A Bad Attitude, Bigots and Terrorists

Have you ever thought what kind of people God uses?  In today’s society, we see multi-millionaire preachers, clean cut, good looking people saying, “Follow Jesus today”.  Under the same breath, we see those same people being exposed for sexual immorality, embezzlement and false preaching.  The thousand dollar suited, well groomed, private jet preacher asking for your money rarely ever looks like the people Jesus used while here on earth.

Just to give you an idea, here is a list of some people God used prior to Jesus’ life:

  • Abraham – a doubting, liar who slept with another woman
  • Moses – an angry, impatient murderer who had a stammering speech problem
  • David – A man who started off good, but had an affair with another man’s wife then had the man killed.
  • Jonah – A racist
  • Rahab – A prostitute (who happens to be in the genealogy of Christ)
  • Jacob – A conniving, deceptive angry man

So now let’s take a look at what we know about the disciples of Jesus Christ:

  • Matthew – A tax collector (the scum of his day) who robbed from his own people
  • Peter – A short tempered, impulsive fisherman
  • John and James – Argumentative, angry and highly tempered problem children whose mother asked Jesus for a favor that made them look better than others.
  • Thomas – “I only believe what I can see” individual
  • Judas Iscariot – A betrayer
  • Simon – A criminal

Now ask yourself this question, “Can God use someone like me?”  The answer should be a simple one, “DUH!”  So why do we think God can’t use us?  Why do we doubt like Thomas, get an attitude problem like James and John and become impulsive like Peter?  You might be surprised at the answer but before I continue, let me share with you one more story:

“A young boy was once given the opportunity of a lifetime, to study with the greatest minds of his day.  He was allowed into the best schools free-of-charge.  He was given exclusive access to the best teachers of the world.  This young boy became a young man and because his grades were so phenomenal, the head of the top university personally taught this young man.

He was considered the best of the best.  There was no student better than him.  One day, this young man heard that the government was going after a small group of people that appeared trying to create a revolt.  He knew they had to be stopped.

He managed to ban together a group of other highly intellectual people who convinced themselves that killing these people would be the best scenario.  He formed this small army and with the permission of the head of the university and the government officials was able to hunt down and kill this group of small people.”

This story is not fictional.  It is actually true.  This was the beginning of Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles.  He was the top of his class, was taught a rabbi who is still considered one of the greatest rabbis that ever lived.  He hunted down and killed many followers of Christ.  In fact, Paul was there when Stephen (the 1st known martyr) was stoned to death.  The Scripture states that Paul was approving of the stoning.  Today, we would call Paul and extremist or terrorist.  So let’s revisit the question at hand – can God use me?

Before you think you are better than those mentioned in Scripture, we need to be reminded of whence we came.  For most, if not all of us, we were people who hated Christianity.  We hated the preaching, teaching and asking for money.  We were semi-content with living immoral, unethical lives in a dark and dying world.  We cared about no one but ourselves.  We probably felt that Christians were crazy, radical extremists who didn’t deserve to live.  We may have never killed anyone or stolen anything, but we probably had major attitude problems and hateful thoughts.  In essence, we are just like the disciples.

Prior to becoming a Christian, we hated God.  We hated His purposes and we hated Christ.  Now that we are Christians, we rejoice in what we once hated.  However, now we are the crazy, extremist Christ followers.  So how do we overcome this view from the world?  We don’t.  No matter what we do or how we do it, non-believers will always think we are crazy extremists.  Does that mean we shouldn’t find ways to mend differences?  As Scripture says, “They will know you are My followers by your love for each other.”

Love is the binding agent that shows the world how much God loves them.  As we show the unconditional love that God shows us to others, we become living examples of God’s love.  Scripture also says, “Pray for your enemies.”  This means not only praying for the terrorists, but also for our neighbors who don’t like us because we are Christians.  No matter what church we belong to, if we believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, then we are brothers and sisters.  Just because one believes in the gift of tongues and the other does not, doesn’t mean we have the right to call each other names.

All we need to do is love each other.  I always tell people who don’t like what I have to say, “If you can’t get along with me now, then how are we going to get along in eternity?”  We have to focus on the Kingdom and not ourselves.  When we don’t show love to each other we show the world it is about us rather than God.  So, let’s love one another and especially show love to those who hate us.  In doing this we will show the world God is real and loves them.  He wants to use you, so let Him.

God bless and encourage someone today.


A Positive Change with Positive Results

Something is bothering me.  This “something” has been bothering me and haunting me for years, yet I daily choose not to address it.  It is a question that demands an answer and a statement that demands obedience.

“Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.” – Jesus (Matthew 22:37-37 NIV)

Mark quoted Jesus this way:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” – Mark 12:30 (NIV)

The statement has been made but the question remains, do I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?  To evaluate this we must ask some other questions:

  • How much time am I spending with God?
  • How much time am I spending with others?
  • Do I spend time with the TV or computer more than with the personal message God has given in His word?
  • Do I continually think about what God has for His Kingdom?
  • Do I share the greatest message mankind has ever known with others?

As these questions haunt my spirit, mind and soul, I notice I have little to no strength.  I feel like David who said, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death.”  During this time, David was experiencing the consequences of sleeping with another man’s wife and then having him killed.  So then the next question comes to mind, “Am I living in sin that is quenching my strength?”

With all these questions, how do I sort this all out?  We can only evaluate our own personal situations.  Are we eating right?  Are we spending time with God?  Do we pray for others and ourselves?  How much time are we poisoning ourselves with the things of this world?  Am I coming down sick?  Regardless of the questions that come to mind, we can cling to some principles that will help us live like children of the King.

First, make sure you are spending time with God every day.  For me reading is not a strong point, therefore, it is very easy for me not to read the Bible.  What I started doing is writing “RS” in my calendar.  Every time I read Scripture, I note that in my calendar so that at the end of every month, I can see if I am making His word a priority.

Second, time should not be a matter.  When we spend time with our loved ones, we don’t worry about the amount of time we spend.  We don’t care how late or early it is, we only care about being with them, talking with them and doing things together.  The same should hold true for us and God.  We should spend the best part of our day, not keep track of time and spend time with God in His Word and prayer.

Third, we need to see if there is anything that is getting in our way and get rid of it.  It may be some hobby we have.  It may be working late.  It may be doing the dishes.  Are we living in sinful habits and behavior?  Whatever makes us too busy to spend time with God, makes us distracted and ineffective.  We can get rid of TV, computer time and late work nights.  We can even put off cleaning the house but we should not put off spending time with God.

For me to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, I need to focus on certain areas.  I won’t give too many details, but I will share the generic areas that need work.

  1. Heart – Spending more time in God’s Word.  Specifically praying for others and praising God.
  2. Soul – My life must be totally committed to God and His purposes.
  3. Mind – I need to fill my mind with God’s Word.  Listen to music that is uplifting and praises God.  Maybe start by listening to K-Love (www.klove.com).
  4. Strength – I need to eat healthy and exercise.

Obviously, there are more details and areas we need to work on, but this is the starting place.  As with any race or competition a starting line is where everyone begins on equal ground.  That is the great opportunity God has given to us.  Each day is a new day and a new starting point.  We race everyday in order to win the prize that God has for us.  We do not need to work for our salvation, but we need to work in response to God’s love for us.

So with all this in mind, why am I sharing this now?  Starting next month, I will be rearranging time in order to spend more time with God in order to write what He wants me to write.  I am not sure where this is going to go, but I know that if I spend time with God, I will be writing the right message.  I will also be rescheduling things in my life and reorganizing areas that need it.

Come with me in this journey and start at the beginning.  Read, pray, eat right, exercise and think about what God is doing.  This way we will love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and know His life directives.  God bless and encourage someone today.

The Profound Misery, the Profound Solution

The alarm sounds.  He slowly takes his arm and gently swings it toward the clock.  Snoozed.  The alarm sounds a second time.  This time, he takes his arm and swings it toward the clock.  Slam!  After a few bounces, the clock crashes onto the floor.  He grunts realizing he may need to make another purchase this week.  Rolling out of bed, he rubs his eyes, bends over and quickly inspects the clock.  Still working.  He places it on the end table and stretches like a cat from her awakening.  He slowly walks over to the bathroom and starts to get ready for his day.

His clothes are laid out like a symphony.  Expensive suit, flashy cufflinks and a silk tie are just parts of his persona.  He places his freshly polished shoes on and progresses to the door.  He opens the garage door where his BMW sits, unlocks it and carefully places his briefcase on the passenger seat.  The car starts and his mission has begun.  The day waits his conquering.

He arrives at the tall glass building.  As he enters the security guards says, “Good Morning sir.”  He acknowledges the guard with a quirky smile and nod.  He proceeds to the elevator where many others like him are gathered.  The doors open and the herd crams themselves into the 7×6 space.  Silence.  Nothing but the low sound of voiceless music.  There is no calmness, only the feeling of stress and determination.

The doors open where the herd proceeds to leave.  The cattle have been allowed their space to graze.  Atmospheric stress has begun to rise.  He sits at his 6×6 cubicle and turns on his computer.  It takes forever.  He thinks, “I could bake a cake before this thing boots.”  He checks for voicemail messages.  He turns to his computer again and opens his email.  Full.  Most of the spam, but some of them useful.

He opens email, answers his phone and continues the projects his superiors have placed on him.  More projects are stacked on his “IN” box.  The work continues to pile up.  No matter how much he does, the requirement of more seems unending.  The pile of paper and folders stacked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  How will he ever catch up?

Lunchtime comes and goes.  His co-workers tell tales of long ago.  Times that were profitable.  Times that netted double-digit percentages during end of the year reviews.  Then the conversations turn ugly.  Complaints about others.  Gossip about their bosses.  Rumors of grandeur surrounding their future in the company.  He finds no interest in these things.  All he is concerned about is how to get through his day.  How will he complete all that is required of him?

The day continues the same as it started.  The sun quickly becomes a thing of the past.  Everyone around him starts their journey home, but he stays.  His wife calls asking when he will be home.  He estimates a time, tells her he loves her and hangs up.  Continuing where he left off, he completes the only task that is needed for the next morning.  He looks at the clock.  8PM.  Now to travel another 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on traffic.

This life continues day after day, week after week and year after year.  Soon he realizes that whatever hair he has is grey, his kids grown and he wonders, “Have I made a difference?”  He asks himself, “Is this what life is all about?”  No matter how old he is or will be, the sad face of an unaccomplished, unfulfilling life haunts him.  Had he done better in school.  Had he not taken this job.  Had he taken the other job.  No matter what scenario infiltrates his mind, he cannot shake from the question, “Why am I here?”

Although this story appears to be a sad one, it is the life many of us live today.  We wake up, do our daily work, come home, eat and sleep.  We fill our time with the responsibilities of this life not caring about the future.  We save our money, spend our life and buy things that do not make sense.  Often we buy things that we cannot afford to impress people we don’t care about.  We go into massive amounts of debt to live a life that the media says, “This will satisfy.”  It rarely ever does.  So how can we avoid just living?  There is an answer.

When we become busy with this life, we forget there is another life yet to come.  There are two places that are real.  One is full of life, the other is full of death.  The life we pursue here will determine the next place we go.  If we ignore what is true and right, we automatically say, “I’ll pick the torment”.  However if we ask the Giver of Life for help, we will live the most wonderful of lives.

Jesus is the Giver of Life.  He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.”  This was a reference to creation.  He was there when life began.  He started life.  He was there when Abraham lifted the knife to sacrifice his son.  He was there to protect Isaac.  He was there when the earthquakes happen.  He is there when we get the message that we are sick and will not recover.  He is there when our children are born and He is there when they rebel.  He is there when we do what we should not.  He is there when we do right.  He is there.  No matter where you are or what you are going through, he is there.

Do you want to live a life of joy and peace?  Do you want to love living?  Then start by asking Jesus to come into your life.  Only then will real joy and peace enter.  Will it be easy?  No.  But it will be better.  Only Jesus can take a boring life and turn it into a joyous one.

God Bless and encourage someone today.

Another Life Changing Event…

It was about 3:00PM.  Time seemed to stand still.  I wasn’t sure of what was about to happen, but then it hit me.  Thoughts of doubt and images of despair rocked my mind.  It was as if a tidal wave had suddenly tossed itself onto the shores of my life and would not relent.  Fear, doubt and worry flooded the small crevices and attempted to separate the concrete foundation that I hold dear.  Fortunately, it was short lived.  It began yesterday and until lunchtime today, this was how I felt.

Almost every day, I listen to my MP3 player while eating lunch.  It allows me to get away from the craziness of business to recharge the worn out batteries that morning.  Most times, the songs vary and have little meaning.  They play and I listen.  They sound and I become relaxed.  However, today was different.  The songs seemed to blend and mix the way I enjoy them.

While I was listening, a song came on that I don’t usually listen to during lunch.  The song is called “Praise the Lord” by the Imperials.  It is slow yet commanding.  Lyrics like, “When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams.  And your hope has been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifesting scheme” and “Now Satan is a liar and he wants to make us think that we are paupers when he knows himself we are children of the King”.

THAT WAS IT!  Could it be that these crazy thoughts were happening for a reason?  Is it possible that something from outside of physical reality was causing me to stress, fear and worry?  It wasn’t until this song that I realized maybe Satan doesn’t want me to do something he knows is positive for the Kingdom.

You see, in my last post I had a poll that asked people to vote for which subject they wanted to hear about.  The fact was that no one had voted.  Curious.  All the subjects I put forth were one’s that may interest lots of people, but it appeared that God was trying to tell me something else.  Why is it that I was looking for others to “allow” me to write on a subject they wanted to hear?  Was I seeking the approval of others before seeking the acceptance of God?  The answer is a resounding “Yes’!

In my past blogs, I have shared, “Seek first His Kingdom and righteousness…” and “…look to God for your purpose in life”, yet I seemed to be doing what Scripture says not to do.  So what happens now?

As I have stated in the past, I know God wants me to write.  I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, writing for the Kingdom is my purpose for His glory.  Without the vision of the Kingdom, the world is absolutely meaningless.  The reason for my “funk” was because my focus was not on Kingdom objectives, but my own objectives.

In the past couple of weeks, I have had many house projects and work projects.  I have wanted personal time that was uninhibited by anyone or anything.  However, my peaceful time of rest has been one of torment and pain.  Even last evening, my son asked me, “What’s wrong?”  I could only respond, “I need to relax but cannot.”  Everyone around me knew something wasn’t right, except for me.  So where do I go from here?

I will write more.  I will write for Him.  I will become the writer that He wants me to be.  He has set my goals before me and I will obey.  To do anything else would be sin.  God has told me to write for the Kingdom, then I will.  Whether it be on His holiness, His purposes or His Son, my writings will glorify Him.

Over the next few months, the titles on my blog will change to be more focused on the series rather than the daily events.  Hopefully you will find positive, life changing examples that will help you in your walk with God.  Maybe the stories will be shared and others will come to know Christ.  Either way, I will continue, I will persist and I will not stop just because I don’t feel like it.

If God has spoken to you through this life changing event, I would love to hear from you.  If you don’t feel comfortable responding, then that’s okay too.  At least we will all experience God’s life changing power in our lives.  Look to Him first and the rest will come.

God Bless and encourage someone today.

A Call To Unity, Trust and Growth

Just moments ago, President Barack Obama spoke the State of the Union address.  I must admit at first I was not that excited about this speech.  The typical speech we hear is about Democratic values vs. Republican values.  Fortunately, we did not hear this tonight, however, it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

As I started to watch the speech, we found out that people were lined up since this morning just to shake hands with the President.  This reminded us of our Amway days.  People would line up for hours, sometimes overnight, just to get a spot in the auditorium to hear, see and maybe interact with the speaker.  Even we got caught up in the excitement.

During his speech, President Obama sounded as if he is interested in unity, trust and growth.  He even said, “I will lay out a blueprint tonight….”  This blueprint was to involve items like manufacturing, education and American values.  We were going to hear the details (finally) on how to get our country to be successful.

Most of his speech surrounded the economy.  He shared how he wants to encourage entrepreneurship to build successful businesses.  He spoke about how our economy is growing and the three (3) American car companies are hiring again.

President Obama shared how important education is and the importance of staying in school.  He shared about limiting illegal immigration, yet giving opportunities to those who want to become Americans.  He spoke about ways to grow the economy through innovation and manufacturing.  He claimed that to manufacturer in the United States is cheaper than manufacturing in China.

He called both parties to unify and create bills that could pass.  A call to trust each other and ‘have each other’s backs” was screamed from the pulpit.  The resounding gong of freedom of religion was sounded.  The clear megaphone of equality was voiced.  The call to grow the economy was announced.  However, in light of all this hype and preaching, there was one item he did not address, American values.

America was founded on values that are Christian in nature.  Our Constitution was written to reflect our freedoms given to us by God.  Our founding fathers wanted a country that was free from oppression and tyranny.  They had a dream of religious freedom without fear.  They knew the problem of government run churches.  They understood what it meant to be successful by the sweat of our brows.  Abraham Lincoln lived in a time where he failed more than he had success.  Yet, none of this was addressed.

If our freedoms are based on ideological, economic success, then our priorities are wrong and distorted.  When we look at other cultures that based total success on economic reforms, we see nations that failed miserably.  Even Adolf Hitler promised economic success.  Fidel Castro promised economic success.  In fact, the current Russian government stated to allow economic success, yet none of these countries are free.  None of them were successful.

When economic ideology is sounded, pride and greed creep in.  Pride says, “You can do anything you put your mind to, no matter the cost.”  Greed says, “Listen to Pride, you can succeed, no matter the cost.”  Pride and Greed work together to build a false sense of security.  The foundation of pride and greed is no more than house on sand with no solid core.

It is easy to understand, but extremely difficult to accept.  Without God, there is no success.  Without God there is no economic revivals.  Without God, we fail!  God is the essential part to our success.  If we do not listen to His direction, we ignore the Founder of life, the Sustainer of nations and the CEO of finances.

We have ignored God too long in this nation.  We have followed our pride and greed only to fail time and time again.  Will we have short term success?  Maybe, but to have long lasting, generational sustaining success, we need God.

Tonight, I read from Isaiah and discovered something extremely valuable.  In this book, God says to all nations, “I am God and there is no other.”  He says, “If you think you can be successful without Me, you are sorely mistaken.”  God proclaims, “I am the One who makes nations rise to do My will.”  God does not want 2nd place in our lives.  He wants to be the only One in our lives.

President Obama shared the call to unity, trust and growth for this nation, but failed to see the importance of true American values.  He feels that American values are based on the economy, yet God bases success on relationships.  We want money, God wants us.

So, I now make a calling to all peoples.  Turn to God and receive success.  Turn to God and know that your eternity is secure.  This world is temporary.  This economy is short lived.  Our lives are just a “dust in the wind”.  Our short years are nothing in comparison to the life yet to come.  Turn to God, seek His face and all these thing will be added unto us.  God wants us, not our ideals.

God Bless and encourage someone today.

Cracked Pipe, Frozen Pipe, New Home

On Sunday afternoon, we noticed that our hot water pipe to our bathroom was frozen.  As we had this happen once before, we turned off all the water, drained all the pipes and let it sit overnight.  This worked the last time so it should work this time.  Yesterday, the pipe unfroze.  So I went to check the pipes to see if there were any leaks.  To our dismay, there was a leak.

We knew the hot water was the problem so I had my wife run the hot water to see how much it was leaking.  The only way to explain it is a lovely flowing waterfall in the deepest darkest dungeon.  We immediately called a plumber.

My mom had given to us the name of someone but decided not to call him as we were unsure of his licensing for our area.  So we got a hold of someone else and ensured that they were licensed.  They told me that a gentleman would show up within the hour.

About 20 minutes later, the plumber showed up and we walked around trying to figure out where the leak was.  As is with all Murphy cases, the pipes were buried inside our kitchen walls.  As we continued to talk, I figured out he was about my age and grew up in the same area.  In fact, he knows all the people I know.  It was if he was an age old friend who was helping me out.  The funniest part came when he told me that he went to a program at our church, when he was a teenager.  It was the same program I had gone through at the same time, so our paths had crossed at least once before.

As we continued to talk, he mentioned his last name.  The invisible light bulb went off in my head as we both realized that he new my family.  It was the same plumber my mother had told me to call.  At first I felt bad but soon realized that God was in all this.  What are the chances that the person who you were supposed to call, gets the job from someone else who you actually called?  The fact is there is a very slim chance of that happening.

He started to open up the walls to see which of our hot pipes burst.  To our surprise there were no broken hot pipes.  We didn’t see any cold pipes broken either.  Both the plumber and I were very confused.  When we ran the hot water from the tub, there was a leak.  When we ran it from the sink, in the same bathroom, there was no leak.  So no one had any idea what the problem was.

The plumber’s helper said, “Why don’t we just pour water down the drain to see if we get water.  As no one else had any clue, we decided it was the best option.  We got a bucket, filled it with water and started to pour water down the drain of the tub.  To our surprise, there was water leaking.  But why not from the sink?  We tried the toilet and found there was a trace of water leaking.  Now this was totally confusing.  The helper asked us to pour water down the sink drain again to see what would happen.  Surprisingly, there was a very small trace of water.  Could it be?  Could the main waste pipe be broken?

They came back today with the materials necessary in case it was a waste pipe problem. They slowly and carefully dismantled the wall to expose the main waste pipe.  It was exactly what everyone dreaded.  The waste main pipe was cracked from top to bottom.  Two floors of a cracked waste pipe.

While the plumber was taking the old decrepit waste pipe out, I asked, “If the waste pipe was leaking for the 4 months we have been living here, then why wasn’t there any foul odors?”  He explained that where the water ended up was near the trap, which is where the waste water goes.  It appeared that the part of the house where waste ends up was actually masking a real big problem.

Sometimes our lives are the same way.  We realize that our lives need work, ask Jesus to come into our lives to help renovate and find out that what we are on the outside is quite different than what we are on the inside.  The Bible says, “Your works are as filthy rags.”  No matter what we do, no matter how many good works we achieve, they are meaningless to God as He is perfect and holy.

As we have a new home, there were evident problems with it.  We knew it was as is but discovered that meant something quite different to us as it meant to someone else.  Now our broken pipe has been replaced, the frozen pipes are not frozen and we are now continuing to enjoy our new home.

God has had His hand through this entire process.  The plumber was meant to be.  The frozen pipes uncovered a bigger problem.  Only a qualified licensed plumber was able to repair the problem and the price of the work was within our emergency budget.

God wants to do a mighty discovery in your life.  He wants to expose the bad so that He can fix it.  We can’t do it but He can.  Let God come into your life and help you discover there is more to life than what is on the outside.  Real life comes from the inside first.

God Bless and encourage someone today.