This morning I got into 1 Peter. I found a lot of great stuff within this book. 1 Peter has a lot of information that helps us continue growing to be the Christians we’re called to be, especially while out in the world with others who may not be following God’s teachings.

Here are some of the the parts I’ve highlighted.

1 Peter 1:22-23
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.b 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

1 Peter 2:11-12

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 Peter 3:8-9

8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

1 Peter 4:1-11 Living for God

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Read 1 Peter

Yesterday I don’t know what came over me, but everything felt negative around lunch time. Maybe it was hunger. Maybe it was work. Maybe it was something else. My wife was nice enough to pack me a lunch before I left for work. When noon came around I went to the office fridge to get my food. Lunch included 2 slices of pizza and a small salad, one with no dressing. After eating the pizza first (of course) I opened up the salad container to find no dressing added. First thing that came to mind was making a complaint, I wanted to message her saying “salad sucks, where’s the ranch?” Deep down I knew there were like 100 things wrong with complaining about how food tastes in general, not to mention complaining to my spouse who prepared it. To be honest, I’m not even sure if it had anything to do with the food…

So at that moment I decided I had to slow down. But I really want to say it. I know it’s rude but something tells me it’s just going to make me feel better. God says to be slow to speak and to love my wife. Maybe I should follow his instruction. So I bite my tongue, and eat my salad – a salad without any dressing on it. As I begin eating the vegetables off the top I start to appreciate the salad. Perhaps the hunger is now leaving my body. I’m starting to feel some guilt about the negative thoughts I was having.

I wonder, how the evening would have gone, if I had decided to do things my way instead of following God’s ways? How would a negative comment like that affect the rest of her day? Would it have initiated a crazy cycle, where we would begin going back and forth, only to dig each other deeper into a problem?

Thanks Wife, for the lunch and thanks for the salad. I love that you took the time to do that for me. Sorry for even having those negative thoughts written above.

Considering Marriage Counseling? This Book Is Awesome!

I read this book and it helped us with our marriage in so many ways. And. sure we have our share of “crazy cycles”. But after reading this book, Love and Respect, crazy cycles are less frequent and short lived. Another great thing about this book is, it only takes one person to read it, for things to begin getting better.

James 1:19
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

Ephesians 5:25
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

John 8:32 ESV

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I remember hearing this verse in movies, usually during court cases. I believe Jim Carey uses it in his movie Liar Liar. He plays the role of a lawyer and his son’s birthday wish comes true, for his dad to not be able to lie for one whole day. He finally begins getting the upper-hand in a court case through an honest approach and shouts out, “AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE”.

I’ve also seen movies including a christian film titled, God’s not Dead, where Atheists try to play off their motive of creating more unbelievers by saying, “I want to free these people”.

Since making the decision to live this life following Christ,
I haven’t felt more free than I do today.

Now I think its important to show more than just a single verse because there are some important parts to this found within the context.

John 8 31-24
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

God Also Gives Us Free Will

I remember a time when I felt like, If I fully commit to God, I would have to give up what I thought were “freedoms”. But, to be honest, since I began following Jesus, and learning more about what’s said in the bible, I haven’t given up anything I didn’t want to give up. Anytime I give up something, it’s because I wanted to give it up for Him. I’ve noticed that the more I learn about God and the more I live for him, the more He begins working in my life. You begin to see something you’ve never seen before. It’s Beautiful. You find yourself in Awe. Then you think to yourself, what can I do next.

I remember this one guy who once said to me, “Everyone makes a list of sins they do. And in many cases, their list makes them feel like they can never follow Christ. But if you begin putting your focus on God and not the list, it’s like those things on that list just fall off.”

God Can Free You From Addictions

How many people can you imagine will be in the bar or liquor store today because they feel there is no other way? Addiction is like a prison built to keep us exactly where we are. And sometimes it takes a little more than a group discussion to set you free. If you decide to put all your focus on God and hold to his teachings, he will free you from it.

Since the age of 20, I had much interest in online business. I loved it. Once my websites began to take off where I was earning a good income, it began to really consume my time. It began to consume me. Anytime you use the words “consume” and “time” or “me”, in the same sentence it’s time to think – am I living the way Christ wants me to live? Or have I developed a new prison, one that keeps my mind focused on something other than God? Once I began committing to the Lord, this issue with limited time seemed less of an issue, and slowly I was freed up. Now I feel I have more time to spend with my family and with others.

God Has Helped Free Me From Anxiety

How about emotions, one I’ve struggled with, and from time to time still struggle with, is social anxiety. Social anxiety can make you feel imprisoned on its own, creating an idea where you don’t have any desire of being around people. A prison built to keep you from enjoying the company of others. I bet Satan loves this one. It’s like he’s using chemical warfare to keep you from becoming a threat. I’ve always been a little more on the quiet side but there were a few years in there where social anxiety really took over. It was God, and only God, who set me free, and continues setting me free when ever I struggle with this. You can read more about this here.

I know a lot of people who are not following Christ, associate whether or not they can with their list of daily sins. If I follow Jesus, I’ll have to stop doing this, that and the other. And yes God does want this for you but sometimes its good to put down your list of bad habits and just focus on learning about God and living for him. You will never be a perfect Christian. To be honest, I don’t know when those two words ever met. Perfect Christian kind of reminds me of other oxymorons, like jumbo shrimp, exact estimate and organized government.

I revisit my list from time to time but I find that the more I focus on living for God, the more my life is transformed and it is as if things just kind of fall off the list on their own. Some of the things i used to love doing, today I could care less about.

Live free. If God has freed you in one way or another, please feel free and comment!

Early this morning I began writing a post and it quickly grew, one paragraph after another. I felt there was so much more to add. So I decided instead of rushing and publishing it, I’d like to use today to think more about this one.

I want to also throw out a challenge to those of you who are living a life dedicated to following Christ. Think about in what way, or ways, God’s truth and living according to his teachings has helped set you free.

And, if you have any comments save them for tomorrow’s post 🙂

Enjoy the video.

I had the pleasure of talking with a man who shared his long pursuit in finding the truth. He was a well educated man who at an early age was brought up in learning about God. As he grew older he tried a handful of other religions, some very different from what the bible teaches. He mentioned he went full circle with his studies only to find himself right back to the holy bible. When asked, “what brought you back?”, he lifted his bible off of his lap and said, “There’s just a lot of truth in this”. Amen! I very much enjoyed our discussion.

One of my favorite Proverbs is 22:6

6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Why do I like this Proverb so much? Because it is so true. And you’ll find a whole lot of truth throughout the Bible but personally for me, when it comes to the book of Proverbs, this one does stand out.

How many of those people who renewed their faith as adults were raised at a young age to love Jesus? I know I account for one of them.

Words that were written well over 2000 years ago are still true and very relevant today. Proverbs was written by King Solomon who asked for a discerning heart, and because of this selfless request, God gave him a discerning heart along with great wisdom, wealth and honor. And some of this knowledge, that he was blessed with, has been passed down to us through the book of Proverbs.

1 Kings 6:12

12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.

May I continue raising our children in the way they should go. I need to also remember, regardless of whether I am having a good day or a bad day, I am raising them and leading them by example. Our children are blessings given to us by our Father in heaven.

A further explanation of a scripture was taught to me during a lesson shared in church yesterday. The lesson was on loving others and it also touched on a few other lessons found within the red letters of the new testament.

Matthew 5:16

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Now in an earlier post, I discussed both this verse along with Matthew 6:6 which say’s 6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

In that post, I concluded by saying when we give, we must place all our focus on doing it for God and the person we are helping. And of course, I still believe this stands true.

More About Letting our Light Shine

One thing that was brought to light for me was both timing and our level of involvement. As we live our lives focused on following Jesus and being a light into the world, others will see your good deeds as well as the results of your good deeds both directly and indirectly, and then our Father in Heaven is glorified.

For example if your going about your life, living as a Christian and being a light unto this world, you may in one way or another help bump someone back on the path that leads them to Jesus. You personally may not even know what’s going on. You’re just doing your thing, living the way Jesus has taught us. Eventually this person finds Jesus and there’s a life transformation. Others begin to take notice and begin asking the questions. Why? And so it continues.

Now your good deeds and the lifestyle you live not only encouraged one person to find Christ, but eventually others who take notice will become Christ followers too.

To end, think about someone you know personally who is inspiring, loving and continuously lets their light shine. It may be your Pastor, or friend or someone on T.V. Do you know each and every person who influenced his or her life in earlier years, or even during childhood? Of course not, but we do see the result.

Today I want to focus on letting my light shine and living my life as Jesus has taught, and continues to teach me, so I may play my small part in helping someone else find Jesus.

The Parable of the Weeds

24. Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28. “ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29. “ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”

A little further down the page his disciples ask him to explain this parable.

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

Personal Take: I think every day I need to live life Christ centered. And yes, I need to live life daily, not to be mistaken for a weed. Every day something is there to try to pull your focus from God. TV, the internet, people and even friends. A little morning preparation can go a long way. Just for fun I decided to do a little research on the effect weeds have on plants and flowers in nature. Here is what I found.

How Weeds Can Kill Other Plant Life

Efficient Use of Soil Moisture

A side effect of a weed’s ability to grow fast is its use of soil moisture. Plants are opportunistic, growing roots wherever water is available. Faster growing or more drought tolerant plants may survive longer in a mass of plants, as they gain advantages over nearby plants seeking the same limited water resources.

Even if you have deep roots set, from the way you were brought up, if you spend enough time around the weeds, they will kill your roots. Your roots need continuous water and nourishment.

Blocking Sunlight

Another advantage to being a faster, stronger plant is that the larger robust plant will be able to spread its stems and leaves out to catch more sunlight.

There are people in this world who are absolute experts and have made it their mission to block the light.

Overpowering Numbers

Often weeds will create huge numbers of seeds, or have seeds that remain viable in the soil for many years can have an advantage over other plants. When physically outnumbers the desirable plant, chances are that more weeds will grow, survive and outlast the fewer numbered good plants nearby.

Have you ever felt out numbered? Remember, we have God who is there to help us through it all.

Direct Chemical Influence

Some plants, especially those that live in more inhospitable growing environments, can adapt to secrete toxins into the soil to deter other plants from germinating. This preventing other plants to be within the proximity of another diminishes any spatial issues, increasing soil nutrient, water and sunlight available.

Basically weeds don’t want plants to be around other plants. The weed is there and wants control.


Yesterday’s post was about praying for those who persecute you and loving your enemies. I mentioned in my post the struggle I was having with loving my enemy. It’s difficult for me to love some of these people who are persecuting Christians and others in Iraq.

Here are the verses I posted yesterday:

Matthew 5:43-48, Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

So, once I got into prayer about it, I asked God for understanding and help in finding love for these people. It’s hard to find love for those doing such evil. Several hours later passed by and I was studying another subject which brought me to Ephesians. This verse caught my attention, so I had to share. I believe God brought this verse to my attention to help me gain a better understanding of who the true enemy really is. I underlined the part that really stood out as I was reading.

Ephesians 6
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

This brings me back to that quote: hate the sin, not the sinner.

Lately I’ve been praying for both the Christians and others groups being persecuted in Iraq. To pray for those persecuting these groups, quite honestly, hasn’t even in the slightest way come to mind – until I read the following verse below.

Matthew 5:43-48, Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I’ve read the verse before, but today it hit me in a whole new way. The first thought that came to mind after reading this was, “Do you really want me to pray for them?”. The second thought was, “Love them? Is that even possible?” The truth is it has been written, and further more it’s been written in red. Need I really ask if he meant it? Okay, here it goes, I’ll try, I’ll be sure to do the first, I feel like I’m going stumble for awhile over the second. It’s hard to even say I’ll try to love them, but I will. I’ll probably be mentioning my struggle with this in the same prayer.

Concluding Thought: Whether I am thinking about all the struggles in Iraq, or struggles in my own life, I need to be sure I start this day focused on God, and not myself. Today I need to work more on loving and praying for others, regardless of the relationship I have with them.

A verse shared on one of the slides in this video comes from Isaiah 53:6

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Read Isahah 53

I Know I will continue stumbling through this life. Thank you Lord for your love, grace and forgiveness.

1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Iniquity Defined:
1: gross injustice : wickedness
2: a wicked act or thing : sin

The other day the Wife and I decided to rent the movie “God’s not Dead”.

The Movie Summary:

Present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. As other students in the class begin scribbling the words “God Is Dead” on pieces of paper as instructed, Josh find himself at a crossroads, having to choose between his faith and his future. Josh offers a nervous refusal, provoking an irate reaction from his smug professor. Radisson assigns him a daunting task: if Josh will not admit that “God Is Dead,” he must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals. With almost no one in his corner, Josh wonders if he can really fight for what he believes. Can he actually prove the existence of God? Wouldn’t it just be easier just to write “God Is Dead” and put the whole incident behind him? GOD’S NOT DEAD weaves together multiple stories of faith, doubt and disbelief, culminating in a dramatic call to action. The film will educate, entertain, and inspire moviegoers to explore what they really believe about God, igniting important conversations and life-changing decisions. Ref:

I have to admit, this movie was very interesting and had its share of lessons with it. There is this one part where a Minister and his buddy keep trying to drive away on vacation but their car won’t start. So they order a rental car to be delivered and once it pulls up they sign the paperwork, get in, and it doesn’t start either. God needed them to stay exactly where they were for the time being.

Throughout the movie I found much of what the student presented to be fascinating. A couple days after watching I tried to Google one of the arguments he shared. In doing so I came across a forum thread and many of the people on this particular thread were Atheists, including the one Atheist who was now questioning whether there really is a God.

This person first quotes the information they heard, and follows it up with their own question, here’s that post:

The question really boils down to one of two positions. Either the universe itself has always existed (is itself eternal), or it was brought into existence by a supernatural power or being.

My position is that science and logic unequivocally prove the latter.

The consensus of science, based on the 2nd law of thermodynamics and astrophysics is that the universe is not itself eternal, did indeed have a beginning, and that all matter and energy at one time existed at one point. Then, there was a big bang that propelled it all into motion. And according to astronomers, it’s all still moving today.

Newton’s law of motion states that bodies at rest stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. If the entirety of the universe’s matter and energy existed at one point, any outside force would be outside of all matter and energy in the universe. Something outside all matter and energy in the universe is by definition supernatural. Therefore, it was a supernatural force that acted upon the body of matter and energy causing the big bang.

Now, if we want to look at it logically as well, there is a maxim of logic that dictates “ex nihilo nihil fit” which means out of nothing, nothing comes. IOW, things don’t simply pop into existence from nothing, rather they are brought into existence by something. Therefore, if the universe did indeed have a beginning as science demands, then there is a logical necessity for a supernatural force or being (a something) to bring it into existence.

Come on guys. I always considered myself an Atheist, but this explanation by a theist to me made me really think. Can you really smart guys make my uncertainty go away by disproving this argument, please?

So desperate to not believe… Why? The other forum members did their best to come up with there responses but throughout the conversation this person sounded as if he just wasn’t satisfied with their answers. After a couple other Atheists try to put his mind at ease he says:

I appreciate the responses guys, but you still haven’t helped me be able to argue against the guys point. His argument based on Newton’s law of motion…

I pray this person decides to seeks God.

The Beginning – Genesis 1
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Read More

There are several reasons and experiences that led me to believe in God. Just to share a couple, I believe in God because everything he has done and continues to do in my life and the lives of those I know. During difficult decisions, problems or situations in life, when I ask for God’s guidance, or I refer to his instruction, he helps me through it. With Him, issues that arise seem to get resolved so much quicker than before. You can read more about my experiences and testimony here.

To share my testimony, first I really need to share a little bit of family history which starts with my Grandfather. He was a man of character. When he became of age he joined up with the military and was deployed to fight in World War II. He fought in one of the more well-known battles, the battle of Iwo Jima. During his time in the war he lost most of the other soldiers in his platoon, all but 2 others. Crouching down in a bunker he came to decide he was going to live his life different if he survived though it. He survived. Once he made it back to a safe place, he wrote my Grandma a letter letting her know things need to change when he gets back home. And she was on board. Once he got back home he went to college at Harding University to become a Pastor. He made good on his decision to change the way he lived from then on. Grandpa was the type of person who lived on very little, yet helped changed the lives of very many. He continued in his ministries for over 50 years until his health eventually retired him from preaching.

Now my grandfather had 5 kids with his youngest being a little girl who years later became my mother. She was dedicated to bringing me to church since I was just a baby. She never missed. Even on vacations, I thought I’d find a break from church during the drive. If it was Sunday, she’d always find a way. I remember for the first decade of my life she would tuck me in with a prayer. She would pray with me, say goodnight and then go to my sisters room and do the same. Dinner always started with a prayer. Her life since as early as I can remember was dedicated to living for our Lord and Savior…

She was and still is a great mother to me and a great example (thanks mom). At the age of 12 I decided to get baptized. Things felt right. I remember the day I was baptized it felt like I was starting fresh. It was a great feeling, even though my sins that were instantly forgiven through my baptism were not as severe as they would soon become. It seemed like the month I got baptized was the month the evil one decided, “okay, I’m going to wreck him”. It seemed like within that next two years I was introduced to many sinful things. The evil one created his own path for me and my ignorance and immaturity lead me down it. Sophomore year came along and I was now far away from serving our God, I still believed there was a God if someone asked, but I was not living it. This is the year I will make smoking cigarettes among other things a daily habit, an hourly habit in some cases. I used to think for the longest time marijuana wasn’t that bad, but I realize, although science has found positive uses for the drug, this drug distracted me further from God than anything else. It’s rare to see someone high on any drug praying to God, reading the bible, or doing good deeds for others. I’m not saying impossible, just uncommon.

I lived like this for years and got into a certain type of lifestyle. One thing I loved to do was steal. I don’t know if I was motivated by the money or the crime itself (can i get away with it), probably a little bit of both. Popularity and more friends came with living a lifestyle far from God; this was the evil ones trick to get me stuck in this lifestyle.

Out of high school I got involved with a woman who was horrible to me. I’m horrible to her. We live a lifestyle accepted by the world and she becomes pregnant. Our fighting pauses for 9 months and starts up again. During those 9 months I cleaned up a bit and started going to college. Once my first child was born I was already well into my 1st year in college. Our fights started up again. We were not prepared for this responsibility. Our fighting got out of control, it’s easy to say she got out of control; it’s not so easy to admit I got out of control. But yes, I was out of control. One day we were fighting in front of our 3 month old little girl. My baby’s eyes were so big, she was so afraid. That night she ended up taking the baby with her for the night somewhere else. This has already happened a number of times before. For the first time in years, I fell to my knees and prayed. Please God, this fighting isn’t good for my daughter to see. I’ll be kicking and screaming the whole way but please bring my girlfriend a man who will be respectful to my daughter. I cannot and will not leave them. I love my baby girl so much. However, it would be better if we raise her apart. One month later she left me for another who she later married. I considered whether the relationship this other person was new or ongoing, but regardless, I felt I got my first glimpse of God through an answered prayer. To see my daughter more I had to take my ex to court. This was the worse year of my life. After this I continued seeing my daughter, and with the rest of my time I just floated around, working and accepting life as it was.

Years passed and my daughter grew and I could only hope she didn’t see the things her mother and I put her though in her earliest of years. When I wasn’t with my daughter I was just living in the world, and of the world. I had gone through a couple more relationships before I met the woman I would marry. I met her and we dated for about 6 months. One night I called her and she tells me that she, her aunt and cousins are sitting on the floor because of the possible risk of a drive-by. I remember visiting one night sitting on the porch with her cousins and brother drinking. You would hear shots being fired within a 3 mile radius probably every 20 minutes (this was normal i guess). Worried about her safety I asked her to move in with me. (As if living with me was the solution) After Michael, her son, turned 1 she moved down to Tucson. We lived together in apartments for the first couple years, those years were extremely tough. We had our share of good days but our bad days were nothing easy to deal with. We both had a lot of pain from life taking its course and pain can lead to anger. About 3 years into our relationship I proposed, she eventually became pregnant and we became married. Then we started going to counseling. The counseling didn’t help much. Now we have two people with a kid each from a previous relationship, a child of our own and problems from the past. We had a dying relationship with no love or respect. We tried so many things to fix it, in retrospect, I believe we both wanted the same thing, but just didn’t know how to do it. We continued, counselling, trying different things, reading relationship content, you name it. Our relationship matured some as we got older but it was still in the dumps. Good days, followed by the bad, and then good again. Just a typical crazy cycle.

Then one day I get the word, My grandfather passed away. You know, the grandfather who paved the way for us to live with God in our lives. My Mom, Dad, sisters and I flew to Minnesota soon after to attend the funeral. For some reason, I’m not that sensitive at funerals. Maybe its confusion, I’m not sure. If sadness hits me, it hits me before the funeral, not at the funeral. I don’t cry. Sometimes i feel I need to look down so people won’t think I’m inconsiderate. But often, its more confusion than anything. Anyways, we fly to Minneapolis, then drive for 2 or 3 hours though the snow to Nevis, a little town in the middle of snow. Lots and lots of snow. We get to my cousins, and stay there the night. The next morning we get ready and head to the church. I walk in and begin shaking hands with family members I haven’t seen since childhood. I find myself a seat and begin looking at this screen.

grandpa-grandmaIt’s a slideshow of my Grandpa, many of the pictures being of him and my Grandma who passed on about a year earlier. There he is, in the picture, about 85 years old smiling, glowing, sharing time with my Grandma on her birthday. She looks sick, frail and pale. He’s still there, glowing, so happy to be with her. A lump begins to form and I want to cry. I’m doing my best not to begin crying in fear of making a scene. Without this incredible man making his decision in a bunker 70 years ago, where would my family be? Look how he is to his wife, my Grandma. Pictures continue on the slide show. There he is again; he seems so satisfied with his life, so happy, so fulfilled. This is a man of great faith in God, who never backed off on dedicating his life to serve. I can now barely hold it together. I’m a wreck. Now people are taking turns to talk. I heard stories about a man who had very little, a preacher’s salary, would give his card to someone in need and tell them, “use what you need”. They would use what they needed and bring it back to him. Another family new to the U.S, didn’t have much. He took them in and helped them get on their feet. The boy of that family, now very successful, got up to speak about the strong faith my grandfather had. Through this whole day my heart took on a change. On this day I became forever changed. I am going to be the husband, father and Christian I am called to be. I found Jesus through the life my grandfather lived. Even after passing, he was still a light into my dark world (thank you Grandpa). I now want Jesus in my life too.

I go home and my first commitment was to begin going to church, not periodically, not once a month, but every Sunday. Start learning how to be a better husband regardless of how I am being treated. This was a hard thing to do. And so it begins. I continue going every Sunday, taking my kids so I may raise them in the way they should go – and working on being a better husband to my wife. Things are beginning to go better it seems. And then a storm hits. Unresolved issues bring flurries. We begin fighting and fighting leads to persecution. I’m fighting back but trying to control the words and the way I present my anger and hurt. A lot of shots were taken at my faith, “You are just a fake Christian”, she says. Our marriage is in turmoil and it will stay that way for now. Days continue and I continue. As time passed I decide I wanted to place membership at the church. To do this I had to attend 3 seminars. I attended 2 of the seminars and the last seminar was coming up soon. This is when the fights and challenges really took a turn for the worse. I almost decided not to do the 3rd seminar because I was dangerously close to filing for a divorce. How can you divorce your wife and commit to the church in the same month, I asked myself. One Sunday later before church she decided to say this to me, “You are not taking the kids to church” This is something I cannot fight, otherwise it will turn into a child tug of war. I am outraged. I am so angry. I remember going to church with my oldest daughter. She ended up letting the kids go before I left. During the time of communion, i felt I couldn’t take it because I had too much anger and hurt in my heart. Instead I went to the bathroom and began to quietly cry out of control. Have you ever done that? The lump in your throat just grows out of control. One man came in the bathroom and looked like he wanted to walk right back out, perhaps to give me some privacy, but then he stopped. Instead he decided to stay and be there. He talked with me and I told him my problems the best I could. He heard about things my wife said and done, a total rant, and the first thing he could tell me is, “Forgive Her”. (Thank you John). We talked some more and eventually I made it back to the main area to sit with my daughter. The songs just stopped and the lesson was just starting. Guess what the message was about. Forgiveness! A full lesson on the importance and power of forgiveness. Wow. Alright God, I’m listening. (Thanks Don for this message & others) So after church I begin driving home with my daughter. I ask my daughter, “You know when I went to the bathroom?” She replies, “yea…” I ask her, “did you hear me?” She looks at me a little weird and says, “Uhhhh…no.” Then I say that’s good, and I left it at that.

I get home and sure enough, its round 2 with the fighting. It feels like round 2,000 its been bad for a long time now it seems, but I’m still trying but this time it’s different. So I go in the room and she begins to fight with me. This time, there’s one thing that Satan wasn’t prepared for when pulling the strings in our marriage. I’ve decided to give up, not on my marriage – but on living for me. I am done. Lord, I’m doing this your way. Instead of fighting I begin to ask questions, I begin to listen. She takes a shot at me, I tell her, it’s the evil one causing this in our marriage and I forgive you. She takes another shot even more angry and these words hurt. I stay the course and continue being the husband God calls me to be, a forgiving, loving husband. This isn’t easy to do. This continues for a while. I feel beaten to a pulp. I tell her, I forgive you – and I truly mean it. She scolds back, this time with a hint of remorse, “How can you forgive me!, how?” I know God wants me to be a forgiving husband. And I forgive you, I do love you. She replies, “For the first time in our relationship, I feel you truly love me”. I remember breaking down after this because I realized I’ve failed miserably as a husband and then tears of awe because all these years I tried it my way, I was so blind. And then when I try it God’s way a mountain of a problem in our life was moved. Spiritually, I felt like God was patting me on the back, cheerfully telling me, “Now you see Cole, now you see.”

Although a mountain was moved, there were still more mountains to overcome. We had issues to get over and problems to discuss. But it felt possible now. With God’s help a breakthrough was made. So many great things happened since that day, including my wife’s choice in starting her journey as a renewed Christian. She was baptized on Feb. 1st 2014. Since then we’ve been regularly attending and growing in our faith together. Life is no longer just this thing we do, full of anxiety, hardship, and work. For me, life is exciting again. It’s full of challenges, hope and love. If someone were to ask me, why do you believe in God? The answer is no longer – cuz I just do or because I was raised that way. My answer is because without God, I’d be a divorced man with no hope. I feel truly blessed with the wife and family I get to share my life with. Although I wasn’t always there for him, the moment I was ready to accept him and his ways, he was there, and he always was there – he transformed my life, my marriage and continues to do so. He has been so faithful and loving to me even after living a life of sin. I don’t deserve this type of love and yet he still gives it to me, our God is full of Grace… And my eyes are forever open, and I am never going back… Thank you Lord for all you’ve done and all you do.

Made Alive in Christ
2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Jew and Gentile Reconciled Through Christ
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

My Pastor often says, when you read the bible you first should think about what it means, and then think about how it applies in your life, what can you take from it…

This chapter is full of information to think about, but one thing that stands out for me is God’s love for everyone, both Christians and non-christians. Those of us who are now Christian’s were lost at one time, and we should set our minds to be loving, patient and kind toward those who are far from God, regardless of who they are or how we are treated by them.

The verse that was in the Kids program at our church yesterday was Collossions 4:5, I felt it was important to share this verse with this post.

Collossians 4:5 NIV
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Last night the Wife and I went to a study group with another couple. We really enjoyed it and continue finding things we have in common with this other couple. We both have blended families and also share in some of the same struggles.

One topic we discussed was forgiveness. It’s not easy to forgive others, but we must in order to be forgiven. But how about those we’ve wronged? If they’re not forgiving of the things we’ve done in the past, they will not be forgiven by God. If the reason why a certain person can’t make it to heaven is due to unforgiveness, because of something you’ve done wrong to them, where does that leave you?

Forgiving others is hard, but asking for forgiveness from others, especially those you don’t really care too much for, seems impossible. It’s a very humbling situation. One thing to remember is the person you don’t care for is still and will always be loved by God and God desperately wants a growing relationship with this person. Their unforgiveness for something you may have done can create a relationship road block between them and God.

I understand you cannot make someone forgive you, but to sincerely ask for the forgiveness of those we’ve wronged gives them the opportunity to forgive and consider forgiveness. As Christians I believe asking forgiveness of those we’ve wronged is our obligation. The more time that goes by, the harder this process becomes. I believe God wants to make things easy for us through the word. His word leads me to believe we need to handle things quickly.

Matthew 5:23-25

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.

Be humble, be a light unto the world. (a work in process)

Ever take for granted the little things in life. I’m starting to miss my thumbnail. Nearly a month ago I was helping someone load a dryer into a trailer and I ended up banging my thumb between the side of the dryer and the side of the trailer. Ouch!, my thumbnail turned black instantly. About two days ago the nasty looking thing came off. Now I have this odd looking thumb with no nail. So what I do is, I throw a band-aid on it every morning to both protect the skin the nail would normally protect, plus hide the weirdness of it all. Do you ever take things for granted, I sure do.

We live in a time where it is common to put more focus on the things we want instead of what’s in front of us. I know I am in no way innocent of this. I find myself on craigslist from time to time, pricing dirt bikes. There have been times where I design how I want my back yard set up. God has blessed our family with a house, a place where my kids can play and my dog can dig. According to the United Nations Commissions on Human Rights an estimated 100 million people are homeless world wide. 100 million, can you wrap your mind around that number. The entire state of New York has an estimated 19.57 million people.

What I must remember is we have a limited time here and everything you see is temporary. Maybe its a time to appreciate what we have and begin putting more focus toward storing up treasures in heaven.

Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I sometimes ask myself, if I found out I had a week left, what would I do with it. The answer is, I’d spend better quality time with my wife and kids. I’d tell my loved ones how much I loved and enjoyed having them in my life. I’d continue serving God in the best way I know how. I’d care less about the things that seem fun to have and appreciate the blessings I’ve received.

I believe this is how I should be living my life, regardless of my expiration date. May I go into this day more appreciative of what God has blessed me with, and what he has done for me. May I go into this day focused and ready to serve others, living for a little less of myself, and a little more of God.

1 Corinthians NIV
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Matthew 10 NIV
39 Whoever finds their life will lose it,
and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

My Prayer for Today:

Lord, Please forgive me for falling short as the Christian you call me to be. May I go into this day with serving you being my primary focus, I am not my own. Let me continue through this day with my eyes wide open so I may see opportunities to serve you more. Amen

There is a right and wrong way to give and it’s separated by our purpose. When our purpose is to glorify our Father in heaven, we are giving in the way he describes in Matthew 5:16 (below). However, once our focus draws away from glorifying God, and instead becomes something we do to be admired by others, there is no reward, except the reward of being called “a good person” by others.

So let’s imagine, you and I were standing in front of the same grocery store and a person in need was sitting on the curb. In that moment I decide to give them some food or money. Based on the way I did it, would you have a good idea whether I was doing with a good heart or as a way of glorifying myself? Do you find that questioning the motive of the giver is the natural response of any witness to those who give? It’s almost as if people have a sixth sense in knowing the motive behind those who are giving.

As a follower of Christ we want to do our part in bringing light into the world, and we want to be a giving people, but we don’t want to give the wrong impression. How do we do this? Place all your focus on doing it for God and the person you are helping, and remove you from the picture.

    A few questions I am now asking myself:

  • Have I been giving as God encourages me to do so?
  • What can I do to be more of a giving person?
  • Have I been keeping my eyes open for opportunities to give?
  • What can I do to find those in need?

Matthew 5

4 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 6

6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

One of the hardest things to do as Christians is to deny ourselves. It feels so natural to want to do what I want to do. I’ve found that every time I do things God’s way, instead my own, the result is just sooo much better. Yet, even while knowing this, it’s still so easy to revert back to making choices based on my own wants… my own desires.

Matthew 16:24 NIV
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Denying oneself isn’t something that will be accomplished successfully 100% of the time. We are human and can never be perfect, and the one who lived perfect, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, has sacrificed himself for this reason, so we can be forgiven. With his forgiveness we can then continue living our lives following his ways and not our own.

I believe, every day, we need to set our minds onto living for God and not ourselves. We succeed in situations, and other situations we may fail. But, God is always there to give us the opportunity to begin fresh with him at that moment through repentance. When I mess up, my prayers often sound something like this, “Oh Lord, I messed up again. I messed up by (fill in the blank here), please forgive me. Please give me a clean heart and provide me strength where I am weak, so I can live a clean life and make choices that bring glory to your name. Amen”

Not only do we begin fresh with repentance. We also can begin fresh every morning. I know if I do not begin the day with a prayer, I’m done for, the day will chew me up and spit me out. Beginning fresh each day with the right mindset and focus is key.

I hope this brings you encouragement for the week ahead, and may God be with you over hills and through valleys.

Now first thing’s first. Before you can deal with social anxiety, the best thing to do is get to know it. If you’re struggling with this form of anxiety you’re probably thinking, I already know it. I know it all to well. Here are some of the symptoms associated with this disorder. You may have only a couple symptoms or more than a few. Everyone’s different. Continue reading