Good men. Why does God let them fall?

Luke 22:31-32
“31And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Many of you are aware about 2-1/2 years ago, I took a pretty nasty fall in my personal life and my spiritual life. I separated from my wife at the time, lost the ability to see my two baby girls everyday, and my spiritual life was in shambles. I believed then, as I still do, that I was a pretty good guy. I made my mistakes, but in this thing called life I wasn’t in prison, on drugs, an alcoholic and I didn’t beat my wife and kids. So, it set me to thinking, why does God let good men fall? We see it every day in our society. Good fathers failing. Ministers who fall away from the Faith. Pillars of society who screw up and throw their lives away. As I’ve studied this question over the last couple years, I have come across many many answers. But there is one that just keep popping into my head. It is entirely possible to be an unconverted Christian.
Look at verse 32 in the above text, Jesus tells Peter, “..when thou art converted..” What? This is Peter. The Rock that Jesus would build his church on. The one who followed Him everywhere. The one, who besides Jesus and Paul, is considered the man in the New Testament. What is Jesus talking about, when you are converted? Let’s look at a little more info. Look at verse 33 (which I’ve not included so I’m fixing you to open your Bible or at least a Bible app). Peter tells Jesus that he was ready to go to prison with him or even die with Him. How many of us are at that point in our lives where we can say those words? Now, wait another second. If you remember, in about 6 hours from the time this conversation happened Peter would deny even knowing Jesus 3 times. 
Is all this starting to make sense? It is about “spiritual maturity”. As we mature in our faith we are able to withstand more of the challenges that we face, more of the temptations that the devil throws at us. Peter was saved but in some deep sense he was not yet fully converted to the Masters use. And that explains his denying Jesus 3 times just hours after telling Him he’d go to prison or die with Him. 
After studying this pretty intensively, I’ve come up with four principles that I have found to be true and I believe will help each of us in our own spiritual lives. 
1. No Christian is beyond the possibility of moral failure.
2. Satan often attacks us at the point of our apparent strength, not at the point of our weakness.
3. God allows us to fail in order to strip away our excessive self confidence.
4. (And this is the most important one) God can redeem your mistakes if you will allow Him to.
As a broken, fallen man myself all I can do is give it to Him and allow Him to restore me. 
Blessings my friends. Love and Prayers.

What does it mean to be a man of God

Ephesians 5:25-28 and Ephesians 6:4
“25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.”
“4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
There is a reason that I put these two sections of scripture together. To me, they go hand in hand. I spend time talking with men about what it means to be a man of God or Godly man. To be such, one must understand his role.
A man is to lead in his home and family. He is to be the leader, the head. Of course this is not a headship that brings with it power and prestige and might, but a headship that brings with it love and care and sacrifice. This is the leadership exemplified by Jesus Christ who, as Lord of all the universe, became a servant and suffered for the sake of those he loved. 
I see so many men talking about their “man-cave”. How can a man lead his family if at every given chance he is running off to “his” room, where his intention is to separate himself from his wife and kids. 
Now, I’m a full believer that husbands and wives need time together without the kids as well as time alone individually. But, if you are going to truly lead your family you must know what is going on with your family. How was your wife’s day at work? What did your kids learn at school today? Does your wife need you to do the dishes while she is bathing the kids? Or you helping the kids with homework while she does the dishes? 
My point here is you cannot expect your wife to treat you like a King if you treat her as your maid and not your Queen. You cannot expect your kids to have the desire to confide in you if you never ask them how their doing.
Time to wake up men. Time to take your role in the family and be a leader.
Blessings my friends. Love and Prayers.

What’s a friendship mean to you?

My heart is heavy tonight. A friend I’ve known for about 13 years has passed away. She was an amazing young lady. A beautiful soul. A beautiful woman. My heart is heaviest tonight for her family, her fiancée, and her close friends.

Marlene and I were very close at one time. We spoke everyday. She was my best friend. When I married my last wife, Marlene even stood up with me as my honored guest, right beside my brother who was my best man. Yet today, I saw her for the last time laying in a casket.

My heart is also heavy because of missed opportunities. As I read back through messages between her and I there are several where she tried to start a conversation and I was “too busy” to talk. Yet was I really too busy or just not making the time. At this point I’m not sure truthfully. But I do know that I missed some opportunities to talk with a special friend. We did have some conversations but not to the extent that a best friend would. Marlene had lots of friends. Everyone loved her. And well they should have. Yet as my life got busy she still reached out. And I seemingly pulled away.

My plea to you all tonight is to hold you family right. Make sure they know you love them. Tell your friends just how special they are to you. And if you can help it, don’t shy away from a conversation you can never get back.

Rest In Peace my dear friend. I’ll never forget you. I’ll always love you. You’ll always have a spot in my heart.

Prayer for tonight-Father God, please allow us the sight to see when a friend needs to talk. Allow us the grace to put our lives on hold for just a few minutes to talk to them. Teach us how to be friends again rather than just passing acquaintances. Amen

Heaven is For Real

I watched, with my fiancée Michelle tonight, the movie Heaven is For Real. I’d never heard the premise of this movie so I wasn’t sure what it was going to be about. For those who don’t know it’s a story of a 4 year old boy who while during surgery, nearly dies, and has an out of body experience where he says he went to Heaven. I’m not going to get into a philosophical debate on this but as a man who believes in Heaven and Hell and one who believes with God anything is possible, I do believe that this experience is something that very well may have happened.

Now, a little back story on me. On February 29th (leap day), 2004, my girlfriend at the time had a miscarriage. I can distinctly remember that day the doctor doing a DNC on Tresse. As her sister and I stood there together there was no doubt in either of our minds that we saw the full form of a baby. She was 10 weeks. Now, I’m also not going to get into a pro-life or pro-choice debate here, but I do not question that that was a baby. The arms, legs and head were undeniable.

So as I’m watching this movie, during one of the scenes where they are showing Colton in Heaven, he is standing there with Jesus and is introduced to this little girl who just hugs him and speaks a few words to him. Later in the movie as Colton is talking with his mom, he tells her that he knows she lost a baby from her belly because this little girl in Heaven told him she was that baby.

So, for the first time in 10+ years, it dawned on me that someday I’ll get to see my little baby in Heaven. For whatever reason I had never put it together in my head that I’d ever have that chance. I started balling like a baby. I cannot explain why God allows these things to happen to us, but I really have to wonder if it’s not to get our attention that while we may never know that baby on Earth, God is keeping him or her close at hand so that when my time comes, He’ll be able to introduce me to him/her in Heaven. God Bless my friends. Love and Prayers.

Prayer for the night–Father God, thank you for giving me my life. Thank you for the lives of the kids I do have here on this Earth. But also thank you for the promise You gave us of a future eternal where I will someday meet the child that you chose to keep in Heaven with you. Amen

The last year

I haven’t written in here on a regular basis over the last year. Life has happened. 15 months ago I went through a separation and the divorce was final about 9 months ago. In those 15 months I’ve hit rock bottom then, well simply put, God happened.

This time last year I was introduced to a new church. I’d left mine in my divorce. I’d been raised in an all white very conservative United Methodist church. I’d been a member of that church for nearly 30 years, as I’d been saved and joined as a teenager. But this new church was completely different. It was a blended church. In fact it’s called The Blended Church. It’s services are contemporary. It’s ministers preach straight from the Word. It’s members are the most loving I’ve ever seen in a church. From the first hug the very first time I walked in to the last hug I got when I left this last Sunday, this church just wants to hug you, love you, and show you that Jesus loves you.

Through TBC, I’ve gotten involved in a prison ministry that is exactly what The Lord ordered up. It’s something I’ve always felt a call to, but never had a true opportunity. At TBC not only was there an opportunity, there was a big need for more people to be involved. I go every Tuesday night and hopefully provide, through God, those gentleman with a little of what The Lord has taught me through my life. So with a new church and a new ministry I thought The Lord was done providing for me. Boy was I wrong.

He’s given me some of the most faithful and loyal friends a man could ask for. And lastly (at this point), He’s provided someone to go through this great life He’s provided me with. He introduced me to a Godly woman. A young lady who loves The Lord like no one I’ve ever known, male or female. A young lady who loves people simply because she wants to love them like Jesus did. She’s not worried about their past. She’s not worried about their present. And the only part of their future she’s worried about is where are they’re going to spend eternity. Her name is Michelle and someday I don’t question she’ll hear the words we all long to hear, “Thank you my daughter. In you I am well pleased.” She has two precious daughters. One, who’s 16, is a young lady on the autism spectrum. As well as having some brain damage since birth she provides Michelle with challenges as well as so many smiles. I have come to love her daughters as much as I do my own kids.

Speaking of my own kids, WOW. Jerrod and Mikala both graduated high School this spring. Jerrod leaves 2 weeks from today for boot camp to begin his next journey of being a United States Marine. Mikala leaves this Sat to start her summer classes at Indiana State. Oh how proud I am of these two kids. Payton and Paige? Well they just keep growing and becoming beautiful young ladies. Payton will start 3rd grade this fall and Paige will begin 1st grade. They continue to amaze me with the things they learn and just somehow know.

Now to my last part in this blog. My oldest child Scott. He has graduated college and is beginning a new life. In the middle of all that his wife, Shelley, has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. (BTW-cancer SUCKS). So with getting my grandson Shawn graduated from HS this spring as well, they are now having to deal with something that the doctors say is terminal. They’ve given her between 18 months and 3 years to live. Shelley with her ever present positive thoughts, insists with Gods help she’ll figure out a way to beat this and live for many more years. I’d like to ask for prayers for Shelley, Scott, Shawn and the rest of the family as we try to push through this and pray that Gods will be done.

Healing in the Home

I wrote this for my message on Tuesday night at the prison with the men in Plainfield, but thought just maybe someone out there could get something out of this message.  I am not one to put my sermons on here very often but as I posted on FB earlier, “A person never really understand what they have learned until they can teach someone else what they know.”  This is a message that a couple years ago, I did not fully understand. If I had, maybe it could have saved my marriage. But, I firmly believe God allows things to happen in our lives to use a teaching tools. I am not sure where He is leading me, but I do know that all I want to do is learn a little more each day to make the next day easier.

Continue reading

What is this thing called Love? Part 2. Family and Friends.

U B 4 ME

I took a break between the first part and these final two parts of this devotional because I felt a tug from God to put more time into studying these two sections. As I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 last night and listening to a sermon from James McDonald, I knew I was ready to put Gods Word in print.

I usually start my blogs off with a Bible verse and there will be some throughout this message, but I wanted to start it our with those 5 letters. U B 4 ME. That is love. When you are talking about your family, your friends, if you are always putting your interests before theirs, how in the world would they ever know you love them. Because you say it? No. You have to show it. And let me suggest that maybe it really is not as important that you love them as it is that they know you love them. Gary Chapman wrote a book called the 5 Love Languages. If you are in a relationship and have not read it, you should. Not a reader? Get it on audio book. If you know me personally ask me for it. I have it on audio. It will make a difference in how you show your love to those who love you. And therefore, it will make a difference in how they see that love.

There will always be a debate about the most important verses in the Bible and what they truly mean because everyone has their own interpretation it seems, but I want to talk about one verse that doesn’t need interpreted. It is pretty simple, yet sums up the Gospel completely. 1 Cor 13:8, “Love never fails…” Never. Never fails to what? It never fails to everything. It never fails to bring a rowdy child back into the fold. It never fails to fix a marriage. It never fails to forgive those who have hurt you so deeply in the past.

Now those who know me know that I have had a few relationships that ended badly. That doesn’t mean that we were bad people, but that we just didn’t understand this thing called love good enough. Or we didn’t practice it enough. As I look at my friends and their relationships the one thing I see, and have experienced before myself, is the thought that you do this for me and I’ll do that for you. It’s not about true love. It’s about what can you do for me so that I can in return do something for you. But you stopped doing that thing for me so I’m not doing my thing for you. Then it all breaks down. That’s not a loving relationship. That’s a contractual relationship. You are not enriching the life of your loved one. Is that truly what you want? Do for them because you love them, not because you expect something in return. Do those things for them because you want to enrich their lives. Once they see that, they will return the love to you.

Let’s talk about our children for a minute. Being their friend while they are still young and at home is NOT loving them. You have to be their parent. You have to teach them that there are consequences to negative actions. Once they hit the street on their own without mommy and daddy, the world will teach them if you do not. I’m not saying you have to beat your kids. Dads, many times just a stern voice will do the trick. Moms, don’t leave it to dad. Let them know that you are serious about, and a partner with your spouse, in their discipline. Do not let them make the rules and run your house. Spend time teaching them that you love them enough to discipline them. They may not get it right then, but from my own experience, I promise they will. Teach them about God’s love for them. Teach them that God loves them enough that if they do wrong, he will discipline them. And you have to follow suit while they are still on this Earth.

How about love for your friends? Have they made decisions in their past that you didn’t agree with? Did you love them through that decision, even if it turned out badly for them? Have they ever not been the best of a friend to you? Did you totally, completely and unconditionally love them through that? We will have many friends come into our lives and many may eventually leave our lives. Yet, through it all, love each one. Show each one God’s Light in you. Show each one that you love them. Stand beside them even when you do not agree with what they are doing or going through. That is what God wants us to do.

James McDonald, in a sermon I recently heard of his, said you know you are truly loving like Christ wants you to when your capacity to love grows. Then he explained what he meant. There are three way to growing you capacity to love.

1. Loving more people. It is not just about loving your spouse, your kids, your parents. Love more people all the time. Love your extended family, love your friends. And not just say you love them. Truly love them. Love them to a point that they never have to question how you feel.

2. Loving more kinds of people. I was raised in an area that was almost completely middle class white folks. I rarely had much to do with those of other races, other heritages, other ethnic groups, those with disabilities. Yet once I moved to California, my eyes were certainly opened. Now in my adult life I interact daily, as many of you do, with people who are African-American, of Latin American decent, from the Far East, from the Middle East. Many who do not believe the same way as I do. Many who do not believe in anything. Yet no matter what, my job is to love them. Love them completely. There should not be a single person who walks into a room I am in that I cannot walk up to and give them a hug and tell them I love them simply because they are God’s child.

3. Loving over longer periods of time. This one especially goes for our marital relationships. And this is one where I have really had to work on and pray about and ask God to change my heart in. So many marriages today end simply because “Well, I just don’t love him anymore” and “I am just not in love with her like I once was”. That is truly a shame. If we can figure out how to love each other completely for longer periods of time we would hurt each other less. How do you cheat on someone you truly love? How do you lie to someone you truly love? How do you steal from someone your truly love?

I do want to speak real quickly to Ephesians 5. So many men like to quote verses 22-24, where it talks about the wife submitting to their husbands. Yet few know what verse 21 says. It is one of my favorite verses. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”. It is not about the wife submitting to the husband because he is “THE MAN”. It is not about the wife having to cook dinner or do the dishes simply because she is “THE WOMAN”. It is however about both of you working as a team, submitting to each other as Christ submitted to His church. Verse 31 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”. One flesh. To make decisions as one. To worship Christ as one.

Prayer for the day-Father God, we ask you today to teach us this unfailing love. We know we are human. We know we will error. We Know we will forget your word from time to time. We ask that You quickly pick us up, bring us back in line and that You remind us that we are here to bring others to a life with you and we cannot do that without letting Your love shine through us. Amen