Category: encouragement

Words Matter

Words matter.

Words have power.

Words have consequences.

They can help.

They can heal.

They can guide.

Or

They can hurt.

They can wound.

They can deceive.

Words promote life or death.

Your words matter.

They can spread joy.

They can spread happiness.

They can spread love.

Or

 They can spread disappointment.

They can spread sadness.

They can spread hate.

Words promote life or death.

My words matter.

They can be sweet.

They can be encouraging.

They can be kind.

They can be refreshing.

Our words matter.

Choose them wisely.

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Thoughts at 3:00 AM

3:00 AM… I woke up suddenly in a rush. 

No… I wasn’t having a panic attack but rather I was finally aware of what has been bothering me for the past few weeks.  I did not wake in fear but in clarity.

Let me first state that I do not have permission to write this, nor have I talked to her about this before I post it.  In truth, I am afraid to ask permission.  This perspective is mine and not hers.

Image may contain: one or more people and closeupIn addition, for the record, I do not speak for her.  I have not earned that right.  It’s her arena, it’s her court and she has the ball.

I am not even on the bench coaching like I have done so many time for her in the past.  She doesn’t need me to coach her.  She won’t hear me say things to her about taking the last shot or not passing the ball. I surely will not be blaming her for anything.

Again, these are my words, my perspective and I own it.

Here is my issue…

As many of you know, my sister-in-law has cancer.

The language used to talk about cancer patients often focuses on battle words – those who are cured “won” or “survived,” while those who die from cancer “lost” their “fight or battle.”

But is cancer really something to be won or lost?

Cancer didn’t ask Lynn if she wanted to have a little competition.  Lynn didn’t ask to have this.

I know people mean well. I have been guilty of this as well.  I know people don’t do it intentionally.  I know they want to encourage Lynn, but lately, I get angry when I think (intentional or not) that someone could be  symbolically blaming Lynn when she is having a rough time after chemo, or that her numbers aren’t good.  It’s as if when we use terms for her to “keep fighting and battling cancer”  Lynn must have given up and not have fought hard enough against it. 

Trust me…   she knows how to “battle” and she knows how to “fight”.

Lynn is an athlete. One of the best I ever witnessed. She understands competition.  She understands what it is like to be in the middle of a challenge, when the game is on the line. Those are the times in her life she chose to get into those competitions and games. She was an active participant by her own choice.  She chose that competition and she knew that there would be a winner and a loser.

I now refuse to use the word “battling” or “fighting” in reference to cancer. 

Image result for Define yourselfNow I know she is not dealing with this by choice but I know she will “fight” and I know she will “battle.” She has proven that she is a warrior. But, for me, those words and terms can only be used by Lynn and her journey with cancer.  She owns them. Only she can define who she is during this journey.  I get frustrated when people so quickly throw those words out about something they know nothing about.  That includes me.  I have no right to use words like “fight” or “battle” when it comes to her experience.

In addition, friends, family, loved ones and those without cancer often consider cancer patients “heroic soldiers,” but I am sure that Lynn doesn’t feel very heroic when she’s going through chemo. I am sure just wants to take her medication and do what she’s told to do.  I can only assume that after a day on a chemotherapy drip,  that Lynn feels the battle is being done against her and doesn’t have the ability to “fight” it.

In my opinion, the use of the word ‘battle’ places the responsibility of getting better upon the patient. This opens up the possibility that it is the ‘strong’ or ‘deserving’ patients who survive having cancer, and that those who die from it are somehow lacking in moral fibre or will.  This is dangerous and makeImage may contain: 2 people, people smiling, stripes and outdoors me angry.

The idea of cancer as a “battle” unnecessarily romanticizes cancer as a disease when there is nothing romantic about it.  Even though the battle has been lost we persist in reassuring ourselves that the deceased has ‘given it everything’. Like so much that is said about cancer by people who have not had it, it is uttered more to reassure the speaker than those having treatment for the disease.

The truth that cancer happens to the best among us as readily as to ordinary mortals. Cancer happens.  Food still needs to be bought and prepared and eaten. Bills need to be paid.  Mom’s need to be moms. Activities go on and life has to be lived.

Life waits for no one.

Unfortunately this is the side of cancer still very much missing from everyday portrayals of the disease. People prefer stories about the outward signifiers of cancer, for example stories about being ‘brave’ for being seen for the first time without any hair.  I’m sure that Lynn did not feel “brave” at that first look when her hair was gone. Image may contain: 1 person

I did not see a heroic soldier.  I did not see brave.  

I see Lynn.  I see my sister-in-law.  I see the girl who I sat with many times just talking about “stuff.”  I see the athlete that loves competition.  I see the “lay-up” for her 1,000th point in high school.  I see one of Ohio State’s biggest fans. 

I see a mom that loves her kids more than life itself.

I see a person who always put others in front of herself.

Image may contain: 1 person, weddingI see a mom at her daughter’s wedding… dancing. 

Lynn gets battered with a load of drugs. People want to use the words “brave” “battle” and ”fight”, but it’s not a great three-part TV drama on Lifetime, full of heroic and brave moments.  It’s a long grind, a slow car crash that will last for months or longer.

Lynn didn’t choose to be affected by cancer and because she has cancer, doesn’t mean she cannot make mistakes or be selfish, but it almost becomes an expectation of Lynn that because she is a cancer patient that she somehow must become “strong”, “brave” and “heroic’ and “courageous” with this curse of cancer.

Here is the truth, some days cancer has the upper hand, other days Lynn does.  She lives with it and she lets its physical and emotional effects wash over her. But she doesn’t fight it.

Next time you are tempted to use the word “battle” or “fight” Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, indoorplease pause to question the use of cancer as a battle, with its inevitable logic of valor, winners and losers.  It may be difficult to change such a deeply rooted practice.  I am sure that words like “fight” and “battle” make the top-ten list of words commonly associated with cancer. Unfortunate words like “die” and “suffer” comprise the remainder of the list.  I believe a word like “journey” might be a better replacement for “battle” and “fight.”

I choose to encourage Lynn to keep on pedaling, to keep on her journey and let her alone choose the “fights” and “battles” in her life.  Again, in my opinion, those “words” are for no one to determine or to use except for her and her alone.

She is committed to be in it, to win it.  I can only encourage her, tell her that I love her and I am praying for her.

I am sure some people will read this and may get upset with me.  That is not my intention. I honestly am not judging anyone. This is just something that has been on my heart and mind and I was getting so frustrated with some of the things I was reading on her FACEBOOK page.  I reserve the option to acknowledge that I may be over-reacting to well-meaning people’s words of encouragement. 

Either way, God’s got this. 

Those with the need to continue to use those terms as a war metaphor as a “battle” against cancer, I do not have to ask myself what side I am on and I am sure neither does Lynn.

#ALLIN4LYNN

Realizing Someone Heard You

I remember those feelings.

What if no one reads my blog? What if someone leaves me a really mean comment? What if I’m criticized? What if my ideas are only interesting to me? What if this blog is a mistake?

Image result for BloggingThose were just a few of the questions that shook every bone in my body as I sat in my office with the lights off, in the wee hours of the morning, and started this blog.

I think back to that moment quite a bit.

At no point in my life did the thought of starting a blog ever cross my mind, until a few days before I actually did. As weird as it sounds, it felt like something I had to do.

And I’ll be honest, most of my life has been like that – where all of a sudden I feel compelled to do something I’ve never even thought about before.

Early on in this blog’s life, I was always so worried about every sentence, and every word, and every comma, and every semi-colon, and every little detail. It ate away at me as I put words on the screen. I would write three sentences and delete two and a half of them.

I felt like it had to be perfect, or someone would criticize me.

I tried to convince myself to just ignore this huge weight inside of me, but I couldn’t do it. So I talked myself into writing about real things that happened to me. I had to share from my heart and from my perspective.

Image result for writing from the heartAnd that’s when I stopped caring about every single word, sentence, comma, semi-colon, and detail. That’s when I learned how to write from my heart.

If you want the secret, here it is.

I thought about everything that was holding me back from being completely honest in my writing, was all stuck in my shoulders. So I shook my arms until I could feel the words exit through my fingertips.

That sounds extra cheesy and really lame, but it’s what I did. And if I’m honest, I still do it whenever I feel like I’m over-thinking the words I’m writing.

I figuratively strip myself of everything that is preventing me from saying exactly what I feel. Because once those restraints are gone, all that remains is my heart.

I was fully expecting 80% of the comments to tell me to “Get over it” and “Stop whining about the past.”

I didn’t get that.

It’s weird. I went from being afraid that no one would read my blog, to being afraid that I reached over 1000 views in a day. I was overwhelmed. This is not an exaggeration, trust me.

From that point on, I felt free. I felt like I could take my inner voice and put it directly on a computer screen without thinking twice.

I knew that if my intentions were good, then it wouldn’t matter what anyone thought about what I wrote.

I often say that blogging is like talking to yourself, and then realizing someone heard you.

There are so many rules about how to blog, and what to write about, and how to present your thoughts. I try not to follow any of them – it’s just not me.

I never know what I’m going to say when I sit down and write a blog post. I also don’t know when the words are going to come out. I just sit down with a topic and maybe one line that I wrote down on my phone, and go from there.

I can’t schedule a post three days in advance. I can’t plan ahead.

I write until I’m satisfied.

https://i1.wp.com/data.whicdn.com/images/228367993/large.jpgI’m not here just to write random words. Everything has to mean something.

I’m not aiming for apathy on your end, or mine. If you’re going to read my blog, I’m going to try to make sure you walk away with something from it.

This blog has given me so much and has taught me even more. It’s made me realize how powerful our words really are. We have the ability to say anything we want, all we have to do is put words in the right order.

When you do that, beautiful things happen.

And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

Divine Interruptions?

My life is always filled with distractions.

So much so, that I find it difficult to figure out exactly what I shoulImage result for distractionsd be paying attention to.

I have the attention span of a flea, so anything can distract me!

I think most people can relate because it seems like our entire society has a type of A.D.D.

In our technology-driven world, there are endless options of what can pull our focus from what is in front of us.

This can be very concerning.  Especially since every day on my way to work I have people pass me with their head buried into their phone, texting or looking at FACEBOOK. 

In this life of distractions, I am convinced that we are in risk of missing out on the greatest events in our life. How do we re-gain the focus on what is important?  

Focus is important as we pursue our lives.  It is too easy to become distracted by chasing the big-picture stuff and miss the smaller, more significant issues that are probably more important. One distraction leads to another, which leads to another, and before we know it, we’re off course and we wonder how we’ll ever really experience the life we were intended to live.

I’ve discovered some of the distractions that I have experienced might possibly be God interruptions.https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Q296TbSrmT4/maxresdefault.jpg

Say what? Yes… some distractions, I believe come from God.

Divine Interruptions?

Yes, a “Divine Interruption” if you will.

The are intended to get our attention. They might be God’s way of leading us into an important new piece of the puzzle in His ultimate plan for our life. What feels like an interruption in one moment can be the key to unlock another direction God wants us to go.

It’s knowing when God is nudging you or whispering in your ear.  I believe God uses these nudges to move us, to help us gain perspective and re-focus on things that are important.

Unfortunately for me… sometimes God tried nudging until He had to slap me alone the side of the head.

There have been many times I couldn’t take the hint that God was leading me to.

I have never handled interruptions very well.  I am too busy making my own plans.

I can’t help but marvel at how Jesus handled interruptions.

A few weeks ago I wrote about John The Baptist, a story told in Matthew 14, when Jesus finds out about John the Baptist’s beheading. Jesus is saddened by the news. He wants to be alone. So what does He do? He gets in the boat and staImage result for distractionsrts on a journey to get some solace and relief.

But Jesus’ solace is soon interrupted. A large crowd gets word of His plan, and the people make it to the other side in order to wait for Him.

Imagine Jesus as He nears the shore and catches a glimpse of thousands of people waiting to meet Him. 

Most of us would be frustrated at the sight. We’d probably decide it best to send away the crowds. Or maybe we’d stay in the boat and go somewhere else.

But that’s not Jesus’ response. He’s not frustrated.

Matthew says he felt compassion for the people.

Compassion?

Yep. While I’m busy figuring out a way to do my own thing, Jesus would be thinking of how He could show compassion. He doesn’t throw a pity party for Himself. Instead, He puts others first. What would stir up frustration in us stirs up compassion in Him!

Jesus was always available for interruptions.

It always seems to me that whenever Jesus was interrupted a miracle followed.

He seemed to keep Himself open so He could turn what looked like a distraction into the gateway to a miracle.

Have you ever heard about the day Jesus was teaching and some parents took their children to Him so He would pray over them and bless them? The disciples scolded the parents for bothering Jesus; they saw the children as a disruption.

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

He recognized the opportunity to teach His followers about the kind of faith they needed. He knew difference between distraction and divine interruption because He stayed close to the Father, listening for and following God’s plan.

Divine Interruptions are not obstacles to our plan; they are opportunities for us to embrace God’s plan.

God never promised that this life was easy.  If we focus only on the mess of this life, we may just very well miss the miracle God has for us.

I’ve missed too many miracles. I’ve missed too many blessings. I’ve missed many aspects of the life that God wanted for me because I was to focused on “me” and myFalling into place desires.

I believe we need to allow ourselves to be open to Divine Interruptions. God is constantly crossing our path, canceling our plans and sending interruptions in our life to create the change that God wants for us.

When we experience these events… these Divine Interruptions, we think that our life is in total disarray and totally falling apart.

Truth is… if we allow God to do His work… it might finally be falling into place.

One Life: A Life Worth Living

Fifty-six years ago John Lewis used a whites-only restroom in Jackson, Mississippi. Police arrested him and authorities sent him to Parchman Prison. Parchman is the state’s only maximum security prison for men.

Lewis entered that restroom to protest racism in America. He knew that arrest andImage result for wrongfully in prison imprisonment would follow. In the segregated South, during that time in history, black men and even children had been lynched for less.

For the sake of fighting racial injustice, Lewis willingly endured suffering.  Now I can’t say Congressman Lewis and I agree on a lot of things politically but I will say I respect him for standing up against racial injustice and for the fact that he believed in something to the point he was willing to suffer for it.

I am convinced that life’s meaning emerges most clearly when we know what we are willing to suffer for.

I recognize that, for my atheist and agnostic friends, suffering provides the strongest available argument against belief in God. Well, maybe the second strongest argument after Christian hypocrisy, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Let me be clear. Jesus never tries to square all the suffering in the world with a loving God. 

Jesus never says we will not suffer or endure hardship.

Instead, Jesus clearly faces the truth that everybody suffers.

As Jesus puts it, God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

Your faith does not give you a get-out-of-misery-free card.

Image result for we all sufferJesus does not teach us how to avoid suffering. He teaches us how suffering is involved in making life meaningful. His teaching is summarized in two brief sayings that initially seem difficult to reconcile:

My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24b)

In other words, while we will find comfort and peace in the teachings of Jesus. At the same time, following Jesus involves taking harrowing risks and making significant sacrifices.

The story of John the Baptist illustrates how these teachings complement each other.

After Jesus’ ministry has gotten serious traction, John the Baptist finds himself languishing in prison. It’s bad to be stuck in Herod’s moldy, rat-infested basement. 

I am sure that John soon realized that he wouldn’t leave the palace grounds with his head attached.

John’s blunt criticisms of the establishment and his fierce confrontations with the rich and powerful had landed him in a cell. He had called Israel to a better way. A way that he believed right down to his sandals was God’s way.

After all, he had gotten it from Scripture.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Care for the widow and the orphan.

Do not enrich yourself at the expense of others.

For his efforts he was rotting in jail and facing a grisly execution.

Staring at the walls and fighting back images of the chopping block he soon would face, John started wondering, “Was it worth it?”

Image result for Are  you the OneAnd so, he points and sends his followers to Jesus. He wants to know, “Jesus, are you the one?”

Is God really going to make justice happen? Or am I suffering for nothing? (Matthew 11:3)

Jesus answers by pointing to his works. “The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” (Matthew 11:5)

I take his meaning to be something like this: Would your life be worth living if you didn’t do whatever it takes to pursue the dream of God’s justice for all?

Sure, you could play it safe.

You might save your life by keeping your mouth shut and by going along to get along.

But in a more significant sense, you would lose your life. You would become a hollow soul. Filled with regret and fear and shame.

Why? Because you would know in your heart that you did not stand up for what you believe.  You did not truly find and fulfill your purpose as a believer.

I am convinced that knowing the life for which you will suffer—for which you will make sacrifices—gives your life clarity and purpose.

You then can live comfortably in your own skin.Image result for a life worth living

Jesus isn’t about playing it safe.

You only have one life.

He urges us to follow Him on the way of the cross. 

There will be some suffering along the way.

It is the only way for you and I to live a life worth living.

 

Getting Back to the Basics

I’m reading a lot lately about why today’s church is struggling.  Struggling to meet the needs of their members and ultimately struggling to keep their doors open.

There is an ongoing silent migration away from the church of an estimated 3,500 individuals each and every day.

A recent study indicated that over 1.2 million people will leave the church in the next year.

Several factors are contributing to this trend, but the majority of individuals who are leaving the church report that they no longer feel connected.  The movement away from the church has been ongoing for several decades. The number of churches that are closing their doors every year is leading to an overall decline in church attendance.

It is estimated that over 10,000 churches will close their doors in 2017.

This has led to a growing host of Christians who no longer have a place to connect with other believers.  One article declares ‘we are not meeting the needs of the Millennials’ and another proclaims our irrelevance to the culture around us.

When asked about the importance of church in their lives, 80% of 14-33 year olds reported that church was ‘not important’ to them. They have very different preferences of what church should look like compared to their parents.

It seems there are more reasons for this problem than we could fix.

If we tried to do them all we would become even more irrelevant that we are proclaimed to be already.

So, what do we do?  

Image result for back to the basicsFor me it always goes back to the basics, the fundamentals.  What were we commanded to do?  That’s where we must begin.  

If we focus our attention on this generational change we will lose our way and get lost in pleasing a culture that is more fickle than any that has ever been in the history of man. 

The basics.  

What are they and what does that mean to my life IF I claim I’m a follower of Christ?  

That ‘if’ is crucial.  

IF I claim I’m a Christian, a Christ follower, then I have instructions from Christ himself that frame who I am and how I live.  

They are not suggestive, they are mandatory.  

If I simply declare them irrelevant to our time and culture, I’m declaring Christ irrelevant and his instructions as optional.  If we do that then let’s find another religion.

This one is done. 

So, as simply as I can, let’s cover the basics as Jesus gave them.

Mark 12:28-31 

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”Image result for LOve God, Love People

Love God, love people. 

It comes back to the very essence of what God has made us to be and do.

We were made for love, to give it and receive it.

When I sense I’m loved I draw in closer to the person who loves me. 

We all long for love, real love that loves us even when the person really knows us, knows what we are like and loves us anyway.

God loved us first and invites us into this lifestyle of being loved, loving him and others in response.

It’s the essence of what Christianity is all about. 

If I know God loves me I’m drawn to Him, changed by Him and become like Him in how I respond to others. I, too, begin to love. 

When we get that right a world hungry for real love will be drawn to us, not the church first, but to the real Christ followers. 

When they know they are loved then we can begin to talk about the real lover of our souls, God himself.

The gathering of a bunch of Christ followers loving well is called a church. 

The reason we are losing our impact in our culture is we have lost our instruction manual.

I have to admit that I am ashamed of one aspect of being a believer in my younger years.  I was critical of those who struggled in their walk with Christ.

I was too quick to judge and not to love.

I am still working on that to this very day.  Sometimes that “old man” that I was raises his head every now and then. 

I have learned that when this happens I have to go back to the basics and start over. 

Here’s the instruction manual.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ And, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Let’s get back to the basics.

 

Eternity is a Long Time to be Wrong

There has always been an ebb and flow to this whole blogging thing.  I did not start writing at height of the blogging sensation, but rather as it was winding down. I’ve never been one to have the timing down and I usually have to play catch up.

I am still amazed that people still read it.

Lately, I’m writing not so much because a whole bunch of people are reading my posts, but more for my own sake.  I write for me now more than ever.  I admit that writing for myself is intentional.   I have been asked by few people about how I kept a blog going for ten years?  I told them the best writing advice I can give is to write with intention. That intention may change overhttps://i2.wp.com/marionroach.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Write-Wiht-Intent-2-300x300.png the years but always write with a positive intention in mind. Writing, for me, should encourage as well as challenge.

Life has changed a lot in the ten years it’s been since I started this blog. The recent years have taught me a lot of reasons to be intentional about nurturing my faith.

While I have always wanted to help people, or at least point people in the right direction (according to my perspective) with the things I write.  I have learned that a few people don’t want to hear what I have to say or they just want to argue, challenge and fight.  I could never imagine how real life is for some people because 90% of their time is spent arguing over things that have no eternal significance.

It’s one of the reasons I rarely approve comments to this site. I have been attacked for this as well. They accuse me of “blocking” their opinion and it frustrates them. I always tell them that, “This blog is intended to be a devotional and insprational site. I choose not to make it a platform for theological or political debate, although I will write about what I believe.   I reserve the right to delete any comment without any reason at all.  You are free to write your own blog. If you don’t like my story… write your own.”

Now it is that little term “I will write about what I believe” that gets people going. I cannot tell you how many times I was personally attacked for spiritual and political perspectives I never stated I believed in.

Imagine that…  when you open yourself up and put yourself out there, people will attack.  Regardless of “what” you say, people interpret it in ways never intended for “it” to be taken.  They even accuse you of saying things you have NEVER said.  This is true, regardless if it comes from my friends, my family or someone I do not know.

I’ve grown extremely tired of worrying and having that old feeling of impending drama when I write sometimes. I worry because there are times I wonder what will be taken out of context now?

I am well aware that I don’t have all of the answers.  There are things I am still trying to figure out.  I don’t have to know if there is life out there on another planet. I don’t have to know how certain things happened in the Bible. Because I am white, male and conservative, doesn’t mean I am a racist or that I voted for Trump and I hate all women.

How do people in their 20 and 30’s think they “know” answers to questions that have not been fully answered for hundreds of years?  They want to argue with me over things that have no eternal significance.  They get angry because I won’t engage in the debate.  They get frustrated when I tell them it doesnEternity‘t matter… what matters is what you do with Jesus Christ and the salvation He provided on the cross.  Everything else is secondary.  I can be wrong about a lot of things that are in the Bible.  But an eternity is a long time to be wrong about Jesus Christ. 

Life is interesting how it binds us. 

We can cruise along through days and weeks and even months and somehow ignore our own mortality.  We know deep down in our hearts that we are only here for a moment, that our lives will end in death, and that everything we see and feel and do will be gone.  But somehow, the glitter and complications of life keep us occupied, and keep our minds far away from thoughts about coming to an understanding of what we should do about Jesus Christ, our reason for living, our purpose in life, and our destination afterward. 

Sin and worry are not worth the price you pay.

Focusing only on worldly things is hilariously tragic.

Again… you and I can be wrong on a lot of things, but we can’t get it wrong about what we do about Jesus Christ.  Eternity is a long time to be wrong.

Scrambling to protect yourself against potential accidents, the fear of losing someone, pain, health problems, car problems, home repairs, etc can be overwhelming if you don’t have Jesus Christ.

I honestly do not know how people who don’t have Christ do it.

When I am intentional about focusing my mind on Christ and trusting Him for absolutely everything, I get my peace back.

One day, He will return or I will die and all of this will seem like some silly dream I had a long, long time ago.

While I have no death wish, I look forward to that day.

I have no idea what a carefree, painless, sinless world looks like, but I trust it’s coming. I would encourage everyone to figure out what they beliall abouteve about these great truths, and to clearly examine why and how they have these beliefs. 

You must choose what you are going to do about trusting Jesus Christ.  Getting the “eternity” part of your existence into proper framework is absolutely critical.  What is this life all about?  What happens when it’s over? 

The Bible holds the answers to this. 

Man was created by God, fell into sin, and therefore separated himself from God.  Jesus Christ came into the world as a man, lived the perfect life none of us could live, died the death of punishment that we should have received, then rose again from the dead, proving He was the only begotten Son of God.

Heard it all before?  Turned off by people who profess to believe in Christ but don’t glorify Him with their lives?

But just because I had heard it all before didn’t make it any less true.  And just because God’s people struggle with sin, and some profesAlones Him falsely, doesn’t make His saving Grace on the cross on my behalf any less true!

What I couldn’t deny is how I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was a sinner.  I also knew I was powerless to do anything about it on my own.  I knew that at the end of the struggle with sin I would die in my sins.  Only Christ has the power to save me from this deadend street.  His finished work on the cross is salvation.

Imagine an eternity where all pain, hurt and discomfort doesn’t exist.

For now, I set my mind on Christ and look forward to that. 

I will continue to write about what I believe.

I am still learning and growing. I don’t have to know everything. I just need to know what I trust and believe about Jesus Christ.

Eternity is a long time to be wrong about that.

An Ordinary, Average Guy

Well… today is my birthday.

Not a big deal. I’m not much of a party guy. I don’t like surprises and I am uncomfortable receiving presents.  It makes me feel awkward.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about “Following Your Dreams.” I shared about some of the dreams that I have had growing up over the years. 

One of those dreams was about becoming a member of The Temptations… yes… those Temptations. I still laugh at myself because I can’t sing and I can’t dance, let alone that I am not of a particular race that automatically in and of itself would disqualify me.

All of those aspects are true but it never stopped me from having the dream.

Dreams.

Things I wanted to be growing up is funny to me now that I look back on them.  A pilot, a singer, a musician, a barber (this is the first public admission that I thought about becoming a barber), a baseball player, a great speaker, a great writer, a great teacher and these are just a “few of the things” I wanted to be growing up.

In truth, some of these dreams still creep around in my mind and heart.

I wanted to be someone. I wanted to be different and rise above average and be great at something.  I wanted my home town of Oak Harbor, Ohio to remember who I was and I wanted my family to be proud of me.

The problem was I wasn’t great at anything on that list. Not one of them.

i-am-ordinary-8-728-1I have come to accept the fact that I am just an ordinary, average guy.

While I have accepted that fact, it is not what I wanted when I was growing up.  I wanted to be anything but average.

One day, I am going to die and outside of my family it will probably get little notice. Maybe someone will be sad or write a nice note on my wife’s facebook page. It will be posted in the local paper obituary and after a few days people will move on. 

It’s the cycle of life.

I’m not whining, because it will happen to you, too.

I have no death wish.  Life is to be lived. I want to live as long as I possibly can. I want to experience everything that an ordinary, average guy should.

I accepted long ago that the world never revolved around me.  It kind of blows your mind when you first realize this.

I just know I now wake up every day feeling that dying doesn’t scare me anymore.

The truth is, in 50 years, no one will remember me. No one’s going to care. There’s something unsettling about that. But liberating, too.

AverageWhen you come to terms of being ordinary, of being average, possibly even below average, the stress and anxiety of feeling inadequate will dissipate. And the knowledge and acceptance of your own existence will actually free you to accomplish what you truly wish to accomplish with no judgments and no lofty expectations.

I have a growing appreciation for life’s basic experiences. I have learned to measure myself by new, healthier means: the pleasures of simple friendship, creating something with my hands, helping a person in need, reading a good book, laughing with someone I care about.

Sounds boring, doesn’t it? That’s because these things are average. But maybe they’re average for a reason, because they are what actually matters.

Image result for Life isLife for the ordinary, average me is when my wife is being happy to see me after a long day at work. It’s when she texts me just to say, I love you.  Life is knowing that there is no one I want to spend more time with except with my wife.

It’s when my grandson Brody comes into the room, hugs me and yells, “Grandpa” because he is excited to see me.  It’s lying on the floor, playing with NASCAR cars and going to the races with my grandson, Indiana.

It’s sending stupid, ridiculous selfies to my daughter Cassidy and have her send hers back to me.  It’s when my daughter, Crystal asks me for advice and for my help.

It’s when my son, Nathan tells me he loves me.  Life is when my son, Adam and I are talking to each other in love.  

It’s acknowledging my failures and coming to an acceptance of my responsibilities for them.  It’s being forgiven by my Savior, Jesus Christ and having a personal relationship with Him.

Life is forgiving those who don’t deserve it. Life is forgiving yourself.

It’s having a church to attend that I love.

It’s a sunny day in the garage, being creative and working on another project with my hands.

Life for me is when I hear my daughter, Cassidy sing.

Life for me is a new album I want to listen to over and over.  It’s listening to among others, The Temptations, Joe Walsh, Sanctus Real, James Taylor, ELO, Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Keith Green, Patsy Cline, David Phelps, Collective Soul and the Beatles.K1361

It’s when someone likes something I wrote.

Life is giving more than we take.  It’s leaving things around us just a little better than we found them.

Life is winning the battle so far to NOT be that old guy yelling at the local kids to stay off my lawn.

Life for me is all of this and more.

My list of what makes life special to me grows each day. I could not possibly list them all here.  Sometimes I get caught up in what I could have been.  I know that haunted me for years.  However, as I sojourn to the backside of my 50’s, I have come to peace and acceptance that I will forever be ordinary and average.

Nothing special.

Life for me is just being an ordinary, average guy.

And ultimately, it is me being okay with just that.

Be Still and Listen

It constantly amazes me how wonderful God is. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/65/f7/4c/65f74c16cf2df0e25126c9122840cfb5.jpg
Sometimes I think that God is so busy running the Universe, that He really doesn’t have time for me and my petty problems.
But He is willing to stoop down, see me and show me that He loves me.
His kindness and mercy are more than we could ever consider.
One of my favorite Psalms is 138:6.  
“For though the Lord is exalted, He regards the lowly”
Do you know that He sees you?
He hears you.
Regardless what you have done, He is there for you.
He loves you and will reach out to you in many ways.
He will say to you, “I see you, I love you, I love to show you how much I care.”
Now, I can’t tell you all that I’m in the midst of.   It doesn’t matter.
We all go through difficult days and times in our lives.
When we are most stretched, strained and fearful, God is always kind to reach out to you and say, “I see you.  Do you know I love you?”
You will hear it…
You just need to be still and listen.

Make My Life a Prayer to You

I wanna do what You want me to.
No empty words and no white lies.
No token prayers, no compromise.

I wanna shine the light You gave, through Your Son You sent to https://thelegacybuilder.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/56b20-imagescalyyxu2.jpg?w=1108save us, from ourselves and our despair.
It comforts me to know You’re really there.

Well I wanna thank You now, for being patient with me
Oh it’s so hard to see, when my eyes are on me.
I guess I’ll have to trust and just believe what You say.
That You’re coming again. Coming to take me away.

I wanna tell the world out there You’re not some fable or fairy tale that I’ve made up inside my head.
You’re God the Son and You’ve risen from the dead.

I wanna die and let You give your life to me so I might live and share the hope You gave me.
The love that set me free.

(Melody Green)