Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Angels Among Us

Good Morning Everyone... Happy Ash Wednesday!

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,


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer ~ Romans 12:12

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,

Forgiveness, Forgetting, and Hypocrisy

Good Morning Everyone! I trust everybody is up and running at this point of the day ... well not literally, but chances are you may find yourself in some state of consciousness. This morning I had the pleasure of running with one of the older Gentlemen in my running group and we let our feet take us almost a mile past our intended stop. There are just some days that running feels so good that you don't want it to end.

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,

Archive Post on Judgement

Good Afternoon Everyone!

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!

Archive Post on Books and Covers

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
Heaven stands
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
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

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
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You when...

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave...
I never leave Your hands

Archive Post on Breathtaking

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,


Archive Post on Why

Good Morning Everyone! And, a cold one it has started out to be! Running with negative wind chills is a little challenging I must say. Had to cut it to less than 4 miles this a.m. because of it.

This morning something was really weighing heavy on my mind and its what I would call for lack of a better term the cycles of life. Michelle and I often refer to the ups and downs and twists and turns as "The Roller Coaster" (taken from the movie "parenthood"). Specifically I want to discuss the mountain top experiences and the abysmal moments of despair. Isn't it crazy how one moment you can be at rock bottom and then something happens to completely lift your spirit and mind? Actually its not crazy... Its God!

One of our dearest friends once got us a card that said "God has a plan" on the front. How absolutely true that is. We may not always know what it is or agree with it, but its there. And the plan is to prosper us in spite of ourselves. I read a verse a couple of weeks ago from The Message and I think it really fits:

Psalm 30:4-5 (The Message) All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God! Thank him to his face! He gets angry once in a while, but across a lifetime there is only love. The nights of crying your eyes out give ways to days of laughter.

As I looked at this text I thought how awesome is that verse? Think about those moments when you cried until you had no more tears and now think about the moments of joy that followed. Sure, not always right away and not on "our" time, but they do come. I've heard people say that "I wish I wasn't supposed to be a part of this" or "Why does this have to happen?" I'll offer some of my perspective and that is because God knows you are suited for it and he has a love that can carry you through it... no matter how hard it is. He is stronger than any problem we have and any horrible situation we encounter. Don't give up on life's struggles, give them to God. I've also heard... Let Go and Let God! Don't believe me? Then you haven't truly turned your life to Christ and I encourage you to do so. And, say a prayer for all of us (definitely me included) that we can continue to trust in Christ when the world crumbles around us so that we can truly experience his joy... such unspeakable JOY!

Much love to all of you ... may you stay warm with the love, friendship, and peace that surrounds you in this New Year!


Archive Post on New Year's

New Year’s Eve means many things to many people. It fosters a time for hope and reflection and provides us with the chance to start anew. I’ve never really been one for resolutions at New Years, because I feel that resolve doesn’t come from a day, but rather through an event or a series of events. The turn of the New Year in 2007 is a glaring example of this for me. I couldn’t see it through my own ignorance or apathy at the time, but I was given another chance at life. Many of you have heard or read my renewal witness talk or possibly were a part of it and know exactly what I am talking about. If not, I can tell you that 2007 marked a year of events that breed the very essence of resolve in me. I can’t imagine why I was chosen to follow the road I did or endure the circumstances that eventually put me at rock bottom, but I cherish them now. I cherish the thorns, the barren soil, and the dust that my tears dampened. Because if they weren’t there I wouldn’t be as strong as I am now. God worked through me and some of you in ways that I never thought possible and all praise to him for it. I only regret that I wasn’t able to see the “truth” earlier and protect my friends and family from the heartache and pain of knowing me then. I still have lingering regret for the arrogant, inpatient, and selfish person I was. I saw firsthand the pain that it caused and will probably never forgive myself for it, but have a strengthened resolve to never be that person again. Am I perfect? Wow, way far from it, but I have experienced God’s Grace and been overwhelmed by humility and know what it is to have a deep rooted change.

I’m guessing many of you have things that you want to change about your life this next year. They may be as simple as getting in shape or they may be as complex as revitalizing your faith. If you are looking to refresh your spirit I would encourage you to start with the following verse:

Ephesians 2:1-5

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of the sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.

My Brothers and Sisters my opening paragraph was more than just background it was a plea. I pray that you never, ever find yourself in the position I was in three years ago. If you do, know that there is hope and there is an answer and you will find it if you look hard enough. I’m also guessing that each of you have daily internal struggles as do I. There is no easy road as a follower of Jesus Christ, but the reward at the end of the journey is so worth it. I will leave you with a couple of self reflection questions and my answers… think about yours…

What is missing in my life that I would want to take a step towards making better? This one is easy for me… TIME… Hopefully 2010 will give me the chance to spend more time with my Family and Friends and less time on work and waste.

If you were given something to do over what would it be?

I think I pretty much answered it through the caption above, but it would be strength of character or lack of coming into 2007. I have personally allowed this weakness to fill a void and create action.

How will you allow God to use you to do something beneficial in 2010?

I hope to continue to provide my humble thoughts on things I perceive and share them with my family in friends in the context of God’s love. I would like to be more of a witness and have more strength to be bold for Christ in the coming year and each year thereafter.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?

Got Ya! I wanted to see if you were paying attention. Mine is not a resolution, but a continuation of a promise to those I love. I will try every day to live up to your expectations of me. I will try to be a good husband, good father, good friend, and good family member. I will remember my mistakes and allow them to fuel my resolve that much more. I will give you all the best that I have to offer and hopefully in some small way, make a difference in your life through Christ who gives me the strength to do so.

God Bless you all and may you all have an awesome New Year! Bring on 2010 and all the good things that we will experience!



Archive on The Excitement of a Child

Good morning everyone! I hope this email finds you have a blessed and relaxed Christmas Eve.

This morning I want to write briefly about excitement and joy... the joy of a child on Christmas day. I personally cannot wait for tomorrow morning, but not for my sake... for the opportunity to see the joy and excitement in Will and Henry's eyes. I wish this was always the case but, there are days when I take both of my boys for granted. Most days are so very difficult with listening and behavior issues that I've actually found myself counting the minutes until bedtime. Maybe its just part of being a parent of young boys or very challenging young boys ... at any rate it doesn't take away from the precious gift that each of them are to me and the entire family. I don't know how I lived before or would ever live without them in my life. In many ways I look forward to getting home each night and bath and bed time and our routine. I love reading and singing to them and watching them try to hold on to the last precious minutes before they drift into dreamland. I don't think there is much more of a gift that God has given me than that of Will and Henry. I will be honest for all those parents out there and tell you that for the most part this parenting thing for me is work, not normal work, but the hardest work I've ever done, but also the most rewarding. And one of those rewards will come in less than 24 hours when Will gets to see his Razor Scooter and Henry discovers his barn, ride on firetruck, and the numerous other presents that fall under the tree. its amazing, but they will give me much more from their reaction than I could ever get from something material.

I wrote last week of the gifts that are intangible. The gifts that we give each other that aren't material. I would hope that tonight and tomorrow and every day will afford you the chance to recognize these in your life. Take a moment over the next couple of days and consciously look for them. Don't do this for me... do this for yourself. One way I would suggest you do this is to think of what life would be like without the blessings you've been given... what would life be like without the blessings we all take for granted? Christmas is a perfect time to reflect on this ... after all, God gave us his only Son... Our Savior...

Thanks to the Lord for the Most Special Gift of All... Eternal Life, Rich with the blessings of all of you... Isn't that amazing? As long as we can imagine and even past that we will have life together, thanks to the birth of a Child we will never die.

May God Bless each and everyone one of you this Christmas and New Year!
My Love goes out to each of you and hope that you enjoy all the blessings life throws your way,