The Guarantee of Resurrection Life

21 04 2019

Many years ago, after a particularly difficult trial I was put through at the hands of another leader who was lying and misrepresenting his position for personal gain, I left that particular meeting pretty downcast and confused.  I knew he was not telling the truth, as did my wife, but there was really no defense to be made.  It was one of those times in your life that you know you were just going to have to deal with the personal pain and loss.  As well, we worked closely with this person and that fact did not help the matter.

 

Trials are like that sometimes.  You simply have no defense.  You take the hit, knowing you stand with truth and integrity.  You, as well, console yourself with the understanding that God knows, cares and will walk you through it.

 

But the best advice from this situation came to me just following the meeting when one of the persons in charge pulled his car alongside of me and said, “Remember, Steve, after every death you die there is a promised resurrection.”  I listened graciously, but with some questioning in my heart wondering just where he was during that awful meeting we endured.

 

Years later I still carry that statement with me because of its powerful truth, its lifelong encouragement and its depth of meaning.  There is a New Testament truth we hold onto as Christians.  That truth is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and then gave up His life to die on a cross.  On Sunday, Easter we call it, He was no longer dead but alive forevermore. Following His resurrection, there was a continual stream of persons who witnessed that resurrection and literally saw Jesus after His grave experience.

 

Are you walking through a trial right now?  Are you facing a hardship or a broken relationship?  Have you been hurt or suffered loss in some way not provoked by your own behavior?  It is this time of the year that we remember the New Testament guarantee of resurrection life.  For after every death you die, there is a promised resurrection!

 

Have a glorious, life-giving Easter.  Our Savior is ALIVE!

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I Slept But My Heart Was Awake

1 04 2019

I’m not sure if you recognized it, but my title for this blog is actually a verse in the Bible. It’s found in Song of Songs.  I find this verse to be fascinating.  I know scientifically that while I sleep, my mind is awake, but according to this verse my heart can be also.

 

My heart has been described as the center of my personality, my emotions, my intuition, my affections, my spirit.  The heart is also described as the innermost center of things.  My heart can be awakened to love or hate, fear or trust, light or darkness.

 

Jesus said it this way, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”  Luke 6:45

 

Jesus’ words beg us to reflect on what’s in our heart.  If you honestly desire to know what’s in your heart or another’s, simply listen to what language comes out of your mouth and theirs.  It will reveal the heart.

 

We have the option to store love, generosity, compassion, service, kindness and passion for God’s kingdom in our heart or we can store jealousy, hate, judgement, criticism, comparison and negativity in our heart.  It is truly up to us.  I think I can guarantee each of us one thing.  If it’s the latter, our awakened heart, while we sleep, will not find peace or rest for our soul.





See You Later, Snowy

25 03 2019

He showed up one day at my high school.  A couple of my friends and I began to pepper him with questions. “Where are you from?  What’s your name? Why did your family move here?”

 

He just moved to my home town from Alaska and we, without hesitation, nicknamed him “Snowy.”  It stuck.

 

Snowy was quiet, but strong. He helped to begin the soccer program at our school.  He was a wrestler and a talented gymnast.  His specialties were the rings and the high bar.  Snowy could do anything athletically.

 

In his junior and senior years of high school he entered the mechanics classes at the local vo-tech school and excelled.  He could take an engine or a transmission apart and actually put it back together working properly.  How?  No one really knew.  He just could.

 

After high school he entered the Army.  It was there that he lost himself.  Southeast Asia was not good to Snowy and I lost touch with him for a season.  He did things in those years that damaged his body and his mind.

 

Some years after his military service, being married, having a daughter, being divorced, having another daughter and walking in deep depression, Snowy resurfaced.  He allowed me back into his life.  I was thrilled.  We had so much to catch up on.  And we did.

 

Snowy bowed his knee to Jesus and a brand-new relationship began between us.  He allowed me to disciple him and then the request came to water baptize him.  His pastor told me the tradition in their church was to baptize two times backward and one time forward and then he said, “Are you okay with that?”  I told him if I had the honor to baptize my friend in his church’s baptismal pool, I would do it standing on my head.

 

What a day…the washing away of the old and the receiving of a new life.

 

Another close friend was general manager at a Christian theater and he expressed that he was desiring to hire a person with a long list of multiple talents.  I remember telling him what he wanted in one single employee was impossible, but I knew just the guy – Snowy.

 

He was an engineering genius for them, minus the engineering degree.  His handprints were on many of the intricate, technical designs and creations needed for the hydraulic and pneumatic props.

 

He worked there until he became disabled.  The pain in his body was taking a toll and he found himself no longer able to physically meet the demands of the job.  His body quickly went backwards and pain killers became part of his daily routine.

 

Those forthcoming years would be hard, filled with pain and regression and an inability to meet all of his financial obligations.  I went to his tool sale at a garage he had rented on the side.  I watched him sit and eye every well used tool he once held and fixed things with being sold. With each tool purchased by a new owner, it was like another piece of him went out the door.  He knew he would never again find the emotionally and mentally satisfying repair work coming from his gifted hands and creative mind.  Something died in him that day and I saw a different Snowy clutching onto his wooden cane.

 

Snowy gave up; he stopped fighting and he was barely living.  He would reach out with his needs.  We would reach out to him to join us for holiday meals.  Most times he came, but some days he hurt so badly he couldn’t leave his small, two-room apartment.

 

The message from his daughter was a dreaded, albeit, somewhat expected one.  Snowy’s lifeless body was found in his apartment just days earlier. He was no longer answering his calls or sending me text messages.  Snowy was gone and with his Savior.  Too young and way too early.

 

I miss him.  I miss his offhanded, but witty remarks.  I’m going to miss our regular breakfast meetings where he always told the waitress, “Scramble my eggs hard…kill ‘em.”

 

Along with the Patriot Guard, I have had the privilege and honor of serving Snowy and his family by ministering at his full military memorial service.  It was a final opportunity to bless this man who came from Alaska just to be my forever close friend.  Thank you, Snowy, for the laughs, the rides to the beach in your amazingly fast Mustang, hanging out at your garage, the many spiritual discussions and our many, but not enough, breakfast meetings.

 

One thing I will never say to you, my life-long friend, is “Goodbye.”  What I will say is, “See you later, Snowy.”





God Knows He’s Not Getting a Perfect Leader

18 03 2019

In a vision the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, has (Isaiah 6:8), God asks who He should send as a prophet to His people.  Isaiah immediately responds in two sentences and five total words, “Here am I.  Send me!” Have you ever said, “Here am I, send me” to God or have you hesitated, knowing He just might take you up on it? When I was a parent of younger children and asked who was available for a job, my kids would tend to make themselves scarce quickly. That reaction to a voice of authority is not uncommon.

 

However, leaders, like Isaiah, do not wait to see if anyone else is going to step up when something needs to be done.  Leaders initiate, take initiative.  They are raising their hands and are not hesitant to stand and speak up.  Leaders make decisions to lead and are willing to take the jump at short notice. Leaders obey God and know when to step aside and leaders obey God and know when to step in.

 

True Holy Spirit led leaders also know they are not capable within themselves to lead, they walk in a Holy sense of inadequacy.  At the same time, leaders who know the voice of the Spirit, walk in a confidence that their adequacy is from the Lord only.

 

I have been a leader for a long time.  I’ve wanted to be a leader and have been committed to growing my leadership skills.  I have never been a perfect leader, but often felt like a mistake- ridden one.  It goes with the territory.  But when you as a leader respond to God with, “Here am I. Send me,” God knows He’s not getting a perfect leader, but rather a leader He is perfecting.

 

Leaders need grace like everyone does, especially when making a mistake.  There is no perfect leader, only leaders our Father is perfecting.





Long-Term Marriage Pays (In more ways than one!)

4 02 2019

Did you know those who are blessed to experience long-term marriage tend to accumulate twice as much wealth than those who are single or divorced?  Yep, it’s true.

 

Ohio State University Center for Human Resource Research studied over 9,000 people concerning their marriage and finances.  Over a fifteen-year period they discovered some astounding facts.  For one, those who married and stayed married over that study period increased their wealth 93%. *

 

What about those who married and divorced in that same time period?  Their wealth decreased by 77%.  Why? The answer is partly because there are now two households with double the expenses, double the payments, not to mention the cost of the divorce itself with lawyer fees, etc.  Breaking up a marriage is costly in so many ways.

 

Too many people see only the end, being rid of this person they are no longer getting along with. But the truth is, especially if you have children, you are never rid of this person.   And that cost of breaking up a marriage is far more costly than repairing one.

 

Some wise words from a wife who was cheated on by her husband that we recently heard went something like this:  “He (her husband) spent a lot of money on cheating and it cost us in so many ways. We are now going to spend a lot of money on healing. “

 

Money spent on healing goes much farther than money spent on divorce.

 

* From Love Talk, by Les and Leslie Parrot





Voting Has a Direct Effect Upon Life In The Womb

28 01 2019

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

 

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

 

Your eyes saw my unformed body: all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139: 13-16

 

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

 

If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?  Does not he who guards your life know it?

 

Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?  Proverbs 24: 11, 12

 

Today we see the direct result of how we cast our votes.  Is your allegiance, is your passion to Jesus and the lives He created for life?  If the godly do not care, who will?  Thank you New York state elected officials for this reminder.

 

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.

 

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.

 

Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  Psalm 127: 3-5

“Father, forgive us for this sin of selfishness and the sacrifice of innocent blood.”





Are You Known More for What You Hate or By How You Love?

31 12 2018

I was speaking with a friend recently about a specific governmental department that I obviously did not have a good word for.  Later in a text message, I apologized for my negative expressions.  And here’s the reason for my apology: Holy Spirit.

 

While I was driving to my next appointment, I found myself being asked,“Do you want to be known for what you hate or for how you loved?” Then, in my mind I could hear a future conversation, “Yeah, Steve has no lost love for  ________.”  Not wanting that statement on anyone’s lips I asked for God’s forgiveness as well.

 

Social media is full of rants and raves.  People who would have never had a platform or a voice to express their strong views toward a political candidate, a boss or a former spouse or girlfriend can now take to the Internet and tear others apart for their beliefs.  We can quickly pick out what someone hates or strongly disagrees with, but are left wondering what is good in their world.  Are you more known for what you disagree with or for how you love, reach out and serve others regardless of how they believe or vote?

 

Someone has said that we often have only one opportunity to speak something life-giving, something godly or encouraging and we use that one opportunity to tear apart those who do not believe as we do.  Let’s work at changing that and become more like Jesus, who “…Was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent so he did not open his mouth.”

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong…

If I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor…but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind…it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered…

Love never fails.

As we enter 2019, could God be challenging you as He has me? Will those you interact with, will those who read your social media posts, will those you work with and will your family hear about what and how you love or more about what you hate? We may have only one opportunity to say something kind, life-giving or loving. Let’s not miss that opportunity.








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