Monday, November 26, 2007

Homeless... the shattered dream.

Today's passage of scripture...

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I've often thought about the homeless man I met the other day. I've seen him from time to time around town and I'll think about him of course as I sit in the comfort and warmth of my own home late in the evening. I wonder if he's ok, is he warm enough, has he eaten today? Those thoughts go through my mind. I wonder what it must be like to be homeless and how frustrating that would be. I'm sure everyone has goals and dreams and longs to be successful in their life, and being homeless is most likely not one of those dreams or goals. I guess it just happens sometimes. A series of unfortunate events and there you are. It can happen to anyone I suppose. One things for sure in my own life, things did not go as I had planned or dreamed they ever would. In some areas of my life I've been blessed beyond measure. My career, my parents and sisters, my wife and children, also my health, there's so much to be thankful for and I've never dreamed that these blessings would be so wonderful as they are. Yet there are other events in my life that have caused such pain and suffering and I would have never dreamed or imagined that I would be going through. For instance my sons addition to drugs and the serious consequences of this and the pain this has caused not only himself but the whole family as well. I've watched it drain the excitement of life right out of my wife, not only her but with me as well. We had such dreams for our children. We both praise the Lord for our youngest son and the decisions he's made in his life. What a responsible young man he has become, but with our oldest son the plans or dreams we had for him were shattered due to choices and events that we didn't expect. I Never saw it coming either. It just happened, or at least that's how it seemed. Of course there were a series of events that took place over a period of time but the reality of it is what hits you hard. As your working through it, you think maybe you'll get a handle on it, but then you realize that you can't. It's too deep, too far gone now. There's no going back, only moving forward and pressing on through the mess before us. It's hard and difficult and the tendency is to think back, to return to the dream, but all that does is remind you that it didn't happen the way you had hoped and you go through the hurt all over again. I think it's best to move on, plan new dreams and goal from where you are today. The old ones are gone, but new ones exist. You just have to push past and through the crushed ones laying in your way. These crushed dreams seem to block your view from the new ones, or at least for a while they do. I guess it's because of the morning and sorrow we go through and that takes time to heal.

Back to Jerry, the homeless man I met the other day. I don't know what series of events caused this man to be alone and homeless, but whatever changed his hopes and dreams, I hope he finds the strength to create new ones. I guess that's the biggest obstacle we face in life isn't it? Realizing that this life is not what it's cracked up to be, but it's still a wonderful life just the same. We have to learn to take the expected, with the unexpected. We have to take the joys with the sorrows, we have to take the successes with the failures. At the very least, with Christ, this present life is not all there is for you. The bad things that happen along your journey is only temporary and the end result of a soul that belongs to Jesus, is one of eternal joy and happiness. Our soul lives on in a new body and new home.

This brings me back to subject of being homeless. How do we define homeless? The Webster's Dictionary defines the word homeless this way... 1. Without Home ( a homeless child), 2. the homeless, persons who lack permanent housing.

Our society would label Jerry, homeless. He doesn't have a permanent dwelling place, a place he can call home. But in God's kingdom, who are the homeless? Sure during this time, this current day, Jerry may be homeless by the worlds standards, but by God's standards, if Jerry has recognized that he's a sinner in need of a Savior and he's allowed Jesus Christ to be his Lord, then he's not homeless anymore is he? If the definition is... "a person that lacks permanent housing," then that would be describing those that do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I wonder how many people have drove by and have seen this man on the street and think to themselves, "that poor homeless man," not even realizing that they too are homeless in a more permanent way if they do not know Jesus.

I believe that God will provide for Jerry as a follower of Christ, if not in his earthly tent, then for sure in his heavenly body. But I know that God will not provide for the homeless (those without an eternal home) on the day of judgement. The bible makes that very clear. My hope is that if you find yourself in a situation that you never dreamed you would be facing, that you understand and know that with Christ in your life, it's only temporary. Whatever the challenge, whatever the difficulties, with Christ you'll have victory one day. And if you don't know Christ and your life is going great, your day of shattered dreams is coming. If not here, then in eternity's future. May God allow you to see the truth of this message. May God bless you and may all your dreams come true.

2 Corinthians 5:1-5

1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.


photo provided by

Friday, November 23, 2007

Here we go again!

"Is that a Christmas tree or a Holiday tree?" I was asked by a man standing beside the tree we had just displayed in my store for the Christmas season. I said, "It's a Christmas tree!" and then I waited for the response...

My thought was, "Here we go again!" Every year at Christmas time, at least for the last three or four years anyway, people seem to really be consumed by the discussion of what is the correct name for this tree. Those that want to call it a Christmas tree are leaning more towards the name of Christ and simply do not want to have the name of Christ in any way shape or form removed from the Christmas season. Those that want the tree to be called a Holiday tree do not in any way form or fashion want to have anything to do with Christ and so they want the Christmas tree to be called a Holiday tree so they don't have to use the name of Christ in this holiday. So it becomes a battle of political correctness. And the fight begins and the retailers are caught in the middle.

Call it a Christmas tree and you offend someone, yet if you call it a holiday tree you still offend someone. I've never really understood all this craziness about the Christmas Tree. It doesn't stop there however. The same complaints come if we answer our phones Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas.

The issue as I see it this. We as a society just love to fight. And if you are a Christian, well, we can feel good about taking a stand for Christ in something as silly as a Christmas tree. It's safe and all the other Christians are on board so why not join in. "I won't shop this retailer or that retailer if they call their tree a holiday tree rather than a Christmas tree!" This makes us feel like were doing our Godly duty in some way, yet we never open our bibles for quiet time all year long. We rarely pray or even go to church, but here we take a stand to show our Christianity through a Christmas tree?
Or take those that do not want to call it a Christmas tree, they want to change things, they don't believe that they or anyone else should have to call their tree a Christmas tree, so they fight against the ones that do call it a Christmas tree, saying were forcing religion on them in some way.

This year however, I must admit, the customers don't seem to be as silly with this issue as they were last year. So why is that? Is the issue they took a stand on last year not as important this year? I venture to say that maybe, just maybe, it's simply old news! I do believe the media drives much of this and other special interest groups drive the media. So I guess this is all about agenda rather than whether we're really taking Christ out of Christmas when we say Happy Holidays. I've said Happy Holidays many times and never the thought of taking Christ out of Christmas has ever crossed my mind. For me Christmas is many things... It's a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ, it's a wonderful time of being with family and exchanging gifts, it's a time when little children fantasize about Santa and his reindeer paying them a visit in the middle of the night, it's a special time of great deserts, candy, and food! It's a day off work! It's many things to many people. The truth is, the way we celebrate says a lot about our convictions for this holiday. It's not about saying the words Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, it's not about putting up a Christmas tree or a holiday tree, it's about what you believe in your heart.

As for me... I celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior on Christmas. I praise him and thank him for his love, mercy, and grace. Then as a retailer, a dad, and a grandpa, I celebrate the fun of Christmas with special gifts, good times together with family and friends, and yes even bake a few cookies for Santa then my granddaughter and I will set them out and get all excited about the magic of our wonderful imagination and dreams. (I don't know of one single adult that really believes there is a Santa, I think we grow up and realize that it's all for fun, don't we?) I won't even talk about the Tooth fairy.

Anyway, Like I said before, "Here we go again!"... Tis the Season.

My prayer for you is this... May God bless you and keep you all safe this year during this Holid... Christmas season. My prayer is that you have fun, relax, and trust that if you know the Lord as your Savior, you have eternal life in Christ! Take joy in that and have fun this Christmas! Share the love of Christ with others through acts of kindness rather than arguing over what we call call our Christmas tree this year.

Merry Christmas!

picture provided by ...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I was sitting here thinking of what I was thankful for and I thought I'd list a few things that I'm thankful for. When you sit down and think, it's amazing how blessed we are, isn't it?

  • I'm thankful for my loving wife. The way she always makes me laugh and the time we share together. She knows my struggles and my weaknesses but she loves me anyway.

  • I'm thankful for both my sons. Eric and Ryan, I'm thankful that both of them have given their lives to Christ and even though both are not in church right now (reminds me of myself when I was their age) I know that they have the Holy Spirit living inside them and one day they will come to the point that they turn back to God and live their lives for Him. I'm thankful that God never leaves us or forsakes us and He's a God of second chances... and more.

  • I'm thankful for my Mom and Dad and the examples they gave me growing up. How to treat each other with respect and love. They were great models for me to imitate and copy as I got older. The way my Dad treated my Mother was a wonderful example for me. I'm thankful for the lessons they taught me to shape into the person I am today.

  • I'm thankful for my loving sisters and their families. I don't tell them very often at all, but I love them both dearly and miss them so much because we live so far apart. But I have the best sisters anyone could ever have.

  • I'm thankful for my friends that God has placed in my life. It's amazing how they change over the years, but they're always there for me and my family. It's hard to live without good friends and I'm thankful for them.

  • I'm thankful for my job, my career. How often we think work is a burden, when it's the very thing that sustains our livelihood. How often we take it for granted. How often we complain, but how thankful I am that I have it. God has blessed me with this job and I ask for forgiveness when I forget that. And too often I do forget!

  • I'm thankful for my Church family. My Pastor and the staff at our church. The body of believers that I've had the fortunate opportunity to fellowship with. I'm thankful for their prayers and their love they have shown me and my family.

  • I'm thankful that I have a home, and I have a car, and I have food to eat every day.

  • I'm thankful that I'm fairly healthy.

  • I'm thankful that I have a Lord that loves me so much that he gave his life for me and anyone one else that believes. Thank you Lord Jesus!

  • I'm thankful that God had allowed me to enjoy music so much and the friends I've made through music. What a blessing music has been in my life!

  • I'm thankful that God delivers us through difficult times and trials. The trials I've faced lately would be too enormous to handle without Christ's Love. I'm thankful that he's walked with me through these storms in my life. I'm so thankful for that.

  • I'm thankful for eternal life!

  • I could go on and on.... the air I breathe, the sunlight, the rain, the breeze, the mountains and the trees and the lakes and the grass! I'm thankful for my pets, and the unconditional love they always give me. I'm thankful for my sight, my hearing, my ability to walk or run! I'm thankful that I'm alive another day and that God has a purpose for me. I'm thankful for many things and everything.

Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on the things we are thankful for in our lives. I realize I don't thank the Lord enough. It's so easy to ask for things, to request this or that, to pray for healing to pray for a special need, but to just say thank you, seems to put this all into perspective. It's when we say thanks, we realize we have rather than what we don't have. I know so often I focus on what I think I need rather than what I've already been blessed with.

Thank you Lord, for allowing me to be reminded of how greatly blessed I truly am. Thank you Lord Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you!

May God bless you as you too give him thanks this Thanksgiving Holiday.


Friday, November 16, 2007


I have a short story to tell you about a homeless man that I met today.

Today was just like any other day. Hectic as usual, constantly running from one issue to the next and one meeting to the next. All day today there was no down time... constant running. You'd think that with my mind racing in so many different directions and trying to stay focused on what needed to be done that I'd run right past whatever God would want me to do today, but that's not what happened.

After visiting with my son, my wife had shared with me that she wasn't hungry and she suggested that I stop and pick up something to eat on my way back home (we had drove separately), so I decided on Chinese food. On my way to the restaurant, I noticed a man on the side of the road. I've seen him a few times before and have always wondered about him. Is he homeless? Is he doing ok? Is he hungry? Who is he? But in the past as I'd drive by I'd just forget about him after I went past him. It's sad to say but it was like "out of site" "out of mind." But his time was different! Maybe it was the fact that the weather was so bitter cold and the sun was setting and he had his hands in his pants pockets trying to keep warm? Maybe it was the way he was trying to shield himself from the wind against the retaining wall on the side of the road? I don't know what it was, but this time I felt lead to do something. It wasn't clear as to what at this time, but I knew I had to stop and see him. So I go through the intersection and turn and park in a nearby parking lot and wonder what is it I'm to do now. I prayed for God to make it clear to me so I'd know what am I supposed to do. Thoughts raced through my head while I'm praying. I'm thinking... "Lord please don't ask me to invite him home if I find out he's homeless. Is this what you want me to do?" No, I didn't feel that this was what I was supposed to do. Suddenly I look down in the seat of my truck at my nice warm Dickie's barn coat with the wonderful wool lining inside, yes, my most favorite coat! I shake my head because I know what has to be done. The coat was a gift from my father in law a couple of years past. I'd always wanted a coat like that and when he heard this he bought it for me for my birthday. So it was a special gift that I really loved and enjoyed. But you know what... I'm not out on the street freezing right now either. I have a family, I have a roof over my head, I get to eat more than I should every day. So it didn't take but a few seconds to know that this coat now belonged to this man on the street. I put the coat on and I walk through the parking lot and began to approach the man on the sidewalk.

He sees me coming, and he appears nervous. I can tell he doesn't like being approached by people and as I near him his eyes dart around looking at the street then again at me and back to his left then back at me until I finally say, "Hi, how are you?" No answer, he's quiet and looking away from me. I can see this is making him uncomfortable, I think he's wishing I would just leave him alone. I ask him his name and he quickly says, "Jerry."

I tell him, "I just saw you here as I drove by and , well, I've seen you here a few times before. Do you have a place to stay?" He glanced at me and shook his head no. Then he said no. I then ask him if he's warm enough. He immediately says, "Yes, I'm fine." I explain that I just wanted to make sure that he was warm enough and I wanted to know if he needed a coat to keep warm. (he was wearing a couple of layers of shirts and what looked like a jacket liner and that was all he had on, it didn't look too warm.) So I ask him if he needed a coat. He looked at me now and he said, "Well I really could use a coat, what I have on isn't very warm." I said, "Well I'd like to give you this coat if you want it." (I showed him the coat I was wearing) He seemed to light up a little and he said he would like the coat. I asked him if he wore an extra large and he said yes. I said, "Here, I want you to have this coat" and I took it off and he took it and put it right on and it fit him perfect. He was so appreciative and he thanked me over and over. I glanced in his shopping buggy and all he had in the buggy was a couple of black trash bags. Who knows what he had inside those bags, a few clothes maybe and some important items that he valued, but laying on top of one of the black plastic bags was a bible that was opened up that he was reading before I walked up upon him. This bible wasn't in plain sight, I would not have seen it if I was not standing right there over his buggy, but there it was laying opened up and I remember as I drove by him he was staring down into his buggy and this must have been what he was reading. All I could think about was how amazing this was, here's a homeless man reading his bible on the street and suddenly some guy he doesn't know comes up and offers him a nice warm coat.

Well I simply say God bless you as we shake hands and he thanks me again as I walk off. As I walk back to the truck, I'm very chilled on the outside (it's getting cold) but my heart is warm on the inside. I thank God for the opportunity he gave me to help this man.

Well I quickly head on down the road towards the Chinese restaurant to order my food and as I'm waiting at the counter I start thing about this man again. Well you guessed it! I'm now wondering, "when's the last time this man has eaten anything?" "Is he hungry?" You know there's no way I'm going to order my food now and let this man go hungry. "But maybe he's eaten already," I think, "yes but maybe not and maybe the food I get him is the only food he gets all day." "What should I do?" The server behind the counter asked me, "How can I help you." and I blurt out without even a thought, "Yes I'll take two of those to go please." It's funny how that got settled so quickly. I guess that God thought I'd stand there forever and try and figure out what I should do, so he just decided to cut to the chase. It made me chuckle, it was if I had no control over what I ordered, by golly, this man's getting a meal weather I'm willing or not! After I paid I started thinking, well this order is going to take about 10-15 minutes to prepare, I better drive down the road and see if he's still there, here I am ordering this food and for all I know he may be gone already. So I take off and sure enough the man is not where I left him... he's moved.

I look way down the street past the next intersection and there he is and he's walking down the sidewalk. So I drive and park down the road and watch him as he keeps on walking down the sidewalk. I figure I'll keep an eye on him for about 10 minutes or so then hurry back to the restaurant, pick up the order, and quickly head back to where I saw him last. He shouldn't be able to get far and I should be able to find him and then give him his meal.
"It's time," 10 minutes are up and I see he's headed down the street and unless he gets off this street I can determine where he would be by the time I get back. So I hurry away.

I run into the restaurant and you won't believe what happens next. A lady behind the counter see's me and suddenly there's this shocked look on her face. She quickly apologizes and says, "I'm so sorry, we forgot your order! I'll start on it right a way, again I'm so sorry." I just sat down and thought to myself, "You've got to be kidding, there's no telling where this man will be by the time I get my order now." So I sat there and watched each minute tick by, one by one the minutes ticked by. Finally, I surrendered. I realized that this whole thing was now out of my hands. I simply sighed and said a prayer and I told God that if he wanted this man to eat this food then I was going to trust that he will lead me to him so I can give it to him. If I can't find him, then maybe my wife will eat it. I finally relax and just waited. The order took 20 minutes to make, unusually long because they were so busy at the time. Well I finally get the order and I head down the road.
I see no one walking on the sidewalk and now it's almost dark and difficult to see very far down the road. I again pray, "Lord if you want this man to eat this food, please Lord, lead me to him." I drive and drive and keep driving and just as I figure he must have taken another street, I see a glimpse of this man wearing a light tan colored coat down an adjacent street. All I saw was the jacket in the distance because he was wearing all black clothes, and if he hadn't been wearing the light tan colored coat that I gave him, I would have never seen him way down that street in the dark.

I quickly turned down this road and stopped next to him and I got out and walked to him. Again he didn't like the idea of someone approaching him so to put him at ease I explained as I'm walking towards him that I had bought him some food and I just wanted to give him something to eat. He relaxed and I think it was then he recognized me from before. He said thank you so much. As I gave him the sack of Chinese food I told him I hoped he liked Chinese food and he said he did, I gave him a Pepsi to drink with his meal and he quickly tucked it all into one of his plastic trash sacks. He thanked me again and as I left I simply said God loves you, and he said God loves you too. We both went our separate ways and I don't know the next time I'll see him again. (I think I'll get some gloves and have them with me in the truck for our next encounter if this is God's will)

This I do know. It's amazing how God will provide isn't it? This man needed a warm coat and some food, God had planned to provide for this mans needs and he used me to execute his plan. Even as unsuspecting as I was, and as difficult as I made this whole thing... God provided. God's plan was accomplished.

This is just another reminder that God is in control, even when it appears that nothing is going right. This poor man doesn't know where his next meal is coming from, but I praise God that He does! This man doesn't know how he's going to survive this cold weather, but the Lord does! I thank God that He's in control and that He provides for our every need because he loves us so much.

I got to admit, the coat looked better on him than me anyways. God always knows best!

Your brother in Chirst!

photo provided by

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A compass that keeps you lost

There quite a bit of talk lately about the release of this new movie, "The Golden Compass," in December of this year. I've heard talk radio shows talking about it as I drive back and forth to work, also you can look up information all over the web about this movie and this author. I've posted a link to one of the web sites that I found that discusses this movie and what the true motive is behind the movie and it's disturbing to say the least if it's true.

I mention this because this looks to be something that definately speaks against God and the worse thing about it is that the audience that will be watching this movie will most likely be too young to make intellegent decisions about issue of Spirituality. There may be unsuspecting parents that will take their children to this movie and not realize what it's really about.

Search for yourself and make up your own mind about this movie. As for me, it's nothing I would want to expose my Grandaughter to in the future. I think we must be cautious and take care to protect our innocent children... decide for yourself.

One Hundred

I'm amazed at how this little thing of writing has turned into such a great source of relaxation and enjoyment for me. As busy as I am I would never have dreamed that I would have had the opportunity to post 100 devotions or writings within my first year of blogging.

I remember last year in December a friend of mine from work told me about Blogging. Up till this moment I really hadn't thought much about blogging and didn't even know anything about it either, but after Scott Winslow explained to me how simple it was to set up a page and get started I thought I'd give it a try. I had enjoyed writing a few devotions in the past but never really had a venue to share with anyone what I wrote. I enjoyed writing and I've always felt lead to share the love of Christ to others in any means possible. I remember thinking in the beginning that if only one person reads something I've written and this in someway plays a small part in them giving their life to Jesus as their Lord and Savior, well then that alone is worth the time and effort to write. I remember thinking if only one person gets encouraged or uplifted and feels like they can go on, keep pressing on in their service, then it would all be worth it. I remember thinking if only one person could be helped in some way then that's enough. What I never counted on or expected were the blessings I've gotten over this last year. I'm often blessed with wonderful words of encouragement from my readers. Often I'm blessed either through comments left on the posts or even more so in person as I'm told that they are encouraged and blessed by what they have read. The real blessing and surprise for me however, was the quality of time I have been allowed to spend in bible study and thought. I've found that when I write about God's word, it comes alive for me as well. I spend more time in research and gaining understanding and wisdom than I ever have before. Before this year I was content to just read a few verses of scripture as often as I could and spend a little time with God alone in my quiet time, but now, I have a deeper relationship with Jesus more than I've ever had. I pray more, I study more, I meditate on his word more, I have learned more. I know that only a few people view my blog regularly, Occasionally someone will stumble upon it and read it and hopefully be encouraged but for the most part I know my blog is read by my friends and family. But you know what... It's out there. If God wants someone to read it and be encouraged or helped or motivated or whatever... it's out there. And that's why I do it. This is a part of my ministry, a part of my service, and my appreciation for what Jesus has done for me. I praise you Lord Jesus!

I just want to say thank you to all of you that read my blog and encourage me as well. May God continue to bless you as we share our lives together and I look forward to another year of writing.

PS. Thanks Scott for getting me started.

God bless you all. Steve

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

There's Still Time

What a God we serve! It's never too late to repent and turn back to God. Sometimes we feel that it is, we feel that we've let God down too many times, but it's important that we realize it's not too late, we can repent we can go back, but we must do it quickly while there's still time.

In this passage of scripture found in the book of Joel, we see a call to repentance. God told the people to repent and turn to him while there was still time. Destruction would soon be upon them. You know it's the same for us today! God wants us to repent and turn to him. To live for him. We don't know when our lives will end, but when our lives do end, it's too late to repent and live in obedience to God's will and be effective here in this world. Many will die lost and never know Christ as their Savior, and many will die saved but not living for Christ as we should. We should trust and obey God now, while we can. We shouldn't let anything hold us back from turning to him. The following verses speak to those that once knew the Lord, once lived for the Lord God, those people that used to offer up sacrifices to the Lord God but now, for what ever reason, have turned away.

Joel 2:12-14
(12) That is why the Lord says, "Turn to me now, while there is still time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
(13) Don't tear your clothing in grief, but tear your hearts instead." Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.
(14) Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine to the Lord your God as before.

I love these verses because they show the compassion and mercy of our Lord God. God wants us to be restored in our faith, in our service, in our relationship with him. If we'll just ask for forgiveness and come back to our loving Father, he is slow to anger and wants to relent and not punish us for what we've done. That's true love folks. In verse 13 were told not to tear our clothes in our grief but instead tear our hearts. Whats this means is that it's not what matters on the outside, it's all about what's on the inside. Appearances can fool others, but true repentance comes form the heart. People in those days used to tear their clothes as a sign of their deep remorse, but God doesn't want an outward display of mourning, and weeping without a true inward change of the heart. True repentance is what God wants, and when we do this. When we repent with our heart, then the Scriptures give us comfort in knowing that we might just be blessed in spite of what we done to deserve his curse of punishment.

Bottom line is this, all God wants is to restore us so we can be of use for our Lord as we were before we turned away. Isn't it wonderful that even though we may leave God, he never leaves or forsakes us. Isn't it a blessing to us that his love is far greater than ours ever can be. If you too feel like you have fallen away from being in the will of God like you used to be, then repent! Turn back to him and perhaps through his mercy and grace you'll be able to serve him again as you did before. Our God is a God of restoration. The Lord promises restoration to those that repent (Joel 2:18-27)

So where are you in your relationship with the Lord? Are you in his will and living in obedience, or are you running in the opposite direction? If your headed the wrong way, stop, turn around and go back to where you belong. Do it while there's still time, Do it because God has great plans for you as you serve him in obedience. His blessings await you, if you'll just repent.

May God bless you,

photo provided by

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Miss Alba

Miss Alba accomplished something that I have never seen before or may never see again as a long as I live. Now if that doesn't grab your attention, I don't know what will. Let me explain...

Alba Gibson is a very dear friend of mine. We were co workers. I was her store manager and she worked as a sales associate in the fabrics department of our store. You see Alba was one of our longest length of service associates at the store. She had in over 30 years of service and she finally retired this last November on her birthday. She was 90 years old when she retired! Can you believe this? That means that she started work with our company when she was 60 years old. Think about this for a minute. Most people would be thinking about retirement at that age, but Miss Alba went on to work another 30 years until she finally decided to call it quits. This ought to tell you something about her work ethic, commitment, and determination. I've never met anyone quite like Alba Gibson.

Well I guess I could stop right here and this would speak to the statement I said earlier wouldn't it? But this short story about Alba's work history is not what I'm referring to when I say she accomplished something I've never seen before and probably never will again. Let me continue...

Miss Alba retired this last November 2006. And since her retirement we have become very close friends. Unfortunately after she retired she became very sick. Her heart was weak and she spent many days in and out of the hospital. This last time she got out of the hospital she was too weak to care for herself anymore and her daughter moved her in with her to take care of her. It was during these days of her being bed ridden that we became closer and closer as we'd visit as often as we could. We enjoyed each others company so much.

Months Prior to her getting so sick that she couldn't leave the house, she came to me one day while I was at work and she asked if she could speak to me. We sat down together and she told me she had a favor to ask of me. I asked what it was and she told me that she knew her health was bad and getting worse all the time. She said was taking care of all of her funeral arrangements and basically getting everything in order so that at the time of her death her family wouldn't be burdened with any of those details and expenses. I thought to myself, "This is just like Miss Alba." I've never seen anyone so independent (or stubborn) I might add. I knew she was determined to get everything arranged. Then she asked me if I would preach her funeral. I was of course shocked. I asked her why she wanted me to do her funeral rather than a having a preacher or clergy do it. She explained that had a dear friend that was a preacher and she had asked him to speak as well, but she wanted me to do the preaching. I asked why me, and she said that she respected me as not only her boss, but as the man of God that she knew I was. Up to this point in our relationship we had laughed and visited together about many things, but we had never had the opportunity to talk about spiritual things. This just reminds me again, how important it is that we lives our lives each day so that other people can see the Holy Spirit leading our lives. We may be the only bible that others are reading. Anyway, of course I told her I would be honored to do this for her. We visited for a while and of course I had to ask her about her salvation. I was relieved and comforted to hear her tell me about her relationship with Jesus and the day she got saved and about her baptism and her days of going to church. She told me that she hadn't been in a church for a while and she regrets that, but this didn't change the fact that Jesus was Lord of her life. She also shared that she wanted the Pallbearers to be her co workers. She gave me a list of names and I told her I would speak with each of them and let her know what they say. Of course they all said yes. They all loved her as well and would do anything for her. Well from this day on we both got to know each other on a more personal level.
As she got weaker and weaker and finally became bed ridden, we'd visit as often as I possibly could come over. These times were special for her and I was blessed each time I visited. She truly was a very loving and caring person. She loved her family so much and she often shared how appreciative she was that they took her into their home rather than send her to a nursing home.

Well the day finally came, Miss Alba passed away and even though I was preparing myself for it, it was still very difficult to accept. The day of the funeral arrived and as I sat at the front of the sanctuary behind Miss Alba's casket, I looked out at the crowd of family and friends and what I saw is what I was talking about earlier. Something I've never seen before and may never see again. It dawned on me that the sanctuary was filled mostly with my associates that I supervise at work. Here I am the store manager, yet the preacher as well in this case. The Pallbearers were associates from work. Other than a few family members and friends the majority of the crowd were associates. Miss Alba's family was made up of her co-workers. She loved her work, she loved the associates she worked with and I remember the only times I ever saw her cry during our visitation times together, was when she would tell me she missed so much not being able to get out of bed and go to the store and see her friends at work. Today as I looked out I became aware of the uniqueness of this funeral. You see, Miss Alba's daughter also is an associate and her daughters husband, and her son in law also worked at the store. So even her immediate family was made up of co-workers. The uniqueness of all this was the opportunity that God had given me as the associates store manager, to talk to them all about Jesus. In today's work environment we have to be very careful when we talk about religion. But this day was different. Even though we weren't at work, we were all co-workers and as their store manager, I had the opportunity to tell my coworkers about Jesus and God's free gift of eternal life through his Son, Jesus Christ. This was a meeting with associates unlike any other.

After the funeral, as I watched the people begin to leave the graveyard, I wondered if Miss Alba had known all along that this would be the scene at her own funeral. It doesn't surprise me. She had planned everything else, she probably had planned this as well. I simply thank God for the opportunity that he gave me to speak to my associates about Jesus. I thank God for the wonderful opportunity that he gave me to get to know and love such a wonderful person, Miss Alba. She'll be missed, but never forgotten, and I know one day we'll see each other again in heaven. When that day comes she'll probably say... "How's everyone at work?"

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Conclusion of the Matter

The news is not the most encouraging part of my day, what about yours? Look at the newspaper and you read about the latest murder, sex scandal, or auto accident. very rarely does anything good ever make the front page of the newspaper. Oh it's in there on page 10 of section E, but never the headlines. Look at the television as the news hour approaches, Each commercial break we see headlines like... "Man shoots his wife" tonight at 10:00pm... or "Fiery crash downtown, 3 dead," tonight at 10:00pm.

Every time I listen to the news I get depressed. If there is a national tragedy going on then the media never let's up. We can watch every detail of what's happening in real time and even get to hear everyone's commentary on it as we watch. It's overwhelming. I remember a few years ago as I was visiting with my mom she just folded up the paper and shared how disgusted she was with all the stuff she just read about. It's crazy and often we find ourselves wondering, "What is happening to this crazy world." "Is everyone going nuts or what?"

In case you think this is something that's just gotten bad lately, I'd like to take you back to another time when everything seemed just as crazy as it is today. Listen to the words of the Teacher, Solomon, son of David, king in Jerusalem. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds me of a modern day news story. Yes it's chalked full of depressing information, everything under the sun appears and seems meaningless. Listen to these words...


1:2, Everything is Meaningless.
1 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!"

1:12-14, Wisdom Is Meaningless
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

2:1, Pleasures Are Meaningless
1 I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless.

2:17, Toil Is Meaningless
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Solomon goes on and on in the following chapters talking about all the things he sees as meaningless. Advancement and Riches are also seen as meaningless. He goes on about the evil that's in the world. He sees the oppressed in the world and he sees suffering. He sees loneliness, he sees the foolish things people do, he sees imprisonment of people because of the things they do. Even when people have wealth and good health he sees that they don't enjoy them, they don't see what they have.

Ecclesiastes is full of the headlines of evil and depressing things. It's the newspaper of yesterday but with same issues of today. At the end of all these observations and things learned this Teacher, this King came to the following conclusion.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

So what's all this mean to us? If you feel life is unfair, if you feel that the evil ones get away without being held accountable for their actions, you must remember that God will review every persons life to determine how each person has responded to him and he will bring every deed into judgement. Solomon shows us throughout Ecclesiastes that we should enjoy life, but this does not excuse us from obeying God's commandments. We should search for purpose and meaning in our life. But our purpose and meaning is not found in our own endeavours, it's found only in God. Yes there is evil in the world, we should acknowledge this and even recognize this, but we must remain faithful and trust that God will deal with the injustice of this world. We must maintain a positive attitude and strong faith in God.

One day every man will stand before God and be held accountable for what he or she has done. God will judge everyone for the things they did in this life. God will judge both good and evil. God will judge the quality of every persons life. So focus on living for him rather than being down trodden about what is happening in the world today. Life is not fair... never has been, but aren't you thankful that God will judge the good and evil that people do. So don't concern yourself with what you have no control over, trust in God to take care of it and enjoy your life as you serve your Lord.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Easy to change?... Far from it!

Forgive my judgemental attitude. After reading the comment from my last posting I have realized that I did make it seem pretty easy to over come our past and just simply change. Making a change in our life of course is never easy, or as the commenter said... you'd think more people would do it.

My hope was to enlighten readers that they do have the hope to be able to change their circumstances and live a life differently than their past, especially if they see how badly it has hurt them over the years. Especially when they begin to do the things to their loved ones that they had done to them and as adults realize now that it's just not right. Something inside of them says... I've got to change.

We all have a conscious and this conscious determines our values and morals based off what we've been taught and what we've experienced. So our conscious will guide us and help us to make choices determining how we feel. But our conscious is not all knowing, our conscious doesn't give us the strength to over come, it simply reacts to what we're going through. Any real hope of change I believe comes from God and the pricking of His Holy Spirit in our lives. His Spirit convicts our heart of our sin and challenges or even demands that we change. And when we don't, we suffer. We suffer guilt, we suffer with disappointment, we suffer with more consequences to our circumstances. But if we're convicted by the Spirit to change... then we have the power as well to change and overcome. Maybe the reason people don't change is because they don't want to change, it's all they know. Maybe they don't understand or even realize what they are doing is wrong because they never saw it modeled any other way.

I compare this to an alcoholic or drug addict. Many addicts know that what they are doing is wrong and even say to themselves everyday... I have got to change my behavior. Most real drug addicts know that they will end up their lives with drug abuse either in Prison or Dead if they don't change. There are some that do not realize they even have a problem. They think they got it under control and can quit if they wanted to, or at least slow down. But they can't if they truly are addicted. Soon it gets so bad they realize they must get help. They must change and they have reached a place in their life where they want to change. They want to break the cycle and make things better. Usually this realization happens only after they have gotten to the point of disaster, bottomed out, their life's a wreck and so is everyone they know and love. The decision to change was not easy and never is... this decision to change usually comes at the end of a long rope of pain and suffering.

I'm not saying that everyone that changes their life is a Christian either. Many get help from family and friends and or institutions that are experienced and know what obstacles that the addict is facing and they know best how to overcome and help the addict with his or her recovery towards living a life free of drugs or alcohol. However, the Christian has all the power to overcome, and change. We as believers know and understand that with God anything is possible, but the decision to change still comes from within each of us. To allow God to change us so that we can have victory means to give into his leading or in other words, be obedient to the Spirits leading. This obedience is where we fail. We just find it so difficult to change that we allow ourselves to make excuses that causes us to repeat the cycle we're wanting to break. It's tough, it's hard, and it's anything but easy.

But... it's possible! There is hope. You can overcome. You can have a better life. With God anything is possible. If you'll put your full faith and trust in Him, you can overcome. I think of the book of Job. This man was faithful to God even when he didn't realize why such bad things were happening to him. In the end he was blessed more than he ever dreamed because of his faithfulness. Put nothing happened as he had planned or could foresee. My point is that we have to remain faithful and trusting that God will get us through this change that we're going through. Be sensitive to His leading and through His power you will have victory. It's when we realize we can't believe in ourselves that we must believe in God. He can change your life!

Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Break the Cycle... Change

A prayer of David. Psalm 17:1-3

1 Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer— it does not rise from deceitful lips.
2 May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.
3 Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.

Have you ever met someone that when they were young they lived in a family that was abusive? Maybe as a child they were verbally or even physically abused. Their self esteem is gone. All they heard growing up was that they were worthless and no good. There was no love or compassion from their parents and because of this environment they now as adults behave the same way. They don't show the love they should to their children. They don't hug on them or kiss them because they didn't experience this as they grew up. They also tend to be abusive to their own children just like they experienced when they were young. Basically they copy and imitate the life they lived and use their past as the excuse to do so today.

This happens all the time. Someone says, well I'm a product of my poor environment, my dysfunctional family, my abusive relationship etc. etc. etc. They may be, but the good news is that they can change, they can break the cycle.

As a child we imitate our parents. Good or bad, we imitate what we see them do, we imitate their actions and behaviors. We learn from watching and listening. We see how a husband treats his wife and we see how a wife either respects her husband or not. Whatever we see our parents do, we think is the right way as a child. They are our guide and our example of what it's like to be married and living as parents. The sad reality however is that sometimes the example parents give their children is not a good example in some areas.

So what if you are one of those kids that grew up in an unloving abusive family relationship? How do you break the cycle for your family now?

Here's the truth... As a child you had no control over the situation, you learned the hard way and the wrong way. As you have matured in age you know that the life you lived was not good for you and you realize that it shouldn't be that way in your own family. What do you do? You change it. You're accountable for your own actions now. You make the decisions in your own life and you have the ability to make it different for your children. If you use your past as an excuse to treat your children like you were treated as a child even when you know it wasn't good or even wrong, then you are not taking responsibility like you should for your own actions. Your parents are not in control of you now (if they are you got to stop it now.) Take charge of your own life, make up your own mind and treat your spouse and children with the respect you know they deserve not the way you were treated growing up. I'm not saying this is easy. After all you learned it this way. But that still doesn't make it right. As an adult, you have the responsibility to change the behavior that you learned and make it right.

Nothing irritates me more than a grown mature adult using their childhood abuse as their reason to treat their own children like dirt. Guess what! Your not a kid anymore. Your an adult, a parent, a husband or wife, do what you know is right and quit making excuses. Break the cycle now, and start a new family tradition, one of love and respect. Do not let your own children go through what you went through. It's your life... live it, change it!

I'm not sure why I'm writing this but as I was watching a TV show the other day I saw a man being interviewed and he was blaming his parents and the way he was treated as a child for the reason he's abusive to his own children today. My thought was... Goodness sakes, "Your 35 years old now, get over it!" Why in the world would you hang onto a past like that and then repeat it? People just will not take responsibility for their own actions sometimes. I don't understand it. Why do we think we should blame someone else for the way WE behave? It's silly, but we see it every day.

I just wanted to say... if you are reading this and you are one of those that had a terrible life growing up. You owe it to yourself to make it right through the next generations in your family. Stand up! Do the right thing, and change the cycle. Your children will love you for it. Seek out God's direction for your life now and do the right thing.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Worship... is it all you expected?

Over the years I've seen all kinds of preaching styles, worship styles, and ways to do church styles. Seems every other church is doing things differently with the focus being... how do we get more people inside these doors. There's all kinds of books and articles on how to best achieve this. Books on how best to set the tone or mood for a worship service. Books on how to blend the proper style of songs to enhance the worship experience and even prepare the hearts of men to hear the message of the Gospel. We can turn down the lights, we can play music in the background during the offering, we can even tell stories during our sermons that softens the hearts of those listening. There's so many things we can do to... well... persuade people into giving their heart to Jesus.

Our Pastor this morning shared a story about a person telling him that sometimes he comes to church and he just doesn't get anything out of it, sometimes he's not able to take anything away from the worship service. And as our Pastor pointed out... Worship is not about taking away, it's about giving to the Lord. It's about giving our attitudes, and our life to the Lord Jesus Christ and our Worship is a reflection of our life being completely in surrender to God and His will. Worship isn't something we take, it's something we give! It's praise and adoration of our Lord.

We have to be careful that we do not come to church expecting to be entertained. I think the mistake we make is that we want to come to church to be recharged, but instead we should come to church already charged and full of the Spirit and ready to WORSHIP our Lord and King. It's not supposed to be the other way around. Yes, our emotions are touched during the service through the songs and the message, but the Holy Spirit moving is the only thing that makes the service meaningful. Sometimes I think there's too much effort put into trying to convince people that they need the Lord, rather than leaving that part solely up to the Holy Spirit.

Imagine this... You go to church and welcome one another, fellowship, and enjoy each others company. Maybe meet some new folks you don't know or simply hug on the ones you already know. There's joy and happiness and excitement because we are about to enter into a time of Worshiping our Lord together this morning. We have a word of prayer Thanking God for the opportunity to Worship Him. We sing a couple of songs as a part of our praise and adoration towards our Lord. The Pastor preaches the Gospel right out of the bible. No illustrations or fancy stories or commentary, or videos, or media of any kind... just good ole preaching from God's word and then explaining to us how this scripture applies to our life today. We say a closing prayer and or benediction to encourage the congregation and then we fellowship as we leave.

That's it? No light show, no video's, no huge choir, no guest singers or special music, no INVITATION at the end of the service? You've got to be kidding right?

No I'm not... the truth of the matter is this; all those things do nothing expect try and create a mood or atmosphere. The Holy Spirit is the only One that can convince someone that they are a sinner and in need of a Savior. The Holy Spirit does not need our help nor should He. He is all powerful and really anything that happens will only happen if it's the will of the Father.

Look at Peter's sermon on the Mount. He simply gets up there and tells the people the truth of God's word. He preaches the gospel and the Spirit moved and convicted the hearts of many people that day. I ask you this... Why do we think we have to persuade people to come to the Lord when all He wants us to do is deliver His message and let Him do the rest? I'll tell you why! Because we have made Worship a thing for us rather than for God. Our focus is on our ability to experience something when it should simply be about Praising or Lord Jesus. In other words... Worship.

My last thought... If we want to experience God! We should be doing that in the way we live our lives throughout the week. We should experience God in our time alone with Him as we study and meditate on His word while reading our bibles. We should experience God as we pray as often as the Holy Spirit convicts us to. We should be experiencing God as we share the good news with others and help lead them to know the Lord. (that's where the invitation should be, not at the end of a Worship service).
What do we do? We don't experience God all week long and we've gotten to where we think coming to church is our time to experience God. How foolish is that? This time should be the one time of the week that God experiences our presence as we Worship our King together.

My prayer for you is the next time you go to church to Worship, that you'll go for only one reason and one reason only. To Worship our Lord Jesus Christ!