Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Post: "An Abbreviated Saturday of Quotes"

Today’s post is short, but filled with quotes that have meaning.
Let them speak to your other self...
the one not consumed with ego.
Then smile, and enjoy the remainder of the day!

The way you counterbalance outside external pressures is to have an internal sense of satisfaction about who you are & who God made you to be. You discover who you are by knowing whose you are. -Rick Warren

I cant tell you what the right thing to do is... but, I can tell you what doesn’t work: withholding love & respect, deciding someone else isn’t worth it.

And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner - no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. -C.S. Lewis 

We (Leaders) must give others the opportunity to experience firsthand the stress of trying & failing, for this is how we learn and grow. Good leadership allows this to happen, even though it is against our nature. -Ron Edmondson


"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor 2:14)


In Shimon Edleman’s The Happiness of Pursuit, the Cornell psychology professor finds that we are happiest when we are in pursuit of our goals, not necessarily after we reach them.


Journalist, Richard J. Needham once said, "Strong people make as many ghastly mistakes as weak people. The difference is that strong people admit them, laugh at them, learn from them. That is how they become strong."


“If you’re rich, but not generous,

you’re actually poor.” -McRae Acuff

If your money becomes your sense of self worth, you’re poor.

If your money becomes your identity, you’re poor.

If your money becomes your reason to live, you’re poor.


Is it possible that we dream too small? Have our goals become less than impressive? When did we become tired Christians, operating from a place of less faith and power than the world? -Pastor Steven Furtick 

 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Post: "Our Christmas-2012"

Christmas was good this year.

We spent the days and nights with family & friends.
We ate, drank, exchanged gifts, took naps,
and sang Happy Birthday to baby Jesus.

We were reminded of how small our own minds can “think”,
and how unfathomable is God’s ability to love, create, and restore.

The story of Jesus wouldn’t be our first choice.

We have our own ideas for what things “should” be like.
We often want to earn our own salvation,
and it is nearly inconceivable that a newborn baby could be the answer.

But at the end of ourselves, we find He is the only answer.

When life is good,
we often dont have the need for a savior.
Things can go on on indefinitely, as if on autopilot,
then one day we awaken to the reality that this world is ending,
a temporary dream that seems too real because it is all we know.
The pleasure of this world weakens,
and the things we enjoyed previously hold less for us.

But God,
has a plan from the beginning,
and although this isnt what He wanted,
it is still in His power to reclaim this world for His own.

We need not live as we have previously.

The choice becomes...
will I accept the gift of Christ, to hope for a better and unknown future?
Or will I waste away in the slow death of monotony this world offers??

And so I choose to give up my own thoughts and desire to be “right”,
and instead I accept that Christ Jesus came to give us more.
More Joy.
More Hope.
More Love.
And more life in Him.

Christmas this year was good.
But not because of what we did,
but for how we could appreciate what God did through Jesus.

Are you open to thinking differently about your life next year?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

At the First Christmas, Which Character Would You Have Been?

First- I want to say, MERRY CHRISTMAS!
To you, your family and loved ones,
wherever you are in the world today,
no matter the circumstances,
because Christ birth is meant to redeem All of mankind!
 

And Second- I am doing something different today
by posting an entire blog from someone else Here!
Why? Because today, his perspective is awesome,
and I want to give you an opportunity to see yourself through different eyes.
Enjoy!

Nothing confuses the biblical account of the birth of Christ like the Nativity scene. From the Boy Scout-like hut to the well-groomed shepherds and the we-got-here-way-too-early magi, the popular Christmas decoration is often the source of misinformation and misunderstanding.
Shepherds were in the fields between Passover and the fall. They were outcasts because of the work they did and the fact that they couldn’t make it to the temple for ceremonial cleansing. They didn’t bathe regularly, spent their time talking to sheep, and were looked down upon by every other element of society. If anyone had a reason to have a self-image problem, it was the shepherds.
However, on the night when Jesus was born, it was the shepherds–not the religious hierarchy–who received from an angel a personal announcement of Jesus’ birth. Their lives were immediately changed. They had to go see. After they saw, they had to go tell.
On that night, an unlikely event took place. The people who would have been voted “least likely to fulfill a meaningful role in society” had the privilege of being the first to tell the world about the birth of the Savior. Ordinary people were given an extraordinary task.
Most of us would consider ourselves ordinary people. But did you realize that God wants to do something extraordinary through you? His plan for your life will provide you experiences you never imagined and messages you can’t stop sharing. Today can be the start of an amazing adventure if…

  • you’ll stop believing that you aren’t qualified for the job God has for you.
  • you’ll let your trust of God overwhelm your fear of the unknown.
  • you’ll acknowledge that the strategies of the past got you where you are and they will keep you there until you change the path you are traveling.
  • you’ll stop letting the world determine your value. You are extraordinary because God created you. The world doesn’t have a vote.
  • you’ll see yourself through the eyes of the Creator. His perspective of you is far more accurate than your perspective of yourself.

Christmas is the perfect time to consider your role in the coming year. The world needs you to be extraordinary. I’m willing to take the challenge. Are you? Think about it!

In what ways are you like the shepherds?
What amazing thing does God want to do through you?

-Terry Hadaway @ LiveYourWhy.net

Orginal Blog post found HERE.

 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

New Post: "A Bittersweet Christmas Gift"

Its December 2007, and I am in prison.
(For those who dont know it already, this story can be found HERE)
The oldest prison in the state,
filled with some criminals who are serving life sentences,
or even waiting on ‘death-row’,
and it became a kind-of blessing to me and my wife.
But we didnt see it this way at first.

Its location was less than a 1-hour drive from our home,
and the visiting hours made times flexible for her work schedule;
7-days per week, with both morning and afternoon visiting hours.

But a few days before Christmas, I was transferred.
The new location?
Three and-a-half hours from home,
with one visiting time on both Saturday & Sunday.
We were stunned, yet not devastated.
Because God had a plan to bring me home early.

You see, this location also has one of the two early-release programs in Oregon.
This one, called SUMMIT, is based on a ‘military’ style boot-camp,
and includes daily ‘programming’,
so we can learn new behaviors to replace those that got us there.

A six-month program that would shave off 32-months from my sentence,
but first I had to successfully complete the program.

The joy of opportunity was incredible,
yet it was still difficult for us both.
We soon realized there would be no more daily phone calls,
and many fewer visits to hold hands, and pray together.

We found ourselves even more completely in God’s hands than before.

Each trial balanced with hope.
The struggles tempered with prayer.
The challenges made our complete dependence on God a reality.
And still... my wife made the journey whenever she could;
7-hours of driving, for a two hour visit, but it was enough...
to remind us that God had never left us alone.

The reward too was not lost on us, and we joyfully recall it today,
because we got back more than just the early release...
more than freedom, safety, and better food...
we gained an increased faith in God!
And our trust in Him can never be taken away or replaced.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Poem - The Children of Sandy Hook in Newton, PA

Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.

"This is Heaven." declared a small boy.

"We're spending Christmas at God's house."

When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
Those children all flew into the arms of their King
And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
One small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
Then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"May this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"Come now my children, let me show you around."
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."
 
Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Post: "Sitting Alone In Our Prisons"

Whether I walk around freely,
or sit in a prison cell on my own,
I find there often are two unspoken questions in both:

What do I want to hear most?

What brings meaning to our lives??

When I listen to men who struggle with addictions,
it is often because they cannot identify their own worth.
The world tells us that we have little to offer,
and eventually we begin to believe it. 

We search for meaning in the worthless things of this world;
in self-pleasure through the senses,
in earning more money,
in conquering fears, women, or sports, until...
it is no longer enough.
Nothing becomes satisfying.
The taste of everything becomes bland,
and life is... meaningless.

In the Bible, King Solomon discovered the same thing.
He learned that all his fortune, wisdom, women, architecture, and armies,
could never provide that which he could only receive from God.

Our relationship with Jesus Christ is the one thing
that can truly set us free from the prison of pain, addiction, or incarceration.
We struggle to realize this,
and so we deaden the senses through one more drink,
one more conquest, one more possession.
But it will never be enough.

Why do I write about this?
Because until we become aware that we cannot solve our problems alone,
we will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes, over and over again.
We need other people to come alongside us; to help us see what we are blind to.
Said another way: to make us aware of our personal blind-spots.

And we need more of God.

Our purpose cannot be found in seeking the affirmations of other people.
Some people will never accept us,
and even those with the best of intentions will let us down,
and so we must seek God above all others.
But we must trust that He will provide us with answers
that come from Godly friends who are also seeking Him.
You need not stay in any prison,
regardless of how you got there.

Dont leave yourself in isolation.

 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How Do We Respond to the Recent Shootings?

This week, at our nearby Clackamas Town Center,
a young man shot and killed three people, including himself.
Another person was severely injured and flown to a near-by hospital.
This event has touched many of us in the community.
We are saddened at this loss of life.
Perhaps even horrified that it occurred so close to our homes and work.

What do we make of this incident?
Where was God?
And, what do we do now??

In a complicated mixture of competing emotions and confusing thoughts,
I am reminded that God knows more about this event than we may ever find out.
This comforts me, even when I don't like the way things feel right now.

"And we know that in all things God works together with those who love him
to bring about what is good." Romans 8:28 (paraphrased)

You may be understandably outraged by this tragic event.
But what if... God WAS there in those moments?
What if it was His hand that jammed the gun?
What if it was His Holy Spirit that urged people to help one another?
And what if the thing that is needed most right now
is for the love of Christ to show up in each one of us...
to appear as a comforting neighbor,
to manifest as a friend with a helping hand,
a person who provides mercy and understanding by grace.

We can question God in every situation;
David, and other prophets in the Bible did so.
And our God invites that same closeness from us now...
to draw near enough to Him to ask for the answers we seek.

My own thoughts are drawn to the young man who took these lives.
I wonder what kind of life he lived before this incident.
If there was anyone who could come along side him, 
to walk with him, to guide him, to care for him, 
and to show him how God has given us so many more choices
than the one that led to his actions.
I assume he was in great inner turmoil and pain,
even as he performed these terrible acts.

I pray for the families of the victims, including his own loved ones,
the people who were inside and witnessed the events unfold,
the first responders and their emotional well-being,
and the workers who will lose income while the stores are shutdown.

And lastly, I ask God for the courage and wisdom,
to stand strong alongside other young men,
to help guide them in their walk with God.
To seek Him in the confusing times,
to thank God in the blessings,
and to praise Him, even in trials.
For our God is a loving God,
and His love endures all things,
even while it breaks in our distress.

(I originally posted this elsewhere, and copied it here.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Post: "My First Payer-Circle"

Lord God, you know why I am here.
At this moment in time, in this place, under these circumstances.
And I will trust in You.

I pray, ask, and hope that you will not leave me here.
Because this place will never be good enough as it separates me from You.

I am "praying circles" around the parts of my life where I feel your Holy Spirit leading me,
and I ask that if I am missing any areas where you wish me to be, where you want to bless me,
then please let these places become known to me, 
completely clear without any confusion,
and may Your Spirit guide me,
until I have no desire but to serve You by moving into the areas that You want for my life.

You know my frustrations, and I plead with You God not to leave me in them.
I call on the power of Your name, in the boldness of the prophets, by the known Word of the Bible,
that You would be my God, and that I may be Your servant.

You know my heart, and that I desire more for Your kingdom:
More glory, more praise, more joy, more faith, more hope, more assurance, and more people.

This world if full of worthless things, and yet…
You sent Your son as a child, that all may be redeemed.
If not for that, I would curse this world for the futility that it is.
Nothing here has any value, unless You have blessed it.

Please God, give me the words, the vision, the strength, and the courage to seek You in all things.
That I may walk into the areas where You are calling me…
not because I am strong, but because I believe in Your strength and provision.
That when I am weak, You will give me opportunities to grow strong.
That when I am prideful, you will give me opportunities to become humble.
That when I am forsaken by man, that I wold peace in Your promise and truth.
That when I am fearful, that You will give me more cause for hope.

I claim these prayers now, in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Post: "Choosing to Donate Bone-Marrow"

In the first days when a person comes out of prison
the world seems completely new!
The air we breathe-in seems fresher.
Colors more vibrant.
Cars and phones we dont recognize,
and sounds we may hear for the first time ever.
Everything seems possible!

And anything we can think of becomes our temporary “goal”.
Such as a long, hot shower... alone,
followed up by a good nights sleep on a real mattress.
Yet as the first days go by, the reality begins to set-in.
There are expectations other people have of us.
Parole officers tell us when to be somewhere,
what things we must do each day to stay out of prison,
and sometimes even where we can live.

The freedom we so craved begins to look... well, confining.
We begin to look for work,
both because we want to earn an income,
and because our P.O. insists on it.
(Our parole may even be contingent on our finding work.)

Then, we start to realize the truth of what other people see when they look at us.
The job-interviews turn into “Thanks for your time”,
and even some apartment managers will deny our request for a place,
all because we made the mistake, perhaps even several times,
until we are forced to recognize that no one may ever let us forget
that our “label” is permanently affixed to our history:
Criminal. Felon. Convict. Parolee. Former Inmate. Ex-Prisoner.

However I personally know Christ,
so I know those “labels” can never accurately describe me.

But even then, I am limited by what choices I can make.
My ‘freedom’ isnt quite yet... well, complete.
One day, after my medical examination came back “clear”,
of any potentially harmful disease often transferred between prisoners,
I made a bold choice...
to offer my Bone Marrow to anyone in with a need who has a match.

I did this through an organization called: Be The Match (follow the link).
There has yet to be any notification that my bone marrow will be needed,
yet the joy is still truly amazing,
because I know I can make a choice that no one else could stop!
It is a choice to make a difference and potentially help someone else,
and it changes on more label that cannot be removed, ever...
DONOR.

There may never come a call for the need of my marrow,
but I am ready to give it anyway.
And it reminds that in some small way, I still matter.
And it can mean the same things for you.

Never give up hope, that your past failures can be somehow overcome!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

New Post: "Gods Lasting Love Looks Different"

At every stage of our lives, we know of people who claim to love us.
But for some reason or another...
we may doubt their love for us.

When we are children, our parent’s love seemed limiting;
we were told not to touch the burner on the stove,
and to stay out of the street when playing.

By the time we are teenagers, it may have seemed life ending!
Especially when we were told “no dating”,
or when to be home at night on weekends.

Then, when we asked why such rules or instructions exist,
we were told it was because our parents loved us.
But we don’t see it this way.

As we grow up, we may ask the same of God...
“Why God - won’t this person love me back?” Or,
“Why God - didn’t I get that job, or scholarship??”
And then as our lives progress,
“Why did that person have to die?”

Yet in every stage of our lives, God has loved us.

When we are children, our parents restrict us from many things
to keep us from hurting ourselves,
and and to keep us safe from others.
And God’s love often has similar reasons:
1) to protect us,
2) to bring us closer to Him, and
3) to show us His love more clearly.

My parents dont call to ask if I keep my fingers out of the electrical sockets,
and neither do they keep me from staying out late,
but that doesnt mean they love me any less.

When we walk with God, we can often sense His presence guiding us.
But when we dont get the same feeling...
it doesnt mean He isnt there with us,
nor that He loves us any less.

God’s love is meant for us to grow into a deeper relationship with Him.
And it is for that reason that He doesn’t protect us from all of life’s problems.

Gods love is perfect, even if we dont like how it looks or feels.

My father is at home in heaven with Christ,
and I wouldn’t ask God to send him back for my own selfishness.

We dont stay here on earth because this world is imperfect;
we all seem to know and sense this, and even now it is pershing.
So why should we expect God to leave us all here forever?

When I realize how imperfect is my own understanding of Gods love,
then I see how imperfectly we can show love to one another.
Just because my wife doesn’t show me love every minute, every hour, of every day,
it doesnt mean she loves me any less.

But somehow we often believe the lie from Satan...
that love should look a certain way.
And we buy the false notion that our limited perception of love is correct,
even when we have imperfect information.

Maybe it is time to believe something different...
that there is something better in Gods love than our small minds can imagine,
and maybe our own efforts at showing love could be improved,
if only we could learn to think about love beyond ourselves.

Lets love one another more,
in beautiful ways we have yet to even consider!

Where will you begin to show more love?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Layman's 10-Commandments

  1. Prayer is not a Spare-Wheel that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a “steering wheel” that directs you on the right path throughout the journey.
  2. So why is a car’s Windshield so large & the Rear View Mirror so small? Because our Past is not as important as our future. So Look Ahead and Move On.
  3. Friendship is like a good Book. It takes only a few minutes to burn, but it takes years to write.
  4. All things in life are temporary. If things are going well, enjoy it; they will not last forever. If going wrong, don't worry; they won't last long either.
  5. Old Friends are Gold! New Friends are Diamond! If you get a Diamond, don’t forget the Gold! Because to hold a Diamond, you always need a Base of Gold!
  6. Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, God smiles from above and says, “Relax, sweetheart, it’s just a bend, not the end!”
  7. When God solves your problems, you have faith in His abilities; when God doesn’t solve your problems He has faith in your abilities.
  8. A blind person asked St. Anthony: “Can there be anything worse than losing one's eye sight?” He replied: “Yes, losing one’s vision.”
  9. When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them; and sometimes when you are safe and happy, remember that someone else has prayed for you.
  10. Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s Troubles; it takes away today’s Peace.

Unsure where these sentences originated,
but they hold great truth & insight.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Post: "Pushing Into the Difficult, A Wrap-Up"

We dont have a choice as to how many days we have to live,
but we can choose how to live-out the remaining days we have.

The difficult parts of this life are often the most rewarding,
if we are willing to do the difficult work to improve them.

Success comes at a cost:
there is little life-balance if we push into the difficult,
willing to accept temporary discomfort to win the reward of a life-time.

My wife and I dont always get along,
but if I walk out or quit when times are tough...
then we can never again enjoy the beauty of our love.
So I fight for our love.

I dont always agree with God,
but when I push into His love more...
I realize His love is meant to protect me from the world, satan, and myself.
So I trust Him more than my own desires.

There are many things I have wanted to do in this life,
and as a father I have learned quickly to put these down (for now),
because loving my children brings the better reward,
and it is a ‘job’ I am glad is never fully done.

My mother is one of the most difficult people I have known.
Her words of hatefulness & spite have hurtfully poisoned many people.
In the last few weeks I had the opportunity to show her love.
If I had not taken the time...
there would have been no chance for healing to begin.

The painfulness we feel right now is not eternal,
but we must often trudge through the difficulty to claim the prize,
and the reward of heaven is eternity with Jesus Christ.

If I had to leave this world today, or end this blog here, these would be the words I would want to leave behind....

Love more, condemn less.

And give more or yourself than you think you can afford,
because the Holy Spirit will provide whatever we lack!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Post: "Push Into the Difficult - Part 4"

Look for opportunities to help make things better.
We can all find things we dislike, or disagree with,
but how many times do we attempt to improve the situation? 

As a former prison-inmate, I was put on parole upon my release.
Do you know what I found out?
The “requirements” were almost overwhelming!
So instead of complaining, or avoiding the responsibility...
I pushed into what was expected of me.

Do you see insurmountable problems in the world around you?
Pick one - and then begin to do something about it.

Tired of seeing the homeless ‘beggar’ on the street-corner?
Talk to local authorities about how companies might help out.

Take the time to work on relationships & projects alike.

Learn to work with the annoying co-worker.

Give more love to angry family members.

And do precisely what the Parole Office asks.
Then look for way to improve on that too!

Take the challenging step of forcing yourself to do what is uncomfortable.
Be courageous!

Dont limit yourself to what other people have told you
either about a particular person, place, or situation.

Discover new ways to overcome in your circumstances.

And when working with people...
Love more, condemn less.

"Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things.

The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions:

could have, might have, and should have."

 - Louis E. Boone

 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Post: "Push Into the Difficult - Part 3"

How can many of the problems in our lives end?
When we learn to see things differently.

Each day you and I have a choice;
how are we going to see the world?
Good? Or bad?
Lovingly? Or fearfully?
With hope? Or with hopelessness?

It is not easy to remain positive in life
when many of the circumstances we face are so negative.
But strength comes in our ability to choose!
We choose how to react.
We choose to believe the best.
And we choose to trust in God over our own abilities.

When I was looking at my upcoming prison sentence,
I had many powerful choices in front of me.
How would I spend my remaining “free” days?
What would I do when incarceration began?

The first things to realize is that God is in control of everything,
and although everything is permissible, not everything is good for us.
What this means is that God could have kept me from prison,
but I also could have taken a taxi home instead on the night of my accident.
The difficulty then was to accept that God would allow me to enter prison.

So the second thing was to set my heart and mind on the positive
by making a choice to push into the difficulty.
With the time I had remaining, I chose to love on those people closest to me.
I would work hard to build up my professional reputation,
and I chose to believe that Gods will for me would prevail.

One friend asked me to go out drinking with him before I was to be sent away.
I quickly realized this would steal the important moments I had available for others,
and it would instead give that precious little time over to wastefulness, and to Satan.
No worthwhile memories would have been built.

Next, I made a plan for incarceration.
Yep. You read that correctly.
I made a plan for what I would I do with my time.
I read - studying subjects I had long forgotten.
I exercised - keeping my body from growing weak.
I prayed - and shared God with others whenever I could.

Here is a startling secret... the time went much easier with a plan!
By making goals for myself, and sharing them with others,
I set myself up to win in a time that could have been easily a "loss".

And God showed up in real ways that I could have missed,
if I had let the difficulty wash over me, or hidden from it in fear.

What will you do the next time things get tough?