Who God is

Gods character is unique throughout history. He is the ultimate power in the universe, yet, a women held him as a baby in her arms and sang him to sleep. We need God to be the first or He isn’t really God, but the second part is much more difficult to understand. We need that too, without it we would have no hope and definitely no understanding of grace.

In understanding God we do have more than stone statues to stare at or stories to listen to from our elders. We have two sources of who God is to see for ourselves, and a third if we are lucky. First off, we have Gods creation to behold, all the world around us and the stars above, all perfectly in sync and held together by an infinite amount of particulars. Just one thing out of balance and it all falls apart. It’s what gives us our ultimate perspective, where we are in life and a constant reminder of the God that put us here.

We also have God’s word. It’s the most insight we have into God’s relationship with His creation. It’s also the most contentious in understanding God. If we trust it as the authoritative account than we have a lot of information to go on. If not, than we will forever struggle to find purpose and understand all that God is at a personal level.

Most of the time when I encounter those who are struggling with their belief it’s because they don’t trust the Bible, therefore they don’t read it and trust it to affect their lives. They are trying to make the most important decision of their lives with only half of life’s available information.

The wildcard and for some it is the clincher in their belief, or lack of is those around us. An influential person, living out their faith in humility and devotion to God is a powerful means to understand that God is real, means what He says, and can be trusted. The opposite is also true. How many jokes are out there on the money grubbing preacher, on TV with the crazy voice asking for money in the name of Jesus. Or the priests trusted in counseling our youth who have been destroying it with assaults instead. Its God’s will that we are the ones to spread the Good News. It seems that some have forgotten the good part and turned it into a grocery aisle tabloid instead.

If those observing don’t have anything else to go on then I don’t blame them with having a distrust in the God that these men profess as Lord and Savior. It is so important and powerful that believers not hide their faith but fully trust in the God that they profess to live openly and show that all that God is, is enough. People searching for answers to life’s questions will notice and may start to notice the answers all around them in God’s creation as well as trust enough to open and read the Bible that will deepen their new faith and continue the cycle to inspire future generations.

Hey google…

Is it just our human nature to believe that we can do enough to make a difference in eternity? It is the spark that drives us to create amazing works of our imagination and it is also our greatest downfall in thinking we are the center of the universe and all that matters.

It’s partly cultural, we are nurtured to be successful and results oriented. Or at least we were. It seems more and more it is about fruitless desires and goals to amass possessions and dream vacations. Doing as little as possible, but being super at it. We have always tried to explain our way to the center, our created gods were just like us with the exception they were somehow imbued with certain powers. We had to please them or just plain deal with them as we plotted on with our lives.  We became more sophisticated in our creative power and added rules to our knowledge seeking, methods and laws of the world around us. It allowed for more complex building and explanations, greater egos for those who could explain what others could not. Power no longer was a birthright but a goal for anyone creative enough to amass either wealth or knowledge. It also pushed out the gods we used to explain the world around us. We didn’t need a tree god to explain its fruit, or weather gods to explain the storms that brought the rain. We were now totally self-sufficient, or were we? We never could find the formula to happiness or eternal meaning no matter what wealth we amassed, the number of parties we threw or knowledge we possessed. It’s the number one question today that still alludes us with the power of the world at our fingertips we still can’t google an answer to happiness or why we are here.

The best science can offer is that we are a cosmic event of time and chance. That we are doomed to live and die at the whim of an ever evolving world towards an apocalyptic end. The best mans faith can come up with is that we need to be good enough, or more good than bad to make it into eternity. If not we are stuck in a cycle to keep trying again, in different forms if need be. We even tried to add works to faith, adherence to strict laws will make us holy, obtaining eternity by our piety. I believe it was summed up best by saying all we do against eternity, the very best of humanity is nothing but filthy rags in comparison to a God that created all things, even time itself. The greatest folly of man just might be to get it half right in believing in a real God, but missing the very point of what only He did to reveal himself to us and give us the one thing we have always been searching for.

The first day of school

As a parent this time of year there is excitement and nervous apprehension as kids are going back to school. We have either planned it all out and bought new supplies, backpacks, clothes and shoes throughout the summer or like most, we waited until a few days before to madly assemble all the number two pencils, markers and folders with pockets and tabs needed for the first day.

When the day arrives it’s a change to the schedule for most kids. Gone are the days of staying up late, sleeping in, and playing outside all afternoon. It’s important to establish the new schedule with as much patience and forethought as possible. Especially with younger children, they need a schedule with events they can count on and limit the amount of unexpected activities that they don’t know how to react to. If you can manage the change it will decrease the amount of stress children will have to deal with along with the associated school stressors of new social interactions and homework.

That being said, don’t ever stop looking for ways to safely expose your children to the amazing world God has given us. It’s also part of the learning process and makes for a more well-rounded childhood experience. Change is usually frowned upon and seen in a negative light. But change can often be the best thing for us. Change is full of surprises we never would have anticipated and those blessings can only be felt when we take the risk and do something new. Often times we stay in our comfortable rut to avoid feeling the stress of something different, even if that different could be something we’ve always dreamed about.

As parents we should expose our kids to as much “newness” as we can and show them that different can often be good. A child doesn’t know what sport they like until they try several of them first. Volunteering is also a way to help them find their niche. Showing them that change is an adventure with negative, as well as positive consequences helps them see all their options and can give them a positive outlook when things don’t go their way. We need to let them experience all of this while under our roofs and guidance. Hopefully, they will learn to embrace change with a good attitude or fuel a passion or ambition for improvement.

We are a big part of that. Our drive and reaction to all that life throws at us is the first experience a Child has. Children first learn by imitating what they see until they can figure it out for themselves. Children see how we take on change as well and whether we “freak” out or just come to terms and “settle” with our circumstances. We should instill in them to be better than we are, to grow and move past failures and setbacks until they reach their full potential.

 

Staying positive

Life has many catchy phrases for it. Getting lemons, keeping your chin up, it’s all very well-intentioned but rooted in absolutely nothing. We have a hard time as humans remembering all the good things we have in our lives. We fixate on the negative and let it consume our time and energy. Some say its an internal defense mechanism, back when we were all fighting for survival on a daily basis. I believe we just happen to get lost in the present or caught up trying to plan our way through the future.

We do have a lot to be thankful for, a lot to look forward too, but life here on earth isn’t it. It’s not those things we first think of, it’s not the fame and riches seen on TV. That’s actually very selfish and small-minded. We love to use buzz words that make us seem like we are a caring, advanced culture who are inclusive and generous to all, but are actually grounded in a worldview that believes we are a cosmic mistake with no real value or purpose beyond the few years we are on this planet. It’s more than that. We receive more information now than ever before. What has it done? Made us more self-conscious. It has amplified the false promises of vanity and wealth. It has even spawned a counter-culture within itself as young people try to detach from society and explore the world around them. This pushes us to a decision point. Either we accept God’s word as truth and believe we are loved and have a purpose or we believe the ever-changing view of society that lead to depression, aggression, and ultimately it will destroy any civilization.

It’s out of fashion these days. What used to be the accepted truth is now a matchstick for controversy. It doesn’t seem to matter that it’s the truth, that there are a million reasons in each of our lives of God’s love and attention.  In the past it was known as the “simple life” It’s the day-in, day-out work ethic and focus on what is truly important to make people’s lives better, for Christians it’s that daily picking up of our cross and living our lives for who we do indeed owe it all. One of the first big truths that every person needs to learn upon believing is that God’s love and promises are real, everyday, good or bad situations are irrelevant. Its been warped a little by those that think that solemn is holy living, that our lives should be boring and void of any joy. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. No matter how many mistakes we have made or will make we are never going to lose salvation. That’s God’s promise not mine. That’s a joy worth shouting about and sharing to everyone around us. Its the external difference that people first see as a sign that someone is a Christian.

We don’t have to do it alone. That is what the body of Christ is for, to lift us up, encourage us and remind us that our God is bigger than any problems we might encounter. With all that in mind we should strive everyday to start in the right positive mindset and know that if we are willing to step out in faith we can have the most fulfilling life possible.

 

Being a real man

Despite what is portrayed on television and movies, a real man isn’t a bumbling father for comic relief. He isn’t a chiseled action hero saving the world before breakfast. It’s also more complicated than simply a gender. It’s about more than being macho or beards or anything else society has come up with to define us. Men, it’s time to stop pretending and start being real, real with your strengths, your weaknesses, your struggles. Real with your hopes, your dreams and your fears. Real with who you actually are; not who you want to be. God gave us a purpose and certain gifts to accomplish His will while we are here on earth. We need to stop pretending to fit in and when we Do, we will find true happiness that will bring us closer to God.

There is nothing better than a man who exudes strength. Not the muscle-rippling kind of strength, but strength of mind, heart and spirit. A strength that comes from a man who knows what he believes and stands firm for what’s right. A strength in recognizing right from wrong and confessing when he has given into the latter. A strength that is confident enough to do right, choose right and be right, even when nobody is looking.

So what does a real man look like? You can always recognize a real man by taking a look at his heart. Does his heart move for the things that move God’s heart? Is he broken by the pain in his life? Is he moved by the sins he’s working to overcome? Is he affected when things are not as they should be in life, in situations, in relationships? A real man is one who allows his heart to be moved and then allows his actions to follow his heart. A man who strives for healing, restoration and resolution. A man who strives to right the wrongs around him and the wrongs within him.

One of the cornerstones that defines a real man is humility.  A real man doesn’t need to talk up who he is, because his life does that for him. He can put away the talk, because a man of humility is focused so much more on his walk. He is quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because he has put away his “rights” for the right to be selfless, loving and full of grace. The greatest example of humility is found in the manliest man: Jesus. A man who laid down his divinity and made Himself nothing in order to be an example of undying love and affection to the bride who won His heart. Real men seek to do the same.

Our families deserve nothing less. We are the head of the family, we need to be that rock for our wives and children. It’s not that we have to be that perfect knight in shining armor. But be who God has created us to be. We are fallen and have our work cut out for us as we mature in our faith and Christian walk. Women don’t want an imitation and being fake only lasts so long before your actions speak for themselves and you are found out to be living a lie. A man who has nothing to hide becomes the safe place in which a woman can hide her heart. In this day of compromise, women are looking for a man who is strong enough to stand his ground and hold on to his values, his beliefs and, most importantly, his God. Women are looking for men of compassion, tenderness and love because therein together they will always find the heart of Jesus.

The Family Vacation

Many families go on an annual trek to get away and have some fun each year. My family was no exception. With the heavy demands of a military life we don’t get a chance to go “all out” very often and splurge on a fancy destination. This year we have been blessed with the opportunity and funding to go ahead and plan an adventure. We took the time to explore out options, plan out a few activities and try to keep the cost as low as possible. We looked at all the usual suspects when you have kids, Disneyland, Seaworld, going home to visit relatives. It all became really expensive when you have to fly seven people from a tiny little island in the Pacific. But, being blessed with living in a so-called tropical paradise already, we thought to explore our surroundings. We are one of the few people here that hadn’t actually seen any of the other islands despite the fact of being here several years on multiple occasions. There are several islands, each with some history and “must see” locations. There is also the limiting factor of trying to get the most out of our limited time, so we chose an island with a volcano, black sand beaches and some waterfalls, where there was also military resort cabins for rent. We explained it all to the kids, had them choose some activities and got excited about the possibility of star-gazing on the top of a mountain and journeying through an old lava tube.

It didn’t take long for that idea to burst into flames, literally. Two months before our vacation, the volcano decided to erupt and send our vacation plans up in smoke. We waited for it to stop, but it just spewed more gas, ash and lava all over the island. With our plans in ashes we scrambled to salvage what we could from airfares, car rentals and our resort rental. But where to now? We went back to the drawing board and looked at a few options we had looked at before. Having kids of all ages we decided to look into areas where there were multiple activities, all centered around not having to sell organs for money to fund the trip. The military appreciation of some theme parks gave some really good discounts so we changed course to look at California and relive some moments from an earlier vacation we had taken when the kids were tiny and most of them didn’t remember going. Who doesn’t like Legos? I admit I am still fascinated by them and it was an easy sell to the kids. Throw in free tickets to Seaworld and the chance to have some “real world” food options and we were back on track for our family adventure.

We patiently waited for any other natural disasters to befall California as our trip neared. To my relief, there were no earthquakes, forest fires, or alien invasions and we packed up our adventure gear, and headed to the airport. That’s were the fun began. Our flight was delayed, twice, and of course we would now miss our connecting flight. What should have been a nice afternoon arrival was now a midnight trip across one of Americas biggest cities trying to find everything in the dark. We did get some food vouchers to ease the heavy cost of airport food prices and they did manage to not destroy or lose the luggage. I did of course get the pleasure of sitting next to someone with no interest in personal space and viewed our proximity as a welcome sign to chatter away on his superhuman ability to not understand anything that was going on. After touching down and successfully herding the family through the airport we jumped in our rental van and sped away to finally start our vacation.

The rest is all quite well documented in the 10 billion pictures we all took as we navigated though a million ways to use a Lego, some great rollercoasters, screaming kids and long lines, and more sea animals and stuffed animals than most people will ever see in a lifetime. We ate all we could handle, and more. We got the chance to eat In and Out, Chick-fil-A, and Olive Garden until the bread sticks overflowed the table. We managed to not lose a child, keep the sun burns to a minimum and not have to file for bankruptcy upon our return. All in all, it was a great vacation, we strengthened our use of patience, overcame communication issues, but most important, we accomplished our goal of making lifelong memories with our family.

Our Journey

It’s an old adage, trying to get people to stop rushing through something and learn from the steps already taken, stop and look around from where they are, help those along the way, and cherish every moment of it. It’s critical in today’s society of immediate gratification and the struggle for power and acceptance.
The journey isn’t supposed to be easy. Even the world knows you can’t sell that idea to the masses. Some still choose to pursue it. They want immediate gratification to reach the destination of happiness and bliss. This is seen in all the get rich quick schemes, the crimes of robbery and theft, and worst of all the increasing use of drugs.

The biggest surprise in our lives is when we create a destination unworthy of the journey. We think once I have that material possession I will be happy. Once I find this perfect person I will be content. Once I have a million dollars, etc, you get the picture. The fact is that it’s never enough. There is nothing on this earth that can truly satisfy your notion of a destination.

This leads to disappointment, anger, futility, and pervasive in our culture, and depression. When all we have to look forward to are the unending trials of this world, then there is only despair. Any destination in this world will ultimately reveal itself to be an illusion, unattainable no matter how much power, popularity, or money we have.

For Christians the journey is part of the destination. We couldn’t even start the journey without having the destination in mind and the entry ticket prepaid by the blood of Jesus.  The journey and the destination are all about who you choose to travel with, your relationship and how you grow.
The journey doesn’t make us worthy to enter, its length isn’t defined by our past actions or worth either.  How we love our lives and our relationship with God is the key to entry of our destination.

My Dad

We live in a time where it is increasingly common to find boys who are refusing to grow up and have no guidance in life as their parents did everything for them treating them like babies well into adulthood. They portray life thinking it’s perfectly acceptable to live in their mom’s basement, having no ambition to grow and become a contributing member of society. We also live in a time where households are boarding rooms and the kids are raised by television or the internet, fed and nurtured by ghost parents, rarely seen or interacted with.

With all that negative parenting around me, I realize how blessed I was growing up. I wasn’t spared life’s lessons, not that I learned them in a timely manner,  but I always had a father who was there for me. Even from across the globe his words gave me encouragement and drive to be something great in life. I had the role model of a quiet professional. A man who could get anyone’s attention with a smile or a look. His love for knowledge and creativity ignited my own spark. It was his gift of service that I cherish the most. He taught me to follow God’s gifts and to help those in need, from tarring Grandmas roof and cutting the grass, to helping build my uncle’s hou He was always there for a family member in need. When I was at my lowest point my dad’s arms were there for me to fall into and with those same loving arms he lifted me back to my feet to find my way again. I know I have tested the limits of my father’s love but I never doubted they would be there for me.

But my father was not just a shining example and a bedrock of security for me. He chose to pass on his love of history to other young men and women faithfully, day in and day out, as a Professor. Having the honor of being in those classes myself I know firsthand his dedication to passing on the valuable lessons that history can teach us and I can say without a doubt that nobody did that with more care, creativity, and dedication than my dad.

His dedication to something greater extended out further to serving our nation as well. He stepped up to serve when the call to arms wasn’t popular. He served with honor and sacrificed much to show other young men what it means to be a part of something greater than themselves. The stories of his influence still are remembered by those with whom he served. some of my favorites were the crazy convoys, training missions and  the high standards held by him in command, such as his in-ranks inspections as a company commander. But I also remember so many more of his loving kindness and patience.

As I try to figure out the best way to be a father to my own children I do have comfort in knowing I have the two best examples of what a father is and does in life. I have my heavenly Father’s examples of purpose, mercy and grace and I have my dad’s example of those same qualities right here on earth. Thank you dad for being all I ever could ask for and more.

Source of inspiration

In a personal journey for inspiration we are wired to look at our surroundings. As a baby we look to our parents and mimic what we see and hear. When we are older we experience our culture and absorb our immediate surroundings and create bonds with our friends. The radius of our surrounding expands as adults, but so does our commitments and obligations. Past experiences can also hold us back from obtaining inspiration as we fear our past mistakes and the mark of shame that failure has instilled upon those that attempt and fail. From the earliest studied cultures, those that would gain insight and inspiration would seek out the unknown, journey into the wilderness for solitude and to experience the wide world before them. What was that calling? Why did we need it? What drive does man have to gain insight?

In faith we believe that God is the sole creator of everything around us. Even time itself is relative in light of God’s promise of eternity. In the Bible we read that often those would need to gain insight or a “closeness” with the Creator would journey into the wilderness to gain understanding and wisdom.  From Moses, Paul, and Jesus himself all headed out alone to have that one-on-one time with God, the Father. We need that too. Time without the distractions and worries that blur our focus, warp our perspective and will often times drain us of all energy and creativity.

So how do we recharge? It’s not like we all can drop whatever we are doing and trek out into the wilderness when we find ourselves drained. I believe its in the little things. Taking that morning time to read God’s word. To pray our concerns and emotions upon God when we feel in a rut. To stretch our legs of faith and volunteer to help others.  They are all paths to inspiration.

We know how positive God’s inspiration is. We have seen its results in the lives of those who are saved. It drives our fear, emboldening us to take those steps of faith. It is a gift encompassing many parts; hope, ambition, all poured out to us in order to focus us on God’s will for our lives. The benefits are not just personal. It’s the force that drives us to share our faith in ways we never thought possible.

It’s ours for the taking. We need inspiration to grow and to be fruitful in all that we do. It’s all part of the love that God freely gives every day of our lives. So be inspired today and feel confident that you are going forth in His purpose for your life.

 

 

I still do…

On this day many years ago, two broken people came together to make one amazing family. I have searched all the world to find happiness and the meaning of life, but I found nothing. But when God brought you and I together and I looked into your eyes, I found everything. Incomplete opposites who were crafted to make known His purpose in life. God knew each and every broken piece, the story behind the rips and tears. His expert hands crafted each piece together that day to put us back together as one. His love was the glue that kept you by my side through all that this world has thrown at us, the bond becoming stronger every year until the scars have faded. There is no doubt that we are wonderfully and beautifully made and that our love is only a small fraction of the powerful love we have received from God in His blessing of our family. “And the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Thank you for all these wonderful years together, for being my best friend, mother, mentor, and my window into the love of God here on earth.