit of a trap. The trap of believing that as the "After" person in this parallel, I would never waiver in my ability to share the good news of our Risen Savior even in the face of adversity.
Well last week I had the displeasure and pain of looking this adversity right in the face and and am a little embarrassed to admit my first reaction was to shut down and shut up. The whispers told me that if you are quiet you can't get hurt. Two questions immediately entered my mind... "Why should I open myself and my life up to people if at the end of it all I will face heartache for it?" and "Why would I be foolish enough to care so much that the haters could bend it to be something other than God's way?".
I guess since I'm typing this you know that I didn't shut down or shut up, but only because I married one of the strongest Christian women I've ever met. I've learned so much from Michelle through the years, but last week she gave me a gem that I will share with you. She basically said that I needed to step back and assess situations for what they are and that often times when you are doing good things in Christ's name Satan will attack you and try to stop you from being bold. I've got to admit I was ready to throw in the towel, but Coach Ruckman (Mrs. Ruckman) talked me off the ledge and helped me regain center. After digesting her words and pouring myself into my Bible, I'm now able to be there for my friends and all those I love in the capacity that I need to be again. Thanks to Chelle for helping me see love (Christian Agape Love) again and encouraging me to be bold yet again for our Risen Savior.
I want to close today by asking you a couple questions. "Where is Satan attacking you?" and "Why is he keeping you from doing your work for God?" Jesus reminded us we are ALL Children of God and we cannot be touched when doing his work. Stand Strong, Be Bold, and You Will Not Fail!
Time for an old favorite of mine that so fits today:
"However I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying the Gospel of God's Grace." Acts 20:24
Love in Christ,
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Recently, I had the honor and blessing of watching someone let go and let God work. I saw as this person truly was washed of all the "stuff" they had been holding onto from their past. I can tell you that it was probably one of the most powerful and life changing experiences I've ever endured. Similar to watching my Brothers be freed from the chains during the renewal process I got to see the light beam from this person as they finally allowed themselves to be washed white and be a Child of God. Amazing and awesome is the only way I can describe it. Since then the road has not been easy. They have endured trial and struggle, but still seem to hold onto the promise. Even when others that are close to them tell them lies about who they are, they haven't wavered. The fact is they now know who they are in Christ and in the eyes of fellow believers and that is what matters. I guess watching this is how I truly found my pathway to letting go of one of the enemy's most powerful weapons... guilt.
Today I want to focus on the "washing white" part above and how sometimes even those that love us can cast the largest stones. Have you ever tried to drown yourself or kill the pain? The most obvious method one would think of would be alcohol, but there are many others and I tend to chose physical pain through exercise. Yes, I know beating oneself physically for something you hate about yourself isn't effective... don't worry... I've recovered from that philosophy and don't do it anymore. However, I've watched the other worldly addictions and escapes in my friends and family and know how destructive they can be too. I think as Christians we need to be cognisant of these things and that our words can be daggers when directed toward someone who has a "past" and don't we all have "pasts"? Now for why I say this. My friend mentioned above has been experiencing this as part of the struggle to define themselves. I will continue to remind them that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. We also have the power to crush that snake under our feet...
Luke 10:19 " I have given you power to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you."
The next time someone tells you a lie about who you are Brothers and Sisters remember you are washed clean by the Risen Savior and you don't have to listen to anything short of that. May others words only serve to lift you up, raise your spirits, and lead you to everything God would have you be.
Love and peace for all of you,
I know kind of weird for me to be typing one of these at night, but I finally found time and wanted to write down some thoughts that have been swirling in my mind. While on vacation I took will into the ocean. He said "Dad, take me where I can't touch". I replied "Will, aren't you afraid?" He said "No Dad... you will save me." Wow, such blind trust and faith from a 5 year old in his Dad. It really stirred up some emotions for me and as you can imagine one of those was do I trust anyone that much? Would I let someone carry me into the ocean over my head if I knew I was no match for the pounding waves? Well, the answer is ... Absolutely yes! Truth be told I would trust pretty much every one of you with my life. Why? Well, not by your character alone, but by your demonstration of faithfulness. The same demonstration of faithfulness that our Heavenly Father gives to us. The following Proverb really hits this well:
Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. And lean not on your own understanding"
I believe you can draw much from this verse, but mostly I draw reassurance that Our God will never let us drown. I know sometimes we feel as life is out to get us. Those figurative waves I spoke of in the story above are beating us relentlessly. But, you know what... God is so much bigger... his hands are wrapped tightly around you and he won't let go. This is also to be said of any of you that feel like you always have a rough road ahead of you and nothing comes easy. God is right there with you. Don't over think it. Allow the Lord to be your heart and your guide. Don't let your own thoughts trick you. Next time you wonder if there's someone willing to stand up and keep you from drowning look no further than this email. I will and so will our Risen Savior. And by the way... He Lives... He Lives Through Us Everyday!... If we only open our hearts and minds.
May all of you have a blessed evening and a wonderful upcoming weekend. I apologize for the brief hiatus in these emails... The Outerbanks of North Carolina took me away ;o)
Love you all,
Monday, July 12, 2010
What a beautiful July rain soaked morning it is! The run in the rain was absolutely refreshing! As you know or have figured out from last week's emails we had a crazy week in the Ruckman household. Challenging might be an understatement, but I can't think of a much better word to use. The good news is that it brought us closer together as a family and strengthened our resolve. Its amazing how God can do his work in the hardest of times. The goodness kind of hit a pinnacle for me last night at bedtime when Will decided he wanted to sing his bedtime song instead of having me sing it to him. Usually his bedtime routine entails me reading him a book, helping him through his prayers (he usually says the Lord's prayer on his own and doesn't want Dad's help), and then I usually sing him a song which is often a contemporary Christian song. Lately he has wanted me to sing "Our God is Greater" by Chris Tomlin. Last night he wanted to do it himself and he did... he hit the entire song perfectly on pitch and it flowed as if I was listening to it on the radio. Needless to say this Dad was a little choked up with joy and found strength of the spirit through a 5 year old. Raising children is certainly the hardest thing I've ever done, but moments like last night make it all worth it! There is a simple beauty in their souls that I think as adults we tend to guard and keep away from the world. Thanks be to God for allowing me to see it!
Last week, during what I will call a battle, my prayer partner Scott shared Psalm 33 with me. I found a verse that kind of carried me and really describes the way I felt last night...
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
The rough stretch last week was about trust and faith and I found that if you want to truly rejoice, God has to be present. If you want to truly get through pain, God has to be present as well. Without God we just muddle through. Don't fall into that trap if you can avoid it. Allow true peace to enter your lives this week. Allow the Risen King to refresh you, renew you, and let you experience joy. And, may you have that moment of beauty like I did last night. The kind that resets the playing field... Praise be to God!
Love in Christ,
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
In the past I would have probably went off the handle, but I think I've finally reached a point in my walk where I've been able to reach down into my toolbox and pray rather than judge, distance rather confront, and love rather than hate.
Its curious how hard times present us with choices. I once heard a quote that said its not the setbacks that define us, its how we respond to those setbacks. How very true that is. I would also add that when facing adversity, its our faith that truly defines us and our actions.
Back to choices and back to the reason for this email other than just my weekly thoughts on life. I made a choice and it wasn't an easy one. I made a choice to not judge, but also not to try to understand those that don't show God's love. How much love do I have for them? A whole lot, but I have to resist the urge to be a Man and to "fix it now". Time to let God do some work. If he needs me to be a vehicle, he will let me know in his time. Until then... I'll run on... it is marathon training season after all.
Finally, I know I've rambled some today and it was intentional. You see I wanted you to know a couple of things:
1. I'm far from perfect and struggle just like everyone. I believe we learn from each other and I am an open book to be learned from. Use me if you need to as a good example... shoot, use me as a bad example, but see me as I am ... broken and only saved through the Grace of our Perfect God!
2. Next time something happens to rock your world and question your impression of the world I encourage you to open your Bible, read Hebrews 11 and tell me what it says to you about Faith. Let that be a tool for you as its been for me.
Next week is going to be a better week. I don't think it, I know it. Live by Faith my Brothers and Sisters and Run On!
Love in Christ,
Monday, June 28, 2010
This morning as I type I'm reflecting on the past couple of months in my life and those that surround me and I hold dear. It has not been the smoothest of times for any of us, but we still seem to persevere. We do this not because we want to, we do this because we can by the power of the Holy Spirit.
There is nothing more painful than watching someone you love struggling. There is nothing more joyful than watching them rise again. Today while reading through my Bible briefly during a break I came upon Psalm 27. I've probably read it numerous times, but today it seemed to carry more weight. It was like God was using these words to convince me that I could not only be there for those I love, but also share the words so others could gain strength from them.
Here's a couple of verses from Psalm 27... I encourage you to read it all:
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.
13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
Do you feel the power from those words? Can they live in you as well? What do you think this says about the next time you are faced something from the enemy? I would venture to day that this Psalm might be your secret weapon. It has become a new favorite of mine. Amazing how verses hit you differently at different times in your life. Don't fall into the trap of thinking all is lost. It never is when you remember that you are a child of the Risen King and he will never let you go. Our enemies have some pretty strong weapons, but they are no match for Our God. Be Strong... Take Heart! The Lord is not only watching... he's standing alongside you! Time to raise those shouts of joy! Time to drown out the enemy!
Love in Christ,
Monday, June 14, 2010
"A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity"
As I type this I'm not sure exactly where to start, but will take a stab at what occurred last Wednesday. I was blessed with the experience of watching a friend discovery the power of Christ firsthand. As I watched the tears roll down her cheeks I was reminded of the Grace of God and how he could heal anything said or done... how he can transform us, renew us, and love us when we don't have the ability to love ourselves. I hope I had a small part in the transformation that occurred in her, but we all know that anything that I said or did was from our Risen Savior and he just used me to help her find her way to the truth. God's power is awesome to watch when you allow yourself to be his vehicle and allow him to speak through you. I have to say this was one of the most humbling experiences of my life and changed my outlook and perspective greatly. It made me realize that even though we are small ... we can be BIG through Jesus. We can do anything through him!
Next, I will share what happened Saturday. The family and I were part of a three car accident on I-270 in Columbus. We were basically T boned at 70 mph on the drivers side, hit another vehicle, and God helped me not only keep our truck from flipping, but wrapped his arms around everyone involved and no injuries occurred. The truck may be a total loss, but that is so secondary. My lovely wife reminded me of this and helped me regain my focus in spite of it all. I choked back the tears as I thought about what could have been, but was truly blessed to have the angel I married next to me to remind me of what was important.
Finally, I will give you my observation of other things that occurred and continue to occur in the context of the verse above. It never seems to fail that when I face adversity someone is there to pick me up. And, apparently I was there at the precise moment I needed to be there for my friend last Wednesday. When I think of Proverbs 17:17 I often think of the healing power of friendship through forgiveness (i.e. A friend loves at all times...) I guess the past week, God has shown me the second part and perhaps the most important (and a Brother is born for adversity).
Praise be to our incredible God my friends! I can't wait until the day we are all dancing and worshiping in Heaven together without pain, without struggle, without everything that binds us! Let's continue to let God's Love, Agape Love fuel our hearts and fill our minds.
Thank you for the honor of being your Brother... Thank you for the honor of being your friend!
Love in Christ,
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Today I want to talk about Family. And, not worldly family ... I want to talk about the family of believers that we all are a part of. This came to me the other day when I casually referred to one of my Renewal Brothers as Brother. Someone said "They aren't really your Brother, why do you call them that?" ... OH BOY, what a question? Thanks God for putting that one on me :o) Well, I simply explained the bond that we all share in Christ and how although we may not be related by who are Fathers and Mothers are, but by the Body and Blood of our Risen King.
Praise to God that this recognition of who my Brothers and Sisters are exists in my mind and that I'm not afraid to show it or speak of it!
Why do I bring this up to all of you? Well that answer is simple as well. Because at the end of a very long day when you may feel beaten and battered by the world you need to always remember that you have Family to embrace you, love you, and pray for you. We are a brotherhood of believers. And together with our Heavenly Father, nothing can stop us, and nothing can overcome us.
And, yes... This Brother is always here for you!
1 Peter 2:17
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
Love In Christ,
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Well I'm heading to Snowshoe WV this weekend for some golf with the guys and started thinking about the saying "Almost Heaven, West Virginia". Well, I've traveled many places in this world and I would guess that West Virginia fits just as well as any other in my mind. The reason is because I don't think Heaven for me is as much about a place, but rather about experiences that God places in our lives.
When I was going through Men's Renewal at our Church a couple of years ago some of the men talked about Mountain Top Experiences and how they equated those to heaven. I guess I've had several of those. Here are just a few: sitting on the front porch with Grandpa Hank, coming home growing up to a warm cup of Mam's homemade vegetable soup on a bitter day, fishing on the Ohio River with my Dad, the moment I knew Michelle was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, the birth of both of our boys, and watching Henry do what is unexpected of a child with Cerebral Palsy over and over again. These are just some of the big ones for me and the larger glimpses at Heaven. Others are as simple as a smile from a stranger walking down the street, the laughter of a child, a hug from a friend, watching a baby sleep, or looking at someone you love and being able to communicate what you are feeling without saying a word.
God has such an incredible way of giving us those snapshots if we are open enough to consider them for the value that they bring. All too often I think we are lost in the craziness of life and fail to recognize these simple gifts. Today for just a moment I encourage you to look back on your life and remember all those life moments God has given you that would be called "Almost Heaven". And, what's even better is those can't even compare to the reality that it will be!
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. ~ Philippians 3:20-21
Get ready to be called home some day by recognizing the preview God is giving you and enjoy every breath your have while you are here.
Love in Christ,
Saturday, May 15, 2010
The words to the Chorus are:
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God…
As I reflect on these I almost can see a flashback, flash forward, and flash sideways of my life. And in every instance there is one constant... God ... specifically ... God's Love. The kind of Love described in 1 Corinthians 13. He truly is greater than any struggle we face, stronger than any demon, held above everything that is or will be, and his power can heal even the most broken. How can you not want to shout with all that is in you "Praise Be To God" when you hear of this good news!
Harness this energy and use it for good! God is good all the time! I want to close tonight with an exercise that I learned from a sermon when I was a child at Thoburn United Methodist Church by Rev. Bush. Its really simple. Read 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 and wherever you see the word "love" or "it" replace it with "I". If you can live with God's love in your heart you will never ever fail! You sort of have to play with the language, but you will get the drift once you start reading it. Take out your Bible and look it up and here is the way you could say it if you let God's love be the driver in your life:
"I am patient, I am kind. I do not envy, I do not boast, I am not proud. I am not rude, not self seeking, not easily angered, I keep no record of wrongs. I do not delight in evil, but rejoice with the truth. I always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. I never fail.
Pretty cool isn't it? I've used this to help me regain focus many times and I hope it will help just one of you. I also hope you are enjoying your weekend as much as I'm enjoying mine.
Love in Christ,
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Well it appears the rain has slowed down some and I won't be needing a boat to get to my car after all. Hope this email finds you out of the weather and safe and secure as well. This morning as I was driving into work I was thinking about the gifts that God gives each of us and a passage that I recently read in 1 Corinthians ...
"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord" 1 Corinthians 12:4-5
Isn't it amazing that God places gifts into people at the perfect time and for the perfect purpose. I've been given more gifts than I would feel that I deserve and in my opinion don't use them nearly as much as I should for his purpose. But, I do recognize they are there and not of me, not because of me, and not necessarily for me. I just pray that I can do more with them in the future. How about you? What are your gifts? When did you last use them for good?
I would encourage all of you to take a deep introspective look at your gifts and would challenge you to find ways to use them to be more of a good and faithful servant. Also, if you know of one that I have that I don't use much that I have let me know ... let me know. Sometimes we are blinded by our own lack of confidence in our abilities. And, yes that is a huge obstacle for me to overcome believe it or not. More often than not, my swagger is only a front. I would also offer to tell you of the gifts that I see in you if you would like me to as your Brother in Christ. You all have amazing gifts. Some of you use them frequently and I'm in awe and some just shine at the right moments. At any rate, you all are a gift to me in one way or another and for that I'm forever grateful.
As we all continue on our journey I think we should occasionally remind one another of the good we do and the service we provide. Encouragement from a friend is one of the most powerful motivators. There is nothing that can stop us, but ourselves. We are after all children of the most powerful God. And he never lets us leave his hands.
Good luck on your journey to find your gifts and hopefully I'll get to see you in action using them soon! Love In Christ,
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Today I would classify as a microcosm of life. Ups, Downs, Anger, Sadness, Joy, and Laughter ... No tears, but felt like it from the pain during my run this morning and the story of a tragic loss of a young St.Clairsville Boy that I read in the Times Leader. The reason behind most of the other emotions are the individuals I've interacted with today and things that they have said or done. Guess I pretty much ran the gamut today, didn't I?
I'm never surprised at just how passionately I react to things I've read or others actions. Some probably love it about me and some probably detest it, but at the end of the day, its just who I am. Its the way God made me. My own personal challenge on days like today is not to judge the actions of a few and to not let them cloud my perspective or lessen my joy. Now time for a verse that has been recurring in my thoughts over the last month or two by different things I've witnessed and by experiences of those close to my heart...
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" Romans 12:18, NIV
Now that's pretty heavy isn't it? That Paul sure had a way of challenging and convicting us didn't he? I cherish the words God put in his mouth and the wisdom that flows from them. As I said above I've looked at this one verse probably a hundred different times and what keeps hitting me is the message within that we as Christians need to do everything within our power and our being to be at peace with all of those in our lives. Further, it leaves the door open that others may just shut you out and not be a part of it. That's fine as long as we've done all we can. But, I challenge myself and all of you that when you think you've done it all ... take a step further and see if it does any good. After all, I've learned as many marathoners do that a marathon is not 26 miles ... its 26.2 and I will tell you the .2 is probably the hardest. So too is the final steps of reaching out to make peace with someone who you feel has wronged you in some way. You can't control others, but you do have the capacity to control yourself.
And, also leave open the possibility that now might not be the time. I have a least one person in my life that I had to cut loose back in December of 2007. Not because I didn't try, but because it wasn't the time to reconcile and it may not be for years because they simply weren't open to it. Someday, I will try to build that bridge again ... I haven't given up on our relationship, nor will I even if on the surface it appears so. I just have the discerning wisdom to know that God hasn't provided the opportunity yet and I need to be patient.
In closing, I would like you to think for a moment about those in your life that you are not at peace with and just what more you can do. Pray for them, pray for you, be patient, and let God do the heavy lifting!
Love in Christ,
Monday, April 26, 2010
I guess I never really thought about it that way... being flattered that God is giving you many different things to deal with and knowing that you will come through because of the strength of your character and resolve he has instilled in you. I, as many of those around me, are quick to jump to the conclusion that somehow we're being punished for something when life isn't going smoothly. I can't count the number of times I've said "God, what did I do to deserve this?" Using the farmer's wisdom above perhaps I should have said "Thank You for having this much confidence in me when I don't have it in myself to handle it all."
Doesn't this all come down to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit? And, Isn't it awesome to watch God at work? Let Go and Let God is one of my favorite sayings. I'm so very stubborn that I try to do things on my own way to often and end up beating my head against the wall. Maybe that is why my perspective wasn't like the farmers. Maybe I need to be better at giving it over. We all know that alone, we are nothing, but with God we cannot be beaten. I'm hoping that we can keep the farmer's thoughts fresh in our minds as we start the final week of April and that we allow God to do his work in and through us. Finally a verse that's on my mind which relates:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5)
Love in Christ,
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
This morning I want to discuss something that was inspired somewhat by a part of a message that Dr. Call gave at Thoburn UMC this past weekend. Its always a blessing to listen to his sermons. God certainly has given him a gift and he is using it very well. His sermon this past Sunday was titled "Fishing With Jesus". So many good things came out of the message, but one that kind of stuck with me was his discussion on now that Easter was over what should the Disciples do? Dr. Call's message was strongly focused on the relationship that the Disciples had with Jesus and their need to follow him and feed his sheep. You can actually find it on the Thoburn UMC website and I think all of you would enjoy it. The part that really inspired me as I reflected on it was the "what now" part or the "And..." part. I'm going to share with you what rotated in my pea sized brain as I looked introspectively into the feelings of not knowing what to do next as I'm sure the Disciples probably did following Easter.
What do I mean by the "And..."? Well, have you ever had the rug pulled out from under you or have experienced something that has completely taken the wind from your body? I'm not only talking about news you receive (of course that could be it). I'm also talking about something you have done (or haven't) that you shouldn't (or should) have that results in pain for someone else. If you have the heart I have, I'm guessing that you had this feeling of being knocked to the floor when you saw the results... some call it conviction. With all of that being said lets now discuss the "And..." Well, as with everything else in our lives God gives us a choice. We are free to live our lives without the compulsion of always having to follow a certain line of thinking. God gives us the ability to make choices, even wrong ones and learn from them. So as for the "And..." Maybe you have ignored something or someone in your life and... it has resulted in pain. Maybe you have made a poor choice and... hurt those around you. Or, maybe upon opening Chapter 5 of the Gospel of Matthew, you realize you have broken every law that is contained therein, and... are not only suffering yourself, but have caused suffering because of your actions. I've seen and experienced so much of this pain Brothers and Sisters and wish we all (myself included) could somehow learn to be free of the burden we bring upon ourselves and those in our lives!
Now for the good news... in absence of perfection... there is a level we can attain to serve ourselves and others... that is the real "And..."
Next time you have the feeling of falling flat on your face as I've described above I would encourage you think about something that helps me through with my constant struggle with imperfection: On many occasions, I've had to say that I have failed to be the person I'm supposed to be in Christ and... I'm still a Child of God. He loves me for who and what I am. He loves me when I'm on the top of the highest mountains, is there with me when I fall, strengthens me when I'm weak, protects and loves those in my life when I don't have the capacity or am blinded by my selfishness, and will never let me out of his hands! My prayer is that we all never, ever forget that! There is nothing that is too big for God to handle and life is going to be filled with things that leave us asking. Just know that regardless of what we do, our Risen Savior has his hands on us and heals us. Praise be to God for it all. We will live and learn here on earth until we return to our Home. God is good... all the time! Time to head off and remember the good "and..."
Love in Christ,
Friday, April 16, 2010
What a gorgeous morning God has blessed us with out there this morning. The weather was just cool enough to make the run perfect at 5 bells ;o) This morning I want to talk about something that has recently happened in my life and something I hope that all of you can relate to. I have recently found a very good friendship that I never would have thought had potential to be so. Let's just say that this friend was placed in my life for a reason and I'm very blessed by the opportunity to share my faith walk with them. Prior to the end of last year and the beginning of this year I knew this person, but only only on the surface. Recently, we have on many occasions talked about my faith walk and just how powerful the Grace of Jesus has been in my life. These discussions reached a very deep point last Friday when my friend asked me what I thought about the other religions and why was everything in the Bible the truth and not just a bunch of stories. Have you ever been challenged like this? Well, let's just say that I was fairly deficient in my toolbox, but struggled and muddled through the discussion.
I basically started out with a diatribe on Biblical history from the Old Testament to the New Testament and a large focus on Paul's letters. Actually I don't think we talked much about Revelation at all. Revelation would probably be way too involved at this point. Well, my efforts were not as effective as I'm sure others could have been, but at least I didn't completely turn my friend away. I guess this was a good lesson for me on humility, patience, and being a witness.
I thought I was prepared for such a discussion, but my friend challenged me in ways I certainly wasn't ready for. It was not until I had time to take a step back that I realized that sometimes being a witness is not about the challenge, its about the ability to listen to another person's heart and where Jesus is in their life. Its also about the recognition that we are never at the same point in our relationship with God as those in our lives and that is Okay! I would say that my friend most reminds me of the Prodigal Son. They are just away from home right now, but the Father has not let them go. Who knows maybe I'll be lucky enough to be the driver to take them home... How awesome would that be? I won't complain though... God has already given me an overwhelming gift by providing me the opportunity to share in his name. Remember words on a page are just that without a person to share them and give them meaning.
I leave you with this section of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. This was the response from the Father to the Older Brother who was angry that they were celebrating his brother's return after being in Godless places "My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But, we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found." Luke 15:31-32.
Love in Christ,
Monday, April 12, 2010
As a Christian we have many opportunities. One that I cherish is to be able to witness. I absolutely love it when God places people into my life that are hungry for a good discussion on becoming more connected. My only challenge is to not tackle the person and go overboard ... Yes, hard to believe, but I get excited and can be a little bit of a Bull in a china shop ;o) That being said I also feel that inaction is also unacceptable. In my humble opinion part of being a witness is to not isolate or maybe a better term is insulate myself with a wall of fellow believers. I feel it is important to recognize when someone needs Christ in their life and go to them.
How many times have we missed chances because we avoid those that have problems, we consciously walk around those at rock bottom, and we return to our happy place rather than rolling up our sleeves and helping those in need? Just because a person makes bad choices doesn't mean they should be cast away. Who better to lead them than someone that knows Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Remember Jesus hung out with friends in low places. Did he like what they were doing? Absolutely not, as a matter of a fact I'm guessing he detested the sin and their sinful nature, but he showed absolute and unconditional love for them. He went to the lost so that they could be found.
Luke 5:31-32, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance."
Now I'm certainly not saying that you need to go looking for someone in the neighborhood bar, brothel, or unmentionable place. I'm guessing that you won't have to look far in your own life to discover those that need you and need Christ. Take time to pray for God to place someone on your heart that is in pain and needs to know him. Then allow yourself to be a vehicle of God's love. Find your "friends in low places" and witness to them. Maybe an indirect discussion about the transforming power of Jesus Christ will be all they need. Don't miss the chance to save a life. I'm glad someone was willing to do that for me and I'm glad I have the opportunity to pay it forward once again.
Love in Christ,
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
My overarching question for all of us this morning is WHY? Why are we so weak that we allow anger in our hearts? Why, when we seem to have control over almost everything else, can anger slap us in the face? Why do we do we disregard the essence of love (patience and kindness) and become so quick to react. I will allow myself to be a case study on the very subject today.
You see, last night I was faced with yet another challenge of parenting and that challenge's name is Will. He is an extremely strong willed and curious child. He does not react well to yelling, nor does he react well to constant praise. Will is very pragmatic and responds well to structured, firm discipline. Last night, I became very, very angry at an incident that occurred earlier in the day and was truly ready to scream at him. However, God entered the equation and allowed my Mom and my wise Wife to talk me off the ledge prior to having a discussion on the issue. I realized my reaction had nothing to do with the issue itself, but my expectations of a 5 year old to constantly make the right choices. How could I be so short sighted as to not give my Son the respect of a calm discussion on the subject? After all I'm 36 years old and I make poor choices daily.
God's ability to intervene was well received and I found that Will was more embarrassed by his actions than I would have initially thought. We were actually able to talk it through and I'm hopeful that he will do better in the future. Notice I said do better. The devil will not raise that bar of expected behavior on me. I'm just glad that there was a clear recognition of right and wrong. I can't imagine how ineffective my screaming would have been. Thank you Lord for the Patience! Thank you for helping me see past the blindness of my anger.
The next time you are faced with a situation in which you are quick to anger. I encourage you to take a moment... Take a breath... Even take a walk before you react. During this time pray not only for the situation, but the person with which your anger is directed. You may just be surprised how quickly and effectively God will intervene.
James 1: 19-20 "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for a man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."
There are so many things for us to be thankful for during this Holy Week, but the gift of life in Christ is above all. Let us not waste that gift. Let us be more like him in any way we can.
Love and Peace to you in Christ,
Monday, March 1, 2010
I have to say I'm much more content to be resting behind my computer this late morning instead of running the marathon relay I ran yesterday... brrrrrr! If anyone wants to join me next year, the group would love more runners... so much fun! This weekend marked the end of a very, very busy month for us, but also marked the second anniversary of the weekend that my Renewal Team gave the gift of Renewal away. It was quite possible the most powerful weekend of my life and continues to serve as a reminder for me during my Journey. I'll start this morning with a Psalm:
"I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth. He will not let your foot slip; He who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you, the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life. The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. ~ Psalm 121 NIV
I think this Psalm in particular is a great one with regard to being on a journey. I know some people probably consider my constant reference to my faith walk as over the top, but it certainly is a journey and one that really got a jump start March 1st and 2nd of 2008. The year preceding that weekend was incredible and not necessarily in a good way. It was the hardest year of my life and one that I wouldn't wish on anyone. The years that have followed are also incredible and in an unbelievably good way.
Now is where the question enters your mind, but what about all the struggles? Has everything been perfect?
Yes, everything has sailed like a boat on a mirror lake... Yeah right! All of you are fairly close to me and know that is absolutely not the truth, but I have been able to find so much good even in the roadblocks. I've been showered with gifts... I'm positive that this is because more times than I can admit since then I have Let Go and Let God. It sounds strange and I have to say of all people I don't deserve those rich blessings, but its not up to me to decide. It all goes back to a posting my Grandpa Hank had on his refrigerator "I know I'm special because God don't make junk". God was, is, and will be there all the time watching over me even when I think I'm "junk".
Quite often the demons whisper and tell me that I'm "junk" for what I do, think, or feel. However, there is such a difference in the way I drive this road now though. Before Renewal in 2007 I was always looking for the exit and the easy route. The years that have followed have made me more about the journey and not the destination. God will let me exit when its time. Until then I'm letting him drive. And, I'm letting him decide which way to go. I definitely can't do it on my own. I'm thankful that He always avoids the potholes that I try to put us in.
How's your Journey treating you? Ok, call it a faith walk, call it you "calling", or just call it life, but how is going? Have you let go and let God or are you still trying to do it yourself?
As always I'm here to talk or discuss your perspective on things...email me and share your thoughts... no fun being on an island ;o)
Love in Christ,
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Hebrews 13:1-3 "Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."
Pretty good verse to start Lent in my opinion, but there is much more behind it. This morning as Scott and I were leaving each other we had a brief interchange on people being placed in our lives at the absolute perfect moment. I would venture to say that these people, although worldly in every sense, fulfill a much greater purpose. They knowingly or unknowingly allow themselves to carry out God's message to those that need it most. They are his Angels. How many of you have seen this happen? I would be very surprised if it hasn't happened to everyone in some way.
Looking at the passage above I think its not only good for us to be vehicles for God's love, its our responsibility. Many of us know prisoners, not in the literal sense, but in figurative sense. The question is how many people do you know that are in prison to something? Can you help them? Can you share their burden? And, what about the mistreated? When was the last time you took a stand? Tough questions I know, but as we enter our time of fasting and prayer they are all great questions to ponder.
I routinely see these "Angels" that are among us. They have lifted me up when I was at rock bottom and have encouraged those I Love. I think it is awesome to see the face of God in family, friends, and total strangers. Some fires cannot be quenched and some smiles warm the heart beyond understanding.
What am I giving up for Lent? Excess food that robs me of hunger and the remembrance that we do not subsist on food alone... rather we need Spiritual Food. I'm also focusing on a deeper relationship with God and a firm commitment to uphold my promise to him.
May God be with you and lift you up and deliver those Angels to you when you need them most. And, may he prepare you to enter Lent with Thanksgiving for all of the blessings you have.
Love In Christ,
Good Morning Everyone!
What a perfect morning out there this morning! I was actually able to find some clear sidewalks to run on believe it or not. As I was running this a.m. I was thinking about my life 5 years ago... just before Will was born and pondering just what God still has in store for me. After all, nothing in our lives seems to be conventional. To be honest it was really a test of faith that God would deliver us the gift of life on his time and according to his plan with both boys. He certainly followed through and for that we are forever changed.
Will came out of the gate with a head of steam. All of you know that Will certainly is full of life and reminds us everyday of what "ENERGY" is like. What an awesome gift he is to us! He has taught us many things... a love of anything motorized, a deep love for music and dancing, and more than anything else, patience ;o) God certainly has a plan for Will to do great things. One of the greatest is to teach his parents about resolve, patience, and love while raising a strong willed child.
And, then there's Henry. What a special little angel. He is so much different than Will. He's the somewhat reserved gentle soul that reminds us of courage and strength. When you think of being a parent you never think you will be a parent of a special needs child, but in many ways I wouldn't change it. Aside from the medical bills, its the most amazing experience anyone can have. To watch Henry do what is "unexpected" and to watch him figure things out is a blessing unto itself. The past couple of weeks with restraint therapy have probably been the most challenging, but they are just another chapter in a great story of overcoming obstacles. Henry, the main character in this story is not only a hero to those that watch him... he's my personal hero. I wish I had an ounce of that determination... I might be able to run ultra-marathons if I did.
Will and Henry are my teachers, my students, and my inspiration. They have replaced many bad things in my past with hope for the future. I started this message today with Romans 12:12. Following along with that verse I will say that God has used these little miracles to teach me about hope, patience, and faith. It is an honor to be tasked with teaching them the values that our Savior would ask us to embody. I pray everyday that I will somehow be able to be an example for them to follow and a resource for their walk in faith.
Today I've highlighted two very special souls in my faith walk. They are not alone. All of you have somehow contributed to where I'm at today. And, many that are dancing, singing, and praising our Father in Heaven have played a huge part. If I listed each one it would truly turn into a book and to this date I don't have publisher that would be interested, so I will digress ;o)
Who are the people in your life that inspire and guide you? Have you told them? If not, what better time? And, remember to tell them how much they mean to you. Remember this life is but a breath. Make the most of it... if not for your sake, for those you love.
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, ~ Ephesians 1:18
Have an awesome Thursday everyone and a relaxing and fun filled Holiday weekend!
Love in Christ,
While I'm still fired up about a great run I wanted to talk about my obsession with running. Running makes me think of endurance and one of my favorite bible verses:
"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
Wow, never thought you would get such an analogy so early in the morning, did you? I know the group in this email is fairly diverse, but chances are you have run at one point in your life. Some maybe just in gym class and you wanted to puke and hated it. For others it has become your passion. At any rate I'm sure everyone can appreciate Paul's analogy to a race in Acts. If you really think about it, being a witness is much like being in a race.
I'm a much better witness than I used to be, but still miss chances to be bold for Christ. I still find myself not being quite as vocal as I should be. I guess I'm still trying to strike a delicate balance between the "in your face" Christian and the one that is seen as a resource. Believe it or not, one of my greatest challenges is not with strangers, its with those that have seen me fall. Much like the back of the pack or "penguin" runner (i.e. not the best) I struggle to be a witness because I'm often clouded by the perception of coming off as a hypocrite. That is one of my greatest prayers and one for you too. That you will not allow your past to cloud your future. What's done is done. No looking back. I had great wisdom shared with me yesterday about sin. Scott and I were talking about the very human phrase "I have forgiven, but I will never forget". Scott showed me a great display of how he sees that. Basically he took several napkins, balled them up and put them on a plate. And he said "now these are the sins for which you are forgive... If we truly live like Christ when we forgive... these go away; we don't pull them back off the plate and we don't use them for reference in the future because who you are today is probably much different than the person who committed those sins." Took almost 24 hours for that to sink into my thick skull, but wow... great stuff. It made me realize that I cannot control others view of me as jaded as it may be based on the past. And, I may not be able to control the discomfort I feel around what I may see as their "judging" eyes, but I can still work to get past it by using the words the Holy Spirit places in my mouth and the strength and wisdom I gain from others like Scott.
I hope you can take something away from this. I hope that if you are a forgive and not forget person that you are convicted by the Holy Spirit to let it go... just like the napkins on the plate. Who knows who/what you might be holding back. If you think its a who... share it with that person. I hope God imparts this wisdom on me as well so I can feel less hypocritical and more of a warrior for him. Am I perfect? NO, but neither was Paul and I think if I could show a spark of the fire he showed I would be doing something.
Let's all look forward to a great and SNOWY weekend!
Love in Christ,
Today an extremely quick hitter on Judgment. Have you ever been judged on your appearance, circumstances you were involved in, or a group you were a part of? Or, conversely have you been the one doing the judging? Who are we to place ourselves in such stature? Doing right or wrong certainly falls somewhere in a moral barometer with all of us, but doesn't have to be a tool used to destroy and degrade. Think about that next time you chose to react or judge someone based on the criteria above. There is so much to be said about how perception differs from reality. Instead of reacting next time, try using discernment and feeling. What you think of a person based on worldly things can be so far from the truth. Can't tell you how many times I've been wrong and hope I can be better. I hope any of you that has struggled in this area can be better too.
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
Somber message on a Monday I know, but conversation struck me and I had to write.
Hope everyone is having a great day!
Good Morning Everyone,
I'm filled with fire this morning and hope it comes out in this message. This morning my prayer partner Scott and I had a fabulous breakfast discussion. It was actually one of the best we’ve had since we’ve been meeting in the early a.m. at Tim Hortons. This morning we were swimming through Romans and chatting about life experiences and renewal and I was convicted to share the following with you.
How well do you know your loved ones? How deeply do you know their story? This morning I’m going to briefly talk about a book and its cover. I’m going to tell you that you likely don’t know all there is to know about those you hold most dear. There are many reasons for this. Some may be that they are ashamed or embarrassed to tell you or it may be that they are protecting you from heartache and turmoil over things that were very personal and isolated to them. Whatever the reason you probably know that covers of books can be deceiving… just like outward appearances of people. I guess I only wish you knew the extent of it. God afforded me that opportunity three years ago when I was blessed with the Renewal weekend at my Church. I was forever transformed in many ways and having the knowledge that everyone has a testimony to give was one of them. I’m talking about deep rooted testimony of how they were transformed by God’s Grace.
Now I will share with you more of my story in hopes that you can see that you may not be alone. I’m that person that internalizes things to protect those around me. Most of it is contained in my mind or the experiences I’ve had. For that reason I will tell you that this struggle has placed me into deep depression on several occasions. I harbor guilt for my thoughts and actions and DAILY ask for forgiveness, but its not like a Staples Easy button. Things don’t magically go away… I’m convinced that some never will, but I at least have a tool box to deal with them and the manual is The Bible … such wisdom in those words! I’m the one who has dropped to my knees, buried my face in the carpet, and prayed for God to take it all away while drowning in tears. I’m the one that is too weak to control my thoughts, words, and deeds. I’m that one that is usually too proud for you all to see that. I’m your Brother, your broken Brother telling you that I have a story like all of those around you. The next time you look at them don’t assume you know where they are coming from because of the way they act. Know that there is more, there is always more, and our Savior holds them close to his heart just like he holds you.
Rather than closing with Scripture Today I’m going to close with the words to a song I posted on my facebook page last week by JJ Heller. If you haven’t heard it, I encourage you to find it on youtube and listen to it. I’m hoping to be able to sing it in Church with the aid of my guitar sometime soon. Many prayers and much love always, Steve
“Your Hands” – JJ Heller
I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
That You would take my pain away
I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crookedly lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
When my world is shaking
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands
When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yea, one day You will set all things right
When my world is shaking
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
When my world is shaking
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You when...
When my world is shaking
When my heart is breaking
I never leave...
I never leave Your hands
Good Morning All... The message beyond the subject later, but first:
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. – Psalm 115:1
You know the saying that life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take you breath away. I had one of those this weekend. Literally … I laughed at points where I couldn’t breath. It was quite possibly one of the best weekends I’ve ever had (minus the minor hangover from enjoying too many spirits of course). It’s so truly amazing that God chose me to be able to experience such joy! I’m truly humbled to be able to have so much fun! I’m sure many of you have been in situations like that. I hope they have happened recently and often. For me they have been fairly uncommon the past couple of years, but I take every one of them as the precious gifts that they are.
I’m so blessed. I’m so very richly blessed! I’m not sure why, but in spite of everything I think or do God lays these gifts at my feet. He chooses me, a wretched sinner, incapable of consistently delivering on my promises, to experience joy in this harsh world. He always seems to know when it’s the right time to provide them and when I need them most. I know many of you think I’m extremely critical of myself when I say that I, of all people, don’t deserve the blessings I have, but I definitely don’t deserve what he gives me. We serve a King that knows us and loves us more than we love ourselves! How great is that?! I for one, think it is beyond comprehension! How Great is Our God!
I would encourage each of you to consider and reflect on those “breath taking moments” and Thank God for them. Thank God for all that he gives and does for you… I know I’m not going to miss a moment to do so.
Love in Christ,