A New Found Respect for My Pastor

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After this last week I have a new found respect for all the good pastors out there. I have had so much work to get done this week I have had to choose what gets done and what doesn’t. There has been a rather difficult sermon text I’ve been dealing with since Sunday.

The reason I have a new found respect for good pastors is it’s not easy trying to deal with life and write a good sermon. I was able to do it last semester because it was mostly all I had going on. Not so this semester, there is an abundance of irons in the fire. And I’m trying to keep them turning in time. Without falling behind. I thought doing this job would be much easier than it really is.

Are you looking at someone doing a job you wish you had and thinking it’s easy? Chances are they make it look easier than it is. I have several friends who are pastors and most of them make sermon prep sound much easier than it really is. This new revelation has not made me want to do the job any less, it has shown me how much more dependent on the Holy Spirit I need to be.

There doesn’t seem to be enough coffee in the world to help me focus on the challenges that lay ahead of me. I don’t know about you but this kind of wake up call is good to have before you are in the “Big Leagues.” I would hate to be in full-time paid ministry learning how difficult the day in and day out is.

Question: Who do you need to get a new found respect for in your life?

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Living in a World of Broken Dreams

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Why is it as a child we are told we can become anything we want to be, but as we get older and start to solidify certain things we are told to grow up and think about something we could really do? When we say we want to be in a creative field like an artist or the like we are told to find a job with some security. Pretty much we are told “I wanted to do something like that also and had to do something different.”

I am not saying everyone is like this just some. Those are the ones we need to stay away from.Tweet: If you have a dream inside of you to do something and it keeps nagging you, chances are you are supposed to be doing it. I have two passions in life, they are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and writing. I am in the process of trying to get them to take care of each other so I can make a living of doing what I love.

There are just so many people out there who once had a dream to be something different in life and the circumstances of life chocked those dreams right out of you. I want to encourage you to find your voice again and let God guide you to what he has for you. Don’t settle for the life someone else wants you to live. This is where most people would pull a verse outta context and offer some encouragement. I can’t do that I love HIs Word too much to mistreat it.

What are you longing to do? What keeps you awake at night other than worry and anxiety (we’ll leave it for a different post)? If there was something you could do in this world for the rest of your life and money wasn’t an issue. Once you can identify what you want to do, you need to identify your why?

What do I mean by your why? It is the reason behind everything you do? If you cannot identify your why you are going to have a hard time chasing your dreams. I long to be a pastor, in order to be one I needed to go back to school. The question I have to ask myself is why do I want to be a pastor?

Sometimes the answer is hard to remember, most days its not. I want to be a pastor to help people grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. And to do it effectively I needed to have a certain amount of education.

If we allow people to continue to dictate how we are to live our lives we will be in a constant state of upheaval. We need to determine what our dream/goals are and the whys behind them. So we can become the people we were created to be. Life is not meant to be some ho-hum experience we meander through. it is to be a glorious event we get to enjoy. Now everyday will not feel like a celebratory time, but its okay. As long as you can find time to realize who you are.

Don’t live in the world as another person with a broken dream. Step up and step out in faith proving you trust God to provide. It may not come in ways everyone else thinks it should, but God’s provision is his provision none the less. The best thing you can do is start to make an action plan and implement it.

Question: What dream do you need to work on?

How to Love Someone Who’s An Addict

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This is not an easy post to write. I am not writing as the person who needs to learn how to love an addict. I am the addict addressing how to be loved. In my life I have been addicted to A LOT of things. Ranging from alcohol and drugs to pornography. By the grace of a loving God through Jesus Christ I have been set free from those addictions.

However, there is one ugly monster I cannot slay and it’s the addiction of approval. I know when you read this headline you were probably expecting a how to guide since it says “How to love someone that’s an addict.” What I hope you get from this post is exactly what it promises. Just not the step by step variety.

For me I have learned not to put myself in the sin of proximity. It means not allowing myself to be put in situations where I may fall off the wagon. So the first thing you can do is not be a stumbling block for those who struggle with addiction. If they are trying to not do something, don’t bring it around them. This goes for EVERYTHING from food to cigarettes.

Try not to reminisce about the good old days when such and such used to take place. All it does is make the person feel like you don’t love them for who they are, just what they used to be. I was a very crazy guy in my previous lifestyle. Now I am more laid back. I tend to play the background and let others take the center stage.

One of the best things you can do is love the person through all of their struggles. It is not an easy road to travel. I did not walk the road alone and can take no credit for the turn around made in my life. It is all due to the intervention of Jesus Christ into my life. But what I do know is the things mentioned above have helped me to remain clean and sober for almost 13 years.

It is a whole different story about my addiction to approval though. I can tell everyone all day long how we are to find our identity in Jesus and we are fully accepted in him. Knowing these things should be enough, but for me they aren’t. I enjoy hearing I have done a good job, people liked whatever I did or however the acknowledgment may come. I write this as a way to acknowledge my need to overcome this aspect of my life and trust God is enough not only for me but my entire family as well.

There are too many things in life people can become addicted to. Watch for the signs in your own life. Comfort can become a ruling emotion, longing to take over. Eating can easily get out of control (take it from me). I had gastric bypass three years ago because my weight had gotten out of control along with the rest of my health. So I understand the devastating effects of addiction and wanting to be loved.

While being loving make sure you are not also an enabler. You have to know when enough is enough. Tweet: Being an enabler is almost more dangerous to an addict than being the one who tells them no all the time. I’d rather you tell me no to an idea out of love and respect than to enable me out of fear or rejection.

I just need to keep reminding myself there is nothing in this world to hard for God to accomplish. He has brought me this far. From being an ex-thug, addict and thief. To having a B.S. in Religion (Magna Cum Laude) and working toward my Masters of Divinity. These are things I never in a million years would have dreamed of. It is my hope, when i am finished with this degree I will be able to use it well and not just for more accolades.

There you have it. Some practical ways to love an addict, and some more about me you may or may not have wanted to know. Now it’s your turn.

Question:What are some things in your life you may be addicted to?

Do Date Nights Make Love Stronger?

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This is a question I have pondered for a while. I have come up with several reasons none being more important than just needing the time alone with your spouse. That’s right I said spouse not significant other, boyfriend/girlfriend or what ever other title you may use for your relationship. It is something vital for a marriage.

There is something about having a wedding band on and then tack on kids it makes date nights hard to come by. For my wife and I we have had a hard time making them a priority. But we are trying to change that. It is one of my goals to take my wife out a minimum of once a month for some alone time with just me.

We both have some of the same struggles except for my health is worse than hers. We are both students, are married (duh!) and we have two boys. We try and divvy up the chores around the house. For instance I do the cooking and she does the dishes. But life can become bogged down with feeling ho-hum dong the same things day in and day out.

This is one reason why date night is so crucial. It breaks up the monotony. Most importably of all it lets your wife know you give a damn. When you go too long with out any really special time for the two of you to focus on your relationship it has the potential to crash into the wall. And it would be dangerous and hard to recuperate after depending on how severe things were.

I saw signs of danger ahead and tried to correct course. I am not saying I’m perfect, far from it actually. I’d hate to see someone else make mistakes that can easily be avoided. Nobody ever said date night had to be some extravagant event every time. Just don’t go to Wal-mart and think that is going to cut it. Go somewhere you can sit down and have a real conversation.

Lory and I enjoy going to our local coffee shop. We go there and sit at the community table and get pretty close to one another and just talk about life. What we are excited about, what are we scared of? It may not seem like anything special to an outsider to us it is vital to our marriage.

To lay out the bluntest answer possible to the question posed in the headline date nights are crucial because without the you will lose intimacy with your spouse, and my end up losing them completely in the process. They will become dissatisfied in the marriage, wondering if it is really worth it any more. Make any effort you can to take your spouse out away from the normal things of everyday life.

Make your spouse a priority you will never regret it.

Question: What do you and your spouse enjoy doing for date night?

Are We Supposed to Learn Something From Everything

church-402213_640I only ask the question because today I had to sit for almost three hours in a boring courtroom on a very hard bench. I couldn’t slouch or stretch without the bailiff having an attitude. For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while you know how bad my health is (I have fibromyalgia). So having to sit there was excruciating.

What made things worse was the fact I had only gotten four hours of sleep the night before. It was a rough night, only have to wake up early to go to a Bible Study. The study was a good time of fellowship around the Word of God in Daniel 5.

But back to my original question are we supposed to learn something from everything? If so I wonder what it is I’m supposed to learn from sitting in a place being so stiff and in pain. I guess you could say I am supposed to learn patience and endurance as my wife was saying.

It was definitely a test. I took a book with me to read, but was at first too tired to read, and then was in too much pain to focus on the book. I don’t know if your courts are like ours, but you are not allowed to have your phone or anything else electronic it looked like.

I can say today has been an eye opener for me in one regard. The same way I write for myself and it resonates with you all. So does a simple phone call placed to a brother in Christ to check on him. I know I appreciate it when one of the brothers reaches out to me, so I took it upon myself to give some guys the same care.

You may be asking what have I really learned today? Well, I’ll tell ya. I’ve learned courtroom benches hurt, and I am not the most patient of people. Most importantly I learned the importance of a well place act of kindness. You never know the impact it is going to have on someone. One of the brothers I contacted said the simple gesture of me calling him “Made my day.”

I don’t know about you, but being able to make someones day just warms my heart a little more. So yes we can learn something from everything, but we can not learn everything from one thing.

Question: What is something you have learned in the recent past?

It’s Kinda Funny…

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Life can be kinda funny sometimes. I have had a situation in which I have been praying over for a little while and it is not one I care to get into great detail about. But when I thought I wasn’t going to do a certain thing an had what I thought was spiritual confirmation. I turn around and God has other plans. So it is kinda funny the way things work out.

It is not just with this situation but with a lot of them. Just as another example of how things have worked out. My wife and I were the perfect picture of what nemesis’s were in high school we really could not stand each other back then. It would not be until after high school when we would reconnect at a young adults event from a local church we would meet up again.

At first we were cordial with each other. She was different than I remembered her being. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but there she was. After a few months of meeting together with this church group she made a general announcement about a concert she wanted to go to, but did not want to go alone. I volunteered to take her. This was our first “date.”

I would begin visiting her at work, taking her to lunch and bringing her little trinkets. It was about four or five months after our first date we started being an official couple. After dating for about eight months I asked her parents if I could marry her. We were married in Aril 2007.

Like i said its kinda funny the way things work themselves out. A biblical example is the Apostle Paul. Here is a man who is adamantly against Christianity and he turns out to be its biggest proponent apart from Jesus himself.

This was a man who condoned the murder of Stephen. He stood idly by with coats and cloaks at his feet. And did nothing to stop it from happening. He would later go on to be beaten, stoned, flogged, shipwrecked, imprisoned and later martyred for his faith.

As you can see life has a way of working itself out the way the Lord wants it to. I can think its going to go one way and ends up going in a completely different direction. Who knows right now I am studying to become a pastor, maybe the Lord has other plans for me. I really love this writing thing. Maybe, just maybe he will use this and my theological understanding to work into peoples libraries and make a difference. Right now I have no idea. I only hope I can enjoy the ride I am about to take.

Questioin: What in your life has the Lord turned around on you, that all you can do is look back and laugh?

Do I Really Matter?

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We have all asked the questions at one point in our life. Yes you do matter, you may not mean something to everyone but to someone you are everything. I recently read in a blog post that if you think you are a pro then you are one. I think that works for some professions, but not all. It is easier for me to call myself a writer than a pastor.

The reason being is there are gatekeepers in becoming a pastor. I have to go through so many hoops (its almost ridiculous) but I am doing it because it’s what I feel called to. I have since I first came to Christ at 20 years old. It is often a struggle to feel like my calling is real because I have so many obstacles in front of me.

Even if things do not turn out how I would hope for them to, God is still in control. It will require faith and humility to learn how to trust God in these situations. Whoever tells you it’s easy is lying to you. God is going to allow you to reach a place where all you have is Him. In that place your faith will grow and you will learn to be more dependent on Him and trust yourself less. In doing that we start to learn our value in Christ.

Why do we ask the question of whether we matter or not? It’s because we all want to feel like someone cares. We can say we know that Jesus loves us, but if we are honest that isn’t enough for most of us. It is a condition of the fall that took place in Genesis 3. When Adam and Eve were tricked into believing a lie. It was a lie that they could be like God, when they had missed the point that we were already like God, being created in His image.

As we begin to really live in the love of Christ, we begin to feel our significance. We stop looking to things that are outside of our control for satisfaction. We want to feel loved and wanted by someone. We should feel love and acceptance from our parents, our spouses, our children, even our friends. In the end they are all going to let us down to some degree. But in Christ we find all of those things and so much more. I am not promising that life is going to be easy peasy, or a walk in the park.

Life is still going to have its challenges, but in knowing Jesus loves and accepts me I can face those challenges head on. Trust Jesus with your life so you can experience this same feeling.

Question:How can you learn to rely on God for your identity/significance?

Are You a Generous Person?

For some people generosity comes naturally, while for others it can be like pulling teeth. I am part of the first group. I enjoy giving and doing for other people. There is just something intrinsic about giving for me. I am not sure if it is one of those things concerning nature verses nurture.


What I do know is that not everyone likes to give. I’m not just talking about money, it can be time or talents. For me it is hard to understand what makes it so difficult to give.


I have heard it said that the poorest people often give the most. I have seen this principle in my own life. However I have seen some people of mean be rather generous as well. What is shocking is that some of the stingiest people I have ever met were supposed “Christians.”


In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul speaks about the generosity of the churches in Macedonia. And how they gave out of their lack because that is what they were lead to do. We should take our lead from them and give even when we cannot afford to do it easily. When we give to others and it costs us something we are showing how important that person is. Paul was trying to tell the Corinthians they needed to follow the example set before them.


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Generosity is something we can learn. We learn it by doing. The more we do it the more we look for chances to do it. The Lord was the penultimate example of generosity. He made the choice to leave the perfect presence of the father to take the form he created in man, to join us. He even chose to love us while we were unloveable.


Why can’t I be more generous? What keeps me from giving of myself to those around me? Pride and selfishness are  the culprits and I bet they are the same things that keep you from doing what you know you should do. I am a selfish person (sometimes), especially when I am having a bad day pain wise. I don’t like to give of myself to my family or my friends. It is easier to hold back pieces of myself than to give. Then there are the times pride keeps me from giving because I think I’m better than someone else. I don’t know why I feel that way and it doesn’t happen often, but it still happens.


Like anything else the first way to combat something is to admit you need help. This is me telling the world I need to be more generous. One way I can is by being around other people who are generous. It tends to rub off. At least I hope so. Another way is to love my family well despite myself and my circumstances. It may mean reading an extra chapter to my son, or listening about Pokemon for the millionth time.


To show you one way I’m trying to be generous I’m giving away my free devotional The Long and the Short of It when you sign up for my email newsletter.


How can you be more generous?

You’re A Failure So What!

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Have you ever heard the words that you are a failure? How about speaking those words to yourself? I know I have even in the last six months I have felt that way. And guess what you may be. That is the brutal honesty of it. However, that doesn’t have to be the end. I know what makes me feel like a failure is my inability to work a full-time job due to my health. That is why I am in school working toward a degree in ministry hoping that I will be able to land a job doing what should be easier on my body.
I feel like a failure as a parent, a husband and a son. You see my family has lived with my mom our entire marriage which has been seven going on eight years. I have never been able to hold down a good job. Hell, I’ve never had a good job. Everything I did was menial working 12-15 hours a day for pretty much minimum wage sometimes. We have always struggled to take care of our family.
Even with these struggles though I still believe God has a plan for my life. Like I have quoted in other posts Romans 8:28 is my life verse. I know Jesus is working things together for my good, even the things that look bad.
Remember how bad things looked for Joseph in the book of Genesis? He was accused of rape and thrown in prison. At that point in his life I’’m willing to bet he felt like a failure. That is not how the story ends. The story ends with Joseph becoming second in the land of of Egypt only behind the pharaoh.
Just like Joseph, my story is not over with either. I am pursing my writing with more passion, while still working toward my Mdiv.
You can think what you want of me. I’m lazy or worthless, or whatever you like. It doesn’t matter to me, because I have learned that God has me where he wants me. When He wants that situation to change he will give me the ways and means to do it. I have found my worth in Jesus and that is good enough for me.
So right now you may be in a place where you feel like a failure, just remember that unless your dead the story is still being written. God knows what he has in store so trust in him.
Where do you feel like a failure?  What steps do you need to take to change your situation? Let me hear from you.

Being Brutally Honest

Honestly speaking life is hard. I don’t just mean work, but every aspect of life. It feels like you have to always be on for people. At least that is the way it is for me, since I have fibromyalgia. Living a “normal” life is a struggle because there are days I don’t want to get out of the bed. I especially don’t enjoy leaving my house anymore.

Going to the store is a challenge for me. It is draining in all senses of the word. I used to be such a people person. That was until this stupid disease/syndrome got a hold of me. It has changed who I am on so many different levels. I am no longer the bubbly person I once was. My patience has gotten shorter. There is however one positive that has come from this.
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My relationship with Jesus has gotten better. I turn to him more often. I find peace in the fact that he told us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.(Matt 11:30). Even with that peace though it is still hard to maintain a great attitude all the time which is what I feel like I am supposed to do. When I am at church I want to talk to people and be polite most days. There are just some of those days, like the ones when I didn’t want to get out of bed. Trying to talk to people then is just plain rough.

Then there are my kids, I love them to death. They can just be a hand full sometimes. Especially the oldest who has the special needs. He can cause more stress which in turn causes fibro flares. Putting me in more pain. I don’t believe he does it on purpose. Either way it happens though. It is in those moments of struggle that I RUN to Jesus. One because I know he will always be there for me and two I don’ t know of anywhere else to run.

Add on top of all of that I am studying for my Masters of Divinity. Which takes up much of my time when the semester is in. With all of these things in mind I know of no other way in life to get by, than to run to Jesus. Sure I can run to a functional savior. In the end what good is that really going to do me?
What trials are you facing and how are you dealing with it?