Better Than Jesus

betterthanJesus

The other Day I woke up as usual at five in the morning. Adhering to my daily habit, as soon as I placed my feet on the floor I prayed. Each day I thank our Heavenly Father for His protection and a good night’s rest. I acknowledge who He is to me and I thank Him for his mercy and His grace. I confess that I do not deserve Him. He gives me everything that I do not deserve and he withholds from me the things that I do deserve.

I head off to the bathroom and I continue to thank God for each thing I am grateful for. Thank you, God for plumbing, inside the house. It’s still fresh in my mind having to first build an outhouse on my farm so I would have a place to do my business. Thank you, Lord for electricity I still remember relying on a flash light to find my way down a dark narrow path to the outhouse. Thank you for an endless supply of water. The push of a handle to flush away waste certainly beats scattering ashes over your business deep down inside a dark hole. Hot water, supplied straight to a shower head and pressurized too. What a novel idea! Thank you, dear Abba for this. A true blessing considering that on my farm I carried one-gallon plastic bleach jugs full of water a quarter mile up a steep slope, daily. I boiled it and out of a dish pan, I had birdy baths in the open air. Thank you, God for clean and safe water to drink and brush my teeth. No one told me I could not drink the water supplied to the property line of my farm. I learned otherwise after I became so ill that I had to be hospitalized.

Thank you, God for soap, shampoo, tooth paste and a tooth brush, wash cloths and towels. Thank you for a house to live in with forced hot air heating and central air conditioning. The shipping container I lived in on my farm was cold at night when I wanted it warm and stifling hot at noon when I wanted a cool retreat from the blazing sun.

After expressing gratitude for these and many other moment by moment blessings. My mind turned to the hardships that Jesus endured throughout his life. Jesus didn’t have a mattress to sleep on, or a pillow to rest his head, fresh sheets or a comforter. I bet he woke up more times than enough with an aching back, hips and sore shoulders. I’ll bet there were many nights he woke up shivering from the cold and dampness from the hard ground. I have a comfortable secure house to sleep in and even on my farm I had a shipping container to protect me from the elements, wild animals and thieves.

Jesus didn’t have a constant supply of water at the flip of a tap. He either drank from streams or carried all he could with him, filling up when he had opportunity. Jesus never knew the luxury of an endless supply of hot, clean water to shower under for as long as he wished.  I doubt he ever felt the softness of cotton bath sheets and certainly not the softness of velour robes or memory foam slippers on his feet. Hot freshly ground coffee with cold milk, a hot bowl of cereal, a tart glass of chilled orange juice. I haven’t read anywhere in the Bible where he could select from a large assortment of clothing, a cool short sleeved shirt knowing it would be a hot and dry day. A day when he would want to chose shorts rather than heavy blue jeans. His sandals sufficed rather than comfortable, arch supporting, aerated, running shoes for his long treks.  

My thoughts then turned to something I had never considered before. With all the endless blessings that I receive from God each and every day and contemplating all that I enjoy that Jesus never ever had, I actually live, better than Jesus.

Where I enjoy the luxury of a city bus that actually kneels down for me, Jesus walked. I can ride across the city in 30 to 45 minutes. It would have taken Jesus the better part of the day to walk that same route. Forget about returning to his starting point, no, he just forged onward. It wouldn’t have made sense to walk all the way back.

Why has God provided me, a life better than Jesus? I’m certainly not better than Jesus in any way. Why am I blessed with luxury and comfort while God’s one and only son ruffed it with next to nothing?

Once again, my musings changed direction. Is my thinking that I live better than Jesus, founded on the materialism that the world dictates as needs? Jesus had an entirely different focus. He focused on God, our Father in Heaven, believing and trusting in Him to provide all that he needed. Jesus slept just fine in the peace of the Holy Spirit and unlike me, where ever he traveled he was invited into people’s homes to eat and rest. I have to pay for restaurants and motels. Jesus bathed in the never-ending supply of crystal clear, warm tropical streams, rivers and lakes, as often and for as long as he wished. I have to pay for my water to be heated, treated and piped into my home. Jesus was provided with basins of water to wash his feet and on occasion had his weary feet washed for him. I have never had anyone offer to wash MY feet. Jesus wouldn’t have wanted to ride a bus, he would have missed out on countless people to bless, heal and converse with. I can’t speak with anyone on the bus they all have earbuds plugged into their ears. Specialized clothing meant nothing to Jesus. His only goal was to please God, and for that, God provided for his every need.

Who lives or lived better than who?   Yeah!   I continued with my moment by moment prayer of gratitude. Thank you, Heavenly Father for your endless supply of love. Thank you, Abba for your guidance, knowledge and understanding……………….

May God our Father be praised forever and ever. A-men (Philippians 4:20, Contemporary English Version)

Faith or Fear? Worship or Worry?

Hope in Jesus

The very same day that The World Health Organization declared the Corona Virus a pandemic, people reacted. Some started to stock pile face masks, others swooped in to buy all the toilet paper and others scooped up all the hand sanitizer. A lady came into our store and bought flannel sheets to cut up into pieces, to use as a toilet paper substitute. Usually we Canadians are pretty laid back and approach life in a more relaxed manner but now, shear fear is taking over.

As the next days unfolded it became very apparent that the vast majority of the people were panicking. They were out buying everything and anything. There were two and a half hour long lineups to enter big box stores. The grocery stores had their shelves decimated. I went to one grocery store to pick up my prescription at the pharmacy after work. I walked around the store to see what everyone was talking about. All pasta was sold out, all the rice, all the bread, all of the frozen vegetables and almost all of the canned goods. There was no toilet paper, napkins or paper towels and no hand sanitizer just as everyone had said. I bought two cans of tomato paste that I would use the next day to make a favorite soup. I bought a new flavor of cookies for dunking in my coffee, coconut/mango, and I bought four liters of 1% milk for my coffee and cereal. Nothing I bought was for long term survival, nor was anything a need. Everything I bought was a want on impulse.

I felt uneasy as I walked through the store. I wasn’t fearful and it wasn’t shock or bewilderment with the vacant shelves but rather a deep feeling of pity and sadness for the droves of people who were there before me.  We live in a first world country where everything is so plentiful, we have become wasteful. This day I was looking at the evidence of chaos, brought about by fear and uncertainty.

Just one short week ago my city, my country in fact, or shall I say the world, was largely basking in an overabundance of pride, sufficiency and contentment. Then suddenly, overnight, greed, selfishness, scamming and scheming, and distrust became the new normal.               

 20 years ago, the big worrisome fear was Y2K, do you remember that? Mass hysteria, panic, ill thought out plans, opportunist and scams cost large companies and individuals millions upon millions of dollars. People wouldn’t fly because they thought planes would drop out of the sky. They wouldn’t drive because automobile computers would fail. It was speculated that trains and subway cars would crash.  This fear came and passed and in hindsight, was there really anything worthy of the fear that was felt?

Today the runner up is the Corona Virus or Covid-19. Will it pass? Absolutely! The big questions seem to be, what will the health impact be and what will the financial fallout look like? Who knows? Can you or I control it? NO! All the worrying in the world won’t fix a thing! I’m placing it all in God’s hands and I’m trusting Him to solve these problems.

Listen, all this panic is from Satin. God is calling us to faith. Turn your thoughts to Jesus Christ, our savior and be free of fear. I’m not in a panic. I know my God. Everyone who knows me will testify I am at total peace. All you have to do is turn your worries into worship. You cannot worry and worship at the same time, they are opposites of one another. When you worry you are not worshiping and when you worship you don’t worry. 

It’s so sad to me that very obviously all of these panic shoppers have no connection to God or Jesus. Even members of my church are panic buying and they say they know and trust in the Lord. So, even more disturbing to me, is that many so-called Christians do not have faith in their God.

Are you at peace with God? Can you place your faith in Jesus Christ to get you through this pandemic, unscathed? If not, would you like to know what props me up? Would you like to witness the peace that surpasses all understanding? Read, Psalm, chapter 91. For easy understanding here it is from the International Children’s Bible

Those who go to God Most High for safety
    will be protected by God All-Powerful.   (go to Him now with the prayer below)
I will say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety and protection.
    You are my God, and I trust you.”   (say it out load, now)

God will save you from hidden traps
    and from deadly diseases.   (you must believe it)
He will protect you like a bird
    spreading its wings over its young.    (picture a hen with her chicks under her)
    His truth will be like your armor and shield.    (now that’s protection)
You will not fear any danger by night    (you’ll rest peacefully)
    or an arrow during the day.   (you can walk in peace)
You will not be afraid of diseases that come in the dark    
    or sickness that strikes at noon.   (that includes viruses)
At your side 1,000 people may die,    (unbelievers and followers of Satin)
    or even 10,000 right beside you.    
    But you will not be hurt.        (Christians with faith in God)
You will only watch what happens.
    You will see the wicked punished. 

The Lord is your protection.  (A-men)
    You have made God Most High your place of safety.
10 Nothing bad will happen to you.
    No disaster will come to your home.   (your family is protected because of your faith)
11 He has put his angels in charge of you.   (angels plural, more than one)
    They will watch over you wherever you go.   (global protection 24/7)
12 They will catch you with their hands.    (that’s security)
    And you will not hit your foot on a rock.    (Satin will not be allowed to trip you up)
13 You will walk on lions and cobras.      (Satin will be kept below you)
    You will step on strong lions and snakes.  (you will walk all over Satin)

14 The Lord says, “If someone loves me, I will save him.      (praise God)
    I will protect those who know me.      (get to know Him, today)
15 They will call to me, and I will answer them.  (He’s listening and waiting for your call)
    I will be with them in trouble.     (now and forever)
    I will rescue them and honor them. 
16 I will give them a long, full life.
    They will see how I can save.”  (witness His blessings with me)

Matthew 23: 37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and kill with stones those men God sent to you. Many times, I wanted to help your people! I wanted to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you did not let me.    

(You must want Jesus to help you. You have to let him help you. If you don’t want help and won’t let him help, he won’t and he can’t.   If you’re drowning and your thrashing all around trying to help yourself, no one can help you but when you get tired and give up, cry out and then you can be saved. Give yourself up to Jesus and stop trying to do everything your own way, then he’ll help.

If you have not given your heart to Jesus and you want his immediate protection, say this prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus:                                                                                                                                

I don’t understand everything about you and our Father in Heaven, but I am ready to accept you as my lord and savior. I understand that you voluntarily went to the authorities knowing they would wrongfully convict you and sentence you to die on the cross. I understand that you were perfect and sinless and yet you took ALL of the sins of the world (mine included) into death with you. Through your sacrifice I have been forgiven and made pure in God’s sight. I believe that three days later you were resurrected and after 40 days of showing yourself to your friends and many witnesses, you ascended into Heaven to sit with God our Father. I understand Lord Jesus that the only way I can be saved and enter into Heaven is through you. I give you my heart, mind and soul. I desire you to be my guide, my shepherd, my teacher and my savior. In your name I pray this prayer. A-men     

Read Deuteronomy 28: 1-14 To see God’s blessing on you.

Number Eight of the Big Ten

God made a set of laws for us to follow. Ten straight forward, easily understood rules. All we have to do is obey ten simple commandments and we’re in God’s good books. Easy peasy, I mean how hard can it be to obey 10 rules? Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve failed at each and every one of them uncountable times throughout my life.

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior and he paid the most expensive fine ever levied for my breaking these rules. The only acceptable payment would be the blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb. Jesus was the only perfect man to ever have walked on this planet, and he dirtied himself with my sins. He took all the blame for what I committed and paid my fines in full with his life, setting me free.

 Do you know how I repaid Jesus for this blessing of all blessings, for his suffering and his death? I went right ahead and broke every one of the ten commandments again, and again, and again. Have you done the exact same thing as I have? Thank goodness for us, that Jesus paid for “ALL” of our sins. That’s every broken rule from our past, every sin we committed today and every commandment dishonored in the future. “ALL” sins.

Today, I want to address commandment number eight. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Plain and simple, I am not to lie. Do I ever lie?  No, not ever! That was a lie about not lying. God is truth and we are to honor Him by not lying.

I have another skeleton in my closet and it was born from a lie. A lie that needs to be brought out into the open so that I can be more at ease with myself. A lie that I am tired of carrying around. A lie that threatens to be discovered. A lie that will surely tear down my integrity.

This particular lie started off as a way to avoid recurring suffering and pain when individuals innocently stirred up the single most painful unforgiven catastrophe of my life. The one I tried to ignore, bury and hide. My divorce. I did the complete opposite of what the apostle Paul advised in Ephesians 4:31 NIV

All it took was a few inquisitive words to set me off, like; Are you married? Where’s your wife? Did your wife come with you? Is she here? Why didn’t you bring your wife? I’d really like to meet your wife someday! To which I would reply, “I am divorced, I don’t have a wife”. Now that should’ve been the end of it, but no. Then the inevitable questions would come, the looks of disappointment, the prying, and sometimes I swear people just like to dwell on the misery of others so they can feel better about their own messed up lives.

These questions would expose the hatred I had stored up inside which provided fuel for the questioner to pour back onto the fire they just fanned into full flame. Oh dear! I’m so sorry! Oh my, what happened? Whose fault was it? How long has it been? You must be so lonely! Do you have children? How are they taking it? Is there anything I can do? What advice do you have about divorce? So now that you’re available, I have this friend…. Will you marry again?

These thoughtless replies and digs would bring back to memory all the greed, deceit, accusations, cheating lawyers, unfair statements, concocted self-purposing lies and financial loss. They would cost me weeks of sleepless nights, again, as I battled with my fury. One day after about four years of this malarkey I came up with the reply, “I’m a widower, my wife was killed in a car accident.” The inquisitive person is usually too shocked and too embarrassed to ask any further questions. An apology is usually offered, a little sympathy poured out and then they shuffled off on their way. This was brilliant. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Thus a lie was born.

Over time, questions concerning the death of my wife surfaced here and there and I unthinkingly provided quick answers to satisfy whoever was asking and to protect my claim. The lie was expanding and becoming more and more detailed, morphing into a hybrid. I repeated the hybrid lie so many times that it became a reality in my mind. Psalm 119:29 NLT I could still hate her, despise her, slander her in my heart and deny that she ever hurt me as deeply as she did. She was where she belonged, murdered, dead to me, out of my life. The hybrid lie also replaced disappointment and shame with the sympathy I desired. No one ever upset me again and I was at peace. Or, so I thought.  

This hybrid lie has retarded my life and my ability to move forward. Thirty eight years later I still had not forgiven my estranged wife as I never needed to. With the help of the Holy Spirit I realized the weight I was carrying and the need to offload it. All this time I have tried to hurt her by not forgiving her, but she doesn’t even care or know. I have only been hurting myself.  

Exposing myself, to rid my soul of this heavy burden would be a lot easier if I could be guaranteed that no one that I knew, would ever read this blog. All of my very nearest and dearest friends, many of my acquaintances and even my pastor have given me their sympathy which I accepted wrongfully. I have abused their love and care for me. Now I risk losing their friendship and their trust. I am trying to establish myself as a man of integrity and this certainly does not lend itself to my efforts.     

I never intended to hurt anyone but have succeeded in hurting everyone. Now it’s out in the open. I can start to breathe once again. Satin will not be able to derail me by exposing this secrete. I have exposed it myself.

It all started with one tiny little lie. I’m a widower!       

Exhumation of a BIG Skeleton

There’s a skeleton in my closet that has to leave. Excess baggage that’s weighing me down and I’ve slugged it around for 30+years. The skeleton is the bitterness, shame, hatred and unforgiveness  from a very, very toxic and painful divorce.

If you are leaning toward a divorce, listen up. Think twice and consider any alternatives. Do your research and know in advance what you’re getting yourself into. Especially if you have children. Consider what the Bible has to say about divorce. Mark 10: 6-9 NASB, Matthew 19:6 ESV, Ephesians 5:21-33 ESV. I encourage you to seek out faith based marriage counseling. Talk to your pastor or any pastor. Your marriage can be rebuilt and restored. I strongly recommend prayer and asking for spiritual help. James 1:5 NLT, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NLT.

If you choose to divorce let me give you a heads up and express what I went through. I suffered stress, emotional anguish and trauma, financial stress, bankruptcy, mental exhaustion, unwarranted damage to my integrity. I watched my children being used as pawns and bargaining chips without any regard for their feelings. Resentment, bitterness, being treated unfairly, badly damaged and broken friendships and family relationships. I was constantly on the defense. Anger, exclusion, isolation, depression, sleep deprivation, disappointment, false accusations, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide. Greed and selfishness, mental and physical abuse, loss of identity, low self-esteem and shame.

Your divorce will have long lasting effects not only on yourself but on innocent loved ones. Your divorce will be far reaching and affect others that you cannot even imagine. Other people in your community, at your place of work and anyone you are in contact with, directly or indirectly. When you get into it you will not be able to think rationally or clearly. Your future will be so blurred by the smoke that reaching tomorrow will be your future goal. One day at a time will be your new reality for a long, long time.

After all this, the resentment I felt turned me into an unrecognizable me. I became a miserable, angry person. I hated all women to point of even questioning my own mother’s treatment of my father. No one wanted to be around me. I didn’t want to be around me. After unsuccessfully attempting to commit suicide for the third time I again sought professional help and that is when the bitterness set in. To think that I came so close to exiting this life in order to escape the cruelty I was suffering and then that led to the inability to ever forgive.

Sadly, I now see that my unforgiveness had absolutely no effect on the perpetrators. But it has held me back, bogged me down, held me prisoner and cost me 30+ years of my life. Only through much prayer have I finally reached the point where I am now able to let go of this skeleton.

With the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within me; To my ex-wife, I forgive you. To my ex-wife’s lawyer, I forgive you. To the one particular judge who was obviously a friend of my ex-wife’s lawyer, I forgive you for your ridiculous judgment that by the way never happened because of its absolute absurdity.  To the multitude of friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances that were coerced to join in on the feeding frenzy against me, I forgive all of you.

Although I was not a follower of Christ at the time, God witnessed all that was said and done. I hand over this incredible burden, once and for all. I’m not carrying it any longer. It is now in God’s hands for Him to judge and deal with as He sees fit.

With God’s guidance, I am so ready to start planning the rest of my life.

Are you up to going through a divorce? Will you be able break the chains that imprison you afterward?  

The Skeletons in my Closet

Hidden facts that should they ever be discovered, will undoubtedly damage my reputation. They threaten to destroy my most valued relationships and at the very least when exposed, people’s perceptions of me will be changed. I am ashamed and afraid of being rejected.

Satan hunted me down when I was weak. He found me when I had rejected God. He toyed with my mind, he enticed me, he lured me and he created irresistible situations. He set his traps for me. They were all disguised as fantastic opportunities, sugar coated lies and dreams he promised would come true.

To his delight I ran into trap after trap after trap.  For most of my life I played along and lived his lies. I was buried so deep and it seemed there was no way out. Living in sin was all that I knew. He taught me well.

God was watching and extending His hand. “Trust me, believe in me”. “Choose everlasting life over death”. I knew He was there. My heart told me so.  I could not see HIM but I could see my bank account, my trust funds, my investments, my new home, my new vehicles, my well-paying job, my circle of friends, travel, parties, lovers and I wanted more, more, more.

God created me for Himself and He wanted me back. God passed judgment upon me and He initiated His discipline. Stock market crashes, a horrific, costly, divorce and custody battle, lost employment, a sour property investment, crooked lawyers, false friends and I was crushed. When my head stopped spinning and I saw that the vast majority of all I had worked for all my life had vanished, I turned to the one friend who I thought would save me and he turned his back on me.  

 For the first time in my life I ran out of resources and I had no more answers. I didn’t know what to do. It all seemed hopeless. I threw myself a pity party and after a long hard cry and crying myself to sleep. Something touched me and led me to get down on my knees. I cried out to Jesus, I confessed many, many sins and begged for his forgiveness, for him to take me in, love me, help me and be my guide.

It’s been a little over three years since that day. For a while I still continued to sink but I held on to Jesus’ hand and refused to let go. I prayed to know God and I prayed for the zeal to learn more about Him. I began to read the Bible faithfully every day and research scriptures. I signed up for daily devotionals and began reading Christian based and themed books.  I started to attend church and prayed regularly.

In the last few months my life has finally started to turn around for the better. Blessings abound and I am so appreciative. I have actually received messages from God Himself. I am feeling so very confident and I know that everything is going to be alright. BUT! Guess who has never left?

There is one who is not pleased in the least that I have turned to God and Jesus and man is he ever angry. I cannot begin to count the ferocious attacks that Satin has come at me with. He wants me back and he’s playing dirty. There are many skeletons hanging in my closet. He helped me put them there. Things I’ve done that I am not proud of and lies I’ve concocted to hide shameful things. Stories I’ve told and people I’ve hurt, actions that threaten to destroy friendships and many unbelievable acts that will damage my new Christian character.

Satin was once so accommodating and he made it easy for me to achieve anything that I wanted. He congratulated me on jobs well done and suggested that I deserved more. He set up new temptations everywhere. All mine for the taking. Today these sinful acquisitions are my shame. They are the skeletons in my closet and he threatens to expose them so that he can bring me down.

These skeletons are my own and they are keeping me at a distance from God. Satin reminds me every day and asks me, “What were you thinking”?  He tells me, “You are such an idiot to think you could ever get away with that”!  

My only freedom will be to dig these skeletons out and expose them to the world, myself. I don’t see that I have any other choice. It is the only way that I can disarm Satin and improve my relationship with God.      

Many of us have skeletons hidden away. How will you deal with yours? I could sure use your prayers as I attempt to clean out my closets.   

Jobs, Jobs, Everywhere (but not a one for me)

Job hunting is an emotional rollercoaster and if you have recently been through this laborious exercise or are caught up in it presently, you know exactly what I mean. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender or race is, in this day of age, it’s tough. Add in old age, overweight, unskilled factory worker for most of your life, and just try to imagine how steep the mountain slopes and how deep the valleys are. I’ve been up and down so many times that I should be as fit as The CrossFit Games winner, Rich Froning Jr. and as sleek and skillful as a leopard.

I’m going on into my fifth month without work and worldly ideas and thoughts are taking over my mind. Why am I not getting a job?  Is it because I’m old? Is it because I’m fat? Is it because I’m too picky? Maybe I’m just not trying hard enough or possibly my resume is not written well. Do I appear unprofessional or too professional? Do I come on too strong or am I too wimpy? It doesn’t really matter, because at the end of the day the world assumes it’s my fault that I don’t have work.

After these insecure thoughts, a flood of other world feelings bear down on me. Feelings of rejection; You know, when the manager or public relations person couldn’t be any more disinterested in you, if they tried. You’re absolutely not getting that job! The worldly feeling of being let down and disappointed; I am way more qualified and able than that person they hired. Who is he, the boss’s grandson?  Then the world offers up frustration. Ahh come on! I’ve handed out a gazillion resumes. And  what would the world be, if it didn’t pour anxiety upon you? How will I ever be able pay my debts? How can I even live? Finally; Depression! The world tells me, I’m good for nothing, a loser, pathetic, washed up. Step aside, get out of the way!  

Where does one go from here? How do you get out of bed the next morning and continue on any longer? Well, take a look up to the heavenly realm. Let’s see what Jesus has to say. What promises has God made to me and what does the Holy Spirit have to offer? I turned to God and I prayed. I asked Him, “God, why is it taking so long?” Am I not praying the right way? Are you hearing my prayers? When?

God assures us, I hear your every prayer.1 Peter 3:12 ESV
God is in control, working all things together. Romans 8:28 ESV
God provides for us. Luke 12:24 ESV
God is with us, wherever we go. Joshua 1:9 ESV
God is going to bless us, I have plans for you. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
God will deliver a job, at the perfect time. Lamentations 3:25-26 ESV

Jesus will not let us perish. John 3:16 KJV
Jesus helps carry our load. Matthew 11:28 KJV
Jesus is the truth and will provide the way. John 14:6 KJV
Jesus prepares for our future. John 14:2 KJV
Jesus lights the way for us. Matthew 5:16 KJV
Jesus is ready and willing to help us. Matthew 7:7-8 KJV

The Holy Spirit gives us power. Act 1:8 NLT
The Holy Spirit pleads for us when we are weak. Romans 8:26 NLT
The Holy Spirit teaches us all we need to know. John 14:26 NLT
The Holy Spirit guides our lives. Galatians 5:16 NLT
The Holy Spirit prepares us to work together Galatians 5:25-26 NLT
The Holy Spirit lives in us. 1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT

Who do you allow to govern your life, the world or God?

What Are My (TRUE) Motives in Prayer?

 After praying for blessings upon my family, friends and myself, I thought, “If I were God and this prayer were prayed to me what would I think about it”. Well, I wouldn’t take too kindly to it, at all.

First of all, family and friends were added into the prayer so that the prayer wouldn’t seem selfish. Second, the blessing asked for was just a cover for the real worldly wants that would be gained after the blessing was given. Third, the gains would not require any trust or faith in God’s abilities. Fourth, the worshiper (me) was impatiently trying to speed up God’s timing. Four fails. Not on your life buddy.

Ever since I stumbled across the last sentence in James 4:2 NLT, which simply says, you have not because you ask not. I’ve become pretty good at asking. What an awful thought, that I could be deprived of something for any length of time, simply because I didn’t ask for it. It wasn’t too long before I thought that I had figured out how God thinks about things.  I thought that I knew what I could and could not ask for, and what I would or would not receive. Whoops!

 I figured that pretty much anything spiritual with good honest heartfelt intent would be granted quickly if not instantly. (Examples) Oh Dear Lord, please give me the strength not to throw this hammer. 1 Corinthians 1: 8 NIVLord, I’m under attack by Satin. I need your help to once and for all, dispose of this old sin. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV.  Material things prayed for I figured take longer to receive, if at all. Granting these request seem to depend on various factors. Is it a need or is it greed? Will it make me proud? Will I love it more than God thus “it”, whatever “it” is, could become my new god? Am I spiritually ready for it? Can it help build God’s kingdom?  Prayers prayed for situations seem to be a hit or miss, at least for me anyway. These prayers are almost always prompted by my anxiety. In every instance I believe that my anxiety was greatly reduced or relieved entirely. The actual situation may or may not be granted or possibly be delayed. (Example) When I was praying for a church and a church family, I received two nays before receiving a yea. When I prayed for a job that I really wanted, I was turned down. I thought I was fully qualified and the best man for the job. Apparently, God thought otherwise. Philippians 4:6-7.  Prayers for personal gain seem to depend on my motives. (Examples) When I prayed for the zeal to learn, study and understand the Bible, I would never in a million years have guessed I would at times spend upwards of eight and ten hours in a day, studying and conversing with God. When I prayed to win the lottery jackpot the only thing I won was another opportunity to purchase another ticket. Exodus 9:16 NLT.

 Somewhere along the line my prayers morphed into praying for specific blessings which isn’t a bad thing. But then, cocky me, assumed I’d receive my request based on my superior understanding of how God thinks. Then my second mistake, I focused on just how my blessing would come and what else would come with it.

I’m like a child who has learned how to get what he wants from his parents, except this Father, Our Father in Heaven, He’s on top of the game and will not be manipulated. God is not a vending machine where I deposit a prayer and out pops my request along with three complimentary items just because I’m so special in His eyes. I forgot He has the ability to read my mind and my heart’s intentions. 1 Chronicles 28:9 NLT.  I really need to receive this verse into my heart, learn it and take it seriously.                  

At some point I began to pray in a worldly way. In the world you work and get paid, you help someone and you’re praised for it, you scratch their back and they’ll scratch yours, I complement you and you return the compliment. There’s always a payback. So I have been offering up my prayers with something good in mind, expecting my prayer to be answered, which can also be good, BUT before receiving my blessing I started to count all of the fringe benefits, that would come to me. Lately, I’ve noticed that when I pray, my prayers are either taking an exceptionally long time to be honored or are not granted at all. Is it any wonder?

It’s time to turn over a new leaf and reanalyze what I think I know. It’s time to pray earnestly and compassionately from my heart for my family, my friends, and my needs. Then leave it at that. God    decides whether to grant or turn down my prayers.

Other related scriptures;

Philippians 2:3 NIV.  1 Corinthians 10:24 NLT

The very same day when I was pondering all this over I was out and about, delivering resumes. In the afternoon, I stopped into a used book store and bought a cheap book of daily devotionals, one for each day of the month($1.00). It’s based on the Prayer of Jabez. The devotionals all point to proper prayer and intentions.

I think it’s so wonderful how God finds ways to place the answers that I need into my hands.

House Cleaning with, “The Holy Spirit”

Before seeking Jesus, confessing my sins, asking for forgiveness and asking him to take over my messed up life, it was not uncommon for me to wake up for several hours in the middle of the night. I would awake enraged with anger over some issue that occurred the previous day, week or even months and sometimes years earlier. I would be so upset that it would take me hours to get back to sleep. I could never solve the angering problem and most often I would watch television or read a book until I could be distracted enough or calmed down enough to return to bed and finish what was left of the night.

Sometime soon after seeking and asking Jesus to take charge in my life, I had my first encounter with The Holy Spirit. I didn’t know it at the time but hindsight is 20/20. Now I understand some of the gifts of The Holy Spirit that Jesus gave to me when I reached out to him and accepted him as my Lord and Savior.

The encounter was right after I woke up in a fit of anger. At first I dove right into the problem, swinging and kicking, thinking of what I should have said and should have done at the time, muttering profanities under my breath. Then, when I realized I was losing the battle yet again, I got this idea to ask Jesus for his help. I explained what was going on and that I was the victim and needed his help. What happened next was pretty amazing. That problem dissipated and in no time at all I was lying back down and dozing off to sleep.

What a great idea I had. Why didn’t I think of it a long time ago. I had heard talk about The Holy Spirit but I had no idea where he fit into the grand scheme of things. The only things I understood was God is the creator and Jesus is our Savior. I figured that I had discovered all on my own that the way to beat these Satin antagonized bouts of anger was for me to remember to ask Jesus to help me. I’m not sure who tipped me off that it was not me that thought to go to Christ for help, but that it was actually The Holy Spirit that gave me the idea and prompted me to stop fighting and leave it for Jesus to battle it out. He is my shepherd and protector.

It must have been the better part of the first two years of my becoming a Christian before I stopped trying to deal with my sleep time anger problems on my own. Then realizing that to avoid defeat all I had to do was run to Jesus and let him settle the score. No one has ever accused me of having a thin cranium. There’s some pretty dense bone and matter up there that makes it pretty difficult for knowledge and experience, to break through and take up residency.

At about the two and half year mark as a Christian I had finally learned that The Holy Spirit was a gift from Jesus and that he actually lived right inside of me. I had begun to communicate with him one on one, and prayed, and gave thanks to him right along with Abba and Jesus. The Holy Spirit has taught me to recognize when I am under attack and when Satin has begun throwing old wounds at me. When I fail to react right away The Holy Spirit gives me a nudge. I’ve learned to not even try to resist, but to run straight to Jesus immediately.

Psalms 139: 23-24 NLT : Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Up to a point I was always on the defense, reacting to Satin’s ploys. At some point the Holy Spirit turned the tables and we became the offense. I would pray to The Holy Spirit to dig out a piece of garbage that was lingering around inside me. He lived in me and who would know better the gunk that was in there than he. I would ask that he bring to my attention the pieces of baggage that he knew I would be able to handle. Those old unforgiven hurts were dragged out of the closets and presented to me, often in the middle of the night or early pre waking hours. I would wake up, realize what they were and take them to Jesus. I would pray with Jesus that I forgive this person for doing that to me, pray for healing in that person and then mentally with Jesus we would fold up that hurt, tie it up secure and we would throw it in the furnace and watch it burn until there was nothing left but ashes.

One day I tried to remember the hurts that had been tossed out. I planned to count them up and see how many we had gotten rid of. I could not for the life of me remember what the hurts were that we had tossed away. When Jesus takes on a sin it is washed away forever, once and for all.  It is hard to imagine that I had carried all that excess baggage, some of it for decades. Some of it was so old and so insignificant now that I had to laugh at the immaturity of it. How much needless stress did I put myself through by not forgiving these hurts at the time? How much energy and how much of my life have I wasted carrying all this unnecessary waste?

The Holy Spirit has done some serious housecleaning in me. He did not just dig out my hurt feelings but also grudges, jealousy and wrongs that I did to others and never apologized for (OUCH!) This housecleaning exercise is still underway to this day. I hate to admit it but there are still sins so embedded inside that it may be a while yet before they’re dislodged. Wounds and sins so painful that I have made up lies to cover them and to deal with them. Lies that I’ve convinced myself are true. Lies that I have convinced some of my nearest and dearest friends are true. For me, it is very important that I am able to present myself new to my friends and as clean as possible and new to the Lord.

I know Jesus washed the slate clean with his precious blood some two thousand years ago and I am not trying to buy my way into heaven because we cannot. With the help of The Holy Spirit and Jesus I can take a load of heavy weights off and live a much freer life that I am sure pleases our Father in heaven.  

Romans 6:13 NLT : Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourself completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

Before I Write

I truly aim to lay myself bare before everyone who sorts through this site. Anyone reading my post will come to have a pretty good idea of who I was, who I am and where I’m going. It is my hope that readers will be able to watch me grow in Christ. I’m a newbie at only 3 years old now. No doubt there will be many ups and downs, successes and failures, and stalemates such as I am in now. Over all I pray everyone will see a steady incline but who knows what you’ll see.

I don’t know that anyone has ever charted the growth of a Christian before. I believe that it has to start with complete honesty on my part. Let me testify here and now that it is not as easy as you might think. It would be simple if I could be guaranteed that no one I knew would ever find this website because  there are lies that I have told to cover up the deepest, darkest areas in my life. Lies that I have told so often they have become reality in my mind and some of my best friends have accepted them as the truth. Now! I risk losing them or at the very least disappointing them severely.  

I can’t do this on my own; I have to have the support of our heavenly Father, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ and the inward coaxing of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise I’ll just paint another pretty picture of myself, pretend everything is rosy and bright and show you what a wonderful person I am.

 Before I start every posting, I pray three and sometimes four prayers. The first goes something like this.

I tell Abba, I am not blogging for myself but for Him and I ask Abba to refine me with each new post, ranking me as He sees fit. I ask to be put to good use or to suffering, for Him. I ask that I be allowed to post for Him or to be put aside and used for another purpose. I plead to be lifted high but only for Him or to be brought down low, also for Him. I tell Him to do with me and each post whatever He will knowing that He knows what is best.

I pray that God will not let me strive to fill this website but to submit thoughtfully and to genuinely care what I post rather than compete with other sites. I ask for help to seek holiness and not hits on this site.  I confess that I would rather be a follower than have followers.  

My ambition is to fill the website with Abba’s character and grace but keep as low a profile of myself as possible. I pray extensively on this because the site is about me but I ask for help to always exalt Him and humbly place myself below His feet. I pray for the strength to not seek anything from this world but to continually crave all that He is. I pray that all my words will be worthy for Him to read, and express that He is enough. He is the only one I need to please.

 I ask that the Holy Spirit help me to write for Christ smile and not for subscribers and that my daily declaration, not the size of my audience be the certainty of my redemption. I ask that the uncountable graces received from Christ be my identity and never the number of comments I may receive. I pray that the only words I upload are the truth and what I have lived.

I offer to God Almighty ever word, every sentence, every title and every post, every comment or no comment, all to His pleasure and perfect will. Then I confess to Jesus that my only fame is that I bear His name. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. My only Glory is the gift of His grace. The only true readership I seek is His eyes wandering the earth searching to and fro for a heart that is hard after his. I beg Him to make all of this so.

I say, Yawweh, You alone are my God, nothing else receives my love like the love I have for you. I say, Jesus you alone are my savior, I look no further than you. I say Holy Spirit, you alone are my comforter, nothing else can bring me the comfort that you do.

I ask that this prayer will stand today, yesterday and for every post to come. This is my prayer and I wish for it to be legalized in heaven. Amen

Although every prayer I pray is vastly different as I elaborate a little or a lot on each of the points above, the main structure of my prayers before writing each and every blog post, follow Ann Voskamp’s “Bloggers Prayer” A very special thanks to you, Ann. Your prayer helps me to stay focused, remain humble and address every point. It keeps it in my mind where I stand and who God is. Praise God.   

My Dog Ginger

Ginger is a Cocker Spaniel mix. She was rescued by a friend from a basket full of forcibly weaned puppies.  Stolen away from her mother, hand selected by a human and separated from her brothers and sisters. She was abducted if you will and taken to a strange new home where there were no other dogs. For her, what a dreadful day it was. It all began with a simple day trip, ironically to Parque de la Madre (Mother’s Park), Cuenca, Ecuador.

My friend’s wife named this new cute bundle of joy, Lollipop. Lollipop required a lot of care. She was not on solid food so had to be patiently introduced to bread and milk. Lollipop had to be taught to chew and lap up her food rather than suck it from a teat. Potty training was a full time job.

Now, my friend and his wife were getting on in their years as we all are and after suffering through numerous sleepless nights of howls and whining, uncountable potty runs, followed up with specialty meal preparations and lots of coaxing, it all proved somewhat unmanageable.

I had only met Lollipop on one occasion before being asked to consider the possibility of adopting her. I discussed the offer to adopt with my roommate and it was decided that she would be a welcome member of the household.

Thank goodness we were told that we could rename her. I dreaded having to take Lollipop for walks and having to call her name out in public. Not a very suiting name that a man would give to his dog. Lollipop became Jengibre, Spanish for Ginger, the color of her fur.

Ginger was truly a rescued puppy and so fortunate to be alive with a long life ahead of her. On the second day I had her we attended a veterinarian appointment. She was started on a health maintenance program with follow up appointments that would make sure she was always in top health. Soon afterwards we discovered that she was absolutely loaded with intestinal worms. I feared for the lives of the other pups as well as the mother.  

To bring this run on story to a point. I believe that God was behind all of this. You see, I was not a follower of God or Jesus. I knew about them but I had no relationship with them, nor did I need one. I have always done as I wished when I wished, until now. It seems that the time had come for God’s master plan for my life to be set into action. God would use Ginger to help ease me in to Jesus who would then work his magic on my heart.

God works in mysterious ways. Little did I know that our Father in heaven had been busy behind the scenes and all that I had ever known, done and worked for was about to come crashing down. Ginger was to be a big part of my recovery and transformation. Our father does not work the way we think He should. He works the way that He knows will be the best for everyone. God used my friend to rescue Ginger and knew that He would also have my friend gift Ginger to me at just the right moment in time to help me to turn to Jesus who would in turn rescue me. My friend and his wife would still be able to enjoy Ginger as we were very close friends. Visitation rights would not be an issue.   

When you’re broken and buried in fear and despair. When you’re pushed down as low as you can possibly be and hope does not exist, I’ll tell you from experience, what will happen. You’ll want to be alone so that you can do the one thing society says that you cannot. You’ll crawl to your bed possibly taking with you something that may provide any little bit of comfort. (Ginger, in my case). You begin a pity party and you start to sob.  Your sobs turn to out and out crying and the tears will flow like Niagara Falls.

Once you realize there is no way out of this mess and you cannot save yourself this time. Once you realize there’s nowhere to turn and no one to turn to, there is only one option left. You cry out to God, you cry out to Jesus, you get on your knees and you beg for mercy and grace. It does not matter how much you refused to believe or how much you rejected the idea of there even being a God, a single creator of everything that exist. You’ll now believe from your heart what you have known to be true all along. You have no other choice.

This is not how we should come to God. Unfortunately, it is how many relationships with God start. How is that? Using God as an absolute last resort, after you have used up every possible option and tried everything else. Thank God, He is merciful, patient and forgiving. If you were to come to me as an absolute last hope, things could have a different outcome for you. I want to be like God but I am not.   

What do you do when someone’s hurting? Do you tell them don’t cry, everything will be okay. “NO! It won’t!” Do you tell them, you’ll get over it. “No! I won’t!” Maybe you can suggest that you know how  they are feeling. “No! You do not!” Here is what you do. You do what Ginger did. Absolutely nothing! You sit with the person quietly and you don’t say a word. Job 2:13 NIV Be humble, patient and gentle Ephesians 4:2 NIV and let them know you are feeling their hurt with them. Cry along with them.  When one member of the family is hurting the whole family hurts together.

Ginger was so patient and so quite. Although she was just a four month old puppy and I only had her a couple of weeks, she had studied me well. Ginger knew my upbeat happy demeanor and she knew this new emotion was not right. She related my pain and tears to her own. The day she was taken from her mother and siblings. You could see the empathy in her face.

This day, Ginger was my landing pad. The first of many uses God has had for her in my life to date.