Month: April 2010

More Than Words

These last few weeks have been really tough for me.  I have had a very stressful two weeks.  I would like to blame my work for the stress and the lack of motivation to write.  I would like to do that, but I can’t.  My struggle started with a notice I received about someone copying my blog writings and claiming them for their own.   I thought that it really didn’t bother me but I was wrong.  For the record, I am not upset that someone is copying my blog, but rather I am frustrated with the fact that my words do not mean more to me than they should.   It has caused me to really evaluate what I say.

Do I really believe in what I am writing?  Are the things I write more than just words?

I do not want to write because it is something that I am obligated to do.  I do not want to be like the burnt out teacher that has taught a Sunday School class  for the last 20 years and keeps doing it because they would feel guilty if they stopped teaching to recharge their mind and heart.  Our churches all over America are filled with such people.  I no longer want to fall into that trap.

It has grown into a case of writer’s block.  I am just struggling to write something that will honestly reflect my heart.  I start to write and soon I delete any thing that I put down on paper.  In the past, I had always been so motivated and had such clarity of what I wanted to write each and everyday.

I’ve always said that I did not write to get readers but I have to say that for the past few months I have been paying too much attention to the number of visitors to my blog.  I have been amazed at the number of people who have clicked on my blog.  I am thankful for those of you that take time to read my thoughts.  But now I wonder if I started to censor myself.  Did I really write the words I really wanted to, or did I chose to write what others wanted to hear?

I’ve noticed over the past few years that people will become so accustomed to reading the words you write and they lose their effectiveness.  When we repeatedly see or hear things they become ingrained in us,  if we’re not careful they become a part of us.  It is like listening to your pastor every week.  At first you hang on every word that comes out of his mouth.  You make a point to apply everything to your own life.  After a few weeks you start to drift a little bit and you start to apply the sermon to another person in the congregation.  You say to yourself, “I’m glad that Greg is here today, because he REALLY needs to hear this.”  A few weeks later, your mind drifts to what you are having for lunch and what the coming week will bring.  Another few weeks and all you want to do is get home and you stop listening all together.  This is so common and make no mistake it is so dangerous because we become desensitized to the right things and we have no idea how far away from the truth and away from God we have traveled.

I also see so many people who use church “lingo” so much that the words lose their meaning.

As Christians we use several different words to express how we feel about God.  Words like, “Surrender, Lord, Savior, King, Master, Ruler, Provider, Healer” and many more.  We also say things like “Lord, I give you my life” and “God, use me” but do we really mean what we are saying?  Do we really understand the meaning behind our words or are they just that, “WORDS” ?

So I ask the question, “What is the point in being a Christian if we are not going to fully embrace what it means?”  Saying  “Jesus is Lord” means nothing if you don’t understand the power that comes along with it.  Confessing  “Jesus as Lord of your life” (Romans 10:9-10) means there has to be a change in your attitude, your lifestyle and the way you see yourself and the world. You no longer can do “anything” you want to do.

If your life is the same as it was then I suggest that they are just “WORDS.”

I want to be careful and mindful about what I say.  I do not want my writings to be just WORDS.  I want my blog to reflect what is going on in my life and be a true reflection of what my relationship with Christ really is.  I want it to show what “Jesus is Lord” means to me.   I do not want to be guilty of writing words without meaning, more importantly I do not want to write because it sounds good.  I want to write because they are “MORE THAN WORDS” to me.  It is a reflection of Jesus living in me.

So I will continue to write.    My prayer is that some of my words may truly point you to Jesus Christ.  My relationship with God is something that drives every area of my life.  The words that I use such as  God, Jesus,  Sacrifice, Forgiveness, Grace, Prayer, Love and Salvation are MORE THAN JUST WORDS to me, they are a WAY OF LIFE.

The question is…what do they mean to you?

In Moments Like These

The morning sunrise fills my living room with beautiful golden hues.  The coffee pot is bubbling and I have a pen in hand with a blank sheet of paper.   I love the moments like these in my life that are uncomplicated, unhurried, and without drama.

The world is kept at bay on the other side of my locked front door.  The television is black.  The  phone is silent.  The family is still asleep and nothing is stirring.  I am in my favorite pair of jeans and an old tattered sweatshirt laying in the living room on my favorite couch.

No drama.

No news.

No complications.

No people.

No politics.

No schedule.

No calls.

No noise.

No stress.

No responsibilities.

For one moment, the world is not upside-down.  For one moment, everything is peaceful and quiet.  I am not thinking about what our president is doing to our country.  I am not thinking about how I am going to get through all the transfer business at work.  I am not feeling anger, hate or animosity towards anyone.  I want to live in this moment forever.

For one brief shining moment, my world is level.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could keep that front door locked and closed to the rest of the world?  No one would dump their world onto mine and change this  sunny day.  No one would call me.  I could ignore the world around me.

But I know that this is selfish.

Soon… the stress of life will find its way through cracks around the door.  It will poke its head through my window as the neighborhood comes to life this morning.  Soon…the opening of a bedroom door will break through the silence of this moment and the responsibilities of taking care of my family will come rushing back into my thoughts.  Soon… I will be reminded of the stress from work and I know the phone will ring before I want it to.   Soon…the paper will land with a thud on my front porch and I will read about earthquakes, unemployment, health care, politics, budget spending, crime and who’s to blame.

But not now…not for this one brief, glorious shining moment.

All is it peace and all is calm.

Thank you God…for mornings like these.

I Wish I Would Have Said That

I’ve been pretty quiet for a week or so.   I apologize.

I haven’t posted anything new on here and I haven’t had much inspiration to write anything either.

My motivation has been sapped by an interesting e-mail that I received last week.   I received notification that someone was copying my blog posts and posting them as their own.   At first I was upset.  How dare someone come along a copy my post and claim the stories and perspectives for their own.  I wanted to write the person and give them a piece of my mind.  I am glad I didn’t.

As this week wore on, I started to feel differently about the situation.  Instead of being upset “that” they copied my posts, I began to ask myself “why” would someone “want” to copy them.   I do not claim to be a writer.  It is just something I do to keep the voices away…lol.   Really, I only write because it is way for me to express myself.   My writings are nothing worth copying and certainly not worth being accused of plagiarism over.

As for my writings,  I am sure that over the year or so of writing this blog, I have borrowed a line or two from someone else as well.  It just happens.  For me it is not intentional but the result of reading, and listening to different people all the time.

So, with that in mind, I have come to the conclusion that if they help someone feel better about themselves because they copy my writings and use them as their own…so be it.  There is really nothing new under the sun anyway, so if someone, somewhere can be helped, encouraged or whatever by my ramblings then I am willing to “not get credit” for writing them.

Now that I believe that the person will continue to copy my posts as their own, let me take the time to thank the good people of the world who would not do this.  I truly mean that. Thank you, good people of the world.

Thank you to the people who truly are good – that live their own lives every day with the intent to do good, with the intent to be a good soul, with the intent to bring good to the world.  Thank you.  You do your own job the way it should be done, not with malice or mischief, but with kindness, compassion and a smile.  You are creative and take the time to figure it out and do your own research and writings.

So, if those of you who are copying my posts want to thank everyone for having integrity and honor for not copying another persons work, feel free and copy this post.

At least those who deserve the praise will get it.

The Best Present You Can Get Your Child

What is the best present you can get your child?  It isn’t made by Nintendo, Sony, Dell or Apple.

It isn’t a phone.  It isn’t an IPOD.  It doesn’t come with a keyboard, game console or a remote control.

It is impossible to argue with the fact that our children are constantly targeted and bombarded by every commercial telling them they must have this phone or laptop.  It seems as if every other commercial is trying to convince our children that they need to look like some celebrity seeking their 15 minutes of fame.

Now, I know how hard it is to shop for your children.  Just try to go out shopping and look for a pair of modestly cut, non-dorky jeans for your teenage daughter.  Mission….impossible.

A close friend of mine took his daughter out for her birthday.  He promised her a new pair of jeans.  He thought that a quick trip to the Mall would be just the ticket.

After the clerk with the nose ring lead them around the store peddling every “new” style,  his daughter modeled the 30th pair for him…. he finally gave in…and he bought her the pair that she saw on the “half-naked” billboard that was strategically place in front of the Mall.  He laid down his $105.00 for the jeans.   And his  job was completed. Right?…WRONG!!!!  What he didn’t realize is that his daughter would home from her first time wearing them and throw them in the corner of her room.  She would  say something about not “ever” wearing them again because they are out of style.

The lesson learned is this… we learn that the style that was in the front of the store a few minutes before when you entered the store is now “out” of style and the girl with the nose ring is frantically putting up the latest and greatest style for you to purchase before you leave the store.

It is no different with the IPODS, cell phones and lap top computers.  They are constantly bombarding our children to have the newest gadget.  Before you walk out of the store it too is out of outdated and “not cool”.

It seems to me that we have forgotten the difference between “needs” and “wants”.

Are you not bothered that Lady GA GA ( if you have a teenage daughter (or son) and you don’t know who this is…stop here and do a search and Google her)  and others are setting the standard for which your daughter dresses and behaves?

We have become a society that completely revolves around sex.  Sex sells magazines;  sex gets ratings;  sex sells products on billboards, on the internet, and on television.  If fact, you probably re-read the last sentence twice because I used the word “sex” multiple times.  Make no mistake about it…we are in a battle for our family and our children.  The innocence of your young child will be taken away  much too early if you are not on the watch for the influences that they are exposed to.

Let’s ask ourselves some questions?  Does your child REALLY need a cell phone?  Do they REALLY need a computer in their room? I have personally watched children as young as 8 have their own phone.  Where in the world could an eight year old girl be alone that she would need a phone to get a hold of her parents?  I actually asked a parent why they felt the need to need to give their 12-year-old daughter a phone.  The response was, “So I know where she is at?”  My response…”As a parent, you better know where your 12 year daughter is, cell phone or not!”

Cell phones have become almost as important to American teens as the clothes they wear, according to a nationwide survey of teenagers released last week.

The wireless trade association CTIA and Harris Interactive surveyed some 2,000 teens across the country and learned that teens feel that cell phones have become a vital part of their identities. They also believe that they can gauge a peer’s popularity or status by the phone he or she uses.

Adolescents represent an important demographic for cell phone makers and mobile operators as cell phones have become an integral part of teens’ lives. About four out of every five teens carry a cell phone. This is up from 40 percent of teens owning a cell phone in 2004. And almost half of the teens surveyed today say that having a cell phone is “key” to their social lives.

Seriously!!  Have we as parents completely lost our minds?  Are we so self consumed that we allow the cell phone,  the TV, game system or computer to babysit our children?  Do we really need a cell phone to keep tabs on “where” our children are?

Maybe it just me… but how about thinking about the following…

  • Take the time to create an environment for our children where they aren’t influenced negatively by every thing they see.
  • How about spending time with your child watching the programs they watch.  Have you done that?  Don’t be fooled into thinking that everything that plays on Nickelodeon, Disney or ABC Family is OK for your child to watch.
  • What time is “family time” in your home?  If you don’t have one…maybe it’s time.
  • How about moving the computer into the family room where everyone sees what is on the screen.
  • Limit the time they are on the computer and TV each day.
  • Buy a good “Net Nanny” (a program that tracks where your child goes on the internet).  I will bet you will be shocked.
  • Get rid of the Cell Phone.  Have one for your child to use once they are driving (only to be used in case of an emergency) or for special circumstances.
  • If they have a cell phone when is the last time you checked both the photo album and video storage on the phone for inappropriate content.
  • Ensure that teens are not using the phone while they drive by checking their phone log to see if they used the phone during the driving period.
  • Limit the number of outgoing text messages for the teen’s phone.
  • Create ground rules to the cell phone usage. Include parameters for the video, text, and camera components.
  • Contact the cell phone provider to find out about current parental features to monitor and track cell phone usage.

Now… before you say I am out of touch or just too strict about these issues.  All I can say is that I am speaking from personal experience and I have learned the hard way.   I have raised three children and another is still at home.  They have brought me great joy and they have also disappointed me as well.  And I am sure, I have disappointed them at times in their life.  But I have learned from some of my mistakes in raising children, I only hope to help them raise their children (my grandchildren) in a better way.

The last stronghold is the home…isn’t it time that we as parents take time to protect it? Our homes and more importantly our families are under siege…take it back and keep your children innocent and protected as long as you can.  The cold, harsh reality of this world will taint them soon enough.

What I have learned is that the best present you can get your child isn’t very expensive at all.

It isn’t a cell phone, computer, game system or Ipod.


It’s Just Me…

On September 1, 2008 I started writing this blog.  It was just a stupid way for me to express myself without anyone really knowing who I was.  That original blog was  called “the Catch 22” and it was just going to be stories that I made up and it was never meant to be anything more than me wasting time.  I got my first visitor / reader to my blog two days later and I cannot tell you how excited I was to know that someone had visited and may have even read something that I wrote.  I was hooked.

I liked being anonymous.  It gave me an avenue to talk about anything.  I could be anyone I wanted to be.  I did not have to be who I really was in real life.  I could be 22 again one day and the next I could be 48.   I did not have to address and talk about the failures in my life.  I did not have to be the man who lost everything, his career, his ministry and his friends because of a failed marriage.  I did not have to be an inadequate father with two sons that was bitter towards everything and everyone.  It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to write about anything that I wanted to say.  It was a nice freedom that I had not experienced in a long time.  I would post stories and for a while I could disappear and the weight of this world would not feel so heavy on my shoulders.

It started out real slow, but as I starting writing more stories and “wasting” time,  I realized that I had found an avenue to write something and put it somewhere where I could have my kids read someday.  I have always been so disappointed that I did not write down the stories that my grandfather would tell.  My grandfather was a story-teller and I did not take the opportunity to make a record of them.   The only chance of those stories ever being told are today jumbled thoughts mixed up in the confines of my mind.  I really have no hope of ever really being able to write them down correctly.  I did not want that to happen to my children and it may sound self-serving, but I did not want my grandchildren to not know who I was or at least what I once was.

So, “the catch 22” blog became “Maybe it’s Just Me”.

For most of my life, even as a child, I knew that there were parts of me that others liked or did not care for.   I’ve always seen the pattern that people either liked me a lot or didn’t care for me at all…no middle of the road to speak of.   My mother used to say that people never had to wonder where I stood on a subject, because I was not shy in telling people my perspective.   I never really understood why that was a problem, it seemed honest to me.   It took some maturing on my part to understand that not all people care for the transparency and revelation that I would offer.   I had to learn to play the game I detested so much.  I would hold my tongue and really hold in what I was really thinking so that I would not offend others.

When I changed the theme and the blog name to “Maybe it’s Just Me”, it was the beginning of a real healing period in my life.  I found that I was able to share real stories about what happened to me in my life.  I could be true to who I was and I found another level of freedom that I needed desperately in my life.  I could talk politics, sports or whatever and I would do it as me.   I no longer wanted to be anonymous.   It was wonderful to share my failures and frustrations to some people who would read and comment from time to time.   It did come with some liabilities.  There were some people who knew me.  They knew or in some cases were even part of some of the stories I would tell.  I would always change the names or reference them in “third-party” terms so that no one would really know exactly who I was talking about.  I have had wonderful and encouraging comments, but I have also endured some really hateful and judgmental comments directed towards me as a result.  Probably because I was actually writing as the man who I truly was.

254, 575 visitors / readers later… I have made another change.

I have recently changed the name of my blog to simply, “It’s Just Me” . The reason?  For a little over a year most of my posts were started with a statement like, “Maybe it’s just me but…” that would be followed up with some point I would make and would spend the next few lines trying to convince the reader that my perspective was right.  I have had hundreds of comments on my perspectives and posts. Most of which I never approved to be read on the site itself.  I figured that they were comments directed to me, either agreeing or disagreeing with me.  Of course, I approved some, especially those from my friends.  I figured that I owed them that.  I appreciated each and every comment.  But one thing that has really stood out in the past year…I realized that I am simply me.  I cannot change who I am, nor can I change the events in my life.

I am so delighted to realize God wants me to be who I really was all along.  He loves me just as I am.  Any half-baked facades are tossed aside and here I stand before the Lord, unashamed,  naked with my failures and imperfections….and yet He still loves me.

No matter what blog user name or email address I use, it will always be the same old me.  The many ‘faces’ and personalities that I have used over the past few years still point to the same old person.

All of us tend to put our best foot – or face – forward when we want to impress and try to insure a certain facade but the person behind the facade is simply the same old you. Rather like the “man behind the curtain” in “The Wizard of Oz”.  You can blow smoke and flash mirrors but you are who you are and everywhere you go…there you are!

We can fool some of the people some of the time but we can not fool all of the people all of the time. And we certainly can not fool God any of the time! As people in our lives come to know us more and more, they are exposed to bits and pieces of the real us; eventually putting together a picture of who we really are as if we were a jigsaw puzzle. God, however, sees who we really are before we are ever born!  He knows our victories and failures, our highs and lows and the very number of hairs on our heads. We can change our names, faces and move about the earth as we choose but we are who we are when God looks at us. The awesome part of this story is He loves us regardless of how we try to mask and disguise the real person we are to those around us. Scripture tells us we are to be transparent with one another, meaning showing our true selves weaknesses and all.

I still entertain myself with thoughts of changing my blog name and I certainly can be anyone I want to be in my email addresses and user names, but I am who God created me to be and none of the other stuff matters.

Yes, there are still people who either like me a lot or do not like me at all and that’s ok.   I can live with that. I know I am being true to God and true to the person He created me to be.   My God account far exceeds the importance of my email or user accounts!

The bottom line is that this is the real me wishing you a Jesus-filled day.  My prayer is that you will be the real you in the one and only real God.

The Easter Bunny, Cadbury Eggs and The Resurrection of Christ

A curious time of year, Easter.  I often wonder why it’s done in the way that it is?   We have delicious chocolate eggs, bunny rabbits of all shapes and sizes, some people get some time off work to ‘celebrate’ the holiday, but for many that’s about it.  So I am not going to waste my time trying the demonize the Easter bunny or Cadbury Eggs.  The sad truth is…is that I love Cadbury eggs.  I am just not sure what they have to do with Easter.

As someone who believes in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I feel somewhat ashamed that at times the above has often been my focus during this time of year.  No different from how at times I have lost the focus on what Christmas is all about as well.  When people compare Easter and Christmas it’s easy to see which holiday is the favorite.   Christmas = presents (and for most people, lots of ‘em!).  It’s a joyous occasion when we spend time with friends and family, eat lots of great food and chill out after a gruelling year at work.   Easter’s just a long weekend for most people, isn’t it?

But as I get older I am finding myself really believing that Easter is my favorite holiday.  The story of Easter remains the more inspirational to me and it gives all of us a greater hope.

Don’t get me wrong, I love both times of year.   But I’m less passionate about a time of year when I can either give or receive presents in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.   I am now more interested in celebrating  His death on the cross and His resurrection.  For it is through His death and the resurrection that I have hope of salvation. This is awesome news for people who don’t know God.   I’d much rather they got this gift of salvation than a tie at Christmas.

The story of Jesus is that He came to earth as God born of a woman.  He lived without sin yet was murdered on a Cross. He died but rose from death three days afterward conquering Satan, sin and death – this is the greatest story of all! Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have no hope.

Let’s not forget what Easter is really about.   It’s not the eggs, or the rabbits.   It’s not about getting some time off work. It’s not even about religion.   It’s about Jesus.   It’s about what He did on the Cross, dying for our sins, so that whoever believes in Him should have eternal life.

Easter is all about Jesus and His Resurrection

Resurrection!  We don’t talk about it much except for a few days around Easter and maybe if we hear a message on Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  Of course the whole Lazarus thing was different, because Lazarus didn’t get a new body, he got his old one back and eventually had to die again.  Bummer for him!  But when we come to the resurrection of Jesus, who had been in a grave for 3 days, we should take notice.  It was such a significant event that the early Christians met weekly together to celebrate the resurrection.  They knew that this changed everything.

There is now a guarantee that the grace Jesus offered is real and that we can count on the forgiveness of our sins, healing, and restoration.   All of the teachings, the truths, and how Jesus lived his life becomes absolutely critical to who we are as followers of Jesus.  Facing the future is now something to look forward to, because resurrection with a new re-created body and life forever is in store for everyone who whole-heartedly follows Jesus.  That is good news!  That is the purpose of the Easter Holiday!  That…is the reason to celebrate His Resurrection.