Is your life a light to others?

Is your life a light to others?
Is your life a light to others?

How do you show your christianity to others?
It is a simple question but a very important one. I never grew up in a deeply Christian home. We went to church on Easter, Christmas, maybe a few other times. But it wasn’t a major factor in our lives. I was 38 or 39 before I became a believer, I believed there was a God but the God the Christian people I knew spoke of and how they acted and treated others was NO WAY anything I wanted to have anything to do with. I saw hypocrites and judgment everywhere I turned. I couldn’t even begin to believe the loving God they spoke of was represented by them at all.
Sadly I found out I was right. I found out God is not always represented by the church, his ways are not always reflected in their actions, when I realized that, things started to change in my heart, I got a few books and had a dear dear friend, the only christian at the time that I respected at all helped encourage me. But it took a divorce and fear (even if it was unrealistic) of losing my kids. To take me to a low I had never been before. I finally truly gave up and stopped fighting him. In a parking lot sitting in my truck waiting on a friend that couldn’t be there I lost it. I finally just gave up trying to do it on my own.
Now with that story out of the way. The purpose of this is to look at how we portray our faith to a none believer. The most important thing is to remember it is not your job to convert someone. That is Gods job, there is no amount of brow beating, or trying to convince someone their thinking is wrong that will bring them to God.
Personally I am totally turned off by people that wear their beliefs on their sleeves, when all you hear out of their mouths in Jesus this and Jesus that…. (I know I will make some mad here) but coming from a man that believed there was a God but that the bible was just a book and that the christian community was a laughable group that had to be told what to think and believe. God speaks so many times about the light, your light his light, being a light to others. To me that light isn’t about using Jesus in a sentence every 5 seconds, when you do that it loses its power, let your actions be that light. Let people come to you and ask questions as to why you are different. When it happens that way they are the ones starting the conversation, they are in a place to want to know, THEN!!! You can talk about Jesus and God and how its possible because of that. They will listen more they will welcome the conversation, instead of you slamming it in their face. I know I was one. Personally when people came at me full force with God with out my asking first, back then, they were dismissed immediately, I know that doesn’t make it right, it doesn’t mean that person isn’t any further away from God than anyone else. Its just about getting your message across to someone that is possibly curious but jaded a bit. The saying “Actions speak louder than words” applies here. I have seen it in the ER and cancer floors of the hospital dealing with cancer. I saw people in life and death situations, with themselves and of loved ones. I have seen peace in the middle of pain, I have seen joy on a mothers face when seeing her dead daughter that had finally given up after years of cancer, there were tears and much hurt but she knew her daughter was in a much greater place with no more pain. That is light in your actions, that is true faith in your heart. It can not be explained, it can only be witnessed.
Live a life of joy, it is there for you, it will show others that God is in you because you will be different and draw people to you. They will ask about it and be curious. THAT is Gods light shining through you, not badgering someone with unsolicited ranting and what not.
There is no record book. If your keeping count of the people you have helped lead to Christ then your messed up. I have heard on christian radio about so and so brought 5,000 people to christ over his life. The fact he did is great the fact that there was a count kept is what is wrong.
There are things said on christian radio and in books that just make me cringe because I know they are of man and not of God. Usually hardcore legalism. Don’t even get me started on denominational churches and the man made junk that isn’t supported one bit by the bible. If someone asks me what denomination I am I say Christian. I have had many funny looks and I just reply I read the bible and believe it to be true I know Jesus gave his life for me and my sins and that makes me a christian …… period!!!! That is all I need to know

A single dads Christmas.

Life and times of a single dad's Christmas.
Life and times of a single dad’s Christmas.

Sitting here on Christmas night alone. It makes me realize just how married families have no clue what this is like. To be divorced and not be able to be with your kids on Christmas morning. To wake up and not hear anyone eager to see what santa brought them… just silence. The first few years was really tough. I will not lie, I spent nights in a deep depression on holidays and on my birthdays not having my kids to share them with. I am a very blessed man, I have many friends that have called knowing I am alone for it and invited me to be part of theirs. I love my friends and am so grateful for the invite. but that is their holiday, with their family, it doesn’t really help it sometimes makes it worse. You sit back and see a wonderful family enjoying a great holiday but you really are sitting on the outside looking in.
I don’t write this for sympathy or to feel bad for me or for others that are single and missing their kids. I write this so they might get a small glimpse into their lives. To keep them in your prayers and thoughts.
I will say this up front, I love my friends I love that they think to invite me to things to include me, there are usually 2-3 couples and myself in this group. They have gone out of their way to include me and look after me. I could not ask for better friends. There are just some times when nothing will take that pain away or distract you from it. I have opened my self up on this blog many times and I’ll admit I have had many nights in tears knowing my kids couldn’t be there and missing that feeling of family even if its just the three of us.
It has been 4 years now and It has gotten easier but its still an empty feeling sitting here at Christmas thinking of the ones i spent as a kid trying to get to sleep knowing the faster I got to sleep the faster it got here. The early mornings of waking my parents up at 2 am to see what was under the tree. But that sting isn’t as bad as it used to be. I am now able to value the time I do get to spend with my kids to love them no matter the day or occasion. To try and make the time I do have special even if “special” is watching movies all day and laughing together.
You kind of learn to enjoy the time alone but then feel guilty for feeling that way, its kind of a catch 22. I have found myself slightly depressed and unmotivated during those times, but such is life, we all move on and learn and grow.

So if you know someone thats single and alone on a holiday, give them a call and just let them know you’re aware of them and that you care and are looking after them. Sometimes thats all it takes to help them get through those lonely times.

Everyone have an awesome Christmas and a great start to a whole new year.
thank you for reading my thoughts and I just pray they help someone understand something inside themselves or let God speak through me to reach someone thats needing them at that very moment. Thank you.

Don’t miss a chance to be a blessing by having a bad attitude

2 Timothy 1:7
2 Timothy 1:7

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭6-7‬ NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭8‬ NLT)

This verses hit me the other night. I have read them many times over the years. But this night was one where it struck deeper than normal.

In this world we live in, it is so easy to look around us and see all the bad. On the news, in our community and even in our day to day lives. We get angry because we see injustices and the “good guys” seemingly being left behind and the evil and bad ones seem to be getting ahead. It is very frustrating thats for sure. We crave to see some sort of justice and soon. We long to see evil get it’s just due. This verse and a few from the proverbs 31 site had me thinking just how dangerous this line of thought can be.

These verses show me that you are what you think. If you pair these verses together the true power of our gifts and our thoughts, we begin to see just how powerful it can be if used to grow our faith, encourage others and lead a God led life instead of a reactionary one.
Let me ask you this? When you are mad and in a horrible mood, you want to go home take off your shoes and talk to no one, isolate yourself and have your mad. We have all been there. Sometimes we want to be there because we feel justified being there and in part you may be right, but the issue isn’t if you are right or not, but what comes out of you during these times is. Some people exude mean. You can see it on their face and most people don’t want anything to do with them. Others try to hide it while others will run from things that seem to gab at their time or people that they feel have expectations on them. God knows our hearts, his desire is for us to get through these times when we react in anger or selfishness. That is what it really is anyway…. selfishness. This kind of reaction is all me driven, “I was treated this way, They didn’t do what I though they should” or what not but it’s all self focused. Through all of this we lose sight of the greater picture. We lose our base of faith in truth and love. When we react this way we are missing so much. Someone on the street you might normally have said a kind word too, given a helping hand or a kind word of praise might not get it because you chose to react to something earlier in your day and let it control your actions the rest of the day.

This verse pokes at that. it says…. Look, you are what you focus on, you are what you spend time on, you are what you think. If you allow negative thoughts, evil thoughts or things that are not in a good nature then you will keep sliding down that slope, You will get more angry, you will get more hurt…. much like the preverbial snowball down the hill. It gains speed and gets bigger and bigger. You focus on the bad the evil or mean things said to you or about you then they slowly grow in size and before long they are dictating your actions instead of the ways God says you should.
Here is where Christians as a whole fail. We tend to be all or nothing when it comes to this and when that happens we let people that are unhealthy into our lives thinking… well I have to be good and focus on good and blah blah blah…. I will say this now… There are people that are not healthy for themselves and anyone around them, their wifes/husbands, kids and friends. These peole should be avoided and not kept in your lives in a close manner ever. They are suckers of anything good in your life, they lead with blaming and finger pointing they will accuse and spew lies. The bible shows in many place we are not to associate with this type of person. Proverbs is choked full of ways to treat these type of people. Its not rude to distance yourself from them. You don’t have to be rude about it either, but distance there must be. Boundaries set and a huge dose of self respect is needed. Many times we get caught up in the need to please even when its people that we don’t like mostly because we are afraid others will see us in a certain light. Think of it this way….. by caving in or not keeping those boundaries up, no matter the reason, you lose part of yourself, your sacrificing your self respect. It can sound harsh but it has to happen. If there is someone always pushing and not respecting your boundaries it is for a reason, usually manipulation or control. At this point defend your boundaries and do it with authority… don’t be afraid of being in the public (cause many times thats when they will do it because they know our reaction in public will be tamed down) You can defend yourself respectfully, you don’t need to yell cuss and make a huge scene. Respect yourself and conduct yourself in a respectful manner while maintaining it.
I know I kind of went on a rant here about this but I see it as a HUGE christian community failing and it needs corrected.

So back to the other stuff.
The bible talks about guarding our thoughts many times. We can’t take this lightly. The problem is that we forget and these thoughts can sneak into our being before we even realize it. One of the ways to guard ourselves is to remember Gods words and when needed recite them in our heads or out loud if need be. As in 2 Timothy “fan into the flames the gifts God gave you.” Many times we think how? What does that look like in real life? Well, in this case it means you listen to Gods truth instead of listening to the evil and destructive words our minds can fill our time with. We allow the truth that God has promised us to wash the false guilts, untruths and words that hurt us away. His truth is what washes that away. Much like Jesus’s blood washes away our sins. Of all the things we can learn from the bible I think this is one of the most important ones because this is a temptation that hits us every day. If left alone unchecked our thoughts will guide our choices and our actions and that my friend is HUGE!! It all starts with being intentional in your thoughts and when you start feelings the negatives of others or having false guilt thrown on us, remember Gods words remember to fan the flames of good and quench those of the bad or false.

It is a big deal, take it to heart and start living a faithful life instead of a reactionary one. Don’t let negative people that are not speaking truth influence you. Don’t let your circumstances dictate who you are or how you respond to those around us.
Trust the one that matters the most. Yes even when we can’t seem to grasp whats going on around us.

Does your life matter?

Does your life matter? Are you making a difference?
Does your life matter?
Are you making a difference?

There is one thing almost ever single human being on this planet is looking for and may not even realize it. We do odd things to get it. We take risks, go above and beyond to find it. What am I talking about?
We want to matter, we want to make a difference, we want our lives to mean something. To be remembered as doing something great. At the end of our lives we want to have mattered. Some see that differently though. Some see it as success financially. Some see it as raising good kids, or reaching great fame, some see it as taking great risks in life Jumping off cliffs, out of planes, or trying to set a record at something. We see it on TV all the time, people seeking their 15 min of fame. Yet others seek to use this drive to help others by giving to charities, starting funds for others, giving money away or giving time and sweat in an effort to help others or find cures for disease’s.

This goes with my last article about getting out of your comfort zone. I have talked about that a lot. I have to be honest, this is something I battle everyday. Its called your comfort zone for a reason, but the catch is you can live your whole life there, but nothing great ever happens in it. It is a place of extreme mediocrity. Where dreams are left as just that dreams that never find a home. They float around always just out of reach, just outside that bubble. I don’t give a crap what your excuse is because I have had many of the same ones. I have battled those same excuses and I have reasoned myself away from reaching out. I have found every kind of reason to not do something. So don’t give me your excuses. I will tell you right now. You!!!… yes you are better then the lame excuses you give yourself. Those reasons you can’t seem to get ahead in life? All they are is a list of reasons to not try. Forming a long list of excuses. My mother didn’t breast feed me, I grew up in a broken home, my parents were poor, my husband was a jerk, my wife never supported me. You name it The list of lame excuses goes on and on and on…. Don’t give me that junk, on this one thing I know. I have experience here, I have procrastinated away more opportunities than I can count. I could find all of the excuses or justificationsI could dig up, but when you boil it all down. I was afraid to reach out, I was afraid to risk. When we bow to fear we allow our minds to build on our fears, many times making them far far more worse in our heads than ever could be possible in the real world. Our minds have a tendency to free wheel, if not brought up short or held in check, our fears will rise above anything else. We get angry because life isn’t fair, the other guy always gets more, does better or has all the good stuff happen. Truth of the matter is usually those people are the ones brave enough to take a risk and step outside and move. The one thing I believe helps keep our minds in check is….. Truth. Fear usually doesn’t need truth to take a ride around your mind. The hard part is inside each fear is usually a seed of truth of some sort or another. That small seed of truth is used by our minds to sing all kinds of excuses or justifications to not do something. To find everything possible that could go wrong or every worse case scenario you can dream up. So the question is what do you do? Thats the million dollar question.
What do you do? Well when you get right down to it, it is a choice. You have to start being intentional in your choices. You have to turn and face the very things that scare you. You have to start looking at your fears through Gods eyes of truth and not your emotions. Emotions will leave you shaking in fear every time because what we feel from that fear is as real as it gets, sweaty palms, shaking knees, ramped up anxiety levels that can paralyze you. It can even effect your health, how you eat and it will harm you if it lasts for too long.
So its vital that you get your thinking under control. This is where having a good faith and reading your bible can save you, but only if you take it to heart. Reading and believing are key. Retaining the things God speaks of on how to deal with this stuff. He tells us many times that our thoughts need to be reigned in, to not let them take you to a bad place mentally. Philippians 4:8 is the first that comes to mind. He talks about being intentional in our thoughts. This all leads us to truth in all things. Does this mean none of your fears will ever come to pass? Not necessarily, but most of the time the end result will never be as bad as we originally thought.
Truth is, it is your anchor, it is the one thing that we have got to hold onto during those times of fear. If you can do that then start facing each one in truth and start making intentional choices to face those down and start making decisions that honor God. If you start that then you will naturally start a journey outside your comfort zone for the right reasons. It will help you put your fears in check and start stepping in faith and confidence. There is no easy answer, it takes work and constant persistence and a drive to not give up.

When you can start that journey you will find what your after. You will be able to reach the places that will make your life matter. That search for greatness in your life can only be found outside your comfort zone. So start small and take the steps it takes to gather your guts up and start facing those fears that lock you in place. You will have to do it over and over. Don’t let that stop you.

Living in a bubble? Afraid to come out? Better rethink things.

Living in a bubble of comfort? Better rethink your life if thats the case.
Living in a bubble of comfort? Better rethink your life if thats the case.

God Bless these little legs. by Lisa Sexton.

I heard her interview on focus on the family the other day and I wanted to relate part of her story to you.
To give a short intro. Tyler is Lisa’s son he was born with CP Cerebral Palsy. He had a physical therapist working with him for a long time. I am not sure what age but the therapist said that she thought it was time he did things with kids his age. She said if we practice and he can get to where he can bend down and pick up an Easter egg. To think about letting him do the local Easter egg hunt. Well for months he practiced and the day came. He was in line with all the other kids, here was there with his walker and the gun goes off to sound the start and this mass of kids takes off and there is Tyler lagging way behind standing out all by him self. She said at this point she started getting angry. How dar someone tell her what to do with her son, she listened to this person and now her son is out there humiliated. She starts walking out to him and tears are in her eyes hidden by her sunglasses. She finally makes the long walk out to him.. ” I’m so sorry Tyler.” She says. His reply ” for what mom…. look” showing her his basket. It was full of eggs. She was totally shocked and asked how in the world did that happen. “The other kids are running so fast they are losing all of their eggs and I am picking them up.” She said at this time she just thanked God for showing her something she had been missing.

She had kept him in a bubble in fear of many things. But God needed that boy out with kids so he can work through him. Tyler is now a Doctor and shares his amazing story.

This story had me in tears as I got to hear her retelling of it. But it did get me thinking. I know I have talked about the bubble that we like to live in, the one that is warm comfortable and safe. From this story we can see kind of the same thing. A mother wanting to protect her child. That is a normal thing but there has to be a time to let go. She saw that this was Gods way of telling her to let go. She said that it helped her see that God needed him outside her bubble and this was his way of letting her know.

I have said many times that instead of living in our own comfort zones we need to weigh our decisions. Base them on biblical, morally good things, then act. God works through our decisions in our lives. Can he take a person sitting on the couch waiting for God to show us a big arrow of where to go and what decisions are right or wrong in our lives? Sure he can, but why would he. Really why reward someone that wont take a risk for him? For someone that has empty faith. When It all comes down to it, when we fail to act or fail to make decisions because of fear of failure, fear of missing Gods best or fear of getting off Gods path for you. Think about something. Really think about it. If you fail to make a good moral decision, biblically based and even things that you know in your heart are from God, if you fail to act on those you are in sin. You will miss blessings in your life, you will miss some of the best things God has set aside for you when we fail to act, when we fail to move.

Our comfort bubble is just an illusion we have in our minds. It is a tool of the devil to keep us locked in place never moving one step closer to the great things God has for us. When I think about the devil sitting back and laughing about the work he has done to keep me away from my maker. To see that my own mind can defeat myself and keep me locked in place, just so sad.
Here is the problem with this line of thinking. People will think. Oh Ok then every thing I do to take a risk for God will work and be successful right? Sadly no. God uses failures to push us, this has been shown in the bible over and over, when he uses bad things meant for evil to us for our own good. To Grow us through adversity to places we could never ever get to any other way. It is in the story of Joseph over and over, Sold to slavery by is brothers, thrown in jail cause of false accusations, forgotten and left to rot and he did nothing to deserve it. But Joseph didn’t hold grudges and he didn’t seek revenge. He saw the big picture. He saw that God used the evil these people did to help mold him into something that was needed to show his greater glory, so don’t expect everything to be grand and a huge success. Temper your expectations but do not ever let that keep you from acting. Not believing in God is one thing. Believing in God and not ever putting that faith to practice is far worse in my opinion. That shows nothing but a empty faith that was wasted because of fear.

Don’t let that be you. God has amazing things for all those that have courage.
Our faith is much more than a social function at church. One of the greatest things I ever see is to see someones faith so great that it just leaves a feeling of wow.
Don’t let your own fears be the thing that is building walls to stop you. Let your faith carry you over those fears and carry you into areas of faith you never knew were possible 🙂
If you need a reference Here ya go.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭26‬ NLT)

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭13‬ NLT)

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible. ” (‭Matthew‬ ‭17‬:‭20‬ NLT)

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭31‬ NLT)

These are just a few. 🙂 Should give you something to think about for the day.

What you need first to understand love.

God is our example of love. With out that we flounder looking for anything to fill that void.
God is our example of love. With out that we flounder looking for anything to fill that void.

What does it take to really love?
I had a conversation with someone that is a none believer about love the other day and after the conversation was over it hit me.
I am not sure any one is capable of real true sacrificial love unless you understand God and his love for you, on some level anyway. We can’t comprehend his love in reality but we can say yes we know he loves us.
The kicker is when we do what we are taught. Love as Jesus, with him as our example. That is the only true way we can love openly with out placing stones in our own way.
In this conversation I figured out that love is what every one is after. Some want money fame glory, but almost everyone wants to be loved and people will fill that gap with just about anything to meet that need.
They never realize that God is the ultimate love your looking for, because with out his example and his teachings on love, we fall back on our own needs and wants, anything to feel loved. Jesus never once talked about how it felt to be loved or what you deserve out of love. Love is focused on the giving away part. So I hear all these people reach in almost desperation for something to fulfill a part of them that is screaming to be filled.
So in my dealings with all kinds of people about love, here is what I get.
A check list of red flags
High expectations.
What can they do for me.
I deserve the best.
If I have sex that means they love me.
Perfection.

All of these things are topics that have come up when talking about love. If you notice they are all most all self driven, pointing back at themselves…. “What do I get out of this.” “He disappointed me….. again….”

Here is the deal. Mr. right is not perfect. He is human. He will fail you at some point, I don’t care how good of a guy or even how well intentioned he is. He will fail you just like you will fail him. We are human not machines.

So In my opinion, one can never learn to truly love some one fully as we were meant to until you come to some sort of understanding of the love God has for you. With out his example of unconditional, sacrificial love we fall back on our own wants, needs and desires. When we fall back on all the check lists and red flags. No one will ever meet your needs the way you want all the time. I figured this out after my divorce. It’s in the 5 love languages book. People perceive love differently, she might like gifts or quality time, he might like physical touch or acts of service. What happens is that what my ex and I both did. We gave love in ways that we wanted to see it.
We have now set a level of expectation that if not met is deemed as a failure. It’s a confusing thing that is for sure.
In my opinion, until you come to some sort of understanding of Gods love, you will be looking in all the wrong places and never quite find what you had hoped for in someone.
Remember I am no expert, I don’t have degrees and credentials that hang from a wall to let every one know I am highly educated in this field.
I can say I love God and that he has shown me what love really is and how it is to be given over and over. He has brought me to places I have not wanted to be, where it would be easier to be selfish and go my own way. That is not his way. Also never act like you have it all figured out hahaha been there. Every person is different and ever changing. You loved your wife when you got engaged, you loved her in marriage, you loved her as a mother. Was she the same person in all of them? Do the ways you reach for her in love change through her seasons? You better believe it. I can tell you right now. The newlywed wife’s needs are different than the mother of 3’s needs. She will see acts of service as a major way of seeing love. So guys….. be a study of your girl because she is changing as she goes through stages in life. Be ready to meet those needs as they change. Don’t worry about getting it wrong because your going to, but I can promise you the effort is seen and felt.