Getting Things Done (Will Power vs Spirit Power)

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Over this last week I have learned a lot about myself and the nature of things. I learned that I try to hard to do things on my own. I don’t trust in God nearly as much as I should or even as much as I tell other people to. I know I guess that makes me a hypocrite and for that I must repent. (I’m a work in progress please give me grace).

One thing I can say is that at least I am becoming more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to recognize that I am relying on my own strength too much. Don’t get me wrong sometimes pure dogged determination will get a lot accomplished. However, when we need to do things in the spiritual realm that type of determination just doesn’t cut it. I am learning that the hard way. But at least I am learning that and not being so hard headed/hearted as to completely ignore it.

Why is it so hard to live in step with the Spirit? I would venture to say it is because he is perfect and we are not. We have a hard time trusting in things we cannot see. We see things in the natural form forgetting that there is a spiritual side to life as well. Just like the graphic there are steps we feel we need to take and we tend to think that only we can accomplish them. Instead we need to be more like Martin Luther, he would pray for two hours a day, except on days he had much to accomplish he would then pray for three hours. He recognized the importance the spiritual plays with the physical.

This week I have had a major amount of reading and studying to do and to be honest with you I will not complete all that is laid out in front of me. At least not of my own accord. I guess you can say that I am a doubting Thomas in a sense. I don’t see how the Lord will be able to help me get through all of the reading I have to do to get certain assignments completed. Sure I should probably be using the time I am writing this to be reading, but for whatever reason it just feels futile.

I know I will get the work done maybe not on time but it will be completed. There is one assignment that is already behind, but If the others are done by the due date it is because the Lord gave me the strength and wisdom to accomplish it. There is no other way for it to be done.

There will be some who discount what I have to say in this post and I’m okay with that. I know it is hard to think the Holy Spirit has any control in our lives and how things turn out. I struggled with this idea for years, but have come to a place of acceptance. Knowing that God is sovereign has made a huge impact on how I live day to day. It doesn’t mean I get a pass to be lazy because God will take care of it. It does however free me from guilt knowing that God will have me accomplish his will in his time and not my own. If he wants me to pass a class or to fail then that is what is going to happen. I still have to bear down and do my part, God is not just going to give me “A’s” because I’m his child. I have to work for them.

This is where the age old debate of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility come into play. D.A. Carson has an excellent book on the topic. All of this to say we are not the product merely of our own strength but a combination of our work and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Question: Do you tend to trust in yourself more or the role of the Spirit in your life?

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How To Keep Going When You’re Exhuasted

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This will not be your typical how to post. I don’t plan on having multiple bullet points and a list of ideas. I have one main idea. How to keep going when you’re exhausted is by faith. It is my faith that keeps me going. Or is it family, or is it desire. I guess in a way it is a bit of all of these things that keeps me going.

I want to encourage you to ground your faith in Christ. I think about what he went through around the time of his crucifixion and how tired he had to have been, yet he still managed to keep going. Some people will make the argument that yes, “but he was God.” It is true but he was still also a man, a human being who felt pain and weakness. So think about our savior after being scourged having to walk several miles to the hill where he was to be crucified.

I say to do this by faith, which is no easy task. I struggle with extreme bouts of depression. Even lately as I have been writing trying to be an encouragement I have been struggling with these bouts. No one would ever know unless I say something. Why because I have learned how to just keep moving forward. I put my trust in Jesus knowing there is a greater reason for all of these trials, and like Paul says these are light momentary afflictions.

They may not feel light or even momentary right now, but in the grand scheme of things they really are. I keep looking forward to a home I will one day return to. It is not easy, living this life. It is a struggle most days to get out of bed. Tweet: By faith I get up with the expectation, things will be better today than they were yesterday.

I hope you can see how all of this is meant to be an encouragement for when you’re not sure you can keep going, because you are just plain exhausted.

For those times when your faith isn’t enough focus on the goal(s) you want to achieve, they will help give you the extra little push you need. By looking at your goals you will be able to see why you are working so hard and doing so much.

Sometimes the over extension is not avoidable because it is something you kind of have to do. For example I am doing a lot with school right now, but was doing a little less in the fall. Back in the fall I volunteered to be my sons Cub Scout den leader. Since then things have gotten a little hectic and now there is more on my plate than I expected. This is one time I have to look at it and go this is for my son, and hopefully when he has kids he will appreciate the extra mile I went for him.

Question: How do you keep going when you’re exhausted?

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?

You Took Your Son Where?!

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Now, I have your attention I will happily answer that question. I took my son to a men’s Bible study. Every monday night (well most) for the last four or so years my wife knew where I would be. I was going to be with a group of guys who invest into me and I into them. There is a solidarity which takes place with this group of men I have never experienced anywhere else.

Over the last several months my youngest son Richard has been wanting to go with me to these meetings. At first I was rather hesitant, I mean come on he’s only six. Then I realized he’s only six and he still wants to spend time with his dad. He wants to do things like his dad does them. I am starting to appreciate that fact. There is going to come a time when he may not want to hang out with me as much and I will need to prepare myself for it.

When he first started wanting to go he was around four and he was just way too young. He has ADHD and has a hard time not getting into things. As he has gotten older he has gotten a bit better and I allow him to bring his Kindle Fire to occupy him while we have our study. Sure I would love to go back to when it was just me getting away from the family and having some alone time. But, I would be missing out on so much. This young man loves me dearly and wants to be around me.

He is seeing what male bonding can and should look like. He is getting a picture of brotherhood inside of Christ. As we get together around food and celebrate the Word of God. I will one day have the time to myself again but I will never be able to regain time spent with my son as a chid. By me taking him it is teaching me how to be less selfish and more of a role model.

While I long to take my oldest son, he has not desire to go and I am not going to force it upon him. I will take the opportunities the Lord is placing before me, to grow and nurture my little one the best I can.

Questions: What are somethings you can be doing with your child(ren) you have been avoiding? Is there a special way you spend time with your little ones?

Friends…How Many Do You Really Need?

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Aside from my wife I have a few people I would really call my friend. Which I guess some people would say that I am lucky to have that many. I often wonder how the Lord Jesus felt in the world because no one could fully relate to him and all of the things he was going through. I know we need each other because Proverbs 27:17 tells me that we do. It says, “As iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
What does that really look like? It requires contact! You cannot have that sharpening without it. The one thing you can take from this is that it says one man, not necessarily a group of men. So you do not have to have a lot of people in your life to be sharpened. Just that one good friend. You know the one who will tell you what you need to hear, even if it’s not what you want to hear. Iron cannot be sharpened without some friction. Just like us we cannot grow without a challenge.
With a friend you can get more things accomplished. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” I’m pretty sure you have heard the old adage, “in order to have friends you must first be a friend.” What does that look like?
I think you need to be someone a person can depend on, someone who keeps their word. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. What I have been trying to say is summed up in this verse. We don’t need to have a lot of friends. We need one or two good friends, but most of all we need Jesus.
When we have Jesus we have the best friend we could possibly ask for. We still need human friends also just not a whole plethora of them to be happy. Jesus has shown his love for us that he gave his life for us (John 15:13), not only that he did it while we were separated from him by sin (Romans 5:8).
I encourage you to run to Jesus with open arms and tell him how grateful you are for his friendship. If you don’t have a relationship with him I’d be more than happy to discuss how you can. It is the most important decision you’ll ever make.
Do you have friends you can count on? Are you a person people want to call friend?

I Don’t Care What You Think…Or Do I?

     This is hard for anyone to tackle but is it true? Do I really care what you think yes I do. As my reader/audience I care about what you think (for the most part). Like anybody I want you to like me and what I am producing, but I have come to grips with I love to write even if nobody else loves it. I still love the act of putting words to screen (instead of pen to paper). There is just something cathartic about it. Does that mean I just write for the sake of writing? NO! I write because I feel compelled to get what is inside of me out. If my math is write this post should becoming out on Christmas Eve, which means I should be more gentle and less forceful in what I say right. Sorry not for this post.
     If you have stuck with me this far thank you. I want to grow and be more like Jesus and that is who ultimately matters when I think about what does someone think about me. Jesus was not always well received while he walked on the earth. He was questioned at almost every turn by the pharisees. It didn’t matter if he was eating food or talking with a  woman they always had something to say about him. I have realized that if I want to be like Jesus, people are going to talk about me. It is not always going to be good. I am going to offend some people and that is okay. Who doesn’t want to be liked? I haven’t found a person yet that doesn’t long for some sort of validation. Except for Jesus of course.
     Now, the way I do care about what you think is by interacting with you, through comments, G+, Facebook, Twitter, and even the occasional email. I want to hear from you and start building community. Because this thing cannot work without your voice as well. If there is a topic you would like me to consider than drop me a line and let me know, I will do my best to cover it. But understand there are going to be times I might say somethings that step on some toes. I will still try and be the same insightful and loving Paul, but there are just going to be those times I cannot be. In order to protect the sheep I have to beat the wolves.
What can I do to better server you? What do you enjoy about this blog?

New Endeavors

     

This is season of my life where I am trying something new. I have joined a writing program called Tribe Writers. It is something I hope will be a good benefit for me and also for you my readers. It is helping me to find my voice in how I write. I am not sure if you guys like having the more personal side of me, or if you prefer the deeper theological side of me. I know for me it is easier to create the content that is personal with a small mix of the theological. I love to hear from you guys as to what are you looking for and how I can help you find that. While I plan on continue writing how I am, I want to try my best do do things that interest you.

     Speaking of new endeavors I have recently gotten into the world of Twitter, and I am hoping to reach 100 followers sooner than later. If I can do that I plan on having a book give-away. By now you may be asking yourself why do I care about all of this? And that is understandable. I hope you care because at some point you were blessed by a piece I have written and I want you to continue to be blessed. I am not the first person to do any of this. It is good to try new things in life because you never know what you will actually succeed at. I am finding out who I truly am and finding what makes my voice unique. If you would like to let me know what you think about my previous works I am all ears.
     Just remember I am not the only person to ever do something different the prophet Elisha was a farmer before he became a prophet. Jesus was a carpenter. Paul was  a tent maker. David was a shepherd. These are just a few examples of men in the Bible who entered into new endeavors from what they ended up becoming. So this is a step on my journey. Yes, I am still planning on becoming a pastor, but that doesn’t mean I cannot write on the side. I have several friends who are already pastors who do some form of writing along with their main job. Who knows maybe this will be the ministry the Lord chooses to use for me to bless the world. I can only hope that you will stick with me on this journey. It is going to be a fun ride (I hope). I cannot guarantee that I will not have some missteps along the way, but I’m going to enjoy the trip. Because it’s not just about the final destination its about the trip along the way. 
What is a new journey in life you are starting on? What impact are you anticipating on having?