Friday, August 29, 2008

New Floor!

My wife and I are living in constant amazement at what God can do when you rely on Him. I cannot express enough to you what a blessing our lives have become. We were living pretty tight as far as our budget goes when I got laid off in May. I was the primary bread winner when it came to our income and we weren’t too far removed from living paycheck to paycheck. When I lost my job, our income was reduced by roughly 65%. You would think that for a family on a tight budget that this would be a disaster, but for us it has been a blessing. I am positive that this is only possible through the glory of God and obedience. Through others loving obedience and our obedience to Him and through His faithfulness to His promises, my wife and I have experienced miracle after miracle in our lives.

Malachi 3:10 (NLT): Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

This floor is just one example. My wife’s desire for many months leading up to the lay off in May was for us to get to a point where she could stay at home and take care of the house. Through a lot of prayer and discussion, she accepted a promotion at work about a month before I was laid off. This promotion has been very stressful as she has not only had to learn a new position with added responsibilities but she’s also been responsible for the transition from a family owned medical practice to a corporate owned practice. She’s been working long hard hours at work and coming home exhausted in the evenings. I’ve probably not helped things very much because of my affliction; couchpotatoidess (see tagged part 1 sec 3) so when we came home to a chewed up kitchen floor, you can imagine her dismay. It also didn’t help that the reason the “puppy” chewed through the floor was because I had procrastinated for several years and hadn’t fixed the hole caused by a leaky back door. I’m watching my wife as she works a high pressure job seeing her husband sitting at home turning down high paying jobs all in the name of feeling God has called him to something else. I don’t know if she’ll believe this or not but it really tugs at my heart not to be able to take away some of that pressure, relieve some of those struggles or provide her with some of the “nicer” things in life. Now we have a kitchen floor that’s in need of repair and I’m looking at two options and knowing that neither one is going to turn out very nice but not knowing what else to do. Taking the advice of two dear friends, I patiently spent some time in prayer about this situation. Here’s the miracle, through the loving obedience of two followers of Jesus, God provided the material for us, allowing us to put in a floor that looks awesome! Christ said to them “follow me” and they followed, He said to share and they shared and He said to love and they loved. I can’t begin to explain to you what an incredible blessing this is. My wife whom, I’ve watched work long hours and come home tired day after day was able to come home to a beautiful new kitchen floor. I think that was the greatest blessing for me, to be able to provide my wife (through the generosity of others and the grace of my Father) with something nice to come home to. I worked right up until the last minute before leaving to spend a week at the beach with my father and step-mother, which they paid for (another blessing) and came home to this:

I am in constant awe of God's glory and many times, that glory is revealed through the obedience of those that surround me.

Matthew 5:16 (NIV): In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

God is good… all the time!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I pledge allegiance to...

Matthew 6:24 (AMP)

24No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).

The closer I grow to God the more troubled I am by what I discover I’ve been “programmed” to believe is right and wrong. During this time of war, I obviously think a lot about the lives that are being sacrificed for my “freedom” and “peace”. I think a lot about the Old Testament and the many battles where God led his people to victory and even the battles where God allowed the enemy to prevail. I think about “thou shall not kill” in contradiction to David and Goliath. Ultimately though, I always come back to the Cross and why Christ died for me (for us)? He paid the full price for my sin because He loved me and wanted to free me from the bondage of that sin.
I really believe that the “American Dream” has led us back into bondage in the name of a different kind of freedom. We are slaves to our country because we have been taught that if we don’t love and serve our country then we are un-patriotic and generally bad people. We have to kill to preserve that freedom; we have to sacrifice our youth and the youth of “terrorist” nations to maintain that peace and freedom. We have to “support” our country and leaders or else these lives are being sacrificed in vain. Just the shear act of my writing this without fear of death or imprisonment is a blessing from the “Almighty United States of America”.

I’m glad I live in the United States but at the same time I wonder what it would be like to live in a third world country where the only protection that I had was my God. I’m thankful for all the freedoms that I have and that I can say what I wish without fear of punishment or death but at the same time I think of the amount of time that Paul spent in prison singing praises to God and wonder what it would be like to have such faith. America offers me many freedoms including the freedom to live a life without having to know what it means to fully rely on God.

What bothers me most about my attitude, having grown up an American, is that I don’t love people from other nations as God has called me to love them. That while I cover my heart with my hand and pledge my allegiance to the god of the American Flag and shed tears for my fellow country men who have died for that flag, I never once shed a tear for that fellow child of God who died because he fought on the other side of my flag.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense to anyone else and maybe it even incites you into anger but frankly I’m tired of serving two masters. I no longer want to be a “Christian” or an “American”; if I have to label myself then I want to be known as simply a disciple of Christ, a carrier of the Cross or simply a fisher of men. If I am persecuted because of this then I will consider myself blessed. If I end up imprisoned for this then I will rejoice and be content. If I find my life in danger because of this, then I will give thanks in all things because this is God’s will. Thankfully, I don’t have to fear any of these things because God has blessed me and called me to serve him right where I am. I pray that my life would look the same regardless of geographical location. I am a citizen of the greatest nation ever, the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom has no boundries and it's love encompasses all people and it's citizenship requires obedience to only one ruler, the great “I AM”.

1 Chronicles 29:14-20 (NLT)

14 But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 15 We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.
16 “O Lord our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you! 17 I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.
18 “O Lord, the God of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make your people always want to obey you. See to it that their love for you never changes. 19 Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, laws, and decrees, and to do everything necessary to build this Temple, for which I have made these preparations.”

20 Then David said to the whole assembly, “Give praise to the Lord your God!” And the entire assembly praised the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and they bowed low and knelt before the Lord and the king.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


God has been working some pretty incredible miracles in the lives of Sherlyn and I over the last couple of months. When I came to Christ in 2004, I experienced the incredible miracle of Jesus Christ and how the Holy Spirit can transform us into something brand new when we surrender our lives to Him. I’ve also seen many miracles come to pass as this life change has transformed my marriage, my finances, my desires and many other things in my life into something so incredible, that I’m just in awe of His power. It’s actually one of the un-answered prayers or miracles that I want to write about today.
Over the last year or so, my wife and I have been discussing and praying for the opportunity to adopt a child. I’ve had a passion for orphans and the possibility of adoption for just about as long as I can remember. I’ve always felt that adoption was a real possibility for me, even before I was ever married. I would look around at the world and the many things that even before I knew Christ, would disturb my spirit, and think that instead of bringing new life into this dark world that maybe I could bring some love to one of those affected by that darkness. I’m not saying that adoption is for everyone or that having your own child is a bad thing, just that something would tug at my heart whenever I would see an abandoned or troubled child. I just knew that I had something to offer them. My wife on the other hand wanted her own child and I would have liked a little boy or girl to call my own so we began trying (or rather not preventing) to have a baby. One day about a year ago my wife came home crying and began to tell me about a radio interview with Steven Curtis Chatman and how she now had a passion to adopt and really felt that was how God planned to give us children. I was of course excited because I had felt this urge to adopt for many years and her new found desire just confirmed for me that I had been hearing the voice of God all along. It is such an incredible feeling to look into the eyes of the one you love and see that you are both on the same path and to know that path is in God’s will. With her new passion and my confirmation, we began to talk about adoption and the things we had to do to prepare. She spent many hours on the internet researching international and domestic adoption and all the different things that needed to happen to make this a real possibility in our lives. It wasn’t long before we had a plan. The first thing that had to happen was that we had to have a new home. Most adoption agencies require that you go through some type of home interview and many of these agencies also have a minimum square footage requirement. Upon viewing some of these requirements, it was pretty obvious that our over stuffed, run down and abused, single wide trailer was just not going to impress anyone wanting to give us a child. The next thing that had to happen was saving up the money to adopt. Adoption was expensive and we weren’t rich (we’ve recently watched a series from Craig Groeschel called How to be Rich that has shown us that we are rich but that’s an article for some other time). The good thing about all this was that God was in it and we had already started a plan to become debt free. Over the next couple months the signs leading us towards adoption were everywhere. Eric’s message on Sunday would have something in it that confirmed our desires. Roger might say something on Wednesday night that would cause Sherlyn and I to exchange knowing glances at one another. Our budget was working pretty well, things were looking up financially and God was about to give Sherlyn a big promotion with a big raise! By this time, we had let most of our close friends in on our desire and people were beginning to pray for us.
Then... the dream came crashing down around us, I lost my job. How could we ever afford a new home and adoption if I wasn’t earning an income? Or hopes were put on hold and our dream and desires were now that much further away. To be honest, Sherlyn and I haven’t really talked about it much since I was laid off (for that I’m sorry). It has come up briefly when I had a job opportunity a couple weeks ago but I think we both knew our plan for having children was slipping further and further away as each week without a job came and went. Then along came the doubts… what if it really wasn’t God’s will for us to have children? What if it wasn’t in His plans? What if we hadn’t really heard the voice of God telling us to adopt?
Then the other day I receive a phone call. I really can’t go into any details but by the time I hung up the phone, I was sitting in the middle of a pasture with my head in my hands, weeping because of the greatness of God. No, we aren’t really any closer to adoption than we were but what did happen is that God reminded me that with him, all things are possible. That if it is God’s will that we should adopt then it will come to pass. If our obedience and desire, line up with His will, then no circumstances on this earth can keep this from occurring. Regardless of our plans, if God isn’t in them, then they will never bear fruit. I truly believe that God calls us to action to fulfill many of our prayers but I think what we sometimes forget that God only needs our obedience and a willing heart to bring these things to pass. Through a single phone call, God was able to show me a brief glimpse of how easily He can make this happen when the time is right and we are prepared to receive this blessing. While a new home and two incomes might be our requirements to continue to pray and dream of something greater, He need only to speak this into being and it will become a reality in our lives.

Luke 1:37
“For nothing is impossible with God."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I've been tagged! Part II

In case you missed it... Part 1 containing 1-3 is below!

Get comfortable… this is a long one!

4) I like to read books and write about stuff. There are few things in life that I enjoy more than sitting down and reading a good book. I especially like to put on some music that matches the mood of the story and just sit and read. I have to confess that I seldom do this anymore. It seems there is always something on TV to watch, something to look up on the internet or a game to play on the XBOX. I do still occasionally have moments when a book will just consume me and I sit and read. Now that I think about it, I wonder why I don’t do that more often. My life is so full of confusion and distractions that it seems that I never have any peace. When I allow myself to be taken off to some far away world filled with heroes and heroines, elves and dwarves or just ordinary people on a journey through life, my life becomes peaceful. I also find the same peace when I sit down to write. I’m sitting in the same coffee shop where I wrote part one of “been tagged”, I have my headphones on listening to some praise and worship while life goes on outside the glass window. I feel peaceful in my spirit and life is good. One of my favorite things to write is poetry. I’m really bad at it but that doesn’t stop me from liking to write it. I’ve not written a whole lot of poems in my life but when I have, it has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. You can check out my latest poem at the end of the post below called “Disturbed”. It’s not very good, it doesn’t even rhyme, but I loved writing it!
It’s amazing how God works… My first grade teachers discovered that I had a reading problem so they assigned me to a special reading teacher name Mrs. Robbins. I spent about an hour a day working with Mrs. Robbins on my reading skills. My school library had this program where if you read 100 or more books, you got a tee-shirt. By the end of the first grade I had so many tee-shirts that I didn’t even bother keeping a list of the books that I read anymore. I wonder what Mrs. Robbins would think if she were to read this? Praise God for my reading problem that allowed Mrs. Robbins to come into my life and help me discover one of the greatest joys in my life.

5) God has blessed me with the spiritual gift of intercession. Many times it is difficult to discover our spiritual gifts or have confidence in the knowledge of the gifts that God has given us. I have a couple gifts that are scary andexciting to me that I sometimes find myself questioning whether I’m really called to that gift or where I can use that gift in a way to glorify God. The gift that God has given me of prayer isn’t like that for me. Like reading and writing, I love to pray. Even now, writing about this gift brings tears to my eyes. I still remember the first time I was asked to pray in front of a group of people. It was a thanksgiving meal at the home of my wife’s relatives. I had never prayed in front of a group of any size before but I bowed my head and opened myself up to God and asked him to use me. I don’t remember that prayer but I remember that feeling of praying to Him and how fulfilling it made me feel. Since that moment several years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to pray in front of many crowds, some large and some small and it’s been an incredible blessing.
I went through a period shortly after discovering this gift where my pride caused the “well to dry up”. I found myself stumbling through prayers by myself and seeking praise for each prayer as I tried to make each prayer more eloquent than the last. It wasn’t long before I found that I was by myself in my prayers and God was no longer in them. I went through a period of time where I would avoid being asked to prayer or I would position myself so that I could ask someone else to pray. I’ve had many struggles during my spiritual growth but that was one of the most hurtful times I can remember. I had been given a gift by God and instead of using it for His glory; I abused it to bring myself glory so God took it away. I’m thankful that we serve a loving God of second chances and because of His greatness, I now enjoy many moments of fellowship through prayer with my Father. There is something amazing that takes place inside me when I open my heart and let God speak through me. I know this is going a little long for a “random” thing but I have a funny story about prayer that I want to share.

Incase you haven’t noticed already, I can be a little long winded especially when I pray. Well, I was playing softball the other weekend in a tournament with a mixed group of guys, some believers some not and I was given the opportunity to prayer before ever game. We were about to play our 5th and final game of the day when someone called for the “prayer man” to lead the team in prayer. As we gathered in a circle, one of the guys, a pretty big jokester, said “maybe this time he’ll make it into the New Testament.” We all laughed pretty hard, and I proceeded to begin my prayer by asking God to help these guys get into a comfortable position incase I got carried away again. 

What a joy it has been to discover this gift and use it for the glory of His Kingdom. Once again, Thank you Father!

Col. 1:9,10 - For this reason we have always prayed for you, ever since we heard about you. We ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will, with all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives..

6) I’m a little bit of a non-conformist (see Romans 12:2) so for this last random thing, I thought I would end with a barrage of random things that have happened to me in my life. Here is my list of random things: I have pitched a no hitter in a ball game… in little league. I almost pitched a “perfect” game (look it up). Speaking of almost, I was once about 3 strikes and a 7 pin away from bowling a 300 game… I ended up with a 266. I was kicked out of high school in the 3rd semester of my senior year for missing too many days in my first period class. The class was English. I got my HS diploma by going to an “extended day” school. The principal there called me an idiot and said he couldn’t believe someone with my grade point average would be there. One of my greatest regrets is not playing football my junior or senior year. I once broke a teammates arm in practice… in the elementary school. If I could go back and play football again, it would be one of the most difficult choices I’ve ever had to make. A couple years ago, I went to a NASCAR race and became so intoxicated that I fell and broke a guys arm. I never got to apologize.  During my pitching debut as a freshman in HS I allowed 3 runs on 7 hits with 1 strike out in 3 innings. The same guy I struck out in the first inning hit one of the longest homeruns I’ve ever seen hit at North Davidson in his next at bat. I was nicknamed “Smiley” by my HS baseball coach but if you talk to my immediate family, they will only know me as “Bubba” or as my two nieces affectionately know me “Uncle Bubba”. I’ve never been in a serious fight, I’ve always backed down, unless it was my younger brother. I have two brothers, I’m the middle child. If you have a middle child, they need special attention! ;) I love to sing at the top of my lungs sometimes. I can’t sing worth a hoot! I’m very emotional (soft?). I cry at almost anything. I once cried during the movie “Snoopy come home.” I used to take tap and ballet when I was younger. I still love to watch a good drama or dance. I also like to shop! I probably like to shop more than my wife does! My most recent exciting random thing is that I had the actual author of a book that I wrote about on my blog stop by and leave a comment! Check it out below!

Well… I could go on and on today but I just hit page 3 so I believe I’ll stop. My wife told me that these were supposed to be 6 random short things about myself but I looked in the rules and didn’t see anywhere where it said these had to be short!

I would love to tag some other people but unfortunately I don’t really know any other bloggers to tag. I’m more of a lurker than a blogger. I do have a couple places that I visit regularly so I’ll just link them here and hope that is good enough for the game to continue.

Lysa Terkeurst – This is one of my favorite places to visit. I feel a little weird because it’s really geared for women but I’ve found that her biblical principals go beyond the boundaries of gender.

Greg Laurie - Greg’s ministry has played a big role in my spiritual growth. His biblical teaching and books have helped build a foundation of God’s truth in my life. If you do nothing else, take a moment and go to Greg’s blog and watch the video message concerning his son’s death. While there is great sadness there, I guarantee that the faith and inspiration you gain will be worth the amount of time it takes out of your day.

Denise Hildreth – Where living and life meet: Denise is the author of several books including the “Will of Wisteria” which I just recently read and wrote about on this blog. I look forward to reading more of her books while continuing to read her blog filled daily with biblical principles. – While this is not a blog, it’s one of the greatest church websites I’ve ever been to. You can watch messages, download tons of resources (FREE) and even attend live internet church! Craig Groeschel is one of the greatest speakers/preachers I’ve ever heard.

Eric Bryant – Eric is the author of Peppermint Filled PiƱatas. This book and video series is a phenomenal tool for learning more about building relationships. Eric’s sense of humor should remind us all that our lives are meant to be lived in constant joy and praise and not in judgment and condemnation.

Before I sign off I would like to thank Natalie for the push to get back into writing. I had forgotten how enjoyable writing can be and how beneficial it is to my personal relationship with my Lord and Savior. Love you guys and thanks again.

To my wife… I know the last couple months have been difficult for you but I know that God has something in store for you and me. I’m sorry that my couchpotatoidess has side effects in your life but I know that somewhere out there, there is a cure! I might need to spend more time on the internet, playing xbox and watching TV to find it! Just kidding! Thank you for you support, your inspiration, your faith in who God has called me to be and your love. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I love you!

Finally (Whew!)… I love reading, writing and prayer… now if I could just find a job that would pay me to do these things! Is that thought scary to anyone else but me????

Thank you for reading (hopefully).

Monday, August 4, 2008

I've been tagged! Part I

I have been tagged by Natalie from Koinonia Community! Natalie and her husband Darrell are two beautiful, Godly people and dear friends of mine. You can often tell who truly loves you by their willingness to tell you the truth, even when it might hurt a little. Thanks for the nudge Nat, I love your boldness!

These are the rules:

1) Link to the person who tagged you
2) Post the rules on your blog (this is what you are now reading)
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below)
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them (This is only a game)
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up

Here are 6 random things about me....

1) I love my wife and my marriage deeply. One of the first things that I discovered upon surrendering my life fully to Christ was how great a blessing marriage is and what a wonderful gift I had been given in my wife Sherlyn. Prior to the miracle of life change that occurred in my life, divorce was a very real option for me and one that was thought of more often than I care to admit. When I began to view marriage through the eyes of Christ, I began to discover how fulfilling marriage can be when it’s treated with the same value that God places on this special relationship. I now wake up each day next to the a beautiful, Godly women, with great faith and wonderful heart for Christ . God has truly blessed me and given me a gift through marriage that is second only to the gift that was given me on The Cross. Sherlyn, if you are reading this, I know that I often don’t live up to these words but you are my rock, my lover and my friend. I truly believe that God set us apart and preordained that we would find one another and together, begin a journey towards seeking Him, that would change our lives forever and draw us not only closer to God but closer to one another.

2) My biggest fear is that I won’t correctly hear the voice of God when he calls. There is often a battle raging inside of me, constantly wanting to overwhelm me with doubt and uncertainty. Am I good enough? Am I worthy enough? Am I hearing God correctly or is it just my own desires getting in the way? I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year attempting to turn these questions into a healthy self-examination of myself instead of allowing them to lead me to the deep, dark places which tend to tear me down and make me tentative. One of my favorite verses has become Eph 4:1 …Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” I use this verse to remind myself that while I may not feel worthy or deserving, God still loved me enough and felt my life worthy of saving enough to send His Son to die for me.

3) I constantly suffer from a condition know as couchpotatoidess. This condition is sometimes better know or called in less scientific arenas as laziness! I am lazy… if you don’t believe me, just ask my wife, she’ll tell you! It’s not so much that I don’t like work (I don’t but I’m trying to make a point here!) I would just rather do something else. Why work, when you can play ball, go to the beach, sleep late, play XBOX, read a good book, lie on the couch and watch TV, spend time with friends or go fishing. Man! I could go on and on about stuff that I would rather do than work! Over the years I’ve tried to convince my wife that it’s a good thing to take time out of life and smell the roses but since I’m too lazy to plant a rose garden, she’s just not buying it! Over the years this laziness and it’s close companion, procrastination, have given me much joy but has also had some serious side effects. Let me share one of the more recent events with you. Many of you know that my wife and I have a new puppy. I’ll go ahead and admit right now that I’m the softie that talked my wife into taking this 50+ lb, five month old puppy into our home. I’ll also admit that I’m responsible for spoiling her and letting her get away with too much (including getting on the furniture) but I couldn’t help it, she’s such an adorable puppy (most of the time). Anyway… this past Friday, I left the house early and then my wife and I were out late. So with the exception of a short break in between, she was at home all day by herself. I’ve been out of work since May and this is very unusual for our sweet, adorable puppy, and it must have just been too much for her to handle. For several years now, the back door of our single wide trailer has leaked heavily whenever it rains. As is typical, I’ve not bothered to fix it. For about 2 years, there has been a small hole in the floor near the back door that my industrious wife repaired with some black duct tape. Well, Friday night we come home to find the black duct tape stuck to the paw of our sweet, adorable puppy along with a huge hole in the floor and wood shavings and insulation all over our kitchen floor. Now, because of my couchpotatoidess(which I’m sure is a medical condition and therefore beyond my control) a five minute, five dollar repair job with some weather stripping has turned into an expensive, week long project of redoing the entire kitchen floor.

Speaking of laziness and procrastination… I’m sitting in a coffee shop writing this and I’ve quickly run out of time. I’m close to getting a parking ticket and that kitchen floor is not going to fix itself and if I want to smell the roses later, then I better get to work! I'll finish the last 3 of these along with my link later this week, unless something else comes up ;) !