Monday, February 28, 2011

Would you tell me if I had broccoli in my teeth?

     While I was at lunch after church on Sunday I overheard a conversation a family sitting near me was having. It was a husband, wife, and three daughters. It looked as though they varied in age from about four to nine years old. The middle daughter had a put a bow or ribbon in her hair when I heard the father tell her "That does not look good honey."

     I was not deliberately listening in on the conversation I was just admiring what appeared to be great unity among this family when I saw and overheard what was being said. At that point I decided to play some 'Words with Friends' to allow the family their privacy and pass the time.

     I was rummaging through the dictionary in my head to decide upon the next word I would use in an attempt to conquer my opponent when I could not help but hear the daughter then begin to whine whereas her feelings had been hurt. That was when I heard the true compassion and heart of a mother come out with these words. "Would you tell me if I had broccoli in my teeth?". She then went into an explanation to ensure that her daughter knew the truth that the "look" of that particular bow, in that particular place, with that particular outfit, etc was what did not look good. It was not as though the girl herself did not look good. From the look on her face and the sound in her voice I felt that she was struggling with believing that as truth.

     Is God telling you that something does not look good in your life? Do not allow the accuser to set lies within your heart that you do not look good or that you are not good. Know that He is looking out for your best interests and only wants to help you. It may not seem like it in the moment and you may not understand, but that is the truth.

  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Intentional, incidental, or accidental...

Damage
     This photo is of my car. This is damage that I noticed yesterday while on break at work. It is not even all shown in the photo and I am not sure if you can see the significance of the damage in this photo, but due to the location it had to have been some serious impact to cause the dents that it did. 

     Let us move on to the point of this blog whereas if we ask, God will speak to us at ALL times in every event of every minute of every day. What God spoke to me through this was that regardless of how good a steward we are to what He has given to us, others can (and oftentimes will) damage (or cause wounds to) those things or to us. It could be intentional, incidental, or accidental. It could even be from our friends.

     The great news about all this is that the wounds, hurt, damage inflicted by others only have as much control as we allow them to. Am I saying it is easy to just let it all go? Absolutely not, in fact I am struggling with a few things right now in my own personal life. But you have a choice to carry it with you or work to give it up to God and move forward. If you are walking in obedience, the best way out is always through. Do not stop and stand still, do not try to go around, and especially do not turn back to go back where you came from. 

     In the end my car still runs, still gets me from point 'A' to point 'B', still protects me from the elements of the weather, etc. In fact that damage to my vehicle sent me right back to God which resulted in this word I am now sharing with you. It just goes to show that He can turn all things for good! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Where did they go?

Times of trial when diligence is tested are times when true friends surface and the fakes are exposed. It can be some of the most painful events during those trials whereas the one(s) you felt would be there through anything may just be the first to abandon you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An addiction I desire to have...

     About a year ago I was in communication with someone who has known me for several years. I think they are still to this day trying to figure out what has happened to me. I have been overtly open and honest that by surrendering my life to God I am a new creature and that His love is growing inside me. One of their responses was "I have heard church is just another addiction." I can not argue that. I am addicted to the love I feel from God. I am addicted to church. However...

CHURCH IS NOT A BUILDING!

     Church is community, it is what occurs outside the walls of the building much more than what occurs within them. As a result of that community and the grace and mercy of our great God, I am literally a new creature. So if you view it as an addiction then hook up the IV! I have traded in other addictions. A glass pipe for the Bible, a joint for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a bottle of Patron for worshiping our sweet Lord, a life of promiscuity for real unadulterated relationship with people that love me for ME! 

     If an addiction causes me to love others more, results in my making wiser decisions, has an outcome of true integrity, and true joy through all circumstances then give me MORE!

     To elaborate on the joy part I can tell you this. Whereas I would be lying if I said I have not struggled I am joyful. As I type this I do not know when I will get to see my son again, I do not know where I will be living in six weeks whereas my lease is up, I do not know how I will get the maintenance done on my vehicle that is now past due, I do not know how I will pay my upcoming bills, I do not know where I stand in a very important relationship, and I do not know what my job situation truly is whereas my current job does not appease my stringent budget. I could go on, but I will spare you LOL. But, you know what? I am still joyful! 

     I am however beaten down. The weight of all this and the world itself has been beating against me for weeks now. I worn down. "Limping" as a sister in Christ mentioned while praying for me earlier this evening. Which spoke to me, in fact minutes prior to that statement and prayer I had read my friend Nancy's blog in which she discussed crutches, among other things. [Go ahead go check it out] 

     That was when I realized my life with Christ can fill another cliché (other than "just another addiction"). It is also a crutch. That's right I said it. And you know what I want two of them and I am going to lean in and put ALL my weight on them. God can handle it, I assure you. Fortunately, through God's perfect timing I also got a scholarship to go on a retreat this weekend with some great men of God. I know not what is in store for me, but I know it is good. First of all I need the time away. A good friend of mine is driving so I can save my fuel for work and reduce more wear and tear on my vehicle that needs some tender loving care right now LOL

     Well, folks that is all I have for tonight. Just felt the need to get that off my chest. Feel free to comment or contact me if you want or need to chat more. Also if you think about it please pray for me and my current circumstances. I will not tell you what or how to pray, if you feel led to pray for me then be led by the Holy Spirit as to how and what you should pray. Thank you for reading and I pray blessings over every that reads this blog. Now go out and be the light and salt to the world God desires you to be!

 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I want to be the stronger brother...

     Wait what? Do you think I am indecisive now? Just yesterday I wanted to be the weaker brother. Well, I want to be both.

     I too can be a mentor and pour into the lives of others. Our precious Lord fills us up so that He can then pour us out. Whereas I may have a very long way to go in my spiritual journey; I am still further along than others and it is my responsibility as a disciple to help others. The best part is, if you are living your life and dying to self daily then you do not even have to try.

     By simply being me (the me I have become through progressive sanctification)  I have been acknowledged, notified, and shown (in some interesting ways) how I have had a positive impact on the lives of many individuals.

     In fact, I had a few letters of character reference written by friends for the court hearing I just had in CA and a few of those letters drove me to tears. Tears of joy for the work God is doing through me in the lives of others. It is incredible to see how others view yourself when you are truly living under the authority of God and serving Him and others.

     Even the video I did at my church caused an influx of phone calls, Facebook messages, text messages, emails, and physical conversations in person about how I touched peoples lives. That was not my intention at all in doing that video. To me it was simply an opportunity to thank all those out there that were so giving to help individuals in need like myself.

    I could go on and on, but I believe you get the point.

     All of us should at some times be the weaker brother (or sister) to receive and then take that to be the stronger brother (or sister) and give back to others what has been poured into us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I want to be the weaker brother...

     No the title of this post is not a typo. Yes you read it correctly. I want to be the weaker brother!

     This all came to me when I heard a sermon from Jeff Wickwire on the radio when driving to work the other day. The title of his message was 'The Weaker Brother'. He was not necessarily using it in the context that I am, but they parallel one another.

     Basically, if I am the weaker brother then that means I am around a stronger one. A man more wise, more spiritually mature, and whatever else God feels I need to submit to the authority of in my time here on earth. Sounds a lit like a mentor does it not? I have felt for over a year that the Lord wanted me to have a good mentor. He even gave me a name, obviously I was not exactly obedient in that area of life whereas I still do not have an official mentor. I do have people that speak into my life, but not a mentor per se.

     That is why I am excited about this weekend! God worked out all the details that I get to go on a retreat this weekend that is specifically for younger men to go and hear from older, wiser, successful men. By successful I mean in marriage, life, business, being a father, a brother, a friend, and yes even a mentor. I know not what to expect other than for God to move on and in my life. So if you are praying and have a spare moment pray for a divine appointment with my mentor this weekend and that I kill off my flesh in an effort to get more from Him!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Agreements coexisting with arbitration...

     Countless individuals have been asking how the court hearing went in California for legal custody/visitation of Andrew. I was hoping and praying for the best so that I can begin growing a deeper relationship with Andrew and although I wanted more; I believe that our God did the best for the present time. Rather than get all wordy and drawn out I will succinctly put the results below in bullet points.

Partial Stipulation
  • With notice greater than 48 hours I will be allowed reasonable visitation with Andrew and we will have a mental health professional involved as a third party for their input that will allow for fair progression in visitation. (i.e. - more time and eventually having him come here for split holidays, part of the summer, and any other that is agreed upon at that time)
  • I have an allotted time with a 30 minute window to call and speak to Andrew once a week. I can call more often than once a week, but that does not guarantee that I will get to speak to him. 
Arbitrary Orders
  • I will be provided with a copy of Andrew's birth certificate and my request was granted to be added to his birth certificate. 
  • I will be notified of Andrew's Social Security Number and provided with a copy of his Social Security card. 
  • It was also granted that my name will be added to the school and medical records of Andrew so that I may be advised and aware of his education and health. 
     All in all that is all great news whereas prior to the hearing I had nothing within my control. It will still be difficult to get out there as often as I would like, but we got the ball rolling and now can only gain momentum. Thank you all who have stood in the gap with prayer support. Just know that you have helped one young man have the opportunity to know his father better. Now I pray for provision so I can begin contributing more financially to his life and to be able to get out there more often to visit. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Freedom from the past...

     God's forgiveness is absolute; we are the ones that struggle with forgiveness (both giving and receiving). Until you truly believe this in your heart you can not experience true freedom from your past. It is much easier to believe this in your mind than to allow that belief to travel eighteen inches to the heart.

     What I am about to share with you, many of you know about my past...most of you do not. This part of my life goes back to early 2004. This was a time when I was working for a publication company during the week and working in a friends bar on the weekends. At this time I was living a life of total immorality. I was drunk every weekend (fringe benefit of being a bartender), I was living in promiscuity, smoking one to two packs of cigarettes a day, and the occasional joint would top things off. I was a poor steward of relationships in my life (both family and friends), I was a poor steward of money, and outside of the gym I was a poor steward of my own body. Needless to say I was on a path to sure destruction if things did not change.

     I know, most of you are saying you already knew that about me...well here goes the dropping of the bomb. On one particular night while working at the bar someone came in that evening I had not seen in several years. Someone I had been attracted to. To make a long story short after closing down the bar and getting out around three o'clock in the morning I made my way over to her place. This led to the miracle and blessing that is my son Andrew. Well, when his mother came to me to tell me she was pregnant I did not believe here whereas due to my promiscuity this was the fifth time in my life I had been told this same thing and yet I had no children. As hazy as this part of my life is I do remember this moment, I also remember losing patience with the situation and advising his mother that she should just go get rid of the baby. Yes abortion.

     You still with me here?

     Am I proud of this moment? Of course not. Is it completely out of character for me...I would like to think so, but you can see I was living life in a destructive manner and I am sure I caused lots of people pain in during those years whether intentional or not. Especially the mother of Andrew. I can only try to imagine the pain my reactions and words could have caused her. I know this...I am EVER so grateful that our almighty God works all things for His glory. I am ever so grateful that she chose NOT to go through with it.

      Over time Andrew's mother and I lost contact so I assumed it was just another bluff. Honestly I was curious and did try to find her through the internet on a couple occasions and I even called the phone number I had for her with no luck. Then on July 16, 2008 I received a message via MySpace from an individual whose moniker I did not recognize. I assumed the message was spam and almost deleted it. Luckily I did not and after a couple days I realized who it was! This began that journey on which I am still traveling called fatherhood. It has not been ideal, but I am doing the best with what I have and I am confident that in the end things will be great!

     Now to the forgiveness part. I struggled immensely with guilt, shame, fear, etc. I was only four months into moving back into relationship with God at this time. At that time I was still unaware of true forgiveness and freedom. Luckily He has spoken to me and drew me into Him throughout all of this. I can now live in freedom and I am focused on doing the best I can to be the best father possible with what I have been given in this season of my life. I hope and pray that the day the truth is revealed to Andrew he can find it in him to not allow all of this to hinder his life and growth into the man God intends for Him to be. God obviously has big plans for him considering all of this.

     I hope that if you have something that has held you in bondage of guilt or shame or anything else for that matter that you know that God's forgiveness is absolute. Others may not forgive you, but if you sincerely apologize from the heart, confess your sin towards them, and ask for their forgiveness that is all you can do. You must choose to receive God's forgiveness and healing and the freedom He has promised us and move forward in your life. Use your past mistakes to help you grow as an individual not to stunt that growth.

     Prayer Request

Now I am about to head into a new season of fatherhood here. Last year I had a court hearing for the child support side of things. Last week I had a mediation hearing for legal shared custody/visitation. Both of which were somewhat frustrating due to the fact that I have not been present and so I am simply a voice coming out of a speaker box. I have a hearing this coming Monday to have the courts legally establish guidelines and parameters for the shared custody/visitation. Whereas Andrew is now six years old it is very important that I have your prayer support so that God's will be done through all of this and allow for me the best opportunity to be the father God desires me to be.