Friday, August 4, 2017
If you could glimpse into my heart
If you could gaze into my soul
You’d grasp the truth of me
Understand sufferings’ role
You’d know that which I need
Not for you to dry my tears
But for your friendship
To endure throughout the years
To walk with me when I stumble
To sit with me when I weep
To hold my hand in silence
When the midnight watches I keep
It seems too much to ask
I fear it’s too much to bear
But this is the road I walk on
With a mind bent on despair
This smile hides its secrets
These eyes my heart’s cry
I understand your fear
Why you easily pass me by
For many it’s far too easy
Voicing their flippant two cents
Their talk show solutions
For my life long laments
Never really understood
My lack of contentment or peace
But I know I have a Savior
Whose mercies never cease
So, when this heart is dry
My dry bones crying for the rain
I remember to get on my knees
And enter His presence again
For my Savior knows my heart
It was He that fanned this flame
Set my heart ablaze for His kingdom
So that I’d never be the same
And if you hear this message
Truly listen to what I say
Then when your heart hurts too
At the cross your burdens lay
For it is there in the cross’s shadow
We can let our burdens fall
No longer captive to the enemies liesRedeemed we can now stand tall
Saturday, July 29, 2017
Something happened this week. Something that came out of nowhere… unexpected.
And, truthfully, I was caught unaware. So, also truthfully, it hurt. Really hurt.
You see, I am what some in my life refer to as “tender hearted.” That’s not me singing my own praises. Trust me. In many cases, it’s a weakness.
This is a warning to you, if you actually have a heart. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, they can be broken.
Now, as always, let me get you started down the right path as to what my point is in this piece.
Sometimes you just have to let something go. Or someone. In this case I’ll at least clue you in that it was (is) a someone.
I’m not sure if you can relate, but in our lives people often come in and they also go out from our sphere of influence. We enter in to each other’s lives by chance or by design (you be the judge) and we are influenced or we are also the influencer.
But in either case, our lives are changed by human contact and interaction.
This person was once someone who I called friend and if I may be so bold, we influenced each other. For a time, I believe that that interaction was mutually beneficial and left indelible marks on each of us. I can only speak for myself in saying that I have some really good memories from those days gone by.
As happens to many of us, maybe even all of us throughout our lives, these relationships can grow for a time and then fade. That’s life. That’s reality.
Time and circumstances just do that. We flow into and out of each other’s lives and that’s Ok.
So long as most of our interactions have been good, we can experience those feelings briefly again for a time when we cross each other’s paths by chance. We “take up where we left off.”
That’s what we hope for at least. And, often that is what happens. We meet again and we reminisce. Swap stories and recollections of days gone by.
But time can also be cruel. And because we are beings that have been given a great and terrible gift, we can also make some pretty bad choices. Some of these decisions can hurt us directly and some can drag others down into the mud with us.
I pity those who make choices that hurt themselves. I pity those who do so even more when they’re unaware that they are leaving a wake of damage behind them that inevitably causes others pain and heartache. I pity those who are so blind that they lash out from their own pain and lostness to deliberately harm others.
My point is, that where we are left with no way to breach the divide and bring healing, we must sometimes make one of the simplest and yet emotionally challenging decisions in our lives.
We must let go.
Yes, let go.
We are after all, individuals after all. And, we are ultimately only responsible for our own thoughts and actions.
We cannot let another speak lies into our conscious and unconscious selves. We must not give them credibility by dwelling on them.
We must learn to let the lies and false judgments of others roll off our hearts like raindrops from leaves. We must look within and look in the mirror and affirm the truths that we know about ourselves.
Now, if you are a follower of Christ, you can also take comfort in clinging to His promises regarding His adopted children.
He promises that He will never leave nor forsake us
He promises that He will not leave us to be tempted beyond what we are able to withstand, but will provide us with an escape.
He promises us that He loved us while we were in our sinful state.
Why do I bring up that last one you might ask?
A simple reason. I know that every story involving two people always has two sides. Two perspectives.
And, though we may often think we are in the right, it is certainly possible that we can feel that way and yet be absolutely wrong. That is just a part of human nature.
So, comes the end of this little monologue.
Though I can accept that there is a little room for me to be wrong in this situation, I have to (in this case) respectfully hold to my decision to cut this person out of my life for the time being.
They spoke lies into my life and spoke them out of some known, and some unknown places of pain from their own soul. And, I will not take on those lies as even holding a shred of truth.
You see, we must have the strength to accept just criticism of ourselves and then make adjustments to how we live and act to become a better version of ourselves. But, when words are spoken not out of love or respect or a desire to help someone, then they lose their credibility and must be discarded.
I am discarding the things that were said.
I am praying that you, my readers, will do the same.
Take on the valid criticisms of others and humbly make the necessary changes to become a better you, but when someone is dead wrong about you: Just Let it go.
Thursday, July 6, 2017
Ok, so once again… I’m reminding you that I am a follower of Christ.
Please don’t read into that, where you think you hear me saying I am somehow perfect… or better than anyone in particular… or all knowing… etc…_ you fill in the blank.
So, when I wax (in someone’s eyes anyway) judgmental, please understand that I am most often referring to what I believe to be true and supported by scripture (the Bible).
Now that that’s out of the way, here goes:
I try really, really hard to not over watch network news or any other mainstream news, simply because it is in fact ratings driven. Therein lies the biggest reason why it is somewhat untrustworthy and unreliable (some people, well known people are referring to it as: “fake” these days).
You be the judge.
In fact if there is any challenge in this post, this is it: Sort through the recent news and try this: Come to your own opinion. Make a judgment call on your own. Decide where you stand and don’t let me, a “news” network, a friend, or a conspiracy theory website make your decisions for you.
Stop being a lemming!
Stop being the follower of a crowd just because it is the popular thing to do… Rock the boat… just a little.
I can tell you all kinds of stories about what it’s like to take the unpopular view.
Much of the time it really isn’t much fun. Much of the time you meet with ridicule, being ostracized, cruel talk, and maybe even violence for holding an unpopular view.
I say this with not a little fear and trembling.
I have taken stands in the past and even in the present where my beliefs, my talk, and my actions were all in alignment, but they weren’t lined up with many of the people around me.
I’m ultimately ok with that. I am.
You see, I know and understand that somewhere in there lies the true definition of tolerance.
To be tolerant has never meant that I have to agree with what you say, what you believe, or what you do. It in its most simple form is that we agree to disagree and that we can do so (in my opinion at least) peacefully. This is an example of true gentility, where we can be adamantly opposed to what we each believe, but we aren’t going to resort to bully tactics to force the other to not only accept and/or adopt our beliefs, but to actually present them as “normal.”
Now, this is not to say that our society within the rule of law, should take on such an open ended way of thought that it should accept no standards for right or wrong, no standards for what is viewed as acceptable practices, nor allowing our country’s citizens to come up with their own interpretation of law and practices.
I am a firm believer in the U.S. Constitution as it was written and I am personally firmly opposed to those who would alter it. If you read it through, I don’t for a minute believe that it there is any reason to conclude that it is any less applicable today than it was over 200 years ago.
It’s that well written.
Those who keep crying out that it is a living document and subject to change don’t understand that at its heart lies the truth, and simple straight forward protections for our freedoms.
If you rewrite the constitution, then you risk losing some of the foundational reasons why it was created and the protections that it provided to us all. If we rewrite it now, during one of the most contentious and divided times in our nation’s history, then we risk making it into a document that steals the freedoms from the masses and hands them to an elitist minority.
Instead, we need to focus our energies on building on its foundation to build bridges from one group of people, from one cultural viewpoint, from group of opinions to establish understanding and sympathy for other’s points of view.
Once we have the building block of sympathetic understanding, then we can dialog about meeting in the middle on some issues to establish compromise and mutually agreed upon solutions, not band aids.
The hardest part of what I’m discussing here is this:
Not everyone can have their way. Not everyone will be satisfied. Some minor individual needs will go unfulfilled.
If we insist that every individual and every minority opinion must be satisfied, then we will never reach a state of sustainable peace.
And this country, this world… we desperately need peace.
Monday, June 19, 2017
There is a whole lot of criticism of our current president these days.
I’m not here to directly defend or condemn him at this time.
What I am doing with this post is this: I want to ask you, my readers… to think about some questions very seriously.
At the time of this writing, many of us have awakened to the news of yet more Islamic terror attacks in London yesterday.
Yes, I will never bow to the politically correct in our world who would have me only refer to these people (I am using the word people loosely of course, as they behave more like wild animals) as purely terrorists. As I saw another gentleman on Facebook this morning say; “all Muslims are not terrorists, however most all terrorists are Muslim.”
We need to stop being so indecisive and I would argue foolish as to think that we can continue letting people enter our country willy nilly without doing our best due diligence to run thorough background checks before admitting them here in the U.S.
Our fellow Americans that are so squeamish about this need to wake up because I know with no shadow of doubt that if there were any such terrorist events occurring here as often as they seem to be occurring overseas, they just like many of the rest of us would be crying out for justice and payback to these terrorists.
I can remember a day not that many years ago on 9/11/2001 that generally speaking, all Americans regardless of political affiliation etc. were outraged, were praying, and were united in asking that something be done against those who would harm our people.
Why are we waiting until something happens?! Why are we denying the truth?!
We should be supporting our president’s call for travel bans and thorough vetting of all who want to enter our country.
OUR COWARDICE ON THIS ISSUE WILL CAUSE MUCH PAIN AND SUFFERING HERE LATER!!
Ok, here goes… I did not finish this blog post right away… too much going on in my own life.
Just being honest…
Some time has gone by since I started this. It is now June 19.
That said and here we go again. Two more terrorist events have occurred just in the U.K. alone.
Carried out by Muslim extremists.
However, in the interest of those like me who are willing to have an open mind, and heart.
There are other terrorists we need to talk about now. No, too.
And, guess what, they aren’t necessarily Muslim.
What I am bringing into this dialog are the following:
Gangs (both in America and abroad), human traffickers, drug dealers, pirates (yes, they still exist, and not they are not honorable nor admirable), child abusers, bullies, sexual offenders of all sorts, hackers, extortionists, etc… yes, the list could go on for endless days.
You see, terrorists come in many shapes and forms, but they all have one thing at their core in common… no regard for others… no regard for the eternal consequences of their sins.
A terrorist at their core has exchanged their God breathed unique gifts for the slavery of living like a wicked being with no concept of what is good, and right, and honorable, and compassionate, and loving.
They are worse than animals, because animals follow God’s design and purpose for their lives.
Terrorists have swallowed an acceptance that they somehow have no recourse to their own wicked choices.
They have no comprehension of forgiveness, reconciliation, or lasting peace.
And because of this, judgment will fall on them in calamity upon calamity ending with their final judgment before being cast eternally into the very fires of hell.
I wrote the second part of this blog just to be fair.
Whether I or any of you want to accept it, there are in fact moderate Muslims that individually just want to be left alone to raise their families, love their families and friends, give more to their children than they were given, and to be left in peace.
But, just as some Christians over the course of history have committed all sorts of evil under the guise of their “religion,” so have the Muslims and other religious extremists.
I ask any Muslims that read this to consider the long-term costs in this life and that of eternity for not standing against those who commit the sin of murder to further the cause of their “religion” with no real regard for those other human beings that they destroy.
We are fragile in the end and so is peace. Without forgiveness and reconciliation there is no hope for our race on its own. If that were remotely possible, then even if you ignore that this has not happened in the history of the human race up until this point, then at least look at the fact that even the Muslims have not been able to maintain peace amongst themselves.
If the Muslims were to destroy all the rest of humanity (all of the rest of us being infidels apparently), I know beyond a shadow of any doubt whatsoever that they would ultimately annihilate themselves too because this already happens every day. Just look at the Shiites and the Sunnis (I hope I spelled those right, honestly, not intending to insult anyone here).
There is only one hope for humanity and eternity.
His name is Jesus Christ.
You see, the Muslims are focused on a man. And well, like the rest of us he died. And he did not rise again. And he did not go to sit at the right hand of God. He was not God.
Jesus is in fact God and that is why we who follow him, no matter how imperfectly will not bow to the falsehoods of other religions. Jesus is not ultimately about religion, rather he is about a relationship with the God who created us. And it is possible because of his death on a Roman cross and his payment for our sins, that we have access to God.
So, getting back to my original point…
When a people group will not stand and fight against the monstrous evil that lies in the hearts of its most radically destructive members, then why oh why would we willingly with no strong background checks or vetting, let these people into our country?!
Our president is trying unsuccessfully to do his duty and protect us from a very real danger. Are so many of us really so naïve and blind?!
Would you, hypothetically let a man come and live in your home with your wife and children, knowing that he might be alone with any of them at any time while you were away working etc., without first doing some sort of background check or references?!
No, you would not.
And if you would, then guess what? You are a fool and you will end up getting the results of your foolish choices.
I’m done for now.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
We must become people who think and reason for ourselves. Don't let the news, fake or otherwise be the determining factor of your attitudes and joy. Don't let the highlight reels of others lives (i.e. FB) be the reason that you feel your life isn't what it ought to be.
Base your value on the value God has placed on you. Live your life knowing that God doesn't "ever" make mistakes. Be assured that God has given you gifts, talents, and endless resources enough to accomplish the things He has in mind for your life.
All you have to do is in faith move into your day having invited God to walk with you and asking Him to direct you into living your full potential in each circumstance that comes your way!
Seize the day!
- Mike <><
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Thought leaving that darkness
Would lead to a better space
Maybe even a better day
But I’m still in the rat race
Thought I’d spread my wings
Find a new breeze to lift me
Thought my song would carry
Lift me up until I was free
But freedom hides a burden
It carries with it a cost
And I’m finding only lately
That I can’t ignore I’m lost
Can’t seem to catch my breath
Nor can I see past the peak
I’m unwilling to give up
But my courage developed a leak
Desperate to conquer this fear
Longing to finally win
Wishing for some victory
Where I’m conquering over sin
Living as a force for change
A positive influence in this life
Maybe an occasional hero
A force for peace and not of strife
Put my hand into the Savior’s
Must give up standing all alone
Strong only when sharing this yoke
Because for my failings He did atone
So when you see me today
Breathe out for me a prayer
Like you I’m occasionally fragile
Though I want to be a player
Facing down these fears
Rushing into battles fierce
Giving with all my heart
Through these walls to pierce
Knowing that in Christ
A reborn heart can truly give
Have the strength to thrive
In all things genuinely live
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
I haven’t really written candidly for a little while.
If I ponder this fact… well, there are so many reasons why.
I won’t spend too long on the wrong subject and in doing that, won’t bore you.
You see, I’ve been silent more lately because… well, if you had this old heart you’d understand.
It’s been heartbreaking to watch out country become so very divided. So very lost. So very sad.
We all cry freedom and we all have different interpretations of that freedom it would seem. But are we all so very different? Don’t we want much of the same things?
The freedom to speak and in turn be heard. I mean really heard. You know, when people see past the broken and imperfect way that we communicate (the way that I communicate) and truly hear our heart cry. The quiet call of a person seeking to be understood.
Don’t most of us want to be loved and accepted for who we are? The complete package. Our beautiful imperfections and all… just loved despite our inability to fit into the false package designed by Hollywood and the media.
Seriously… don’t most of us want peace? Don’t most of us want some measure of stability? To know that we’ll be safe sleeping in our beds all night. To know we have loved ones and friends who have our backs. People and a community that we can depend on. And, a society that won’t turn its back on us just because we’re having a rough patch.
Wouldn’t most of us want people to hear us when we don’t understand something? Wouldn’t most of us like everyone to be a little more tolerant, a little more ready to walk with us in our suffering, a little more ready to forgive us when we sincerely and unknowingly went wrong?
The divides in our country… America… well, they’ve probably never seemed quite so huge as they do right now. So much hateful and ugly things being said. And nobody seems ready to lay down their swords.
I agree that there are things which are absolutely written in stone. Rights and wrongs that are non-negotiable… and yet, wouldn’t it be so beautiful if we could meet in the middle and hear each other out?
You see, there is a bridge lying between us.
Standing often unused and forgotten.
Between our two embattled sides of this once great land.
A bridge that though it requires things of us, doesn’t ask that we change before we step onto it and hopefully meet in the middle. We can use the bridge just as we are. We don’t have to dump our baggage or clean ourselves up before using it to cross to the other side.
And that bridges name is Jesus.
Unlike the average human… Jesus takes us right where we are at.
With our baggage… with our scars… with our anger… with or failures… and with our sadness and overflowing pain.
The bridge between us and God. Between us and hope. Between us and rising from the ashes of our inability to pull ourselves out of the quicksand that is the messy life we live in is Jesus on the cross taking all the well-deserved consequences for our having missed His requirements for right living.
We just need to acknowledge our having missed God’s mark for living as He has directed us to and accepting the no strings attached gift of Jesus’ sacrifice. When we truly understand the depth of what God has done for us through Christ on the cross, then guess what?
A truly changed, cleansed, and reborn heart will lead to one very great and noticeable thing in our lives:
This is the result of a lost and a sometimes hateful, sinful, and vengeful heart having been won over by the undeserved and life changing love of a God that longs to restore a relationship with those He has created for fellowship with Him.
So… how do we overcome hate with love?!
Giving up our rights to always be the one who has the last word.
Giving up our demands that we be heard, before we have truly listened and heard the cries of those around us.
Seeking God to understand how we can be a part of a solution that has real impact on the people and world around us.
Putting our needs last and becoming the servant that Jesus demonstrated that we should be.
Christian. Little Christ. Disciple. Follower. Believer. Adopted sons and daughters. Children of the King.
We only show that we are these things when we love others as He has loved us.
So, live sacrificially today. Put another before yourself. Be living proof of a loving God.
Seize the day!
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Where would we be
Or where would we turn
If we were left on our own
Would we watch our world burn
How would we live
How could we win
If those who educate us
Only focused on our sin
Some are given a great gift
Both a blessing and cross to bear
For some it is only a living
For others, a path to provide care
We cannot always clearly see
Through the mists of time
The results of our actions now
The prevention of a future crime
Trampled hearts expressed
In tears and silent screams
All could be prevented
By supporting people’s dreams
Our fulfilled futures reside
Where passions and dreams converge
When hopes and longings are trampled
Hearts songs become a funeral dirge
Let your hands be quick to service
And your hearts be ready to love
Put others needs before your own
So your efforts are blessed from above
This world doesn’t need another judge
Certainly not another hanging tree
Share the gifts of Jesus’ redemptive love
So in His sacrifice the hopeless are set free
Sunday, January 1, 2017
So… it’s been a while since I posted.
There has been so much going on both in the world at large… and here at home for my own family.
In the world at large, more specifically here in America, well… let’s just say it isn’t pretty.
Problem seemingly number one would be: Our unkind and unfriendly words towards each other.
You can call me all the names you want. It’s not like I haven’t heard them before.
But let me make this abundantly clear. That old worn out saying that says “sticks and stones… blah, blah, blah… “ C’mon I know that you know it. Well, let me say that that saying is a bunch of crap. Words do hurt.
The Bible says that the tongue is a flaming fire.
The words hurt.
They just plain hurt.
And they reveal a whole lot about the ones who are using them.
Two wrongs never make a right… and they never will.
Our race divide in this country will never go away. Not unless we agree to start from a pre-determined ground zero. And, forward motion will take a beautiful and exquisitely painful thing called forgiveness. And, something else: understanding and empathy.
Many other individuals in this country… have experienced their own disadvantages too.
You see, it’s not really about the circumstances. God says that he allows the rain to fall on the evil as well as the good. And, what’s your criteria for good anyway? Have you ever read up on what God’s standards are? They can be found in scripture… you know… the Bible.
So, what’s my point… Each of us. Every one of us. We didn’t get to choose where we were born. We didn’t get to choose who are parents are (were). We didn’t get to have a say in whether we were born to privilege or born to lack. These choices aren’t ever ours. So what you say?!
What I’m getting at is this: Yeah, your circumstances, the place you live, the stock you come from… they may not be so great. From a human perspective that is.
You may live somewhere where a stray bullet could come through your wall and take you out on any given day. You may wonder every day where your next meal may be coming from and if you’ll be going to bed hungry again today. You may live in a place where there is no lack and you never experience poverty, or hunger, or anxiety. But, no matter what your circumstances and no matter what each day brings, one thing stays as an absolute truth:
How you experience your lack or your abundance is now and will always be based on a personal choice to view it the way that you do.
There are many who live in abundance that would rather not be alive because they simply don’t recognize the blessings of their abundance, or they have found like so many have, that things, wealth, status, success, and sex just can’t fill the missing void they feel inside.
(that unfillable void… I would definitely argue, is: a relationship with your creator, the one and only God)
And, there are those who in their great poverty and hunger choose to live in gratitude for the good that comes their way.
We have choices. We can either count our blessings, or we can lament each and every day for what we perceive that we deserve and don’t have.
It all boils down to making a choice to be thankful, grateful, and the most painful of all… to accept that we must be the agents of change in our own lives. We must be our own advocate and we must be the one who decides to throw out all of the negative in our lives.
Now, I get it. That is sooo much easier said than done right? Can I get an amen?!
But, I can tell you. Please understand, (this is me being transparent here) I know depression. I know anxiety. I know fear. I am familiar with these.
And, I know how disabling these things can be. Sometimes we need counseling. Sometimes we need a close confidant that can run interference for us. If you need that, then seek them out. People are not mind readers, generally.
If you need immediate help, then seek it out and don’t delay.
All that being said though. You cannot move forward into brighter days without making a decision.
Decide today that you will seek help. Decide today that you will throw out the negative influences in your life. I know it’s overwhelming but do it one thing at a time.
You’re gonna hate me for this: Start with the television… Yes, you heard me right! Turn off the news! Do you think that the news services get ratings from positive content?
The television and social media are negative hotbeds! Gossip, misinformation, manipulation, etc. – Get rid of it as much as you can. Take a daily or weekly vacation from it and see what begins to happen. I have and it has made a difference.
Guess what? I don’t really miss t.v. most of the time and even better, you get so much time back to do more productive things.
You will immediately get to have more fulfilling relationships with the people around you too. You may find that you’ve been missing out on something valuable for a long time.
To overcome negativity, you must begin a quest to replace it with positivity.
There are many self-help books out there and many books about changing your thinking. Pick them up and read them yes, but make sure that you begin to practice what they preach.
One of the best ways to leave the old grouchy, negative self behind though is this: practice gratitude. Be grateful for the many good things that you do have:
Life and breath. A bed to sleep in. A roof over your head. Family and friends that love you. Food on the table, etc. You get the picture. I know that you may lack some of these, but I know that even in the midst of life’s inevitable storms, you can find a few things to be grateful for.
Beyond that, if you want the world to be a better place, then guess what? You need to be an agent for change. Go out of your door today, determined to be kind, to practice gratitude and thankfulness, to be selfless and helpful, to be friendly and to keep your mouth closed (like your mama used to say) when you don’t have anything nice to say.
You will be surprised by how much your day can be when you choose to focus on the positive, when you choose to be positive.
Now, this is not meant to be cliché. I know there are times when awful things happen and they are often not under our control. I know that difficult circumstances can come, but guess what? It is our choice to react in the way that we react. We must take back control of our actions and must fight the urge to be angry, vengeful, and ugly in response to the world’s ugliness. TWO WRONGS WILL NEVER, EVER MAKE A RIGHT!! – This is absolute truth.
I’m winding up here I promise.
God does not make average and ordinary. Look around at the wonders of nature. Look at the beauty of the people you love and admire. And yeah, maybe do a difficult close look in the mirror. I know, it’s awkward but guess what? There has never been, nor will there ever be, another you! You are extraordinary and unique! God does not make mistakes!! Not now, not with you, not ever!
And because of that, you have unique gifts. You have unique contributions to give to this old world. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Every day is a new opportunity to find your niche in this world. Seek God in this. Go to him in prayer and ask him what he would have you contribute to the world. In time, He will show you.
And as you find your way to a better you, others will be made better by your contributions!
The world will be made better, one person at a time. And, maybe, just maybe, the problems that we face in our country and in our world will be made less by the actions of a whole lot of individuals that decided to draw a line in time and say now is the time to be an agent of positive change.
And, that race divide I mentioned earlier, well... let's just say this. We need to be friends 1st and colors later. We need to defend one another regardless of our ethnicity, social status, or backgrounds. We need to just start from a friendly hello and become professional friend makers. Don't let fear or prejudice keep you from expanding your world and learning that it's about a whole lot more than you.
Decide today whom you will serve. Serve God. Serve humankind. Serve with kindness, mercy, and grace. Serve with forgiveness, humility, and integrity. Put others needs before your own and I know you’ll be surprised by the outcome. You will get back so, so much more than you put in.
Seize the day!
In Christ’s love,