Tag: Faith

Focus On What Matters

This past week I was at Tim Horton’s.

Sitting across from me was a man that I did not know.Related image

The reason he and I were sitting at the same table is such a coincidence if you believe in such a thing.

I don’t believe in coincidences.

I was soon to find out that the reason for me meeting this man at a random table at Tim Horton’s would change my perspective on some of the things I considered important.

Jack would tell me about his situation.

He would tell me of the diagnosis. How they found cancer. He would give me Image result for cleveland clinic cancer centerdetails of his surgeries and of the treatments. The doctors removed one of the largest tumors recorded at the Cleveland Clinic from his colon. He would tell me he has been dealing with this for almost 5 years now. He has been told by the doctors that there was nothing more they could do. He has been told on at least 2 times that he only had a few months to live.

He recently had more tests run and again, the prognosis is not good. They will do another round of chemo and they will attack it as best as they can.

He has survived. He has overcome. He has lived.

But that isn’t Jack’s story, at least not all of it.

Jack’s story begins with a desire to write a book about his situation.

He has wanted to write a book called “Blessed With Cancer”. 

It is as important as life to him.

Sure, he wants to write this book for his wife and for his children to read in the future, but more importantly, he wants it for those that are walking the same path in life.

He wants to share his story of how he has survived. How he has overcome and more importantly how he has lived to those that are battling cancer.

He has tried to get his book published. Some publishers would tell him that the costs of putting this into a book form would be thousands of dollars. Others would tell him that it will be over a year away for it to be published in book form.

Jack doesn’t know if he has a year to give.

This is where I come into Jack’s story.

I am not sharing this to get any credit, to be recognized or to be seen in a better light.

I just know what Jack feels like when it comes to wanting to write a book and the process it takes to get it into book form. It’s brutal.

I have developed a publishing process to where I can get Jack’s book into book form at almost no cost to Jack or his family.

I can help him achieve his desire while he can enjoy the fulfillment of reaching a lifelong dream.

This is what I am going to do for Jack.

As Jack and I finished up our discussion and details that need to be completed to publish his book, I see that this book is something that he is living for. The compassion to tell his story and a desire to leave something that gives evidence that he was here.  A way to thank his doctors… his friends and most of all his TEST DPI FINALfamily.

Here is the front cover of the book I am publishing for him. I just submitted the book and it will be on Amazon in the next week or so. I am proud to have been part of his dream to publish a book.

The lessons to be learned in his story are evident long before a book gets published.

For me, I realize that in light of his story, many of the things I consider important… simply are not. Whether or not the Browns win another game or the Indians win a World Series is not important. It simply doesn’t matter.

I am reminded of a movie I watched many years ago.  It wasn’t a great movie by any standard, most of the movie I forgot about soon after it was over. However, there is one scene that I have never forgotten. In that movie, called “Meatballs”, Bill Murray is Image result for what matterscoaching a summer camp softball team. Just prior to the final game between his team of nerds and the super-jocks, Bill gives his team a pep talk, reminding them that whether they win or lose, it just doesn’t matter.

Most of the things we face in life really do not matter.  Not in the big picture of life. Our perspective will change when we face our mortality. When we face an uncertain future.

I am aware that we all have to face these things in life.

We have to play the cards we are dealt.

We need to focus on what matters.

What matters is having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

What matters is showing up and doing the best you can.

What matters is your family.

What matters is stepping up to the plate and taking your best shot.

What matters is not letting your fear or your cancer define you.

What matters is living life until God calls you home.

It’s trying to squeeze out every last drop of life knowing that it is so precious.

So… when I see a man who has endured the last five years dealing with cancer and then he writes a book called “Blessed With Cancer”…  the game that the Browns won last week… just doesn’t matter.


Fear and Loathing in 2017

As we enter 2017, I am astonished about the level of fear and loathing among us.

I guess I sfear_and_loathinghouldn’t be.  It has been the theme of 2016.

The angst is palpable.

Many people fear the future.  Fear based upon speculation and the unknown.

In an age where most media sources are proven to not be trusted, I cannot believe how many people base what they believe on biased information and on an agenda to be close minded… even though they claim to be open-minded and free thinkers. The internet is full of “fake news” sources, all designed to skew a person’s belief and perspective.  It is intentional and calculated. And most of all… it is effective. 

Many people base what they believe to be true based upon what they hear on a podcast or read on Facebook.  Their news sources and range of perspective is narrow. Meaning that they are all listening to the same biased podcast or source. They believe that they, themselves are the smartest person they know or at least the smartest in the same room as them. Anyone who disagrees with them are considered unintelligent and ignorant.

Do these people ever consider that all they are doing is adding to the fear and loathing?

An example of this is the latest news story of “voter fraud” in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.  I cannot tell you how many people were convinced that this was a “true” story.  After Jill Stein raised over 7 million dollars (twice what she spent on her campaign) to do a recount in those states.  We know the results of those re-counts… Trump actually gained votes over Clinton.

I could go on and on about all the different aspects of this past election year and the fear and loathing that is out there.

People are having a hard time with accepting the truth.

All of us have trouble accepting a difficult truth. It’s human nature to see what we want to see, especially when the truth makes us uneasy. But acknowledging and exploring the truth can liberate us and lead to greater opportunities. 

One of the great challenges of life is just the simple task of living in this moment, living a “present tense life.” There are two great enemies of accepting truth. One is “the fantasy of what could have been,” and the other is “the fear of what might be.”

Let me address each one of these for a moment.

The fantasy of what could have been– We all live our lives looking back to the past or ahead to the future. It’s rare that we live in the present tense. One of our enemies is the “fantasy of what could have been.” We will often look with a longing for a change because of our present adversities…

“If only I had married the other person,” or “If only I had finished college,” or “If only I hadn’t made that horrible mistake” then life would be great.

Thoughts race to alternate present reality because of our dreams of “if only.” Dreaming about what could have been can be a wonderful diversion, but it’s ignorance of the reality of truth.

The truth is that there is no “if only.”

There is only what is.

Accepting truth’s that you don’t like is one of the hardest things to do.

Dreaming about an alternate life that would turn out different is a fantasy that brings nothing good to our present situation. It only makes the “now” harder because our fantasy solutions would have eliminated our real dilemmas and the need to trust the Lord with our real problems today.

When you are tempted to visit the land of “if only” make the decision not to go. It’s a trip that only brings disappointment to what is your life right now.

The fear of what might be– The other problem I see many struggle with is “the fear of what might be.” They are experts at worrying about something that hasn’t even happened yet. As it pertains to Donald Trump, he hasn’t even been sworn into office and people are wailing and predicting doom.  It happened with Ronald Reagan too.

Those fears and impending doom never came to fruition.

If you are living in fear of Donald Trump… your faith is weak.  You knowledge of the Bible is soft, or at least became soft.  Do you really think that electing Trump as our President is a surprise to God?

There is no way any of us can see the future, so for us to worry about it before it ever gets here is a clear lack of faith in God to care for our tomorrows. It also shows that people have stopped reading their Bibles and have based their beliefs and perspectives on other sources. 

 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”   Matthew 6:34

Jesus clearly said, “don’t worry about tomorrow.” He knew we were tempted to do this, and warned us against it. Fear of what might be often keeps us from walking with God and trusting him RIGHT NOW. We miss the joy of a walk with God in the present tense.

We each must live a present tense life intentionally. The distractions of fantasy about the past and fear about the future will easily get our attention away from a walk with the living God right now. I mentioned the word “walk” intentionally. It’s the word that the Bible uses to talk about our lives of faith. The Bible calls it a walk because there are some wonderful present tense elements to a walk that will help us stay focused on the now.

A walk demands a destination, but it can only be done one step at a time, one foot on the path toward the goal, one decision at a time to reach the goal. A walk demands a present tense life. That word, walk, often helps me get back to “now.”

control-what-you-can-controlThat is why God implores us to keep our eye on and press towards the mark of following Christ.  If you are so worried about the future, you obviously do not want to accept what the Bible says about the future.  It’s in His hands.  I cannot worry over that which I cannot control… those are the things I need to trust God that He has it under control. 

As you go through each day of 2017, living your life and find yourself buying into the temptation toward fantasy or fear, stop for a moment.  Focus on things that really matter and what you can do to control them.  The balance is trust and dependence on God to take care of the rest.

It is then called having “Faith” and not fear and loathing.

I hope you truly have a great year and I hope that all of your fears are tempered by a loving God and that our faith grows deeper in Him each day.

Not Fooling Anyone (A Chronicle of Bad Conversations and Storefronts Past)

A few weeks ago, a co-worker popped his head in my office. He said “So, are you ready for next Wednesday?

I sat there going through my mental calendar and couldn’t come up with what the significance Wednesday had. I finally had to ask “What’s Wednesday?”

He then reminded me that Wednesday was the day on the calendar that I age one more year. He asked if I had any words to impart to impart the wisdom I’ve gained in my many years.


To be honest, I was just happy that he reminded me what Wednesday was because I needed to renew my license tags.  That summed up the depth of the wisdom that was flowing through my brain. I mumbled that I would write a post about “all the wisdom I’ve gained over all my years”.  He laughed and said sarcastically that he “couldn’t wait” to read it and something about that it should be a short read.

That Saturday, as I sat at the DMV, I was reminded of this conversation I had the previous day. I thought about what wisdom or perspective I could have actually shared.  What gold nuggets of wisdom have I gained? What words can I put in a post?

I had nothing.

But I valiantly tried to post something. I spent the next few days writing a post that I published a week or so ago. I called it “Thinking Back, Looking Forward”  Click here to read

I’ve spent the days since that posting going round and round about this subject.  While I liked the article I posted, something just told me that I needed to share something more. 

What could I write that would show what I truly have learned over the years? What I have learned in these years on this big rock that I can pass on to my kids and grandkids, not to mention, anyone else that might read this? 

Then it hit me… while staring at a picture that sits on my desk.  I had actually wrote about him in my post that is linked above.  My closest childhood friend, Bryan Blakley died the day after my birthday in 2009.  I have written about him a number of times and I have always felt a part of me is missing since his passing.  We lost him all too soon. I could never deny the influence that Bryan had in my life.  I can’t say that all of the “influence” was good either.  I got in trouble with Bryan on many occasions and there are secrets of things that we did that I will take to my grave. 

But the one thing that I could always say about Bryan is that he was true to himself.  He lived what he believed.  Even if he was wrong.  He never tried to hide who he really was.  I always tried to hide and fool people into thinking I was some kind of innocent kid. 

I wasn’t innocent.

Bryan was a person that really did not care what people thought of him.  He was who he was 24 hours a day. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I always looked up to that because he was true to his convictions and to what he believed.  He never tried to fool anyone.  I thought back to the words I spoke at his funeral. A simple sentence that I still believe summed up Bryan’s life and in it a truth that sticks with me to this very day…

You can say what you think but you’ll live what you believe.

That’s it. 

That basically is the foundation of all wisdom.  In other words,  to quote Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true”.  Under all that we think, lives a life that really shows what we truly believe.

I’ve said multiple times that it is really easy to sit behind the keyboard and act like you’ve got the world on a string. For 9 years, I have posted personal thoughts and hopefully, https://itsyet2bt0ld.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/img_3064.pngshared the struggles too. Life has knocked me down a few times. Those events have shown me things about myself I never wanted to see.  I believe that in those events, I caught the glimpse of who I truly was. 

It’s like really seeing yourself in a mirror.  What if we honestly just saw our character instead of our image in a mirror? In reality, that is how God sees us all the time.  Because He sees through the fake image we try to show the world. What God sees in those moments is the character that sums up who we are.  It scares me to consider what God thinks when He sees and hears the lies we tell Him and others.

I have often thought about what a book about my life would look like.  How would it read? How would it be perceived?  I have even gone as far as coming up with the title.

 “Not Fooling Anybody (A Chronicle of Bad Conversations and Storefronts Past)

What I have learned about life is that I haven’t really fooled anybody.  More importantly, I know I haven’t fooled God.  I don’t think many people understand that.  I think there are many people who think they are fooling others, they in turn fool themselves into thhttps://i1.wp.com/notfoolinganybody.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/logo.pnginking that they have fooled God.  It is not possible to fool God.  I have learned the hard way this great truth.

Sometimes, late at night, when I am trying to go to sleep. I am reminded of the conversations that I had with people over the years.  Those conversations when I tried to defend my sin. Those conversations when I tried to fool people that I had my act together and I was living the kind of life that God would be proud of.  Those conversations when I tried to fool myself that I was something that I knew in my heart I wasn’t. I have memory of more of these conversations than I care to remember.

My life has always been either honored or betrayed by the “storefronts” that I have built over the years.  The people who have known me over the years can stroll down the main street of my life and see the evidence of my life that is seen in the storefront windows that line the street.  Like in times of old, before the malls, when people would shop local and go window shopping.  The product that each store sold was placed in that window for all to see.  I have many “storefronts.” Most of them are good.  However, there are a few that I wish I could make go away.  Now before you think I dwell on these “bad storefronts,” I don’t.  I know that God has dealt with me about the content of those storefronts and He has forgiven me and has allowed me to live a great life. But I would be lying if I said that in the quiet times that I am alone, that these storefronts don’t flash in front of my eyes and I am reminded of them. They do.  Some bring me happiness and others embarrassment. 

Such is life.

At the end of the day, I hope that whenever my number is called, those that knew me personally or from afar will all be able to say the same thing. I hope they will say that I said what I thought and it matched the way that I lived and what I believed.  I know that this was not true in my younger years.  I have had to be shaped, molded, poked and prodded by God to fix many areas of my life. 

Even at 55, I am a work in progress. 

We all are.

I hope, before I die,  I can point others to Jesus Christ and the salvation that is found in Him.

I hope that I can encourage others to create a life that feels good on the inside and not just one that looks good on the outside.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t just speak highly of my wife, I honestly treasure and honor her above all others.

I hope you’ll see that I love my kids. Even if I disagree with some of the choices they have made. I made it my goal to treasure each moment and never leave a doubt in their mind as to how I felt about them.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t throw around the word “friend” like it’s something you accept on a social media site. I believed that relationships are important and that people – no matter who they are – matter.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t just talk about faith to be high and mighty. I live a life filled with questions, doubts, struggles, fears and wrestled through the journey to be not high and mighty, but second and humble.

I hope that you see that I didn’t intend fool anybody.  I was what I claimed to be… a sinner, saved by grace.

That sums up the wisdom in this small brain of mine. 

Maybe this was too long to convey a simple point of wisdom but that’s the best I’ve got.

The calendar turned on another year older.

It’s another chance to say what I think and more importantly….

Live what I believe.

The Evidence

There is nothing like ripe, fresh fruit.

To be able to pick a piece of fruit from the tree and eat it is one of the great experiences of life.  

I remember, years ago, when I lived in Oak Harbor, Ohio and experiencing the thrill of picking cherries from our trees in our back yard.  I still remember climbing those trees and sitting high up on one of the branches and picking and eating fresh cherries by the hand full.  I still reflect in amazement that was part of my childhood.  I surely did not appreciate the experience at the time.

I am not sure that I can ever remember eating cherries in my adult life that were as fresh and sweet as those I picked back in those days.

Fresh fruit is the ultimate sign of life from a fruit tree. It tells you, without any doubt, this tree is alive!  And because of that life we enjoy the fruit.

There is one more thing I think about when my thoughts wander to this topic of fruit-  fresh fruit has a sweetness to it.  It’s as if one of the great evidences of fresh fruit is a sweet subtle taste that makes you want more.

So what is the evidence of life for the Christian?

What tells the world, as they walk by, that you are alive in Christ?

It’s the fruit!

Here’s how Paul describes the fruit that comes from us when we are alive in Christ,

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

The thing about this kind of fruit is that others should be drawn to it, there’s a https://syntheticgospel.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/good-tree.jpgsweetness about our lives that should make them want to be around us.  The fruit of the Spirit coming out of our lives should draw others to us and ultimately to Christ.

It’s the same thing that happened when Jesus was here… people loved being with Him.

The fruit of his life was sweet and refreshing.

So this is what I am pondering today. In clear self-evaluation, I am wondering if the fruit that I produce is pointing others to see Christ in me?  I want to be recognized by the fruit of the Spirit.  However, I am reminded of the times that no one could see Christ in me because I was too full of myself. 

There was no room for fruit to grow.

Too often, I was caught up in the throes of the dogma of religion and not in living in the freedom that being alive in Christ brings. 

As I reflect, my challenge to you, is for you to evaluate what is the evidence of the life of Christ in you?

Does the fruit of your life have the sweet taste of God’s presence or the bitter taste of self and religion?

Is there evidence that you are alive in Christ?  How does it taste to those around you?

Be Not Afraid

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you.

    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

–  Isaiah 41:10

A friend posted this verse on another site this morning.  It’s always encouraging to be reminded of truth that touches your life in a moment, truth that resonates with your very soul.  This is one of those verses.  

“Don’t be afraid…”  Why not?  And here is God’s reason not to fear, “for I am with you.”  You are not alone. God himself walks with you to comfort you, protect you, to be with you.  That is the most important thing you will read all day- if you are God’s child “He is with you“, you are not alone, it’s not all on you to win the day, beat away the dragons, defeat the enemy.  God is with you.  

Dwell on these four words for a moment… “I Am With You”   How would your day change if you lived like that were true?  

“Don’t be discouraged…”  Why not? Once more, here is God’s reason for this admonition,  “for I am your God.”  I don’t know about you, but discouragement is one of my plagues.  I fight it off frequently.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent a moment to let this truth sink into me that the reason I shouldn’t let discouragement win the day is because God is MY God.  The only God who exists is MY God and the result? I don’t have to be discouraged.  

In the moments that tempt you to fear or discouragement pause and read this passage.  It’s the words of a loving Father calming a distraught child.  It’s the love of a parent holding the broken one sobbing from pain.  It’s the loving hand of the Father reaching out to hold my hand and calm me.  It’s my Father telling me, “It’s ok, I’ll take care of you.”  

What more could we ask of our loving Father?

Under the Influence

It’s been a year.

One year since I received the call that shook me to the core. 

My best friend from my high school years took his own life. 

I was devastated.  I was confused.  I was filled with questions. I was overwhelmed with regret.  I was angry.  I was ashamed.  I was frustrated.  I was hurt.  I was all of these things and more. 

I had already been reeling from the loss of two of my best friends that had passed away in the previous two years.  I was now facing a third pillar of my life being taken from me.  

Bob Emrich, Brian Blakely and now Steve Schueren.

I will forever be grateful for spending 40 years of my life with the pleasure of knowing Steve Schueren.  My third pillar in my life.  Steve was my closest high school friend.  I looked up to Steve and I will always hold him in high regard as a man of God. 

It has been a year… and I so wish I could hear him once again debate the political issues that we face today.  He would have had a field day and he was never at a loss for words when it came to politics or his faith.

All the memories I have shared with him will forever be cherished and remembered.  All of us who knew Steve know that he will live forever in our hearts.

<To Read More About Steve Click Here>

Bryan Blakely was my childhood best friend.  The first pillar in my life.  The days of my early childhood were influenced by his presence in my life.  Not much happened in my life from the age of 5 to 16 that Bryan and I did not experience together.  Somewhere along the age of 16, we started to drift into different directions. Over the next 30 years whenever our paths crossed, we would always talk and we knew that there would always be a special friendship between us, but it would never be the same as it was growing up on that alley between Walnut and Washington Streets in Oak Harbor, Ohio.   He died in June of 2009. 

  <To Read More About Brian Click Here>

About the age of 16, I was introduced to a man who would become so influential throughout my teen years.  My second pillar.  He grew to be not only be my friend but he was no less a father figure in my life.  Our father/son relationship lasted for years.  Bob Emrich loved me as a son and he loved me unconditionally.  God took him home after a battle with cancer.  He wasn’t perfect but he taught me so much and I still miss him everyday.   There is no doubt of his influence in my life.

<To Read More About Bob Click Here>

The pain and loss that is associated with the loss of these men is huge.  A mother shouldn’t have to bury a son, a wife should not have to lose her husband and children should not have bury their father before their time.  All three of these men were gone too soon from this life.  They are missed by many and I have to admit that over the course of the past year, I have felt sorry for myself.  I just could not understand why God chose to take those in my life.  I looked forward to growing old and having those pillars in my life for a long time.

For whatever reason, God sometimes allows people to be taken very quickly from us.  Many times, so fast that we never get the chance to say the things we needed to say.   I am still shocked and in some ways I am still not over their loss.

But this is one truth that I have come to appreciate.   I still find myself under their influence.  I can still hear the laughter and the voice of Bryan as I think of the memories of my childhood.  His humor and his perspective on not taking life too seriously will always be imbedded in my memory.

I find myself listening to music and hearing Bob’s voice encouraging me to be better man.  I can see him giving me the cheat signs that we had made up in order to win at our epic Rook battles or laughing so hard at times we couldn’t speak at the crazy stuff we did.  His influence on me as teenager trying to find his way in life has transcended into an influence that still makes want to be a better man.  He is still here with me… the signs are all around me.

It is no different with Steve.  His influence is still evident in my life.  I became a better student of God’s Word because of Steve.   I still do things that I learned from him from way back in my high school years.  Most importantly, he is part of my “Great Cloud of Witnesses” that is mentioned in Hebrews 12:1.

I am still under their influence.

This has caused me to think about what it means to influence others.

I looked up the word “influence” and the definition says:

“to affect or alter by indirect or intangible means; to have an effect on the condition or development of.”

To have an effect on the condition or development of.  That’s huge!!!  All three of these men had a profound effect my development.

I feel a bigger responsibility today as a result of my relationship with them.  As if I need to re-think decisions that I am making or things that I do as possibly having an effect on others, whether positive or negative.   I need to ask myself what kind of influence am I having on others.  What kind of influence do I have on my wife?  How am I influencing my children? my friends? my co-workers? Will they feel my influence after I am gone from this life?  It’s a little overwhelming to contemplate that I could have the same effect on someone’s condition or development, just like the influence of these men had in my life.  

I hope the Lord continues to teach me how to be a man of influence.  To be someone who is to be remembered.  My hope is to be that better man… that better friend to someone.  To be a voice of influence. To be a shoulder for someone to lean on. To be the one who encourages… to be one that spurs others on to greatness.

Until that happens…I am thankful to always be under the influence of Steve  Schueren… Bryan Blakely and Bob Emrich.

I thank them for the time that they shared with me of their life  and I am forever grateful for the legacy that they passed on into my life. 

For now… I am still here.  I look forward to re-uniting with all of them one day. I cannot help but smile when I think of it.   Steve will offer me the seat next to him… Bryan will be telling stories and Bob will be playing music and sitting at the table with a deck of Rook cards in his hand with a big smile on his face.

I look forward to that day…

A Vision Blurred

One of the aspects of growing older is the fact that my once “perfect vision” isn’t so much perfect anymore.  Seems like there isn’t much I can do without wearing glasses to clear up the blur that I see.  It seems like it happened overnight but I know the truth… I have been in denial for some time now.   At first, I struggled to focus on signs when I was driving  at night and then it progressed to squinting when watching TV from the couch.  I put it off for as long as I could but I finally had to accept and embrace the fact that I could no longer function without my glasses.  

When people see me at work and I have my glasses on they are surprised.  I don’t wear or need my glasses at work.  I have no problem seeing up close and as I sit in my office and work on the computer all day I have no issues with being able to see.  Move something away from me for more than a few feet and it starts to blur and I struggle to see it clearly.  It is a common problem for many people… obviously it is called being “near-sighted”.  Things up close are clear and in focus but anything far away is blurry and out of focus.

When I think about this I am reminded that in many ways I have been near-sighted for much of my life… but it did not involve my need for glasses.  For a portion of my life I was only able to focus on “here” and “now”.   Any decisions I made and desires I wanted were a result of my near-sighted focus on my own life.   I had very little concern for the big picture and even less about how God fit into the plan for my life.

I have come to the conclusion that we are all near-sighted.   We all live with a blurred vision.  A blurred vision of what we need to focus on… a blurred vision of those who are lost and do not have a relationship Jesus Christ.  In a spiritual sense we all need glasses to see these things  clearly.  These “spiritual glasses” are evident when our vision is filtered through the truth and wisdom of God’s Word.  This is the correction we need for our near-sighted, self-centered vision.  God’s Word is meant to give us a clearer vision about the things of life, reality, relationships and the future.  God’s Word is the only answer for the hard questions of life that face us.  Only His Word can balance out our vision and stop the near-sighted focus we struggle with in our life.

I think we all have a desire to see clearly why God allowed this or that to happen.  Why did God take a loved one so young?  Why did God allow you to go through a painful divorce or serious health issue?   We want answers to those things we can’t see clearly or understand.  The sad truth is that some of these vision problems and some of the answers will not be resolved until at last when we see the Lord face to face.  We will not know the reasons for some of our questions until we reach the gates of Heaven.  In the meantime,  we have to use these “spiritual glasses”.  We have to have help to see the big picture a little clearer.  We may not see the whole picture but it allows us to see the path that God wants for us to follow and in the end, He will answer all questions and will make everything right.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!  We’ll see Him face to face and see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”

These words are paraphrased from Paul’s pen in 1 Corinthians 13.  He’s writing to describe our vision problem.  The things of God and the truths about our world can be fuzzy at best.   Paul could understand that we all see poorly when it comes to the things of God.  The reality of what is going on around us is sometime so blurry that we fall into the trap of having our focus be near-sighted.

The sad truth is that many continue to deny they need any help with seeing God’s plan for their life.  They go through life in denial of  needing a relationship with Jesus Christ.  They would rather go through this life bumping and running into the obstacles of life.   Instead of trusting a loving God, they choose to blame Him for the trials and difficult times in this life.  God makes it very clear that life on this earth will be hard.  He never promises us an easy time.  What He does do is promise us that He is walking with us and in times of extreme trial He carries us.

What’s sad to me is that so many Christians  live their life struggling with near-sightedness.  That does not need to happen.   Jesus once healed a man of blindness who said, “I see men, but they look like trees.”  Jesus once more touched him until he could see clearly.   He now could see what God wanted him to see.  God has a vision for you.  He wants you to follow and clearly see  the path that He has laid out for you.  Yes, it will be filled with stumbling-blocks and stepping-stones and it will be spotted with hard times along with good times.  In the end, when we see Jesus face to face we will be able to see God’s plan and hopefully, a legacy of honor and footprints of faithfulness in the life we lived.

The question for you today is, “Is your vision blurry?”


At one time or another we have all felt a strange thing that happens to all of us.   It’s something we were never meant to feel, an emotion, a feeling that we were never meant to know and yet we all have felt it.   We have all had an overwhelming feeling of being alone.

Alone.   It’s a terrible feeling, a sense of abandonment, rejection, isolation.   Alone is a place we all dread and avoid with noise, busy lives and activity, but alone is there.

It’s the great fear of every man, every woman, the fear that we will be alone.

It was never meant to be this way. God didn’t design us to be alone. It was never an experience of Adam until sin came and then a sense of “alone” came. It’s part of sin. We were designed to forever be in fellowship with God. We were designed to constantly sense and be in community with Him, but when sin came along with it came “alone.”

Jesus came to take care of our sin problem, but He came to do so much more. He came to resolve my aloneness, my isolation, my emptiness.  He came to provide a way for us to once more be in constant fellowship with the one who made us. Jesus said, as he anticipated his disciples abandonment, “Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”

And now that is our solution as well.   The very ones who dreaded being left alone, can have that ever-present Father with us, in us, abiding, living with us every moment.

Now, in Christ, one of my fearsome problems, the problem of “alone”, is solved by the ever-present Lord of heaven living in me, with me, and I will never be alone again.

Let Me See This World Thru Your Eyes

We all wear masks.  

Masks that hide who we really are.

Masks to keep people from ever really seeing the real you.  Masks that tell others we are “ok” when we really aren’t.  Masks that allow us to be accepted by those that we want acceptance from.  Masks that we wear so often that we even convince ourselves that that is who we really are.  We do this so often that many times we do it without any thought. It is just the natural progression of our typical day.

It starts early in life.

Every morning when we wake up and put on our first mask of the day.  We have many of them.  We have a mask for our children and family to see, a mask for our spouse to see and another mask for work.  We put on a new mask for when you are out with friends and another mask for those we hardly know.  We have a mask that we wear to church and we wear a mask to do our grocery shopping.  A mask for all the different situations of our life.  Some of these masks are better than others.

Why do we wear masks?

We wear them to hide our insecurities.  To cover what we are afraid of.   To hide the fact they we are unhappy about where we are in life.   We wear masks to cover our failures in life, we wear them to hide the “real” person we are.  In public, we all want to show that we have it together and that all is well,but in most situations that is the farthest thing from the truth.

We hide behind these masks and we actually think we keep it from everyone what and who we really are.  But just like our sin that we think we keep private… it is no secret.  God knows.

He has identified the true person we really are and what we really have done in our lives.  He sees us.  A mask doesn’t keep Him from knowing what we have done and He sees every aspect of us.   

I often wonder what the world would look like if I could see this world thru His eyes?  Would I love those I come in contact with if I could see what God sees?    If I could see what others struggle with it would it change how I interact with them? If I could see that a friend is insecure how would I treat them and comfort them?  If I could see that a neighbor is afraid what would I do?  If I could see that a co-worker is depressed what would I say?   If we could see what’s really going on with each other it would change everything.  

What’s fascinating to me is that God does see.   He hears the unspoken words, he knows the unheard thoughts, he knows us. And because He knows,  He deals with people in a merciful and gracious way.   He sees us as we really are and yet He still loves us.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”       John 3:16

I shudder to the depths of my soul to know He sees me as I really am.   I know this, that in spite of what He sees, He loves me.  He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die on a cross specifically for me.  He did the same for you.

My prayer is that I can catch a glimpse of what God sees when He looks at me.  If I could see this world the way He sees it, I just know I would serve Him more faithfully.

Let me see this world, dear Lord,
As though I were looking through Your eyes.
A world of men who don’t want You Lord,
But a world for which You died.

Let me kneel with You in the garden,
Blur my eyes with tears of agony;
For if once I could see this world the way You see,
I just know I’d serve You more faithfully.

Let me see this world, dear Lord,
Through Your eyes when men mock Your Holy Name.
When they beat You and spat upon You, Lord,
Let me love them as You loved them just the same.

Let me stand high above my petty problems,
And grieve for men, hell bound eternally;
For if once I could see this world the way You see,
I just know I’d serve You more faithfully.

May this be my prayer for the rest of my life.

A Journey to Change in 2011

It is hard for me to believe that 2010 is in its final month.  Where did the time go?  The year has passed so quickly but that is not to say that went by so fast that I don’t remember things or that it wasn’t significant.  In many ways, 2010 has been one of the best years of my life.  This year I grew (matured) so much in my spiritual life.  After years of being sidelined and “put on a shelf” by God, I have had wonderful opportunities to grow in my faith.  Probably the best thing about my spiritual growth 2010, has been the time I am able to spend in God’s Word.   I have been a student of God’s Word since I was 10.   That’s 40 years of opportunity to read this amazing book.  Unfortunately, there have been periods, even years where I did not even crack the book open.  2010 changed that and it has changed my life in so many ways I can’t even begin to tell you all the wonderful changes it has made.

One disturbing fact I have recently noticed in today’s society is that most Christians are not reading the Bible.  Ever.  I am not sure of the reasons.  Maybe it is the way we conduct our church services.  With our songs and even the verses of Scripture are posted on an overhead screen, maybe there is a belief that one no longer has to carry their Bible to church services?  However, I personally believe that it is a little more sinister than that.   I have met more people who can give me the plan of Salvation better than I can, that have absolutely no problem in saying that the Bible is not inerrant (without error).   I have met some people who claim to be believers , who do not believe that Jesus is the only way.  They don’t believe that there is a literal hell, and many other truths clearly described in the Bible.   I have found these people in all of the surrounding area churches.  A few of these people even attend the same church as I do.  I try not to judge and I will leave it to God to determine as to whether these people are true believer’s or not.

I guess the bottom line is that if a person doesn’t believe it’s God’s Word then why would they feel the need to read it any more than any other book?   What we find is a Christian culture in possession of God’s word and they never read it.
But some do believe it’s the Word of God.  For those that want to study it, read it and know God the problem is, “Where do I start?”   If you start at the beginning and try to read to the end, as if it were a novel, you will quickly abandon your journey out of frustration and boredom.  Let me suggest a Bible study method I have developed over the years that has really helped me.  It keeps God’s word fresh, exciting and can be done in a few minutes a day.  In fact I usually spend about 30 minutes a day in the Word and can read through the entire Bible in a year or less.   One thing for sure…it’s not boring!

I have divided the Bible into 6 basic sections: Psalms, Proverbs, History, Prophets, Gospels and Letters.   That’s it.  Six (6) sections to read each day.  Reading in this way will keep you involved and excited about God’s word.

Here’s what I do and why:

The first thing I do in the morning is check the calendar…what day is it?   Whatever the date I read that chapter in Proverbs.  There are 31 chapters so I read through Proverbs once a month…that’s 12 times a year.   Proverbs is Solomon’s book.   He was the wisest man in history. It’s often called wisdom literature.   So, Proverbs for my head.

Then I head for Psalms.   A couple of chapters in Psalms is easy (depending on the length of the chapters…be flexible).   David was a man after God’s own heart.   So, Proverbs for the head and Psalms for the heart.

Then I go to the History section.   Genesis to Job is the whole history of the Old Testament, 17 books.   I read one chapter in this section each day.  I love the history of the Old Testament.  It’s the foundation for the rest of the Bible.

Then to the Prophets-  Isaiah to Malachi.   These 17 books overlap the history books and will complement those books. Read one chapter in this section.  You will be surprised how quickly you move through this section and even when you get to a difficult chapter you know you will be in another section in a few minutes.

Then I move to the Gospels.   Matthew to John are the four gospels. I read a chapter here each day and once I’ve gone through the gospels I start over and do it again.  I always want to hang around the gospels and spend time with Jesus. When I read the gospels I get to know God.  Jesus shows me what He is like.   Often, as I read through the gospels I will “get into the story” and watch Jesus from inside the story.  It helps me know God better.

Then, finally, off to the Letters- Romans to Revelation.  These books are the major theology books of the New Testament and will help you grow in your Christian faith.  A chapter here each day.

There is an important thing you need to do as you begin this odyssey- get a journal.  Write the date and record what you have read. It will help you keep track of what you are reading. Use the journal to record anything you learn from your reading as well as write down any and all prayer requests…your prayer life will come alive.  Your faith will grow and your journey with God will come alive.  You will not be bored and the Bible will become an exciting book to you.

Peter wrote, 2 Peter 1:3
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

If this verse is true then the most important thing you can do for your faith is read God’s Word.

Join me in 2011 on this amazing adventure.

It’s a journey that will change your life.