Monday, January 26, 2015

I didn't do too well today.....

Started off pretty good with a nice run, a good yoga class and some strength work.  Tweaked my back which has been bothering me all day.  But all of that is unimportant.  The important thing is that I wasn't a very good disciple today.  I didn't spend alone time with the Lord, I didn't have any personal interaction with anyone about Christ, I didn't even have my personal devotions.  In short, I was just too busy about my own business.  I love my Lord and I consider myself a sincere disciple, but tomorrow will have to be better.

I hesitate to be so honest, because it is personally uncomfortable.  I do it because I know I can't be the only one who has days that are like mine today.  I'll pray for you if you will pray for me.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Romans 8:38-39 for my life

My childhood was chaotic and messy - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

I was separated from my mother when I was five years old, my dad was an alcoholic - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

I was separated from my sister when she was 5 years old - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

My brother and I spent our childhood living with various aunt's, grandparents and foster parents, finally spending our high school years in a children's home - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

I was told just before high school graduation that I was not smart enough for college - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

I was told by a military shrink that I had an immature personality with little likelihood for improvement - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

After leaving the Air Force I lived in the desert, sleeping under the cactus with all the associated desert critters - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

Drunk, I ran off the side of the road and almost over-turned - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

I spent time in a county lock-up,for failing to appear in court - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

I tore the ligaments in my knee, had surgery and got fired from my job as a result - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

I lost three really good jobs because the companies decided to close down or move out of state - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

Still in my twenties I filed for bankruptcy - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

I turned my back and walked away from ministry due to personal failures on my part - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

I lost my first marriage after 23 years - nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God

Admittedly, my life has not been filled with tragedy and desperation. I have not had to deal with addiction, I have not been in major trouble with the law.  I have not been in prison, I have not faced major medical issues. Still, I have had enough going on in my life that some might forgive me if I was a messed up, irresponsible adult, even at 68.  Instead, my life is full. I have a wonderful wife, four fantastic kids (my son Charles is waiting in heaven), sixteen grandkids and six great-grandchildren. I am healthy, have a nice home and all the 'stuff' I could want and am retired.

All of this because a man carried a heavy cross up a steep hill and allowed Himself to be crucified on it.  This man, Jesus, was no ordinary man, He was in fact the Son of God in human form.  And because He loved me that much nothing in my past can change who I am today, a grateful disciple of Jesus. And, nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Friday, October 17, 2014

It's just hard to....

get it right sometimes. Calling myself a disciple of Jesus Christ inspires me to do things that I couldn't even dream of attempting if I couldn't depend on the inspiration and leading of the Holy Spirit that Jesus put within me when I accepted Him as Lord and Savior.  And yet I have to be honest, things still don't always go smoothly.  I get inspired and step out in a new direction only to find myself floundering after an initial burst of enthusiasm and energy.  I have found that I am very good at starting things but not always so good at following through and actually completing them. I'm getting a little weary of it if I may be so bold. But I press on because I know that in spite of everything God knows me and loves me just like I am. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

You think I don't have enemies, think again

I have an enemy that is constantly after me. It is everywhere I look. I swear it is so hard to resist it. I know it can only bring bad things to my life if I allow it in yet all too often I not only let it in but welcome it.  I can't tell you how many books, articles, t.v. episodes etc. I have been exposed to that talk about the dangers of letting this have a part in my life yet I ignore the warnings and say come on in.  Why do I do this?  I have given God control over other areas of my life why not this? Ok, honesty, straight up.  I want this in my life! I seek it out.  I sometimes feel powerless to avoid it. It thwarts positive efforts in my life to be a healthy, well balanced person. 
OK, enough beating around the bush. My enemy does have a name, SUGAR! Yes, sugar. That wonderful, sweet ingredient in so many things I dearly love - candy, cookies, cake etc.
Why would I go out and run a hard two miles and then sit down and eat a package of Oreo cookies?Why do I buy bags of licorice allsorts, set them on my desk and eat them one at a time for the two hours I am sitting there working. Why can't I walk past the dessert table at potlucks without having one of each?  I confess I do not have the answers.  I don't blame it on the devil, it's my choice.  I don't blame God, He certainly has nothing to do with it.  I can't blame my wife who allows me to make my own choices, bless her heart.  Sometimes I wish she would just kick my butt all the way up to my shoulder blades when I open a package of candy. 
No, I have only myself to blame.  The craving for sugar is something over which I just need to exercise more control.  I can't control the attraction but I don't have to give in to it. You may say why worry about it, just enjoy life and have your candy too.  Here are 10 reasons I found that probably make this not a good option: (from Authority Nutrition)
1.       Sugar contains no essential nutrients and is bad for your teeth
2.      Sugar is high in fructose which can overload your liver
3.       Overloading the liver with fructose can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
4.       Sugar can cause insulin resistance, a stepping stone towards metabolic syndrome and diabetes
5.       Insulin resistance can progress to type 2 diabetes
6.       Sugar can give you cancer
7.       Due to its effects on hormones and the brain, sugar has unique fat-promoting effects
8.       Sugar causes massive dopamine release in the brain and is therefore highly addictive
9.       Sugar is a leading contributor to obesity in both children and adults
10.   It ain’t the fat…it’s sugar that raises your cholesterol and gives you heart disease
So my struggle against sugar must continue, or maybe I should say it must start.  I eat healthy in most other ways and do a lot of exercise, trying to live a strong healthy life. I have always said that I would like to live to be a healthy 100 yrs old, guess I had better get started on the sugar thing eh?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life is about choices

If you wake up feeling cranky - you can choose to give your wife the silent treatment and make her feel like crap, or, you can choose to close your eyes, say a little prayer of thanks that you have another day and smile your way through breakfast.

If your boss yells at you and makes you feel unappreciated - you can choose to yell back at him and jeopardize your job, or, you can let the tirade pass and resolve to do something good that he can't help but notice.

If the store clerk rings up your order incorrectly and asks for too much money - you can choose to be angry and call him incompetent, or, you can smile while you point out the problem and kindly ask him to ring it up correctly, then compliment him on being efficient in his corrective action.

If you get cut off in traffic by a young person texting on their phone - you can choose to pull up along side of them, give them the flying finger and question their human origins, or, you can take a deep breath, say a prayer that they put down the phone so that they don't get into an accident and then go on about your day without thinking any more about it.

The point is, there may be many things that come about in our day that have the potential to give us a really bad day.  The thing God did for us that he didn't do for the lion, the buffalo or the stork is, he gave us the power to make choices, to choose how we would respond to situations.  We can turn a potentially bad day into a good one just by making positive choices as situations come up during the day.  Consciously decide to consider alternative responses when  the gut reaction is to explode in anger or to wallow in 'poor me'.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Conversatiion with Jesus' brother

James: Try to keep a positive attitude when things aren’t going well.

Me: James, I know you are Jesus’ brother, but do you really expect me to be happy about facing trials? When my car broke down on the freeway in the middle of the night a positive attitude was not the attitude that immediately surfaced. I admit it ok, I was angry and fearful. Do you have any... idea what it is like to leave your car on the shoulder of the highway and walk 7 miles to an off ramp and look for a phone to get help? How about when I lost my job and my wife and kids were depending on me for food eat and a warm place to sleep? I did not smile with joy, I shook my fist at God and asked Him how He could allow it to happen. It is not fair that my family should be made to suffer because my company had to lay me off. I try to be a good follower of Christ but asking me to have a positive attitude when things go wrong and life is tough is a little hard to understand.

James: I understand how you feel, but when your faith is tested in that way, and you maintain a positive attitude, it can teach you to persevere.

Me: I don’t want to persevere, I want to have any easier life. I accepted Christ and try to follow Him, why should I have to persevere? I would have an easier time being a good Christian if only I didn’t have to struggle so much.

James: I understand that you feel that way, what you don’t understand is that you can’t know the depth of your character unless it has been tried and tested. Every time you face a trial with confidence and a positive attitude, it becomes easier for you to be good to your neighbor. Facing your personal hardships and working through them makes you a better servant and a more productive follower of Jesus. Pay attention when adversity comes, ask yourself what you can learn from it and I promise you will become a better person for it, and a stronger follower.

Me: I feel like I am so far from there. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be that guy. I just don’t know if I have what it takes to get there.

James: That’s why I say to persevere. Keep at it, don’t give up. If you fail in one instance, determine to do better the next time. If you are faithful in that perseverance you will mature to the point where it will be second nature. Remember, God didn’t promise you a painless Christian life, He told you there would be adversity. Just determine to be that guy my friend and you will become all that He wants you to be. Then you will be able to teach others these principles so that they too will become mature and complete.

Me: So He will help me solve my problems or help me to endure them? He won’t leave me alone, He’ll stay close right?

James: Right!

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Is this what Jesus looks like?

In 2003, at the age of 8, Akiane Kramarik painted this image of what she perceived Jesus to look like. In the same year 4-yr old Colton Burpo almost died from a ruptured appendix. He says that the angels took him up to heaven and he met Jesus.  When shown this picture he said, yes, that is Jesus!

Now, I realize that their are a lot of hoaxes that go around every day.  And let's face it, there are many who just don't believe in God, Jesus, heaven and hell or anything else that smacks of spirituality.  Colton or Akiane do not need me to pass judgment on whether or not they are being truthful or if they are hallucinating or anything else.  But, I am a believer in Jesus Christ.  I am a believer in heaven.  I don't know what heaven looks like or what Jesus looks like but maybe Colton and Akiane do.  I see no reason to dismiss that possibility out of hand. 

Is it possible that many will dis-believe the whole Heaven Is For Real story simply because to accept it open's up a can of worms that they don't want to deal with. After all, if I believe that Colton was actually taken to heaven and returned and that he talked to Jesus directly, then I have to seriously consider committing myself to be a follower (disciple) of Jesus. And if I do that, it may force a drastic overhaul of my belief system.

For me, I will choose to believe that God can certainly choose to reveal things to certain people at certain times for His purposes. I have no basis for simply saying it is impossible just because it doesn't have a rational explanation. And next time I am anywhere near Imperial, Nebraska, I would love to stop by Crossroads Wesleyan Church and meet this remarkable family.

This is The Chaotic Christian

This is The Chaotic Christian