Month: September 2013

Hearing God

Hearing-GodAs I sit here and think, pray, meditate on my life and what is swirling around me, there are some basic and simple things that always come up.  Each day, each moment, no matter what is happening…I have to trust God and listen intently for His voice.  I have lived long enough to fully understand that there is little in my life I can really handle on my own.  My life is one that is dependent upon the God who made me.  I am NOT an island…nor do I want to be.

I have written about it a number of times in 2013 because there are instances…like now…when I come to God for direction, for help, for answers and all I hear is silence.  

There is a part of me that gets really frustrated at that.  I want God to “jump to!” and answer my prayers, speak to me, make something happen!  But when all I get is silence I have one of two things I can do,

1. I can get mad and stomp away in frustration.  I’ve done that in the past and I’ve learned that that accomplishes nothing!  or,

2. I can sit quietly and wait, trust, calm my anxious heart and be still. Listening intently for His voice.

It is the hardest aspect of my walk with God.  To wait on God  and listen for His voice is vital for my walk with Him.

And, as I sit here praying in the silence of God’s voice, I realize a few other things….God is calming me in the silence, calming my restless mind and heart.  He’s dealing with my chaos so He can work.  For some reason I often treat him as an order taker who should deliver my “products” faster than Amazon….instead of relating to Him as the God I worship.  

I believe that He takes me through these times and to these places on purpose, so I can see HaloneIS glory and listen for His voice.  It’s only when I sit still that His still small voice can be heard over the roar of my world.

I live in a world of chaos, God wants me to rest in a world of calm. Sometimes that transition to a place of calm and peace is difficult. Sometimes the silence you have to endure can be painful.  

Regardless of the noise of this world, I am really trying to listen.

Are you?

 

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None of It Matters

It is no secret as to how busy life can be.

It seems…the older I get the faster things happen. The days just fly by!

The sad truth is that most of the things and the activities that fill our life today will not even matter five years from now or least they will be distant memories that we will struggle to remember.

As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, “The sun rises and rushes to its setting.”  

One day flies into the next and at times it all seems so futile, so meaningless.   We ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this? Why am I here? Is this all there is?”  

But the reality is that we avoid honestly answering these questions.  We just rush through our days trying to accomplish something…anything. 

Many people in an attempt to avoid acknowledging God’s place in their life, stay busy, thinking they are accomplishing something. Not knowing that none of it matters… without Him.

I have learned that God is teaching me to be still.  Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  God is there and He is not silent, but I have to be still. I have to be quiet, quiet my mind, my heart, my voice and wait on Him.

This week at work I was asked why I always post about my relationship with Jesus Christ. They said that they really did not want to read about it all the time and that people should keep their faith private. My response was to say that I didn’t really want to read a lot of things I see on Facebook and that I believe that what you post is a reflection of who thisyou are. Good or bad… or whether or not you like it or not…this is who I am.

I love my wife, my children and my grandsons. I love Cleveland sports and the Ohio State Buckeyes. But my relationship with Jesus Christ is what defines me. No offense intended to anyone but I will make no apologies for it and will continue to post those things that define who I am.

Whether or not people read the words I write is really not that important.  God knows the words I write because they are the words that reflect my heart.  It has been a wonderful experience and I have no doubt that writing this blog was what I was supposed to do over these past five years.  It was my purpose in life.  It was what I was supposed to do and more importantly it was a way I could still share my faith and have a part in a ministry that could help others in their walk with Christ. 

God forbid that we should think about purpose for our life!

When this life is over it’s not gonna matter how many people followed you on twitter, how many friends you had on Facebook, or how many likes you had on Instagram.

All that will matter is if you fulfilled the purpose God had for your life.

Because none of it matters… without God.

Waiting in Silence

This morning, just after sunrise, I started my drive into work.  Most times my radio is blaring the day’s news even before I start the car. 

But today was different.  Today…I drove in silence.

Waiting in silenceIt kind of took me by surprise because I was 3 or 4 miles into my trek to work before I realized I was driving in complete silence and it was deafening.   I drove for another mile and just stayed quiet.   I didn’t exactly know why.  I just quieted my mind and listened.

What is going on?  What’s wrong?  Is there a problem?

Believe me when I say… no, nothing at all is wrong. 

It is times like these that I realize God is trying to show me something.  Most times I am too busy with the events of the day or the chaos of work to listen to what He is trying to show me.

All I know is that God is working on things I’m completely unaware of.  He’s dealing with things in my life.

For me, the first task is to be silent.  God will respond. l know that He is God.

 I have learned that God is teaching me to be still.  Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still anisaiah 55d know that I am God.”  God is there and He is not silent, but often I fail to listen to His voice.  How do I fix that?  What do I do?

I have to be still. I have to be quiet, quiet my mind, my heart, my voice and wait on Him.  

God has a response… I will know that HE is God.  

I’m seeking Him.  He’s always with me, working in my life…even when I don’t see Him, even when I don’t hear Him.  

In these times I wait.  In these times I will be silent.

He always works in my life in ways that always surprise me.  

I look forward to learn what He has in store for me.

The Challenge

One day he was a picture of health. The next, he was sick.

One day he was optimistic he’d be cured. The next, he struggled to stay hopeful.

One day he was living his dream. The next, his dream was simply to live…one more day and then another.

One day he was here. The next, he was gone.

It’s so easy to get caught up in my own pain and problems – my own life and loved ones.  But I’m keenly aware in this moment that life is taking each of us on our own journey.  And I’m challenged to not get so wrapped up in my own story, that I miss what’s going on in yours.

Tonight, a wife will sleep in her bed alone for the first of many nights to come.

A mother and father are making plans to bury their son and asking themselves, “Why?”.

A little girl is going to bed without her Daddy tucking her in. I wonder if she understands.

Brokenness. Sorrow. Grief. Maddening Loss and Pain – all happening right down the street from us while we watch TV and cruise Facebook.  My heart breaks for them tonight – and I’m thankful for the pain.  Sometimes it’s good to have our hearts break a little. Sometimes it’s good to shed a tear for someone else’s hurt. It reminds us what we have. It reminds us what we can do.

the_challenge_logoI’m writing this post to challenge you and myself to a mission. There are so many people within our reach who need to know they’re not forgotten. Sometime within the next week, let’s each find one person who is in a tough season – and love them. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be the grandest gesture ever made. Just do what you can.

Sometimes love looks a lot like service – yard work, a meal, picking the kids up from school, a grocery run. Sometimes it comes as a hand on your shoulder or a handwritten note with simple, heartfelt words. Sometimes it comes as an unexpected gift card or check – or simply having someone listen to you rant without trying to fix you.

Anyone who has lived through a personal tragedy or loss will tell you the comment you hear the most is, “If there’s anything I can do, let me know. I’m here for you”.   Though well meaning, there’s a big problem with this offer. It assumes you know what you need. The truth is sometimes we become so distracted, numb and confused, it’s hard to even think about what we need, though the list would be long if we could. It feels overwhelming to even consider, so most people politely refuse and do the best they can on their own.

Knowing that, let’s look closely enough to identify a need we see on our own – or one we think we’d experience were we in the same situation. Then make it our mission to meet it.

Who is someone within your reach that’s hurting or in need? How can you help them? If you can answer those two questions, you are meant to join in. One Person, One Need, One Week. It’s not that big of an imposition for us individually, but a small effort from us could do a world of good for someone else.

Finding Purpose in Life

As I pass the five-year anniversary of this blog, I have taken some time to reflect over the topics I have shared since I started writing.  I have covered just about all aspects of my Christian walk and along the way I have told some personal stories from my life.  It is hard for me to write about someone or something that I do not have a connection with.  I have tried to be open and be “real” in the sense that most of the advice and experiences I’ve shared are things that actually happened to me.

I’ve talked about some things that I am not proud of and I have shared most of my failures and even some of my victories. If you take the time to go back and read the archives of the posts from when I started writing you would find me in a different place in life than I am today.  A mere five years ago, I was still very bitter and unforgiving of those that I felt turned their back on me when I struggled in life and my Spiritual walk. 

I struggled with losing my ministry and I struggled with the realization that I was the only one to blame.  I could not find peace and I could not forgive myself for the damage I had done to my kids, not to mention what I did to my relationship with God. 

Many people never really find their purpose in life as it pertains to their relationship with God.  They spend their life trying to find it and they viewed their “purpose in life” as something that they would find in their future. I found “my purpose” very early in life.  As a believer, when you were right where you were meant to be, doing exactly what God had intended for you to do it is easy to know what your purpose in life is.finding-your-lifes-purpose-3 Lose that and your life is suddenly in a free fall. This is what happened to me.  I lost my purpose and I experienced fifteen years of really dark times in my spiritual walk.  

I had lost my purpose in life as it related to my relationship with Jesus Christ.  I remember desperately longing to know my purpose and wondering if I was ever going to find it again.  For years, I couldn’t relax in my life (and otherwise) for fear that I was so off course and somehow I would never be used of God again. 

That is when I found my pen again.  I say “again” because years ago I would write and share my ramblings and perspectives of a young man trying to find his way through this life.  I have stashed away dozens of  those notebooks from that period of my life.  I have made sure that they will never ever re-surface or be read again… at least not while I am alive.  

Whether or not people read the words I write is really not that important.  God knows the words I write because they are the words that reflect my heart.  It has been a wonderful experience and I have no doubt that writing this blog was what I was supposed to do over these past five years.  It was my purpose in life.  It was what I was supposed to do and more importantly it was a way I could still share my faith and have a part in a ministry that could help others in their walk with Christ. 

What I have learned is that in spite of the failures in my life, God can still use me.  I have failed a thousand different ways over the years and when I came back to Him, He was faithful and true to forgive me and though I cannot be used in the same way He did years ago.  He still has a purpose for my life.

Probably that is the underlying theme of this blog.  It has been about trying to find “what the purpose in life” is after you have failed in your Christian walk with the Lord.  Can you relate?

How can you know and find life’s purpose?  I don’t suggest that you follow my lead in your journey trying to discover it because I know that God had a different plan for me and I am the one that took the detour from the original plan He had for my life.

But this is the truth I have discovered. The phrase, “What is my life’s purpose?” is one of the least helpful questions you can ask yourself. Why?   Because here’s the thing – it’s unanswerable. We’re obsessing over a question we don’t have the capacity to answer.  It is no wonder why people struggle with finding it. Purpose in life is not something that is found in the future.  Rather it is found in your words, actions and thoughts that you have today.

There is a better question for all of us, one that will help focus our efforts on today and lead us where we belong tomorrow.  We need to ask ourselves, “What is my purpose for today?”

This is the real stuff that makes a life. What is my purpose…today.

Today… am I passionately pursuing the things I know to do?

Today… am I listening to the stirring from God inside me that’s calling me forward? 

For years I was so worried about what my future “purpose” was going to look like that I missed what it was supposed to be today.  Will I have a great future moment in history? Probably not.  Will I do or say something someday in the future that will change the world?  I doubt it.  Do I know what my “future” purpose in life is? I have to say no. How could I?

What I do know is that I have to write this post today to release when I am done as planned.

Will I feel like I’ve “arrived” by having accomplished any of these things?  Will trumpets sound; will I receive an award? No. But by completing my purpose for today, I’m setting up myself for tomorrow. And by completing my purpose tomorrow, I’ll set up myself for the next day.

now is the timeIt may seem obvious, but look around. How many people in your life are waiting for some big revelation before they’ll start doing something for God? As we do the things we know to do (especially the hard things), we stumble into things we could never plan and in the process, we change our world in a thousand ways.

You have an ultimate purpose, and in the scheme of life, I’ll bet it’s something that God will be pleased in. Your purpose “today” will get you there.  How do you know what your next purpose is?  I can’t say for sure, but it starts today… not tomorrow.  Tomorrow never comes.  It starts with the needs of those who are directly in your life. Seems like a worthy place to start to me.

So maybe it’s time to give up trying to solve the unsolvable, time to give up what’s unknowable. Time to stop focusing on things that are unseeable.

Maybe it’s time to ditch the question, “What is my purpose in life?”

And replace it with, “What is my purpose for today?

For those of you that have played along over these five years and have witnessed the progression in my life, I want to say thank you and I hope that you find God’s purpose for your life … today.

Perspective

I turned 52 this year.

I guess that I can finally assume that my NFL opportunities are coming to a close. The season is starting and I have waited patiently by the phone waiting for a call for the past 30 years during the NFL Draft and each April I am disappointed.  I always continued to work out hoping to get a shot at free-agency, but not this year.  I am beginning to think I may never get that call.  That being said… I think I need to move on and I still believe I have a small window of possibility with MLB and now I will place all my focus on that.   All I need is for someone to give me a shot.  Hey Cleveland… I’m available!!!

Obviously I am joking and it is plain to see that the NFL is keenly aware of the fact that I have not played a single down of organized football since the seventh-grade.  Infamously documented here (Click Here).  In addition, unfortunately my excellent baseball skills are documented here (Click Here).

The bottom line is that I have reached a point in my life that I honestly appreciate the fact that God did not give me everything I ever wanted.  God’s greatest gift to me is telling me NO or not answering a prayer the way that I wanted.

It has given me an opportunity at 52 years of age to say that I have gained a perspective of life that I did not have even a few years ago.  My personality is such that I tend toward the negative and somber. That’s not always good (but it’s not always bad either). However, sitting here, realizing I’ve been given 52 years thus far, I know that I have much to be thankful for.

These things are what is going through my mind as I look to express my perspective:

God doesn’t owe me anything, but He’s given me everything. 

God has given me a beautiful wife and four wonderful children.

He has taught me the meaning of grace through marriage and how to die to self and love my wife like Christ loved the church. He’s given me a help-mate and a woman I love very much.

He has blessed me with two grandsons.

God has given me a job that I love.   

I’m thankful for my church.  I never thought I would be a part of another church that I would call family.

I’m sure I could sit here all day, but I have to start working out… Major League Baseball  (maybe even the Cleveland Indian’s) may be calling me soon… so I will leave it at this.

God, thank you for everything.