Thursday, September 28, 2006

Coffee Cup Devotional

There's nothing better than a hot cup of coffee in the morning. I've been stopping at McDonald's and getting a Bold Coffee with five creams every morning on the way to work. If you haven't had the bold roast, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, I was sitting here this morning thinking about what I would write of, when I looked over and noticed the steam coming off the top of my coffee. The sight of the steam makes my mouth water and I have to take a drink. Ahh..... It's funny how a steaming cup of coffee appeals to us because we see the steam and know that it is hot and inviting. But, there is nothing I detest more than taking a drink of cold coffee. Yuck!

I've been doing quite a bit of research for my next book lately, and one of the topics I'm working on is how we humans judge by outward appearances, while God judges our heart. Take the Pharisees for example. These were the supposed holy men of the day, with the tassels, robes, prayer cloths, and everything else that identified them as "holy" leaders of the day. Actually, they were more "Religious" than Holy, and Jesus even "lovingly" (sarcasm) referred to them "White washed tombs". Everything about their outward appearance was holiness and godliness, but Jesus saw them on the inside and new their hearts far from it.

It's a bit humbling to ponder upon the way God actually sees us. He doesn't care what you look like, or wear, or even what all you have accomplished in your life. He only sees your heart, and He wants it to be totally rendered to Him. That is when He enjoys, and is pleased by the steam and the aroma that given off.

So, now that I have spent this time writing, my coffee's not steaming anymore. I can only guess whether it is warm enough to still enjoy. It looks good from here, but I'll just have to taste it and see. Ahhh... It's still warm and good to the taste. It's outward appearance is good, but it's internal qualities (warmth) is what really matters.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Researching Men's Ministry in the UK

After my book came out and I launched the marketing campaign, I was pleasantly surprised to find it for sale in countries such as England, Ireland, and even South Africa. When I learned this, I started doing some research on the web in an attempt to find out where the vibrant men's ministries are in the UK, so that I could contact them and let them know about my book. I was especially excited by this project because my family lineage, as close as I can tell, is 90% English while the rest is a mix of Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and German. So as you can imagine, I was and still am excited about promoting my book in my "Motherland".

In hopes of taking the islands by storm, I started my research by looking at UK Church websites for men's ministries. After browsing 376 Church websites I found 6, yes 6 "Men's Ministry" organizations! Another line of research was the attempt to find private men's ministries outside of the Church (ie Promise Keepers, Men of Integrity, Iron Sharpens Iron, etc.). I found only 5 of this variety!

With this data in mind, I have come to the shocking conclusion that "Men's Ministry" is almost non-existent in the UK. At first, I was extremely frustrated by this discovery. But, that's when God stepped in and I became excited! What this discovery (through my research) really means is that the UK is fertile ground for building warrior cultures of men united together in Jesus. This is my calling, and if you have read my book, you know that this is precisely what God intended for His men to be about. There's lots to be done and I am praying this one through asking for direction, wisdom, and guidance.

So, I am excited to hear from anyone that may have comments on this subject. I know my blog is often visited by folks on the other side of the pond (the UK), and I need your thoughts and comments now more than ever. It's time to plant in fertile ground.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Answering God's Calling: The Easy Way or the Hard Way

During the Fall of 1993, I was in my final semester at UK and broke. In fact, at one point, my roommates and I made Hamburger Helper without the Hamburger. We called it "Helper Burgers". Anyway, I needed to make some cash so I opened the classifieds and called the first add that I thought I could do: Security Guard.

I went to a five minute interview on a Friday afternoon and was immediately hired, trained, and given a uniform. I didn't get a gun though, so I was a bit upset. They gave me my first assignment, that started in a couple hours, and it was to sit in a high school locker room and guard football teams equipment, fun. My second assignment was to start the next morning at 7 AM and my duty: To Protect the Citizens of Festival Market Mall from all bastions of Evil!! Actually, all I had to do was walk around and look at stuff in my stupid looking Mall Cop uniform. Anyway, I showed up and did my job without incident. That is, until around three that afternoon.

Around three o'clock, I was walking through the mall and I heard a woman screaming, "Hey Security Guard!". I immediately ran to her, and gasping for breath, I asked her what was wrong. She told me, "There's a big fat drunk guy passed out in the Women's Restroom on the toilet." I thought to myself, "Oh great." But, since I had been duly sworn to protect the citizens, I went to investigate.

I entered the restroom cautiously and the first thing I saw was shattered glass all over the floor, with the highest concentration of it located under the furthest stall from the door. When I reached the stall and peeked in, sure enough, there sat a big, fat drunk guy, passed out on the toilet with the shattered remains of whatever he was drinking, at his feet. I immediately walked out of the restroom and told the three mall janitors what was up and asked them to stay there while I called the police. I went to the security office and dialed 911, and told them what was up. The dispatcher told me that they would send some officers.

When I made it back to the restroom, the janitors had managed to get the man up and had him outside, telling him to run away because the cops were coming. I told them to stop him but they were obviously on his side. Thankfully, that's when the cops showed up. I watched from afar as the cops talked to the man for a few minutes. Then, a struggle erupted and it took four cops to throw him into the back of the paddy wagon.

When it was all over, I asked the cop what happened. The cop told me they asked him where he lived so they could take him home. But, the man told them he lived about two hours away. Since the police couldn't leave the county, they told him they had to take him to jail to dry out. They said the man became angry and told them no. Then the cop said one of the funniest things, between puffs on a cigarette, that I've ever heard. He said, "We told him he could go to jail the easy way or the hard way, and he picked the hard way."

I'm reminded today to listen for God's voice in our lives. He is there directing our paths because He really does have a specific plan for us that we must yield too. If we ignore God, get ready to be forced to do it the hard way. If you don't believe me, read Jonah and see what happens when you run from God's calling. So, I'll ask you today, are you going to go where He wants you to go or are you going to pick the hard way?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Where's That Darn Owners Manual?

I was faced with a shocking reality Friday night at Promise Keepers. The speaker asked a crowd of 12,000+ men how many of them had read the owners manual to their vehicle. I saw a few hands go up, and I stress the word FEW. Then, the speaker asked, "When do you read your owners manual?". The resounding answer was, "When you are broken down on the side of the road." How true! We wait until we are stranded, to open the book that holds the answers to how we can get "back on the road", so to speak. That's what I learned at Promise Keepers so I decided to go a little deeper and do some leg work on this subject, so here goes.

If you go to your glovebox and retrieve the owners manual from your car and turn to the back section, you will find a chapter called something to the effect of "Maintenance Schedule". In this section, there's a list of all the manufacturers recommendations for servicing your vehicle. Everything you can imagine is in there including rotating tires and even changing the brake fluid! These recommendations were devised through many years of study and dollars spent so that you can keep your car in it's highest state of reliability and maintain maximum performance. I will even go so far as to say that if you follow all of the recommendations, your car will remain dependable as long as you own it.

So, what about in our daily lives? Do we have an owners manual with these same types of recommendations? Actually we do and it is called the Holy Bible that has all of the answers to all of the questions contained neatly within it's covers. But when do we go looking for them? Just like our vehicles, we usually go searching it's wisdom when we are broken down on the side of the road of life. A word to the wise, don't wait until it's too late. Open your Holy Owners Manual and start servicing your vehicle today.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Free Will of a Golden Retriever

What am I going to do with this dog? I wrote about how he escaped his invisible fence last week, and yesterday was a repeat! The good thing about this "Great Escape" was the fact that I was smart enough to take a sharpie last week and write our phone number on his collar.

When I got home from work last night, Napoleon was nowhere to be found. When I checked the answering machine, sure enough, there were two messages from a local grocery store (1/2 mile away) telling me that they have my dog locked up because he kept running into the store. I immediately jumped back in the jeep and headed to the store. When I got there, one of the clerks led me to a fenced in area around back, where I found Napoleon. The clerk told me they had fed and watered him after locking him up because they were afraid he would get hurt in the parking lot. I think they locked him up because, as they put it, "He kept coming into the store and running up and down the aisles!" I put him in the jeep, but couldn't be mad at him. I was actually happy that Will's dog was home safe and sound!

I give up on this invisible fence set up that we bought. I guess I will just have to let him run only when we are at home and are able to supervise him. I gave him boundaries and free will and he found a way out. Hmmmmmm, sound familiar?

God gave all of us free will to accept or reject Him. He also gave us boundaries in His Word. But what do we do? Just like my dog, most times, we try to run from Him without realizing the danger we are stepping into. The Lord only knows how many times my dog was almost run over, shot at, or hurt in some other way yesterday. It's no different for us when we run from His will for our lives. When we run, we are running into a busy street and we better be quick enough to dodge the oncoming traffic. The great thing about His grace is that when we call and ask for help, He's there to rescue us! That is if we really mean it. But, His grace does not give us the excuse to live a sloppy life and use Him as a safety net. We have to desire Him with all of our heart and anchor ourselves to Him. When we do this, it's just like my experience yesterday. I was a bit upset that Napoleon had run off, but I was more overjoyed that he was safely returned to my son, his true owner. Can you draw any parallels here?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Have You Got A Set of Blinders Handy?

Back in college, I used to spend a lot of time at a horse racing track called Keeneland. I was infatuated by horse racing for a couple of years and spent much of my time learning about it and studying the Daily Racing Forms. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a compulsive gambler or anything of that sort. In fact, I didn’t have enough money to be compulsive about anything that involved cash, let alone betting on horses. But, every once in a while, I had the opportunity to place a $2 bet on a horse that I had researched and studied in hopes of winning big. But most times, I would just go to the track for the atmosophere and later on that evening spend my $2 at Taco Bell where, unlike today, you could eat pretty well for a small amount of money.

One of the things I learned about racehorses is the fact that there are horses that love coming in second and/or third place. A friend of mine taught me to always check a horse’s record throughout its career and see how many times he/she has placed and showed (came in 2nd and 3rd). If you like a horse that has everything going for it and looks like a lead-pipe synch to win, but it has always come in either 2nd or 3rd, don’t pick it to win. This is because some horses are most comfortable running alongside other horses and pacing themselves with their stride, rather than running ahead of them to victory.

A horse that consistently comes in 2nd or 3rd is probably a bad pick, that is, unless it is wearing blinders. Blinders, sometimes called blinkers, are leather cups that are attached to the horse’s bridle so that it cannot see what is directly beside of them (as shown in the picture). Sometimes, a trainer will install blinders on a racehorse to force it to focus straight in front of them and hopefully run without distraction toward the finish line.

How many times have you been the horse that constantly comes in 2nd in your spiritual life? If that question sounds unfair, or if you are puzzeled by it, I’ll ask it this way:

How often do you feel like you are not where you should be in your spiritual walk with Christ because of the distractions of everyday life around you?

I know I get distracted all the time and have to put on my blinders by going to the Father in prayer, focus on him, and let him speak to my heart. That is when I find my center and can get back on track and headed toward the finish line.

So, I’ll ask you today, what’s distracting you and keeping you from focusing on Jesus? Maybe you need to put on a set of blinders and ask God to help you filter out the daily distractions that keep you from honing in on Him. He’s right there in front of us all the time, waiting for our attention.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Stand Your Ground and Fight

My phone rang at 9:15 last night. I said,"Hello", and heard the voice of my friend Randy say, "Do you know about Shannon?". "Yeah." I replied, "I just got the email from Steve a couple minutes ago." He said, "I know it's short notice, but we're meeting at the Church in fifteen minutes and then we are headed out there for the fight." Without hestitation I told him, "I'll be there". I kissed Marci and Will goodbye and out the door I went.

With every block I passed, the more pumped up I got. By the time I got to Church, I was ready to take on anybody that dared get in my way. By 9:30 all had arrived. There was Randy, David, Steve, Derek, Andy, and myself and from what I could tell, all of them were as fired up as I. We jumped in our vehicles and off we went to fight.

It took us about ten minutes to get there and when we did, we made it known that we didn't come just to talk or taunt, but we were there for one purpose and one reason only: We were there to fight to the death and take back what had been stolen from our brother Shannon.

Shannon opened the door and ushered us into his living room. We drew our swords and began fighting. Blood flew, wounds where received, and the power of God was released. You see, this was not a fight against flesh and blood but against the powers of evil. As I've written in the past, there are ten men in my warrior culture that I count on to watch my back and I his, and one of them is Shannon. That's why we came, to do battle for and with each other against the enemies of Shannon's family that are assaulting them.

We fought on our knees with our swords of the Spirit, crying out to God for protection and healing of Shannon's 9 day old daughter Laney. You see, yesterday at 5pm, Shannon and his wife received news from their baby's Doctor that tests came back that indicate that Laney has a very rare disorder that is fatal. Yes, I said FATAL! They were directed to take the baby to a specialist at the UK Med Center today for further testing to verify it, and also to learn about their options. As you can imagine, this family is devastated by the news and needs warriors to come along side them and fight for them and stand their ground. So, that's what we did until late last night. In Shannons living room were six brothers in Christ, crying out to God for another warrior and his family. That is what "Church" is! It's not about Sunday and Wednesday feel good messages. It is about fighting for those you love in this epic battle known as life that we have all fallen into.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Breaking Chains and Setting Them Loose

After months and months of praying and searching for "It", yesterday I found "It" and finally created a logo for my men's ministry. My friend Randy and I formed Unchained Men's Ministries last year but did not dedicate the time needed to launch it until now. So, now that the website is up and we have a logo, I guess you could say we are open for business.

This leads me to today's topic which is the "Business" of Unchained Men's Ministries. I guess the best way to explain it is by using the story of Lazarus in John 11:41-44. If you are not aware, Lazarus in the ancient text means "Without Help". The story goes that this man without help (Lazarus), died and was buried before Jesus could get to him and heal him. When Christ showed up on the scene, He called into the tomb where Lazarus had already been for four days and told him to come out. And guess what, Lazarus came walking out, still bound up in linen strips of his grave clothes. Jesus told those around to untie the clothes and as the KJV red letters say, "Loose him and let him go!". Just as Jesus set Lazarus free, Unchained Ministries strives to help do the same by breaking the chains (grave clothes) that are holding men back in their Christian walk.

Today, I praise God that He sent Jesus to free all of us little Lazaruses. Without Him in our lives, we really are without help and laying dead in a tomb. I also pray in advance and thank God for the men that we will help through this ministry.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Ready to Push Off!

    Over the past few weeks I've been excited, restless, happy, and ready to jump in and get started. The only problem is, I don't know what it is I am supposed to jump into. Since my book has come out, I have been concentrating my extra time on promoting it by trying to put it into as many markets as I possibly can by using the little knowledge that I possess about marketing. But what I do not possess in knowledge, I pray about and ask God to lead me and guide me. I mainly pray that His will be done, not my own.

    Well, some interest is starting to pop up about the book and possible future events. These have included speaking at a Church on Sunday morning, to traveling to INDIA! No joke, I got an invite to India to promote my book (I'll really have to pray hard about that one). It's starting to build up to the point where I feel like the kid in this picture: I want to jump right on and ride the board down the hill without a care in the world and enjoy the rush of going wherever He leads. However, part of me can only see the potential injuries lurking about as well as the ocean below.

    When I met with my partner in Unchained Men's Ministries the other night, I opened the prayer time by saying, "Use us Lord however and wherever you need us. We haven't a clue what it may be or where you may call, but make a path for us to follow. Let us be your hands and your feet." As I've written in previous posts, the enemy has really ramped up his operations against my family and I have to believe it is because of this recent step out in faith that I have taken. I'm not discouaraged in the least, but I am excited and scared, all at the same time just like I'm sure the kid in this picture was. I don't know what God has in mind, but I'm listening and waiting.....paitently......waiting...... and praying.

    Use me Lord how you see fit. Use my life, strength, talents, and all that I am for your glory.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    The Other Half Dozen Attacks...

    I wrote a post yesterday about the half dozen attacks that my family and I have been under. These included my wife's injury, the missing dog, and the sickness of my child. I've come to realize that the enemy loves to use fear and anxiety as his weapons of choice against us. And believe me, he's good at it and obviously he's not letting up either. Yesterday, we were under the other six attacks that complete the evil dozen. These included: fear, anxiety, personal injury, more fear, more anxiety, and last but not least frustration!

    Last night, Marci noticed that the area around her leg was becoming bright red and the wound itself was darkening even more. She ran into a friend of ours that is a nurse, and she told her that it looked like cellulitis and that we should return to the ER to be sure. So, at 8PM last night, we found ourselves right back in the ole' ER and because it is still somewhat of a full moon, the place was packed. Everywhere I looked, I saw injured people, sick people, and worried people. I hate ER's because they make my anxiety level go up and I guess it's because of the fear of the unknown that surrounds me. I was worried for my wife, but also that I may contract some horrible disease from a sick person around me and give it to my family. Obviously, the enemy was working on me with these thoughts. I identified this attack and began to pray.

    When it was our turn to be seen, the diagnosis was quick: Infection, cellulitis and stay off work a couple days with it elevated and keep warm compresses on it. They even had to remove three of the five stitches and replace them with butterflys. We were both OK with this, but then the enemy reared his ugly head in the form of fear. The nurse told us that my wife would need an antibiotic shot and a prescription for the long haul. We immediately looked at each other with worried looks because about a month ago, she had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and of course, we were thinking the worse. Obviously the enemy was in that too! We were afraid of everything from a reaction to the worst possible thing, death. We prayed and waited. They gave her the shot and everything went fine, no reaction.

    At about 11:30PM, our good friend and the Church Youth Pastor (Peter Hall) showed up and immediately, lightened up the room. He is one of those people that can take the most dismal situation and completely turn it around with his sense of humor. About two minutes into his visit, we were laughing because of a recorded telephone prank that he had done that I will not elaborate on here..... He stayed with us and even went to the car with us when we were discharged. When we got there, he anointed Marci and prayed over her.

    This morning, the wound looks better and the swelling and redness have receded. Also, we got our dog back yesterday through a "God Thing" that happened (a friend of a friend of a friend found him). However, when I put him in the garage last night the garage door opener broke and the door came crashing down. Now, I was frustrated and so mad that this morning, I kicked a hole in the door. I tried to convince myself that I was only trying to open it, but have to admit, I was mad and did it out of anger. Obviously, the enemy has really stepped up his efforts to discourage and scare us. I continue to ask my readers for your continued prayers and remember, he comes ONLY to steal, kill, and destroy. So keep your eyes open, don't pass off things as "that's just life", and most of all armor up!

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    A Half Dozen Attacks I Know Of...

    I posted Friday that the annual Back to School Retreat was upon us and prayers were needed. I want to thank everyone that prayed for us because there was a lot of spiritual warfare waged against us (especially me) this weekend. However, the good news is, thanks to God and you, we came out ok. A bit battle hardened and weak, but ok. Here is a rundown of each attack that I witnessed and it's root:

    First (Sickness): It began on Friday when one of our much needed counselors had to back out due to sickness. His wife was ill on Wednesday and he came down with it Friday. I consisted of a high fever and the accompanying chills. He hoped to be there Saturday but was unable to travel.

    Second (Personal Injury): On Friday night, one of the students from the other Church cut her foot on broken glass. She was bleeding from several places and at first evaluation, I thought she may need a trip to the ER that was 30 miles away. However, we got the bleeding to stop and bandaged her up. She was fine the next day, sore, but fine.

    Third (Electronic/Media): We were under an attack on our lines of communication as well. Cell phones were having terrible time finding signal (especially mine), and I even lost it in the grass for about an hour! Luckily, it was picked up by the speaking pastor and I later got it from him. Praise the Lord he found it because now it was my turn to be attacked!

    Forth (Personal Injury/Fear&Anxiety): Saturday, my wife called me around 3:30 and told me she had fallen at the soccer game and that it bled alot and hurt her really bad. She told me she got the bleeding to stop and that a nurse at the game told her it didn't look that bad and they bandaged it up. However, a few hours later, the cut became very painful, bled again, and started turning black. She went out to my parent's and my mother sent her straight to the ER (this was Saturday night at 9PM). Because it was a full moon, the ER was wild and she was anticipating a 6 hour wait. Luckily, a friend was working and she got in within an hour (Once again, prayer). She returned home with five stitches around 11PM. As you can imagine, I was having a tough time because I was over an hour away, worried, and now my cell phone battery that was fully charged earlier had unexplainably died! Of course, I plugged it into the wall next to my bunk and listened for it.

    Fifth (Fear and Loss): Upon returning to the house from the ER, she noticed that Napoleon (our dog) was missing! She and Will yelled for him but to no avail. Napoleon has an invisible fence and shouldn't have been able to leave the yard. But he did, and Will was really upset.

    Sixth (Affliction and Fear): About two hours later (1AM) my wife called and luckily, my phone worked and I could talk to her. She was awakened from her sleep by a wheezing sound and noticed that Will was having trouble breathing. She took him to the ER and the same Doctor that had treated her, treated him too. He had a strange congestive condition and ended up coughing up a mass of "green stuff" by screaming when they took his temperature in the back end. They returned home about 3AM and slept pretty well but he still had the congestion. I guess that when he coughed up the "stuff" at the hospital, it cleared his airway.

    As of today, I look back and see that the enemy is still alive and well and he really does not want us to be a Youth Counselors. Also, he wants to discourage us from ever traveling with the Student Ministries team and he's trying to use fear of sickness, loss, and injury to do it. He's done this before when we attended the Youth Leadership retreat and we ended up in the ER the next night due to a strange rash that developed. I praise the Lord that He protected us this weekend and that though we were attacked, the injuries were not too bad and we will recover. I'm still praying that Napoleon will make it home because he has been sighted in town. So, I ask everyone reading this to say a little prayer. The enemy is still operating under his same old methods but now we are a bit wiser to his tactics and having lived it, can pray against it and "Armor Up".

    Friday, September 8, 2006

    Those Crazy Youth Counselors

    Well, here is the latest and greatest photo of the Upstream Student Ministries Youth Counselors. What a scary looking bunch.... Today we depart for the annual Back to School retreat and I ask that everyone reading this remember us in your prayers. My prayer is that lives will be changed, wounds will be healed, and friendships strengthened during this weekend. A "God Thing" is happening in the life of this ministry and I pray that He continues to pour out his blessing upon it. Thank you Lord for placing me in this group, use me!

    Thursday, September 7, 2006

    The Trivialization of Heaven and Hell

    I saw this shirt a while back and thought it was hilarious! However, this morning God put something on my heart that I see as an ever increasing problem in today's society. It took this shirt to help me realize that more and more, the very real places of Heaven and Hell are being trivialized. I'm sure the Enemy is loving this fact.

    First of all, how do you picture the Devil? Is it the red-horned, pitch fork variety? I can't help but picture this as well and it is due to a lifetime of exposure to images on television, in print, and especially in the realm of sports. I wrote in my book a detailed description of Satan that is nothing like this at all. First of all, he was created as the anointed cherub that covered God's throne. In fact, at one time He was the most beautiful Angel and the apple of God's eye. He was truly beautiful to God but what about to us? I see a lot of "Angel Art" lately and if this is what they really look like, they are beautiful, peaceful creatures. But when I look in the Bible at how man reacts when faced with an Angel, it is in terror! Think about it, the first thing an Angel has to say is "Fear Not" because I'm sure that whomever they appear to is half way between running away and peeing in their pants. But that's enough for Angels, let's talk about Heaven and Hell.

    First of all, both are real places. From how the Bible speaks of each, you really want to go to Heaven and you really don't want to go to Hell. Heaven is a perfect place where you are in the warmth of God's presence. It's been described as having mansions and streets of gold but actually His presence is the great reward of Heaven. His presence will be so incredible that I wonder how long it will take us to even realize that the streets are paved with Gold?!?

    On the flip side, Hell is somewhere that we cannot even start to imagine how truly bad it is. There's a bunch of different descriptions of it and all are horrible and even sickening. These include everything from eternal fire, over-run with worms, eternal torment and never ending torture. All of these are terrible images but the most horrible part of Hell is the fact that you are eternally separated from God and are without His help, FOREVER.

    Heaven and Hell are real and all of us will end up in one or the other one day. God gave us free will to make this choice but He really wants all of us to be with Him in Heaven. Why he gave us (and the Angels) free will is a great mystery, but He did. Oh yeah, and there is only one way to Heaven...... you have to meet a friend of mine named Jesus and give your life to Him. I can be your guide if you need help finding Him.

    Tuesday, September 5, 2006

    A Writing Revelation

    Did you ever have a moment of revelation? You know what I mean, it's when out of the blue your mind starts to wander and then, like a bolt of lightening, an idea pops into your head and it just clicks. It actually clicks so well, and you agree with it so much, that you want to wrap your leg behind you like a carnival contortionist and kick yourself in the backside because you hadn't thought of it before! I had one of those episodes just a few minutes ago.

    I was sitting here at my desk and looking over the early morning work stuff that I do to get my day started. I paused for a second and took a sip of my McDonald's coffee (Bold of course), and that is when my mind started to wander. I started looking around my office and noticed something I have failed to give much thought: Everywhere I look are big white binders. They line the shelves, sit upon my desk, are high atop my cabinet, and some are even filed away in drawers. You may be thinking, "Big deal, I have the same problem." Well, this is not a problem because for the last two and a half years that I have spent working here, I am the one that authored all of the contents in these binders. You see, when I started here, there were no written safety or environmental procedures, or at least any that were worth using. I have spent the bulk of my time (drum roll please....) WRITING! And when I think back on it, I have spent most of my time writing "things" in every job I have ever had.

    Until this morning, I have failed to realize that the work of my hands that I truly love and that God has written on my heart is writing! All this time, I thought it was safety and environmental stuff in the secular world, which I do love, and Men's Ministry in God's service. It's funny and a bit frustrating that it took me until this morning to finally understand. I guess it took writing a book about God to bring this to light. Thank you Lord for opening my eyes a bit wider to see your purpose for my life.

    Friday, September 1, 2006

    Lunch Line "Cutters" Always Made Me Mad!

    I was inspired by my friend Hook over at Hook'd on Grace the other day when he wrote a post about how wisdom of self leads to death. I've actually been working on my next book and am writing a chapter I am starting to call, "What He Wants, He Gets" that is about the Flesh. We all struggle daily with the flesh and if you say you don't, you are deceived. But what do we do to overcome it's grip? Well, let's get God's word on it and see what Paul has to say.

    Paul said, “I die daily”. Now sure, Paul was faced with death on a daily basis for upholding his faith, but what he was really saying was this:

    *We must daily put ourself out of the way so that God can have His way in our lives*

    Inside, our flesh is screaming, “Me, Me, Me!” while going through the daily game of life and I'll be the first to say that I am often distracted by it's shouting and cheering. The flesh is polar opposite to the Spirit and wants it's desires fullfilled over God's. The best way I can describe it is to use the school lunchroom analogy of a "Cutter". Remember waiting in the lunch line back in school? It never failed, there was always a kid that would try to weasel his way ahead of you, and more times than not, they succeeded. Well, the flesh is a "Cutter"! He will try every minute of every day to put himself (actually your self) ahead of God and try to rule your life.

    So, how do we kick the cutter out of line? Paul wrote that we must crucify the flesh, DAILY. We must pray daily for God's desires to be put ahead of our own, and to move our self out of the way so that He may work through us. But, it is an ongoing process and it does take time. Just like the Alan Jackson song that says, "I'm a work in progress", all Christians are too. But don't get down and think you are helpless! Look at Paul, the man that penned the words that tell us to crucify the flesh. What he was doing was showing us that dieing to self is a long and ongoing process. This is shown by the fact that Paul penned these words approximately twenty years after his glorious conversion on the Damascus Road!

    The bottom line of all of this: Denying yourself is a daily event. You must be patient and vigilant for the process is long. But that’s ok because as we grow more mature in the Word and strive to become more like Christ, we are becoming a Glorious work in progress. When will we be finished, you might ask? The answer is pretty simple. We will be finished crucifying the flesh when we hear those wonderful words, "Well done my good and faithful servant. Come on in and let the eternal party begin!"