Friday, September 18, 2009

Liberty Road: Where The Physical and Spiritual Collide

It has been several weeks since I have taken the time to write anything. I ask myself "Why?". The only answer is that I have been too caught up in life itself to step out, listen and digest how God is speaking to me. The past few weeks have been filled with traveling for work, trying to get ready for upcoming furniture shows, getting kids off to a new school year and working on house repair projects. All in all "life" has taken over and I allowed it to happen. I can vividly remember walking out to the barn exhausted to feed our animals and asking myself "is all this worth the efforts you are giving?" I was tired of trying to keep up with all of the daily tasks plus wear all the hats that I have hanging in my "duty closet". Each day I must be a Husband, Father, Employer, Friend, Teacher, Customer Service Rep, Salesman, Animal Caretaker, Groundskeeper, Home Fix-it Man, and the list goes on and on. On top of all these I was feeling like I needed to be a "Super Christian" who has it all together by singing at church, leading worship, teaching teens, and leading a small group. In that moment I could hear myself saying "enough", "I can't handle and juggle all this anymore". I realized that I am trying to live a spiritual and worldly double life.

We live on Liberty Rd. and this is where it all collides for me. I try to keep my worldly things looking like I have it all together. I worry that our house is perfect with nice lawn, landscaping, garden, barn with animals and pasture, successful business with organized shop and beautiful furniture, toys for kids to play on, and so on. I struggle each day to make all of those items stay in check. On the other side of the battle is the spiritual realm of my life where I focus on Christ and working for him. I try to use my talents teaching teens at church, going on mission trips, leading worship at church, singing special music, leading a small group of young adults and being available for others to listen and help in times of need. Then I hear God's voice saying "Do you hear me, where do I fit in? I know that these are all good things are they the best? So much "doing" distracts from listening. Can you just relax and love me? Take time to just listen and allow me to love you". The past few weeks I have allowed my wants and desires to overshadow and distract me from Christ's fulfilling love.

God, thanks for slowing me down enough to listen. I am sorry that I have chosen my way of doing things and not yours for the past few weeks! My heart is to love you and be living a life that is not based on the world's view of success but of yours. There will always be this battle while we live here on earth of the physical and spiritual aspects of our lives. I am learning that the more I lean on Him, a peace that passes all understanding enters my life. I can look at my daily life through spiritual glasses and discern what is truly important. Am I able to this with ease? Not always, but God patiently works with me each day as a loving Papa would do with his children.

Where are you struggling today? What can you give to God? Take time to just sit and listen today. God is waiting to show you if you only take the time to stop and listen. I know that I am not the only one doing this juggling act. I would love to hear from anyone reading this on how they have worked through this daily struggle.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I Want.....

It seems inevitable that when I take my three children into a store they are having a case of the "I want this....." Even my two year old has added this to his vocabulary. He loves to say "I like this Daddy" or "I want this Daddy". Of course I reply with a three minute sermon on how ungrateful they can be and how we can't get everything we want all the time, nor is it good to receive all of our desires immediately. About a week ago Andrea, my wife, held a "dream night" for business partners. The women were jewelry consultants and were discussing there hopes and dreams of what this business could do for their own lives. I listened as they shared aspirations about family vacations, college education, newer cars, paid off debts, and increased support for missionaries and mission trips. While listening to them, in my mind I made up my own dream list. It included paying off debts, new outdoor furniture, a concrete floor in my barn, a tractor for the barn, new equipment for my business, and my list went on and on. The next day I was consumed with my dreams which quickly turned into my "wants". Who do I sound like now? Sure enough my kids get it honestly from the man in the house! Time for the three minute sermon in solitude.
I had so quickly turned an inspirational exercise into a depressing and all consuming attitude of "I don't have all the things that I want." As I write this, the words ungrateful and selfish come to mind very rapidly. My ungrateful heart condition was diagnosed lovingly by my wife who shared that I should look around at what I do have and take those things in praise to God. It is tough being knocked down to my knees, but that is the only perspective I need, to be looking up.
Over the past few days I have watched a family grieve the loss of their husband, father, brother, friend, mentor, coach, teacher, and co-worker. As I reflect on the celebration of his life, I thought about who I am and the "wants" that I have placed in my life right now. Gods has written new ones on my heart. It is now up to me whether or not I follow through with them. My new list contains some of the following:

To be a man of God on both the inside and outside equally
To invest time in my family
To invest time in the lives of people around me
To not worry about my task list each day, but instead use God's timing as a standard.
To practice contentment apart from the world's definitions.
To love my wife wholly and honorably
To thirst for truth and sharing it lovingly and honestly with others
To use the talents that I've been entrusted with to show others His love.
To be a man that will be remembered for living a life pointing to something greater than himself

The list may seem daunting and lofty, but I know only one thing for sure, "With Christ All Things are Possible". One day at a time and one decision at a time is all I can do, but He is the one that can shape and me into this list of "I wants" because I believe they are in line with what He wants for me and for you. What are you in want of today? Is it worth the sacrifice of yourself or His Sacrifice?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

You Can Call Me Crazy......

After being in Mexico for a week working and serving the people there it is definitely a fulfilling “mountain top” experience. A person feels purpose and satisfaction from doing what God has put them on this earth to do: Love one another and serve in His name. On all the trips that I have taken to do this ,there comes a point when I must return home to the life I left behind. I had temporarily exited the hectic, fast paced lifestyle of work, school, kids, hobbies, family and church activities. This life was traded in for a short glimpse of how Jesus lived day to day. His life was far from glamorous or envied, but it was satisfying and filled with purpose. The purpose was to live out a life of serving others in love that in this they might see a true picture of His Father in Heave. Upon the return home I am changed forever by the sights that I have seen, smelled, touched, and embraced. This time of transition can be difficult and tumultuous. It is the time of reintegration to my pre-trip life and routines.
Everything has a different look. I examine my life more closely and ask a myriad of questions. Do Ireally need more clothes, a new vehicle, a bigger house? Is it necessary to go out to eat as much as I do? Can my money be spent more frugally in order to give more to those who need the basics of life? Is there a place that I can apply these acts of service inmy own hometown? So many things have changed in my outlook on life that it can be overwhelming to the people around us me, as well as my own self.
A song came to mind that speaks volumes about how the world views us as Christ followers. The song is by Mercy Me and is called “Crazy”. I encourage you to listen to it through this link and allow the words to penetrate you heart. \

The overall message of the song is "Why would I spent my life doing everything that is opposite of what the world thinks is normal. We long for the day our life ends here, we point our lives towards another man instead of ourselves, we live our lives in the trust and care of another man, and we blindly give our life to promises of unseen things. This is a big pill for the world of self-sufficiency to swallow. It goes against all that is taught to us by our culture. This is where the spiritual and worldly clash draws swords. Our flesh longs for many of these earthly things because it gives up immediate, temporary relief from the pain in this world. As Christ-followers, we are called to suffer through these earthly hunger pangs and allow the One to fill us with His inner strength that is eternal. It outlasts any of the cheap thrills that the world can offer. By grasping onto true fulfillment many of struggles and trials of this life can be traversed with an eternal perspective.

This has been demonstrated to me so vividly in the past month with a close family friend who is battling cancer and the odds are against him right now. He is in a place that I can't comprehend. Knowing that death could come at anytime, but knowing that God is more present in his life than one could understand. From the outside it seems sad that a man like this has to suffer and leave a family and community that so dearly loves him. People of the world would ask why would a man like this have to suffer instead of one who is less influential and loved by so many? When we look through eternal eyes, it becomes a bit more clear. We ask why not? How many have seen and experienced his true love and commitment to the One who saved his soul. He is having an outstanding impact on hundreds and maybe even thousands of people by how he is embracing this fight by allowing Jesus to continue leading his life. I am a changed person by seeing his love and strength in the face of adversity. He truly loves living but is more taken by living loved by the Jesus. Thank you Mr. Rick for your influence in the life of me and my family. We are selfishly praying for a miracle but know that Our Savior is totally in control at all times of those who love Him! Your life is a true picture of how to live in the will of the Father.

As the song says so boldly "It would be crazy to choose this world over eternity!" What are you crazy for today?............If it is not eternity then I challenge you to look again. You can call me crazy, but I choose to live a life marked by His will, not the world's.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Do you have a flashlight?

As we sat outside tonight with our life group a discussion of success was tossed around. What is success? How do we measure it? By what standards do we compare it? So many questions but answers were few? It seemed like such a big question, but when we broke it down to what God says about success it was straightforward. God wants us to follow his plan, wait on his timing and live life according to his guidebook. When we put it in those terms seems so simple. The tricky part comes in to play when we must apply it to our lives.

Part of success means waiting on God. His plans are greater than my desires. This can be very hard to hold onto when the things in your life are stacked up against you. People around you may be moving faster in a direction of worldly success, your life may feel like it is in a backsliding roller coaster, or maybe spiritually you are waging warfare between who you were before and who you are in Christ now. Satan likes to drag up past failures in order to crush your self worth and security in God.

Patience and perseverence are not two of my strongest attributes. Especially lately! I can be downright selfish and impatient when I let myself fall into that trap. When I start to let my guard down, conjure up reasons for entitlement, and have spiritual amnesia, someone is waiting at my door to help memove down a path that is not in God's plan. That someone is Satan, yes the great deceiver prowls around like a lion waiting to strike at just the right moment. I have learned that when stress, anxiety and tiredness are in my life, nighttime becomes a time of temptation. How do I combat these worldly desires that Satan so cunningly plants around me? The only line of defense is the light..... Light always triumphs over darkness period. Even the smallest candle produces light in a darkened room. God's words ring true in my heart as light. His promises will always defeat Satan's lies. Courageous friends who surround me with heartfelt encouragement girds up my defenses as well. God has placed a great cloud of witnesses around me to strengthen and sharpen me.

What lies are you believing today? It is easy to fall for the traps set for us each day. I will be the first to say that I am not perfect and I make mistakes each day. The promise of grace is comforting at the end of the day when I am making amends with Him. It is not that I sin because of grace, but I am thankful that as a flawed human it exists in spite of me. Thanks for picking me up when I am weak and restoring me to you Jesus. In our travels called life, it is good to have his flashlight to illuminate our path.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Jesus Calling

I sit here in Piedras Negras, Mexico after a week of work and relationship building with a team of 4 adults and 12 high school girls. Leading up to this trip was a fury of packing, preparing for a delivery while I was going to be gone and trying to make the best of the moments with my family. Apprehension and a hint of regret shrouded my mood. I have been on several mission trips in the past 12 years and have seen some amazing things. God always shows up and pierces my heart with what he can do in this world of hurt, pain and suffering. I started to get second thoughts about whether I should be going because of all I was leaving left undone. Then like a wave crashing on me God's words rang in my heart. This trip is for the people of Mexico, but have you not always drawn closer to me during your time of service? My mind answered a resounding "Yes, my life has always been enriched by taking time to see another culture, work with people who thirst for you, and love on people who don't know your unconditional grace." Then the song by 33 Miles echoed in my ears called "Jesus Calling." I encourage you to listen to this song at

Can I step out of my comfort zone, can I look beyond my little world of my business, family, and home, open my ears to something eternal. there is always another side the coin of life. God wants to show us so much that can enrich, affect, and improve our perception of who he is and how He loves this world. He wants to use us for His purposes. I was reminded that my little old self has a definite purpose in His plan. My life is an act of worship to glorify Him. Whether I am in Ohio or Mexico He wants me to follow and fulfill others by His strength and Love.

I have been journaling all week and seeing Him move in marvelous ways here. I intend to share some stories of redemption and restoration in the coming posts. As He promised, He will reveal more to us when we continue to step out of the boat and trust Him. Where are you in your belief and trust of the One who desires to live in an intimate friendship with you forever? Jesus is calling through the mess that you might be in or coming out of. If you feel alone, you are not. He is right there calling your name. Will you listen and reach for Him?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


In one of my earlier posts I expressed my thoughts on how we create scars in our lives each day by the sins we commit against ourselves, our friends and ultimately our God. These scars sometimes are superficial but more times than not they are penetrating and deep. We cause pain that hurts to our very core when God opens our souls up to his viewpoint. We mask over the sin because it feels good at the moment or we believe the lies of the temporary escape from the harsh reality of life. Do you know what I mean? There were many times in my life I felt as though I was a "good enough" person and just deserved a little break. This little break lead to a little look or lustful thought. Satan takes these little "breaks" and creates a fissure in our relationships to separate us from the giver of life: God. Like a lion separating the weak ones from the herd for the kill, he uses our little sins to move us away from our fold to devour us. Have you ever felt separated or disconnected from others in a painful way. Where do you go? Do you try to reconnect or just give into temptations that are deceptively fulfilling? I have been there, but found a way out of the suffocation of separation.
For the past week the song "Oxygen" by Building 429 has resonated in my heart and mind. It talks about how we separate ourselves by sin and believing the lies put before us each day, but there is a God there to reach out and bring us back to life. He is our life giving oxygen. Even in the tossing of life we can hold onto him and he won't let go. That is where I found hope, in the darkness and depths of my own sin I was gasping and grasping for life. It was like I was slowly drowning. God pulled me out of the water and breathed new life into my collapsed lungs and fractured heart.

John 5:21 "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life whom he is pleased to give it."

My hope in future posts is to share my story of where I made poor choices and the effects is had on my life, my family, and my marriage. My prayer is not talk about me but to share how great God's unconditional love is for us. He is waiting with life giving oxygen. All we have to do is take a deep breath. God wants to give life and purpose to his creations.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Walking the Ledge

Each day is a walk closer to the end of our lives. Christ is our guide, but we have the ultimate decision on how, where, and why we walk. I recently was listening to a pod cast where for several weeks they had been answering live text messaged questions from the members. After several weeks of answering a myriad of questions, the minister began his current message by admonishing sternly his congregation for the type of questions they were asking. He explained that every question dealt with how close to the line of sin they could legalistically approach. “How far is too far?”, “Can we do this and be ok?”, “When do I need to stop doing this?” and the list went on? The minister then told them that they were nothing but selfish in nature. All the questions dealt with how close to sin can we go until it is not acceptable? Instead we should be asking how close can we get to God?

As I pondered this question I began to reflect on my own life and relationships. How close to God am I? How close to sin do I try to get before I turn around. Are there areas in my life that I walk the ledge?

Then I felt God speaking to me (not audibly), but through my own thoughts, saying by walking this ledge you are hurting our relationship. I want more from you than you are giving right now. Furthermore, you are hurting your other relationships by putting yourself that close to sin. How can you truly show others what I am like if you are only giving it a half-hearted attempt? I gave my only Son for your life and you can only serve me by occasionally having a drink, telling a few coarse jokes, looking only a little at suggestive images, and the list goes on. Talk about a punch in the gut! By living this life of mediocrity God is slowly being soiled to the point that we and others can’t even recognize who he is anymore. At what point do we get to a place where God doesn’t recognize us anymore? When will he get tired of our constant blatant sin and turn us over to our evil desires? (Romans 1:24 “God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves”.) Those questions scare me and frankly I don’t want to test that line, because when we find that answer it means I am in a place that I never intended to find myself.

I am learning daily that I would rather try to find how close can I become to God's intended purpose? Where can I improve my relationship with him? Is it through prayer, serving others, my speech, what I view on a daily basis, my own personal thought life, or whatever. You can fill the blank with your own struggles? God wants more from his creation than what we, as a culture, are offering to him today. The most reassuring thing is that he offers unconditional love. We have rejected, despised, disappointed him, but he still loves you and me. There is no earthly reason that we should not fall into his arms of grace and strive to serve him wholly. Not partially, half-heartedly, but totally and completely. He does not promise that it will be easy, but he does promise life with him eternally. Think about it and step back from the ledge.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Offering

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

God speaks to each of us in a way that will cause our heart to listen. Music and lyrics is a way that God speaks to me. Whether it is through a time of trial or season of contentment I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in many songs that I am allowed to really listen to and reflect. Artists sing these songs for many reasons, but God who is good, uses them for his children for a myriad of purposes. One such song came to me as I was running the other morning. As I exercise my body, I enjoy listening to music and reflecting. (It takes my mind of the pain that my body is crying out to stop) The song that resonated in my heart that morning was by the group 33 Miles called “My Offering”

How many times in your life have to said or felt that you could not approach God or even pray a simple prayer because you felt guilt, shame or inadequacy due to the sins in your life. Or could it be the person you are having a conversation with about Christ and they make the comment ” I need to get some things straightened up in my life before I can go to God” How sad and misguided have we become that we forget that God wants the broken and battered to restore. As a culture of have it my way, be all you can be, get it done ourself, we have cried for our independence. God who loves us gave us that independence even though he knew we would make decisions that would hurt and scar him in order to bring us back. What does he want from us though?

The song contains a message that we betrayed, lied, ran away, cursed his name, and were to blame. On the flip side God forgave, spoke truth, stayed, called me child, went to trial and ultimately died to give us more than we could ever find. He wants to take every part of us as an offering to him wholly and only. On our own we make a mess of things, but he transforms it into his offering because is comes from his creation. Sounds strange, but God can only make good out of all circumstances.

I know in my life I have made plenty of messes and when repentance is sought, God transforms my messes into beautiful paintings that only he can create. We can’t fully understand the process because it is heavenly, but that is where faith is required to trust Him unconditionally. Once you can do this you can gain confidence and strength in a God who loves you beyond measure.

What are you holding onto or what excuses are you using to keep you from fully coming to God? He wants all you, which includes the messes that you have made, but can’t fix. He can fix them if you only take them to you as your offering. Approach with humble confidence and be amazed at his grace!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Scars of Life

God created our bodies in such a way that they can repair themselves when damaged. If you break a bone over time cells will mend the break. If you cut your flesh it will eventually grow new tissue over the opening and heal. Is the new tissue the same? Most of the time there is what we call scars. The scar is sometimes raised from the skin, or another tone of skin color. Many people are ashamed of scars because it shows a slight imperfection in there body. Others wear them proudly because they came through great trial and sacrifice such as fighting to protect our freedoms in this great nation. The scars that are worn by most are not always visible. They are deep within, they have been caused by friends, relatives, spouses, and parents. Many of these scars are even self-inflicted. These are the scars of SIN.

I know in my life sin has caused many wounds not only to myself, but to the people around me as well. I have lied, cheated, stolen, cursed, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes it was a little paper cut of gossip, but at other times it was the sweeping swing of the sword that cut deep into the heart. How do these wounds get healed? Our bodies weren't made to repair and restore wounds of this magnitude. Why didn't our Creator design us to heal emotional scars? I don't know the answer to why, but I do know the answer of who. Who can heal these blemishes and lacerations of emotions and character? God

In Psalm 147 he says "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up there wounds" . God is the only source of healing our emotional wounds. We can look to other places to find comfort and healing. This world offers drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, and religions. All these seem to help for a short while, but never have lasting and sustainable results. The drugs wear off, early morning hangovers, sexually transmitted diseases, broken marriages and false hopes are the only guaranteed results of the worlds answers.

The only one true answer is a life of surrender to the our creator and life giving God. He promises to heal and restore what is broken and lost. Sounds easy and simple? Yes and no, it is easy to say yes to him with words, but can you say it with your life? Can you turn over all your thoughts, words, and actions to him on a daily basis? For me it was not easy, but so beneficial. It can be an hour by hour process or day by day. All he wants is you to make the first step toward him.........