Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resoulutions for the New Year

I am not a big New Years Resolution person, but I often set goals for the coming year. And usually I come up short.

I have two goals for the coming year. One is physical and it will require discipline. I want to weigh under 210 and maintain it. Many years I have been able to stay in a range from 215-220, though I fear if I step on the scales right now it may be closer to 225. This goal is not for vain reasons though most of us want to look better and there is no harm in that. My hope is if I can do this it will be less weight on my troublesome ankle and other ailing body parts. I also hope it would lower my cholesterol back to the good old days of well under 200. I love exercise so that is not a problem but this will require even cleaner eating, less cocktails, and a lot a prayer on my part, which leads me to my second goal which is spiritual.

Recently I have been feeling frustrated and disconnected over my prayer life. The words that came to me and that I shared with Jesus is I want more weight to my prayers. Simply a better prayer life. My thoughts on how to achieve this is to make the quiet time. Turn the machines off and find that place of calm and peace. Begin the day, every day, not with the Internet but with the Bible and prayer. Sometimes I can be pretty good about this but other times not so good. It just seems to reason if God is who is really most important in our lives than we might want to begin each day with him.

Do you notice how often when you read the Bible that words like first, all, and everything emerge? I spent most of my life skipping over those words because I wanted what I wanted, not what God wanted for me. It is so easy to trust our judgment, our plans, then a God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us...Ephesian 3:20.

I don't know about you but I have a big imagination. 

Here are two additional scriptures that have resonated with me lately.

Matt. 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us...

Happy New Year to everyone.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

That Perfect Christmas

It is Christmas Eve morning and my son sleeps in his bed and my wife stirs in the next room. Sydny our little Chihuahua mix is happy, his belly full, and well into his first nap of the day. Life is good. Better then ever.

Christmas is always a time of great reflection for me. Most have been consumed by more sadness than joy brought on by my unwise decisions. Even now Christmas retains bittersweet moments mixed in with times past that I treasure. Pretty sure it is that way for most of us.

One thing I have learned is to place little demand on Christmas. Imagine how truly wonderful Christmas could be if families would just turn the pressure valve off? Stop trying to have people conform to what we want them to do. Be where we think they should be.

I was tested last night when plans went awry and my son was pulled in another direction. There was a time I would have been more than just a little sad, and I would have sulked that he did not abide by the original plans. Not now. It is not his fault that he is the product of a long ago divorce. That blames lies solely with his parents.

For many years I have hosted a small gathering before Christmas. We call it Christmas Lasagna. I use to worry about picking the right date where everyone would be free to attend. Now I set the date weeks in advance and God bless everyone that attends as well as those that can't. This might seem like a small thing but it is about letting go. Let go of expectations, the right gifts, the perfect dinner... Breathe and let it go.

This Christmas I have a new gift. I have a new wife who loves me the way I have desired to be loved my entire life. We have our moments as any couple does but we both can go to each other and say, "I am sorry. I was wrong." During the difficult times we try to remember that neither of us are the answer and we press into a loving Father who so desires intimacy with his children. 

Let's call this last section the Jim Glasgow influence, my friend first, my minister second. Would it not be a great time to let go of any harsh feelings? It does not matter who is right or wrong. Rarely is the blame solely on one party. This applies regardless of how right you believe yourself to be.

Regardless of the presents that I will open tonight and tomorrow, I have a wonderful gift already and it did not come wrapped in fancy paper. I lay my head down at night and hold offense to no one.  I wish harm on no one. Regardless of how they feel about me I want them blessed.

Reaching this point is not because of me. It is because my Father granted me a new heart.

Psalms 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Merry Christmas Everyone...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Duck Dynasty & My Solution

We can spend our time arguing about what is sin and which sin is greater than another. We can just resort to name calling if anyone dares to disagree with us. It is obvious to see how successful that is by just looking at the Duck Dynasty saga that is currently being played out.

I am a simple humble man and the only thing really unique about me is that I know Jesus Christ on an intimate basis. That is not a boast. There are enough people in the Christian/Religious community with egos so large that it would appear they don't think God can get the job done without them.

There are ministers screaming out making one sin greater than another while ignoring their sins and there are ministers who soft peddle the gospel conveniently changing it to the times in which we live. Both feel like religious behavior to me. Yuck.

I have a simple solution to all this ugliness for those that claim relationship with Jesus Christ. Each day of our life we press into the intimacy the Father desires for us and we pray...

"Father whatever it is that I believe I need in my life. Particularly the things I place in front of you. I ask you to show me and remove that idol from my life. Help me to focus on my walk and what I can do to love more, be kinder, be way less judgmental.  Let my walk encourage rather than discourage those that do not know you."

And let it begin with me. Leaving the solution in the Father's more than capable hands.

“Christians get very angry toward other Christians who sin differently than they do.” 
Author Unknown..

Monday, December 9, 2013

So This Is Christmas

The disappointments of life never seem so magnified as they are at Christmas. There were so many where I was angry, hurt, and though surrounded by people I felt as if I were living on a one man island.

Each year hoping the next one I would have the right things in my life to be happy. You know that picture of the perfect Christmas we want. It would actually be a Christmas where I did not want to just throw a bag in the car and drive to a place of isolation.

I must have emerged from Mom's womb angry at God for daring to include me in what I perceived as His great mistake of creation. As a kid I created an imaginary world to escape too. During my teen age years I turned to drugs and lived the party life full tilt. I could have easily died several times and some of those from that time did. 

Through it all I knew there was a God and nearly every night I spoke to Him and more times than not in anger.

The king of darkness aided my fury and prohibited me from seeing a loving Father. I have had two great callings on my life. The urging of the spirit. The details of which I can only see in hindsight.

My blinding Damascus Road when I was 19 and a more gentle, but just as powerful calling in my 50's. I began to realize my anger was dissipating. I don't know if it is this way for everyone but deep down I knew that for me He was waiting for me to seek Him first and would settle for nothing less.

It was this time two years ago that I felt compelled to write "The Journey." It was a paper about the changes in my life. This was before a blog was even an idea. 

I believe that God wanted me to document where I had been just before He took me on this great ride that began December 30, 2011. Standing in the fellowship hall listening to Peter Mattis and his friends play music. "I will make you young again." The voice so clear that I looked around to see if someone near me had said it.

 Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Now those are pretty words aren't they? But I lived my life seeking what I wanted first. And there are many days now where I fall back to the same pattern. But my Father knows it to be truth when I say, "I want to walk hand in hand with you on the path and any door regardless of how much I desire it please close it if we are not walking through it together."

So this is Christmas and I am humbled by my God. I am a writer so I can really dream. My wife, Julie exceeds any dream I ever had in a wife... lover... friend. And next year maybe my book is under someones Christmas tree. Wow.

There are many people all around us that will feel about Christmas the way I did for so long. Let's remember them and show kindness. I have shared many of past Holidays with the Olivolo family who God placed in my life. They never let me be alone and I could not feel closer to them if they were my own flesh and blood. I was the baby with three older sisters and now I have a younger brother and two little sisters. Tell me God does not have a magnificent sense of humor..