Thank God For Sunday

It’s been an absolute hell of a week.  To even try to go into detail about it would be both too difficult and too personal for all people involved.  The devil was surely nipping at our heals this week, nearly blowing out all our lights that shine our way on God’s path.  It’s amazing how one small thing can be interpreted so very differently and, therefore, get crazy out of hand because of it.  Sometimes I believe we, as a society, are losing the art of communication with one another, and the ability to understand each other.  It’s detrimental.

Couples should take classes once a year, health care providers should take classes on how to communicate with patients, people, in general, should take a class on normal expected human behavior, and the world would be just fine.  The amount of disrespect and misunderstanding between people is almost criminal in this world lately.

And it’s so easy to get caught up in it all, to get caught up in the bantering, or acting like you’re better than the person who is supposed to be providing you with a service, and letting your mind get over-run with that conversation in your head where you say everything on your mind but your mouth fails to actually filter it, thus hurting people’s feelings around you and scaring people around you because they have no idea what to expect of someone who just doesn’t harness their behavior at all.  And when people lack the ability to discern what is troublesome and what is not, it can get some people into worse situations, emotionally, mentally, or otherwise.

God gave us a voice, brothers and sisters, but He first gave us Love.  I’m pretty sure the voice was to express that, not anything less than.

Be prepared, however, when you speak of God and His glory.  There are some that find that troublesome as well.  As if believing in God, and His ability to pull you out of rough waters, is a mental disorder that is something that needs to be dealt with.  But isn’t that the way it’s always been?

Earlier this week, I was helping my mom through a Bible study in Acts 1-4, which I had never read before.  In the later parts of it, I learned that Peter and John had been arrested for, what my understanding is, preaching about Jesus and His good works and what He is capable of.  This did not sit well with the boss men, so they had Peter and John arrested, telling them they could never do that again.  It was something interesting to learn, and at the time, it was knowledge, at best.  However, the other night, telling somebody that nobody could help me through what I was going through but God landed me in quite the conundrum, one in which my rights and control were completely taken away.  I won’t say that the catalyst to this event didn’t play into that decision, however, my statement did not sit well with the one in charge of my fate at the moment.

So for quite a while, I found myself with only God to call upon for strength, remembering the verse from Philipians 4:13, which happens to be my wife’s favorite Bible verse, and the one I played over most in my head during my time of trial, so to speak…”I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”  And I waited, and prayed, and meditated, and Trusted, and relied on truth, and the Truth of God…and thought about this song.

Many thanks to God for renewing my strength during that time. 

My mother-in-law’s birthday was on Friday, we had a wonderful family meal at Outback.  It was great to be around everyone, although afterwards, it was nice to come home and just call it a family night around the television.  Saturday we started the day off lazy, although much deserved after the week we had.  We decided to go tubing down the salt river, however, after an hour of getting ready, getting in the car and hopping on the expressway, a phone call to the recreation park revealed that they were no longer renting out tubes for the day because the weather conditions weren’t favorable.  That was a kick in the junk, since we were trying so hard to take a mental vacation and just have fun, regardless of how much it cost that we shouldn’t spend.  We were quite disappointed, but eventually, the day went on…even though we had some battling to do with our daughter.  Some things never change.

Sunday…yep, church.  Nope.  We played hookey today and reclaimed our opportunity to take that mental vacation and just do something, dammit!  We deserved it…and it was the last day to go for the season.  We got all of our stuff together, drove up the mountain, got in the water, said our prayer, thanked God for bringing us all together, asked Him to forgive us for not going to His house today, as we were working on forgiveness with each other, and proceeded to float on down the river.  It was a blast…we had so much fun.  It was peaceful, beautiful, exciting…offered up a time for trust, and just…well, time together, and a break from the monotony of our daily struggles. 

For some reason, I have a calling to the mountains, and I feel the closest to God when I’m in them.  I had the time to just be close without thinking too much, just plug in and get recharged, and hopefully, I’m charged enough to face the week ahead.  I have Christ in me, I hear Him, through music, through the Word, and He holds me close….so too, shall I hold Him close.

~Dear Lord, please forgive me the sins of my week, as my weakness overcame me.  Thank you for your protection and for guiding me back to you, Lord.  Please continue to wrap your arms around me and my family as we face struggles of daily lives that the world imparts on us, help us to overcome them and to lift our family and our selves, our own hearts and lives above anything else.  Thank you for your blessings, and for allowing us to have this wonderful day together.  In your most precious and Holy name, I pray.  Amen~

Regenerated!

After an eventful weekend, exciting, yet exhausting…I managed to make a video.  It’s a more simple video, compared to some of the others that I’ve made, but I just thought about it over the dinner that my wife made for us and our daughter, along with her two friends from church.  Hey…it only took about three hours!  And I have barely had a conversation with my wife all day…

****NOT THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF THE BLOG VIDEO.  THIS IS THE OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR THIS SONG BY THE BAND HIM.  AND SINCE I CAN’T USE MY OWN, I WILL DO THEM THE HONOR OF USING THEIRS, AND I LOVE IT DAMMIT!!****

This weekend my wife and I attended and volunteered at The Regenerate Women’s Conference hosted by our church, Central Christian Church of the East Valley in Arizona.  It was AMAZING!!!  We’ve both attended a “Women Of Faith” concert a few years ago while we were in Atlanta, so when the opportunity came up again, we couldn’t wait for another chance to experience the music, the fellowship, and the workshops that came along with it.  Problem was…the price was a bit too high for our resources this time around.  When I think about it, I can’t even remember how we managed to make it the last time, and that was an experience to remember, but a very funny story for another time.

Thankfully, through the resources of our church, and our availability and desire to serve our Lord for this event, we were both able to attend through a scholarship deal.  My wife was given the task, appropriate for her abilities, to be out in the public eye, attract and market products for Christian comedian, Kerri Pomarolli…who is crazy funny and an amazing servant of the Lord both on a professional and personal level, and she helped by handing out lunches to everyone who attended the conference.  I, who have been searching for a place to serve for a while now, had met up with one of our worship leaders a few days before the concert, had been given the opportunity to be on cameras for the event.

I had never worked cameras before, in fact, I haven’t picked up a video camera since I was, probably, nineteen years old, when my friends and I used to set up a camera in the corner of my basement (I had the entire basement to myself) and just leave it running, our own reality show.  Well, I had asked God to give me a task, and He charged me with something He must have known that I was capable of, and furthermore, to test me with.  It was not just a matter of working a camera, and not just a matter of working a camera for a major concert event with a major Christian recording star, Natalie Grant, it was about overcoming the fear of actually taking it on and following through with it.

Suddenly, all those prayers that I had prayed, asking Him to help me find my way and to find a place in this world had been answered.  Now, if I were to let my disabilities stand in my way, my panic/anxiety problems, my fears hold me back, what good was I to stand and proclaim His glory if I were to back down and cower in those dark zones of comfort that I usually find peace in.  How could I proclaim my own Faith if I didn’t have enough faith in myself to act upon a task that He had placed in my hands, and found me capable of.  How could I write this blog, from which the very foundation of it is “Faith without works is dead” if I have the Faith, had an opportunity, but didn’t act.  My credibility, my discipleship, and my guidance would be worth nothing…and that’s not good enough for me, because I know it’s not good enough for Him.  So I prayed to Him to help me through my fears and my anxiety, I took my task head on, did the best I could with what little knowledge I had, and with His help and the help and faith of everyone around me in that production booth that night, I made it through.  Although I have to keep praying on this…because panic/anxiety is not something that just goes away…thankfully, prayers are something you can do ALL the time!

So, the concert was called “Regenerate.”  That’s what I did…that’s what I’m doing.  I’m regenerating…we all are.  Every now and then we need to plug ourselves in and get the juice back so we have the strength and power within ourselves so that we may find the ability and the desire to continue doing all that we may do through each day to serve in every capacity.  Not just normal capacity, not just waking up, making breakfast, going to work, or doing the house-work, and then making dinner, doing whatever it is we do at night until it’s time to go to bed and wake up to the same next day…but serving outside our normal routine that satisfies what the world expects of us.  That’s the easy stuff.  That’s the stuff we can without barely having to think or try, and that barely pleases anyone, including ourselves.

It’s getting to the point to be able to regenerate…things happen in our lives that make us pause and think, wonder, question, even back away from God and our service toward Him.  Those obstacles are important, not to be overlooked and not to be looked down on by those struggling to understand the person that is stuck in that moment, however long it may last.  Those moments test us only to strengthen us and bring us closer to the The Lord once we can start handling each day with a little more ease and understanding of so many things, of our lives as a whole, of ourselves, of the world, of God.

At the conference, a woman was speaking about roses, and unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up with all that she said because I was in the production room and I was hearing a lot of other things going on as well.  My apologies to that speaker.  But, in essence, she spoke of how roses imitate the struggles of life.  Instantly, it reminded me of a video I made over a year ago when I was struggling quite a bit through a whole host of emotional hardships going on in my life.  My therapist had asked me to draw a vase with some flowers coming out of it and how it might represent, going from the bottom of the vase up to the flowers, a possible transition in my emotional journey that I hope to achieve, considering the sorrow that I felt at the moment, which would have, in her mind, been at the bottom of the vase, and the hope of happiness toward the flowers.

Well, I, being a little more creative than that, made a video with my favorite flower, the rose.  The stem, the part that people actually interact with, the hardest part for people to interact with because of it’s thorns…and the bloom, the flower, the most fragile part that we don’t really touch, but love to look at and smell, even lightly run across our skin because it offers that moment of gentleness.  It’s “life” in a flower.  It gives us thorns that we have to deal with, we get poked, we bleed, more times than other times…depending on our journey, but if we are committed to nurturing that flower because we know that in order to have it, and all the beauty that fills our senses that come with it, we must hold it and risk the suffering from the thorns.  But sometimes we’re stuck with a dead flower for a while, not that they, in their own right aren’t beautiful, because they are (I collect dried roses), they hold us down in a moment that makes it tough to rise from.  We hadn’t watered our soil, and all we have is a collection of dead leaves, and if we don’t pay attention to all those that may offer guidance, our Lord, our loved ones, and ourselves, those dead leaves will collect to be too much for any light to shine through so that one day, we may start to bloom again, in our own due time, with prayers and patience.

We bloom again, we’re regenerated, and we are once again back on track, walking on our individual journeys toward our Lord.  He knows of all our individual sufferings thus far, and to come, and what we are all capable of if we continue to let His light shine on and through us.  He taught His disciples well so that they could teach theirs and so forth, so that we may learn, and teach just as well, and with our experiences, our joys and sufferings within us, as guidance to help us, and others, along our path of the unknown toward the most amazing, heavenly rose.  I would love to show you this video, but YouTube blocked it and I can’t, as of yet, get it to post directly to this blog site.

Our commitment to Jesus should not be one of obligation, but one of pure Love, for He granted us freedom to leave Him at any time, although He would love us still.  Some people have chosen Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, and do faithfully Love Him and attend church every Sunday and know the Bible.  Some have accepted Him and have their own relationship with Him outside of church, may or may not know the Bible.  Some may be headlong in and know the Bible backwards and forwards in three different languages, and may also have Jesus as their Savior.  None of these, in my opinion, are wrong, as long as along with knowing the Bible hasn’t interfered with you’re understanding of the Bible.  Our Senior Pastor said today, that if you “dig too deep past your objective, you no longer enjoy the objective you set out for.”  So…let the “aha” high of the moment set in and linger before you just keep digging for more information, that’s no fun…and besides, knowledge is nothing without application.  All that knowledge isn’t going to pay off, so to speak, if you don’t take the time to do what you’re clearly being told to do.

So what are we being told to do?  Be Christians!  Christ-like!  Disciples.  Followers of Christ.  However you want to break it down…we’re being told to follow Him, for He is the way, and we’re being told which way to go to get to Him, because the road isn’t easy…it’s not supposed to be.  Christ died for our sins so that we may enter the kingdom of Heaven, He didn’t die for our sins so that we would never have earthly suffering.  It’s what we do with that suffering, and what we do with the joy that matters.  While our journey was nothing compared to His, why would it be so bad to commit our hearts, give the same passion in our journeys toward Him that He gave for us?  No…I’m not saying you should go try to get some anti-Christian group to start torturing you…but I am saying that it’s not so wrong to want to please Him, praise Him, guide others toward Him, glorify Him…do as much as you can to feel like you did as much as you could when the day comes for you to go to Him.  But then there are questions about that, now that I’m thinking about it…would it be at all costs?  I would not, by any means, let you think it’s okay to put your family, your marriage, your job on the line…you have to find a balance, but God will help you with that if it is your desire as well.  So be cautious, remember your earthly support, the ones you need when the chips are down.  And what about our responsibility as Christians to guide others toward the light of God?  Yes, it’s our responsibility, but we can only plant a seed, do our best to water it, but, ultimately, we can’t make something grow where the soil just may not be rich enough.  Or maybe just prayers and patience….but then that leads me back to the question of “at all costs?”  Would you, as a Christian, having accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, offer your salvation up to Jesus in exchange for someone else’s soul to be saved instead?  In the event of an emergency and you knew they questioned their salvation?  Makes you wonder about the conversations that go on around my house, huh?  Maybe those conversations are just inside my head…for our minds and our hearts are truly a deep web of confusing, chaotic chambers of thoughts and emotions.

Well, thankfully, The Bible, while a long read, and quite confusing if not taken on with an open mind and a touch of patience, has a much easier guide on how to walk the Christian path, regardless of your individual steps, to help us get back on track, get on track, or just keep on track.  It’s pretty much all written in the book of Hebrews.  But in Chapter 13, there’s a fairly good summary…

Hebrews 13: 1-8

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

   4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

6 So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”

7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Simple, yeah?  Love one another, practice hospitality, show compassion to the suffering, stay sexually pure (don’t be creepin’ outside your bed), always be content, learn to follow Godly leadership, and God was..is..and always will be.  When you’re time has come for Him to take you into Heaven, don’t you want to have taken your place proudly?  Think about it…when He blesses you in your life, doesn’t it make you feel great that He’s done that for YOU?  When you get to Heaven and He’s seen that you Love Him that much, that you’ve done all that for Him…think about how good that would make Him feel, knowing that you didn’t just hear…but you listened.

~Dear God, thank you, once again, for all the blessings you’ve bestowed upon our family this weekend.  For offering us the chance to serve you, meet others along the way, and gain knowledge in order to apply to our mission to find you, Lord.  Thank you for keeping our loved ones safe and healthy, and for continuing to do so, as we continue to have Faith in you that you have wrapped Fatherly arms around them, Lord.  Please continue to offer your guidance in our trials and your blessings where you see fit as a new week comes upon us, and help us to see the opportunities to serve you as well as we serve those immediately around us, to Love and Honor you just as much.  In your precious and holy name, and with my gratitude, I pray to you, Lord.  Amen.~

This is a song by HIM that brings out the emotion of what I’m trying to say up there in all that explanation of Christian craziness.

****I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT SONG THIS WAS, BUT IF I EVER DO I WILL UPDATE IT****

Where Were You? Controversial?

Once again, it’s Sunday evening, just before six o’clock, and I’m just starting this week’s post.  This week has been somewhat busy, mostly comprised of being sick and not feeling up to getting on the computer to do anything, and then saving my energy to help my mother-in-law move into her new apartment on Saturday.  Has anything major kept me from starting early and getting something really good going here?  No.  I even started working on a video…but only have a compilation of clips so far.  Lack of inspiration maybe?  Maybe just another week full of frustration from the events going on around me?  I don’t know.  I wish I knew…but I’m not going to go into all of that right now.  Right now, I have something bothering me.  The whole country does.  And right now, I’m going to address it, and some of you may not like it, but I’m doing it to come to grips with something and to try to understand it from a Christian point of view.

Throughout this entire week, media has bombarded us with everything to do about the ten year anniversary 9/11.  First, most importantly, I would like to say that I’ve prayed about this as much as I can, to the point of inner turmoil…prayed for the families who have been affected first hand by the loss and devastation from the events that took place on our soil on that day, prayed for the souls of those who lost their lives that day, prayed for people who put their lives on the line to help all those people in need that day, and for all those people who could do nothing but stand by in the most heart-breaking, fearful, and confusing moments, just watching, listening, and waiting to find out what in hell, because it surely seemed as though we were in it, was going on.  So before I bring it home, I’ll indulge, along with the media, and allow myself to post this song, which I almost refuse to listen to anymore (even though I love it), so that we can really, truly, take a look into that day, really think about it and get in touch with that feeling.  Think about it…don’t just think about where you were, don’t just think about what you were doing, or who you were with…you will always remember that…but what about that entire day?  What were you thinking and feeling when you saw what the media was showing it before they censored it?  Be honest!

So, now that you’ve seen those clips, over and over again…and again, and heard the song again, for however many times you’ve heard it, can you describe you how really feel, as if you’ve felt it for the first time?  Like it was that day?

We will never forget that day!  That day was so personal to every single one of us in this country, in this world.  I was at home, my parent’s house, my grandma was in the kitchen and I had just gotten out of the shower.  I was heading downstairs to my room to get ready for work when my grandma called me to the kitchen to show me that the first tower had just been hit by an aircraft.  How shocking.  Oh my gosh!  We stood there in the corner of the kitchen together, watching, waiting for information, this was terrible, all those people!  And all those people on the floors above where the plain hit, how are they going to get them out of there??  We were already watching, holding our breath…then out of the corner of the screen…HOLY SHIT!!!  ANOTHER PLANE!!!  IT HIT!!  IT HIT!!!   WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?  (Yes, I swore, it’s my blog, my feelings, and I said…I was bringing this home!)  My grandma and I started to panic, my heart felt like it stopped, this wasn’t an accident, this was something much bigger, much scarier, something beyond our comprehension…and it was unfolding right before our eyes…and all we could do was watch.

My mom was in Dallas at the time, my dad was at work, and I was worried about leaving my grandma at home while I went to work, but I had to go, it’s my job after all, but I didn’t know what was going on, and there was still very little information coming in between the time that the second plane hit and when I had to leave.  I called my mom to check in with her and then left for work, listening to the radio station the entire way forty-five minute drive.  Oh my God!  A plane hit the pentagon!  What, Dear God, is going on?  America is under attack, my grandma is at home, my dad is at work, my mom is in Dallas, and we lived in Detroit…it seemed as though they were hitting major hubs that would bring down our country.  It was logical to me to think that Detroit could be one of them…bring down the Motor City and see what happens.  Well, it’s already been proven in the last few years…take away Ford, Chrysler, and GM and the economic downfall of the country began.  But I was worried…we could have been a target…but I didn’t know what to think.  Who knew what to think.  It was still early in the day and it was already overwhelmed with chaos, panic, fear, and confusion.

I got to work and a little while later found out that another plane went down in a field in Pennsylvania.  It was coming closer.  Our supervisors gave us an option to leave and go home if we chose, there would be nothing held against us if did go, but I stayed.  I spent my entire shift looking out the window at my cubicle, watching the skies, imagining the worse case scenario…what if?  Not that my place of business should be any kind of target, but why was any of this happening at all?  I couldn’t wait to get home…

When I got home, every channel was lit up with footage of what had occurred from the time the first plane hit the first tower until what was going at that night.  The media covered everything, they censored nothing!  And I watched.  We all watched.  After going through the entire day, having seen the start, heard bits of information, wondering, worrying, being scared, being confused, now…I felt obligated to know what the hell happened, why, and what it looked like.  Now…part of me wishes it was a part of history that I could only read in history books and not have the turmoil of having gone through the experience of.

Why?  Because the media is the devil.  The media shows no mercy.  They showed us EVERYTHING!  We saw almost all of it, play by play, at least the twin towers portion of it…and it’s all burned into my mind and heart in a way that makes it that I can no longer watch anything 9/11 anymore.

I sat on the edge of my bed, watching the television, they were showing the towers burning, going up in smoke, people hanging out windows for air…and then…they showed people jumping.  From heights unimaginable…people jumped.  Because there was no better option of suffering for them…they jumped.  Burn or jump?  Suffer or end it on my own?  Can you imagine being that person?  No…you cannot!  Can you ever place yourself in that person’s head, knowing that he or she has a family at home, more than likely watching on t.v, and all you did was go to work that day, and suddenly you find yourself in a position where you know it’s over, but everywhere around you is…well, I don’t even know what adjective to place here because I wasn’t there…but tell me, what does it take for someone to hurl themselves out of an 80 story window to their death and fall like a ragdoll just to avoid burning to death?  And the media showed it.  All night long!

The next day, they stopped showing such sensitive material, but the rest of it remained.  Then the sound bytes started coming in from middle east, the celebratory cheers of a “job well done.”  It was twisting the knife in the hearts of us all even further and harder.

It all kept going…and going…and it never stopped.  It hasn’t stopped.  The first year after it happened, it was all the country could talk about, of course, and it was to be expected.  We just got dealt a major blow, and we were hurt, and pissed, but united….although unitedly pissed, and that’s not good.  The second year came around, and of course, there is a day of remembrance, which is to be expected.  We all had our united moment of silence and prayed, we talked about it with friend and family and went back to that day when….

But as the years have passed…we haven’t forgotten.  We don’t want to, but we also haven’t been allowed to heal.  We’ve been bombarded, every year, with documentaries, special occasions, news events, clips, videos, sound bytes, everything you can imagine that brings back that day, those memories, those moments of chaos, panic, confusion, and fear.  And that’s where I have the problem.

How can anyone be expected to heal in the midst of obsession?  Remembering is one thing, but bringing it back so hard, so raw, every year, is uncalled for.  It’s not fair to the families, to those who live with the trauma of that day, to all of us, as we all have a personal devastation attached to that day.  There is no need to keep reliving, yet, just letting us remember it, peacefully, without all they media hype and the images that take us back to that place in our minds and hearts that we don’t want to be is doing an incredible injustice to the people of this world.  I mourn for the loss of those lives, I pray for families and friends who lost someone in the events of 9/11, I salute all those, government and civilian alike, who put their lives at risk during the events, I cannot express enough the gratitude and sense of unity and Faith I feel from those people who took charge of the hijackers and took the plane down in the field in Pennsylvania, and I pray for everyone that one day, we can come through this without having to relive it at such an expense.

That day changed everything for this country.  So many things, as we knew it, changed that day.  It wasn’t just the loss of lives, it was the loss of life as we knew it.  We grew an anger toward people that was not predominately there, but every year since, because we keep reliving it, and are reminded of the fear, we continue to harbor and show this anger.  We grew a fear that, since then, every year we are reminded of, and no we are no longer able to just breath without being afraid that something is going to happen, especially around 9/11…why not?  We’ve allowed them to let us be afraid of them, so why not continue to threaten us when we are most vulnerable and emotionally fragile?  We grew a bitterness that, since then, we’ve not been able to sweeten, because every year we are reminded of what happened that day, so we are re-poisoned with those thoughts.  And some, unfortunately, grew even more insensitive to human reality, life and death.  By that I mean, while I know it’s the media’s responsibility to keep us informed, why is it okay that they make it into something more fit for an “R” rated movie?  Why is it okay to show that moment between life and death?  Better yet…why is it okay that we, as humans, find it acceptable to watch someone else’s mortality to the point that every network strives to have the best footage, or make the best documentary, or make the best “made for t.v” movie?

It’s been ten years to the day since terrorists hijacked U.S passenger planes and attacked The United States by way of suicide missions.  Two planes targeted the Twin Towers in New York City, causing total devastation of both towers, with the death toll numbering in the depressing thousands, including civilian and non-civilian lives.  Another mission targeted and destroyed a section of The Pentagon, mission being, “to play God with people’s lives” and, therefore, took almost three hundred of them.  A final plane, the infamous Flight 93, was believed to be heading toward Washington D.C., however, having not counted on the will of people to live, love for other people, and Faith in God, the passengers overtook the hijackers, forcing their way into the cockpit to steer them off course, ultimately, sacrificing their lives and crashing the plane into a field in Pennsylvania before the remainder of their terrorist’s mission could be completed.  The United States States took quite a hit from nowhere that day, and declared to get the leader behind it.  In fact, just this year, the supposed leader behind the attacks was found and killed, non-intended but necessary, so we’re told.  A beautiful memorial has been built from Ground Zero, the place where it all started, where Twin Towers once stood.  We’ve had vigils every year across the nation, maybe in other places around the world.  We’ve had church services that pertains to 9/11 around or on 9/11 for the last ten years, like today, and, to be perfectly honest, I almost left.  Although I’m glad I didn’t.  And I’ll tell you why.

This tragedy is fresh, it’s raw, it still cuts like a knife and the more we keep picking at it the worse it will get.  We, as the families, as the survivors, as the individuals, as the the by-standers, will never heal from the hurt…and most certainly will never heal from the fear, anger, and bitterness that, as a child of God, will cost us more in the end if we choose to refuse the best way of dealing with this tragedy in all of our lives.

 1 Cor 14: Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Make every effort to live in peace and to be holy, without holiness no one will see the Lord.  It means you just love, just do it already.  Jesus died for us and our sins because He loves us, despite our sins, which we’re still accountable for, don’t get me wrong.  He doesn’t discriminate based on race, gender, nationality, political affiliation, brand of clothing, or anything.  He’s our father, and He will be giving us a talking to about what we did here on earth, because He loves us, and wants what’s best for us, and allows us our choices based on what He’s taught us.  He taught us a lot of things, there’s this huge book He left for us in case we get forget, The Bible, but the three most important things He taught us is Faith, Hope, and Love…but the greatest, is Love.

Matthew 5:46  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

Meaning, if you don’t branch out and extend your Christian embrace of love around those who aren’t even like you, whom you may have prejudgments about, whatever the case may be, is that doing anything special or anything Christ-like?  No.  Tax Collectors, or in this case, terrorists, are doing the same thing.  Those men did not “just love” and, therefore, did what they did.

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.  Ah, bitterness.  I mentioned before that we had grown bitter as a nation, toward groups of people threatening our nation, and groups of people who look like them, and bitter toward the fact that our very comforts of life have, thusly, been sacrificed so that our seventy year old grandma practically has to have a magnetic wand shoved up her butt to get on a plane.  But bitterness is like a venom, once you get bitten with it, it runs through your blood and messes with the very core of who you are…if you don’t catch it on time.  And if you don’t catch it on time, you’ll start passing it along to others, your children are extremely susceptible.  And bitterness acts as a fuel as well, because the more our mouths speak foully of others, and the more we behave foully toward others, the more the “others” will do so in return.  You see where I’m going here?  It’s a vicious cycle…the extreme version of it is called vengeance, the first act of war.  True, it’s harder to love people that you don’t know or don’t get along with, but sometimes, if you just have hope in people, you’ll find that they’ll find hope in you, and also in themselves.  Baby steps here, but just think of the bigger picture of hope.

So we talked about Love, we just hit on Hope…now onto Faith.  Faith, well, in short?  Right now, in my opinion, my definition of Faith is…Prove It.  If you believe in Jesus and you have faith that you can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you, and if you truly want to do all those things you want to do in this world…then Prove It…even if you have to start with baby steps.

James 2:17  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

In other words, faith without works…is dead.  Yes, folks…the very foundation verse upon which my entire blog is built on.  Cool, huh?  Well, I thought so…Hey!  Maybe today will be the day I’m discovered!  Perhaps by Richard Gere, who was just on a 9/11 tribute concert on V-H1, making a speech that got booed because he was trying to convince the crowd that “Love” is the way.  Now everyone is going to think my post is based on that…and once again, steal my mojo…just like they did in high school with Bohemian Rhapsody.  (story for a different time)

So, it’s not going to be easy, brothers and sisters.  A loss is never easy, especially one that is so devastating in circumstances, sudden, and historic.  It’s not easy to deal with in the limelight for those unfortunate ones who got placed there because of another human being’s lack of three basic principle’s, the greatest which, is Love.  But history, personal and historic, has shown us that the sooner we let things settle and just fall back into place the best they can given new conditions, the more we communicate with each other to reach a better understanding with each other, both inside and outside our circles, the more we stand united WITH each other instead of AGAINST each other, and the higher you stand when it’s time to dust off and move on toward what everyone in this world is truly fighting for, at least I hope it is, and that’s love, and the peace that comforts me within it. 

If you’re having trouble getting on your feet, just remember, if you’re on you’re already on your knees…you’re halfway there.  Just keep praying, my brothers and sisters, God’s hand will reach down to you too…

~Dear Lord, I pray that you look over each and every one of your children as we go through these times of great struggle in this world.  We all are sinners in your eyes, and none of us are perfect, but you, Lord Jesus, as our savior, promised us a place in Heaven with you and I want nothing more than to be there with you and those I love and have lost, and therefore, will do all in my power to do your works and follow your guidance so that I may see myself deserving of that place.  Please guide my wife, daughter, family and friends, brothers and sisters to continue to follow, or to find, their light, so that they may have their place as well.  Lord, please watch over all of us in our health and happiness, trials and travels this week, and please find a way to help Toby somehow so that nobody has to hurt too much just yet…I just think that now is not the time, but, Father, you know best.  In your most precious name I pray.  Amen~

Hungry For All The Small Things

It’s 3:33 in the afternoon, I just looked at the time.  3:33.  Interesting time for me…although I’m not sure why, seems it’s that time a lot whenever I look at the time, and it took on even more of a meaning when I watched a certain movie a month ago, The Fourth Kind, I believe it was…the point that it’s almost a scary time.  However, 333, is also supposed to be a Godly number so…who knows.  I just started writing my blog, so…I guess it’s all good.  I’ve stated in a previous post somewhere that I usually start writing on a Saturday, to catch everyone up on my week, then finish up on Sunday with sermon notes, message, and interpretation, application, etc.  I didn’t get to do that last week and I didn’t get to do it this week either…life is starting to get in the way.

But is that such a bad thing?  Is it really a bad thing that I now have things to do on Saturdays that keep me from having all that time available?  No…it’s not a bad thing, but it’s something I need to start figuring out in order to make the most of my blog still, because it is important to me, and because of my commitment to it, I need to make sure I get my time in for it that I need so that it doesn’t ever feel like a chore…as glorifying God should never be a chore.

So…yeah…last week I ranted about our daughter.  Was anything resolved?  Did my prayers for her to straighten up get answered?  Hmmm…no.  In fact, her mouth got her suspended from school for three days over a holiday weekend…so it’s much longer than three days.  Why does it feel like when the kid gets suspended that they are on vacation and the parents on the ones on suspension?  Well, so there’s still work and prayers to be done there, and while we’ve had talks, time will tell…and that’s all that we can do, keep praying and waiting to see what God and the future, along with her own choices have in store for her.

We hung out with my mother-in-law quite a bit this week, which is always nice, getting to know her is a great experience both for me and for my wife.  I’ve never really gotten the chance to know her, considering the time that I’ve spent around her before we moved here was limited because of distance and mostly just saw each other around certain holidays.  For my wife, the situation was kind of the same, however, her mother was just a different person then.  Life had her down…and now that she’s made a drastic change in it, she’s a different person, a happy, positive, fun person to be around that my wife never knew before, and she’s loving every minute of getting to know that person.  I love that for her, because before, she was missing such a big part of herself and her heart because of a strained relationship with her mother, and now, it’s all falling into place, just because of the opportunity of being closer in distance and because we took that leap of faith and convinced her mother that we were going to have a family with her come hell or high water!

We also met up with a young man earlier this week that we had met previously at one of the stores we frequent, but had finally gotten a chance to actually talk with him.  He actually lives near us, so we opened ourselves to the opportunity to friendship with him and invited him over to our house.  He’s quite a bit younger than us, but he’s a cool kid and fun to hang out with and talk to, so that was nice.  And later that evening, we had plans to meet up with a group of people that my wife had arranged.  They were an older crowd, more my age, hers and up, but that was really fun too, a great group of people, whom, since, we’ve had a dinner party with…one of the guys made an amazing spaghetti sauce, or shall I say “gravy.”

We also had a taco night with a friend that we met a few weeks ago when we first moved here from a social meeting group, that was,  a much smaller function, which I tend to appreciate.  Yet, all in all, as far as meeting people and making new friends, it’s been an abundant week for us, which is what has kept me busy…and it is often said that no one is ever so rich as to deny a new friend.  Now, I’m not typically one to have a lot of friends, so this is new to me, but I moved out here to be the best person I can be, and if God is seeing it fit to put these people in my path, then who I am to walk away from them, lest they walk away from me?  Thus I’m starting my blog on Sunday instead of Saturday.

So what not-so-wonderful things happened this week?  Other than things with our daughter?  (Because right now I refuse to make this all about her)  Well, my wife lost her medicine…but found her food-stamp card in the process of looking for it, which she thought she had cut up and thrown away before we even moved.  But thanks be to God, because there was money on it and we needed food.  It had been under the cushions on the couch…which was on the moving truck that whole time!!  So now do I gripe about all the shrink and tape they used on my couch, even though it messed up one of the cushions?  Hmmmm….

My GPS (Garmin Piece of Shit) has been trying to get me lost all over Tempe and Phoenix, waiting until the last minute to tell me exactly where I need to be going, to the point that I really just want to go back to printing up directions on mapquest or ask the person at the destination to send up smoke signals.  But…in a way, it’s helping me learn my way around in the fact that the more it messes up, the more I have to find my own way!  Yes, I panic.  No, I should not be on a dark road with five or six strip clubs, therefore, I should find a way off that road as soon as possible.  No, I cannot wait for the GPS to acquire satellites, I need to acquire my own sense of direction…quickly!  Thank you, God for both the ability to invent and the ability for such inventions to go awry, so that we may learn patience and confidence in ourselves.

My air conditioning in my truck went out, or at least something isn’t working right in the front ventilation system…perhaps a fuse?  I don’t know, I haven’t checked on it yet.  I have no need to…I have a love seat taking up the entire rear of the truck right now so I have no major need to drive it.  I’m not fretting at the moment because, honestly, I’m used to being the one with no A/C.  It bites.  I have the newer vehicle and still…no air…in ARIZONA!!!!  I’ll figure it out, I’m pretty sure God won’t let me die from lack of air in my car when He’s the one that told me to come here knowing that this is the only vehicle I have and will have for a very long time.

I’m battling a cold.  I had one last week, it never really went away…it only got a little better, then came back with more vengeance.  It’s not fun, I don’t like it, and I can’t afford to go to the doctor because, at the moment, I’m uninsured.  However, God placed a woman in my life that is an amazing caretaker, and placed the worse pill taker in my life, our daughter, so it just happens that we have our own little “as needed” pharmacy of extra antibiotics that never got finished because so-and-so was feeling better two days after she went to the doctor.  So that, plus over the counter, and plenty of TLC, puts me in a pretty good place to get well.  It didn’t stop me from going to church this morning, even though I could barely drag myself out of bed, and nothing was going to stop me from singing out all those worship songs like it was my own little concert.  I so badly want to be up on that stage one day!  ::praying::

So…church!  I went, and while it wasn’t Cal delivering the message today, it was still a good message…about “All The Small Things.”  Hmmm…all the small things.  Like all those things I talked about back there?  Nothing major happened this week to speak of that I can shout from the mountains and praise God for that anyone will say…”Oh my!  It’s a miracle!”  Nah, but little ones happen all the time.  God is in every part of our daily lives and to not recognize it can be insulting…I would think.  It’s like a couple weeks ago when I was running a cable line across the apartment to our daughter’s room so she could have cable in her room.  I had a bunch of trouble getting it there, and because it’s off two, two-way splitters and a connector, the picture isn’t the greatest.  When she got home from school, we told her she had cable in there, she saw I was working hard on it, I told her the picture wasn’t great on some channels, she said “it’s not like I watch t.v in there anyway.”  She left it at that and walked away.  It was kind of a kick in the junk, considering I put the time into doing something nice for her so she would have it available to her if she wanted, then when she had it, she shrugged it off like it was nothing.  I told her she could at least be thankful for me trying, which she never was.  Teenagers.  But the point is, it was something small and menial to her…it’s just cable, and it’s something she really doesn’t watch much in her room, only in the living room….so why should she be thankful for it?  If it’s something small, we’re not quick to notice it, and if we do notice it, we don’t often give thanks for it.  And we fail to recognize that sometimes those small things can be life changing, or can add up to that really big thing.  Our pastor said today that you can’t look down on what God can see is possible, and puts there for you in your path, sometimes those small things can turn out to be big things…and overlooking those small things, can be costly.

It’s like in the song by Blink 182, All The Small Things.  Now I’m sure the band may not have written the song about God, but, as you can tell, it’s my style to swap it up on you!  We know God as our truth, we know He cares about us, it’s almost a trip…the things we know He’s capable of doing for us and we’re amazed that, despite what we do in life, we feel assured that He is there for us.  Our day goes on, the night comes around, it may or may not have gone bad, and we still rely on Him to get us through, and He does, but all those small things that He’s done for us day after day, rarely gets acknowledged, unless it’s something big and obvious, like a surprise (flowers), then we remember that He did it for us.  We forget that He is our source of everything and we are His instruments, his windmills, if you will, that keep things moving here on earth FOR him, and if we just keep still long enough, open our hearts, minds, and ears, we might just be open enough to all his blessings and see all that it is that He done for us that we should be thankful for.  Pretty cool, huh?

Zecheriah – 4:10 Who dares despise the days of small things….

Luke 16:10 – Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with very much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not be trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

The little things count, brothers and sisters, acknowledge them, be thankful for them.  We have a dry erase board on our fridge that says “Thank You God For…” and then we just start filling things out as the week goes on.  It’s mostly little things.  The first week it was for the Sparkletts water guy showing up when we discovered how terrible the water tasted and wondered what we were going to do about it.  If something is there to just remind you, sometimes, to thank God for the little things, it’s amazing how easy it is to remember what little things happened that may have been God’s work just for you.  Not just coincidence.  We’ve gotten ourselves into the habit of thanking God many many times a day over the last few months from a previous sermon at our last church, and we’ve recently changed the board up, and it now reads,  “What We Will Do For God.”

It’s fairly appropriate considering we just changed it this week and learned, with this weeks service, that part of glorifying God is not just to attend church every Sunday and call it good.  Not that we did that in the first place…we put an effort into our Christian walk but have been trying really hard to put more into it, find our place, put in our service somewhere, give just as much for Him as he gives for us.  After all, God loves us so much, that I couldn’t possibly think of doing anything less than my best for Him.  He even told us of His love in Isaiah 43

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

So He loves us all so much that He will gather us all to be with Him in His kingdom.  Those of us whom have taken Him as our savior and live in His light and walk in a path of righteousness to the best of our ability Trust that He knows that we’re not all perfect, for He made us, and He knows what we’re capable of, and not capable of, but He knows that it’s also our choice to be His disciple and walk toward Him or away from Him, to glorify Him or trash Him.  I choose to glorify, in almost every way I can, this blog being one of them.  What are the other ways?  There are so many ways in our daily lives from the moment we wake up to the moment we drift off to sleep.

Col 3:15 – Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1 Thess 4:11 – and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

1 Peter 4:11 – 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.

Wherever you are, be all there, live to the hilt every situation you believe to the be will of God.  – Jim Elliot –

1 Cor 10:31 – So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

So being a follower, a disciple of Jesus, is a full time thing, it’s not just on Sundays.  It’s not a hobby.  It’s a lifestyle.  It’s a life.  You pick up your cross and go, everyday and all day!  If you sin, you bear it, and keep moving.  You find your deeds and do them.  You do all that you should do to bear fruit for the Lord, show others the way back onto the path if you can.  Want it just as bad as He did.  I do.  Do everything, look for everything, not just the big things that are right there in your face, but the little things too, that you might accidentally step over if you’re not watching closely.  Be hungry for God.

I’m hungry for Him.  I’m hungry for everything He can give me and hungry for anything I can give for Him and His people.  I’m still searching, feeling like I’m searching aimlessly for my place in this world, in this community, even within my church, for a spot to fit in to consider myself of service to Him.  I want to know all there is to know, I want to hear all there is to hear, I want to hear Him just as loud as I heard Him that one day that my life changed, I’m hunting for Him and that constant feeling of closeness with Him and the sense of satisfaction I get through Him, through His blessings and mercy.  I get a charge when I see and hear of blessings in other people’s life and maybe because of something I’ve done when I’ve helped them out through messages of Christ.  It’s powerful, He’s powerful.  He’s shown me He’s there, He gave me a sign, now I want Him and I’m after Him…closing in with every move I make, despite all the obstacles that try to get in my way, be it personal or worldly.  He knows me, He made me, He knows whether I’m capable of succeeding.

My wife, hungry as well, hungry for Him and hungry for that right place to find Him, struggling with finding that place of comfort and consistency from whom she can get that message of God delivered.  Coupled with discipline and patience, her ultimate teacher is God Himself, but she loves the acquisition of the message through man when delivered with an impact…like Rev Jim used to say, “now let’s bring it home…”  Anyone can know the bible and anyone can know the stories, but to relate it to the world in a way that gets through to someone in a way that’s going to reach them takes something else, and she struggling right now…I feel bad for that.  I wish I knew what to do to help her.  She’s just as hungry as I am, in different ways, yet somewhat similar, perhaps.  Maybe we can help feed each other.

Regardless, we have chosen God and God is within us, and all around us, and therefore, He will see us through our struggles.

John 15:5 –  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

So this was my week, this was the message I received, this is what I got from it, and this is how I chose to pass it along.  I hope it’s helpful to anyone who finds it, I hope it finds its way to the people who need it most.

~Lord, thank you for your many countless blessings, big and small, those in the past and those yet to come.  Please watch over us in the week to come, in all aspects of our daily lives, health, wealth, and wisdom, and help us to spread your word and be of service to you, Lord.  We thank you for everything you do for us, Lord and glorify your name as the most and precious of all.  Amen~