Welcome to my ongoing journal of my journey with God!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How Do You Define Sin?

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Rom 3:23)
When I would hear friends, studied Christians or Pastors use the word “sin” and this word was preceded by “we all…”, well, it just rubbed me entirely the wrong way. I took it as a personal attack on ME. I mean, who do they think they are…they don’t know me. This usually resulted in me not hearing what I needed to hear in the remaining conversation or teaching.
Maybe it is the word that I had an issue with. It sounded so criminal and dirty. Like I was evil and headed to hell without any hope. So, I decided to change my definition of sin to that of the last sentence of Rom. 14:23, which I have paraphrased into the first person: If I do anything I be believe is not right, I am sinning. Now, this definition is only as solid as my own moral compass and as with any compass it will swivel and turn until it finds due north.
The scripture at the beginning of this entry is very direct and inclusive in its meaning. Lets take “everyone”; does this include infants that can’t even speak? Well, I would say they are safe as far as the act of sinning, but Adam ignited the curse that we all eventually submit to. As far as everyone else, and by everyone, I mean myself (I don’t want to personally attack anyone), I have chosen what was “not right” more than I care to discuss…so according to my own definition, I’m a sinner. As far as God’s glorious standard, Jesus is the only one that I know of that qualifies in this area. He came and absorbed the sin of man. And, as long as we talk with Him and are genuine about releasing our sins to Him, He will continue to wash them away.
May God bless you and give you Grace!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Foolish Ways

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Cor 1:27)
There was a time when I had all the answers, but somehow I didn’t score well on the test. This foolish behavior didn’t get me very far. I would stumble and fall yet didn’t know why. It is also hard for me to learn when I become stubborn in my thinking. When I have humbled myself and allowed the illusion of my self-righteous power to be put into check, I always discover something about myself and grow in the process.
As I venture through this phase of my journey, I need to remind myself that the choices I make help define who I am...and I declare that I do not want to be shamed by being a powerful fool!  
Going forward, I pray for wisdom to recognize when I am being foolish and the humility to withdraw from my self-righteous power struggles.
May God bless you and give you Grace!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Where Are You Fishing?

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The road that leads to destruction is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. (Matt 7:13)
When I was younger my mom took me to one of those paid fishing ponds. I rented a pole, they gave me some bait, and I could throw my line anywhere in the water, and presto a fish! The place would even fillet my catch for me. Even as a kid, this quickly lost its luster.
A few years back, a friend of mine took me out to the Gulf to go fishing. We went out on his boat under less than perfect conditions. We were out on the water for hours. We would have to focus on specific locations in the bay, we couldn’t just drop a line anywhere and expect results. Even when we found a prime spot, frustration would set in as the enemy would swipe my bait. I finally settled in and became patient. I would cast out, let settle, and slowly reel in over and over again. At last, a bite! I yanked back and set the hook. I reeled in, let out the drag, reeled some more again and again, and after working up a sweat, I finally hauled in my catch. I was overwhelmed with accomplishment and was ready for more!
The contrast between these two scenarios illustrates the importance of focused, patient attention. It’s not to say that when I was at the fishing pond, I was headed for destruction, but the end result had no meaning or substance. As I have gone through my life to this point, there have been many times I was able to throw my line in anywhere for instant satisfaction and let my desires lead the way. This always led to disappointment, heartache, low self worth and/or destruction.
As I sit now, I am learning to fish with my heart, which is surrounded by the love of the Lord. I know that when I remain aware of this love, that my decisions are more in tune with his will for me. This is not always easy for me…but I’m working on it.
May God bless you and give you Grace!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Timing of a Solid Foundation

It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. (Luk 6:48)
My parents divorced when I was around seven, which left my mother to go-it-alone with six children. She somehow instilled in me the traits of being a kind, honest, and a loving person. There was rarely if ever any mention of God in her subtle discipline. As far as church, I would get myself to Catholic Sunday school (CCD), and that only lasted as long as I decided to go…which wasn’t long.
My father was Catholic and went to church every Sunday. On my visits with him every few weeks, there was never any mention of his faith or God. It was all just fun and games…let the good times roll, so to speak. On his end, there was no discipline because he was the good parent.
With this foundation laid on sandy soil, my faith had plenty of opportunity to move around and lose it’s footing. I had always considered myself spiritual and referred to myself as a Christian. I had that “good person” mentality about me that would hopefully get me through life. But something always seemed to be missing.
Now, married with teenagers, my family finally found a church that spoke to us. We became involved and my faith started to become real and based on truth. I decided to get baptized again (I was baptized as an infant) on Palm Sunday of this year. It was a wonderful day and my rebirth added water to my sandy soil and helped create the solid foundation I have now.
The timing of this was crucial, because God knew I would need solid ground to stand on in the coming months. I know that if I had sandy soil under me when my Angel Girl left this earth, I would have sunk to the depths of sorrow and it would be complete purgatory.
What is your foundation built on?
May God bless you and give you Grace!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks for My Blessings

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.  Col 3:15

This Thanksgiving has an empty place for me, and I’ve decided to fill it with the blessings that have brought me peace.

First and foremost, I have been blessed with a strengthened relationship in God. He is my pillar and without him, my life would be completely empty. He gives me purpose and helps me find peace. 

My second pillar of strength is my wife Stephanie, who brings holiness to our marriage (1 Cor 7:14). She gives me council and an ear to listen. She is my shoulder to cry on in times of need. She is my love, and I give thanks to her for her patience in me. 

Third are my children Dalton, Dylan and Angel, for they are my best teachers! I continue to learn through them that the little things are far more important than what we think of as the big things. Just as a pebble dropped in a pond starts with small ripples…these small ripples are the cause of the bigger waves. 

Finally, my extended family and friends for which the previous blessings have a landscape to take root and grow with interaction and support…I give thanksgiving to you all.

These are the things I am thankful for. Everything else is a direct result of or just filler in this life journey.

May God bless you and give you Grace!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How Do You Spell Fear?

My initial definition of fear is probably like most you. A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain. Now this describes what I encounter when there is an unknown element lingering in the midst and I am UNSURE of the outcome. If I knew what the outcome was to be, then there would be a much calmer approach to the end result.

Then there is the fear of exposure like; if people get to know me, they won’t like me, I walk or talk funny, I’m the wrong color, I’m too tall or too short, I’m not talented enough, and so on. This judgment-based fear is tricky for me, because it resonates from deep inside and is sometimes hard to filter. The best I can do to help adjust this is to lessen my tendency to judge others, which easier said than done. But I’m working on it.

Now the fear of God, for me, is a bit more complicated. If he is a loving God, why does the bible refer to the “fear of God” so often? My NLT Bible defines fear as “To have reverential awe of God; to be afraid or apprehensive” Job feared God and stayed away from evil. (Job 1:1). My definition of this biblical fear has come to mean an awesome respect for God and his authority and not to bring shame to his word by the actions that I do.

When my daughter Angel was rushed to the hospital, I experienced a culmination of all of these fears. This was an emotion that had me trapped in the what-ifs, whys, not me’s, and desperation. You see, this wasn’t suppose to happen to me because I was special some how. I have discovered that I am special, and so is everyone else. But being special doesn’t give me a pardon from the course of life.

Many blessings have happened since Angel’s passing. I wish she could be here physically to see how powerful her life was and the effect she had on so many. I do know that she is looking on from above and helping to soften my fears as I venture through this adventure called life.

May God bless you and give you Grace!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It Is Better to Give Than to...

All of us can finish this scripture without even thinking about it…for Jesus stated, “…It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 21:35. I was listening to a teaching from James Ryle last week, and he made a statement that was very profound to me. He said, “You cannot give away that which you do not have”. Now that may seem obvious to most of you, but to me, it was very enlightening. I then decided to make a list of the things/traits that I do have.

Here is a condensed version of some of the things that made my list: Faith, Patience, Love, The Gift to Listen, Artistic Ability, A Home, and Money. There is more, but these are some of the things that came right off the top. Now the question is…how do I give these things away?

So this is what I will try to accomplish since these are things that I possess…

  • Faith: Share my belief in Christ and how he has comforted me in my journey.
  • Patience: To be still with others in times when they are anxious.
  • Love: Be there without judgement in times of need for family, friends and strangers alike.
  • The Gift to Listen: James 1:19 – “You must be quick to listen and slow to speak…”
  • Artistic Ability: To share my God given talents when given the opportunity.
  • My Home: My door has and will always be open.
  • Money: Although I do not have much, I will loosen my grip on this complicated possession.

I know with the first few of these; the more you give it away the more it will come back to you. I am willing to venture that it is also true with all of these.

As I put this into practice, I will share my progress in future entries.

May God bless you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Seek and You Will Find

I write in my journal every night. I explore many thoughts, topics, prayers and council that I have encountered during my day. There is one topic or prayer that makes its way onto my pages every night in some way…this being the guidance of the Lord. I have versed this in many different ways, such as: Please Lord, lead me down your path and I will follow; Dear Lord, I pray I recognize your guidance and have the courage to follow; Dear God, show me your way and I will follow it faithfully. This is how I attempt to seek and pray that the Lord will give me direction. I fall short of recognizing his guidance more often than not, but it is up to me to stay diligent and remain aware of his gentle nudges. Proverbs 3:5-6 states

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;

do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

And he will show you which path to take.

It is hard for me NOT to rely on my own understandings to be the way I proceed most times. It is the times when I stay quiet and listen that his path takes shape and I tend not to stumble.

The broad path that I have followed in the past was full of my own understandings and self-righteousness. As I seek the Lord and follow his will for me, I find a much more focused path to follow…and follow it I will!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

God's Gentle Nudge

This is my first post in this blog I have created. I am not all together sure what I am doing, but I have inner thoughts and feelings that need to be expressed. I hope you find it helpful, enlightening, or it may just give you something to think about. So here goes...

I have been on a journey of learning to walk in spirit with God. It seems I have been on this journey all my life, although unaware of it. God would give me a gentle nudge one way or the other. Sometimes I responded to this gentle guidance and other times I chose to go it alone in my own self guided direction. This would undoubtedly lead to struggle, or at least lengthen the learning process of his lesson for me.

When I was younger I was not tuned in to this being God, or hopefully I would have given more attention to this unsolicited help. This isn't to say that I would have followed HIS WILL with all my heart. There is this ego and pride thing that tries to intercept this holy nudge. I have come to refer to my ego and pride as the enemy and my conscience as God's gentle nudge.

When I say unsolicited, it means that I have not asked, prayed or solicited God's help in any way. This is why God is so wonderful! He wants to help and guide us even though we have not requested his assistance. Now, just imagine if we actively seek his assistance through prayer and daily conversation (Yes! Talk to God daily). The nudge will then turn into a treasure map of spiritual growth and the more we follow this guidance, the more treasures we will discover.

So, pay attention to God's gentle nudge, and as long as you don't push back, your life will come ALIVE!