Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Let the Son Shine In!

As you may remember, I wrote about wrecking my beloved Jeep in a previous post entitled A Spiritual Wreck. After a week in the body shop and a weekend in my shop, she is back on the road and actually looks like a brand new one. In fact, she is better than new because I added new and improved mud guards and a space-age soft top specifically designed to be as quiet as a hard top. On my way to work this morning, I verified that it is indeed more quiet on the highway (thank you NASA!). This is a blessing because now I won't have to scream at my passengers when I talk to them.

The weather this weekend was awesome and we enjoyed cruising in the Jeep with the top down, soaking up the sun. This is as close to a motorcycle as I will ever get, since I am a big chicken when it comes to riding two-wheeled vehicles. But I can relate with you bikers out there because there is nothing like riding with the top down and feeling the sun on your shoulders and the wind in your hair.

I can draw a parallel between my Jeep and what happens when you give your life to Jesus. I know this may sound kind of silly but think about it this way: When you come and give your life to Jesus, all that you have to offer him is your broken, worn-out, rust, crusty, and wrecked heart. Let's face it, you are a broken vessel in need of a major overhaul. But God loves broken vessels and he will take your brokenness and create in you a new, pure heart that is indescribabley better than before. In fact, it is now Holy! So holy in fact that the Holy Spirit may now reside there. Isn't that awesome! When you become a Christian, the God of the Universe puts His Holy Spirit inside of you to live with and counsel you!

So, if you are searching today, end your quest right now by turning it all over to Jesus and asking him to save you. He's there waiting patiently....calling....beckoning.....hoping you'll answer. What are you waiting for? I pray today that you will let him create a new heart in you so you too can put the top down and let the Son shine in!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Watch Out All You Watch Watchers!

I love watches even though I have worn the same one for 8 years. The reason I've had this one so long is that it was expensive and I told myself when I forked out the money to pay for it that I would never buy another. Today, it's obvious that I made a good business decision when I bought it because if you figure you will spend around $100 a year on watches, I am at the break even point. But the funny thing is, I got this watch when my wife and I were dating; before I bought her the engagement ring! She still gives me a hard time about that one as you can guess.

It's funny how your watch can become a part of you when you keep it this long. Looking back, this watch has endured everything that I have been through every day of my life. It was at my wedding, at my first home sale, when my son was born, and every other significant event for the past 8 years!

When I rededicated my life to the Lord four years ago, God revealed to me a sin in my life that involved my use of watches. I was praying one day and God showed me how I was "keeping score" with other men by looking at their watch. I was so impressed by watches that I would size a man up simply by looking at the hardware he carried on his wrist. In my mind, I had devised a score sheet that told me if he had on a rubber watch, I figured he worked out a lot and could probably kick my butt. If he wore a Rolex, he could most likely buy and sell me. But if the poor guy had on a watch from Wal-Mart or was wearing no watch at all, forget it, I was way above him. What a lie I believed from the Enemy that I had bought into. Once I identified this ugly part of my life and after much prayer and healing, I soon realized that God doesn’t wear a watch. And even better, God doesn't keep score of material items!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Juggling My Way Through Life

I've wanted to write a post for a while about how there needs to be a balance between your spiritual walk, work, and family. So, I borrowed the following from the book I am writing:

I have always been fascinated by juggling and it’s probably because I stink at it. I used to be able to juggle two golf balls in one hand for about ten seconds but that’s as good as I ever got. What amazes me the most about juggling is the knowledge that the juggler has about the objects he is continually throwing up in the air. The juggler knows the exact amount of force (or touch) to put on each item as he quickly catches and tosses it.

We are basically jugglers of the things of life. Most times, I have about twelve different items up in the air all at once. The bad thing is they don’t all weigh or feel the same. To nail down how busy I am, I made a list of everything I do throughout a given week. What I found was that I juggled being a coach, a personnel manager, an environmental coordinator, a father, a husband, a safety director, a church member, a Sunday School Teacher, a security officer, an insurance specialist, a landscape architect (weed puller), a baby sitter, a mechanic, and a referee. All of these are totally different and each requires its own specific touch. I liken it to juggling a steak knife, a bowling ball, a chainsaw, and a fuzzy pillow all at once. Throw one up in the air too hard or not fast enough, your timing gets off and they all come tumbling down right on top of your head.

Sir Isaac Newton proved that what goes up must come down, it’s inevitable. So I’ll ask you this question today: What are you juggling that is causing you the most stress? Is it worth it to God and your family to lay it down? Busyness for monetary gain never got anyone into heaven or gained them an extra day on earth. Take my advice, “He who dies with the most toys, still dies”.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I Need A Non-Spiritual Moment Patch, NOW!

A friend of mine recently started up a new men's small group about something that has been on his heart lately. He told me how he had been struggling with the way we Christians go through life not realizing whether we are being spiritual, religious, or fleshly in our daily walks. First things first, lets define them: religious is when you do something because you feel like you have to do it, spiritual is when you do something by the reflex of your heart, and of course, fleshly is when it's all about me. His challenge to us was to document our "Spiritual Moments", "Religious Moments" and our "Fleshly Moments" for an entire week. My first thought was, "No big deal, piece of cake". Boy was I wrong!

Within twenty minutes of Sunday's service starting, I had already performed three religious moments and had several fleshly thoughts. The religious moments included: putting on my game face and giving those I ran into the old "Everything in my life is perfect!" attitude, writing my tithe check for a precise amount, and raising a holy hand even though I didn't feel like. The Fleshly moments involved: cringing three times when a person singing hit bad notes, being appalled at what someone was wearing, and not wanting to give up my seat for a visitor. Looking back, I guess I was playing Church and was being no different than the Pharasees in the time of Christ. Praise God that he stepped in and reminded me of the project of documenting these times so I can ask for forgiveness and ultimately grow from them. But most of all praise Him for accepting me the way that I am and forgiving me for things such as these.

His grace really is amazing! I'm glad I have it to rely on and strengthen me. However, to make things easier, it would be nice if some smart scientist would come up with a "Non-Spiritual Moment Patch" to help me break my old habits. Oh, I forgot, I already have it in my heart and it's name is the Holy Spirit!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Searching for Johnny Bravo to "Fit the Suit"

My favorite show growing up was the re-runs of the Brady Bunch. One of my favorite episodes was the one where Gregg was approached by the groovy Record Producer that offered him a recording contract. Of course, Gregg went along with the deal and even made a recording in a studio and everything. But when his music was played back to him, he realized that it wasn't his voice on the record but it was actually someone else. Turns out, the record company had selected him because he had the look and was the right size to "Fit the Suit". If you haven't seen this one, the record company had bought a Matador outfit (the "Suit") to transform the right person into Johnny Bravo - Rock Star!! And guess what, Gregg fit the suit.

Sadly, I've seen this same scenario played out in the Christian world. Not in the creation of Rock Stars but in the Church. So many times, people play Church by using it as a social club or even worse, a place to "network" with other professionals. I've even heard people talk about where certain so called upstanding members of the community go to Church and base there decision to attend soley on this. That is religion, now its time for spirituality.

Jesus was the perfect example of acceptance. It didn't matter to him what you had done in your life, how much money you had, or your occupation. He accepted everyone as equals because he knew we are all lost without him and no amount of religiosity could save us. In fact, he was sickened by the ultra religious Pharasees and enjoyed the time he spent debunking them. He was the perfect representation of God's love for us in that we are all (everyone on Earth) in need of the salvation that he alone provides. Now if we are to imitate Christ, it has to start by throwing away all social barriers and viewing each other as equals.

So I'll leave you with this challenge: Step out of your comfort zone and invite people to attend your Church using the eyes of your heart and not the eyes in your head. Keep in mind that God loves the homeless under the bridge just as much as he loves you. In the Kingdom of God, there is no "Suit" that anyone has to fit into. Also, you can only play Church so long until you are found out and then you crash and burn. If you need an example of crash and burn, just look at Milli Vanilli, the 80's version of Johnny Bravo when they were found out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Did St. Patrick Have an Inside Track?

In a previous post, I called God "The Great Outfitter" and I told you of how God will equip you. Today I want to share a story with you of how he equipped one of the greatest leaders of the Christian Church. All of you have heard of St. Patrick but do you know his real story? Before researching him, all I knew was that if you didn’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, it gave everybody an open invitation to pinch you at will. I’ve even asked people what they know about St. Patrick and have gotten answers like, “He drove the snakes out of Ireland”, and “Wasn’t he real short like a leprechaun?”. Those are the most popular myths about him, but his life is one of the most significant of anyone that ever lived. I thought to myself, He must have had an inside track to God.

St. Patrick was most likely born into a Christian family in present day England and was a Roman by birth. When he was a young man, he was captured by Irish slave traders and taken to Ireland. In Ireland, he was sold into slavery and bought by a land owner that made him a Shepherd. Shepherds of this time lived in total isolation from the world and spent their days and nights in the wilderness watching after sheep and warding off attacks by wild animals.

God’s hand was on St. Patrick and I’m sure he felt it in a large way. During his isolation, St. Patrick did not have anyone to talk to so he prayed. It is said that he prayed without ceasing for six years in the wilderness. In this time, he developed a deep relationship with God and that is when God equipped him. St. Patrick eventually escaped his slavery and Ireland (I won't go into the details but it's obvious it was by divine guidance). He went on to study theology and was equipped even more. He eventually returned to Ireland and was responsible for converting the country for Jesus.

St. Patrick’s life is a testimony to how God can equip you as you walk with him. So, just like St. Patrick, we have an inside track to God if we choose to have a relationship with him. As we walk with him, talk with him, and listen to him, He freely gives!

Monday, May 15, 2006

An Era has Ended -Farewell Family Truckster

The era of the Mega-SUV came to an end for my family this weekend. We downsized from a Tahoe to a four-door sedan. Many have asked me, "Won't you miss the roominess of the Tahoe?" My answer to them is, by all means, Yes. But, what we sacrifice in size, is made up for in economy and gadgets. The car we bought is actually the most technologically advanced vehicle on the road, according to Consumer Reports. This is because all of the controls are digital instead of analog. In fact, there is even a digital sensor on the windshield that turns on the wipers when enough raindrops hit it. By all means, this car is much smarter than I am and we have much reading and study of the owners manual ahead of us. It's easy to see that we were driving our beloved Tahoe in the stoneage but have now been ushered into the space age, thanks to the Germans. And to beat it all, we get 28 mpg (verses 14), so we can be better stewards of our (God's) money as well.

What my post is really about is this: When we drove off the car lot in Lexington Saturday night, it was the end of an era for my family. We bought the Tahoe in July 2002 when Marci was pregnant with Will. A lot of firsts occurred with that truck. Will came home from the hospital in it, we took our first trip to the beach in it, went to Disney twice, when I was laid off from my job it's what she picked me up in, and when we sold/lost our first home it was there too. In a way, I'm sad for sentimental reasons. But the good news is, it's the dawn of a new era! Morning has come in the life of our vehicles not only for the new car but my Jeep will be completely painted this week.

Cars and trucks are really like a member of the family and I am glad to have a new addtion. Especially one that will not wake you up to be fed in the middle of the night......stay tuned for that one.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Self Help is No Help

I was at Borders Bookstore a while back and I happened upon the Self-Help section. It was massive and jammed full of books about how you can make yourself smarter, improve your memory, loose weight, beat Vegas, lower stress, get rich, etc. Just about any topic you can think of has a book that claims to have figured it all out. The underlying theme of all these books is: You can do whatever it may be simply by harnessing the power of your mind. At first I thought it was silly but then I realized how popular these books really are. As a Christian, this scared me because this section of the store had about ten people in it that were obviously searching for what they thought they needed. They were missing it altogether.

When I got home that evening, I started thinking about my Christian walk and how I can't make it without God's help. Obviously, the writers of these books have missed this point because their work is all about YOU helping YOURSELF. Now come on, self is limited by the gray matter we carry around in our heads. Granted, the human mind is the most complex and powerful computer ever built. But who built it? Also, to put it simply, self is flesh and flesh is the enemy of the spiritual. Every Christian has within their hearts the all knowing, all powerful, and all helping God of the universe in the form of His Holy Spirit. It is not until we give up trying to logically examine everything that we can truly run in his commands.

So, if you find yourself constantly stuck in the self help section, there is a seminar on how to cure this condition coming up this weekend. As a matter of fact, it is this Sunday morning at your local church. See you there!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Doubting Thomas' School of Optimistic Thought

I have a simple question for everyone today: Do you know anyone that has earned a degree from The Doubting Thomas School of Optimistic Thought? I know that I sure do, he raised me. My Dad tends to see only the bad side of things. I first realized this when I was in grammar school. I convinced him one day to take me to an all you can eat pizza buffet for lunch. He agreed and took me to the restaurant. We parked the car and were walking to the front door when he said "Oh they probably won't even have it!". He said this even though hanging over the door was an enormous banner that read "Pizza Buffet - All You Can Eat". I pointed this out to him and he didn't say anything. We went in, ate, and went home and he later talked about how good it was and I even heard him recommend it to others.

Several years later, I asked him why he always accepted the worst for everything. He told me that if you thought the worst would happen, when it turned out good, it made for a nice surprise. What a dismal way to look at life.

So, today I charge all of you to encourage those that look at the worst side of everything. As for my Dad, he has since gone on to earn his PhD in Philosophy from the School of Optimistic Thought. His thesis was "The Glass is Half Empty, Deal With It!".

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Church of Noah's Ark

Church is like Noahs Ark - It's big and smelly but it is the only thing afloat!

I've written some posts about my home Church and I think I need to clarify some things. First, please don't think I am tooting my horn about how great my Church is or that it is any better than anyone elses. Believe me, we have our share of problems. Second, the Enemy is alive and well and is working to divide mine and your Church at all times. I've seen him use petty stuff and misunderstandings to turn people against each other (You know, the horizontal reconciliation thing). The Enemy loves to use the pride of "Church Folk" to divide us, especially in our own Churches. And last, no matter where you go, there will be problems to overcome. I've seen many people come and go but the ones that stay and deal with the problems grow stronger.

So, if you going through some rough times, hang in there! God has a way of sorting them out on his time and most of all for his good.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Fishers of Men or Keepers of the Aquarium?

Have you ever looked around at the faces in your Church and known all of them? That used to be me before my Church started growing a couple of years ago. Now when I look around, I see tons of people that I am yet to meet. It's exciting but it's also a little sad to think how my church carried on for years before our change in leadership.

A few years ago every Sunday was the same old routine of playing Church. The same people would say the same things, sit in the same seats, and go through the same motions week in, week out. There were hardly any new people, just the same old flock. Our congregation had become what I recently learned as Keepers of the Aquarium! When I heard someone say that a while back, I thought it was cute. I first said "Amen" quickly followed by an "Oh my". It may sound cute but it is a very serious desease affecting the church today.

But whose fault is it anyway? All fingers point to ourselves because we are creatures of habit with nice big comfort zones that we hate to leave. We love the life in the aquarium instead of open water because of it's controlled and predictable environment. Think about it, the aquarium has nice clean filtered water, a comfy temperature, we stay indoors, one person can maintain it, and most of all we get to choose the pretty and elite fish. Fishing in open waters is another story. The weather can be rough, there is a constant fishy smell, sometimes we catch weird looking creatures, and there is always a risk of drowning. But, that is where we need to be; in the wide open water casting out our nets and reeling in (and being happy with) our catch!

All Christians were given a spirit of boldness and charged by our Saviour to go into all of the world preaching the Gospel. With that said, my main point today is this: We don't need more Christians in our churches, we need more lost souls. So, are you fishing or just maintaining?

Friday, May 5, 2006

God - The Great Outfitter

What's the first thing you do before setting off on an adventure into the wild? Anyone, anyone.... You go see an Outfitter! The Outfitter has the "stuff" you need for your trip and will set you up with tents, backpacks, and whatever else may be needed. He is also an expert and can show you things you will need that you may not have thought about.

I'm learning in my daily walk with God that He is the Great Outfitter of life! He has ALL the gear that we need and he is more than generous to give it away. For a good example of this, read about my hero Moses. Moses stuttered his speech and was a lousy sheppard. In fact, he couldn't keep up with his sheep let alone lead them. But, as usual, God came through and equipped Moses into a powerful speaker and fearless leader.

When I look back on my spiritual life it's obvious to me how far I have come just in the past four years. In my prayer time this morning, God reminded me of what the "Old Donny" was once like compared to me today. Talk about transformation through sanctification! So, everyone listen up (especially Christians young in the faith), God is still in the equipping business. He's got everything you need and he will give it to you as you develop your relationship with him. All we have to do is ask, and unlike your favorite outdoor shop, His goods are free!

Thursday, May 4, 2006

A Spiritual Wreck

What happens when you don't listen to that still small voice? In my case, I ended up meeting another car at 40 mph! After having lunch with my wife yesterday I pulled out of her parking lot and headed up US-23. I went about two blocks and I heard "Why don't you take Cannonsburg Road?". That's when I told myself, "Nah, the Interstate is quicker". So I proceeded on up 23 toward the Interstate.

That's when it happened. I was cruising along singing to myself when a car shot out in front of me. I locked up the brakes and slid into the cars driver side door. The last thing I remember seeing was a young lady looking at me from the drivers seat with her mouth open. We hit with a hard thump and sounds of breaking glass and twisting metal. I immediately grabbed my phone and called 911. I saw the girl moving around frantically in the car so I told 911 I didn't think we needed an ambulance. Then the girl got out of her car and I saw the blood on her forehead. And to make it even worse, I watched her remove a 2 year old from the back seat. Frantically, I called 911 back and said "Send an ambulance now!"

I ran to the girl asked if she and the baby were ok. She said she thought she was but was scared. I took the baby from her and helped settle her down. Directly, a Boyd County sheriff, the Marathon Ashland Fire Dept., England Hill Fire Dept., and the Ambulance showed up. The girl's parents were last to arrive and I helped them get the baby into their car.

It wasn't until the tow truck driver asked me where I wanted my jeep towed that I realized I was having a "Spiritual Moment". I asked him "Why is it damaged that bad?". I hadn't even looked at it because I was trying to help the other people involved in the wreck. It wasn't until all the emergency vehicles had left that I surveyed the damage. My jeep only had a bent bumper, fender and hood and the motor never stopped running. I bent the fender up off the wheel and drove back to work. That's why I bought a jeep, they really are tough!

In my devotional this morning I prayed for Jennifer and her child. Last night when I called her she told me the xrays were fine and she is just bruised up. I also thanked God for watching over and protecting us and for changing me. I hate to think how I would have reacted to this same incident ten years ago before I knew Jesus. And last but not least I apologized to God for ignoring that still small voice. Believe me, if you fail to listen to him, get ready to have the devil shaken out of you!

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

We Raise Our Biographers

Did any of you parents out there ever think you are raising your own biographers? The little ones in your family take in everything that you do and it shapes what they will become. Also, what they become is a reflection of what you were when you raised them.

This fact hit me like a ton of bricks the other day when Will did something that floored me. I was putting the dog in his cage and like he always does, Napoleon the Golden Retriever wasn't ready to be put up. I asked him nicely "Napoleon get in your bed" and he just sat there. Here's the part that floored me, Will lowered the pitch of his voice and in the meanest tone I've ever heard come from his mouth, commanded the Dog "GET IN YOUR BED!!"

I was a bit stunned when he did it, you know, the sweet little kid in this picture, but then again, why am I surprised. Every night when I put the dog up, he comes with me and I/ME/DONNY always end up lowering my voice and yelling at the dog to get in his bed. They learn everything from their parents, good and bad.

So, I'm raising my own biographer that one day will probably tell his children that Papaw always yelled at the dog. I hope it's not too late for some damage control. I pray more than anything that when Will grows up, he will reflect Jesus because that's really what I want him to see in me.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Old Hymns for Young Ears

I love the old hymns I was raised singing. There's a special feeling that comes over me when I am afforded the opportunity to sing an old standard like "When We All Get to Heaven" or "Are You Washed in the Blood". I guess this closeness to God springs from the fact that I know all of the words and can sing the song from my heart without the need of a hymnal or a giant screen.

Now that I am a father, I want my three year old to know these songs also. At my church, we rarely sing the "old standards" and use more contemporary songs. I feel like he is missing out on some of the greatest songs ever penned. Luckily, my Mom gave Marci and I a copy of Alan Jackson's newest CD "Precious Memories", that is comprised of all the old hymns we grew up singing. We listen to them everywhere we go and Will has learned them and loves to sing along. It's really neat that although he may not be exposed to them very often at church, he will still know them. I highly recommend this CD.

Dont' get me wrong, I love contemporary worship and I am a huge fan of all things new. When you think about it, the hymns that I consider old standards were at one time considered contemporary. I hope that one day when my little boy grows up, he will have the same special feeling I have when I hear one of my favorite old hymns. When I fast forward forty years in my mind, I can picture him in worship with his family and having a special feeling come over him when he sings an old standard to him like "I am a friend of God" or "I Can Only Imagine"!