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Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Growth’

Tonight I watched the movie “Courageous“. Sometimes these faith-based films can be a little cheesy, but they carry a powerful message. “Fireproof” and “Soul Surfer” were great movies too. I have had several men tell me I should see this movie. It’s about four law enforcement officers going through some tough trials in their family. They end up putting their faith in God and he works through all them despite their shortcomings. It really hit me hard as a man because I carry the responsibility to be the leader of my family. I have failed in so many ways over the years in this. I’m thankful to God that he continues to stick with me and work in me to grow stronger in this area.

I have been praying a lot lately to be a better example to my family. I pray every morning for an opportunity to be a better man and husband to my wife. But for now, I can be an example to my kids. Both of my kids have really got involved with their discipleship groups. I am blessed that they both have good Godly men leading their groups. Cornerstone is doing this church-wide study of Experiencing God. I started this study awhile back and never finished it. A small group contacted me and asked me to join them in their study and I have decided to do so knowing my kids will be doing the study in their own group. I have been praying for an opportunity to step up and lead my own kids in devotions. So we are going to spend each week discussing what we are learning in our groups together. I loved sitting down with Ty tonight and helping him look up verses in his Bible for his homework. I have spent so much time trying to find the courage to be a Godly example to my kids and now he had blessed me with that. God is working in my family – He is so amazing!

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.    

Hebrews 12:1-2

Tim Tebow tweeted this before the Broncos won their playoff game in overtime today. He’s been getting a lot of heat for his faith. His team shouldn’t be this far in the playoffs. Yet they beat the Steelers in a great game and are now advancing in the playoffs. He has this courage about him that is inspiring. Tebow continues to just trust God despite all odds. I love his courage and his faith.

Our church laid out the goal for 2012. How ironic it is the same for myself and what my life is going to be all about for 2012.

Jesus / The Gospel

I don’t put much worth in the words of people, but I do have a tendency to be over-analytical and weigh out the pros and cons in making decisions because I think too much. I am living out my faith and what I believe the gospel says and what the gospel can do. God has given me a new mind and heart to where I am living in faith and not so much depended on my thoughts and emotions. My faith says to fight for what the Bible says is truth. I lived out my faith this past summer and I received joy. Despite all odds, I’m going to trust God and live out my faith and fight for what I believe in. I will fight for the ones I love. I will fight for the covenant I made and I will fight for joy because that is who God made me to be.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  

Psalms 51:10-12

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We are going through the gospel of John verse by verse in a Bible study I am in. The passage in John 2:23-25 stuck with me as I left. It talks about people who came to faith, yet Jesus would not entrust himself to them. Did they not come to faith? Was their coming to faith only as a result of seeing the miracles of Christ? Did they have a second-class faith where their faith is only based on signs and wonders and not on truth? I do believe this group of people did come to faith, but I want to know why Jesus only entrusts in certain Saints. I think it’s because God looks at our hearts, not what we do or accomplish. We see that throughout scriptures as God uses the most unlikely of people. Interesting how the story of Nicodemus and his asking about being born again follows this passage. It is almost like this passage sets up John 3 and what Jesus teaches in it. I believe Nicodemus’ faith was based on signs and he would eventually ‘get it’ after this meeting with Jesus.

Our time to live out what we believe is now, not when our trials are over or we reach a certain level of achievement. We need to live out what we believe because coming to Christ means we are now ambassadors for him. We should want him to see our hearts and to entrust in us to carry out his will. God works through our adversity and brokenness and we need not use that as an excuse to not live for him because life is tough. The same goes with not knowing how to live our faith or how to discern the will of God for ourselves. We need to ask God to give us the words to fearlessly proclaim the spirit of the gospel (Ephesians 6:9) where we are at now. We need to chain ourselves to the gospel and be ambassadors for him. I love that five years ago I went to a Passion conference and made the decision to live for Christ despite my circumstance of having gone through a tough divorce and God opened up the door to years of amazing ministry right after that. Now today I find myself in the same situation after Passion and I am deciding to live for Christ despite my brokenness. He is already doing incredible things and I am ready for this calling to be his ambassador. Being bold means to have courage and the only thing I am afraid of now is living an insignificant life.

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hell

I got a book for Christmas called Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle. I have read quite a few books this past few months, but this one I’m looking forward to. I briefly got caught up with the whole Universalism debate last year when Rob Bell released his Love Wins book. I was once a big Rob Bell follower after reading Velvet Elvis and Sex God. I liked how he would challenge people to tear apart scripture and not just take it for granted. But I started to get skeptical when he started to question parts of scripture like the virgin birth. I was still relatively new to my faith and was sucked into putting more into the words of the author of a book than actual scripture itself. I will admit I was disappointed at some of the responses to Bell by some very influential church leaders and it turned me off from the whole debate (not very Christ-like responses). But I also know we have a responsibility to speak truth into false teachings. I’m only a few chapters in and so far I believe Chan and Sprinkle have presented a very objective look at this topic of hell and what God says about it.

I’m really just wanting to use this book as a tool for myself to dig deeper into scripture about the reality of hell. Hell became a reality to me back in 2007 when I visited my Grandfather in Florida. I don’t know my dad’s side of the family well as he ran away from home at a young age. I have vague memories of my Grandfather and hadn’t seen him in over twenty years. But my Aunt reached out to me on Facebook to tell me he was dying of cancer. I felt God telling me to visit this side of my family that I didn’t know very well and I ended up flying to Florida not knowing what to expect. I spent four days watching my Grandfather in bed on a ventilator and tried to get to know him. It was hard to try to reach out to him (he was on lots of drugs) and I ended up saying goodbye on my last day without ever getting a chance to tell him about Christ. He died two weeks later and the reality is my Grandfather is most likely in hell.

I don’t like this. I don’t want anyone to go to hell. But the Bible teaches that we will go to hell if we don’t accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is why we as Christians need to study God’s word and witness to others about the reality of hell. I feel I need to be in the Word more and I am making time each day to do so.

 

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I was running errands today and glanced at a card that I keep on my console in my truck. It reads:

My friends will determine the DIRECTION and QUALITY of my life

A pastor friend of mine gave me that card awhile back. It is something I keep in my truck as a reminder to be careful of who I choose to hang out with. This will be especially helpful if you are one that doesn’t discern God’s voice well and will need to rely on Godly wisdom from Godly people for advice.  It’s sad because most people will only keep company that only tells them what they want to hear or that will continually praise them so that they feel good or justified. You can tell these people because they will reach a certain age and will still live a life of immaturity and make scores of bad decisions and never get anywhere in life. They put more worth in the voice of man over the voice of God.

Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
[Can a single lady forget her bling, or a bride her wedding gown? yet I AM not even on my people’s radar screen for eeons.]  Jeremiah 2:32

I know having kids has helped me a lot in this area. I lived the ‘fun’ life with ‘fun’ people for quite some time until I had to grow up and learn to be a responsible father and person. I was almost addicted to being around drama back in my college days and had a hard time adjusting to living a stable life. But it was good for me to learn how to enjoy the quiet moments of life. But what I try to do now is meet with someone older and wiser than me at least once a week that will speak truth into me. Trust me, I hate hearing what they have to say sometimes. Yet it helps me grow and learn. I have been doing this for some time and someday I will be able to give back to younger guys in need when the time is right.

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”   Proverbs 13:20

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God’s Word for every language – in this generation

I love the Bible translation process. I get excited when I read about how the Bible is translated into another language for a particular culture that has never had the Bible in their own native language. I have been supporting this one particular organization for some time. They are called OneVerse. OneVerse is a program of The Seed Company (Wycliffe Bible Translators affiliate) that enables you to support local Bible translators as they make God’s message available in the language of their people. The Seed Company is working directly with over 400 translation projects in countries around the world. Here’s a link to one of their videos showing what they are all about.

I have been wanting to dig deeper in the word lately. OneVerse has offered this Blank Bible challenge that I have been doing lately. It is a daily devotion that goes throughout the Bible in a story format and is meant to get us to engage scripture in a refreshing way. This is cool because I just spent a weekend with members of my church going through the same type of format a few weekends back. 66% of Christians rarely or never read their Bible. I have been enjoying this little challenge and it has been preparing my heart for what God is doing in me right now.

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Growth

I really have been loving sitting on my balcony and having the time to write and journal. I really have been living in God’s presence with all this time. It has brought so much peace and calmness to me. It’s funny writing these blogs and not knowing who reads them and what they think. My blog stats say I have a large following, but I try to not pay too much attention to that. My hope is that this site will inspire people to live an epic life as I wrestle through my own life.

I love going to movies. I usually go to the big blockbuster movies with all the special effects. It’s really how I justify paying the high admission prices these days. But tonight I saw a really good movie. I usually don’t do movie reviews, but I really walked away feeling like this movie touched my heart. I saw “We bought a Zoo” with Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson. I really like both these actors and they are both great in the movie. Even though I love animals and that made most of the movie enjoyable for me, I found myself relating to Matt Damon’s character in so many that I found myself choked up on more than one occasion during the film. This rarely happens to me with movies.

He plays a single father who just lost his wife and is raising two kids (been there..). He is learning to cope with his loss, yet at the same time he is trying to raise his kids and help them cope with life as well. In times like these, it is hard to try to be strong for your kids and at the same time grieve your loss. His character has such a good heart and he was trying to do his best despite multiple failures and bad decisions. I get this and I too have a good heart for people and my family. I really do work hard to be there and provide for my family. But you know, life hurts. And at times I guess you do get to a point where you feel you are owed something after some time for how much you have given. It’s a dangerous place to be and it can make you very selfish. Christ modeled absolute humility and love for others through his hardship and accusations. So I am learning to find my peace as well in Christ as I process through single parenting and life’s difficulties.

Matt Damon’s character really has a hard time letting go of his wife. It’s a huge struggle for him. This is something God has really been working in me – letting go and moving forward. But letting go doesn’t mean you forget. Through my counseling lately, I have noticed this tendency that I have to want to rescue people and latch on to them. I don’t like to give up and that ‘not give up’ attitude can become controlling if I’m not careful. God is teaching me to let go and trust him to do the work in others, especially to those that don’t want or see that they need rescue. That rescue belongs to him (Col 1:13). I know he will use my heart of mercy for good, but I have to maintain the balance of also allowing the Spirit to do his work as well so the glory goes to God and not me.

I’m feeling blessed in seeing how God is working lately. People who have known me for some time keep reminding me of who I am and to just ‘be yourself’ and to ‘be real’. He has opened opportunities for me to use my heart for mercy in the world with all the different situations and people he has brought in my life. But he is also working in my family too. Both my kids are really connecting with me and I have seen so much growth and change in them lately. My siblings and I have really been bonding together after years of difficulties in our family. My sister has led such a tough life and I am finally connecting with her through the custody battle she is going through. It’s been the big break I have been looking for and I’m trying to help her maintain some peace through it. I have seen my own son reach out to his cousin who has recently found himself in some hot water lately and I am happy to see that love and care for others in him. God is using me and my display of humility to work in my intermediate family and to those around me. I have come to realize that this is where God put me and this is where he wants to use me at this point in my life.

God is working and seeing this movie has actually been a little reminder of that. I love seeing the blessings flow through my family and the bonds being formed through our trials. God’s timing is always perfect and he just requires us to trust in him and stay in constant prayer when times seem uncertain.

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Before Facebook, I was on Myspace. I’m glad I am not anymore. But I used to love blogging on their site. I would sit on my balcony and just write. I would write about what God was doing in my life. Today I read through them for the first time in years. As I read them, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Who was this guy? I read through stories of someone with incredible faith and a broken guy that God was using in amazing ways. I was so sadden to see how far down the slope I have slid since then. My faith is not even what is used to be. I have lived a very selfish life these past three years – a life for myself and a life trying to please other people. But yet, there is hope! And God has been building me up these past couple months. He has been doing incredible things in me. These stories are a reminder of Christ’s love for me. I am God’s son and I have forgotten that. My life belongs to him now and I will serve him to the fullest. Advent season is about restoration and that change has already begun with me.

I downloaded all 100 blogs during that 2 year span onto this site. They are stories of how I wrestled through life during that time and relied on God to get through it. Click on the myspace blog entires category tab and read through them. Read how great God is and how he used me and how he will again. God has great things in store for us. Trust in him and believe in the power of the gospel and the hope of a Redeemer. It is never too late to turn your life over to Christ.

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“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”   1 Peter 3:15
 
A long time ago I was chatting to this girl next to me at a hotel bar while vacationing in California. We talked about our beliefs and I discovered she was into wicca. I wasn’t in the best of places in my faith at that time and was not really able to defend my Christianity to her when she questioned why I believed in Christ. I was able to stay connected to her throughout the years through social media and even bumped into her in Atlanta where she lives when I attended a Passion conference in 2007. I mentioned to her that I was there for a Christian event and I was able to better share what I believe with her because I was living my life for Christ. She developed a ton of respect for me because of what I shared even though it wasn’t enough to convince her. She is still on my Facebook and I occasionally read her postings on why Jesus isn’t the way. I appreciate her honestly and I’m always curious to see how God will use my testimony in her life someday even though I’ve only known her through ‘cyber space’.
 
Tonight a bunch of us were going through Dr Del Tackett’s Truth project material. A lot of it is on how to evangelize to non-believers and on Biblical worldview. We watched this you tube video below on contradictions of the Bible and it just shows the tactics Satan is using to turn people away from the truth. I must admit that it is very well put together and very entertaining. But I also had to admit to myself that I don’t think I would do very well in defending my faith other than sharing my experiences of how God has used me. I feel this sense to dive deeper in the word so I can point out misconceptions like these and shed truth on them. I love to study God’s word and my hope is to be a better evangelist from that passion.
 

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Family bond

It is during times like these that I take notice that God is watching over me and my family. My kids and I have been through a lot. I remember telling them six years ago that we were going to be a family that bonds together and not run from our problems. The boys and I had a family talk a month ago in which all three of us broke down and let out all our hurt and pain. My oldest son in particular was going through many struggles of his own and was really hurting. He has had relationship issues and addiction issues with online gaming for some time. He at one point threatened to end his life over being grounded from video games. It hasn’t been easy as a father watching my own son go through these hard times. But lately he has been taking notice of me and how I handle my own trials. He has been curious as to how I have been able to maintain a level of peace and where I draw my strength from during the most difficult of circumstances. Even though I know he doesn’t quite get it, I tell him because of my faith and that I trust in God in all things to restore. I think my confidence in Christ is starting to wear on him as lately I’ve noticed that God is starting to work in him. He has been grounded from video games again lately because of bad grades. But this week he decided to sell his xbox – his prized possession. He told me he is tired of his addictions and tired of not having a life because of it. I’ve also noticed lately he has wanted to go to his church small group and he has been spending time with his small group leader and his friends. His mother and I have been getting along great lately and she even has been letting him go to group on her nights (which she was against for some time). I took my boys to church on Sunday and when I got up to take communion, I noticed my son followed me. He probably doesn’t quite get what it is all about, but I am guessing he was wanting to be a part of what I got going on. The people at church have noticed a change in him as well since the last time he went. You know, I’m just thankful for moments like this that I can reflect on when times look so bleak for me. I remember a couple of years ago breaking down in prayer to God in the middle of a dark living room for my boys because of where they were at in life and the challenges of being a single dad. Yet God gave me a level of patience and grace with them to stick with them despite where they were in their life at that time. I don’t give up on people and I thank God for that gift. I am blessed to have this bond with my family and I praise God for his blessings and how he watches over us despite the difficult trials we endure. It’s also been a joy to watch my kids grow into the men God is wanting them to be.

God has us on an amazing journey together!

God has us on an amazing journey together!

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