Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Years Solution

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started."- Mark Twain
As another new year quickly approaches, our minds become settled on what resolutions we should make and try to keep. But really, do any of us really hold onto those resolutions to where we actually succeed in them throughout the year? Oh sure, we might coast through January and February thinking we really can make it this time until, say, May comes around. Then it's off to starting that other resolution, thinking it's not too late to succeed in at least one of our resolutions. Ahh, New Years resolutions. Where would we be without them?
Just recently I found on Face Book some interesting conversations on the subject of following the 
read your Bible in one year plan. Many people admitted that they tried the plan at the beginning of the year, but it was somewhere along the first 50 days where they failed to continue in the daily reading guideline, so that they could actually have the entire Bible read by year's end. Some people even admitted they felt a lot of pressure in accomplishing this feat of strength and became discouraged. Only to try it again the following year, but getting the same results. Why put pressure on yourself to read the Bible in one year? You should be reading God's Word everyday in order to be enlightened and renewed. And also with an enjoyment of reading His Word in anticipation of what He may reveal to you

God wants us to read His Word daily so that we may get these results:

Strengthens us
Encourages us
Humbles us in His sight
Gives us wisdom
Brings us closer to Him
Gives us peace
Shows His love for us 
Keeps the devil away
God's Word is said to be as sharp as a two-edged sword:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12
Instead of trying the read your Bible in one year plan and putting the pressure on yourself to succeed, resolve to just draw closer to Him through His Word and through praise. 

After all, isn't this what God really wants from us?
You dwell in the songs that we are singing,
Rising to the Heavens, rising to Your heart, Your heart.
Our praises filling up the spaces
In between our frailty and everything You are
You are the keeper of my heart

And I'm restless, I'm restless
'Til I rest in You, 'til I rest in You
I am restless, I'm restless
'Til I rest in You, 'til I rest in You
Oh God, I wanna rest in You
- Restless by Audrey Assad
Resolve to become so close to God that you are able to rest in Him in all circumstances that may come your way. If we put into practice a complete rest and peace in Him when everything is going good in our life; imagine how simple it will be when some unforseen circumstance does comes your way. Preparation is the key to doing battle with the enemy and coming away victorious.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Number 400 and Counting!

I find it ironic that my 400th blog post would fall just two days before Christmas. When people say
Christmas around the world, I am fortunate to literally see this through the many countries that visit my site especially at Christmas time with my Christmas movie reviews. It is by far, my favorite posts to write and share with all of you.

I love sharing what God is doing through other people's lives, along with building up and encouraging others with the passion of God's Word.

My wish to all of you is a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And may God draw Himself closer to you than ever before.

joyeux noël               Maligayang Pasko

 с рождеством             Wesołych Świąt
 圣诞节快乐                 buon natale
 मैरी क्रिसमस                              Merry Christmas


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Family Stone: Christmas Review

Ben Stone: [to Meredith] Don't dilly-dally there, pretty lady. We're all gonna be down here talking about you. 

Meredith Morton: I don't care whether you like me or not!
Amy Stone: Of course you do.

 Amy Stone: [about Meredith] She has got this throat-clearing tick... it's like she's digging for clams! 

Meredith Morton: [crying after Sybil and Amy come into the kitchen and accidentally ruin the breakfast she made] I'm just as good as any of you!
Amy Stone: [laughing and crying at the situation] Maybe better.
Meredith Morton: [still crying] What's so great about you guys?
Sybil Stone: [laughing and crying along with Amy... patting Meredith's cheeks] Oh, nothing! It's just that we're all that we've got.

Just from reading these quotes from the film The Family Stone, you probably gain the notion that the Stone family doesn't care much for Meredith Morton. In fact you might say they hate her. But that isn't the case. It's just that Meredith is different.

The Family Stone is one of my favorite Christmas movies, one I watch regularly every Christmas season.
Although it doesn't get much fan fare on television, it truly is a great film with an all-star cast.

I probably may have never watched this film, but what struck me was the star-studded cast involved,
so I figured it had to be good.

Meredith Morton is visiting her boyfriend Everett Stone's family for the first time. Meredith is an eccentric, pompous, high society business woman played by Sarah Jessica Parker. And Everett's family is more of the free-spirited type of family living in a Connecticut farm house. Meredith tries too hard to get the family to like her and that's where things go wrong. 

Diane Keaton plays Sybil Stone, the mother of five kids, each child living a different life style but, together as a family they are crazy and love each other in ways that's hard to explain.
I love how Sybil expresses how their family really is,

"Our family, it's all we've got!"

Sybil is the mother figure who runs the family, kind of like the Godfather patriarch of the Stone family.
She loves each of her kids no matter what their choices in life are. One son Thaddeus, is not only deaf but gay. So, naturally during Christmas Eve dinner with the entire Stone family, Meredith inserts her foot in mouth and causes discomfort to a family she hardly knows. Upon Thaddeus and his partner Patrick announcing their move to adopt a child, Meredith suggests the child would be more fit in a better home and in the process insults Thaddeus. Sybil gets offended and becomes angry with Meredith, than offers a support of love that only a mother could give to her son:

Sybil Stone: [Signing to Thad after Meredith has insulted his being gay] Hey. Hey, you.
[he doesn't look her way, she tosses a fork at his plate to get his attention]

Sybil Stone: I love you. And you are more normal than any other... *****  sitting at this table. OK? OK. I need a fork. 
Having grown up in a large family myself, I can relate to some of the family events that show up in this film, not just the controversies, but the choices my siblings and I may have made in the past. But through it all, our parents never stopped loving us.
Upon Meredith spending Christmas with Everett's family, Everett has notions of asking Meredith on Christmas Day to marry him. He wants to give her his grandmother's ring, but Everett's mother refuses. Sybil believes that Meredith is not the right person for her son and that he would be making a huge mistake.
This portion of the film has some unusual twists to it with much humor and a big surprise. If you do decide to watch this film, you will need a box of kleenex at various points throughout this comedy drama, especially at the end.

This film is one of my favorites not only for the unexpected twists and the humor, but the love that they have for each other. The Stone family truly lives out the aspects of being a close family, sticking with each other through thick and thin. And, after all, isn't that what family is all about?


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Scrooged: My Movie Review

"It's Christmas Eve! It's... it's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we... we... we smile a little easier, we... w-w-we... we... we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!" 

The above quote comes at the end of this film and I love it. It's the best ending speech I can remember for a Christmas film, aside from Gregory Peck in Meet John Doe( another film I reviewed here in the past for Christmas)

I just recently watched this 1988 version of a Christmas Carol starring Bill Murray, I have no idea why it took me so long, perhaps it's because this story has been re-done over and over, but I loved this one.
It was written to fit in and relate to the culture it was filmed in, the 1980's.

Bill Murray plays Frank Cross the youngest president to oversee a television network. Here in the beginning we see Frank and his staff choosing some productions to show on Christmas day, their goal is for their station, the IBC Network, to own Christmas. It would be kind of like TBS today which shows 
A Christmas Story over and over for 24 straight hours so they can own Christmas ratings.

Three of the amusing shows they are thinking about for their Christmas lineup:

1. The Night the Reindeer Died (the Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors comes to Santa's rescue)
    2. A Robert Goulet Cajun Christmas (opening shows Goulet in a tuxedo rowing a boat while singing)
3. Father Loves Beaver (an updated version of Leave it to Beaver)

Frank Cross laughs off at his staff. Frank wants high flying action and drama, and chooses to do a live version of  A Christmas Carol with risque dancers and Olympian Mary Lou Retton to play Tiny Tim. 
Tiny Tim will rid himself of his crutches and vault through the air acrobatically.

Frank Cross is such a scrooge, his Christmas gifts to his brother and staff...a Christmas towel.
So, how did Frank become such a scrooge? When the ghost of Christmas Past appears in the form of a cab driver, he takes Frank on a trip to his childhood. Their first stop is Frank's childhood home.

" I get it. You're here to show me my past, and I'm supposed to get all dully-eyed and mushy. Well, forget it, pal, you got the wrong guy", Frank shouts.

 "That's exactly what Attila the Hun said. But when he saw his mother... Niagara Falls!" says the ghost as he wipes his eyes as if crying.

Frank's childhood consisted of only one form of relationship..with his television set. When he asks his father what he brought him for Christmas, his dad's reply along with telling him to get a job,

"All day long, I listen to people give me excuses why they can't work... 'My back hurts,' 'my legs ache,' 'I'm only four!' The sooner he learns life isn't handed to him on a silver platter, the better."

What I love about this version is we get to see how Frank became who he was through his rough childhood, and television was his way of escaping reality. A lesson to learn if you come across someone who may always appear angry at the world. Some people may have had a bad childhood or bad parents, so we need to take that into consideration when dealing with or ministering to people within our society.

As Frank got older we see his love affair with a woman named Claire, but the relationship goes sour when Frank chooses a career over love. Something he regrets later in life we see through the Ghost of Christmas Present.

The Ghost of Christmas Present appears in the form of a fairy godmother, only with different ways of communicating with Frank. Instead of a prissy approach as a fairy might do, this one appears annoying and violent..she like to head-butt.

This ghost take Frank to visit his brother who loves Frank and only desires to see him more. Frank would rather work and be cooped up in his own little soap box world.

She also takes Frank to look in on his assistant Grace who is living in poverty with kids and could use a real raise.

Grace's daughter asks," Mom, when are we gonna get a real Christmas tree?"

                        "When they're free!"

Just like the other versions of  A Christmas Carol, Frank doesn't see the errors of his ways until he's visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future and sees his death in an incinerator. Frank Cross now has remorse for becoming who he is and, just like the other stories of Scrooge, he changes.

He interrupts the live telecast of the IBC Network's A Christmas Carol, and admits his faults in life in front of millions of people. Frank even hands out pointers to the audience,

"There are people who are having trouble making their miracle happen; there are people who don't have enough to eat, there are people who are cold, you can go out and say hello to these people. You can take an old blanket out of the closet and go to them and say 'Here!', you can make them a sandwich and say 'oh by the way, here!"

 Frank even apologizes for the programming he was producing on his network,

"The Jews taught me this great word: Schmuck. I was a schmuck, and now I'm not a schmuck!" 

The lesson learned from this version of the nasty old Scrooge, is exactly what Frank Cross tells the audience:

Be a miracle to someone in need this Christmas Season.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Madea Christmas: My Movie Review

Buddy: "Did you hear the one about the two rabbis and the black dude?" 
Madea: "Did you hear the one about the stray bullet who killed the redneck for telling the story about the two rabbis and the black dude?"

It is very rare to have a Christmas film such as this one that deals with not only the true meaning of Christmas, but forgiveness and a real observation on racism. If your unfamiliar with the Madea character, she is a 6'5" grandmother played by Tyler Perry. Madea is a vindictive, ornery woman who's not shy about causing a stir nor telling it like it is, such as in this scene when she plays Mrs. Claus at a department store:

Madea: "How you doing there? What can I get for you?"
Child: "Does Santa really work at the North Pole?"
Madea: "Uh no, he don't work. He lays on the couch and he drinks all day. He's trifling. I have to pay all the bills. He kinda like your mama, now, bye. Next!"

Madea offers to drive her friend Eileen to a small rural town in Alabama to surprise Eileen's daughter Lacey for Christmas.
One of the funniest scenes upon their road trip is when they stop at a small town so Madea can use the bathroom; the gas station attendant leads Madea in the direction of a door, which upon Madea's entering is not a bathroom, but a KKK meeting. Never saw a 6'5'' grandmother in high heels move so quickly!

And, as for their Christmas surprise of visiting Lacey? They are in for a huge surprise when they find out Lacey has secretly married a white man named Connor. Lacey tries to cover up the marriage until the time is right, while Connor's red-neck parents show up to spend the holidays with them as well. Uh,oh.

Larry the Cable Guy plays Connor's dad Buddy, which makes for some hilarious conversations between him and Madea (as per the opening lines of this post). One of his other great liners,

"Lacey's vegetarian? That's alright, I'm Baptist and I still eat possum stew."

Within the tension filled home, it's Madea who uses her humor to stop the family feud and restore some holiday cheer. But not before going through some more funny stints, such as at the school where Lacey teaches and Lacey asks Madea to watch her class for a few minutes:

 Madea: "I'm sorry. Watch, watch your class? She wants me to watch her class. Children? Child, me and children don't get along. Now let me see, ankle-biting, disease-carrying little children of God or your mama, satanic, loud mouth, diarrhea woman from hell? I think I'll go with the children. Praise God."

Madea's decision was a wise one because Lacey's mom Eileen is wicked and has difficulty accepting that her daughter is in an inter-racial marriage. But, as I stated, it is Madea who calms the feud.

This film not only deals with inter-racial marriage and the hardships it may bring within families, but the struggles of racism in general. Lacey has a strong connection with one of her students who comes across as gifted, but the boy's father doesn't like Lacey, so we see another true episode of racism.

One of the other stories within this film is the town's struggle to financially bring forth their annual Christmas Jubilee. A sponsor donates $100,000 to the event, but doesn't want Christ or  nativity scene within the jubilee.

Overall, this Christmas film is not only funny, but touches on so many subjects that unfortunately still exist today. If your not familiar with the Madea movies, this film would be a good start for you and your family to share.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ernest Saves Christmas

"Ahh, smell those Christmas trees. You can keep your 'Channel' Number 5, just give me a whiff of the old lonesome pine. That symbol of brotherly love, that centerpiece that all mankind gathers around to share the cranberry sauce shaped like a can." - Ernest P. Worell

Comic Jim Varney made a name for himself in the late 1980's and early 1990's as Ernest P. Worell, a hapless southern hokey. Most of his Ernest films became a cult following for parents looking for kid friendly films for their children to watch. Just think of Ernest as an early Jim Carey in The Mask cross pollinated with Pee Wee Herman and Larry the Cable Guy.

In this 1988 kid-friendly Christmas favorite, Ernest tries to help Santa persuade his chosen successor that "he is the one" to play the role of Jolly Ole' St. Nick. This is probably the first Santa film where we are first given the thought that even Santa gets old and needs to find a replacement.

"When the magic fades, it is re-energized through another Santa. The torch is passed on when the flames dies," Santa explaining to Ernest his reasoning behind finding a successor.

 I love the opening credits as the film shows nostalgic Christmas images from generations past; everything from Saturday Evening Post images to the 1980's images this film was made in.

Ernest plays a cab driver but mixes it up well disguising himself from an old lady to a snake farmer. He also comes across throughout this film as one who looks at Christmas in a special way even as an adult,

"You know, I don't tell many people this, but Christmas is just about my favorite time. Ever since I was a little kid, I always felt like it was my own personal holiday."

Santa Claus has chosen a children's tv show host named Joe Curruthers to be the next important man in the red suit.  But Curruthers agent has different ideas for his client, he would rather see him take on a major movie role in a horror flick called Santa Slay.

When Santa first arrives in Orlando off his plane, he appears just like any other human: dressed in normal clothes, although he has white hair and beard which resembles you know who. As cab driver Ernest picks Santa up at the airport, we see another North Pole fiasco for the people in Orlando: within the luggage cargo on the plane there are some crates containing moving animals...animals with horn and hoofs!

Throughout the film we get a glimpse of airport employee Chuck and his co-worker's amusing way of handling some rambunctious reindeer. These reindeer are able to hoof across the airport hanger ceiling upside down.
I love it when they call animal control for help and when they arrive to see the reindeer walking upside down:

  Animal officer #1:[they have just discovered the particulars of Chuck's animal control problem]
 "Oh... FLYING... reindeer. Um, that's not us. You want air traffic control."

Animal officer #2:     " Um... yeah." 

Some of the humorous conversations of Ernest in this film:

1. At Ernest's first discovery that Santa is indeed his cab fare, Ernest brags about his love for,
"Donner and Blister," and all the other reindeer on Santa's sleigh.

2. When Ernest tries to convince his friend, a teenager who calls herself Harmony Star, that he is helping Santa reach his successor, she obviously has her doubts,

Harmony Star, "There's no such thing! Think about it: a guy who flies around the whole world in one night. It just doesn't quite correspond to the laws of time and travel." 

Ernest,  "Now, now, now, now, now, it's possible. You take the International Date Line, multiply it by the Time Zones, divided by the accelerated rotation of the earth... uh, carry the 1, and, uh, allowing for the Vernal Equinox on the Tropic of Cancer, he might just pull it off." 

After Ernest drops off Santa, he realizes on his way home that Santa has left his magical sack of toys in his  cab. So, another conflicting story within this crazy merry-go-round circus is Ernest's attempt to save Christmas by returning the sack to Santa Claus.

Although I try to shy away from recommending films that include Santa Claus, this is just a good, wholesome family friendly film (I'll leave it up to the parents to explain the no Santa to their kids).

The one truly good message that will come across your mind when watching this film is the passing of the baton. If you come from a big, close family like myself, you can probably relate to this passing of the torch. I think it is important to have a successor in your family, whether it's keeping the family intact or being the spiritual leader of the family; keeping the torch lit is important.

I was fortunate that God had a plan in place before my grandfather, the spiritual patriarch of the family , passed away. Little did I know that God had been preparing me all those years to be that successor. It's a role I now enjoy and don't take lightly.

Whether you are a father or a grandfather, or maybe a mother or grandmother, it's never to early to start praying and spending time with the little one's in your life, bringing them up in the love and nurture of the Lord. And what better time to start than this holiday season.

As for Ernest Saves Christmas, (spoiler alert!!)  after the new Santa Claus rides off with his reindeer, a new crate appears in the airport hanger, can you guess who? Yep, a giant Easter Bunny.

Next week, Madea's Christmas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Tis the Season

Next week I will begin posting for the 6th year in a row a collection of my own reviews of Christmas films.
It doesn't matter what kind of Christmas film you watch, there is always more than just the proverbial Christmas message within each story. And I think that's why I love watching Christmas films. We can watch a Christmas film over and over again, and yet each time we watch it we will come up with something new from it.

Sometimes I frequently look to see who is reading my posts from different countries, and which posts they are reading. In recent months I've found that my Christmas movie posts even draw an interest in the dead heat of summer.Which leads to what Christmas should really be all about; a Christmas Spirit that is carried with us all year around.

This season I plan on tackling some new Christmas stories that I haven't reviewed yet here on my blog. Sometimes I like to choose films that are not well known to everyone, ones that draw a specific purpose  within it's message; a message that delivers hope in a unique way.

So here's to yet another season of watching Christmas films, and another fun season of writing about them!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Eyes of a Child... Priceless

"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory of our children."
- Charles Swindoll

One of my favorite things to do as this Christmas season fast approaches is participate in various Christmas Art Shows selling my photos. And oh, the joy of seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child is what brings me joy! 
One of the reasons why I love doing art shows at Christmas time is seeing the little kids eyes light up when they see one of my unique animal portraits. Whether it's a giraffe bent over drinking from a stream, or a lion looking to the sky with a growl and his paws crossed as if he were praying, you can't help but smile at a little child's reaction. 

This past weekend at my first art show to kick off this jubilant holiday season, it was a 6 year-old girl and her love for dolphins that wisked me away in joy.

As she oooh'd and ahh'd at the photo, the child tried valiantly in coaxing her mother into buying the photo for her. The mother gave her the old, "Let's look around first and see what else is for sell than we'll come back."
Obviously her mom's subtle way of saying,"No".

Needless to say, a little while later the woman came back to my booth by herself. She explained to me that her daughter's birthday coincided with Christmas and she wanted to get her something special, so she purchased the photo so she could surprise her daughter on Christmas Day. Of all the money I took in on this day, that was priceless. You cannot put a price tag on a mother's love for her child.

One of the unique features of  my photos is a Bible verse inscripted below them. On this particular photograph, the little girl will not only enjoy a great dolphin photo, but will be reminded:

And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; and it shall rejoice in His salvation. Psalm 35:9

You can checkout all my photography at: www.davesphotoshop.com


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hold My Hand, Please

I said, "Get up, and let me see you smile
We'll take a walk together
Walk the road awhile" 'Cause
'Cause I've got a hand for you
I've got a hand for you
- Hold My Hand, by Hootie and the Blowfish

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Chicago Blackhawks hockey game. It was an evening dedicated to children who are battling some form of cancer. The Hockey Fights Cancer evening brought tears to most of the crowd when the pregame consisted of Blackhawk players on the ice with some cancer stricken kids. The following picture says it all:

For these youngsters it was a night that they will never forget. Here we have some big, strong rugged hockey players holding hands with these precious kids and saying, "I am here for you."
Most of these hockey players do a lot of community work with children, and they will be the first to say they love doing it.

On the scoreboard they showed some interviews of these kids parents as they explained what they are going through. I feel for the parents, because they not only have to be strong, but they have important decisions to make when it comes to their child's life.

I've been thinking a lot lately about life,death,and the decisions people have to make. On Saturday, November 1st Brittany Maynard, the terminally ill patient who chose to take her own life through the Die with Dignity Act, passed away (her story can be read here on my blog from 3 weeks ago).

 What is so ironic is the following day after Brittany chose not to live with hope, Lauren Hill a freshman at Mount St. Joseph who has inoperable brain cancer, fulfilled her dream of playing in a women's college basketball game. She entered at the beginning of the game, shot a basket, then entered at the end of the game to make another basket. Lauren is expected to only live until December, but she has decided to live and has chosen to live with hope.

We all have tough choices to make in life, but then there are some who really have tough decisions to make.

It is important that we all find a way to lend a hand to someone in need, whether it's a person struggling with an incurable disease, or someone just struggling to survive in this crazy world. Especially those of us who are fortunate not to have to make life or death decisions.

As Hootie and Blowfish reminds us, again:

 With a little love, and some tenderness
We'll walk upon the water
We'll rise above this mess
With a little peace, and some harmony
We'll take the world together
We'll take 'em by the hand
'Cause I've got a hand for you

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Race, Then and Now

''Doug, obviously you've been a black quarterback your whole life. When did race begin to matter to people?''

One of the most notable media press conference sports questions in history, as a reporter asked this of Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to play in a Super Bowl. I love Doug's response even though he misinterpreted the question,

''How long have I been a black quarterback?''  Well, I've been a quarterback since high school, and black my whole life."
In 1988, the Washington Redskins quarterback was the first to start and win a Super Bowl. In fact, he would end up being named the MVP for his stellar performance, throwing 4 touchdowns.  Since then, there have been a few black quarterbacks in the big game, but today it is no big deal. In football the racial barriers have been broken. 
In the 1960's Martin Luther King said this about our nation and race,
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Although we have broken down some of those racial barriers, mainly in sports, the unforgiven act of racism still exists today. Most recently in Ferguson, Missouri where racial tensions have risen for a few months now after a white police officer gunned down an unarmed black man.

Though we have come along way in fixing racism in our country, there's still more work to be done. Just recently I attended a one-day conference for work (Intervarsity Press) on multi-ethnic issues. The table I sat at included: Norwegians,Hispanic, German and Austrian. We each had our own individual story as we shared about our heritage. The one thing we all had in common? We were all servants of the Lord, united in Christ, seeing each other with rose-colored glasses.
Mark Twain once reminded folks,
"Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest."
If you are looking for some great books on race reconciliation click on the link to ivpress on my home page. 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Carry Me and I Will Carry You

As they reached closer and closer to the finish line, the young lass stumbled over screaming in pain as her knee gave way. Runners in close view of the finish line ran past her, each with only one goal in mind: to finish the race before any of the other runners. But Melanie Bailey had a different idea and it didn't matter to her that this was Eastern Dakota Conference’s Cross Country Championship. Melanie Bailey had the injured girl hop on her back and Melanie carried her to the finish line.

This story and the photo of their amazing finish immediately went viral; my guess is the plight of their finish surpassed any story of who actually won the championship race. I love stories like this because they counteract what society  teaches us today, as we live in a me first society.

 As an extremely competitive person, involved in all kinds of sports throughout my life, even now, I surprised myself with my reaction in a unique situation just as Melanie's, but not quite so dramatic. In recent years, I had been running 5k races with my father, this particular race was a 5k Turkey Trot Race on a Thanksgiving morning. After the first mile and a half a crying  12 year-old lad had stopped because he was having chest pains and difficulty in breathing. As a number of runners swooshed by, myself and two other runners stopped to assist him in any way we could. Once he calmed down, we encouraged him to just walk slowly for awhile, no harm in that, is there? After he acknowledged he was okay, we set upon our course. At about the two and a half mile mark, I saw the young boy wisk by me, so apparently he was fine, which is an understatement, because he would finish the race a couple runners ahead of me. I didn't let my competitive edge get the best of me, I was just glad to see the kid finish the race.

The following year when the Turkey Trot Race came a calling again, I made a point of finishing the race the best I could. Having run races my whole life, this one I finished in a personal best record of just under 25 minutes.

So, I didn't let my competitive edge counteract what I or any of us should do in putting others before ourselves. And in my case, I was rewarded with a personal accomplishment, it may have taken a year, but it was worth it.

May we all show a little heart like Melanie Bailey.

Strong people don't put others down, they lift them up.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dying With Dignity or Choosing to Live in Hope?

In exactly 18 days Brittany Maynard will die on her terms (her choice words). Brittany is a young vibrant 29-year old who was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer and has been given only 6 months to live. Before the pain becomes unbearable, which doctors say will happen, she has chosen to move to Oregon where a Die with Dignity law is in place for terminally ill patients; where there are optional drugs available to end life. Brittany has chosen November 1st, two days after celebrating her husband's birthday, to die with dignity.

So much has been written over the internet and conversations all over social media in general about her choice to die with dignity. And I've read a countless number of comments from folks calling her brave and courageous. Brave and courageous? Really? This is how Websters Dictionary defines brave and courageous:

courageous: not deterred by danger or pain

brave: ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage  

Brittany is showing courage in accepting her unfortunate fate, but I don't agree with her decision. It is times like these where I wish a strong, vibrant Billy Graham were available to intercede and personally visit her to deliver to her a greater hope and a better choice than her so-called die with dignity venture. I've been greatly saddened by her story these past few days and I'm praying some spiritually strong minister will take the time to visit with her before November 1st.

When I think of brave and courageous I think of my friend Tony who battled with ALS. He was given a short time to live, but he ended up living longer.... 9 years after first being diagnosed. And each day when the physical abilities of using his hands and legs diminished, he still chose to live and to watch his two children grow. But, Tony had something inside of him, he knew that The Greater One lived within him. He carried with him hope. I believe even on Tony's worst days, he felt the comfort of the Lord.

Just recently a woman shared with me a story of her young twenty-something nephew who passed away from a terminal illness. Her son went down to visit with the nephew just before he passed away. He found the nephew lying upon his bed, arms raised, worshiping the Lord. After she shared this, it reminded me of the last time I saw my 95-year-old grandfather before he passed away:

I watched my grandfather minister to thousands of people and had read numerous magazine articles written about his faith in the Lord and his unique style of ministering to people, so I now what kind of man he was. My grandfather was very close to meeting this man we call Jesus when I went to visit him in a nursing home. As I walked in the door, there he was sitting in a wheelchair, unable to verbally speak, but his arms were raised toward heaven as he worshiped the Lord.

I want to go out like these brave and courageous men: unafraid, arms raised toward heaven worshiping the Father, knowing He is my comforter in times of trial and affliction. A Father who not only offers hope for the future, but who is there for the present.

Hope is our future.

  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

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, October 7, 2014

Doesn't Hurt....Not One Bit

"We are who we choose to be." - Green Goblin

It's not often you find a smart quote from a villain, let alone from one that had the audacity to kill Spider-Man's girlfriend Gwen Stacy. I have no love what-so-ever for this archenemy of my favorite Superhero, but I do love his choice of words here.

Yes, we all carry that freedom here in America of choosing who we want to be as a person, who we want to be when we grow up, and who and what we want to believe in. I've been teaching a lot about faith at church in recent weeks and the importance of carrying that faith into our everyday life and the situations that may befall us.
Faith and hope are a choice; a choice each of us have. It's unfortunate though that some of us don't act upon that hope and faith.

Helen Keller once said,
 "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."  

When we choose to live by faith in all things we are simply saying with confidence, "Lord, I trust you."

 After my most recent post on the rapture, I had a conversation with my Pastor on this subject and, as always, his words of wisdom rang true,

"There is no downside to believing in the rapture."

And the more I thought about it, I agree with him. If someone believes in the Second Coming of Christ, whether it includes the rapture or not, instead of chiding or ridiculing that person, we should be rejoicing with them that they know and follow the One True Saviour.

There is nothing wrong with having hope, faith, and optimism when it comes to Christ and His return.

  Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. (1Peter 1:21)

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

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rapture, No Rapture? Who Cares?

I always find it humorous when social media flies off the handle with the argument of rapture or no rapture.
I also find it very disheartening, because every Christian that argues one way or the other, the one thing they all agree upon is the Second Coming of Christ. Well, then...duhh, isn't there something more important we should be doing as Christians like, say, follow Jesus' command to spread the Good News in love to those who are lost?

With Christians all over the world being persecuted and executed lately, and America divided and in disarray, now is not the time to be debating theology. When we fall into the trap of the enemy who wants us divided, we lose our flavor as the salt of the earth that God intended for us to be.

  “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. (Mathew 5:13)

Jesus explains to His disciples a greater purpose, not just for Himself, but for all of us who believe:

 17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Mathew 5:17-19)

In order for us to fulfill all that Jesus asks of us, we need to say no to the enemy and his tactics, put away our theological differences, and follow Jesus' lead. When Jesus fed the 5,000 not once did he ask of any of them: What race are you? What do you believe? Are you saved? He simply fed them.

I believe actress Jane Wyman said it best,

"The opportunity for brotherhood presents itself every time you meet a human being."

For all my faithful readers in other countries I apologize for those of us in America who choose to debate and argue when we should be helping, loving, and praying for others. I hope someday soon we can get this right. But, there is only one way that is ever going to happen:

  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. (1 Chronicles 7:14)

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 30, 2014

Using The Word "If" In It's Proper Place

I've been reading lately about great men of faith throughout history, and I've come to the realization of just how important these men were in leading others to Christ and shaping the Church, because after 85 AD there were no Disciples left who had walked closely with Jesus throughout His ministry.
 Great men of faith who took the gospel that was shared to them and spread this love throughout a world where there was literally no one left who had walked close enough to Jesus to touch His garment. Important men like: Martin Luther, John Newton author of Amazing Grace, Horatio Sprafford author of It Is Well,
William Seymour of the Azusa Street Revival, Karl Barth, and Billy Graham.
One of my favorite men of faith in history was evangelist Smith Wigglesworth, a strong man of faith who taught in the early 1900's. And one of my favorite stories of him:

"I'll only pray for you once, to pray twice is unbelief," Smith Wigglesworth, when praying for the sick.
The second night, a man approached the altar for prayer, Wigglesworth recognized him,
"Didn't I pray for you last night? You are full of unbelief, please leave the altar."

I think if Wigglesworth were around today and said that to someone, they would probably get offended.

Sometimes we have a tendency to place the word if in an improper place when making our requests known to God; we call that unbelief.

Charles Spurgeon, in reference to Mark 9:23, and our struggle with unbelief:

"A certain man had a demoniac son, who was afflicted with a dumb spirit. The father, having seen the futility of the endeavours of the disciples to heal his child, had little or no faith in Christ, and therefore, when he was bidden to bring his son to him, he said to Jesus, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." Now there was an "if" in the question, but the poor trembling father had put the "if" in the wrong place: Jesus Christ, therefore, without commanding him to retract the "if," kindly puts it in its legitimate position. "Nay, verily," he seemed to say, "there should be no if' about my power, nor concerning my willingness, the if' lies somewhere else." "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." The man's trust was strengthened, he offered a humble prayer for an increase of faith, and instantly Jesus spoke the word, and the devil was cast out, with an injunction never to return. There is a lesson here which we need to learn. We, like this man, often see that there is an "if" somewhere, but we are perpetually blundering by putting it in the wrong place. "If" Jesus can help me--"if" he can give me grace to overcome temptation--"if" he can give me pardon--"if" he can make me successful? Nay, "if" you can believe, he both can and will. You have misplaced your "if." If you can confidently trust, even as all things are possible to Christ, so shall all things be possible to you. Faith standeth in God's power, and is robed in God's majesty; it weareth the royal apparel, and rideth on the King's horse, for it is the grace which the King delighteth to honour. Girding itself with the glorious might of the all-working Spirit, it becomes, in the omnipotence of God, mighty to do, to dare, and to suffer. All things, without limit, are possible to him that believeth. My soul, canst thou believe thy Lord tonight?"

A wise preacher once told me, "Pray the answer, not the problem." For within that prayer of boldness you won't find the word if.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word. They also give you access to daily devotionals like the one I just shared with you from Charles Spurgeon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

World Wide Post: That's What I Am

This was a previous post from 2011, but seems to be capturing a lot of attention lately. Perhaps it's because today more people want to be noticed and defined for who they really are.

Human Dignity + Compassion = Peace

This was California's top teacher Mr. Simon's winning essay in a contest in 1965. It was a contest in which you had to write in 25 words or less "How to End The World's Problems". Mr. Simon's answer was just 4 simple words which netted him a brand new car.

Ed Harris plays teacher Mr. Simon in the film That's What I am, based on a true story of an 8th grade class in 1965 California.The story is about a teacher instilling confidence and courage in his students and also deals with the subject of prejudice and tolerance.

And of course, within this 2011 film there are all of the humorous antics that a 13 and 14 year old will go through in school. No matter what era you grew up, you can relate to most of the adolescence high jinx. This film covers every area in funny but poignant ways:

Geek Corner: the spot on school grounds where the so-called geeky kids hung out

Cootie Contact: this story has a very funny way of getting rid of those cooties you may have accidentally come in contact with

The Schoolyard Bullies: every school had one and may still have at least one who will want your lunch money or otherwise it's "wedgie time"

Childish Pranks: I admit, for me April Fools Day was all of 7th and 8th grade combined.

 Mr. Simon, who was voted top teacher of California in 1964, pairs up for a class project the smart kid Andy with the geeky kid Stanley. The tall,lengthy red-headed Stanley with the big ears was the butt of everyone's jokes. When Andy confronts Mr. Simon and asks why he chose him to be paired with the freakish looking Stanley, Mr. Simon explains:

"You are an excellent writer Andy. I thought pairing the two of you together was a perfect fit. You want to be a writer someday, don't you Andy?"

Mr. Simon would go on and instill so much confidence in Andy that the "writer to be" was able to declare, "I am a writer. That's what I am."

Andy faces head-on the test of courage in working with the school's number one geek,resulting in some: sneers,comments,and pranks. But the friendship between the two complete opposite's begins to grow, most notably because of Stanley. Andy begins to grow within their relationship because he sees first- hand how Stanley handles all the bullying with dignity.

The awkward Stanley enters the school's end of the year talent contest and signs up to sing. And of course Andy and some of the geek squad try to talk him out of it so he wouldn't be faced with complete humiliation. When the talent show comes on they find out that Stanley can actually sing pretty good. Stanley declares,

"I am a singer. That's what I am."Along with the development of the kids within this great film comes the story of Mr. Simon. One of the school bullies who returns from a school suspension spreads a rumor about Mr. Simon, which in the end the truth is revealed and the rumor is proved false.

I love this story because it makes you define yourself within the boundaries of life.

As for what became of some of the characters in this story:

Andy became a writer, married with children.

One of the school bullies is serving a sentence in prison.

Stanley spent some of his life helping underprivileged children. He then won
$40 million dollars in the lottery and now lives in France with his wife and 3 kids.

This PG film is a good story to share with the family. And may it help you define who you are so that you may declare, "That's what I am".

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Freedom Reigns

Twas' a dreary, cool morning last week as I found myself traveling behind a school bus in my neighborhood. As the school bus made a stop in front of a house and two children hurried themselves out the door, the music blasting through my car stereo was the worship song Freedom Reigns:

Where the spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom
Where the spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom

Lift Your eyes to heaven
There is freedom
Lift Your eyes to heaven
There is freedom

Through the picture window of the house I could see the two kids father watch as his children boarded the school bus. What grasped my attention was the fact that this father was probably praying under his breath for safety for his children, while I was listening to a song about freedom, a different freedom nonetheless, but still one that we take for granted each day.

Here in America we take our freedom for granted, even when it seems like everyday some of those freedoms are slowly disappearing. But, we still have the freedom to choose what type of school we may send our children to. We still have the freedom to raise and teach our children a certain way. And we still have the freedom to choose if we want to teach our kids whether or not to worship God.

And probably the most important freedom that exists is that freedom to allow God to enter into our hearts.
A freedom to allow God to do what He does best when we may feel hurt, broken, or carrying a heavy burden.

If your burden's heavy
He brings freedom
If your burden's heavy
He brings freedom


If you're hurt and broken
He brings freedom
If you're hurt and broken
He brings freedom


Freedom reigns in this place
Showers of mercy and grace
Falling on every face
There is freedom


Great is Your faithfulness
Great is Your faithfulness 

It's always good to know and be reminded that God's faithfulness is a freedom that can never be taken away from us. 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

At a Loss For Words

"The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."
- Mark Twain
Sonny was a cab driver who would throw in a load of laundry at the laundromat and then stop in my establishment for a cup of coffee and talk. The business I owned at the time was a Christian Music Store Coffeehouse, and everyday I would get curious and thirsty customers from this laundromat. It was an open door for me to minister to those in need and to those who were just curious in this man we call Jesus.
Most of the times when Sonny would stop in he was a bit tipsy from drinking, but not enough to where I couldn't reach him where he needed it most. This poor guy was hurting deeply inside, living in a motel, and had his wife in a nursing home. 
Sonny's interest peaked each time we talked, he was like a little kid in Sunday School. One day he asked me how to pray to God, so I showed him how, but Sonny felt he wouldn't be able to express his feelings verbally. So, I gave him the idea of just writing a letter to God and then read it to him. Sonny asked God to help him get his wife into a nursing home closer to where he was living at. I told him I would pray for him and his wife,too.
A couple weeks later Sonny came into the store with the biggest grin you could ever ask for in someone who had been hurting for years. His wife had been moved into a nursing home close to where Sonny had been living at.
Believe it or not there are still believers out there who think the only way to approach God is with an established prayer carrying big theological words. But, as I mentioned in last week's post, God wants us to approach Him like a little child; thinking of Him as our Father.
When you begin to think of yourself as a Son or Daughter to the Heavenly Father, your prayers become as a little child's cry for help to their father.
For all the promises of God are Yeah and Amen. (2Cor.1:20)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Leave it to a Kid, Again!

"The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any." - Fred Astaire

So, here's yet another child setting an example for us adults:

An 8 year-old girl in South Carolina has set up a lemonade stand in a pet shop to help raise money for a disabled Iraq War veteran. The money being raised is to help the injured soldier give his German Shepherd formal service dog training. Just by this child's compassionate actions alone, publicity and finances have grown enormously in such a short time.

Have you ever wondered why it becomes so easy for a child to step up when needed? To rise to the occasion while us adults waste time pondering each and every situation?

Today children have a knack for making the impossible possible. They see things differently, their eyes are open with rose-colored glasses. They have their sights set on reaching a goal, accomplishing any and all things without seeing the mountain that may be blocking their path. Perhaps this is why Jesus calls us to simply come to Him like a little child:

 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mathew 18:1-4)

God wants us to do all things with a heart of a child, a heart of compassion with rose-colored glasses. A heart that sees the good that can be done when just humbly thinking of ourselves as just that, a child; a child of the Kingdom of God.

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, August 26, 2014

Living Proof!

It was a cold Chicago winter's day and us crazy teenagers rode around in Tony's high school sweetheart's convertible with the top down. Yep, we did a lot of crazy stuff back then. Life was good and we lived adventurously with no cares in the world. Funny how you don't think about how precious life is until reality hits.
 As we moved on later in life, we each went through our own circumstances, it's what we call the game of life.

 Tony was a friend who passed away in 2007 with Lou Gehrig Disease, otherwise known as ALS. His mother was kind of like a second- mom to me. Her and I would car pool to work on Fridays and share stories of our families. We both recognized how blessed we were to be a part of close-knit families, a rare find these days. 

Tony's story is a unique one. A story that can quickly change your importance in life. A few years before he was diagnosed with this deadly disease, his sister hit the lottery jackpot, winning over $20 million dollars. Everything was going good for Tony: he married his high school sweetheart, had two kids, had a great job, and his sister shared the wealth.  Life was good.Then just as it happens in life, they were thrown a huge curve ball with Tony's illness; a difficulty that no money in the world could change.

 In Tony's last few years he was down to no movement in his arms or legs, he could shrug his shoulders though. ALS is a disease that really needs to be understood and how damaging it is to the human condition and to the soul. Tony was in perfect health, never smoked or drank and ALS is not hereditary; so finding out what causes this in us humans and finding a cure is important.

After the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge's gain in popularity this week, I began to wonder what Tony's mom must be thinking with all of this hoopla. Sure, the challenges are bringing more awareness to the disease, and more folks are donating like never before, but will that compassion for others still exist after this novelty challenge has worn off?

Lately, I have begun to put even more emphasis on what's more important in life, even finding myself investing more and more into the lives of all of those around me.

My problems pale in comparison to so many who are in need. I really have nothing to complain about. I am in perfect health, running 6 miles on Saturday mornings. My refrigerator is stocked with food, I have hot running water and heat and air conditioning. I have a job, a home, a great loving family and I have peace. A peace that only comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Corrie Ten Boom once said,

"If you look at the world, you'll be distressed.
  If you look within, you'll be depressed.
  If you look to God, you'll be at rest."

Thank God for the grace and peace that only God can deliver to each and every soul that believes.

 My hope and prayer is that God grants doctors the wisdom to prevail victoriously in a cure for this deadly disease.

If you wish to help find a cure by donating some dollars click on: www.als.org

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Meet John Doe: Revisited

With all of the hatred and violence not only in the US but around the world, I feel the need to re-post this movie review of a film I believe everyone should watch, as the message is one that is clearly needed today in our culture. So,here's hoping this resonates with you and inspires you to raise your voice for the good of your country:

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 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 as 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 will 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."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Feelings with Action, It's Called Worship

"Worship is an inward feeling and an outward action that reflects the worth of God."
- John Piper

One of the many thoughts I've pondered this past week was, "How much is God worth to you?"
We know that Christ's Son died on the cross for all of mankind, but do we truly live to express that worth each and every day?

In last week's post I wrote about each of us individually walking the way God instructs us to, walking in faith and love. But, if we are to capture the attention and hearts of those around us, we need to radiate God's love and how much God really means to us.

 How much is God really worth to you? Do you express it daily? Are you able to recognize all that God does for you and show your appreciation in all things, even the small mundane things?

For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. (Psalm 107:9)

The poor shall eat and be satisfied. Those who seek Him will praise the Lord. 
Let your heart live forever! (Psalm 22:6)

Those of us who have chosen to follow Christ must know that we may be the only Bible some people will ever read. Jesus even instructs us to let our light shine before all men so that they may see God's glory.

 I've been around all kinds of Christians for many years and I have mastered the art of being able to tell which ones truly carry with them the joy of the Lord. I feel sad at times watching some miss out on real, honest to goodness joy which only comes from being in an intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father
A relationship based on His unconditional love for us.

"Worship is based entirely on His worth."

The next time you open your refrigerator and there's food remember, He is worthy of your praise.

The next time you take a shower and there's running hot water remember, He is worthy of your praise.

When you wake up in the morning and are breathing remember, He is worthy of your praise.

When you are able to leave your house and drive to a job remember, He is worthy of your praise.

So, how much is God worth to you?

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, August 5, 2014

Mastering the Art of Wisdom

Just be yourself, everyone else is taken.



I recently came across this message on a marquee sign on my way to church. What's important to note here is that I was thinking along those same lines of this sign as my mind was speaking to God. Whoa, wait a minute, your mind was speaking to God? Yep, God can read what's on our mind even if we don't verbally speak it out, after all He is God.

Sometimes we let our minds drift off into thoughts about ourselves and our lack thereof. It could be lack of confidence in ourselves, it could be lack of not getting the attention we want from others, or it could be a lack of assurance in God's plan for our lives. But these negative thought patterns we may have are not from God, but strictly from the enemy who wants to cause havoc in our thinking of who we are in Christ.

You see, there is an importance of not just knowing who we are in Christ, but living it out,too.  There is an old Chinese Proverb that says,


"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power." 


If we are to master everything who God says we are in Christ, we need to know God's Word and act it out accordingly. We need to remind ourselves each morning when we look at ourselves in the mirror:


 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. (James 1:22)


and confess who we are in Christ:

God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2Timothy 1:7)


The entire Book of James teaches us about hearing God's Word and doing it. But just recently while doing lunch with a friend our conversation led me to this wisdom about God's Word in James:


Hearing God's Word and doing it isn't just about how we should treat others, minister to others, and how to show God's love to others. It is also about hearing God's Word and what it says about each of us individually and how we are to apply it to our own lives.


We are to walk in faith, speak out God's promises upon our lives,  act like we are a son and daughter of the Most High, and realize that we are a new person in Christ and our old mistakes have been forgiven. 


We should also imitate God in all that we do:

"Therefore be imitators of God (copy Him and follow His example), as well-beloved children imitate their father." (Ephesians 5:1)

It is so easy for believers to get caught up with their struggles and indecisiveness and forget the power to overcome that has been given to them through Christ Jesus. 


A great piece of wisdom from Paul says it all,

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."  (Philippians 4:13)


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, July 29, 2014

When Strangers Meet

"There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't yet met." - William Butler Yeats, poet

While God was busy kicking the Apostle Paul off a donkey on the road to Damascus to get his attention, God was also speaking to Ananias through a vision. A vision where Ananias was to go and meet a stranger named Paul and pray for him. I've read this story a million times but just recently while preparing to teach I was awestruck at what God had actually done. He had spoken to two men who were miles apart so that their paths would meet. 

How many times have we come across a stranger and something unusual or out of the ordinary happened?
A chance meeting? Fate?  Or an on purpose meeting orchestrated by God? 

They say God works in mysterious ways, and the story of Paul and Ananias is just one of many stories that brings out the supernatural of God.

On August 14, 1945 a chance encounter in Time Square happened that would live on for years and decades to come. A photographer snapped a picture of a nurse welcoming home a sailor from war. A kiss between two strangers that would soon become iconic, first appearing on the cover of Life Magazine, and years later sculptured into a 25 foot statue which stands off the harbor in San Diego.
 The sailor's story of that chance encounter:
 "I was so happy. I ran out in the street," said McDuffie, then 18 and on his way to visit his girlfriend in Brooklyn.
"And then I saw that nurse," he said. "She saw me hollering and with a big smile on my face. ... I just went right to her and kissed her."
"We never spoke a word," he added. "Afterward, I just went on the subway across the street and went to Brooklyn."

(Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Kiss-Statue-V-Day)
This statue depicting a chance encounter is aptly named Unconditional Surrender.
When you stay in the presence of the Lord, God can make any chance encounter with a stranger more memorable than you could ever imagine. That is why it is important to use unconditional love within your fellowship with others, yep, even on strangers. You'll never know what may become of it.