Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Beauty in the Desert

I grew up in a small town in Arizona. There was nothing but Desert for miles to see, then the mountains rose up from the valley floor just as majestic as the day that God had created them.

Over the years I had seen a lot of friends and relatives come and stay at our house. It didn't matter what the reason for them coming was, it only mattered that they came.

Out of all the things that they said, the one thing I can remember them saying the most was how hot and desolate it was there. They said that, because they believed what they saw, and that was a lack of greenery and cool air. But just like all things, people tend to see things differently.

I know some people who would tell you that they would rather live in the Desert then anywhere else.

These people had seen something much different in that hot, dry, unforgiving climate that those visitors did.

I was raised in the Desert and don't remember complaining about the heat or wishing I was somewhere else.

I can remember all the places that we could go, just by simply driving out of town for an hour or two. I can remember going swimming at the city pool over the summers, going hunting in the Desert and surrounding mountains, and driving the endless gravel roads that seemed to go on forever.

We would ride our bikes to town , apx. 7 miles worth, and when we got there, begin to spend our meager allowances on dairy queen dilly bars, the latest toy, or just freezes from the local 7 eleven store. 

In a town where there was nothing to do, we always seemed to find something.

Others who had visited could not see what we could, and even now as I am older, when I explain it to others they seem unimpressed by my ramblings.

It is hard to explain something to someone who has never experienced it before.

This is because their experience was much different then what we experienced as we grew up as kids. But it doesn't change the fact that the Desert was a beautiful place for us as kids, and that for us created fond childhood memories of days spent exploring the Desert wilderness.

The Desert can be a harsh formidable place to live in, or it can be a place of unending beauty if you knew where to look.

A place where others couldn't wait to leave, was for us a home.

It is the same in my personal walk with God, I can either choose to see all the things that others complain about, and experience the result for that choice, or I can choose to see things as God does.

God has placed us in a world that has unmeasurable beauty, but as we go through this life beauty seems to fade away to a distorted picture that God never intended us to see.

In our own personal lives, God chose to take us through a seven year hiatus into the Desert. 

We came out with a personal relationship with Him as a result.

If you would have asked me at the time, I would have told you that I've never felt so alone in my life.

If you were to ask me now though, I would tell you that it was necessary to redirect my life into the path that God had for me.

But in the Desert it wasn't pretty, it was just hard.

I can now look back and know that those seven years were warranted, just as I can look back and know that for me the Desert was the right place as a child.

I know this because, of the memories from those many childhood days spent exploring that wilderness, and the adventure that was always waiting for us right around the corner.

Now I can see the beauty that comes from the Desert, and the beauty that comes from my God as well.

We were never created to live our lives complaining, instead we were made to find, and bask in the beauty that has been set before us.

It is important to see the world through God's eyes, because that is truly where the Desert becomes a place of beauty, and that is where the Desert becomes the promised land.

Just as I saw the beauty of that small Arizona town as a child, and lived the adventures that were set before us, we are to live the adventure that God daily sets before us.

This may take you having to go through the Desert to get there, but remember that there is beauty in the Desert, so stop sometime and look around and see what God has set there for you to see.

Then engage life and live the adventure, for that is where true joy is.

Following God

Life has been very stressful lately. God has decided to take me through," past stuff "so that I may be able to be closer to him. I didn't know that I had gone anywhere, but I did.

My youngest Son is in Japan as a nuclear meltdown may be eminent following a 9.0 earthquake and Tsunami in Northern Japan. If that wasn't enough there has been looming scuttlebutt about the United States economy failing and the dollar devaluing. 

Along with life's daily struggles this has caused my stress levels to reach the max. Its funny how it takes disaster in our lives for us to finally realize that we have little control over what is really going on.

It brings us to an place where we must once again ask that looming question," Is God real and does he care?"

I'm sure Satan would love us to get caught up in the confusion of the world and the pain in our everyday lives. Nothing good ever comes from our focusing on those things though. I call it, "Smoke screens, lies and illusions" those are his tactics.

I was watching a news caster last night and I liked the way he boiled it all down." when it all falls apart, what choice will you make? 

Which side will you fall on? 

The side of those causing confusion, abdicating violence and condoning taking what others have so they can secure there own safety. 

Or the side of those who will help provide for the needy, the lost, the confused, and even give of what they have even if it costs them everything.

This ultimately is the choice we must make, and it very well may cost us dearly. 

What choice will you make? 

Will you do what Jesus did and give up everything, or will you follow the crowd and choose safety above all else

  I hope that our country can react the way the Japanese people did and put the highest priority on taking others in and giving of what we have, but I fear that we have lost our respect for those values and principles that the Japanese people so readily hold on to.

I think that we as a nation better look hard at what this disaster has to teach us, or we may well find out the hard way what we have lost.

As I have been taken through this last month, I have been brought back to that looming question,

 "Is there a God and is he real? Does he care? Will he move his hand and help?

What I have come to is this...

He never left. It was I that walked down a different road. I don't mean church, bible studies, ministry, etc.... those are man's things. I mean relationship with the father. Real relationship, ongoing daily relationship.

It's funny how when God speaks, all those things that seemed so pressing and so urgent just seem to fade away.

The enemy would have me believe that I'm a failure, my past tells me I won't ever achieve, but God always tells me I'm called to be a leader.

The funny thing is its my choice which I will believe?

It is also my choice which side I will choose?

My answer came in an unexpected way. (Isn't that just like God)

My choice is simple I will do what my son is doing in Japan. 

My Son is an American student at Temple University in Tokyo. He was told, by us his parents that his ticket was paid for and all he had to do was to catch a plane and come home. What he decided to do was to stay and help wherever he could.

Forgetting about his own safety and waiting there until he can go north and help.

This is what real men are made of. This is what God intended for us. I for one will follow my sons lead and I will stand on the side of compassion, mercy, and integrity even if it costs me all that I have.

Let the future come and we as men of God will embrace it and do what is right.

That is Living the Adventure, isn't it?

A Fathers Love

As I sat at home this Sunday Morning, a memory from the past flooded into my mind. It was a memory from when I was fairly young, about eight or nine maybe. It was a time when men were going off to Vietnam, man was attempting missions to the moon, and mothers and fathers were just trying to get through their lives and keep their families together.

With the war in Vietnam in full swing and the world in chaos, there I was an eight year old, dreaming dreams of future stardom.

And here is where i sat, in the midst of everything my only concern being, some day becoming a basketball star like Kareem Abdul Jabaar.

In 1968 he was a twenty year old college student whose basketball success had made him famous. He had been honored as player of the year, The most outstanding player in the NCAA tournament, and named the USBWA player of the year. Not to mention he played the game of the century against the Houston Cougars in the Houston Astrodome.
So it was no wonder that he captured my attention as I practiced basketball shots in my backyard that year.

This memory begins with me playing basketball in the back yard. One thing I need to explain here is that our family didn't have much cash available, because of the eight children they were raising. There was enough money to live and get new clothes for the start of the school season, but not much left for the hopes and dreams of us, the children.

We played with a used, hand me down, weathered, discolored basketball that didn't have much rubber left.

In fact I can remember the day that I was able to save enough money to buy a new basketball. It was a red, white, and blue one that put all other balls to shame. This is important because when you are the youngest in a family of eight siblings, everything is hand me down.

So, instead of playing basketball on a concrete court we played it on dirt, and instead of the basket being held up by a nice clean black painted pole it was a unpainted four by four.

Oh, yeah, the backboard wasn't new either, I seem to remember the lines being faded and the color being more of a yellow then pure white. Also if you wanted to make a shot, you had to make it by drawing from your experience, as I mentioned earlier the lines were gone.

If you've ever played basketball you know that those lines are there as a guide, so that you can judge where in relation to the lines that the ball was when you made the shot.

This would enable you to be among your friends someone like, (Kareem Abdul Jabaar), and be the envy of every one of your friends when you were called on to win the game.

As I was playing on that Sunday afternoon I seem to remember that the sun was going down, and it was quickly becoming increasingly more difficult to see even the yellow looking backboard as I took my shots.

I can remember thinking about going inside the house, but the allure of making that next basket kept me squinting in the darkness to see the hoop. I believe it was Sunday night which meant that I would have to eat dinner, then get ready for bed which meant waking up and going to school.

This of course was not my first choice, as all I had on my mind was to become a basketball superstar, so that others would envy me and talk about my supernatural shots all day long.

Then I can remember the Light tan colored Dodge Dart that was sitting in the back yard, and that I had to continually keep running to keep the ball from hitting it as I played. I wasn't up to par with Kareem Abdul Jabaar yet, so there were a lot of balls bouncing off of the unlevel hard packed ground towards the car.

Where the car was parked was more of a hindrance, but when you are the youngest of eight with three older brothers and four older sisters, the first thing you learn is not to ask them to do anything, especially if that meant they would have to move their car for you.

This meant instead, running continuously to keep the basketball from denting the car, because if that were to happen it meant sure death, and the loss of all of your hard earned spending money being handed over for the dent repair. This money had cost me hours of cutting weeds in the sun, not to mention that it had lengthened the time that it would take me to practice enough to have the skill level of Kareem Abdul Jabaar.
The result of this meant that it would take me at least until I was thirteen to be a superstar instead of ten. This wasn't worth the cost that I would incur, and so in my wisdom I decided that I would just keep shagging the ball so it wouldn't dent my brothers car.

Then as I was shooting my last shots I remember my brother coming out of the back door of our house and getting into his car. With the sudden allure of the car being gone, and the idea of not having to worry about his car being dented, something rose inside of me, and I ran over and asked him what was going on. Of course I didn't realize with the car gone that the ball would not have a place to bounce off of and it would make me go even farther to get the ball.

But, as I asked my brother what was going on I sensed something was wrong because of his lack of excitement. I don't remember the exact words, but I do remember asking him where he was going.
He then told me that he was going away and something like he wouldn't be seeing me for a while.

Later i found out that he and his girlfriend were leaving and that he was going into the air force. I couldn't comprehend all of what this meant in that moment, but I did understand that something was wrong.
I knew that my mom and dad were upset when I finally walked into the house that night, but at that time had no clue as to what had transpired. I only knew that whatever the reason, they were hurt.

Now, of course, I can understand what this all meant, and how this had changed the look of our family forever.
Later, I found out that my dad had stopped in at the bus station as my brother was waiting to leave. He talked with my brother and had given him some money. This was important because my dad didn't have much money, and it would have meant a lot for him to give it up.

But for his son, he would have given all he had without hesitation.

Now, as I have had the chance to see some of my own children go their way in life. I have been left with the loss that comes from the separation of them starting their own lives, and I can now understand more of what my parents felt, and the pain that naturally came for them as they lost but another child to life.

I know that God has been speaking to me this year about what it means to have personal relationship with him. Lately He has been showing me what fear does in my life, and the lives of others, and how destructive it can be in the absence of belief and faith in Him. I'm sure that my parents and my brother were just doing what they thought was correct at the time, and I,m sure they both had regrets later.

I could draw so many life truths from this story, one of a fathers unending love, one of a sons need to go out into the world and start his life, one of a mothers love and her not wanting to lose her son, but the one thing that sticks out this morning is fear.

Fear can effect our lives without us even realizing that it is doing so. The enemy will use whatever is available to Him at the time to work his destruction. If we do not spend time allowing Jesus to reveal these strongholds of fear in our lives, we will be destined to live in this fear as the enemy uses it against us.

I now have a different outlook on life and see the destruction that fear did to my family as we grew up in that small Arizona town. My parents did the best they could and I know that they loved us. But as life goes on, all we can do is learn from what God has shown us and submit to His revelations of the past and their outcomes, so that we can be in our lives honest and transparent before God and others.

Fear is from the enemy and can cause our lives to be destroyed if we allow it in.There is nothing we can do to shelter ourselves from being hurt, it is how we choose to deal with and allow that hurt to shape us that will determine if fear rules in our lives or not.

I like the way that my Son's girlfriend looks at it.
She simply says that we have nothing to fear,.... except for spiders....

We must remember the spiders will always be there, and that, Yes, God has even given us dominion over the spiders....

Remember, Even when life hurts you, Fear Ends Where Faith Begins.

Live the adventure and live your life out loud for God!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chasing Jesus
Life is so hard at times that I wonder if I will ever make it through to the 555352 squinting eyeend. God says in his word that he is here for us, but at times it seems like he is nowhere to be found. Those same men that promised me in the past that they would be there for me have all instead chosen to judge me. Every step I take seems to end with more questions than answers.
If God does care as he says then why have I ended up here?
In life it is not easy to pursue Jesus. To be passionate about Jesus we have to give up everything of who we are, and deep down inside, most of us don’t want to do that. But God will accept nothing less than our complete surrender to his Son.
Jesus requires us to be who we have been created to be. He doesn’t promise us it will be easy, only that “there” is where we will find true joy. Notice that he doesn’t use the word comfort.
The first thing that happens in our pursuit to find Jesus is he will bring up the sin in our lives so that we can repent and let go of the past. Then he places a new hope and promise before us and expects us to step up and do what we have been created to do. With Jesus there can be no half way, he always expects us to be the “us” that God created us to be. Just as with his disciples he will accept nothing less, he expects our best not our worst.
To chase Jesus is the easy choice, to find him is much harder. The more we pursue Jesus the more we see our inadequacies. Sadly, for many these inadequacies are too hard to face, so many will choose to leave that area untouched inside of them, so they can pursue a more normal relationship with God.
The problem here is this new relationship is not with God at all, it is with an idol they have placed the name of God upon, called religion.
To chase or pursue Jesus requires everything from us. With Jesus there is 1313655 roman helmetno “other way” to go; only his way matters. This is why so many fall away, they see his way as to hard.
What does the word warrior bring up in your mind when I say it? For most of us I think it is a picture of a strong man with big biceps, wearing armor, and either swinging a sword or shooting a gun. This same man has to continually be able to be placed in the most dangerous places and situations, usually around those that want nothing less than to kill or torture him.
Sadly to say many choose the easy road before they have ever been in even one battle.
God is calling out his warriors, not those that have chosen the easy road. Jesus is training an army for war and, make no mistake, you will either learn to fight or you will be left for dead. To use our armor as his chosen warriors we need to know what weapons have been given to us to use.
How do you think that we find this out?
Jesus walked this earth, Gods very Son, to show us the way. All through the New Testament his words are recorded so we can know him better. So all we have to do is read about him, listen, and meditate on his words. Then we can model ourselves after what he said we should be.
To know Jesus is to know the father, to know the father is to know our true selves.
So now we have no excuse, no easy way out, no man made kingdoms to hide in. Jesus died and requires all of this from us and much more, because he knows anything less will lead to our destruction.
By the way it will be hard for us to pursue Jesus, but it will also bring us more joy, happiness, and peace then we have ever had in our lives. To accomplish this will take everything that you have inside. It will require you to give up friendships at times, to give up money, to give up fame, to give up yourselves.
In days of old, even in recent times, to be called a warrior meant that you have been judged as worthy to hold such a title. It meant that you have on your body and mind the scars from training that made you who you are today. It meant that you would be trusted with protecting the kingdom. In many civilizations there was no greater honor then being 1057875 chatrapati shivaji maharajchosen to be a warrior. In fact many kings were actually proven warriors seasoned in battle.
The battle being lost meant more than just defeat, it meant that your family and friends would be placed in bondage for years or even their lifetime under the enemy’s control.
This is why it is so hard, you will have to fight…
You will have to forget about the past, so you can see the future that God has for you.
One thing is different though, with Jesus we have been given something that other warriors didn’t have, a King that will fight for us, when the battle is at its fiercest.
So today my hope for you is that you will fight with everything inside of you, to be the warrior that Jesus has called you to be. The warrior that God himself created you to be, even before you were born.
Today raise up the battle standard with the name of Jesus upon it, this is why we are here, for this is why we were created, and for this is why we will fight.
The Name of Jesus…..
Philippians 3:13 (nas)
Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Trusting God

My Dad was a hard worker and i learned most of my work ethics from him. I can remember my Mom pushing him to go and do one thing or another as i grew up, and i can also remember him mumbling under his breath as he walked out the door to do it.
He usually uttered a few words that i could almost make out, and i know one of them had to do with a "Dam" or something. When i grew older i was expected to help my Dad with what needed to be done. Only then was i able to understand what "Dam" my Dad had been talking about all those years.

I know that i learned the lesson of hard work as a young man helping my Dad. It was a lesson that i was more then anxious to teach my four children as they grew up. Thus completing the circle of life and lessons that a Dad is expected to teach his children. As a result my children have grown up to be hard working and can see a future and a hope for something better for their lives.

Now that I'm older, I am left with the question, whats next?

Today as i picked up my Bible, God decided to take things to another level. In Romans 4 Paul talks about Abraham's faith and goes on to explain what this new found faith means for us. The thing that struck me was the explanation that he gave for what is required,"from us" to receive this new faith. Of course I've read this before many times, but still have not learned how to master it.

When Abraham was blessed it wasn't about Abraham and his faith so much as it was about God's choice to bless him. Sure Abraham had the faith to trust in God, but it was God who had already put everything together for him. Abraham entered into God's plan when he believed, God had already did all the rest.

What my mother and father taught me about being honest, not stealing .etc., was not wrong in any way. But what my heavenly father wants me to learn is a whole different lesson all together.

That i can only believe, and do "nothing" to earn this, is a hard thing for me to learn. I was taught that i had to work and earn my place in life, and that's exactly what i did. I learned that lesson well from them.

That is why it is so hard to learn what God has been trying to teach me, it goes against everything that is was raised to believe. 

Today i got the message loud and clear from my Father God. I can do nothing to make anything happen out of my own abilities. There is nothing i can do to create anything lasting on this earth,....
I am left with believing that He has a plan for me, and i can do nothing to make it happen. Nothing except getting to know him.
You know he has lovingly been speaking to me about this for a long time now. So it isn't such a bad deal, doing nothing and spending time with my father is do-able.
 It also takes all the past, present, and future and puts it into perspective. No more stress or pressures.
I might just learn to like spending time with him, not worrying about everything else.

God's promise can only work if it is a pure gift to us, we can do nothing except believe, we cannot do anything to deserve it. 

I know many will say that they already know this, but I'd venture to assume that there are many less that can say that they are living this daily.

 When i look at things God's way, with His perspective, it all makes sense. So i wonder why all these years later I'm still trying to make it harder then it has to be. Of course the answer is, Its not so easy to break those learned habits that we accepted as normal from our past. If we do not learn to change and look at things in God's perspective, then the very thing that we refuse to change will be our undoing, and keep us from true living relationship with our heavenly Father.

Thank you God for showing me the way, please show me more of you so that i may hear you in every situation, and hear your voice today so that i may have peace in relationship with you.

Romans 4:13-15 Msg.
That famous promise God gave Abraham- that he and his children would possess the earth- was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God's decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered into when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract!
That's not a Holy-promise; that's a business deal.

Romans 4:16 Msg.
This is why the fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and His way, and then simply embracing Him and what he does. God's promise arrives as a pure gift.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Living Life God's Way.........

As I've reflected on the past this month, I've realized something about God's plans for me.
He wants me to live my life out loud for him.
Wow what a concept, to be able to live my life with no preconceived notions of how I should act, or who I should please, or even how others see me.
As I sat here reflecting on the past I was reminded of a Band of Brothers group that i attended for 2 years. The purpose of the group was to define God in our lives and to focus us to understand who God created us to be.
The same time that this was going on I lost my mother to Alzheimer's.

After the initial shock and grief subsided, I was reminded of a time in my past.
My brother and i were with my mom and dad coming back from my brothers house in Arizona.
I remembered we were riding in a rambler station wagon. My brother and I were sitting in the back seat, or the jump seat as they called it back then. As kids it was really awesome to sit in the fold out seat in the luggage compartment in the back of the station wagon. It was cool to look out the back window and imagine that we were driving, or in a jet or a space ship that we were in control of.
Of course sometimes it was a battle between me and my brother on if one or both of us would be sitting there.
Anyway there was one evening in particular that i remembered. We were riding home from my brothers house, apx. 7 miles from home. As my father was driving my mother and him started getting in a fight. I don't remember what it was about (after so many years have gone by), but i knew that it was important to both of them at the time. As my brother and i sat there and watched this heated discussion turn into a full fledged fight we weren't sure what would happen next, whether it would be them or us getting the backlash of this disagreement.
Then as my mom said a few choice words, my dad stopped the car. I remember him not saying a word, turning the car off ,opening the door of the car, uttering something like dam-------- and proceeding to walk home leaving us sitting there in the car alone.
Of course as things go, my dad had not planned very well and had left the keys in the ignition. Also my father had an injury he had suffered from a broken leg years before that he hadn't taken into account either, it caused him to walk with a permanent limp. Which of course exempted him from being able to outrun the car or beat her home in any way.
I remember my mom watching him walk away and get madder every second until she couldn't contain it any longer. Right at the point at which she looked as if she was going to spontaneously combust she just simply slid over into the drivers seat and started up the car. My mother preceded to drive down the road and just as my brother and i started to think we were headed home without dad, the car stopped. There we were sitting along the side of the road in the dark waiting for my dad. My father heading towards us mumbling in unpercievable words all the way.
Interestingly enough my dad kept walking right past us. My mother simply started the car again and began to drive again ,but to our surprise she didn't drive past my dad. She drove beside him instead which angered my dad even more. At first she said nothing just drove beside him as he walked. My dad mumbling all the way. Then she reached over and rolled down the passenger window.
As she started to speak she methodically started to explain to my dad all of the reasons, one by one, on why it was such a stupid decision to walk home. How it was 5 miles more, How his leg was not up to the task, How it was dark outside,etc...
As it got darker outside and as we traveled another mile or so down the road I watched my dad wear down. It seemed like each step he took just brought him closer to a decision that he didn't want to make. Finally my dad decided that it was better to get back into the car then to salvage his pride.
We all drove home that night in silence, it was the quietest that car had ever been. After we arrived at home my mother and father went about the duties of home life and slowly that evening began talking to one another again.
Us kids were on to bigger and better things and had already forgotten about all the things that had transpired earlier that evening.

As i sat there reflecting on the past I thought on how others would think if they were able to see my mother and father fighting that night. They would probably see my mom and dad as having a bad marriage and a horrible family atmosphere.

God showed me something else. He showed me how a father can swallow his pride to keep the peace in his family. He showed me how a mother can stay with her husband when everything inside says, drive off leave him there.

In Genesis 1:27 it says(So God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created them)
In 2Timothy 4:7 it says(I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, i have kept the faith)

We must remember it is not just one moment in time that defines us, it is a lifetime lived out for God that others see.

If you were to let a group of boys loose in the woods you would soon have the civil war reenacted before your eyes. Give a group of girls a trunk full of skirts and dresses and soon you would have the ballet.
God made us in his own image. What does that mean to you?
Just like children, the right opportunities played out before us in life reveal the true creative nature that God has placed inside of us.

Dorthy Sayers wrote:"Work is not primarily a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do."If only that were true..... but it is what God meant for us.....

The poet Hopkins wrote: "What i do is me: For that I came"

Why is this important you may ask?
It wasn't just one moment in time that defined my mom and dads lives, it was the constant sharing of their lives with their eight children that allowed them to finish well and live their lives for God the loudest.....

As we sat at my mothers funeral and grieved of our family's loss, i watched as my family pulled together. I heard stories of some of my mom and dads rough times and I heard some of the children's love and frustrations.
But most of all I watched as God mended my family and revealed my Mom and Dad's life work.
I watched God reveal their life, lived out loud for their father God.

Below i have included a poem from "The Invitation" by Oriah.

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.I want to know what you ache for, and if you dream of meeting your hearts longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are.I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your soul.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, Yes!
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside, when all else falls away.
It doesn't interest me who you know, or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

Ending thought:
It is not one moment in time that defines us in life. it is not what we do for a living or what we do when we blow it that defines us, it is the way we live through the disappointments and victories by which God is revealed and unveiled in our lives.

We will not always be the ones who will receive the benefit of our lives lived out loud for God.....

The ones who could benefit may be the ones we leave behind.....
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Enduring Hardship

Halloween memories

I can remember when I was about eight or nine years old. I was at my sisters house and it was Halloween night. Living in town was a privilege when I was growing up, because at Halloween there were plenty of houses to trick or treat at.

This Halloween though was to be a special night. One that I couldn't even dare to imagine the outcome of. This particular Halloween night my sister decided it would be the year that I would be dressed up as a girl.

Of course she didn't just say, hey I think you should be dressed as a girl tonight.  No, She was much more sly than that.

I didn't have any time to prepare for this particular Halloween. What with Baseball season over and school starting again I'd just fallen into a funk and couldn't seem to get anything right in my life. I didn't want to be at school, it seemed the majority of my teachers had picked me out as one of the chosen few to extend their attention to. Not that affectionate kind of attention either.

As I found myself on Halloween night, I realized that my friend was going to be there any minute, and that I had literally no ideas for an outfit. I don't know about you, but when I was growing up Halloween was an important night, full of fun and lots of candy. And if you played your timing just right, you could fill two sacks instead of one.

There was also the new subdivision by the Fairgrounds that always gave away twice as much candy then any other area. And if you talked fast enough , you could convince your parents that you would be back at the car quicker then you actually could.

 Anyway in my zeal to figure out something to wear, my sister said, let's just try something. I should have been smart enough from past incidents to catch onto that little phrase that came from my sisters mouth. "Lets just try something"

This phrase had so many times before caused me to go to places and do things that I didn't want to do. But this night my mind wasn't present, it was somewhere else,where I don't know.

Before I knew it, I was standing in her living room dressed as a girl, pantyhose and all. I have to admit it was quite a relief when my sister put the wig on, because then no one new it was me. This was proved true when my friend walked in the door. He came in said hi to my sister, and asked where I was.

My sister just laughed and smiled.
Until I spoke he didn't have a clue.

Now being a young man and having to dress as a girl was bad. But in my day if your friends saw you dressed as a girl it meant hardship and almost certain humiliation or death.

Now this is where my memory gets pretty sketchy, I don't remember if I stayed dressed like a girl or not. I guess we'll never know as I have seemed to somehow block certain memories from my mind about that night.

I do remember, my friend and I sat there and made a pact with one another. As I wanted to get plenty of candy, and my friend didn't want to go alone, we decided not to tell anyone who I really was.

You know, that Halloween night I remember bringing home more candy then I ever did on any other night. I do remember, as my friend and I walked around trick and treating, no one seemed to recognize me. I guess everyone thought I was someone else.

I do know that my friend and I didn't talk about that night ever again.

You know as I think of those times when I was younger and how they molded and fashioned me, I realized it wasn't so bad.

I also believe that God has a much more simple view of things in our lives.

If it is true that everything in our lives is allowed by God for our growth, then I believe that he wanted me to learn something from that fate full night.

We just received a call from my sisters husband a couple of months ago informing us that she had went to be with God that night.It was our youngest sister so it came as a huge shock to all of us.

Now, month's later we are back to normal life again, as normal as it can be without my sister.
I will never forget the memories that God allowed in my life on one Halloween night at my sisters house in Arizona.

2ND Timothy 2:3 says: Endure Hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

I wonder what Paul was feeling like sitting there in a Roman prison. Undoubtedly many of Paul's supporters, seeing the hopelessness of his situation, had probably abandoned him.

If it were possible, I'm sure that Paul would look back and say to us, about the hardship he faced sitting in that prison,that it truly was a blessing.

We must remember as we go through hardship that it can in the end become a blessing instead of a curse.

After all God is in control and he desires everything to work together for his good.

So remember being a good soldier in hard times isn't so bad after all.