Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why are We Not?

But if we are the body,
Why are not His arms reaching....
Why are not His hands healing....
Why are not His words teaching....
And if we are the body
Why are not His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way....

Jesus is the way

These are the words to the chorus of a song we sang in worship a few weeks ago. Sadly I can’t share the tune with you, but the words themselves are still moving. God has a purpose for us all. As Romans 12:6-8 confirms: “God has given us all a gift and we have a responsibility to use it wisely and well”. I believe that goes to the very heart of this song. God has literally chosen us to be His arms, hands, feet......WE are the body. Christ is the head. How would you feel if your body did not do what your mind ask or told it to do? How many times have you made a limb suffer to accomplish a greater task?

God will preform all the miracles in the world, but if we are not there to point out these miracles and carry them forward......then God’s efforts are in vein.

When the day comes that I go to meet God, I know I don’t want to have the feet that did not walk or the hand that did not heal. I hope and pray that whatever God has made me to be that I now do it well and that I do it humbly.

In closing, I ask you to ask yourself....“What is my gift from God and how can I best use it?”. When will you use the gift and to whom will you share this gift..........W

Friday, December 4, 2009

Many Meanings.....

Once again I must apologize to my readers and God for my laziness. Unfortunately, when I’m lazy it also shows that I am ungrateful. In order for the words that I write to get to this screen for you to read.....many things have to fall into place.....but it all starts with me.

So often, I sit back at night with my bible and begin to read. It is never long before my mind is spinning with topics and scripture that I want to write about and share with you. But, it is always late and I work the next day, and , and, and it doesn’t get done........that topic or idea is lost by morning.

On one special morning; however, I woke to read my “Daily Bread” and it discussed the same scripture I had chosen to read last night. How amazing, right? I love God’s little signs that he is listening. It let’s me know that I’m right where I’m suppose to be.....he left that little ‘treat’ for me so that I would know I’m doing good. But, there was something else.......if I had chosen to write about this particular scripture, I would have taken a different meaning from the one I read on my “Daily Bread”.

I was once told by my dear friend, a story of how her pastor used the same scripture three weeks in a row at church. Each week the minister started his sermon with the same scripture, but each week there was a different message or meaning. That is how awesome our God is. So many people call the Bible a “book of stories”. That, to me, does not ring true. A story has a plot and if you miss it then really the book means little to you. God uses the Bible to speak to everyone on all occasions. Sure the new testament plot might be that Jesus gave his life so that we could go to heaven. But the Bible contains so much more. There are so many life lessons to be learned inside the Bible’s pages. To say that the Bible is just a “book of stories” is to say that the US Constitution is just a piece of paper. NO! The Constitution is a living, breathing, word of the people. Well, the Bible is the living, breathing word of God! God uses it to speak to each of us differently as we need to hear it in our lives. For this I am thankful. As the only species on the planet that can read his word, it is proof to me that we are truly God’s chosen creation.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Spreading The Word

Acts 9:1 says: “Meanwhile Soul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.”. After reading that verse, if you would have told me that this same man would go on to write 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament I would have told you that was just crazy! But, sure enough, God singled out Soul (also known as Paul) to be one of the primary authors of the New Testament. I find it completely amazing that Paul despised Christians at one time only to become a leading minister in the good news of Jesus Christ.

How God used Paul reminds me of how the English used double agent spies in World War Two. The English spy network was effective because they were using German spies against the Germans. When I originally began to move form Satan’s side to God’s side, I found it difficult to pray and understand the Bible. Over time God healed me and trained me in his word......much like the English had to do with the Germans. Now, I feel that I am a ranking solider in God’s army and I am proud of my new allegiance.

Sometimes; however, I don’t feel like I’m one of God’s common soldiers. In fact, I feel like I belong to God’s ‘special forces’ of Jesus Christ. Just as Paul used to persecute early Christians, I use to live in the darkness of sin to Satan’s delight. I believe, it was Paul’s history that made him so effective in spreading God’s word. Because of Paul’s previous hate, he knew exactly what doubts he had to confront in unbelievers. I consider myself like Paul on that note. Because of my previous allegiance to Satan, I have a unique understanding of where the weakness lies in Satan’s armor. I know the temporary satisfaction brought with binge drinking, drugs, and unprotected sex. But I also understand the turmoil and pain that these activities carry with them. For this reason, I feel I am well suited to carry the message of Jesus Christ to people who would otherwise not normally hear his word.

Satan is cunning and powerful, but we must remember that God is the Alpha and the Omega. When God calls on an individual to serve him, there is no denying him. God has provided each of us with special talents, skills, and histories to help us perform his work. If God’s message was only heard in churches or spread only by your stereotypical church goer, how many people would Jesus’ message not reach. I guess my point is this: It doesn’t matter if your tattoo covered or clean cut, we all have a responsibility to carry the good news of Jesus Christ to whomever we can........

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Too Busy, Too Lazy, or Too Tired?

I am afraid to say that I have been unable to write or post anything on this blog for sometime now. Recently, I have just felt that I did not have a topic to write about.... which is really not the case. I have just been too busy, or too lazy, or too tired, and the list goes on. Excuses are what it amounts too. I guess the truth is that I have not taken the time to write. It is not that my spiritual walk with Christ has not been growing. It is not that I have not seen God’s presence in my life. It is just that I have not taken the time myself.

As you should know by now, I pray. I pray for a lot of different things. In Ephesians 6:18, we are told to pray on all occasions. That’s good, because when I pray it is usually pretty important stuff.... to me.......and then it hit me....

Lately, I have been too lazy to devote more of my time towards God. Would I want the same treatment in return from God? What if our God was a lazy, forgetful, and tired God? What would my life be like? What would the world be like? Imagine a world without any miracles. Or a world without values of what is good verses what is evil. All because God was too lazy to write the Ten Commandments. Stop.....think about that for a whole 60 seconds.

Thankfully, that is not the way it is. When I pray, I never get a busy signal. Even when I’m too lazy to pray, God never stops working. But! That does not mean that it is okay for me to let these things slide.....including this blog.

I, We, You, ask so much of the Lord and really he ask for so little in return. The least I can do is put forth the effort to take care of some of the things He needs done by me.......

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Forgive and Forget

For me, forgiving and forgetting are perhaps the two most difficult acts for me to accomplish. There are so many aspects involved; Confessing to God and asking forgiveness, forgiving others of their trespasses, forgiving ourselves, and finally moving on......and forgetting. Because of the life I lived, run by drugs and alcohol, forgiving and forgetting are one of the more difficult parts of my journey. I am constantly finding my thoughts drifting back to times past.....remembering my sins and my trespasses and those that trespassed against me. I still find myself confronted by new sins and new trespasses.

MY Life MY Sin
Today, I deal much better with forgiving and forgetting my sins. I pray and ask for forgiveness every night. The sins I commit through out the day, I can honestly say I try to avoid. For example: Advertisers love to use ‘sex’ to sell their products. I do my very best not to have a lustful heart. No matter how my individual battles with sin turn out, I can honestly say that I feel God’s presence in my life. God knows I am trying and that alone makes my journey an easier one.

My Life, Their Sin
Just thinking about this is enough to draw my face tight and clench my teeth together. This, for me, has by far been the most difficult part......especially when someone else’s trespass or sin has affected me in a negative way. I’ve been directly lied to, found my past girlfriend in bed with other men, been robbed, been beaten, and been falsely accused. I’ve even been reported to the police. Many of these trespass were by people whom I thought to be my friends. With all this, it is amazing I have people in my life I still call friend. On the other hand, I have been on the opposite side of all those situations (except reporting someone to the police). I have been the lover begging for forgiveness and I certainly have lied over and over again to my friends and family.

How I Handle It
I don’t dwell on the past, I don’t gossip about it, and I don’t throw it back in the person’s face. Following those three ‘don’t's' and you are on your way to achieving your goal of forgiving and forgetting. EPH 4:32 says.....Forgive each other....and when I think about it now as a Christian.....I conclude that I have NO right to withhold forgiveness from anyone. Men, like myself, beat and hung the Son of Men, Jesus, on a cross to die. Still, God forgave us. Jesus, after that ugly calcification, still forgave us. This is a perfect example of not only, “do as I say” but “do as I do”.
Furthermore, Jesus provided us with a bridge. A bridge which allows us to come back to God and repent our sins. Isa 1:18 says....“He will make us white as wool”. God chooses to forgive us of our sines and he chooses to no longer remember our stained past. I choose to do the same. In closing, I most proclaim to all those it concerns that.......In Jesus’ name, I forgive you......In Jesus’ name, I choose to no longer remember. Your debt with me is settled my friends, now please go make your peace with God.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Holy Hopes To Be"

The first book I ever read in the Bible was Job. I know, nice choice...right? I understand the book’s point well enough; We have to preserver in times of difficulties. What really bothered me for years, up until recently, was why God would let Satan put such a righteous man through all that suffering. To me, it seemed like God made a bet with Satan saying, “You can’t break this one.”. I was appalled, to say the least. Through faithful daily reading of my bible, I have learned there are deeper philosophies at work. Some of these philosophies are at the very edges of human understanding.

When good people suffer, the spirit struggles to understand. Why does God allow such injustice? In theory, some could argue that this is why the Christian religion is flawed. However; the book of Job, shows that suffering is an opportunity to exercise what true Godliness is to human beings. God always wants to be in harmony with humans, whereas, Satan always strives for discord. Satan’s goal is to drive a permanent wedge between God and his creation.......us. In Job, Satan comes to God with the ultimate challenge, claiming that humans love the “gifts” of God rather than loving God himself. Satan charges that humans only try to please God for the benefits that come from God being pleased. This accusation strikes at the root of human materialism and cannot be ignored. Because of this challenge, God allows Satan to use righteous Job as his “test” subject. Should Job fail and curse God, creation and redemption will be shown to be greatly flawed. God would have no other option, but to condemn humanity. Job, through his trials, is overwhelmed by feelings of anguish, confusion, and anger. But.......he never rebukes God. Instead, his deepest pain seems to be from God’s apparent alienation. Thankfully, Job’s Godliness is vindicated and Satan is silenced. What I try to keep in mind, is that Job was not like Jesus. Job’s pain and suffering were not meant to be an atonement for us all.

Satan still roams the earth tempting humans with sin and allowing them to bring suffering upon themselves. I guess, what I have learned from Job, is once again to not be so self centered. I have to remember that, until Jesus’ second coming, a bitter battle ensues above, below, and all around us. Satan’s minions and God’s angels are constantly at war, fighting for our individual souls. Everyday we have to put forth the effort to support the good side of the war by resisting temptation. I know that my remaining days will not be all “peaches and cream” because I found Jesus. The question is, “Can I preserver in the face of suffering as Job did?”. Will I rely on my new found faith to bring me through? I can only know the answer to these questions through time, and suffering, and pain..........but, I stand at the ready in prayer and in “holy hopes to be”.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Giving Your Life, The Good and The Bad

I personally feel that the third step of AA is also one of the foundations of Christianity. God wants us to turn our will and our lives over to his care so that his will, not ours, will be done. In order for me to do this and complete the third step, I had to forget everything else. I can’t tell you the exact moment it happened, the process of enlightenment was slow and in God’s speed. I did know when it occurred......you see, I had forgotten about my freedom, my ex-girlfriend, and my recovery. My heart was, at one point in time, completely empty. I allowed Jesus to refill my heart with his love and his will. Already I have accomplished things I never dreamed of and I look forward to working on the 4th step.

Few of us would think that we are entirely evil inside and that God needs to replace everything in our heart. This makes the process of giving our lives over difficult, because we think some things in our lives are good. For me, my recovery and ex-girlfriend were good, so why would I give them up? You must, but by doing this you allow God to return to you what is truly good. God did this with me and my recovery and I didn’t even miss a beat. As for the girlfriend, God put a completely different woman in my life. A woman that I respect deeply. God gave me these things. I had completely given up on everything. My life was without direction, but when the time was right God led me back to a pathway of prosperity and happiness. For this I am thankful, I am grateful, and I am completely amazed....

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rebuilding My Spirit

In jail, I forgot all about AA. I was blessed with good cell mates who read from the Bible daily...aloud. It was very soothing and peaceful. I began to read with them. I went to court and received five more years of imprisonment. I was crushed. A few days later, I was transferred to another facility---another county jail in a small town. AA and the Bible seemed miles away, but once again I was blessed with a God fearing cell mate. This new facility in Brazil, Indiana had Church services four days a week and a Christ based recovery program founded on the 12 steps of AA. At first, I didn’t think the recovery program was for me. I did think the Church was pretty cool and I enjoyed the services.

I eventually gave my life to Jesus, took up the study of the bible, and started this blog.....all done here at this Brazil facility. Yesterday was my day of realization and reconciliation. I went to the recovery meeting and was awarded the class text. The book is awarded through attendance to the weekly meetings. Our first lesson, where I was able to participate, is step 4. Right where I left off! Someone who does not believe and follow Christ could easily say that this is nothing more than coincidence, but I know better.....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Prayer Granted by God

My spiritual journey actually began in Alcoholics Anonymous. The program requires a belief in a “higher power as you understand him”. I had only been sober 60 days when I began working the third step of the program which states:

“Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
understand him.” AA Handbook page 54

I was having difficulty knowing if I had completed this step. Of course, I had prayed that God would help me turn my will and my life over to Him, but I didn’t feel complete. It was one of those things where I knew it couldn’t be that easy.

Worldly Answers?
I decided to research the topic a little bit. I spoke with my current Alcohol counselor and tried to explain my difficulties. He gave me a couple of suggestions, but no concrete solutions......nothing tangible at least. I called my former drug and alcohol counselor. He and I have more of a friendship now. I asked him about my troubles and all he could do was chuckle. He told me, my troubles were natural and the third step was a big step. In not so many words, he told me it took time and that I would just “know”.

Everyday I would pray for God to help me turn my life over to his care. In a period of two weeks, I lost a lot. The first loss, and I thought my biggest, was a girlfriend I cared for deeply. I fought it, hard. I prayed more. Finally, I stood on the bank of a small pond in our city park after an AA meeting. I really had nothing in my life I was proud of......except a 60 day sobriety token/coin from AA. I was in work release, hated my job, felt friendless, and was facing another 9 years in prison. I stood there for awhile with my new AA token and prayed for God’s help. I finished my prayer and tossed my old 30 day token into the water, as if it were some eternal wishing well. The very next day, when the clock struck noon........I LOST IT ALL, including my freedom.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

True Followers

I would venture to guess that more people ‘believe’ in God, then actually follow Him. When stopping the average person on a street corner and asking if them if they believe in God. I think, most would probably shrug and say, “Sure”. This would give one the impression that to them, God is just a ‘matter of fact’. That they go and visit God all the time, ask questions, and just ‘hang out’ with Him on a daily basis. Geez, that would be nice if it were only true. However; every once in a while, you will run across a ‘true’ follower of Jesus Christ. The difference between the ‘ casual believer’ and the ‘true follower’ of Christ is astounding to me.

Being a ‘casual believer’ is kind of like being a window shopper. You have nothing to offer to the clerk inside the store. The window shopper may admire the items in the store and wish they owned such things themselves. But still, the window shopper refuses to go into the store and take part in the actual experience, I might say...life changing experience, of investing in the items located within the store. To be a ‘true follower’ of Jesus Christ, is to stop window shopping and boldly enter the store to make a purchase. Only then can the ‘clerk’ help you to achieve your goals.

As you can see, being a window shopper and being a customer are two different things. It is the same with being a casual believer of Jesus Christ as compared to being a true follower of Jesus Christ.

As I stated before, I am a new believer of Jesus Christ, but I am trying to become a true follower of Jesus Christ. This has not been and still is not an easy journey for me. Sure, I do the basics. I pray, I attend services, and I do actually read the Bible. I have already found out there is so much more to it than that. For example, the difference between just reading a book and actually studying a book. I guess all I can say at this point is that I am trying my best to follow God’s word. When I study the Bible, I don’t understand everything I read. Thankfully, our God is a Loving and Forgiving God. I think He understands that I am truly a ‘work in progress’. I know that He will continue to work with me as long as I keep putting forth the effort. So, at long last, the ‘window shopper’ has come in from the cold and......into the store.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finding God......

Finding God.......HA! As if He could get lost. Never the less, that is what I entitled this blog. Not because He was ever lost, but because I am lost and I am still finding my way. If you are to know anything about me, then know that I am currently incarcerated in the state of Indiana. Now, I think I may know what some of my readers are thinking....... You are thinking that this is just another story by some inmate “finding God” in an effort to obtain a “get out of jail FREE card”. I beg to differ. I have already served a 3 year sentence and though I did not avoid religion during that time.....I certainly didn’t search for answers either. My point is that I’m not prone to jumping off religious cliffs for any reason and my search for a higher power is profoundly sincere. I hope this blog can help others find faith in the Lord and I hope my readers will help me as I continue to develop a relationship with Jesus. I was not raised in a church, but I originally gave my life to Jesus about 10 years ago. I became involved in a youth group by invitation from one of my friends. After about 6 months, the Youth Pastor moved on and I found myself without a spiritual mentor and lost faith in Jesus. The next ten years of my life have been filled with strife. A life of drugs, alcohol, and finally prison. I also fathered a child whom, in the past, I refused to allow into my life. I’m finding my way, but I’m still really confused and overwhelmed and as much as I hate to say it LOST!

I have always felt that blessed are those who God corrects It took me a long time to understand that I am not being punished for my actions, so much as God is “correcting me” to stay the path.

As my readers, I encourage you to ask questions and offer advice. I am currently blessed with an array of services. The institution I am being held in offers a service five times a week. It has truly been interesting. One good thing about being incarcerated, it allows me all the time I need to study His Word throughout the day. With all this said, God Bless and we will shall see where this journey leads........