Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Meet John Doe: My Movie Review

 If there is one film all of America should watch it's this one. Especially when there is so much division and disharmony; not just beween politicians, but all common folk.  A collapse of decency,  some might call it.

Imagine yourself living in a big city or state where the economy is bad, unemployment is high, many people in need of food, and all the politicians are crooked. You then decide to protest these ills of society by threatening to jump off the roof of City Hall on Christmas Eve unless things improve. Do you think anything would change? Would anybody care?

This is the premise behind Frank Capra's 1941 film Meet John Doe,
starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. A story that deals with the heart of the American people. Who would have thought a story from 1941 could resonate with our country, even today.

Stanwyck plays reporter Ann Mitchell of the New Bulletin newspaper,a struggling paper that has been bought by a wealthy industrialist. Ann gets laid off from her job but is asked to write one final column. She obviously wants to come up with something that will draw fireworks in hopes of maybe keeping her job. Ann creates a fictional character named John Doe, an unemployed homeless man who writes a letter to the paper protesting against the collapse of decency in the world and threatens to jump off the roof of City Hall at midnight on Christmas Eve unless things change.

The Governor and some competing newspapers believe this is a hoax and just another publicity stunt. So when the town begins to show an interest in John Doe by offering him a job and a place to live, the newspaper finds itself needing to cover up its tracks. So they hire a homeless man who is without any family to pose as John Doe.
 The newspaper and Ann Mitchell decide to use John Doe to unite the American people with Doe's philosophy that it is the little people who are the backbone of America:

"The character of the country is the sum character of the little punks.
The meek will inherit the earth when we all work together."

And one of John Doe's other philosophies that he asks of the people,

"Why can't that Spirit, that Christmas Spirit, last all year long?"

John Doe is asked to do a radio speech and the next thing you know his story has taken the country by storm. News begins to spread throughout the land of his story and small town folks are creating John Doe Clubs to carry out his message. These clubs obviously have one stipulation: no politicians allowed.

Ann Mitchell and her publisher decide to circulate John Doe and his message throughout the towns of America and we see small towns everywhere uniting together with brotherly love toward one another. Neighbors are seen giving other neighbors a helping hand with food, small jobs with pay,and offering others a place to live.
And as any good story goes, there's always one villain in the crowd.And in this case it is the owner of the newspaper,a man named Norton, who wants to use the John Doe movement for his own welfare to gain a seat in the White House.

Of course John Doe has no desire to go along with this political maneuver and realizes Norton is just another politician who wants to kill the decency of mankind and the John Doe's of the world. Norton blackmails John Doe to follow or otherwise he would spread the news that John Doe is a fake, and he would then be shunned by society wherever he went.

When John Doe addresses a crowd of thousands at a John Doe Rally, Norton pulls out all the stops. He has delivery boys spread throughout the crowd newspapers with the headline John Doe is a Fake. Amidst all the ruckus, John Doe leaves out a back entrance and disappears for a few days. And while he has disappeared from the American people without a word, John Doe Clubs begin to disband throughout the land.

On Christmas Eve night, church bells ringing at the strike of midnight, John Doe shows up atop the roof of City Hall. But also up there waiting for him are a few loyal John Doe club members who still believe in his philosophy and had seen it work in their neighborhoods. John Doe has seen the hatred throughout the country, the dirty politics, and the indecency of mankind, and chooses to go ahead with the once created plan of jumping. And then Ann Mitchell comes running into his arms with the speech of all speeches:

"Please don't give up, John! The John Doe movement isn't dead. Oh,John, if it's worth dying for, it's worth living for. Oh,please John...you wanna be honest don't ya'? Well you don't have to keep the John Doe idea alive. Someone already died for that once. The first John Doe. And He's kept that idea alive for nearly 2,000 years.
And He'll go on keeping it alive for ever and ever and always."

 My hope is that this coming New Year we will see many John Doe's flourish throughout our land. All it takes to start is one individual willing to carry on that Christmas Spirit all year long. Will it be you?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

White Christmas: My Review

"When I think of how my bankroll is small, I remember when I had nothing at all. Then I count my blessings."

Probably the most poignant lyrics of any song that is sung in this Irving Berlin classic from 1954.

It's very rare for a film to start off with a tearjerk scene and then move into a dazzling display of fine art, but that's what happens here on White Christmas. I believe the opening scene sets the mood and message for the rest of the film, as it creates a setting of remembering our soldiers who are fighting for our freedom everyday. In this first scene, Bing Crosby is entertaining the troops on Christmas Eve during WWII. When he begins to sing of dreaming of a white Christmas, we see the sadness come over the faces of all the soldiers as they begin to think about being at home with their loved ones for Christmas.

Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye play song and dance duo Wallace and Davis, who turn to being producers of broadway musicals. While looking for new acts to produce, they come across The Hayne Sisters, and that's when the adventure begins. In the middle of a show the sisters find themselves having to go on the lam as a warrant is out for their arrest for owing a chisler $200, which they don't have.

Wallace and Davis help them out by getting them on a train to Vermont, where the sisters have already scheduled some shows to do for the holiday season.

One thng that always drew me bonkers was watching a movie and in the middle of the conversation taking place in the film, someone breaks out in a song. This happens alot in this film, which is probably why it's taken me so long to watch this classic Christmas story.
Nevertheless, after watching it a few times, it's kind of grown on me.

Within all the music there's comedy and romance, so take your pick.

My funny moment is when Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye disguise themselves as the Hayne Sisters and lip sinc to one of their numbers.

When one travels to a ski lodge in Vermont in the wintertime, they most likely expect snow. But once they all arrive to Columbia Inn Ski Lodge a couple of weeks before Christmas, everything is green with a balmy temperature of 68 degrees.

Wallace and Davis discover the lodge is owned by a retired  General whom they served under in the military. When they hear of his lodge having financial trouble because of a lack of snow, they dream up a scheme. They bring in a New York cast from one of their productions to put on a large show. They also invite the military division that served under the General.

Wallace and Davis arrange all of this not only for financial gain for the lodge, but to boost the spirits of the General who misses the military action. And naturally, after performing the show on Christmas Eve, it begins to snow.

This film is a worthy story to watch if only to remind ourselves to think about and do an act of kindness to all those who are serving in our military, both past and present. If not for them, we would not have the freedom we take for granted in celebrating Christmas.

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: My Review

Dracula's Boris Karloff narrating a Dr. Seuss tale? Who would've thunk it. After watching this Christmas classic just recently, it first aired in 1966, this was the first time I actually noticed the famed original Dracula was the narrator.

The Grinch is a grumpy hermit who hates Christmas and decides to steal Christmas from the town of Who'ville.
"No one knows why. Perhaps his shoes are too tight. Maybe his head isn't screwed on right.
Perhaps his heart is 2 sizes too small."
I love how this short tale begins with the entire town of Who'ville coming together to sing while decorating the town and each others homes. Of watching all their enjoyment of Christmas, the one thing the Grinch hated the most: the entire town gathering around the big Christmas tree in the center of town, standing together hand-in-hand singing. The Grinch hated their joy.
"They'll sing, and they'll sing, and they'll sing. I must stop Christmas!"
The Grinch decides to disguise himself as Santa and ride into town in the middle of night to steal all their Christmas presents, decorations, and all the food for their Christmas feast. Why, he even steals the candy canes clutched within the little fingers of the children while they are nestled in their beds. All in hopes of taking away their Christmas joy.
" Your a mean one, Mr. Grinch. You have termites in your smile."
On Christmas morning the Grinch sits atop the hill awaiting the response from all of Who'ville, hoping he's accomplished the dastardly deed of stealing their joy. The townsfolk of Who'ville gather in the town square and sing to welcome in Christmas morning. The Grinch hadn't stopped Christmas from coming.
"Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store; maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more."
The Grinch's heart grew three times bigger and he rides into town to return everything he had stolen from the town of Who'ville.
This is one of my favorites of all the classic Christmas cartoons we know and love. It's a simple message that Christmas isn't about presents under the tree, but it's about what's in your heart.
And of course, we know that Christmas Spirit is something we should carry with us all 365 days of the year.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed In. My Review

""I think hum-bug means you don't have a Christmas Spirit." -  Pumbaa

Somehow I think getting snowed in with characters like: the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, the Seven Dwarfs, and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, would be lots of fun. Although this is a kids Christmas film, it carries a lot of weight in it's message; and I am usually drawn to films that carry a message, yes, even if it's a cartoon.

After Mickey Mouse puts on a gala Christmas pageant at The House of Mouse (a spin-off of House of Blues), all the Disney characters find themselves snowed in with no where to go. When Mickey Mouse discovers his friend Donald Duck has no holiday spirit, he decides to have a Christmas Party while they are snowed in, hoping to revive his missing spirit. Mickey pulls out all the stops:

1. Mickey Mouse shows a video of Donald Duck's children building a snowman and ice skating, including all the mishaps:
falling on the ice and getting a piece of ice stuck over their beak, glad us humans don't have that problem!

2. A video of Yuletide Wishes, two of my favorites: the Seven Dwarfs ask for bunk beds, and Pinochio wishes for no strings to hold him down.

3. A video is also shown of Mickey and his dog Pluto picking out and decorating their first Christmas Tree together:
a couple of crazy chipmunks, you remember, named Chip-n-Dale cause havoc and pick on Pluto. The chipmunks toss acorns at Pluto behind his back, and sneak into the Christmas tree that's been chosen to be a part of Mickey Mouse's Christmas. I loved the way the
2 munks rearranged the ornaments while hiding  in the tree.

After none of this works in renewing Donald Duck's Christmas Spirit, Mickey Mouse becomes dejected, until Jiminy Crickett gives him some pure wisdom:

"A Christmas Spirit doesn't come just from having a party, it comes from spending time with true friends and family."

Mickey Mouse then asks his best friend Donald Duck to place the star atop the newly decorated Christmas tree, which lifts Donald's Spirit to new levels.

I love the way this film ends with the story of Ebenezzar Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

"Kindness is of little use in this world." - Ebenezzar Scrooge

It's unfortunate that there are people like Scrooge out there,today. But there are also people you will meet this holiday season who will have no Christmas Spirit because of circumstances. If you run into someone who may appear having no Christmas Spirit, shed some light upon them and let them know God loves them no matter what they are going through.

Sure, this Christmas film may seem quirky to some of you, but it's a great story to share with your kids, grandkids, or nieces and nephews.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Christmas Story: My Movie Review

It's that time of year again when I get to share reviews of some of my favorite Christmas movies:

Some of the most recognizable lines in film history come from this story. Lines such as; "You'll shoot your eye out!" and "I triple-dog-dare you!" will forever be in the hearts and minds of both young and old.

Believe it or not this movie was not a big hit at the box-office when it came out in 1983. In fact it was considered a blockbuster dud. But today it is the most watched Christmas film on television, replacing It's A Wonderful Life as the cult favorite everyone has to watch at Christmas time. And our thank you's for this should be directed at the cable channel TBS which has been showing the film since 1997 on Christmas Eve night and running it nonstop for 24 straight hours. Each year there will be over 44 million people who will have viewed it at one point or another during this 24 hour marathon.

A Christmas Story is the adaptation of Jean Shepherd's novel based on his childhood in rural Indiana. The movie is narrated by the author and features the nostalgia of Christmas through the eyes of a nine-year old wide-eyed, imaginative boy named Ralphie.

The film takes place in the 1940's when kids were not distracted by electronics such as television or video games. This was an innocent time for children when books, radio, and imagination were all they had to escape from reality. Oh, and there was Christmas too.
Back in this era, a child's whole year revolved around Christmas and what gifts they were going to find nestled under the Christmas tree. And in Ralphie's case it was a genuine Red Ryder 200-shot carbine action rifle.

In between all the calamities Ralphie's family faces on this particular Christmas, Ralphie also has the devious task of dropping hints to his parents of his wanting the Red Ryder bb-gun.

Ralphie's family are a unique bunch of characters:

1. Mom was an overzealous woman, protective of her two sons. When Ralphie suggests to her his wanting the Red Ryder rifle, mom's reply was simple and direct,
"No, you'll shoot your eye out!"

Another scene that best describes mom would be when the youngest son Randy would rather play with his food then actually eat it. She decides to play a game with him and the next thing you know Randy is snorting up his food like a little pig.

They say that a mother's work is never done and this holds true within this story as the narrator explains, "Mother had not had a hot meal for herself in 15 years!"

2. Dad was kind of a softy except for when things went awry. I like the narrator's description of his father, "He's a tapestry of obscenities when things go wrong."

Dad also took pride in the car he drove and treated it like a beauty queen. So when the car overheats, the narrator implies,

"Some men are Baptist, some men are Catholic, my old man's an Oldsmobile."

The father also attracted some strange company, in this case it was the neighbor's dogs. Every night after work he would pull into the driveway and be greeted by the Bumpus' hounds.
The Bumpus', our hillbilly neighbors, had at least 785 smelly dogs and they ignored every human being except my old man."

And then probably the most famous scene involving dad was his winning a contest and the prize: a very risque leg lamp. But he cautiously reminds his neighbors when he proudly displays it in the front picture window for all to see,
"It's a major award!"

3. Ralphie always carried the task of looking out for his kid brother Randy when walking to school. I love it when mom overdresses Randy, packs him tightly into a snow suit and doesn't realize it until her son complains, "I can't move my arms!"
Then we see the two boys headed for school and Randy having trouble standing up, let alone walk.

And then we have the misadventures of Ralphie.Within Ralphie's strategy of getting the Red Ryder bb-gun for Christmas we see some of his wildest dreams:

When Ralphie's teacher assigns the class to write a theme on what they want for Christmas, Ralphie envisions himself of not just getting an A for his composition on wanting a Red Ryder action rifle, but an A with an emphatic amount of plus
signs to follow(A+ + + + + + + +).

One of the great themes in this film is the nostalgic look back at what all of us may have went through as children. Everything from being confronted by the school bully to kids daring us to do the unthinkable.

On Ralphie's way home from school each day he and his friends are confronted by a school bully named Scott Fargus. And the narrator suggests,
"A bully, a toey, or a victim, in our world you were either of these."

After many days of being scared and bullied to death by Fargus and his sidekick, Ralphie finally lets him have it. Fargus would nail Ralphie in the face with a snowball and then,

"Something happened. A fuse blew. And I had gotten out of my skull!"

Ralphie tackles Fargus to the ground and begins to wail on him with fist-a-cuffs until blood appears. As the crowd of school children look on in amazement at what Ralphie was doing to Fargus and cheering Ralphie on, Ralphie's mother shows up just in time to pry her son off the school bully who had been wrecking havoc in the lives of every child within a five mile radius.

Later that evening Ralphie lies in his bedroom awaiting the wrath of his father while brother Randy hides under the kitchen sink tearfully exclaiming the inevitable,
"Daddy's gonna kill Ralphie!"

And then the unexpected happens. While eating dinner at the table, Ralphie's mother doesn't turn him in to his father. I think this is just another example of mom showing her tender side of trusting her sons and understanding the things they may go through in life's journey as children.

Another memorable scene in this story is the dare game in the school yard. A kid named Shwartz dares Ralphie's friend Frick into sticking his tongue on the frosty flagpole as Frick insists that nothing will happen.

"I triple-dog-dare you!" exclaims Schwartz.

Back in those days you were not allowed to back down from a triple-dog-dare otherwise you would be known as a coward for the rest of your days. So naturally Frick goes ahead and does the unthinkable and as soon as you could say,"Uh,oh", here comes the police and the fire department to rescue him. Frick is now quite the spectacle for all the school to see as his tongue is icicly glued to the flagpole.

One of the adventures I think all kids looked forward to was the great Christmas tree search. But for Ralphie this was one adventure he wished he never would have taken.Upon heading home with a Christmas tree in tow, the family vehicle has a tire blow out.Ralphie assists his father in changing the tire and then it happened; Ralphie drops all the lug nuts in the snow and,

"I slipped out the queen mother of all dirty words,'Oh, fudge!' Only I didn't say fudge."

When they arrive home Ralphie becomes what the narrator describes as,
"A connoisseur of soap in the mouth."

That night Ralphie dreams of placing guilt upon his parents for punishing him with the soap in the mouth routine, as he shows up at their doorstep years later blind,

"Your soap poisoning caused my blindness!" Ralphie declares.

On Christmas morning it is in the heart of every child to expect to receive what they had so galantly been wishing, hoping, and asking for all year. And the opening of gifts always brings at least one surprise which falls into the category of an
"Oh, gee wiz!" moment. And for Ralphie it was a gift from his Aunt Clara.

"Aunt Clara was under the delusion for years that I was four and a girl!"

Ralphie's mom demands he try on the gift he has just unwrapped from Aunt Clara, and so when he reappears in a pink pajama outfit his father claims,
"He looks like a deranged Easter bunny!"

Despite all of Ralphie's misfortunes, mistakes, and failures throughout the year, Ralphie's father knows his son's heart. And so Ralphie receives the desire of his heart on this particular Christmas, the Red Ryder 200 Shot Carbine Action Rifle.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Here in America we are spoiled, as we take for granted the simple things in life, such as: running water, even hot water, heat, food,electricity,and safety. Yes, safety. I often think about taking safety for granted while crossing railroad tracks, with the gates up,obviously. Who says there couldn't be a train barreling down those tracks toward me and the trigger mechanism not working on those gates.

A couple of Sundays ago a tornado hit the small, central town of Washington, Illinois. Tornadoes in mid-November is uncommon for Illinois and to the Midwest in general. With most of this town wiped out, the death toll was limited to just one soul. What's so amazing is that the death toll was so low because most of the town was in church. None of the churches in Washington were hit by the massive tornado.

Like Abe Lincoln suggests, we can make up our mind to be happy when we dwell on those simple things in life that we have each day. In many countries hot water and electricity is not available, if it were, it would be considered a luxury to them.

This Thanksgiving, us Americans should be grateful for the simple things in life that we have. And if you see someone in need, bless them, for in return you shall be blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Take A Stand

“Isn’t it peculiar, Charlie Brown, how some traditions just slowly fade away.”
–Lucy, after she pulls the football away from Charlie Brown, just as he's about to kick it.

 I find it interesting that A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving originally aired in 1973, to which this quote derives from. Perhaps Charles M. Schulz, the Peanuts creator, was prophesying the future.

As we approach Thanksgiving here in America, there is much ado about how are culture has drastically changed. Black Friday (where stores open at the wee hours of the am to throw sale prices our way for Christmas) has now been pushed to one day earlier, Thanksgiving Day, and pulling Americans away from their families.

On behalf of America, I apologize to all my readers from other countries. These new standards in our culture here in America doesn't reflect all of us.  There are quite a number of us who are taking a stand and rejecting the option of shopping on Thanksgiving Day just to save a few bucks.

As one of my friends put it quite bluntly,

"If we go out and shop on Thanksgiving Day, we are saying to that person behind the counter that we don't care if you are being taken away from your family on this holiday."

Henry Ward Beecher once said,

"Pride slays thanksgiving, but a humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grows.
A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves." 

This holiday season my hope is that all true Americans will take part in spreading hope and love where it's needed. And may we put away our selfish pride.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Great Metaphor of Wisdom

"I used to work in a bank. We were taught about real money, not counterfeit."

This, from a wise elderly woman at my church. She was metaphorically speaking about the church in America today. We fell into this conversation after a church service last week. The woman had visited a relative's church in Iowa a week ago and said she felt uncomfortable there, as the service seemed more along the lines of entertainment than spiritual.

It's unfortunate that there are churches in America today that have become seeker sensitive; aspiring to fill the wants and needs of the congregation rather than deliver what's really needed, the Gospel. Their vision is all about filling the people's lives with programs and filling the pews, rather than letting the Holy Spirit have control, to where people are being set free from addictions and afflictions.

"Without the Holy Spirit, Christianity is reduced to religion." - Richard Bonnke

With so many Americans struggling with unemployment and unable to provide the basic necessities for their families, the church's responsibility has increased. If you've ever gone through something and saw your life take a downward spiral, then you know what I'm talking about. The reality is that only Jesus can fix what's broken.

A great example of how the Church should be is found in Acts 14:

Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synogogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. Some of the Jews, however, spurned God's message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas.
But the Apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldy about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders.

I like the fact that Paul and Barnabas chose to stay and boldly preach about the grace of God.

Whether you live in America or in another country, if you find yourself in a church that isn't boldly speaking the Word of God and it's truths, pray that the Lord will direct your steps to a new church. One that isn't afraid to boldly claim all the truths in God's Word, A Word that God Himself would want you to hear.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on: www.biblegateway.org for more of God's encouraging Word.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Love to the Rescue

Johnny Depp once said that the only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants. Sometimes I think he is right.

This past weekend while in a deep discussion about dogs, yep, deep discussion, the following true story came to mind:

A young lady would take her 4 year-old daughter for a walk everyday through the neighborhood. On some days she would be met by the next door neighbor walking her Rottweiler. The woman with the dog would wait in the driveway until the stroller tracking mom passed by; in fear of what her dog would do to the innocent child. Each day this happened, the little girl would wave to the dog; so a good rapport from a distance had been developed between the two.

This went on for a few weeks and then one evening an unfortunate accident happened. The home the little girl lived in caught fire. The Rottweiler living next door came to the rescue. Somehow the dog found an escape route from the backyard and found a way into the burning house and pulled the little girl out. As dramatic as a Hollywood script, this story may sound hard to believe at first, but thankfully it's true.

Now, about that Rottweiler. They are one of the most misunderstood breeds of dog. They may appear ferocious at times and look like they want to rip your leg off, but some can be harmless and loving; of course that depends on their handler. Which leads me to this, about us humans:

Sometimes we may carry a grudge on someone, or dislike a certain type of person or race, but God's greatest commandment is this:

So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)

As we approach the holiday season with more stores choosing to be open on Thanksgiving Day, prying Americans away from their families, I believe it's the common people that deal with the public on a daily basis that need a word of encouragement or a simple smile. 

Show some love this holiday season!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Still Can't

Over 40, 000 people layered in winter gear on a crisp fall evening; some huddled together for warmth as you can see their cold breath.
Each person is waving a small American flag as they stand in a sign of respect as they listen to a retired military officer sing
God Bless America.

This was the scene at Game One of this year's World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Amidst all of the hoopla and strategy by some in recent years of taking God out of  everything that is America, herein lies  a sign of hope. Can't keep a good man down, and in this case Our Heavenly Father.

Just this past week I found myself inside my bank to make a transaction, and what to my wandering ears appeared? A Christian-themed song being played in the bank. The bank was playing a Christian radio station for it's customers. This is a sign of hope.

These two events gave me hope that not all of America has abandoned God. America needs God just as much as the other countries in the world. Perhaps this is perfect timing for America, as 94 year-old  world renowned Evangelist Billy Graham prepares to make his final sermon, which will be televised world-wide on November 7th. Although his message is more toward bringing America back to its knees, somehow I have the distinct feeling many throughout the world will be touched. God knows, we need it.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All Things Possible

You won't find this story in the local media news nor the cable news outlets. A story that can inspire America, but it's unfortunate how well hidden it is. It's kind of like saying, "Psst...Hey, I got a secret. God is doing something great within our midst."

What was once the bloodiest maximum security prison in America, Angola Prison has been in revival for over 17 years. It all started after a police officer found Jesus and went to the prison to forgive an inmate for killing his partner. After touring the facility and seeing the raw images it portrayed, the policeman raised over $150,000 to build a 700- seat chapel.

 Since 1995, the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has been offering classes at the prison.
What were once gang members, murderers and rapists, are now ministering the gospel to other prisoners.

And today, the plan is to move a thousand minimum security prisoners to Angola Maximum Security Prison so they can be ministered and mentored to before being released to life outside prison.

Nelson Mandela once said,
 "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."


Now if only the church in America could cast away it's division between each other and work together; imagine the revival that would take place.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Survival in Unity

"Usually when you go the extra mile, you get a gold star. I got sent to the Principle's office."

Ever find yourself buried under a mountain of paperwork in your office, and then wish someone would magically appear to help you?
A Con-Way Freight driver was delivering a file cabinet to a Principle's secretary at a new school. The delivery man felt sorry for the woman and the huge mess of paperwork amidst her desk and proceeded to help get her office organized with the new file cabinet. This true story is in a Con-Way Freight ad to reach more customers.

A recurring theme that's been developing lately within the news, even in my blog post last week, is the concept of putting others before ourselves. This past weekend I watched the film Into The White, a true story of 3 German Soldiers who's plane went down during World War 2. In order for them to survive the harsh Norwegian winter in the wild, they find themselves bunkered up in a Norwegian cabin with two British Soldiers, whose plane was also shot down.

Upon crossing paths with each other at first, it is obvious that things don't start off well between these enemies. Aside from who gets to sleep in the bunks and who doesn't, and who's prisoner is who's, things dramatically change when one of the German Soldier's wound becomes worst. What I also found interesting in this story was how things drastically changed because of mutual need. And when this mutual need for each other takes place, an unlikely friendship develops between these men. Upon being rescued by Norwegian soldiers, the German Officers were placed in a Canadien Prisoner of War camp until the end of the war.

In 1977, one of the British soldier's contacted the lone surviving German Officer of that epic tale of survival. The two met in Munich and shared a few stories together.

"Even if a unity of faith is not possible, a unity of love is." - Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Swiss Theologian

You can watch this great film of survival and unity on Netflix.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's a Doggie, Doggie World. Or Is It?

Have you ever stumbled across something you weren't expecting to find, and then it turns out to be an awesome experience?
On my most recent vacation we were driving along the Pacific Ocean and pulled over at a beach in Del Mar, California. Upon our wondering eyes we stumbled across a dog beach; a part of the beach that is specifically for dogs and their masters. I , being a nature photographer, went crazy with the camera as I watched and laughed at these dogs and their reactions to each other and to the ocean.
I believe I counted over twenty different breeds of dogs. Everything from: Poodles to German Shepherds to Labradors to Saint Bernards and Daschunds; all playing, having fun and circling the beach in unity.

Naturally, this got me thinking about us humans and how we relate to each other, and the unfortunate government shutdown here in the United States. As the week started out with the threat of a government shutdown last Monday, Senate Chaplain Barry Black, a Rear Admiral for over twenty years, began to pray before each day's session like he always does. But this time his prayers were more direct to both political parties.

Monday's prayer included the Chaplain asking God to deliver us from governing by crisis.

The next day in his prayer he asked God to help us unite for the common good of our nation.

When the government shutdown began and both parties obviously not in unison, the Chaplain was even more direct in his prayer:
"Our Father, help us to replace cynicism with faith, and take away our selfishness, smugness, and pride.

With no end in sight to the United States Government shutdown, perhaps they could learn a lesson from dogs and practice unity.
And of course, the only way any nation can thrive and survive in unity, is if it's people follow the command of the Lord:

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ( 2 Chronicles 7:14)

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, checkout: www.biblegateway.com


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Great Reminder

One of the many pieces of scripture you will find at my desk is Psalm 91; a great Word to reflect upon each morning as we begin our day:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler[a]
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
8 Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”
A great reminder that God cares about our life and our situations; He's got you covered.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sheep to Sheep

The similarities I'm about to show you will either fascinate you, freak you out (in a good way), or just plain make you think more.
I stumbled across this while preparing for a teaching a couple of weeks ago. It all started with a simple story of a sheep named Shrek who wandered away from his shepherd and got lost in a cave for 6 years. Hence this photo of what happened to him as he gained over 60 pounds of fleece due to the fact that he left his caretaker, the shepherd. This had a huge impact on not just his mobility, but his breathing.

Sheep are mentioned in the Bible more than 500 times, more than any other animal. It is also used to symbolically refer to God's people.

My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me. (John 10:27)

The Bible describes close relationships between shepherds and their flock. The sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd, follow him and are protected by him. So when you look at this picture of Shrek the Sheep and see what happened to him just by leaving his shepherd, well, it's not so hard to get the message,right?

What I found so interesting within my lesson planning was the similarities between the animal and man. The characteristics are so uncanny that it really makes you think more about how true the Bible is, and how great and important God is as our Shepherd..

To decipher between sheep the animal and sheep as man, I will use bold print when describing sheep as animal, and italics for us as sheep of the Great Shepherd.

Sheep- are best known for their strong flocking and following instinct. They will run from what frightens them and band together in large groups for protection.

Sheep- I kind of liken this to us banding together in worship on Sundays. Not just for protection but to strengthen us, as we do battle with the enemy throughout our week.

Sheep- have an amazing tolerance for pain. They do not show pain otherwise they will be vulnerable to predators.

Sheep- When we put on the Armor of God  each day, we will have an amazing tolerance for not just pain, but anything the enemy may throw our way.

Sheep- at birth, lambs are conditioned to follow the older members of the flock. This instinct is hard-wired into sheep. It's not something they think about.

Sheep- as new born babes in Christ we are to follow the lead of the older members of the flock (church) we belong to, for within them comes wisdom.

Sheep- they are of a gregarious nature, meaning they love to be with the herd.

Sheep- we as followers of Christ must love to dwell in the house of the Lord with the other members of our flock.

Sheep- must have a leader (shepherd) and must be told what to do and where to go, otherwise they'll wander off and get lost.

Sheep- we are taught to follow after the Great Shepherd (Christ) and we know that there are consequences when we do wander away from our Shepherd. We become lost, an easy target for the enemy, and are out of our safety net of protection.

Sheep- constantly need fresh water, fresh pasture, and the best water source for them is early morning dew.

Sheep- we constantly need to be refreshed with the Word of God and His Spirit. Our best source is starting our mornings in prayer and worship. We always need that refreshing Spirit.

But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”  (John 4:14)

So glad I am a sheep in the flock of the Great Shepherd.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Waterpik Illusion

Embarrassing? Yes. Funny? Obviously. Feeling stupid? Of course.

Have you ever gotten a new gadget to play with, only to try it without fully reading the instructions, and then something embarassing happens to you? Well, it happened to me, first time in quite awhile I might add.

Throughout history it has been well documented and perceived that men are more prone than women to fix or even just "do" something without first reading the instructions. I am usually not like that, but sometimes I can be daring. I mean, come on, a waterpik? How hard can it be to use?

I put the miscellaneous parts together easily and decided to give it a try without any reading of the manual. Well, I tried, and I failed.
I had no idea how powerful the waterpik was as water poured out profusley to where the bathroom received more water than my mouth. Hmm, I then read the manual to which the simple instructions were to keep mouth closed while using and keep your finger on the on-and-off button.

Instructions, who needs them? Obviously we do.

Probably the greatest instruction manual for life is in the top selling book of all-time, The Bible. In it you will find instructions on pretty much every situation or emotion you may be going through.There is also a song about the Bible which spells out what the letters could possibly mean:


Included inside this great instruction manual are several scripture verses that even tell us to seek after wisdom:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. - James 1:5
 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 
- Colossians 3:16

One of the great reasons why we should study and know God's Words is so we won't get led falsely within the world and it's philosophies.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.- Colossians 2:8

Instructions are important, whether it's a waterpik or dealing with the struggles of life. 

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. - James 3:13

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, checkout www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

'I don't need your money, I need your kidney."

A 78 year-old South Carolina man walked 15 miles in 97 degree heat with torn cartilage in his knee, all for a worthy cause. He became a walking billboard for his wife who was in dire need of a kidney transplant. As he walked through his home town carrying a sign that read: Need Kidney 4 Wife, he received many offers of money which he turned down, he needed someone to donate an organ instead. Funny how people automaticly think that money can solve everything.

With some help from the media, someone has stepped forward to donate a kidney to his wife of 58 years.

Imagine how far we could go when we persevere with love as the ultimate reason.

Another random act of kindness that happened just recently was when a family with a special needs child had their restaurant bill paid for by a stranger. Along with the paid bill came a note reading: God only gives special children to special people.

It is so nice to see that love still exists within a world of turmoil.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

You've Got Talent

Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to? Just something to ponder after you read this post.

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work." - Thomas Edison

If you know your history then you most likely know that it took Thomas Edison 10,000 failures before he got the light bulb to work.
And throughout history there have been many inventors just like Edison who have failed many times before getting it right.

I, for one, am a big fan of seeing small businesses grow and have tremendous success. Because I am sure somewhere down the line there had to be some kind of downfall before they saw the light at the end of the tunnel. One such place is a favorite local cajon barbeque restaurant simply called Chuck's Barbeque. It was established 13 years ago and I remember the tiny building he started in; no bigger than a Starbucks. Today he has two very large restaurants, is doing tremendous business, and has received many accolades, one of which comes from The Food Network. If you live in Illinois or are planning a visit, you should checkout his website at:

Each one of us possess some kind of talent and some folks are blessed with multiple talents. There are those who can cook real good, some who can sing very well, and others who can juggle 3 or 4 tennis balls without dropping any. No matter what talents you possess, those talents were most likely established when you were a kid. And the creation of those talents within you were the result of The One True Creator.

I can look back in amazement at some of my talents and see how they were formed when I was a child. There were also quite a few lessons I had to learn through struggles and disappointments, but I would eventually see the fruit of those circumstances. God has a unique purpose and plan for each one of our lives; and to use those talents that He has given us to help further His Kingdom. It is up to us to not waste any of those talents that God has given us.

What can be so frustrating is using our talents but not seeing any growth or fruit from those talents. Sometimes it may take years before we see any kind of success, like Chuck. I believe that is called perseverance.

If you are wondering why your talents are not being used, and you find yourself frustrated with not seeing doors opening for you and your talents, go to God in prayer. Ask Him to begin to open doors for you and your talents. Remind Him of His Word:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10)

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Simple Message From The Birds Film

The Birds tells the story of Melanie Daniels as she travels to Bodega Bay and is inexplicably attacked by a seagull.
Suddenly, thousands of birds begin to flock into the island town and begin to prey on the residents in a terrifying series of attacks.

In multiple scenes within the home Melanie is staying at, the birds (Crows and Seagulls) find their way inside the house to do some damage and prey on the family. But the one constant that remains unharmed are two caged Love Birds.

At the end of the film when the family survives the latest attack, they find themselves needing to escape quickly before another attack occurs. With hundreds of birds outside the house waiting patiently until they feel the urge to attack yet again, I know..crazy story but bear with me, the family decides to make a quick getaway. They move ever so slowly out the front door as they try to make it to the parked car in front of the house. The young girl Cathy asks her big brother if she could take her Love Birds with, as she comments,"They never hurt anyone".

The final scene shows the family driving away with the Love Birds sitting in their cage upon the backseat. The birds sit there content and at peace.

Alfred Hitchcock was not only so good at bringing suspenseful stories to us, but in some subtle way his stories had a message.

What I believe he was driving at here by showing the Love Birds at peace in that final scene, was to give us the perspective that love conquers all.

Let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions. (1 John 3:18)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Feel the Rain

"Some people feel the rain, others just get wet." - Bob Marley

This is one of my my favorite quotes from reggae artist Bob Marley, because it speaks volumes to myself on how to approach those storms of life that may come our way. We can take those obstacles that we go through and get angry or we can look at them as just another growth opportunity. You can't have a testimony if you haven't had a test. The best person to help someone battling an addiction is by someone who actually went through that same addiction and beat it.

I think in a subtle approach what Marley was driving at with this quote was that some people will look out the window and crow,"Dang, it's raining outside!", instead of going outside and dance within the raindrops and appreciate the rain.

Have you ever had something planned, and I mean strategically plannned, and then see it go awry for some reason or another?

This happened to me just last week and and it took me a couple of days to drive the anger of those failed plans out of me. What did I do to get from mad back to my constant state of joy? Only one word: worship.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my grandfather and the great wisdom he carried as a Pastor:
If you find yourself in a difficulty or circumstance you need to drive yourself back into the presence of God through worship.

After two days of worship I naturally would open my Bible straight to a passage on the value of diligence.

 Ecclesiastes 11:3-6 -

When clouds are heavy, the rains come down.
Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls.

4 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.
If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.

5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb,[a] so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

The word diligence means to give a steady effort; and here Solomon is teaching us how to stay diligent and just do what is laid out before us and not to worry, God's plan is a perfect plan, even when we think our strategic plan is a fail-proof plan.

Sometimes we need these small reminders in life, and they may be small reminders, but they are the one's that can sustain us so we can enjoy the rain.

For more of God's encouraging Word and you find yourself with no access to a Bible in your area, click on:


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Character: The Real Thing

Does your dog have mealtime behavioral issues, such as taking a mouthful of food from his bowl retrieve to another spot and drop it on your carpet and then proceed to munch away? Believe it or not some Veterinary Professors have discovered why dogs do this,
it's called pack mentality.
"When dogs in the wild makes a kill, the outranked animals drag pieces of food away so they don't have to fight the leader or more dominant canine for it", Dr. Julie Albright says. She also adds,
"Fighting is obviously very risky, so most animals, especially subordinate ones, will go to great lengths to avoid an altercation."
Now, I know you are probably wondering how does this tie into anything spiritual that I can use and grow from?
Well since this above mentioned dog story is more about character than the dog just being weird, character can play an important role in our walk in Christ.
I always believed that consistency is an important character trait that plays a vital role in our daily life and how we mature and grow spiritually. My Saturday morning workout routine is a simple but long one: I run 5 miles, climb 4 flights of stairs, and run one more mile. I have been doing this for 11 months now and have consistently done it in 43-45 minutes. I always have tried to be a model of consistency in everything that I do. Consistency is a character trait to which I am so humbled to have.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.
(Galations 5:22,23)
These are spiritual character traits that all Christians should carry and use with consistency. Another form of consistency we should carry daily is how we prep ourselves for our day. I know have blogged about this a million times, but it will always bear repeating lest any of us fall into a spiritual rut.
One consistency routine on how I approach each day: my drive to work consists of  praying or talking to God while listening to worship music. And when I declare outloud, "Your Kingdome come and Your will be done today, Lord", I am basicly saying,
"Lord, I am giving this day unto you, have Your way with it, my King!"
I believe when we approach each day with a model of consistency, we see God move mountains and do the impossible.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it,
the tree is the real thing.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Love a Good Quote

Horses can't talk but they can speak if you listen.

I always love a good quote, especially when it can mean a variety of things to so many people. And it's always fun to decipher it's true meaning. We all know that horses can't talk, or can they?

 I recently caught a YouTube video of a talking goat. Yes, a talking goat. Although the only word he could say was, "What" and was able to repeat it several times to the gal who was feeding him, the word he muttered was clearly recognizable and quite amusing.

If I had to decipher the above quote on whether horses can truly speak, here would be my honest assumption:

Suppose you owned a horse as a pet just like most folks own a dog or a cat as a pet. You spend alot of time with that horse, you feed it, you take care of it and maintain it's health, and you ride it and enjoy spending time with it. These are all actions that show you love your horse, thus you actually have a relationship with that horse, you are connected to it. And by spending time with this horse you can probably tell when it is not feeling well or is hurt. It is so recognizable that what is happening is you are actually listening to it speak.

The above photo is one of a collection of photos I was selling at a fair last weekend. One gentleman saw this picture and asked how can anyone not believe in a Creator. Who else or what else could ever design something so artistic and beautiful as this?

God can speak to us through nature, but it is up to us to listen.

George Washington Carver, and American scientist and botanist, used nature as a way to connect to God,

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in."

One of my favorite Bible scriptures is found in Titus 1:15:

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.

 Having a pure heart simply means you love God, desire to be in His presence, desire to talk with Him, and are willing to obey Him and His Word. Thus you should be able to see and hear Him through all of His creation.

God will speak to you you just have to quietly listen.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.

I would also like to give a big shout out to all of you in Latvia who have been reading my blog this past week.
Hope you have a blessed week!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Honesty + Grace = Victory

Your faith determines your outcome.

I would be remiss if I said how surprised I am at how quickly God turned a challenge I faced a week ago into victory. God used my circumstance not only for my good, but more importantly for His good. God moved quickly and I believe that is how He rolls  when we approach Him with a humble, contrite heart that stems from having a good relationship with Him.

"Humble souls are made more humble by Christ's gracious dealings with them." - Mathew Henry

God wants us to succeed in everything we put our hands to and to succeed in the relationships we carry. Sometimes He manuevers in ways we can't explain; especially when we tend to mess things up on our own. That's when we need to remind ourselves that God is always in control of the situation.

By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.

I'm always amazed at how God can orchestrate through stupid things we do because we can't see the stupid things we are doing. We can't reach the destination or breakthrough that God wants to see in our lives if we don't allow Him to maneuver through the junk.

Do you view your mistakes or circumstances as a conflict or as a growth opportunity?

To trust in God for everything within our life we need to take our faults, mistakes, difficulties, and challenges and view them as growth opportunities.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:25)

I am so glad that the communication line between me and God is always open. He is always there when I need Him; and He is always there to protect me and bring me to a complete satisfaction in Him.

If you are faced with a challenge this week all I can say is seek God out for more of Him. Let Him be not only a part of your life, but let Him do what He needs to do so you can succeed in all that you do, and be the person Christ desires of you to be, which is whole and complete in Him.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mathew 6:33)

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, checkout www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

True Grace

After one of the more difficult challenging weeks for myself, I write this post to not only help others, but also to remind myself of God's grace.. All of us are fallible into making mistakes or bad judgements whether we are a believer or a non-believer. I have made some bone-headed mistakes, even just recently,which brought me to a better understanding of the importance and power of God's grace.

It also brought me to the realization that those of us who are in spiritual leadership roles are even more prone to the fiery darts and wicked ways of the enemy. But we need to remember that darkness has no victory over light.

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.    (1John 1:7)

In light of my own past mistakes I could have just sat and waited for the wrath of God to come down upon me in some unique way, but God is not like that. We are living in the age of the New Covenant rather than the Old Covenant. The moral aspect of the Law (old covenant) still stands as the standard of morality for mankind because it is reflective of God's character and does not change. But the Law(old covenant) has been fulfilled in Christ. (Mathew 5:17)

Jesus came so that we may have life, eternal life. He bore our sins and died on the cross. This is love. This is grace. This is what we need to remind ourselves daily.

True grace is not just knowing God's grace, but by acting upon it.

So, how do those of us who are believers act upon God's grace when it is given to us freely?

 It is humbly coming before Him and admitting the mistake we may have just made and by asking for forgiveness.

“God resists the proud,But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

As for myself, I enter into His presence with thanksgiving and praise, all while reaching out to Him for forgiveness because I know, live and breathe His grace:

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2Cor. 12:9)

I love the wrting of the Apostle Paul throughout the New Testament. Paul's emphasis was always about moving forward

When new hearts are given to Christ, they are always immediately told(or should be told) that they are new creatures in Christ and the past is left behind:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
(2Cor. 5:17)

Although we have left our past behind, there will be days like I said earlier, when we are prone to make a mistake. But don't live each day in fear by asking yourself, "Did I do something wrong today?"

Remind yourself that your future is full of promise; for as we submit to His Spirit, He will change us daily and help us see and be all that God desires us to be.

2Corinthians 4:16-17-

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

If you are faced with a challenge  this week reach out to God, His grace is a perfect grace.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, checkout www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Exercise in Boredom and Faith

Whenever you visit the zoo and you see the polar bear pacing back and forth in a repetitive motion, it is most likely because he's bored.
In the past few years zoos have spent several million dollars to enhance the animals exhibits so they closely relate to that of nature.
I never really gave much thought and investigation into this until my Saturday morning workout this past weekend. Toward the end of my run I climb 4 flights of stairs near a most recently closed tobbagon sled run. On most Saturdays you will find at least 50 people who will climb up and down those stairs at least 20-25 times. On this particular Saturday there were close to 100 exercising buffs climbing those stairs. I, being a runner, am not a big fan of climbing up and down cement stairs. Those that do think they are getting a healthy workout, but in reality, climbing cement stairs is not good on your knees.
For the life of me I can't figure out why anyone would want to do this repetitive motion several times, rather than finding adventure through the woods itself. To me, I find the repetitive motion boring just like the pacing polar bear.
Exercising can be fun and it serves a purpose, just like when we exercise our faith. The Apostle Peter gives us the importance of exercising our faith and what we can become through that exercising; one that enhances fruitful growth in our faith:
For this very reason, adding your diligence to the divine promises, employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue, and in exercising virtue develop knowledge(intelligence),
And in exercising knowledge develop self-control, and in exercising self-control develop steadfastness(patience), and in exercising steadfastness develop godliness,
And in exercising godliness develop brotherly affection, and in exercising brotherly affection develop Christian love.
That's alot of exercising to do but it builds up our character and faith and serves a purpose:
For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful unto the personal knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter also discloses that whoever lacks in these qualities is blind, spiritually shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him.
(all text taken from 2 Peter 1:5-10)
To be spiritually blinded is forgetting what God's Word says and living through the circumstance in fear.
Our faith cannot grow without some kind of trial or circumstance; so I am eternally grateful for the things that I have went through that strengthened my faith. I, like most Christians, sometimes will fall into a momentary lapse of faith. What is happening is we are forgetting who we are in Christ.
For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. (James 1:23,24)
 I know I have just thrown a bunch of scriptures at you, but that is just it, we need to remind ourselves who we are through God's Word and what God expects from us. We become strengthened when we seek God's Word for our lives daily.
If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, please checkout www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word to build your faith upon.