Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Silent Service and Appreciation

Good Afternoon,
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

What Not To Wear

Good Afternoon,
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

You Are Who You Are

This afternoon I'll start with some words from my renewal song "I know you washed me white, turned my darkness into to light, but I need you peace to get me through, to get me through this night. I can't live by what I feel, but the truth that was revealed. I'm not holding on to you, but you're holding on to me..." For those that don't know this is from Casting Crowns "East to West" and I have a distinct purpose for writing this as part of my intro today.

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,

Hold on Tight

Good Evening!
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,