A Prayer for Our Children

This morning I woke to find my children embroiled in the latest debate on abortion and racial inequality.

My first thought was to debate the issues. Then in prayer, God led me to know we need to bring this to him in prayer and trust him.

Here is my prayer request…

Prayer Warriors,

Please keep our children that are in the world and those that are “of” the world in your prayers. They are beaten down daily with the ways of the world and a desire to find comfort in conformity.

In the latest battle for hearts and souls, darkness is once again using the genocide of people targeted at specific groups in the form of abortion to drive hate, vitriol and divisiveness between family friends and loved ones.

We are not saviors, and we pray for our Savior, Christ Jesus, to intervene in their hearts and remove the scales from their eyes so that they can see abortion for the sin that it is; and bring understanding to their hearts so they will recognize the racial genocide that abortion is perpetrating in the name of freedom.

While it is tempting to debate the pros and cons, it is impossible to change beliefs with facts and data. Like the song says… “No wise man has the power to reason away, what a fool believes.”

Or, as 1 Corinthians 1:25 says,
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

It is only our prayers and our God that can change hearts.  Love you all, please pray for our children’s hearts.

God’s Got This, Grace Got You!

The Key…

“Let Go of the Rope!”

Aren’t we all looking for that Key? The Key that unlocks all the mysteries of life, that opens the door to an unrestricted life? One, simple understanding that lifts the burden of obligation? Ah, to never have to balance a check book again.

That perfect marriage to that perfect person. Complete acceptance in any social situation. Never wondering how I am going to do that, how do I fit in, or, what do “They” think?

Getting the key is oft times a monumental step, albeit daunting. Dad giving you the keys to the family car, the bank giving you the key to your first house. Your boss giving you a key to your first private office-or getting the key to your first business. Handing the keys to your car to your sixteen-year-old. Daunting indeed!

As Christians, because we are saved, comfortable in our eternal home, we often believe we have things completely figured out. Still, we need to balance check books, relationships with friends and loved ones can be difficult, and most of us can still fall victim to peer pressure. Knowing that we are a continual work in progress, Christians strive to be better every day. However, life can be tough. It seems we apply all we learn in Church, yet the world continues to punch us in the face.

Like most of you, my life has been full of problems, pressure, and conflict. For decades; through it all, God has been working with me, lighting my path. Teaching me to come closer to him and farther away from the stuff of the World. Looking back, through the turmoil, God has shown me a simple understanding that has helped tremendously in my life, eliminating a host of hardships.

Do you remember playing “Tug-O-War” as kids? Maybe you still play. It’s been a while for me, but it was one of my favorite games. A ruckus team sport that was usually played over a muddy pit. Initially we believed that the game was winnable only through brute strength. As our team got better, we realized it was more of a “head” game. Turns out that “Tug-O-War” was all about strategy and how to take the best advantage of the strength available. Our strategies always included “Psyching” out our opponents before the match. Mainly so that they would start the game doubting their abilities. However, my favorite move was what we called the “fake out”. That glorious move when all at once, our team would give some slack in the rope to the other team. Instantly, thinking they “had” us, the other team would often let up at the first sign of a relaxing in the rope. With a shout, our team would pull back with everything we had. “Hooking” them like a fish on the line. We won more matches with that move than any other.

You might be wondering what does “tug-o-war” have to do with a key to life’s problems? Think of it as a simple analogy of our walk with God. We start life thinking that our “Brute Strength” will get us through everything in life. Then, when we accept Christ as our savior and learn more about God’s grace. We learn that when things go wrong, we need to submit all to Christ. Do we submit? Completely?

Whether we are pulling on the rope; asking God for what WE believe WE need. Or, those times when we truly give it all to God, praying, “Your Will, Not Mine”. Still, aren’t we usually still holding tightly to the rope; fully ready to yank back when WE believe it’s needed. Isn’t “The Key” to let go of the rope? Truly give all our troubles and life to God!

In my experience, it’s all about trust. Trusting God to take us by the hand, so that when we let go of the rope, we don’t fall. The more we trust God, the more we see Him do in our lives. The more we see Him do in our lives, the more we trust Him.

Throughout my life, when letting go of the rope and letting God have it, He has never let me down. When we weren’t sure where the next dollar was coming from, where would we live, how would we find food to eat? Giving it all to God, He always had our backs. Without fail. We weren’t dripping in money, gold, and diamonds, but He always provided.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

Dropping out of High School, it seemed my life was never going to match my dreams. Scared and frustrated, my fear led me to give it all to God, asking for guidance and help. Looking back, it was that single event — dropping out of school — that led me to meet the love of my life, my bride for over 40 years now. Unquestionably, through some very tough times, God provided and ordered our steps into a wonderful and blessed life together. Recently, when giving up alcohol and pain pills. God led me to my knees, fearing the loss everything. Again, giving it all to God and begging for His help. He not only grabbed my hand taking me out of my addictions, but from that day forward, all desire for alcohol and thought of using opiates are gone. Wiped out entirely. That is the God Factor for me. When you give it completely to Him, fear, doubt, and anxiety go away. Completely. Like it never existed.

Planning things on my own, not giving it to God, always seemed to lead me into chaos. Sure, my thoughts and prayers were with God, always asking for help; but giving in to my plans and my understanding, not His will. Things might have worked, and sometimes even got better, but it was never without strife and disorder. Looking back, it was me holding on to the rope that created the chaos while working to control the outcome.

Letting go of the rope continues to be a battle for me. It’s ALL about trust and faith. Believing that God will grab my hand, place me on His solid Rock, and see me through. He has always been there for me.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

The Key?…

“Let Go and Let God!
God’s Got This & Grace Got You!”

Love Is The Answer

Is Your Glass Half Full, or Half Empty?sky-universe-LGLP-Half Empty for Book

It’s Always FULL!

When we read how Jesus talked with the woman at the well saying whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Doesn’t it seem that, as Christians, we should strive to be full of the “Living Water” Christ talked about?

Every time we let anger and hatred in our hearts, it replaces joy and love. By allowing fear and doubt in our heart, it replaces hope and faith. When our hearts are full of anger, hatred, fear, and doubt, there is less room for God’s “Living Water”. Think of that proverbial glass of water that is either “Half Full” or “Half Empty”. Truth be known, the glass is “ALWAYS FULL”. Way back in eighth grade my science teacher taught a very simple concept, Displacement.

In a nutshell… although the glass might be only “Half Full” of water, the other half is filled with air. The more air pumped into the glass, the less water. The more water, the less air. Displacement. The water displaces air and visa-versa.

Our hearts are the same; always full. Sometimes it has more love than hate. Other times, not. The good news is that you are in control of what goes in your heart. Negative thoughts are generated in our mind, not the Heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Proverbs 4:23

When we let dark thoughts take that eighteen inch trip from our brain to our heart, displacement of God’s “Living Water” begins. We must always keep our focus on Christ and His Love to ensure our hearts remain full of Love. As Christians, we are taught to Love People; including our enemies. Love is always the answer.

Growing up, being told what to do was just about the worst thing for me. After all, what kid likes to be told “clean your plate”, “do your chores”, or the worst, “Pick Up Your Room!”?

Is it any wonder that we would push back on something called Commandments? Especially Ten of them. For me, probably like most of my generation, when someone would mention the Ten Commandments, my first thought is usually of Charlton Heston on that mountain. Once I got that picture of Moses out of my head and began to focus on reading the Ten Commandments, all of the Thou’s and Shalt’s would get in the way. Being a casual (lazy) reader, it was so much work, like reading a different language.

Then, one day, someone introduced me to Matthew 22:37-39. Answering the question “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”. Jesus responded by saying, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” For me, that summed it up in a few, simple words.

Jesus was saying… “Love God, Love People”. Not a Thee, Thou, or Shalt in it! Truly words to live by.

Those four words are the essence of being a Christian. If all of us could only follow those two simple guidelines of love. Like the song says, “What a Wonderful World it would be”.

Going forward my studies showed that those simple four words, encompass all ten commandments. “Love God” covers the first four and “Love People” the final six. Wow! What would Charlton Heston have done with that? Can you see him standing on the mountain top with a lot smaller tablet? Maybe just an iPad? Certainly, it would have made for a shorter movie.

Growing up in the sixties was all about love. While some took it to the extreme with “Free Love”. Most believed it was all about loving one another in the biblical sense. Our culture was permeated with Love. It was in our music with songs like “All You Need is Love”. It was throughout our politics as well. Love one another was the basis of the Peace crusade and “flower children”. Sadly, greed and vitriol eventually engulfed the movement, replacing love with hate. Love was also the core of the Civil Rights movement. Led by Reverend Martin Luther King, he always led with Love and Peace including statements like…

I love you. I would rather die than hate you.”

So often, today’s protests are full of division and hatred, making me think about those days in the sixties. It didn’t take long for a generation filled with love and peace to be “displaced” by hatred and viciousness. Today, in a world where it seems all are focused completely on themselves, there is one key element missing, Love!

Always Love! – Love Is The Answer!

Love God, Love People!

Here’s a video that we put together called Love Is The Answer” featuring a wonderful version of the old Todd Rundgren song performed by Rumer. Enjoy!

There is no growth without Friction!

PERSEVERE!

“In the confrontation between the Stream and the Rock, the Stream ALWAYS Wins… Not through strength, but through Persistence.” 
-H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Persevere-Book-4

We live in a frenzied world, oft times it seems most of us wish life was effortless. If we only could accomplish all our dreams. Without problems, barriers and disappointment. Really? Think how boring that would be. Making it through all the problems and obstacles in life, while persevering, fortifies us. Giving us a deep sense of accomplishment. Building character and preparing us for future difficulties and tough times.

The next time you are overwhelmed with trouble or hard times, be thankful, and know that you are getting stronger!

Think of how our bodies were created to deal with stress and injury. The first time you grab a shovel, head to the backyard for some gardening. What happens? Blisters! Just saying the word brings pain. You work hard all day to provide some food or bring some beauty into the world, and what’s the result? Your hands and knees are covered in those tender bubbles just under your skin. If one pops, you know the pain that follows. In addition to the blisters, muscle throughout your body feels like you just finished a game of football, and you were the Football!

Why?

You’ve changed your routine. You’re stretching and growing. You have started using your hands and body for physical labor. With all the pain and blisters, our body is simply protecting us from doing major damage. While your blisters and muscle slow you down for healing. Your body is recreating itself to tolerate your new activities in the garden. God didn’t promise that there would never be pain. Instead, God designed our bodies to change and become what we need them to be, to handle the task at hand. The circumstances of our lives are no different.

Sure, there are times when we feel like we can’t take one more step; that there is no clear path to a good ending. Like the blisters, it hurts and sometimes the pain feels unbearable. God knows your pain. Like any loving Father, He would do anything to eliminate your agony. Akin to how our body uses pain to slow us down, recreating stronger, more resilient, skin and muscle. So too, God has created us with His protection as He molds us to become stronger and more resistant through tough times. Story after story in the Bible depicts how the weakest were favored, blessed and honed by God to do great things. Often through extreme trials. At the end, all were given everything they needed to persevere.

Reading the plight of the Israelites during their four hundred, thirty years as slaves. Made me oft times wonder; how could that be? After all these were Gods Chosen People. Imagine, that entire culture, enslaved as “sub-human”, manual laborers for over four hundred years. Every dirty, sweaty job, too lowly for the oppressors, forced on the Israelites. Was God mad, was He  punishing them?

Understanding how God created our bodies to get stronger in adversity, it follows that the same regeneration was happening to the Israelites. After over four hundred years of toil and hard work, what shape do you think the Israelites were in? The vision of scraggly, starving slaves just doesn’t seem to fit God’s purposes, especially for His chosen people. Clearly they were well fed, not starving. Starving them would not serve their master’s needs building an empire. So the Israelites labored for four hundred years. Getting stronger every day, physically and spiritually. Is it any wonder that they became conquerors? Just as God will provide What you need, When you need it; He refined and strengthened the Israelites, mind, body and soul for the mission ahead.

We all have those times when we are overwhelmed with trouble or hard times. Experience has taught me, that it is at those times, God is making us stronger and more resilient. Physically and spiritually. Sometimes we need new tools to move on. Other times we just need to slow down. Whatever the need, God has a plan, and will provide all that is needed. When trouble comes, be thankful, not fretful. God is making you stronger, better.

Have faith in God; listening for His still, quiet voice for direction, and Persevere!


“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  -James 1:4

 

I’d Be Dead

Growing up, My Sister, Brother and I were so Blessed to have a wonderful mother that believed in each one of us deeply, giving us all so much strength. She always wanted us to live our lives to the fullest; and would never miss an opportunity to tell us that we could do and be anything we wanted.

mom

A little over a decade ago, my Mom was dying. She had fought the good fight and showed us all, what it meant to always work to be a better person.

Her last battles started with lung cancer some fifteen years before she passed. Then after beating the Cancer in her lungs, it creeped into her brain causing a tumor and subsequent brain surgery. Like the trooper she always was; she fought back, and gained five more years with her beloved Grandkids, and the family she was so dedicated to.

Now, on her death bed, she was succumbing to another bout with brain cancer. Knowing her fate, she held my hand and said “Mark, please promise me that you’ll lose all the weight and take care of yourself.” “Your family loves you, and needs you.”

m2mThat was so much like her. Here she was dying… and her main concern was about me, my health and my future! I miss that lady every day.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!.” -Luke 11:36

So, the end of the story is that I promised her I would lose the weight. No doubt, if I hadn’t, I’d be dead. Turns out that was just the beginning of my personal reformation. All glory to God as he was “Ordering” my steps even through the loss of my wonderful Mom.

Life Is Very Short

With all the hate, violence and vitriol going around. I was moved to re-post this from a while ago…

Life Is Very Short…

All my Adult life I have worked to follow the teachings of Jesus, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and yes John & Paul.

All taught one simple lesson, love,… one another.

Imagine that? (Pun Intended).

It’s not always easy, but it is always the right thing.

For all of you out there fighting with friends and loved ones over the current political environment, please head the words of these lifelong friends that were unable to resolve their differences before time ran out.

Life Is Short