No Child is a Mistake


I have prayed about this.  I have struggled with my thoughts about how to approach this subject.  To the best of my ability, I am trying to be more encouraging however, my thoughts toward this subject are solid and I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that they are correct.  I just pray that as you read further, you will understand that this subject matter is a “slap in the face” towards God and His message of Hope in Jesus Christ.

In the year 2000, the former video rental store, Blockbuster, was given an opportunity by another company to expand Blockbuster to online video renting.  Blockbuster laughed at the opportunity and a short time later, the company Netflix became one of the largest online video rental sources of our time.  I am sure that those within the Blockbuster management team didn’t laugh after their company closed and saw Netflix thrive in this new venture.  What a mistake by Blockbuster.

In life, we all make mistakes.  We say things we shouldn’t say.  We forget to do things we should do.  We do things we shouldn’t.  We make mistakes.  We don’t mean to make those mistakes but we do.  Throughout our entire lives, we will make mistakes.  Maybe not the same ones over and over again, but at the very least we will make mistakes one time to learn from them.

As a child, I was taught that even though we make mistakes, we still must suffer the consequences of our mistakes.  As I got older, I was taught that even though we may make mistakes, there is a God who loves us, who cares for us and who wants to forgive us of those mistakes.  However, even though I may be forgiven, I still will suffer the consequences to the decisions I have made, even if it was a mistake.

Unfortunately, our society doesn’t believe that we need to suffer the consequences to our mistakes.  Our society has proven over and over again, that they believe we can make mistakes and bury them.  The current government shutdown is proof of that.  Both Democrats and Republicans in Washington D.C. have voiced their distain over each other’s position on border security.  Yet despite both sides not budging on what they want, over 800,000 people are either working without pay or have been asked to stay home.  Meanwhile, members of Congress (both House and Senate) continue to get paid because it is listed to do so in the Constitution.  Therefore, as our citizens suffer the consequences of Washington’s disagreements, those who are making the decisions continue to get paid and believe that they will not suffer consequences as well.  Why?  Because they continue to be re-elected.

Although I have friends and family that are majorly affected by the current government shutdown, there is another subject that needs more attention and the current liberal media refuses to give light to it and continually denies the consequences of it…abortion.

Recently, New York State Legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have passed a revision to a law concerning women’s rights in relation to abortion and contraception.  I have read over the revised law and have concluded that the majority of this revision is mainly about abortion rights and little to do with contraception.  (You may want to read it for yourself and see if you come to the same conclusion.)

Why this is so important is not the fact that it was passed but the lack of recognition to the consequences of passing that law.  In the past, the law stated that an abortion could not be done once the baby was 24-weeks (in utero) or older.  It also stated that there were consequences, including jail time for those who were caught taking part in abortions once this time frame past.  Now, the revised law says that those who are qualified to do abortions (not just doctors) can do so past the 24-week deadline and no further timeframe was given.  This basically means that whomever, New York State deems worthy to do abortions can do so up to delivery.  As long as the baby is in utero, they can do their horrific and barbaric procedure.  And they can do this so long as they deem the mother and / or baby are at risk of death.  Hold that thought for a moment.

In addition, New York State Legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo also removed any and all reference to potential jail time to anyone who executes abortions.  All security a woman had in the decision making process has been taken away.  Here is why….

Let’s say a couple meets in a bar one night.  They have a few drinks and decide to get to know each other a little bit more.  One thing leads to another and viola…a one-night stand.  A couple of months later, the woman begins getting sick.  She goes to the doctor to find out she’s pregnant.  She breaks down in tears and wonders what her options are.  Her doctor says one option is to have an abortion.  However, she isn’t sure what she wants to do.  After a couple more months, the same woman gets into a car accident and enters a coma.  A week or so later, the woman wakes up and notices something is wrong, she no longer feels her baby moving.  She asks what happened and the doctor says that he had to abort the baby because her health was in danger.  Although, this is a made up story, the consequence of the revised abortion law would allow this to happen, even if the mother does not know about it.  The wording states…

§ 2599-BB. ABORTION.  1.  A HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER LICENSED, CERTIFIED, OR AUTHORIZED UNDER TITLE EIGHT OF THE EDUCATION LAW, ACTING WITHIN HIS OR HER LAWFUL SCOPE OF PRACTICE, MAY PERFORM AN ABORTION WHEN, ACCORDING TO THE PRACTITIONER’S REASONABLE AND GOOD FAITH PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT BASED ON THE FACTS OF THE PATIENT’S CASE: THE PATIENT IS WITHIN TWENTY-FOUR WEEKS FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF PREGNANCY, OR THERE IS AN ABSENCE OF FETAL VIABILITY, OR THE ABORTION IS NECESSARY TO PROTECT THEPATIENT’S LIFE OR HEALTH.

Again, in most cases, the woman is making the decision on this, but now New York State has allowed others to make that decision for the woman if the “health care practitioner” deems it necessary.  Not only has the time-frame been removed but also the consequences of executing an abortion.

Now, I am not shocked by this decision, but I am obviously bothered by it.  I am not shocked because New York State government officials have proven their loyalty and devotion to sin.  They have openly and proudly displayed their satisfaction to rebelling against God.  In fact, the Empire State Building will be lit pink in order to commemorate this momentous evil occasion.  They are proudly wearing the badge of sin and shame.  They no longer hide their sin but place it in the open forum of daily living.  But why does this matter?  Why should we be concerned about this open display of sin?

First, God destroys those who are open and proud of their sin.  Sodom, Gomorrah, Babylon, Persians…all of these empires were proud to display their sin in the light.  History has taught us that each of these empires fell not because of economic problems or natural causes, rather they were destroyed because of their open display of sin.

Both Sodom and Gomorrah were known to be violent towards women and outsiders.  In Genesis 19, you can read about how the men of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to have sex with “men” who came to tell Lot to leave or be destroyed.  Here is what the angels said to Lot…

“For we are about to destroy this city completely.  The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it.” – Genesis 19:13 (NLT)

 “God will turn the sins of evil people back on them.  He will destroy them for their sins.  The Lord our God will destroy them.” – Psalm 94:23

There will come a time when God decides that the sin of a nation is so great that He will send for something or someone to destroy it.  Fortunately for us, that time has not yet come.  For if that time had come, this article would not have been written.

Okay, now that we have an understanding of what God does to those who are open and proud of their sin, what does God also say about children?

“Children are a gift from the Lord; for they are a reward from Him.” – Psalm 127:3

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me.  Don’t stop them!  For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” – Matthew 19:14

And what about those children who are not yet born?

“You guided my conception and formed me in the womb.” – Job 10:10

When Mary’s cousin, who was pregnant with John the Baptist saw Mary, she said, “When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.” – Luke 1:44

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” – Psalm 139:13

God views life from the point of conception.  It is God who guides the man and woman to marriage.  It is God who guides the sperm to meet the egg.  It is God who personally molds and makes the baby into the image He chooses.  The baby, both in utero and after birth are a gift from God.  So let’s look at this from a slightly different viewpoint…

If God sees life beginning at conception, then abortion rebels against God by saying conception doesn’t matter.

If God forms the baby, then abortion must destroy the very creation God is actively doing, therefore, it is murder.

If God has declared that He is intimately involved in creating children, then abortion actively defies God by showing distain towards His creation.

You see, abortion is more than what the world is telling us.  The world says it’s about women’s rights.  God says it’s about life He creates.  The world says that a child is not a child until delivery.  God clearly says that life begins at conception.  The world says they are proud to do what they want, when they want and how they want and without consequences.  God says that He will one day get fed up with our sin and destroy us as He sees fit.

My plea with you today, is this…please, please, please, stop this madness and repent.  Vote for those who will stand for what God stands for.  Voice your distain towards openly sinful practices and flaunting but do it in the most loving way possible.

Continue to stand for what is right.  Continue to vote in the right way.  Continue to plea with God to hold off His judgement against those who openly defy Him.  Continue to pray for our leaders and especially those in New York for their salvation, for their minds to be opened to what God says about life and for them to see the coming judgement upon all of us, if this behavior continues.

I do not know how or when God will decide to say, “Enough is enough”.  All I know is that in the meantime, I will continue to share the love and hope of life in Jesus Christ as long as there is breath in my lungs.

It is time for us Christians to stand together.  It is time for us Christians to show our rulers that God’s law is much higher than their laws.  It is time for us Christians to get out from behind our church walls and meeting places and enter into the political realm.  As long as we keep God first in our lives and do what He calls us to do, we will not hear the trumpets of judgement, rather we will hear the soft voice of God say to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Come and enter into my rest.”

That is what I desire to hear one day.  If God is for us, who cares who is against us.  He will protect us, He will save us and we will live with Him forever.  We need to stand for those who cannot.  We need to feed those who are hungry.  We are to clothe those who need clothing.  This is the action of the Christian which shows the world how loving and patient God is.  It is acting upon our faith that shows the world that God is in control and He desires to have a relationship with us.

I am praying for the New York Legislature and Governor.  I am praying that one day soon; God will touch their hearts so that they become His children and see life the way He sees it…beginning at conception, precious in this world, and eternal with Him.  Will you join me?  Will you act in a way that is worthy of our calling?  I pray that you do what God has called you to do.  Don’t delay.  God won’t delay His judgement forever.

God bless and encourage someone today.

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Understanding the Pain


Throughout the generations, we have all read or heard some profound words from some amazing individuals…

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“My story is a freedom song of struggle.  It is about finding one’s purpose, how to overcome fear and to stand up for causes bigger than one’s self.” – Coretta Scott King.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success” – Henry Ford.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

Each one of these quotes muster a sense of deep understanding, a sense that there is more to life than what exists in the realm of our eyes.  When we read these quotes, we begin to realize that life is more than what we live, it is who we impact, how we progress forward and ultimately, who or what we place our faith and trust in.

Many of us, for years, have placed our trust, our faith in things that don’t last.  We work hard at our careers only to find out that we have lost our family.  We hold onto our savings to the point of hording, only to succumb to a death, realizing we can’t take it with us.  We hold onto our children, so tightly, that they rebel and fight us because we suffocate them with pressures that do not exist in reality.  We identify ourselves with our spouses, only to lose ourselves when they leave us, whether by divorce or by death.  We hang onto our health, eating the right foods, exercising daily only to find out that cancer has overcome our bodies and we only have a short time to live.

But there is one passage I read that has a profound impact on my life.  It is not a quote from a famous individual or a passage from some scroll found in a cave.  It is a simple two word verse from one of the most famous stories in Scripture….

“Jesus wept.” – John 11:35

These seem like simple words, words without much impact, but I would argue that these two words show not just the humanity of Jesus Christ but also the deity of Jesus Christ as well.  Here is a bit of background that led up to these words…

Imagine for a moment, you were living in ancient Israel.  You had heard of this man called Jesus but were not sure what to make of him. The religious teachers called him a blasphemer and heretic, some called him a madman and yet some followed him, learning from his teaching.  You had heard that recently Jesus had healed a blind man, who was blind from birth.  It was said that as he looked toward the man, he had compassion on him.  You had also heard that his followers were asking, “Who sinned, him or his parents?”  Yet in all this, Jesus still had compassion on this man.  He had so much compassion; he healed the man and now that same man who had never seen anything but darkness, now could see the light surrounding him.  Yet even though this was the story, the religious leaders still called him names and wished him dead.  Something didn’t make sense.  How could a man heal so vibrantly, especially someone who appeared to have suffered from either his sin or his parents sin.

Then you heard that Jesus responded to his followers, “Neither this man, nor his parents.  But this was done to show the glory of God.”  How could this be?  We were taught from a very young age, that if someone was sick, born blind or had leprosy, there was apparent sin in their life or they were suffering from past sins.  Didn’t the Scriptures say, “I will repay the wicked to the third generation?”  So how could a man claim such a thing?  Maybe the religious leaders were right?  Maybe this Jesus was really a madman.  So what was the truth?

Just as you pondered these things, you way Him, Jesus.  He didn’t look any different than anyone else.  He wasn’t necessarily taller than anyone else, nor was he anymore good looking that all the others.  He looked ordinary.  He did not have the eyes of a madman, nor did he appear to be deity.  Still, there was something about Him that drew many.  Finally, you were going to hear the words of this controversial figure.  Just as you approached to hear his words, a woman rushes in.  She appears to be in tears.  She says to Jesus, “Your friend Lazarus is sick and needs you right away.”  His response was odd.  It was if he didn’t care.  He told the messenger, “The sickness will not end in death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  Did you hear it right?  The messenger said, “Your friend is sick.”  It seemed like Jesus was just brushing off the fact his friend was sick, really sick.

Two days later, as you were listening to Jesus teach, you ask yourself, “I wonder what ever happened to Jesus’ friend?”  It is then you hear Jesus proclaim, “Lazarus is dead.”  He let His friend die?  You heard him say that his friend’s sickness would not end in death.  You think to yourself, “He must be a liar or a madman.”  But you decide to follow Him and listen to Him anyway.  Maybe there are some teachings you could benefit from.

As you follow Him, Jesus approaches the city of Bethany.  By this time, Lazarus is already dead four days.  To you, as a Jew, this means that Lazarus’ death is final.  He is truly gone.  As you approach the crowds, you notice the women consoling two other women.  They must have been Lazarus’ relatives.  They looked pretty young and you realize that Lazarus was also young.  You notice Jesus talks with one of the two women who were being consoled.  He appears as if He was consoling her as well.

Jesus is then led to the tomb where Lazarus’ body was laid.  At first, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”  At this point, you have determined this Jesus was a madman and a liar but now He is claiming to be God?  Only God could resurrect the dead.  But you notice something.  You notice Jesus’ voice isn’t as strong as it was before.  You then see him do something; men shouldn’t do in your culture.  Jesus weeps.  He just doesn’t cry.  He truly loved this man.  Jesus felt the pain of loss, the pain of suffering.  He reacts the same way you have.  Jesus weeps.  And in that weeping He staggers to say, “Roll away the stone.”

This Jesus really believes He can raise the dead?  Does this Jesus really believe that He is God?  The impact of watching Jesus weep for His friend brings you to a point of interest.  Now is the time for Jesus to prove who He claims to be.  Does He prove Himself to be a madman or a liar?  Lazarus is dead and Jesus claimed this wouldn’t end in death.  What will happen?

You notice a large stone you could pick up and hide, just in case Lazarus stays dead.  For if Lazarus stays dead and this man claimed to be God, you have the authority to stone him for blasphemy.  You hide the stone in your cloak and watch at a close distance.  After Jesus finishes weeping, you hear Him exclaim, “Lazarus!  Come out!”

Immediately, a rumbling happens inside the tomb.  Was it an animal that got in there?  Then you see what others said was impossible.  A figure of a man comes forth, waddling, trying to get the rags off of him?  Lazarus was alive!  How is that possible?  How is it that a dead man, who was dead for four days, whose soul left this place to enter eternity, is walking and breathing again?  At that moment, Jesus hugs his friend, turns around and looks at you with a smile.  It’s as if He can see to the very center of your being.  You have only one response.  The stone you held is dropped.  You rush to his feet, bow down and say, “Savior, forgive me.”

So what changed you?  What was it that brought you to this point?  The beginning of the journey seeing Jesus have compassion on someone, then it was His radical claims, leading up to this pivotal point.  Jesus wept for his friend.  He showed His humanity by allowing Himself to feel as we do when we lose someone.  He wept because He felt loss.

The last couple of weeks have been very tough.  The compassion I have felt for my wife’s friend as her husband was killed doing his job.  The remembering of my friend, who now is in glory, yet still hurting as I remember the suffering I witnessed.  Last evening, I witnessed my 90 year old neighbor slip away into eternity and even this morning, I was told of a friend of the family who lost their life to a possible heart attack.  Yet, I take hold of the two words John wrote – Jesus wept.

I now understand that Jesus felt the same things I do.  He felt loss just like me.  He felt compassion on others who are also mourning.  He wept just like I do.  But unlike Jesus, there are times I feel hopeless.  Hopeless because there is nothing I can do when I lose someone.  I can’t raise them from the dead.  I can’t talk with them anymore.  All I can do is weep, just like Jesus.  But even though Jesus wept like us, He never felt hopeless.  He knew what He was there for…to ensure God is glorified.  This is where His deity is displayed.

Jesus claimed that Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death.  He also claimed to be God with the ability to resurrect the dead.  He claimed to be the holder of life.  And all of this was proven positive.  Lazarus was raised from the dead.  His sickness did not end in death.  In fact, Lazarus’ death was necessary.  It was Jesus who allowed Lazarus to die in order that He might glorify God and show who He really is.  As life and death are in the hands of God, the sheer fact that Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead shows Jesus is God.  It was in this act that Jesus proved he was 100% man and yet 100% God.

I think we forget sometimes that Jesus felt what we felt.  He felt compassion, loss and pain.  He willingly suffered and died so that we might have a way back to God.  Yet in all this, Jesus again proved His deity by rising from the dead.  He did this for you and I because He has compassion and love for us.

I don’t’ know this for sure, but I would suspect that Jesus cries for those who don’t accept Him as Savior.  I’d like to think that he momentarily cries when His creation rejects Him and once they die, He has to send them to an eternal place without Him, hell.

However, for now as you are reading this, this means you are still alive and have a chance to cry out to Him.  If you cry out to Him, He will respond.  If you cry out to Him, He will save.  Jesus does not want any to suffer.  His desire is that everyone comes to know Him as Savior.  So why not?!  Just give your life to Jesus and He will prove to you not only does He have the ability to save, but that He rejoices in that same work.

What other proof do you require?  He showed his humanity by weeping and His deity by controlling life and death.  Call on Him and you will be saved.

God bless and encourage someone today.

Love (w)Holy?


The video played.  My notebook was opened ready to take notes on the next section of Church History.  Anticipating the amount of sentences I might write, did not allow me to fully understand the scope and complexity of what I was about to watch.  As I took notes, I would freeze and unfreeze the video, ensuring my notes were detailed and accurate.  It wasn’t until, I watched the video a second time, that I realized my anxiety and worry over life’s turbulence, awarded me the gold medal of “How small am I” champion.

The video series, I am currently studying has little to do with the people involved, rather, it is how those same people suffered in encouraging ambition as they await the fate others had for them.  The two main characters which the videos centered around were Polycarp and Perpetua.  Two Christians who, lovingly and willingly allowed themselves to become martyrs for the faith we continue to live by today.

Polycarp was a student of John, the author of Revelation.  It wasn’t until his later days, that the proconsul of his region and the people of the arena called for Polycarp’s demise.  Although Polycarp tried to avoid capture, it wasn’t until a Roman soldier beat a servant boy into telling him where Polycarp was living.  What struck me was not the brutality of the Roman soldier, nor the intention of proconsul, but the response by Polycarp to the soldier.

It was said, that Polycarp invited the soldier into his home for some food and water.  He was kind toward the soldier, only desiring to fulfill the law of Christ to “love your enemies”.  Polycarp then asked the soldier if he could spend some time in prayer, which allegedly took around 2 hours.  It was after this encounter that Polycarp was brought before the proconsul for judgement.

When the time came for Polycarp to suffer the consequences of his commitment to Christ, he displayed his gentleness toward the soldiers, letting them know that no matter what they do to him, God will give him the strength he needs to suffer patiently through this temporary painful experience.  His gentleness, his humble demeanor and the words spoken showed me that no matter what ills of life may come, nothing can compare to the inexplicable desire to leave this world and bow before the God of creation in humble thankfulness.

The second person my study was focused on was Perpetua.  She was a woman who was highly educated, knowing Latin and Greek and able to clearly write her thoughts in a way for everyone to understand.  What drew me to her most was her willingness, her love toward everyone, including those who desired to do her harm.  While in prison, she cared for her baby and others as they needed.  She was able to keep a diary, thereby documenting her experiences while imprisoned, awaiting her judgement.

However, it was her words which struck a chord within my very soul.  All the while she was imprisoned; she expressed her love toward her father, who begged her to turn her heart away from Christ.  She could not do such a thing.  She then expressed her own desire to live a life just as Christ lived, even unto death, a holy life filled with love toward everyone, including her enemies.  Up until the very end, she showed love and compassion toward others, even the very one who would drive a sword through her neck.  She did not feel condemnation or worry, but satisfaction in knowing that her life was being taken because of something Christ said, “If they hate me, they will hate you as well.”  Yet, she also held to the command by Christ to “love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you.”

Both of these people, lived a holy life, desiring only to complete the mission given to them by Christ, to make disciples.  They had a desire not only to complete this mission, but also to ensure they heard, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  They felt honored to be one’s who suffered for the Gospel.  They did not worry about the temporary pain and suffering.  They worried not about their own future.  They did not worry about what career path to take.  They simply desired to life a holy life, filled with a holy love, even for those who wanted to do them harm.

After all this, a question popped into my mind, “Do I concern myself with the command of Christ or the worries of what this life has to bring?”  If I am going to be fully honest, I care about this life more.  Like others, I worry about silly things, in a silly time for an unholy life rather than concerning myself with a holy life, using holy love to reach an unholy people.

How foolish my thinking has been.  How wicked are my thoughts and actions concerning this life.  This life is not about what I can gain, but rather, what He can gain through me.  This life is not about how much I can acquire, but rather, how many lives He can acquire through me.  As I study Church history, I have been given the gift which cannot be repaid, the gift of understanding why Christ suffered so.  That same love, that holy love can conquer anything.  Our fears, our anxieties, our illnesses, our depression can all be obliterated when we accept and life using the holy love given to us through His Holy Spirit.

We cannot express any holy love unless the Holy Spirit enables us to do so.  The Holy Spirit enabled our ancient brothers and sisters to display a holy love and He desires to continue to display it through us as well.  Can we all take a single moment to thank God for those who showed that holy love despite what circumstance they faced?

Lord, thank you not only for saving my life through Jesus Christ, but also enabling us to love others, even though they do not love us.  Keep us from hatred and lead us toward the holy love displayed through the actions of Jesus Christ.  May your holy love be displayed to a world that needs You.  Amen.

God bless and encourage someone today.

Upon the Sacred Sand


The waves gently crashed against the shore.  White caps caressed the sand.  As the water progressed along the sand, Allen knew not all was well.

He had just received word that his life was to be shortened.  Not fully understanding the circumstances, he walked at the edge, where the water meets the sand.  What was this about?  Why him and not someone else?

Doctors had warned him earlier in life that his lifestyle was harmful.  As a teenager, he had been subject to the wars of the streets.  His parents divorced.  His mother an alcoholic. His father absent.  It wasn’t until he met Rolo that Allen understood what acceptance was about.

Rolo was the leader of a local gang that ruled the streets.  He led a group of hoodlums and reprobates.  But one thing Rolo understood, if someone needed to feel accepted, he was the guy.

Rolo was the one who raised Allen during his formidable years.  He showed Allen how most rejected him, but only a few accepted him.  In order for Allen to feel accepted, all he needed to do is sell some “pharmaceutical” products to other teens.  Allen believed Rolo and thus began his journey down a funnel cloud of destruction.

Over the next few years, Allen would eventually get hooked on the drugs he sold.  Getting high and crashing became the norm.  In the morning, he would get high in order to handle his day.  As evening came, he would begin to crash but would intervene with another dose of drugs.

Regularly, he would wake up with blurred vision of lights and white suited people surrounding him.  The nurses and doctors would strap his hands and feet to subdue his temper while regaining true consciousnesses.  Several times, he remembered how the warning shots fired over his mind and body.  He had been told his life was on the line and several times almost lost the battle.

One time as he left the hospital, a homeless man stopped him and asked for help.  At first, Allen thought to himself, “Whatever!  I need help too.”  Instead of responding to the homeless man’s request, Allen just rolled his eyes and kept on walking.  The homeless man persisted, “Please help me.  I haven’t eaten and need food.”  Allen ignored the man and continued to walk, crossing the busy city street.

As Allen entered the busy intersection, he continued to hear the homeless man cry out for help.  Allen turned to acknowledge the man’s cries with a response of hatred and fear.  He lifted his head, opened his mouth and shouted, “Leave me alone!  You’re not the only one who needs help, you homeless…”

Allen was not given the opportunity to finish his sentence when he noticed the frail homeless man entered the intersection.  Suddenly and without warning, a taxi broadsided the homeless man separating his body and soul.  It was then Allen realized life was too short to continue down a path of destruction.

As Allen walked the beach, also he remembered how he met his wife.  Ruth was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.  He had seen her from a distance in the deli for several months, but never had the nerve to approach her.  Once while he was sitting and staring at her, she turned, tilted her head, winked and smiled the most comforting smile.  A few minutes later it was Ruth who approached him.

Not long after they met, Ruth and Allen got married.  Unfortunately, like his parents, his marriage didn’t last long.  He had begun to drink again and ended up in an angry stupor night after night.  Fight after fight both Ruth and Allen flung insults and negativity.  After six months of marriage, Ruth walked out never to return.

Now five years later, a pain had entered his stomach.  At first, he thought it was simply a diet problem but as it intensified day after day, he decided to go to the hospital to see if they had a solution to his problem.  After several days of tests, the doctors found a mass near the outside of his stomach.  Within 24 hours, Allen finally knew what ailed him, stage four cancer.

When he inquired how this was possible, the doctors told him that years of abuse lead to days til death.  No matter what they wanted to try, it would never extend the weeks he had left.  Knowing this he opted to leave the hospital.

He walked and walked, not returning home, but instead entered the beach.  Now as he walked remembering both the good and bad, he looked toward the sunny blue sky and cried, “Lord, why me?  Why now?”

As the words left his mouth he felt a hand on his shoulder and a whisper in his ear, “Is everything alright?”  Allen slowly turned and saw a man walking with him.  With tears in his eyes, Allen responded, “I’m dying.”

The man softly said, “Are you sure?”

Allen whimpered a simple, “Yes.”

The man and Allen spoke for several hours, mostly talking about Allen’s past but laughing occasionally from some funny stories.  Allen felt comforted by the man’s words.  The man spoke words of encouragement and truth.  He told Allen about another man who died for his enemies.  A man who felt that all people were important.  He explained that if acceptance was to be realized, Allen had to let go of his life.  Allen didn’t fully understand what he meant, but it felt good.

As he started to feel better, Allen turned to the man and asked, “What is your name?”

The man had disappeared.  Allen desperately turned in circles looking as far as the eye could see.  There was no one around.  Was it the cancer?  Was he so distraught that his mind began to hallucinate?  Was he going insane?

In an instant, he realized what had just happened.  The mysterious unnamed man was speaking of himself.  Could it really be him?  Could the man really been the famous Jesus Christ?  Allen looked back to the sky while the ocean caressed his feet and cried, “I believe.  Please don’t leave me.”

There was no answer.  He cried and cried, “Please don’t leave me.”  Again no answer.  After a few minutes of tears and despair, Allen realized the man would not return.  He fell to his knees, covered his face and quietly wept.

As his head began to fill with guilt from past sins, he raised his hands toward heaven and said, “Lord. I believe.”  At that very moment, he felt a sense of joy and peace.  It was a feeling he never had before.  He knew that even if he didn’t continue this life, there was another life that he could look forward to.

Suddenly, a distant figure appeared.  Allen raised his head and saw the outline of a person.  He jumped to his feet and began to run shouting, “You came back.  You came back!”

As he approached the figure, he realized the person he saw was different than the mysterious man.  This person had long hair and curves that were of no man.  Disappointed, Allen stopped running and once again fell to his knees.

The distant person then began to jog toward him.  In a matter of seconds, Allen could hear the cries of the person.  “Allen, honey.  I did come back.”  It was Ruth.  Allen then raised himself to his feet, held out his arms and hugged Ruth with such love and peace.  They kissed for a few moments and spoke of how they both met a mysterious man.  It was at that moment they realized, God had visited them both.  Allen then knew he was standing upon sacred sand.

God bless and encourage someone today.

A Boy, a Coat and a Valuable Lesson (Starting Off Life Right – Pt.2)


Have you ever had a sibling that felt it was necessary to rat you out constantly?  What about a kid in school?  Has a co-worker ever told your boss things that makes you look bad?  Well, if so, then you will be able to relate to our next “Life Starter”, Joseph.

A bit of background first….

Joseph was one of twelve sons of Jacob.  He was the 2nd youngest, which means that Jacob was older when Joseph was born.  Eventually, all the sons of Jacob would one day be the “tribes of Israel”.  One day they would be the fulfillment of Abraham’s promise from God.  Unfortunately, Joseph needed to go through some things that seemed difficult.

As I was reading over the story of Joseph, there were a few things that came to mind.  First, Joseph is introduced to us as a “tattle-tale”.  We see that Joseph had ‘spoken badly about his brothers to his father’.  There is no reference as to why, so what I am about to say is strictly ‘opinion’.  I personally believe Joseph was not only immature, but felt that he could go further in life by telling on his brothers.  If not, he was at least not “street smart”.  Obviously, this would make his brothers angry.

Next, we see that Jacob favored Joseph over all his brothers.  In fact, Jacob made a special garment for Joseph.  It was the most beautiful of garments in that day.  No where does it say that Joseph didn’t want it or didn’t wear it.  Later in the story we see that Joseph wore the garment regularly.

Lastly, we see Joseph telling his brothers about two dreams he had.  He had told his brothers that they would one day bow down to him.  But we do not see where God told him to inform his brothers of this.  It was as if Joseph, having these dreams, understood what they were, but because of his immaturity, he decided to brag about them.

So what did his brothers eventually do?  Well, if you hated your sibling that much, what would you have done?  If you are like me, you would not talk with them, cut off all communication with them and regard them as non-existent.  However, Joseph’s brothers wanted to do more than that.  They wanted to kill Joseph.  If it wasn’t for the youngest brother, Benjamin, they would have.  However, Benjamin convinced them to fake Joseph’s death and sell him into slavery.

One day while Joseph was doing his chores, his father asked him to report what his brothers were doing.  Notice it doesn’t say rat out or talk badly, it was simply to be an update.  When Joseph arrived, the brothers jumped him, tore the garment that his father had made and threw Joseph into a pit.  They slaughtered a lamb, dipped the garment into the blood and sold Joseph to an Egyptian.  This is where I personally believe that Joseph started to understand what he had done.

Growing up in a church, I was always told that Joseph was simply being obedient to his father.  However, after reading this story more and more, I am convinced that Joseph didn’t start out life that great.  I also believe that it wasn’t until he was sold into slavery, that Joseph started to understand why all this “bad” stuff had happened.

Despite his rough beginning, Joseph ended his life on the right track.  While he was still young, he worked for a high Egyptian officer.  The officer’s wife wanted to commit adultery but Joseph wouldn’t have it.  Joseph understood that to commit adultery was not just a sin against himself and his boss, but it was a sin against God.  Unfortunately, Joseph ended up in prison because of lies the officer’s wife told.

While in prison, he was regarded highly by the guards and was put in charge of the inmates.  There were two other inmates that were there and were about to be released.  Joseph asked them to do him a favor and mention what had happened to him to the king.  But these two men forgot about Joseph.  It wasn’t until the king had a dream he couldn’t explain that one of them spoke up.

Over time, Joseph was released from prison and became the highest ranking officer (besides the king), in Egypt.  During Joseph’s reign, he was able to bring all of Egypt and his family through a famine. He also confronted his brothers and all was worked out between them.

Now think about this for a moment.  How many times do we go through horrific events only to ask, “God, why is this happening to me?”  I know I’ve asked that question.  What would happen if ‘bad things’ that happen to us were God’s way of preparing us for greater things in the future?  What if the bad was to be turned to good?  Isn’t that one of the promises of God.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (NIV)

If ‘in all things’ means good or bad, then we see here that whether we face good times or bad times, God will work so that it will all turn out good and it will be because of His purpose, not ours.

We may start out life badly or make bad decisions, but God is able to take those bad situations and turn them around to profit the Kingdom.  When we see the kingdom growing because of our bad circumstances, we will be joyous through our trials.

Back in April, I watched a good friend of mine enter the Kingdom of God.  Prior to his death, we would pray with another friend of ours.  It was amazing to see my friend, who was in process of dying, turn to us and say, “It is okay for me to suffer now.  So long as others see Christ in it.”  He was only a Christian for a few years, but learned a lesson that most of us ‘older’ Christians haven’t learned…to trust Christ withe everything.

It was through my friend’s suffering that more people heard about Christ.  Until the day before he died, the visiting nurse had just started and in his pain he asked the nurse, “Do you know who Jesus is?”  She responded, “I’ve heard.”  His response was, “Then we need to talk.  We are going to have many discussions on Jesus.”

Until his last breath, he wanted others to know about Jesus.  This same nurse was there with us when he died.  As I cried as my friends feet, telling him that he did a great job and to let go, she sobbed not understanding what had just happened.  It was right after he took his last breath that I was able to share with her about the love of Christ.  In fact, at least 2 others asked about Christ because they saw something that was strange to them.  Even though we were saddened, we understood that one day we would see each other face to face, rejoicing in what God had done in our lives.

One day, I hope my life ends just as good as my friend’s and Joseph’s.  Our lives may not start out the way we want them to, but remember, it is not about us but about the Kingdom of God.  Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.

God bless and encourage someone today.

The Wheels in Life Go ‘Round and ‘Round…


Do you remember the wheels on the bus song?  I must’ve sang this song to my boys so many times that I became annoyed at myself.  This children’s song talks about how the wheels on the bus go around and around, the bus driver drives around town, how the baby on the bus cries and how the mother tries to calm the baby down.  Many times, life can be the same way.  Sometimes in life, we can feel like our lives are just going around town, doing the same old thing.  Fortunately, life doesn’t have to be this way.

This past week has been an extremely busy one.  I go to work, come home and do three to four hours of construction at home.  I then go to sleep, wake up with aches and pains and do this all over again.  It seemed like it would never end.  Life would just continue in this busy, physically and mentally exhausting arena just to do it day after day, week after week and year after year.  However, this all changed last night.

As I was in my basement doing construction, I received two phone calls that allowed me to see not only how life can appear circular but also how life really isn’t that way.  The first phone call was from a bereavement service asking me how my family was doing after the ‘home-going’ of our close friend, Peter.  I explained that although at first this loss was hard, we came to the realization that Peter was now with our Lord and Savior so he is without pain and suffering.  I said, “Peter’s doing great and we will continue.”  The woman on the phone sounded surprised but continued to state, “So your faith has helped?”  I responded positively and we both hung up the phone.

During the first conversation, another phone call came through and the person left a message.  My wife asked who it was, but I responded, “I haven’t listened yet but will after I cut this piece of wood.”  As I listened to my voicemail, the voice said, “What is this?  You asked me to leave a time and date, your phone does that…didn’t you know?  By the way it’s Jay, call me.”  Excitement overwhelmed my spirit.  Joy filled the air as I yelled to my wife, “Jay called!”

You see, Jay is a friend and “brother” of mine that I met almost 15 years ago.  He had come to the church my wife and I were attending at the time, and we became instant friends.  Both Jay and I were part of a business that seemed exciting.  Time went on, when Jay said to me, “J.D., this business is teaching un-biblical concepts.  I can’t stay anymore.”  I decided to stay with this business and asked God to open my eyes to what Jay was seeing.

Shortly after praying that prayer, I saw people talking about how God wants you rich and healthy.  They said, “If you are not healthy then your faith must not be where God wants it.”  Something bothered my understanding of Scripture.  Did God really say, “My desire for you is to be rich and healthy?”  I started to investigate.

Jesus had taught his disciples, “Your need faith as small as a mustard seed” not a “watermelon seed”.  He had taught, “You will suffer because of me” not “Don’t worry be happy”.  Our Savior had been teaching the exact opposite of what these people were teaching, so I also decided to leave the business.  It was around that time, that I didn’t see Jay again.

Now almost 15 years later, Jay called leaving me a message to call back.  This is so significant because my mentor had met Jay at an evangelical training conference at Jay’s church.  They spoke and my name came up.  My mentor sent me a text with his number and told me to call.  However, I didn’t.  Life got in the way.

Soon after my friend, Peter went home, I received another phone call from a counselor who helped my friend Peter.  We spoke for about a half an hour and during that conversation, she mentioned she goes to a certain church.  It turned out this church is the same one my friend Jay attends and she was friends with him.  She encouraged me to call Jay but once again, life went ’round and ’round.  It wasn’t until Jay called that we were able to re-invigorate our friendship once again.

As life goes around and around, busy day after busy day, we need to stop for a moment and think, “Is life really the same all the time?  Am I running on the treadmill of life or a marathon?”  Life doesn’t have to be a treadmill, running and running, watching the speed and time just to make sure that you are in control.  Life should be more like a marathon.  You run with a pace that encourages you to go further.  People on the sidelines give you water to help you along.  Then once finished, there is a support system that helps you heal.

In our lives, we need to have people who support us, give us water and cheers us on to the finish line.  For me, Jay was a fresh cup of water.  It was as if God placed him in a place that was necessary for me to see that He is still in control.  It wasn’t until I lost a friend that I re-gained another.  I am looking forward to what God has in store for me.  He allows and wants life to be exciting and joyous, not healthy and rich.  God desires obedience rather than sacrifice.  The question is are you running a marathon or on a treadmill singing, “The wheels in life go ’round and ’round, all through the town.”?

God bless and encourage someone today.

You Can’t Make This Up….


This will probably be one of the most encouraging blog I have written to date.  Hang on, cause you can’t make this up.

Today, I was asked, by a friend of mine, to help him with some errands and doctor visits.  No problem.  We did what we had to do.  We talked how God is working in other’s lives through his testimony.  We discussed private matters that weren’t enjoyable, but necessary.  By the end of the afternoon, he was ready to call it a day, until I shared that another friend of ours and I would be back in a few hours.

Later that evening, our mutual friend picked me up and we proceeded to go to our friend’s apartment.  We had groceries and cleaning products that he needed.  We entered the building and walked to the elevator.  As we approached his door, our friend opened it and was taken back by all that we had.

We made our way into his apartment and told him to sit, relax and enjoy the company.  A lot of things needed to get done, but we decided to put “feet” only to one or two things.  At the end of our “chores”, I continued to work while both of my friends decided to talk about what God was doing.   I gathered a few more things and stopped to listen to what they had to say.

My first friend spoke of his past.  The horrors he spoke of are too graphic for this post so let’s just say he had problems and lots of them.  In tears he spoke of his mother and father.  He spoke of the love of his late wife.  He spoke about people he had witnessed to and had questions about what he was going through.  Joy was in his voice while sadness and contentment yearned for a chance to show their face as well.  You could hear the mental and spiritual battle he faced.

Just as my second friend was about to speak, I stopped him and felt that God wanted me to share Psalm 46.  Here it is for reference:

Psalm 46

God the Refuge of His People.

    For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, [a]set to Alamoth. A Song.

 1 God is our refuge and strength,
[b]A very present help in [c]trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the [d]sea;
3 Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
[e]Selah.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her [f]when morning dawns.
6 The [g]nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He [h]raised His voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Selah.

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
[i]Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
10 “[j]Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the [k]nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Selah.

As I read this, soft music was playing so I knew this was a special time, a unique time.  (It is not often that nice music plays when I am reading…to me it is often distracting.)  I looked over at my second friend who had a small smirky smile on his face.  It was evident that my first friend was thinking as his posture showed it.

My second friend took a deep breath, paused and said, “God has ministered to me tonight.  Tonight was supposed to be different but God changed those plans.”  He proceeded to tell us the many things he was going through and how hard it was.  He opened his heart to us realizing that God was in our presence.

As I sat there listening, it was clear that God was moving.  Usually when an experience happens like this one, I am usually learning about my walk or am a part of the problem, but this time was different.  God allowed me to experience two close friends, share and encourage each other.  It was as if I was the outsider observing how God moves in people’s lives.

Both then turned to me and asked me to pray.  As we sat an prayed, tears of joy, sorrow, hurt and shame all flowed like a torrential river overflowing it’s banks.  During our prayer, one of my friends told God, “It is amazing that you would use a sick friend to encourage me.  And my brother to the left, who I despised when we were younger, ministering to me as well…”  What?  I was ministering?

Here we were, an older man with a extremely horrible past, a man who despised me when I was younger, both thanking God for my life.  In my wildest dreams did I ever think that someone would thank God for me.  All I had done was share some Scripture that God wanted me to share.  I really didn’t do anything.  And that was the point.

God wanted all three of us to experience what He planned for us.  Only God could orchestrate this small group of friends with such different paths and bring us to a place where we were encouraging and lifting each other up.  My night had become complete.  I witnessed two men encourage each other to the point of tears.  I had longed for this for some time, but now was able to see how God works.

God uses each and everyone of us to do something in other’s lives.  He uses us to encourage, support and motivate others into a closer relationship with Him.  Only God can orchestrate the unlikely bunch into a close family that cares for each other.  Before Jesus left this earth, he prayed, “Let them be one just as you (Father) and I are one.”  He also said, “Let the world see their love for each other so that they see how much you love me.” This life isn’t about us.  It isn’t about what we can get or what we can do.  It is simply about Christ.  So now I will pose a question that was posed tonight:

“Is Jesus enough?”

 I will leave you pondering the meaning and significance of this question and address it in the next blog.  You can’t make this up.  God bless and encourage someone today.