The Dunkirk Hope

Have you ever been in a situation that felt helpless?  You couldn’t do anything to fix the problem.  The problem overwhelms your thoughts, your nights and creates a feeling of hopelessness.  You not just lose sleep, but sickness knocks at your door.  Your immune system begins to fail, causing your body to break down causing more anxiety and hopelessness.

What about those who have seen the horrors of war?  There are countless stories of veterans coming home who have difficulty adjusting to a “normal life”.  The nightmares haunt them nightly.  The visions of those they have killed create a nightmare that cannot be forgotten.  No matter how much time goes by, the faces of those killed are forever plastered among the archives of the mind.

We can talk about cancer and the feelings of despair that accumulate in the subconscious.    We can speak about the disaster of how famine not only degrades the body but the mind as well.  We can imagine the despair one feels as they flee their country, which is overrun by terrorists.  We can discuss all of these things, but the question remains, what will keep us going?  What will we look towards to bring hopelessness to hopefulness?

Today, I had the honor of watching the movie “Dunkirk”.  It is a story of World War II British and French soldiers who faced hopelessness over and over again.  Whether they served on land, at sea or in the air, each of these soldiers faced insurmountable odds just to try and get “across the pond” and back into the arms of their loved ones.  I will not ruin the story for you, but I will point out there are several scenes which clearly show the hopelessness of those who were in Dunkirk.  Hopelessness turned into despair.  Despair turned into actions without thought.  Those actions then turned into disaster.  But how did those who faced this hopelessness survive?  They found hope.

A picture of a loved one, a friend who gives a glass of water or even a story of conquering a small territory, each of these can bring our minds from hopelessness to hope.  They create in us a feeling that it’ll be alright, even when we may not believe it.  We remember that there are those at home, who are praying we come back and even they are anxiously waiting to hear a single word from our mouths.

We too live in days of hopelessness.  Political turmoil, discrimination, murder and drug use are our battles which we face daily.  If we do not know the horrors of drug abuse, we understand the ills of discrimination.  We may not know the disgusting fear murder creates, but we see the turmoil in our nation’s capital.  No matter who we are, no matter where we come from, we all face the sense of hopelessness each and every day.  So what is the solution to all this hopelessness?  How can we overcome this sense that it won’t be alright and discover how it can be alright?

As Christians, we have a message of hope.  The problem with our message is not with the message but with us.  Today, I was speaking with one who is part of the LGBT community and an older gentleman who hates religion because, in his words, “what’s the point?”  Both of these individuals have suffered greatly at the hands of Christians.  In fact one of them told me that he can’t believe in God because most Christians aren’t nice and friendly.

Although I tend to disagree with his statement, it led me to consider, am I a friend of sinners?  Am I the one who hinders the message of hope or am I the messenger who gladly shares it with all, even if they hate God?  In my conversation with the LGBT member, I was able to reassure her that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian is one.  In fact, the Scriptures say that the road to salvation is very narrow, so narrow that there is only one way through Jesus Christ.  However, in all this, I explained that even Jesus dined with those who were hated by their society.  Terrorists, angry people, thieves and one who betrayed Him, were all people who Jesus spent His time with.  So if it is good enough for my Savior to spend time with those who are lost, then why do I discriminate and not spend the time I need to with them as well?  Because idolatry has entered into the hearts of the Christian community.

Instead of sharing the hope filled Gospel of Jesus Christ, we share our feelings about our society because we believe we have the right to.  Instead of sharing the Gospel, we verbalize our distain towards a small percentage of the community who have the ears and voice of our media.  Instead of sharing the Gospel, we spend our time thinking of ways to protest instead of invest.  We allow our national right to be ahead of our spiritual requirement.  So how do we overcome this?  How can we change the minds of others about the Gospel?  The simple answer is we can’t.  Only the Holy Spirit can do this, but this does not mean we should be arrogant about it either.

Our calling is to share the Gospel and disciple those who repent.  We are to help those who are helpless.  Feed those who are hungry and provide shelter for those who are homeless.  Nowhere in Scripture does it say that our political views supersede our spiritual obligations.  In fact, when Israel forgot their God, they became corrupt, by allowing the political views of their day to infiltrate their beliefs.  Some sacrificed their children.  Many intermarried with those who did not believe the same thing.  Not because of love but because they forgot their God.

We too have forgotten our God.  We have forgotten that our God is holy and we are sinful.  We have forgotten that our God created all that we can see and cannot see.  We have forgotten that we were once lost and were found by God.  We need to remember that it was God who saved us.  It was God who freed us.  It is God who sustains us.  It is God who forgives us, even when we sin knowingly.  We need to remember that those who do not know God are lost.  Those who don’t know God are living lives of hopelessness.  Those who do not know God hate God but have a sense that something is missing.

Jesus said that the world will hate us, but He also said we are to pray for our enemies.  Jesus told his disciples that they will be hunted and killed, yet He also told them to feed the hungry, care for the widows and orphans and share this Gospel with everyone who will listen.

Our job as Christians is not to be the political voice of our society but we are to be the arms, hands and legs of Jesus Christ.  We are to use what we have, our talents, our resources and our minds to think of new ways we can share the Gospel through action.  We need to realize it is not only our actions but our attitude toward those who are lost which is important.

Let me place this into perspective.  Those who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior are doomed to eternal life without God.  No light.  No love.  Just fear and hatred.  Thoughts of I wish I didn’t reject God will one day flood their minds in the eternal darkness of hell.  But Jesus Christ can change that.  The Gospel can give hope to those who are hopeless.  The Gospel can bring people from death into life.  The Gospel can show the light of Christ to a dark world.  It is only the Gospel of Jesus Christ which can change lives.

Like the messages given to the soldiers at Dunkirk, we too must share the message of hope.  We must pray for those who don’t know Him and ask Him to change their hearts.  Our job is to simply share the Gospel.  It is God’s job to change the hearts.  Even when they hate us, they don’t hate us because of what we have done, but because of what He did.

Our Savior lives!  Our Savior lives!  No one else can give that message.  Not Hinduism, not Shintoism, not Muslim, not atheism.  Only Jesus Christ lives!  Only Jesus Christ saves!  Only Jesus Christ can give this world of hopelessness a light which can outshine anything and bring hope to those who are lost.  Instead of voicing our distain, let’s voice the message of our Savior.

God bless and encourage someone today.


Creator of the Eclipse

There is something about watching the wonders of the heavens that makes mankind realize how small we really are.

Today, across the United States, we had the extreme privilege of watching a solar eclipse.  For some it was a glimpse of how God has placed order on the universe.  For others, it was a totality of awe and wonder.  No matter how we may have experienced this event, one thing is for sure, there is order to our universe.

I remember in 1979 when I first experienced what a solar eclipse was like.  Our teacher had each of us create a shoebox pinhole viewer.  We watched as the bright small dot, became encompassed by the darkness of the moon.  It wasn’t a total eclipse but it began my interest and love of nature and the heavens.

As I watched today, I thought of Psalm 8.  As a nation, we looked up to the heavens and applauded in amazement as God’s creation did exactly what it was commanded to do on this very day.  No longer did we ask about racism.  No longer did we fear the terrorist.  No longer did we wonder what the Republican or Democrat was standing for.  No longer did we focus on our fears, anxieties or problems.  We focused on God’s creation, thereby focusing our attention on what He was doing at that very moment.

When we focus on our problems, we take our eyes off of the heavens.  When we focus on our anxieties, we no longer look up and wonder what God is doing.  When we focus on what God is doing, we forget about our problems.  When we focus on God and His creation, we realize that our problems are a mere flash of existence that doesn’t even make a dent in the view of eternity.

For 2 minutes today, each of us made a conscience decision to look up to the heavens, forget about our problems and re-focus our attention to the Creator of the Eclipse.  Read Psalm 8 and exclaim, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

God bless and encourage someone today.

*Psalm 8[a]

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name(A) in all the earth!

You have set your glory(B)
in the heavens.(C)
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold(D) against your enemies,
to silence the foe(E) and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,(F)
the work of your fingers,(G)
the moon and the stars,(H)
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?[c](I)

You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e](J)
and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.(K)
You made them rulers(L) over the works of your hands;(M)
you put everything under their[g] feet:(N)
all flocks and herds,(O)
and the animals of the wild,(P)
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,(Q)
all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!(R)

*Taken from the NIV

From Thanks to Amen

The other day, my wife shared with me a very interesting story.  My wife had a friend and her son over.  At some point during their time, my youngest son sits on the stairs and says, “Pray”.  He folds his hands, bows his head and says, “Thanks.  Amen”.  

Although we were able to have a giggle about this, there were some truths out of his short prayer.  Many times, we enter into prayer with “Lord, please supply our needs” or “Lord, please heal those we love.”  Many times in the Psalms, David pours his heart out to God and asks God to supply a need or desire.  Job cries out to God asking Him “Why is this happening to me?”  Paul even asks God to “remove this thorn”.  However, we rarely hear ourselves cry out to God in thanks.  

Many might say they thank God every day, but do we really thank God and what do we thank God for?  When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he writes:

“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thess. 5:18

Do we really give thanks in everything.  Notice Paul never said, “For everything”.  Rather he said, “In everything.”  This proclamation for “in everything…” is one that is not commonly spoken of today.  We thank God for the positive things in life, our family, our jobs, our children.  However, do we also give thanks when we are sick, in the hospital or the loss of someone close to us?  Do we give thanks for those things that hurt us?  Do we give thanks for our tribulations and pain?  Even I would have to admit that most times, I do not thank God for the bad times.

Paul makes this distinction because when we thank God for everything, we tend to thank Him for individual items.  Our focus is not Him but rather the circumstance we are experiencing or the thing we desire.  When we change that distinction to “in everything”, we re-focus our thoughts toward God.  No longer is the circumstance or item or person the focus, but rather God is in focus.  

When we focus ourselves on the circumstance, our thankfilled attitude changes based on our feelings toward the circumstance.  When we focus ourselves on God, our thankfilled spirit will pour out and affect others in a positive way.  Focusing on God enables us to have that relationship with Him that He so desires for us.  Focusing on God allows us to realize that our will is meaningless without His guideance.  Focusing on God allows us to do His work, regardless of outcome.

However, the other portion of my son’s short prayer was even more interesting.  The word Amen means, “Truth or certainty”.  It is not just a word we say, but when we say this, we let God and others know that whatever they said, we are in full agreement of because it is truth and certain.  This means that if we say Amen when someone says, “Jesus is coming back”, we are pubilcly admitting we are in full agreement with this.  On the flip side, when we hear someone say, “Just name it and claim it” and say amen, we let everyone know that we are in full agreement with that, even if it is a misguided concept based on us rather than God.  

There is nothing mystical about the words “thanks” and “amen” but both are very important in our walk with God.  If we approach God without thanking Him in everything, we do our relationship with him a disservice.  If we say Amen without realizing why, we stunt our relationship with Him.  

God does not desire sacrifice but us.  God does not desire committment to the cause, but rather dedication and devotion to Him.  God does not desire robots who will obey without question or understanding, but rather desires for us to use the brains He provided to us.  In a nut shell, God desires US.  He desires a relationship with us.  He desires for us to call on Him and focus on Him and what He desires.

In Revelation, Jesus said that some will say, “Lord, Lord, I did this or that in your name” and He will say, “Depart from me you evildoer, I never knew you.”  It will be a very frightening moment for those who hear that.  They will have lived their lives, doing things for God rather than being with God.  We can do a whole lot and never have that relationship with God.  However, we cannot be in a relationship with God and not do something for Him.  It is the relationship first, then the act.  

If I did things for my wife, but never spent time with her, talking with her, listening to her, holding her hand, she would never know my love for her.  Those actions would be self fullfilling not others fulfilling.  God has made us to have a relationship with Him.  He has created us for relationships.  He has given us His Son to provide the only way into that relationship.  

My son may not have really understood what he said by saying, “Thanks. Amen: but I was taught a very valuable lesson.   My relationship with God needs to have thankfulness in all situations and my amens need to be carefully understood before I say it.  I am glad that God still teaches through the mouths of babes.

God bless and encourage someone today.

People Can Change

This past Sunday, I preached on the book of Philemon.  The book of Philemon is a single chapter book with only 25 verses.  However, the information contained in those verses is life changing.

The book begins by Paul encouraging Philemon, letting him know that he has heard all of the positive work Philemon is doing in Colosse.  Philemon was one of the leaders of Colosse.  In fact, it is safe to say that Philemon was well to do.  He had slaves that worked for him.  One of those slaves is named Onesimus.

According to the text, Onesimus was a slave who may have stolen from Philemon.  During that time, slaves who were thieves were not considered worthy of life.  We know this because Jesus was crucified between two thieves.  In this letter to Philemon, Paul says that whatever Onesimus stole, place on his account to be repaid. 

As I read this and prepared my sermon on this text, some things came to light that are worthy of sharing.  First, the overall idea of this text is “Do you love God more than anything or anyone?”  Although Paul doesn’t explicitly ask this question to Philemon, Paul does imply this by way of encouragement, reminding Philemon that he was transformed by salvation through Jesus Christ.  Then Paul says to accept Onesimus back not as a slave but as a brother.

Think about that for a moment.  Here we have a boss, who’s employee stole from him and the penalty for that, according to the law is death.  However, Paul encourages Philemon to forget what the law says and show grace and mercy to Onesimus.  If Philemon truly loves God more than anything or anyone, then Philemon would have to accept the fact that Onesimus was a new man in Christ.  Therefore, the law of man no longer was in play here but the law of grace and mercy was.  

Second, Onesimus was considered useless before but useful to Paul now.  In the Greek, Onesimus means profitable.  What Paul did here was to play on Onesimus’ name and let Philemon know that this man, whose name means profitable was originally useless to Philemon, but now that Onesimus is a brother in Christ he has become useful.  Paul explain this by using words like “formerly” and “once was” and “has become”.  All of these are words of transformation.  Paul expalins to Philemon, that just like him, Onesimus has been changed because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here is what I thought about when I read this.  Philemon is in Colosse when Paul preaches there.  Philemon converts to Christianity and becomes a leader in Colosse.  Philemon has a thieving slave who runs away, aware that his sin’s penalty means death.  Then this same slave runs into Paul, IN PRISON, and then becomes a convert as well.  Paul works with this slave and then returns him to Philemon.  The same man who brought the Gospel to Colosse is the same man who helped in saving Onesimus.  Which brings me to my third point.  Sometimes we need to be removed or those around us need to be removed for the sake of the Gospel.

It wasn’t a coindence that Onesimus ran away and ran into Paul.  In fact Paul let’s Philemon know that there is a very strong possibility that the reason why Onesimus ran away was because he needed to hear the Gospel from Paul.  There is another side to this as well.  Sometimes those who have wronged us need to be separated from us because we will get in the way.

If Onesimus stayed, Philemon would have probably had him killed because the law allowed it.  This would mean that Onesimus would have died and suffered in hell for all eternity because he had not heard the Gospel.  However, because of God’s providence, Onesimus was allowed to escape only to find Paul who led him to Christ.  Then after working with Onesimus, Paul sends him back to Philemon.

How many times do people in relationships run away?  How many times have we run away because we have wronged the one’s we love and care for?  As sinful human beings, we all have a tendency to run away from conflict.  However, what we need to do is the opposite.  We need not to run away, but listen for the voice of God and work out our problems with those we love.  

There will be times, where God will allow separation for a time, but only to point that person back to the cross.  Never is this separation supposed to be permanent.  At the same time, if we are separated from those we love, we may need ot consider that it is us who need to run to the cross and take time to learn who God is and what He has done for us.  

If we are the one’s who were hurt, have been separated from that relationship for a time, there will be a moment where we need to restore that relationship.  We need not look at their past but how God has transformed them into a new creation.

Paul had told Philemon to accept Onesimus back.  Paul told Philemon that Onesimus has been transformed by the same power of God that transformed him.  We need to take the same approach with others that have hurt us.  Was Philemon going to accept Onesimus based solely on Paul’s words?   Probably not.  But Paul encouraged Philemon to look at Onesimus with they eyes of transformation rather than his past.

When relationships fall apart and want to be restored, we have the right to be careful concerning the other party.  However, we need to stop for a moment and ask God to show us the transformation He made in that person’s life.  If God has truly transformed that person, the fruit of the Spirit will show.  However, we need to give them a chance.  No matter how long we have been hurt or how badly, we owe it, not to the other party, but to ourselves to allow God to show us how He can transform lives.

As we face hard times and harder relationships, let us consider that the other party or ourselves, needs to evaluate our own relationship with God and consider that God can and does change people for His glory.  People can change.  All we are asked to do is give them another chance like God has given to us.

God bless and encouage someone today.

Fiction Evidenced As Reality

What is your greatest fear?  How does it affect you?  Do you get a physical reaction or just a mental tornado upsetting the organization in your mind?  Is your greatest fear something you can control?  Is the lack of control your greatest fear?

Most times we fear because of the “unknown factors” which lie before us.  We look at our circumstances, calculate our steps and realize that there are factors which do not enter into the equation.  We begin to wonder what those factors are and how they will work out.  We then allow our minds to wander adding another unknown factor which exponentially increases our fears, until the point where we have no control, including control of our thoughts.

It was once said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.  Although I understand the thought process behind this and the times in which it was said, I think that we need to go one step further with that statement.  I believe, there is nothing to fear.  This is not the same thing as being afraid.  There are times in our lives, when being afraid of something may save our lives.  When we are caught in a burning house, it is being afraid of dying that drives us to try and escape it.  When we are caught in the under tow, being sucked out into the middle of the ocean, it is being afraid that may keep us afloat.

Being afraid of something and fearing are very different.  Being afraid keeps us alive.  Having fear kills us slowly.  When we fear, we create an environment where our minds are no longer in control of our thoughts and many times a physical reaction occurs.  Yesterday was one of those days.

I woke up yesterday and felt very stressed out.  Over the last three weeks, my schedule has been, what some would call…INSANE!  Working a full time job, where we have been short staffed with more work coming in, helping a friend’s church stay afloat, spending time with my wife and kids and trying to spend more time with God has created an atomic explosion in my mind.  Yesterday was the fall out.

In previous blogs, I shared with you my struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  However, even though I suffer with this, there are days, like yesterday, where even medication won’t help.  Part of my therapy to combat this “fallout” is to spend time in prayer, read Scripture and write.  If any one of those components is missing, the fallout wins and depression begins to set itself into place.

Here is where fear takes root.  Depression is just one way that fear solidifies itself and it is very difficult to get rid of it.  Have you ever tried to take out a weed that was in the ground for a long time?  The weed spreads out its roots over a vast area.  This way, when the gardener comes, he/she struggles to pull it out of the ground.  Sometimes the week breaks at ground level and cannot be pulled any further.  The gardener then has two choices.  Choice #1 is to wait it out and then try to pull it out again with brut force.  However with this choice, the weed must grow again.  With fear, we may do things to pull it out by brut force but many times, the root of the issue is still there.  When we choose this method, we allow the fear to reinstate itself and take further root in our lives.  There is another choice.

Choice #2 is a bit more drastic but effective.  If the gardener chooses the wise choice, he/she will get a digging tool and begin the process of ensuring that all of the weed plant, with its roots, is permanently removed.  With this method, the gardener will disturb the entire area in an effort to find out the “root cause”.  The gardener will dig up as much as they can in order to ensure that the weed does not return.  When we deal with fear properly, we must disturb other areas of our lives.  The digging up of past issues, past hurts or past relationships causes us to shuffle ideas and question our motivations.  It forces us to rethink ideals and theologies we have learned.  It upsets all that we believe, the question is can we recover from that disturbance?

Just like the ground, healing takes time.  In the Old Testament, God tells Israel to plant and sow for 6 years.  On the 7th year, let the ground rest from its work.  There are many theologies concerning this but from a practical level, it gave the ground one year to heal.

Sometimes, we need to do the same thing.  There are times we need to step away from the busyness of life and allow ourselves to heal.  Maybe, we need to let go of horrible past relationships or forgive someone who has hurt us.  In some cases, it may be us that needs to ask for forgiveness from someone we hurt.  Whatever it is, don’t let fear dismantle the healing process.

Fear is nothing more than Fiction Evidenced As Reality.  It doesn’t exist.  It is a false representation of the reality of a hurting soul.  Fear is the tool Satan uses to keep us where we are so that we do not cry out to the loving Good Shepherd, who is ready to rescue us.  Fear is just as bad as quotes that people say is in Scripture.

Have you ever heard, “Time heals all wounds”?  It’s in the Bible, right?  There is nothing further from the truth.  This saying is a way for us, as human beings, to pull out the weed of fear and leave its roots in place.  Time does not heal, it just passes.

Many have tried to say it is a Psalm or Proverb.  It isn’t.  What the Scripture does say is in Psalm 147:

2The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. 3He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. 4He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.…

New American Standard Bible

It is the Lord who heals the brokenhearted.  It is the Lord who heals their wounds.  It is the Lord who counts the stars and names them all.  It is the Lord who can get rid of whatever is keeping you back from coming to Him.

If you are hurting, He knows.  If you are questioning, He has answers.  If you are crying, he is crying with you.  Two of the greatest words ever written were when Jesus approaches the grave of Lazarus.

John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.”  It was an incredible proclamation.  Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die.  Jesus knew He was going to raise him from the dead.  So why did Jesus weep?  Simply to show he was 100% human.  Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead to show He was 100% God.  Isn’t that an encouragement for us today?  Think about that for a moment.  Jesus felt what we feel.  He understood what it was like to lose someone.  He understands what it is like to hurt.  And in all of that experience, He never allowed fear to persuade him.  He never allowed the fiction that Satan feeds our minds to take root in His own.

If you are hurting, if you are living in fear, there is someone who understands.  Jesus Christ knows what you are going through, yet desires for you and I to tell Him.  It is Jesus Christ who can heal you.  He can remove the roots of the weed that so easily entangles you.  Only Jesus Christ can take all of our fear, all of our anxiety and use it for His glory and His purposes.

If you don’t know who Jesus Christ is, He is the One who left heaven to come to earth as a baby.  He lived a human life, while displaying His God nature.  He allowed Himself to be beaten and tortured.  He allowed Himself to be put on public display, naked and gave His life in the most horrific way of His time, by being crucified.  But it didn’t end there.  After He cried out in a voice, “It is finished”, he was buried and on the 3rd day, rose from the dead.  HE IS ALIVE!  He is calling out to you, desiring for you to let Him rescue you.

No matter your hurt.  No matter your pain.  Jesus Christ can take it from you.  Just cry out to Him and ask Him to rescue you.  He will.  Let Him into your life and give you the life He always wanted for you.  Believe in Him, cry out to Him and be healed by Him.  Don’t let fear stop you from meeting the only One who can save you, Jesus Christ.

God bless and encourage someone today.


I am struggling today.  This isn’t a physical battle.  It is however a battle for my mind.

Recently, a friend of mine decided it was time to move out of New York.  He made that decision after watching the financial and mental burden the New York City and Long Island area have placed on its residents.  He decided to make his family life better; leaving this area would be the best decision.  So far, he has been right.

For years, I have dreamed of leaving New York and going to other places that have not only been more affordable but less stressful, a place where I can raise my kids without the pressures of having to work infinite hours and spend more time with them.  I have dreamt of being able to sit outside at night and see the stars thinking about the wonders God has created in the heavens.  Being able to go outside in the early morning hours and sit and spend time with God in the quietness of the outdoors.  Listening to the calm breeze while pondering the greatness of the God I serve.

Unfortunately, this has not been my lot.  I live in an area where busyness is just a way of life.  Wake up, get dressed, get stuck in traffic, go to work for 9 to 10 hours per day, come home, help with the family, study then sleep and do it all over again the next day.  The non-stop pressure builds and builds only for my body and mind to stop properly functioning causing me to sit back for a day to wonder why I don’t feel so well.  This busyness causes less time with my family and more time going from one thing to the next.  So you would think that it is a no-brainer for me to pick up my family, quit my job and leave, right?

Getting up and leaving suddenly is not as easy or logical as you may be thinking.  Currently, I work at a job that I love.  My coworkers and supervisors are great and are like family.  What I do is interesting and never the same.  Each day is a new adventure.  It is a place that I have spent the last 15 years learning not just to love the work, but the people as well.  Regularly I remember them in my prayers and hope that all of them one day come into the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of their sins and live for Him.

In addition to that, I have a church family that I love as well.  For most of my life, they have encouraged me, taught me, and disciplined me with love and care.  They have prayed for my family, shown me their love through actions and have allowed me the pleasure and opportunity to try out my skills as one who preaches the Word of God.  I have even had the pleasure to have a taste of heaven when my father and I served on the same Elder board at the same time.  The first and last time that had ever happened in the history of our church.  It has been a place that I can call not just home, but family.

More recently, I have begun to learn how to be a pastor at a local church on Long Island.  Their pastor has been sick for some time and they have graciously allowed me to teach them, council them and learn what and how a church works, from the pastoral viewpoint.  Over the past 7 months or so, they too have become an extended family for me.

So you may be asking, if your life is as good as you say it is, then what is the struggle?  Why not just go on with life doing what you are doing and forget about those things which you do not have?  These are great questions, but the complexity of life and the things of this life are not what I struggle with.  Whether the house I live in is large or small or new or old, makes no difference for me.  What matters to me is something that you and I lose every day…..time.

As I grow older and my kids become adults, I notice that time is fast-forwarding at light speed.  My once little boy who made believe he read the Bible, is now learning to survive as an adult.  The other little boy who wanted to help his daddy with everything, is now in a high school where he can try subjects out to discover what he loves and wants to do.  In just a few short years both of them will be mainly on their own, living the lives they chisel out of their own masterpiece from their portion of life’s marble.

I have been watching friends of mine retire and begin living their lives as “free men” allowing them to do things with their family that previously, they could not do.  They have gained time for their families, they have slowed down the clock a bit in order to focus on helping their children become adults.

Time is something we lose every second.  Even as you have been reading this, time has slipped away into the eternal void of past lives.  No more will those seconds or minutes be gained, but will become mostly forgotten and largely lost to the busyness of what this world has to offer.  As quickly as time enters is as swiftly as it leaves.

My struggle with time has been for some time.  How to make the best decisions with the limited time I have on this earth.  During my mind’s battle for time, I have also learned that I long for something that I am not promised either.  I contemplate and plan for a time not yet discovered, a time not promised nor experienced yet.  We make plans for retirement (which I cannot do any time soon), we plan vacations, we even our meals, but are we sure that our next breath, the next second are promised?

Even with all of that, I hold onto the promise of the Good Shepherd who walks in the ways of His Father.  My focus is not on what this life has to offer or the limited time I am here, but on the work that He has called me to.  A life to help others and teach them to rely on Him.  No matter if I work in the secular world, or inside a church, the gift of being able to teach others and help others learn about the love and completion of Jesus Christ is my calling.  He gives me the strength, wisdom and patience to deal with those things, most don’t understand or care about.  He allows me the ability to do time management and still allows me quality of time my family needs from me.

As I work this all out in my mind, I am praying for clarity and direction.  I have learned from Jonah, that running away from this calling will only lead me to times of extreme trials and tribulations.  I have learned from Peter and Paul that what we have here is only a fleeting memory and unimportant in the scheme of eternity.  I have learned from Ruth that spending time with family is extremely important, so long as our focus is on God.  I have learned from Job that all that I have here, including my children, are only things that are borrowed and can be taken away in the blinking of an eye.  I have learned from David that crying out to God in my moments of struggle is where He wants me to be.   I have learned from Jesus Christ that what I want is not what is best, but the direction of God is best even if the rest of the world thinks you’re crazy.

So pray for me and my family.  Pray that we will make decisions, not based on desires, time or logic, but will make decisions based on what God is telling us.  For those who know me and are reading this, I have not made any decisions and will not for some time, so don’t worry, I ain’t going anywhere.  But one day, I will have to make some hard decisions, so I ask that when that time comes, whether it comes quickly or slowly, that we make the decisions based on His will for His Kingdom and not what we want because of our earthly sinful desires.

We thank you in advance for traveling with us and allowing me to express my struggles with you.  God bless and encourage someone today.

A Letter to My Children

My dearest child,

I love you.  That is the first thing I want you to know.  I love you.

My love for you cannot be expressed in words or pictures.  It cannot be explained by the philosopher.  It cannot be understood by the educated.  I can only be realized by actions.

The actions I have taken at times have been extreme and misunderstood.  I have been falsely accused of things that no person could ever imagine.  My accusers have painted my actions with the dirtiest of brushes and made me appear as vile and evil.  No matter how hard I have tried to explain my actions, they do not want to hear.

Although my enemies have attacked me, my love for you never wanes.  You are my child, my offspring.  The fact that you exist brings joy to my heart and peace to my mind.  Nothing can change that.  You are my child and always will be.

In recent days, I have been watching the news.  I have seen the hypocrisy and confusion of this past election.  I have watched as many have marched in protest against the results.  I have read the evil and disgusting posts on social media.  Hopefully, you have not succumb to the rhetoric now being spread by those who want to do you harm because of my actions.  Please stay away from being sucked into stating what you think your rights are and remember you are my child and always will be.

Many of your siblings have forgotten what I have done and my love for them.  They have allowed the promises of this world to cloud their judgment and have forgotten about my love for them.  One of your brothers and sisters were on the news.  It wasn’t good.  They began to stand for issues, I never intended for them to stand for.  During their interview, they questioned my love for them and asked for me to not contact them again.  They have forgotten, they are my children and always will be.

Don’t ever forget how I saved you when you were drowning.  Don’t ever forget the time when you cried out for me to carry you because you scrapped your leg. I came running to comfort you.  Don’t ever forget the time when I carried you into the operating room and watched over you as the doctors did their work.  Don’t ever forget the time when you cried because someone hurt you and I told you, “You are my child and always will be.”

Do you remember the time, when you were young and you went out all night with your friends, even though I gave you a curfew?  Did you forget the time you screamed, “I hate you” and stormed to your room?  How did I react?  Did I not explain the necessary discipline with tears in my eyes?  Did I not hug you deeply and held you until you fell asleep?  Did I not continue to watch over you and ensure your safety?  You are my child and always will be.

I have tried to remind your siblings of this very same thing.  My expression of love has been overwhelming, even though many have forgotten what I did for them.  They have forsaken my love to satisfy their own desires.  They have argued over needless topics and have twisted my guidance.  They believe things I never taught and claim I teach them.  They have even turned my own words against me in order to have their own following.  I am upset with them and will deal with them soon as a loving father.  They are my children and always will be.

Others have claimed to be my children even though I do not know who they are.  They have claimed to be knowledgeable about my business but deny what I am doing.  Many times, they have called and I have answered only to hear nothing but static and noise.  They do not visit me for dinner.  They do not come over for the holidays.  They only call when they need something but I cannot understand their language.  They are not my children and never will be.

Yet in spite of this, you have spent time with me.  You know who I am and I know who you are.  We have enjoyed each other’s company and holidays have been a blast.  The time we have spent together has been my most joyous times even in times of trials.  I have watched as you have grown from my little baby to my adult child.  You are my child and always will be.

Unfortunately, your siblings have forgotten that I commanded them to be of one mind and purpose.  They have forsaken my will and sought after what they want.  They call me only when they need something and when I try to talk, they either interrupt me or hang up.  I try to call them back but they do not pick up the phone.  I have spent countless hours crying over them, desiring that they come back to me and listen to my words.  In spite of their disobedience, they are my children and always will be.

They have forgotten the time when I rescued them from the fire.  They have forgotten the times I cried in front of them, yet they spit in my face.  Now they are attacking you because of me.  In their own desperation to explain the evil in the world, they deny what I have done and curse me to my face.  They march in the streets, spread hate over social media and push the agendas of my enemies.  No more do I recognize them, no longer can I stand and wait.  No longer can this disobedience continue.  They may be my children and always will be, but discipline to my house is coming!

I am still in charge.  I have never left my place of authority.  It was given to me by my father because of my love for him and you even if you don’t want to believe it.  In the coming days, I will discipline my children because of their disobedience.  They will come back to me whether in this life or the life to come, because they are my children and always will be.

I have never changed and never will, even if my children forsake me.  My words will always stand.  My rules have never waned.  No one can change what I have spoken for they have been written down for you.  I have ensured all of my letters have been gathered to one place for your convenience.  You have everything I want you to know in those letters.  Each letter was written with a specific purpose in mind, to ensure you never forget that I am your father.  You are my child and always will be.

The day is coming and almost here when I will come back for you.  I will return when I am allowed in the time my father commanded me.  When I arrive, you will know.  You will see me and I will bring you home.  Your suffering is almost over.  Your trials have just begun.  My children will be reminded of my love through my discipline.  I will not spare my rod and my discipline will hurt, but always remember, you are my child and always will be.

My child, forsake those who speak without thinking.  Leave alone those who would yell and shout over me rather than listen to my words.  Read my letters.  Call me just to say hello.  Do not allow yourself to go in the way of your siblings.  My children should not be divided.  If my children are divided, then my enemy will seek to destroy them.  They are my children and always will be.

The words I have spoken are true and right.  Did I not destroy those in Laodicea as I told to them so long ago?  Have my words ever fallen upon the deaf and not healed them?  Has not my touch restored eyesight to the blind?  Have I not already broken the chains of slavery and freed you from them?  Have I not already said, “IT IS FINISHED?”

Now I have instructions for you to do.  They are not new instructions but reminders of what I have already commanded.  Restore your brothers and sisters by showing them the love I have shown you.  Refrain from speaking what you want but give them the silence they deserve.  Was I not silent before my accusers?  In the same way, you should be silent and your silence will bring them to repentance.  No longer march in the street but share my message of hope and love with everyone.  Listen to my commands and do what I have asked.  You are my child and always will be.

Never forget my love for you.  Never forget I died and rose again for you.  Remember that my love for you is unexplainable, unimaginable and unforgettable.  I love you with my inmost being.  All I ask is for you to return that love by spending time with me.  Read my words and call on my name.  I will answer, even if my enemies try to hinder me.  Do not listen to the countless voices in your head but listen for my voice.  My sheep know my voice and follow me.  You are my child and always will be.

I love you and will return shortly.  Do not fret or be dismayed because my return will happen, even if others deny it.  When I come, I will bring you home and we will spend eternity laughing, working, walking and talking.  There will be no more pain or suffering.  I am building a place for your, if it weren’t so, I would have told you.  Let your focus be on me and not the circumstances surrounding you.  This is a temporary dwelling, a temporary home.  Your ultimate home is with me.

I love you and desire only good things for you.  As you obey the small things I commanded, then larger responsibilities will come.  Until that time, remember, you are my child and always will be.

In love,

Jesus Christ (The Risen Savior)