This morning my "learning style" came into focus. This will probably be a short blog today, but here it goes anyway. A coworker of mine looks for examples in everything. If "a+B" than you must do "c". For me I look for the concepts of how "a" can be used in general. So that when I run into a different situation (that is other than "a+B") I can reuse "a" or maybe "B" to get another result. I am not sure how to phrase it but I am a hands-on type of learner. I like to do whatever it is I am trying to learn so that my mind and mucles will have some recollection of the task at hand. I also will compartmentalize the individual tasks. And then when I am doing other related tasks, and perhaps run into problems I can draw from the individual task steps to help me learn ways to go around the problem. When I try and learn things from the book I get lost. I cannot seem to grasp overall concepts, but can file away individual steps to accomplish the overall assignment. I have found this to serve me well when needing to accomplish other things. My mind seems to be able to draw from those subtasks in order to solve apparently unrelated issues. I am not really sure what/why, and most likely this is confusing to most. Sorry about that... :) Verse for today: Psalm 28 esv To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my handstoward your most holy sanctuary. Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts. Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward. Because they do not regard the works of the Lord or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more. Blessed be the Lord! for he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
This past weekend was my drill weekend for the National Guard. One of the 'benefits' of having an 80 mile commute for it is that I can listen to even more music or a teaching CD to help me focus my mind on the Savior. I was thinking about my blog from Friday and was concerned that the 'tone' of it may be a bit too somber. I feel that it is very important to remember and reflect upon why Jesus died upon the cross, but then we should not 'rest' there because that is not the destination of the journey. Anyway, in God's providence I heard the song below on my way home last night. It reflects (to me) the joy of what was accomplished on that cross. (The song is again from Sovereign Grace Ministries. This song was on their album No Greater Love) Your Mercy and Kindness Verse One O Lord You are my Shepherd In You I have no needs You make me rest in green fields And walk by quiet streams O Lord You are my Shepherd Your love restores my soul And for Your name and glory You show me the way to go Chorus Your mercy and kindness Pursue me forever My cup runs over with Your grace Your mercy and kindness Pursue me forever And I’ll be with You all my days Verse Two O Lord You are my Shepherd Though I walk through death’s dark shade Your rod and staff give comfort I will not be afraid O Lord You are my Shepherd A table You have spread In sight of all my foes Lord And You anoint my head Many of you probably recognize the 'source' of these verses, but just in case... Psalm 23 has to be among my top 3 Psalms. The images stirred when I read those verse (and hear this song) are of peace, contentment. An image of calm and satisfaction in the presence of the Lord. There is no image from my personal experience that I can adequetly draw from to give the whole image of what these words bring to my mind. I guess what I am trying to say is that the sorrow and pain seen in what I have done to my Lord is also a catalyst to experience the unexplainable joy of what I am now, and what I can hope for. How can one not cry tears of joy when you realize what a celebration there will be around the throne of God - all because of what Christ has accomplished on the cross?
Ok, those are my more serious thoughts from the past weekend. If you are still reading I will share about my weekend.
Man was it cold. Saturday afternoon was not bad - if the wind would have just died down for a while. My unit was tasked to run the rifle qualification range. I really like target shooting. there is something that is hard to explain. It is very satisying to get into a position and place a bullet on a target at ranges up to 300 meters. And I really like shooting at small targets at shorter ranges too. It's probably a male competitive thing. By God's grace I have never had to point a loaded weapon at another person, nor do I think I would enjoy it like I do target shooting. I have been in situations where I have been carrying a loaded weapon in a security type of role, and on some instances I have had to express to someone that - if needed - I was prepared to use it. But I have never come close to putting a finger on a trigger in that regard - and I am thankful to God. Anyway, I qualified expert - 39 out of 40, missing only the 300 meter target by a hair. Now, I want to make sure I do not paint a false picture here. :) Although I love to shoot at targets, and I am bragging about quailifing expert this go around, it has by no means been a consistant thing. I've done it in the past, but not every time. :)
On Saturday night the battalion chaplin was able to hold religous services - which is a rarity, and I am the only one from my battery that goes. Which saddens me on one hand because I have been with this unit since 1999 and I have not had any apparent impact on these men. But on the other hand they all refer to me as the battery chaplin, so at least they know where I stand.
After that we had our written gunner's safety exam for the howitzer. I was the first one done, and scored a 100%. Which was nice since I am now a Artillery Platoon sergeant and I am responsible for the safe delivery of artillery fires. But in the past, as an artillery gun chief my section had always done well. Last year my section received the highest score in the battalion for our section certification which includes the written exam and a live test where we are put through several drills and are scored. I am proud of these accomplishments but I want to say that I was blessed by having two soldiers during my whole time as a chief. We got to the point where we were cross checking one another without having to really ask and we would each step up and fill in where needed. The past two AT's (our 2 week annual training) we were short in our section - running a 3 or 4 man team instead of the recommended 7 and we were consistantly 1st or 2nd to deliver fires down range, and in the 3 1/2 years as a chief we never had any rounds observed unsafe, and two "interesting" situations. One was a misfire where the round would not fire at all and we had to unload the howitzer with a live round in the tube. Not as unsafe as it might sound, but it makes you 'cautious'. And then last year we actually had an "ignition chain" failure. Essentially the the primer ignited, but the charges that "explode" to send the shell downrange never ignited fully. I have pictures that show the charge bags singed. Now that was a scarry situation as at any point during the unloading process they could have fully ignited - as they were smoldering even as we extracted them!
Man have I gone on about myself. I guess I am proud of my military career - and there really are not too many people I can share it with. I have been blessed to be surrounded by good soldiers. When I first became an NCO I had good soldiers to work with that made my job easier. And God has seen to it that trend has continued throughout. And I would be remiss if I did not say the same here, as I have to them.
Anyway, ramble, ramble, ramble...
Psalm 139:16-18, 23-24 esv
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
For the past several days a song has been playing over and over in my mind. Actually for some time this particular song has moved me to tears several times. I've been wanting to share it, but before I do I must (it may even be a legal thing) tell you all that you can purchase this song - as well as many, many others that are just as powerful, form Sovereign Grace Ministries: http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/music/ This particular song was originally written by John Newton, and it's released form can be found on the CD's, Upward and Songs for the Cross Centered Life which can be found at the link above. verse 1 I saw one hanging on a tree In agony and blood Who fixed His loving eyes on me As near His cross I stood And never till my dying breath Will I forget that look It seemed to charge me with His death Though not a word He spoke verse 2 My conscience felt and owned the guilt And plunged me in dispair I saw my sins His blood had spilt And helped to nail Him there. But with a second look He said "I freely all forgive This blood is your ransom paid I died that you might live." Chorus Forever etched upon my mind Is the look of Him who died The Lamb I crucified And now my life will sing the praise Of pure atoning grace That looked on me and gladly took my place verse 3 Thus while His death my sin displays For all the world to view Such is the mystery of grace It seels my pardon too With pleasing grief and mournful joy My spirit now is filled That I should such a life destroy Yet live by Him I killed A sermon I once heard also spoke about this subject, and it still impacts me today. When remembering the crucifixion it is important to think of this. Listen to the crowds. Do you hear your voice in the crowd? And by that I don't mean trying to fight for Jesus' release - I mean do you hear yourself crying out "crucify him!"? I once told everyone that if I was there I would have gone against the crowds, but then the Holy Spirit gently showed me how true the words above in the song were true. I am more like those people that welcomed Jesus triumphantly one day, only to turn on Him and yell for His death the next. Before we can ever fully appreciate and enjoy what Christ accomplished for us on the cross, we must own up that it was ME that put Him there. Notice I did not say 'we'. Although Christ's sacrifice is for the 'us'. It was I who have/am/will again sin against God. It was I who spit on Him and fled. I deserted Him. I have been really blessed (but at the same time struggle to get through) by a fellow bloggers post about her journey with Christ. Her words are so powerful in my heart and mind. Although her narative is from her perspective I very easily see myself in the role she portrays. What a powerful thing is Christ's mercy. How can one not fall to their knees when one takes the time to meditate upon these truths. What a joyous thing to remember that Christ reached out to us when we were doing those very things as yelling "crucify Him!". He goes to that cross and dies though He could have escaped it if He wanted to - but to do so would not fulfill what needed to be done. And then when He says "it is finished" - oh what powerful words! He does not remain on that cross in pain and suffering. Now, so as to not minimize what He accomplished, I want to state here. We cannot fully comprehend the depths of his suffering. We cannot compare. His suffering was not just the physical pain - which is beyond my ability as it is - but it was a spiritual pain. Christ was made to be sin! His Father could no longer bear to be in His presence - not until the penalty was paid in full. But once it is finished Christ dies. Is lain in the tomb, and then rises again! He defeats sin and death, and in this victory it shows us the joy of forgiveness. To get past the pain and suffering is to know the grace and mercy and peace and joy of the Lord. No more pain, no more suffering. Christ sits at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us! This world is but a way station to that promise. We still feel pain, and the Earth groans under the onslaught of sin, but there will come a day when the new Earth's foundation. Well, this blog got 'interupted' by a phone call and my train of thought has derailed..... I guess what I am trying to say is that there is a time to meditate upon why Christ was on the cross, that I was an active participant in that, and that it was all of His mercy and not my seeking Him, but in His seeking me. My tears when hearing sons like this are a summation of my sorrow for my sin, and also for the joyful anticipation of all that was accomplished and do not deserve. I hope this blog was helpful... Verse for today: Matthew 27:15-23, 45-54 esv Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
Well, it has been another crazy day, and it is now 'late' in the day and I got nothin'. So, I thought I'd just post my thoughts on my attempts to get an investment thing going. I've done one investment property - about a year ago - and God blessed that endeavor. But since it looked like I was going to be deployed with the National Guard I opted to not continue on that course. Well, now I am not getting deployed and I am trying to get back into it. My first train of thought was to look into buying a rental property but it appears that the financing is going to keep me out of that market. I even looked into possibly getting a H.U.D. rental, but they do not pay enough for me to make money in my current home market. So I am back at looking at houses to possibly flip. I have not ruled out trying a rental property, but I will need to clear between $200 and $300 a month in order to ensure I can fix things if something breaks. Well, I am still going to meet with the Real Estate agent I have set up for this afternoon. Maybe she will have ideas. Verse for today: Luke 12:8-21 esv Acknowledge Christ Before Men “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” The Parable of the Rich Fool Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Having a rushed and disjointed day, all I could come up with is what I am reading currently. I am actually reading several books right now. "Sheet Music" by Kevin Leman I have recently restarted to go through this book with my beloved. We are going through this book to help us come to a mutual understanding of each in regards to our marriage bed. I am only 3 Chapters into the book, but it has been a very good book for me so far. "A Deadly Game" by Catherine Crier This is about the investigation and trial of Scott Peterson. It is interesting to read all the background of the investigation. I am about 1/3 of the way through this book. It is a page turner. It has also peeked my interest in reading "The Cyberthief and the Samurai" about Kevin Mitnick and how he was tracked down. "The Cross Centered Life " by C.J. Mahanney I have been leading my small group ('Deep Waters') through this book. What a fantastic book. I have read this book several times. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is small, easy to read, and very powerful IMO. C.J. has done a companion book titled "Living the Cross Centered Life" which I have yet to pickup, but intend to for my personal reading soon. "Job" by God (the book in the Bible) My Pastor has been leading us through this book recently (probably the reason for my quotes of late). It is my favorite book in the Bible for some reason I could probably not explain fully. If you want to cut tot he chase on this book - read from chapter 38 on. "The Cross of Christ" by John Stott I have only read the introduction on this one. It has been a book that I keep putting of for some reason. No excuse really, I've just never made the time to pick it up and dive into it. It comes highly recommended though. So many books that I want to read, but no time really. But then I cannot just dive into the literary world without sacrificing something in the real world - and there are responsibilities to attend to. Still, I hope I never tire of reading. Verse for today: Proverbs 14:2-7 esv Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him. By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them. Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies. A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding. Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge. Really all of Proverbs is such a good read - but it would be impractical to put all here. :)
Job 40:6-9 esv Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his? How often have I been like Job? I will complain about something so trivial as to not even be on the same plain as the trials Job experienced - but I will shake my fist at some one who cuts me off in traffic. Or I have to wait an extra 30 seconds to have my food warmed up. Or maybe the budget is a little tight this month and I worry about my bank accounts. When I complain like that am I not questioning God? There are times when I am being sinned against, or being mistreated. Even then who am I to say, "why"? If my trust is indeed in the God of heaven and earth, and I profess that the Bible is His word and is true - then there is nothing I need to fear. "Though he slay me, I will hope in him..." (Job 13:15a) His Word shows me that He knew me from before the foundation of the Earth was laid. He has forseen all my days. God is not surprised by the car breaking down or by my argument with my wife. And yet He has reached down to touch my heart. He has taken a keen intrest and knows everything about me. And after all of this, I will be able to stand around His throne and enjoy His perfect peace and presence for all eternity. No more pain, no more crying. This is what I look forward to. "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger", is at the core true. Everything we experience here in this life does indeed make us stronger. God is using it to conform us to the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:26-30). And if the trial does indeed slay this earthly vessel - well then it has given us the ultimate gift - to be in His presence. So many side thoughts are flying around my brain right now. I miss my mother who died in December 2000. I wonder if she truly accepted Christ's work on the cross. I wonder about my father and step-mother, what about my sister and brother? All of them have rejected Christ's message (so far) - and I do worry about them. But in the end I am not responsible for their decisions. But God's Word tells me that I will no longer cry - so I still come back to His word. And look forward to the day when this world will seem like such a fleeting memory. My vereses for today: Job 42:1-6 esv Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Revelations 7:9-12 esv After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
This weekend was to put it simply - frustrating. It started off innocently enough. I don't remember the details but my wife promised me that I could sleep in on Saturday. Well, Saturday morning rolls around and our daughter is up bright and early - 7am. Well, the wife is not an early or easy riser. After 40 minutes of her telling the daughter to go do _____, or play with her hair, or go back to sleep, I just roll out of bed. Why bother, I've been up for the last 40 minutes and it has become obvious to me that she has no intention of actually fulfilling her promise. Then after the kids are fed she still does not get up, but wants me to lay there with her in bed. I did, but all that did for me was get me to take a nap. Although that was nice I am now feeling like I did not get anything done. To include spending time with the kids. Yesterday my beloved volunteered to bring over a meal to a family that recently had a baby - friends of ours. So she gets up early to get that started, while i get a shower, etc. I feed the kids and get them ready for church. Then as the time is getting short she is yelling across the house for whatever. I hate that! When she does that it makes me feel like I am some kind of dog to be beckoned, or that I've done something wrong. Then we rush off to church. Well, of course two people don't show up for children's ministry and since my wife has volunteered to be the children's minitry coordinator she takes all of the kids not being watched and puts them in our class which she already has to take because there are not enough volunteers for all of the children. So we get home late from church, still need to run the meal over to our friends and get back for AWANA's. *sigh* At some point I develop a headache. So I am in a not so great mood yesterday afternoon. I am not taking it out on anyone, but it is for many to see as I am not good at hiding my feelings. Now, my wife is not responsible for how I react to things, and perhaps I have not made things very clear over 13 years of marriage. But I know I have shared some things that bother me that does not seem to be very important to her. 1. If you tell me you are going to do something, or 'let' me do something. Follow through with it. 2. Do not yell at me across the house. There is a good chance I am doing something, and just because you are doing something does not mean your things is more important than mine. Grant it - it could be, but show me some courtesy from time to time and come to me to tell me what is so important. 3. Communication is a 2 party event. Just because you said something does not mean I received it, or perhaps understood it as you intended it. 4. There will be times I am in a bad mood. That does not mean I need to go take a time out. It just means I am in a bad mood and maybe I am working through something. 5. I don't need to hear about every little thing that some one else might be doing wrong or how the cashier at the Food Lion rung up 42 rammon noodles one at a time. 6. I do not want to hear about all the things you think I should have done, but didn't do - either at all, or the way you wanted it done. I have allowed my sinful reactions to dictate my moods. Especially allowing my wife to become more than she should be. Instead of communicating with her all of the above items (and probably more) I let them build and build until my mood changes noticably enough that she can see it. From there she starts to treat me differntly and it just piles on because I do not like how she is saying something, or how she is relating to me. Finally it just drags me down. When that happens I have taken my own preferences and placed them before what God has given me. Verse for today: Exodus 20:1-17 esv And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
Last night my wife and I hosted a small group and we got to talking about the many different things happening in many of the churches in our area. There are churches seeminly expanding exponentially, reaching the youth, dying a slow death, being spun off due to size, splitting over leadership issues, and all at the same time. We all agreed that both the enemy and the Lord are moving simultaniously. And yet we are not privy to all He is doing. We have several friends who attend a church that recently went through a pretty ugly split (imo). It is a church my wife and I left several years ago due to some, misgivings and things we saw that we did not feel were good. (I will not elaborate further here.) And when we left these same friends seemed to be upset with us, but never really approached us as to our reasons - and we still remained friends. Now that pastor has been forced to move on, but when he did so he left them with several million dollars in debt, and also lead about half of the congregation with him to start another church in a neighboring town. After we left the church above I moved my family to near by city to be closer to a really good teaching type church. But as time moved on we found it increasinly difficult to be a part of the ministries of the church. But now I am a part of church where my family is deeply involved (maybe too much IMO). And the pastor of my current church used to be a pastor at the one we left (after we had already left). But in general there is a almost an imperceptable undercurrent of change in the air in regards to faith, church in general (and I am not talking about buildings here - but the body of Christ). God is in the details. There is nothing that escapes His notice. Where is He moving the church - especially in my area? And what role will He have me play? One thing I am sure of is that He has provided me with a confidence that me and my family are where He has us dispite the 'storm' we feel raging around us. I am nervous, and excited about what God is doing around me. May I rest in Him and ride the wave. Verse for today: Matthew 14:22-33 esv Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
If anyone who has ever worked in customer service reads this I think they will more fully appreciate this blog. That can be as an IT geek such as myself, or even as a waiter/waitress - pretty much anyone who has worked as a "customer facing" agent of any company. The past few weeks I have been involved in a required IOS upgrade across several hundred routers so that a Quality of Service reconfiguration so that the customer can better use the bandwidth they have available across their Wide Area Network. And this particular network is a good one to work on from a techie perspective. BUT, it is also a pain to work with because of all the polotics that seem to be involved. As a result I am working on the IOS rollout, the QoS implimentation, an apparent hardware issue in one region, and the miriad of other relatively 'minor' issues. Unfortunately I have let my pride and insecurity allow me to react a tad more harshly in some e-mails, etc. This along with my recent 'revelation' about working for the 'man', as well some depression issues, I have been feel mightily insecure about my whole job situation. And when you are the sole provider for a family - it can make for a furrowed brow. Anyway, that is all I have for today. I pray that this finds you all doing well, and enjoying God's abundant grace today. Verse for Today: Psalm 23 esv The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen
Note: There are two entries for 14-Feb-06 I got completely wrapped up in my post below that I failed to proclaim publicly my love for those in my life. So many, many people. I have a brotherly affection for my entire Christian family, both those whom God has brought into my life in person (which I don't think of them read about my ramblings here) and to those whom God has brought to me in an extended fashion across the WWW. But this love is the one born of family. It's nice, but... I wish to proclaim the love God has given me for my dearly beloved wife. What a precious gift God has given me. I first met her when I was set up on a blind date with a roommate of hers from college (my beloved would be remiss if I did not mention that she did not steal me from her, but that her roommate had intentions of becoming a nun all along - and that could be a long blog entry in and of itself). We met at the home-coming football game of her college. We sat through the whole game discussing God's sovereignty and man's free will. Later we all went to a local national park and remember seeking her out to no avail. I lived over 60 miles away, but when I went back to work I distinctly felt the Holy Spirit "tap me on my shoulder". My beloved has captured my heart and I desire to lift her up and proclaim her beauty to all. Thirteen wonderful years I have been married to her. She has shown me so much about myself. She has helped me become a better husband, a better Christian, a better father, and a better man. Shortly before we got married I remember a picture that I believe God gave to me. He showed me an image of a huge treasure chest craddled in two huge hands that fully cupped the chest. It slowly opened to reveal a treasure of immeasurable wealth and beauty and He said to me, "this is but a dim picture of what I am entrusting to you. Take care of her for I will call you into account." I do not deserve such trust, but His grace has been sufficient. I am humbled and honored to have been entrusted with such a gift of God. My verse in regards to my Beloved: Song of Solomon, all of it.
By the grace of God I kept waking up duing the night. In the past I would have been upset about it, but last night was really peaceful and I was able to do some really good praying. As a result I had a lot of things that I wanted to blog about, but then I decided that my first "guess" would be the best for today. Recently the Pastor of my church started a discipleship group of a few people and he kindly invited me. It has been a desire of mine to sit under a man of God to learn and grow. Up until this time I have generally allowed other things to deny me of this chance. Well last night Ed mentioned that he was going to be scaling back the Biblical Community Leader Meetings so that he could do sort of a "college level" discipleship (I used that word for lack of another one coming to mind) where there will be homework, and some intensive reading. This is to, in his words, "to prepare some that believe that God may be moving them in sort of a 'lay preaching' type of direction". When he spoke those words my heart quickened. Some background: Since just before I married my beloved I felt the Holy Spirit move in my heart. That He wanted me to bring what I had experienced in my "home" church out to where I was moving. I was excited about it, but fear and laziness on my part, and let's call it what it is - sin - it is now 13 some years later, and several children and moves later. And yet God has brought me back to this region with a peace of being where I belong, and an excitement to be a part of the church I am apart of. But I also know that God has used all of it (my sin, my moving back to my old church, each of my children, my wife, and all things that I have not even thought of) to bring me to this place. All I can think of is - "who am I Lord, that I would find favor in Your eyes". God has even brought a "word of knowledge", as well as a few words of encouragement over the years, to my mind. For some reason I reluctant to post them here, but I will do so. I am reserved because of my pride, but feel it is relevant. Before I even moved to WV I was in a men's meeting. We broked into smaller groups to pray for something that I can no longer remember what it was (to my shame) but one man said he had a picture come to mind. It was of a field of wheat, with the sun rising over it. In the field was a harvester type machine and on top of it rode a man. The man was not at the controls, but he was riding upon it. A part of the process. And then the man turned to me and said that he believed that this vision was for me. (?!?) That God was preparing me to be that man, that it would not be my doing, but God's doing - and I would get to be a part of it. Another time when I was visiting my old church from the pulpit the Pastor said that he sensed that there were men in the audience that God was calling out to the ministry. There was more to it, but I cannot remember it (this was around 10 years ago). Now, I felt my heart quicken then but I was still fearful, and a man who my wife and I brought as a guest told me after the sermon, "he was talking about you". What shocked me most was that my beloved also said that she thought of me - and she has told me repeatedly that she does not want to be a "pastor's wife". I broke down and went forward for prayer to pray. I could only shake and pray, "why me. I am no one." A few other times over the years I have had some people ask me if I was in full time ministry. Now, I am at least partially 'charismatic' in my beliefs and practice of worship. That is I believe our experiences and emotions play an important part of worship and in following Christ. But I am also grounded in the firm belief that human emotion is a fickle thing. If we rely soley upon our emotions in our responses to God we will be led all over the landscape in pursuit of the creation, and not the Creator. After all, it is only natural to want only peace/joy/hapiness, but there are times when we need to come to know the Father in a way that is not always 'comfortable'. God is righteous, and He is a God to be feared when we oppose Him. There will be times when He will show us things that are not so comfortable or enjoyable. He will allow trials and pain to be experienced. But greatfully those are places that He will not leave us in forever. After the meeting I spoke with Ed, and I confessed my fear. That I am excited about what God wants to do, but "to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. " (Luke 12:48 esv). I am fearful of falling. Of failing my Lord. And yet I also believe He has 'ordered me forward' (to use a military term). I dare not refuse Him. I love Him too much. Why do I fear? Shall not He who started this, the very One asking me to move in this direction, take me to where He wants? Does it really matter if I ever do what I think He will do? Has He not shown me that my own perceptions matter little, and are rarely accurate. But what he has prepared for me is so much better, and if nothing else I will enjoy what He has done in me through the whole process. --- I would like to thank someone here that has recently really affected me. Thank you Grace for taking the time to place your journey for all of us to read. It is an inspiration to me. Today's blog will probably seem a little disjointed. I appologize for that. but I in no way want to draw attention to myself with this report. I desperately need the prayers of those that read this. I have no idea where this journey will lead. I have no idea how God will work things out to get me there. But I do know that if I rely upon myself I will fail miserably. It needs to be all of God, and none of me. If you are still reading thank you, and if you pray for me I cannot thank you enough. Verse for Today: Isiah 41:8-10 esv But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Amen
I have been struggling with what to write today. Recently it's come to light (at least within my field of view ;~) ) that I really struggle with wanting to make everyone happy. Everyone except myself. I've been talking with friends (both on line and "real-world") about my struggles. I have a friend who just had their 3rd child. The husband's income is not quite enough to break even, but now with childcare the wife cannot afford to work because her income does not cover the costs, and family is unable to help out. Another friend who, well I will just say, does not have a perfect marriage. She struggles to be heard, and it is my opinion that her husband is not living up to his Ephesians 5 obligations. Other friends who want to get out, and stay out, of debt. And many many more. I want to help each and every one of them, not to mention every charity that calls me, or that my heart is tugged for. Habbitat for Humanity, the local missions house for homeless men, Cancer research, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Purple Heart, Autistic research, and so many more. But it is just not possible. And I've allowed my limitations to dictate how I see myself. There was only one Man who was perfect, and he did not heal everyone who was sick. He had compassion and healed so many, many people. But not everyone. This mystery is profound. But more than that I need to recognize that I am a finite being. With my friends I can come alongside and pray with them. I can listen to them, but I need to know that I will not be able to fix everything. Only God can do somethings. And I need to rest in the reassurance that He will use all things for His glory. With my family, especially my wife, I need to know that I am first and foremost responsible to be a good Husband and Father. And in that too I will not be able to fix everything. I cannot prevent my children from being picked on in school, or be there to catch them when they fall off their bicycles all the time. I can only show them how and then coach them as they go through life - and eventually release them to fly on their own. When interacting with my beloved it is hardest. We are "one flesh" and I have given a vow to love and to cherish her until "death do us part". When I see her in pain - as I have recently - and to know that I cannot just fix her pain, distresses me to no end. I want to give her a perfect home. Free of worries. One where I never disappoint her and just exude Christ's love for her. And I fail daily. But God is good. Recently a friend asked me, "what do you do for your own enjoyment?" He was not asking me to seek out selfish ambitions and to forgo my obligations, but what am I doing for my own health? He helped me see that in order to be a better husband and father I sometimes need to take time for myself. Even Jesus took time to be alone and pray to His Father. Even though I am not that Man, I can do something to get alone and rest. I relearned an old lesson. To be a good leader it is important to die to yourself, but in order to be good leader you have to take care of yourself or else you will never be able to fully take care of those entrusted to you. Verse for today: Matthew 14:13-21 esv Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
I have no idea where to start. What a whirlwind today, and it is only a few hours old. The mental image that comes to my mind is one out of a Civil War movie. The boys line up shoulder to shoulder and move out. As they approach the enemy's lines and the camera cuts to the perspective of the defenders. The Red Legs are moving frantically and loading double cannister, and just as they boys get in reach of the lines you hear - FIRE! I made a consious decision to get up an extra hour earlier and actually get my butt out to run. I've been wanting to do this for as long as I can remember right now. I want to get out and run to get myself in shape, and to lose some weight. But I also wanted to use the time as a way to get away from the daily routine and spend some quiet time with my Lord. When that alarm rang out this morning I couldn't help but groan. I just am not used to it. But I stumbled into my closet and pulled on my PT's. My running shoes were so stiff from lack of use that I thought I was going to bust a seam! I push myself out the front door into the subfreezing weather (25 degrees F.) and with a little warm up exercise to get the blood flowing once more and off I went. I set my expectations pretty low. 30 minutes total time. Walk if I need to catch my breath. The goal i smore to get out and do something than any sort of result. I made it two laps around my neighborhood - why, oh why did I want the house at the top of the hill! I did indeed walk some but the hill really helped me to keep up some 'resistance' and I did make it the full time. I got washed up and ready for work. Enroute I decided to stop and get a Ham/Egg/&Cheese bagel for breakfast. Then right in the middle of town this poor woman's car had broken down smack dab in the middle of the intersection. Remember my thoughts earlier in the week on helping those that God had brought to me... well I I stopped to help her. She was kind of scarred and was shaking. Me and another man got her car pushed into a parking lot where I let her use my phone to call AAA, and her work (she was subbing at a local elementery school). Well to shorten up a long story, she got her car to work and made arrangements to get it towed to the shop. Well this put me 30 minutes late for work on a day that the "bossman" is out. Not only that but there are several fires currently burning in the network that everyone is looking to me to make decisions on... *sigh* The QoS rollout has hit its third snag. There is not enough memory in the core routers to support both the old IOS image and the new one. It looks like I am going to have to work with some odd ball contortions to get it all to work since the customer does not want to spend the money to upgrade. The equipment in place is usable, and it can be made to work, it's just not a standard configuration and set up. In addition to this there are several application issues that have been escalated up to the CIO - all of which were designed on a LAN to work, and they do not seem to play well with the other children across a WAN. *sigh* Oh, and of course a high profile division of this customer seems to have lost a LAN card facing the portion of the network that I am a apart of. And of course it is not their fault. It MUST be a WAN problem. Remind me to put a whoppy cushion under "bossman's" chair next week. ;~) I joke about getting upset, but it definetly put's one back on one's heels when a day gets started like that. My legs are like spagetti, my throat feels like I am trying to breath through wool, my stomach feels like it is getting an ulcer, and my mind feels like mush. All this before lunch. I am just feeling like the boys approaching the guns at the angle, I am seeing the gunner pulling the lanyard taught, and feeling the roar of the howitzer and concusion washing over me. Hopefully I will be able to check for damage shortly after lunch... (Sorry if this is disjointed. It was written in between phone calls, questions, etc.) My verse for the day: Mark 4:35-41 esv On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
Lately, I would say especially the past few weeks, it feels like the Lord is renewing my mind about working for the 'man'. Very few in the world are able to work independent of an employer. Most of us, like myself, work for someone else. Either in the corporate world such as myself, or in government - where you essentially work for the people (in theory anyway). I confess I have not always been the best steward of my employer's resources. My time. The use of company equipment. But I should be. "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17 esv) I have heard a few sermons in my time about being a good steward of what the Lord has given me. But hasn't the Lord also given me my employer? Am I not to serve the 'man' as I would serve my God? Granted, not in such a way that would go against His Word, but I am to serve faithfully. And what about those who are called to essentially be the 'man'. Self employed, small business owner, or one who is the manager of others. We are to continue to work as unto the Lord, and be a reflection of Him who has established us in those positions. Not my usual light hearted ramblings I guess, but it was on my mind this morning. My verse for today: Ephesians 6:5-9 esv Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
Ever have one of those days when you just feel worn down. Like you are a piece of cheese cloth. Thin, frail, and just blowing along with the wind. Well that is me today. Last night I stayed up to bless my beloved. I wanted to be there for her when she came home from her ladies night out. Talk with, ask her how her day went. Let her know that I love her and desire to see how her day went. I longed to rub her shoulders, scratch her back. But from the moment I was consious that she had walked into our bedroom it was one critique after another. Well, to cut to the chase I lost it. We had a brief "intense time of fellowship". And then I really stepped into it. I pretty much refused to get back in the game. Now by God's grace we worked it out. Each asking for forgiveness for our "contributions" last night. but it did not help me to sleep last night. I kept thinking about what a loser I am. I mean really, there was no cause for me to act like I did. And then to essentially hold on to the 'grudge' and all I really accomplished was to make the matter worse than it was. If it were not for Christ in both of our lives I can honestly say that I do not believe our marriage would have lasted this long, let alone have a hope for a future - which we both look forward to with joy and anticipation. All of this resulted in me being up until 2:30 this morning. No matter how hard I tried I could not fall asleep. I tried to pray. I tried reading, doing a sudoku puzzle, but my mind was so cloudy from fatique that I could not focus. I ended up watching "12 Monkeys". Other than some good performances by Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt (IMO) this movie is not worth watching. Maybe it was just because I was so tired, or maybe it was because of the commercials continually breaking up the pace, but it was very difficult to follow the story and get into it. I was considering just calling in sick to work but I need to get on top of an IOS rollout for the network, as well as track some ongoing upgrades for a configuration rollout (a cause of the IOS upgrade) that I had to come in. But I am not sure how affective I am today. It is taking me long periods of time to make decisions. I went to lunch with a few coworkers and when I was asked what I wanted to drink it took me about 15 seconds just to say "water". Then, when I was up at the buffett the Pastors from my church where there. They called out my name and my mind seemed to work in slow motion to respond. This week is not going to slow down though. Tonight music classes for 2 out of 3 little darlings. Tomorrow our care group is meeting. Friday I am taking the oldest two snowtubing with the church. Right now I just want to stay in bed. I still do not have my plans set for Valentine's day for my beloved. A friend had asked for an idea on what she could do to bless her husband and I am barely able to keep my own thoughts straight right now. My roller coaster of emmotions (depression ?) has really hindered so many aspects of my life. I do not care for things like I should. I tend to get more self focused that it just pushes the spiral tighter. Sort of like a self fulfilling prophecy. But even here God is reaching out. A man whom I am not very close to, but I do trust, in my church has offered to meet with me once a week during lunch. And this area is his actual career field. So... Anyway... yet more useless ramblings from a clouded mind. Verse for today: Psalm 63:1-8 esv O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Amen
This morning I laid awake from 2 until about quarter till 5 and I could not sleep. I prayed, walked around the house some, completed a sudoku puzzle, watched the news, prayed some more. And although I could not come up with anything concrete I had a few ideas to blog about (how I met my beloved wife, kids, and a few more that escape me right now), but when I arrived at work this morning there was an e-mail from my National Guard unit. A soldier I had served with for maybe a year or so, had passed away. When I asked about the cause of death there was no definete answer (it was second hand as it was). But I was just sort of shocked. I served with this man until last summer. We had both been evacked (sounds worse than it was really) for heat symptoms. He had transferred to another unit that was more in line with his civilian career. He was only 41 and is survived by a wife of 9 years, and two children. That is only 2 years older than I am today. God's Word states, "...it is appointed for man to die once" (Hebrews 9:27 esv), and I am never totally surprised by a death, but when it happens to one you know - it can sort of make you stop and think. I am thankful that the verse I quoted above does not end there. Here it is in context: For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:24-28 esv) There is no one who will escape death - unless it is due to the return of Christ - and I am very doubtful another Enoch (ref: Gen 5) or Elijah (ref: 2 Kings 2) will be seen again. I might be wrong, and these things are not up to me, but... anyway. So one day I too will die. My wife and children. Only God knows when. Now two thoughts converge while I am typing this... while laying awake early this morning I remember that I dwelt for at least a little while, on the following verses: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 esv) In the past those words have 'haunted' me. I want to know, and be known by, Christ. I am in faith for what Christ has accomplished in and for me. And I am saved through grace, because I can never earn my salvation, but am I ministering to those whom God has brought to me? Are my works reflecting what Christ has accomplished in me? May I hear "‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’" (Matthew 25:23 esv) - for there would be no better commendation to me. I have quoted several verses, and I think they pretty much sum up my thoughts for today. May God's rich blessings be felt upon each of you this day. :)
Wow. Last night my wife and I hosted a Super Bowl party and was it a mad house! I have been blessed with a wife who has the gift of hospitality. She loves to have people over. Make them feel at home. Comfortable, well fed, and entertained. This shindig started as a plan to have a few friends over, but got out of hand when someone - who had not been invited - asked if they could come. Well, it was not like we wanted to exclude anyone (we were just trying to keep it a little small) so we said sure. Well this person took it upon themselves to invite several others, who in turn invited one or two more as well. Fortunately most people brought either chili, or some form of food or beverage and there was plenty to be had for all. Unfortunately I am not comfortable with large crowds. I am not nervous or anxious in those environments, it's just that I like to be comfortable and spend time with people. But in what we had last night it was not possible. I stopped trying to count actual numbers after the I got called away to mediate between kids for the 3rd time. I love to encourage my beloved in the exercising of her gifts, but I know I had that look like, "when are you all leaving?" Kids running around the house with food. Conversation so loud that I know I blew the speakers on my little 32" TV. And I was not able to sit down for a couple of hours. Still, a good time was had by all - or at least one told me otherwise. And I know I scared one or two little ones by yelling up the stairs (one time a little tyke kept tossing Thomas the Tank Engine over the bannister!) Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers! 21-10! Wahoo! As of today, my beloved Panthers are officially undefeated this year! :) Verse for today: Jeremiah 9:23-24 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
At what point can we draw a line and say, "up to here my desire is a good thing, but beyond that it has become an idol?" In God's Word we are told, "“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything." (1 Cor 6:12 esv) When we see something that is in God's Word, that it is available, that it is a good thing, that it is a Godly thing - and we want what God has shown to us - but it is not forthcoming (for whatever reason), and our desire begins to cause pain. Has desire for such a thing caused us to worship the creation, and not the creator? You have to think that in the garden, with everything so abundantly available, how could the tree of the knowledge of good and evil be so tempting? It must have been a very lovely tree for Adam and Eve to desire it enough to cross up God's words. At what point did my desire for a gift from God become an idol in my life? Or has it become one? How can I learn from this pain? How can I grow? How can I share what I learn from my family? And will I ever actually get to see and experience whatGod shows in His word this side of heaven? And will I actually experience it Heaven? One thing I am sure of that once I am in His presence it will not matter. I will have my perfect peace and joy. Verse for today: Revelations 21:1-8 esv Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Well after receiving a very nice new picture for my blog, from a man who is becoming a friend and not just an aquantence, I just had to update my profile. I added the better picture, I've updated my interests etc. And then I received an e-mail from my old church that had some great resource links in it so I jsut had to start going crazy to update links on my Blog page (thanks again Amy for patiently teaching me how to do this). I really am not all that original, but with the help of friends I can be pretty diverse. So this is my blog entry for today. Stand by and check back in to see all the wonderful things coming your way! I can be a little silly sometimes... The verse for today: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 esv For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
This past weekend was a drill weekend for the National Guard, and I received a promotion to Sergeant First Class (E7 for those non-Army types). With my contemplation of when I will retire from the Guard, my promotion, and the various 'storms' in my life right now I have been sort of reviewing my military career. It is not one that would make a very interesting "made for TV movie". I'm not even sure it would be a very interesting blog entry. But then, I do this for me more than anything, and it is a good practice to just write when trying to do a journal so... Back in 1986 I was a very lost young man. I would not stay with any one job more than three months at a time. I had no goals, no ambition, and really no money. Potential employers were noticing my employment pattern and jobs were not forthcoming. While looking through the 'Part Time' employment want-ads there was an ad for the Army National Guard. With not very many options available to me I pursued this job. And it took about four months to get in! I had to get my High School transciripts, a medical waiver, and get all of the ASVAB testing done. I had dropped out of H.S. and due to my parents divorce and a multitude of other 'issues' I had seen a Psychiatrist up until I was 13. I also had 'Post Trauma Epilepsy' as a child. But the recruiter worked very hard and I raised my right hand on 17-July-1986. I joined up as a "Heavy Weapons Anti Tank Infantryman". I spent six years in this MOS. During this time I was promoted to Sergeant within three years and was responsible for 2 TOW missile systems and their crews. We did a lot of flying - Florida, Arkansas, California, and Honduras. I received a Division coin (a big deal to me) as well as getting the chance to actually fire a live TOW missile - man that was a rush! I still remember the sound of the gyro winding up, the discharge motor, the smell of the charge, and the exiliration of streering that missile right on target between the turret and deck of the target tank on the range. I also went to Air Assault School during this time. Change of life (preparing to get married and attempting to go to college) led to a change to the MP corps. This time of my military career - from 1992 until 1999 (with a break I'll talk about below) was pretty uneventful. I was not a very happy as an MP, but it was pretty relaxing. They guys I worked with were good men and women. We did 3 rotations to Pananma before we turned the canal over to them, I received another coin, and I was sent on my first deployments. They were all state missions where I was able to help people that got flooded out and I found some pride in serving others. I also got to play at being a road cone for various state functions. WVU homegames, and the governor's ignaugeration. Now that was interesting. Every try and tell 70k+ drunk and celebrating fans that they are not allowed to turn left in the dark with just a handheld flashlight and a camoflauged uniform!?! During my time as an MP I got restless and missed my infantry days, so when I learned of a platoon sized detachemtn from my old battalion being set up "near" my home, I jumped ship for about eighteen months. Man was that a mistake from a physical stamina point of view. I went from a laid back approach to a high intensity physical environment. The bus would drop us of on Saturday morning, and we would have to be about 10 klicks away to get picked up on Sunday - and carrying everything we needed. My heat problems that stemmed from my childhood really flared up during this time. But I also got my real taste of leading a squad performing infantry manouvers. I played at it as an MP - but I was fully immersed in it here. I loved the tactics of shoot/move/communicate as a squad sized element. It would be hard to describe in this space to fully explain all that I appreciated about this, but it is something that is still with me today. In 1999 I moved my family to Maryland in an attempt to be closer to the church I loved and was 'born' into 10 years earlier, and it was a chance to totally shed my MP 'life'. At BNCOC I met a PA NG recruiter who told me of an Artillery unit in Gettysburg. I contacted them, but I could not come to an agreement on which duty position I was to fill so without ever reporting to that unit I transferred to Alpha Battery 2-110th FA (towed). I have served with them ever since. During this time I have grown to love the Artillery. So much so that it has surpassed my love of the Infantry (except for the squad level tactics stuff). I have since been promoted twice and received several more coins, but the one I treasure the most is a 3rd Brigade coin that included the heraldry of both my original battalion (1-115th Infantry, light) and my current battalion. I have gone through my 9/11 experience with these men, and although a lot of them have moved on to other things, many still remain. I have been delpoyed CONUS with them for 13 months, as well as for Hurricanes Katrina ans Rita. And as of this blog it looks like I will be with them for another 18-24 months. Although I joined to get some money in my pocket, I stayed because I found myself being a part of something larger. A chance to serve the states in which I lived, as well as my country. It has not all been easy. My deployments have placed a strain on my family. My wife is the real hero in this family. I have never truly been in harms way. I have always had other soldiers around me when I was in difficult situations to work with. But my wife has had to hold the house together, often with little help from friends, family, or fellow church members. Those around her were a help to be sure, but there are 24 hours in a day and they cannot be there at all times. My recent realization that I cannot retire in the original timeframe we envisioned has caused her some anxiety. But my whole career as been by His hand, and I am on my knees in prayer and in trust, that our God will see us through the rest. When I finally fold the flag on my service to my state and my country, I will do so with a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction. I will never compare my service to those who, like my brother, have served in harms way - who had to put their training and resolve to the ultimate test, where not only their lives but those with whom they served with on the line - but I will know that I have been used by God for His purpose and glory. And then resolve myself that a season of my life has passed, but God has more in store for me until He either returns or I am called home. I hope I have not bored you all to tears. God Bless. Today's verse: Psalm 23 esv The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen