Archive for the ‘life’ Category

I was hungry and you formed committees.

I was thirsty and you preached sermons.

I was naked and you said, “That’ not in the budget.”

I was sick and you sang another chorus while internally debating traditional verse contemporary style of worship.

I was lonely and you rushed to the restaurant to get the best booth.

I was in prison an you held another congregational meeting.

I tell you the truth: whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto me.

I am definitely not a fan of hospitals. The smell makes me nauseous.  In fact, I have been known to pass out from visiting someone in the hospital (I know I’m a wimp when it comes to that). I also never really know what to say. I feel awkward at times.  However, I am becoming more familiar with hospitals. I have a few memories of them that are great and a few that are not so great. I can recall visiting a grandparent in the hospital and seeing them suffer. Although I was young, I could understand they were in pain and wanting relief. I recall sitting in the hospital visiting my sister who missed a special Christmas party because she was sick and in the hospital. I felt so bad for her. And I recall watching the nurses put an iv into my child’s arm and seeing my child suffer. Those are not great moments. They make you question and hurt and cry.

However, we have those happy moments in hospitals too. I recall sitting in a hospital in Memphis, TN and holding my wife’s hand. The doctor and nurses introduced us to our newborn son. Our first child. We giggled with glee. He was perfect. And just to make sure we knew our life would be much different, he peed on me. I laughed and hugged him and kissed him. We rejoiced.

A few years later I sat beside my wife’s hospital bed again. This time we welcomed Joshua to our family. I was able to cut the cord and to follow the tradition, he also peed on me.

Those moments of holding those children were so special. they were happy moments. The hospital stay reminded me that I am blessed with wonderful children.  When they discharge papers were written, we were able to take our son home for the first time and it was an exciting moment –  a new beginning.

This week, I have also been to the hospital. this time it was for a different reason. My dad was in great pain and in bad shape. My mom, brothers, and sister sat beside him and leaned on each other for support. On Saturday, I went to the hospital and it was my first time to get to see him there. He was admitted Friday night, but I had to work and couldn’t make it until Saturday. When I walked into his room, my heart was aching. He looked so week. My dad has always been the absolute strongest man I have ever known. Now he  sat in a bed looking so feeble. It really hurt as I walked to give him a hug and he was so weak he couldn’t lift his arms high enough to give me a good hug. While I sat there looking at my dad struggling and having a hard time doing the most simple of tasks, my mind began to wander. I recalled all the lessons I have learned from my dad. He works hard everyday. He loves his family with an unconditional love. He is strong, yet he realizes everything he has comes from God. He is not a perfect man, but he reminds that we have a perfect Father who hears our prayers. While I never believed he would not make it through his surgery or the infection he had (I was confident that he would be okay), I couldn’t help but be reminded that my dad will not always be here. The reality of life is that people pass. I began to think about friends and family who have left this earth to be with God. They made an impact in the lives of many people. I was reminded that I must learn to enjoy each moment to the fullest. My is too short to spend each waking moment being stressed. I need to take full advantage of each day given me by growing closer to God and loving those around me. Gos has given us a gift. If you are reading this and you are a believer in Christ, then you have been given a gift. You had someone who cared enough about you to tell you about a Savior. Regardless of how you may be feeling right, you have an opportunity to grow in your knowledge of Christ. You have an opportunity to tell someone you love them before it is too late. you have the opportunity to live in the moment. How hard it is to live in the moment. Our minds like to drift to the past or to the future. We make plans and life passes us by. We talk about the past so much, we miss today. I am thankful for the reminder to live for today. Tomorrow will have its own problems, today I choose to live for today. I will take up my cross today and follow my Lord. I want to learn to live each day with no regrets. I have many regrets in my past. I must choose if I will learn from them and make a better decision today or if I will just focus so much on those regrets that today becomes another wasted day. Will I enjoy this moment with my kids, or will I focus so much on how I raised my voice at them yesterday that I miss this moment that can be so special? Will I spend my time focusing on how I was angry with my spouse last week, or will I choose to enjoy this moment, this day with her? Life is a series of moments. These moments pass quickly. If we are not careful, we will find our self looking at life wishing we had enjoyed those moments more. God is faithful in each moment. He is faithful as we praise Him and thank Him for letting us hold our newborn child ; He is faithful when we question why we suffer. We have a choice of how we will respond to each moment in life. Let’s choose to live for the moment. Choose to follow Christ today; love your spouse today; enjoy time with your children today. We may not get that moment tomorrow. We will not get back yesterday’s time – all we have is today, this moment. How will we use this moment? Lord, teach me to take each moment as a gift from you.

So much time has passed since I last posted. In fact, I do not know that I have updated my blog since just after the new year. So much has changed in my life and I have been trying to process it all. Life is like a roller coaster ride. It is filled with ups and downs and sudden twists that take you completely by surprise. Sometimes all we can do is hold on tight and trust we will make it through the ride safely and with a better appreciation for the calm moments.

It feels as though the last 10 months or so have been a giant roller coaster with sudden turns and corkscrews and loops with no area of straight track. It feels as though I am holding on tight and trying not to fall out. What I am learning is to trust the ride operator. God is guiding and leading and I am slowly learning to trust Him, loosen my grip on the safety bar, and enjoy the ride. In all honesty, it has been an incredibly painful  and emotional lesson, but I am thankful for what I am gaining from the ride.

Back in October, our then one-year-old son, Joshua was admitted into the hospital. We were told by the hospital staff and doctors that he was near death. We brought him in just in time. Our life was rocked. Nothing else mattered to us except making sure our baby was okay. We cried; we prayed; we worried; we stood strong; we struggled, but still trusted in God. After about a week in the hospital , he was released and doing well. This was one roller ride we did not want to experience again. We learned valuable faith lessons, but no parent wants to see their child suffer like that.

Fast forward a few weeks. I sat in my office responding to emails and working on a children’s Christmas musical for the church. An elder approached me and said I was needed in the conference room. I sat down and listened as the elders asked me to resign as children’s minister. My heart sunk. I did not know how to respond. I was always told that I was a great teacher and the kids were learning so much, yet it was explained that because of my struggle to find teachers, I needed to resign my position. Every emotion imaginable overtook my spirit: anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, and even relief. It is hard to explain. I was quite bitter for a couple of months. I felt like such a failure. I was depressed.

I struggled to find any type of work at all. I applied at retail stores, restaurants, and even fast food places. With each rejection, I sank a little lower. I finally took a job cleaning a department store and probably wouldn’t have even found that job if my brother-in-law hadn’t recommended me. I wondered what was wrong with me. I wondered how I could have my ministry taken away from me. Nothing seemed to matter at that point. Rather, I didn’t think I mattered at that point. I felt so low; so useless; so powerless. I sat in the worship service not knowing what to do. I had always had some role to fill – preach the sermon, teach the class, lead the communion, be up front, share a word of wisdom – now I just sat there. Yes, I understand that one does not need to be up front to participate in the worship and life of the church, but that was all I had ever known. Now, I felt…insignificant. All I had ever worked for was gone.

I was one the roller coaster of life and it was making me sick. I became disoriented from all the turn and sudden drops. I cried the ride operator (Jesus) for help. He didn’t stop the ride, he didn’t even slow it down –  but  he did teach me how to learn from the ride and even enjoy some of the moments. I learned a very valuable lesson. My identity is found in being God’s child – nothing more, nothing less. My identity is not a title of minister, it is not a great sermon, or a good lesson. My identity is not found in being a good teacher. My identity is not wrapped up in my ability to organize. It is not found in being an introvert or an extrovert. My identity is found in Jesus. My identity is not others expectations of me. My identity is God’s son. I had never realized I viewed my identity in being a minister and having a title, but when that was taken away, I had never felt so insignificant. I have now learned my true identity. I am God’s and He is mine.

Do I miss doing full time ministry -yes, I miss parts of it. I miss teaching and preaching. But I will not trade the valuable lesson I have learned. It nearly cost me everything, but I have gained the only thing that mattered. I have gained an understanding of my true identity.

The roller coaster did not end there. You can read about Kellie’s job change and see that God is still trying to teach us something. Sometimes, I just want to scream out, “Okay God I get it. You can stop now.” But I am so thankful for this new-found identity. It was there all along, it just took a major wake up call to realize I was burying it somewhere and didn’t even realize it.

My life looks much different today than it did a year ago. I am now a forklift operator at a local warehouse. It is so different from what I am used to and I struggle to find my place there sometimes. I used to preach about staying faithful during the darkest times of life and now I am experiencing what that means. I once talked about freedom in Christ and now I am truly experiencing it. I am God’s child – nothing more, nothing less. Lord teach me to always find my identity in you.

Joseph and Mary began the search. They traveled about looking for a room so that baby Jesus could be born in some type of dignity. They arrived in Bethlehem only to find there was no room. The hour was drawing near for the time when our Lord would enter the world, and there was no place for him to be born. Instead of a room at the inn, there was a stable. Instead of a crib, there was a manger. Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls was born in a stable. There was no room for him.
As I look at the world around me, I find that there is still little room for Jesus. People fill their lives with so many other things that there is no longer room for Jesus. I want to have room for Jesus. I want to stress to those whom God has called me to minister the need to make room for Jesus.
Lord, I’m sorry there was no room for you. I’m sorry there is still no room for you. I want to give you room in my life. I want to empty out all the junk I hold dear and make room for you. May my purpose always be about making room for you. Search deep within me and find room in my heart. Do you see room, Lord? If not, please show me what I need to get rid of in order for you to have room. Fill my life. Be my only desire. Lord, please find room.

Last Friday I took Joshua to a doctor’s appointment. It was the routine four month check. I am happy to report that he is healthy and growing strong. A part of the four month check up is immunizations. The word immunizations sounds so much nicer than shots. The nurse came in with three syringes of various immunizations to shoot into my four month old son’s legs. My job was to hold his arms and head while the nurse held down his legs and gave him the shots. He screamed a painful cry as the needle penetrated the skin. Big crocodile tears dripped down his face and then he looked at me. I am not sure what his mind is able to comprehend or how he processes his thoughts; but it seemed to be a look of “Why are you letting this happen to me?” It broke my heart. I did not want to see my child hurt. I did not want to see him in pain. I wanted to hold him and tell the nurse to keep those needles away from my baby boy. But I did not. I knew the temporary pain of receiving a shot would help him be stronger and more equipped to fight off sickness in the future.

I began thinking about that and realized it is similar to our spiritual walk with Christ. Sometimes life hurts. We go through trials, persecution, hardships, sickness, and pain. We like Joshua do not understand what is taking place and we look to our heavenly Father with a “why are you letting this happen?” attitude. Nobody enjoys pain (unless there is something deeply wrong with them), yet we all suffer pain. Nobody likes to hurt. We do not like suffering. We do not like persecution, yet we all face it. I believe the trials, persecution, and sufferings we face are making us stronger and more equipped to stand strong in our faith. They serve as a spiritual shot, an immunization, preparing us to fight against the sin that seeks to overtake us.

When the shots were finished, I picked up my son and held him close. I softly talked to him telling I love him. I sang a song to him. I let him know that he was loved. When I make it through a trial, I feel my Lord grab me and hold me close. He whispers that everything is okay. He sings over me. No, I do not hear an audible voice or feel a physical touch from God, yet I experience something much deeper. I experience an amazing renewal and transfromation that moves me closer to God.

Sometimes life hurts. It is during those times that we must learn to listen to what God is seeking to teach us. He loves us and He does not want to see us in pain, but He knows that when we overcome this temporary trial – we will receive something much greater.

Sickness

Posted: September 20, 2008 in Christ, Christianty, devotional, faith, family, Jesus, life, sickness

What a strange title to a blog post. Let me explain. Sickness seems to be going around our house. I was sick for a couple of weeks and when I started to get better, it hit Timothy. He is fine now, but Kellie is really sick. It is never fun to be sick, but it seems to be a part of life sometimes. I wish people did not have to get sick. I wish we could all live happy, healthy productive lives without sickness. However, we live in an imperfect world. We live in a world that is sick and diseased. We live in a fallen world.

I have learned some lessons that I think are good reminders through this season of sickness. While I did not enjoy being sick, I hated seeing my family being sick. I hate the sad look on my kids faces and I hate seeing them hurt. I hate seeing my wife struggle with the most basic of tasks due to sickness. I wish I could take it from them. I wish I had the ability to take their sickness upon myself in order for them to be free of the sickness.

I believe God has the same feelings in regard to us. We are His children. He hates to see us suffer from the sickness in our lives. Although I believe he never intended for us to get sick, we live with sickness in our lives. This sickness is much deeper than a cold, flu, or even cancer. We live with a sickness in our souls. We are in need of someone to take this sickness away. This sickness affects our families, our relationships, our lives. This sickness of sin creates a vacuum that separates from our Father. This spiritual cancer penetrates our hearts and we become termanally ill. That is until a cure is found.

The good news for us is that Jesus is the cure. God saw our sickness. He observed our pain. He looked at the tears in our eyes. He saw our hopeless situation and he responded. He sent His Son to be our cure. Jesus took our spiritual sickness and carried it to the cross. He is the cure to our soul’s diseases. He is the perfect remedy to our sinful hearts. His name is Jesus – and He is our healer!

There is something I love about video games. (Yes, I am 30 years old and still play video games.) Although I am impressed with the graphics and realistic special effects in many video games, that is secondary to me. The thing I love about the video game is that if I mess up, I can hit the reset button. I can actually begin the quest in the game and if I make a mistake, I can push reset and the game starts over like I never made the mistake.

Do you ever wish life had a reset button? Failed the test – push reset. Say something you regret – push the reset button. The daily pace of life is getting too much to handle – push reset. The new year means a new start, but we know that just because the calendar says January and the year has changed from 2007 to 2008, we do not forget what happened last month or last year. But the wonderful reality is that in Christ, we have a reset button. He gives us a new start. A new life. The old is gone and we are made new. God hits the reset button . Now, that is good news.