New Year, New Vision

There are ever increasing multitudes in this world dealing with Alzheimer’s, cancers, long, painful, drawn out illnesses, some while still in the prime of their lives.  Others are trying to cope with the untimely deaths of those they love, senseless violence, the gruesome realities of war, genocide, loss of country, family and home.  There is so much physical, emotional and spiritual heartache and pain, death and disease, manmade and natural disasters that we often lose sight of our purpose, our focus.

Why are we here? What are we supposed to do when we become lost in our despair? When we feel all hope is gone?  How are we supposed to cope with the overwhelming burdens that would emotionally, and possibly physically, crumple others into quivering heaps of flesh?  What guidance do we receive in order to deal with the enormous burdens we bear?  Hope and faith.

Hope in a better future–knowing that this sometimes painful life is fleeting and momentary in the overall scheme of things and that an indescribable eternity awaits.  Faith in a loving savior–believing that He holds that spot in heaven for those persevering through their painful trials all while believing in his power and his sacrifice.  Hope and faith.  There may not be a stronger combination of thoughts, words, or values in the English language.

With my latest book, Encompassed in Hopelessness, I invite you to join me in finding a way to see the world with fresh, unjaded eyes. Uncover the keys to forgiveness and grace while contemplating our place in this world. Find a way to see past our pain, our sorrow, our despair to a higher purpose. Learn how to make new and better choices instead of continuing the same circle of indifference and lukewarm existence.

I hope you’ll reach out and join me, gaining strength and obtaining hope in a universe that surely needs both.


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Keeping up with the Joneses

Especially during this time of year, articles like the one here really push my buttons.

“I don’t feel wealthy.” What does wealthy feel like? The sundeck of a yacht, the echo in a mansion, the roar of a private jet? Really? How about equating it with something as simple as being able to walk into a grocery store and buy whatever you want, not just what you need…not caring about sales and coupons. What about having a roof over our heads and a floor under our feet? Rich isn’t a magic number derived from an income or savings account statement, it’s a frame of mind.

Enough never seems to be enough. People have difficulty living within their means, whatever means they have, because they always want for more. They want bigger and better and shinier. They want what others have, what they feel they deserve. They complain about not being able to afford a boat, but they don’t want the canoe, they want the Bayliner. They want to live in the best neighborhoods, drive the best cars, put kids into the best private schools, and flash the newest technology. While those things would be nice, they are by no means necessary and definitely not determining factors of being “rich”. Often when we try to live up to such standards, we come away with a sense of entitlement, maybe even failure, but surely not satisfaction.

There will always be someone smarter, faster, stronger, better looking, richer. Why not, instead, pick a bar we can measure up against…morality, kindness, happiness, generosity? Instead of equating richness with being able to buy a boat or a second house, why not equate it with comfort, heat, food, water or dare I say it, personal fulfillment, personal values…love and being loved.

We are some of the richest people in the world and yet we whine the most. We need to stop measuring richness and wealth by monetary and physical standards. We need to stop complaining about contributing our fair share. Let’s get real people.  Instead of squandering our money this holiday season on yet another useless trinket that will be forgotten in a week, let’s try to focus on what we’ve been blessed with and bless others in return. Share your wealth, there is always someone who could use it more than you.

“They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.” Mark 12:44

“Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” James 2:5

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Thank You, Veterans

At this time of year I like to thank my father and those like him who served their country. To these people we owe so much more than a single day to mutter a passing “Happy veterans day” while we go shopping for sales. I prefer to take the time to remember what we as family members missed in our lives and what they gave up to serve their country.

They choose to serve for many individual reasons so that we may use our freedoms for entirely different ones. They bleed so that we don’t have to. They leave family and friends to serve a greater cause than many will ever know. Those who decry the military and their tactics can only do so because of the protection that military provides. Those who protest may never understand the sacrifices involved for their freedom of speech. How I wish they could fathom the toll upon families missing their fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. Men and woman willing to miss out on raising their children, missing holidays and milestones. Missing the smiles, giggles and tears, returning as strangers–trying to start again, scared and scarred inside and out.

Their service costs more than most will know for a freedom that most will take for granted. For that I say thank you to my dad and all the others, for your service and sacrifice, here and abroad.

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Is Our Best Good Enough?

If you can’t be the best at something, does that mean you shouldn’t try? 

I have written three books now (the third soon to be released) and while I am happy with their reception, audience, message and purpose, I just read something by Lee Strobel and was astounded by how well and how fluently he got his point across. Since his topic included some of the points I’ve endeavoured to make in some of my writing and I enjoyed his style and explanation, does that mean I should give up writing? Should I just let the “pros” do the job? Maybe. But maybe, someday, for some reason, someone may come across something I’ve written while passing his over. Maybe my history, background, and wording will spur a commonality within someone’s heart. Maybe in my less verbose, less successful attempts to harness the English language I can still reach someone that needs to hear the message. Maybe.

I’ve read many books in my time– history, fantasy, mystery, research, educational. Many have covered the same subject over and over…trying to put their particular spin on the given subject. None may have originated the concept at hand, but each presented a unique viewpoint or at least a different way of looking at the material. Maybe we do need to hear different voices from varied backgrounds and abilities in order to wrap our heads around the enormity of certain things with which we struggle. 

With that said, I want to thank all those who spend their time and effort to add their voices to the world, hopefully in a positive manner. Those who try to make a change by letting others of us know we aren’t alone in our struggles. The authors, the blogs, the podcasts, books and devotionals, the guides and pamphlets, all trying to add another voice in order to clarify what someone else may have already said in a better and clearer way. And I thank all of my readers for giving me the same opportunity.

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Coming Soon!

As I draw nearer to the completion of my third book, I find myself wondering who’s life it might touch. I may never be a best selling author, but I’ve been blessed with wonderful feedback and compliments on my other books from people who needed to hear what they read. My friend reminds me to focus on the thought that if I can help only one person…is that enough to make the process worth it?  It is.

Our purpose in life is too serve others, so in that vein I’m excited to finish my current book and help whomever finds wisdom within it’s pages.

Sometimes even when we think we’re doing “everything right,” everything seems to go wrong. It’s far too easy to lose our faith and hope in this world and with those in it. We must remember that our faith needs a stronger foundation than our ability to understand the evils within our day to day lives. It should be based on the stable rock that is our Lord. He must be the shelter in our stormy lives.

We need to contemplate our faith, bolster our hope, and believe that we have a purpose so that we may enjoy the life we’ve been given.

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Drawing a Line

At what price morality? What limits do we have when it comes to doing or saying the right thing? Will we go so far as to risk life or limb? How about our careers, wives, family, or friends?

There is a show out called “What would you do?” that poses some of these questions and prompts my question. In an ideal, safe, anonymous world, we may stand up for others as we would ourselves, say and do the right thing because we want to champion morality and decency. But does that ring true when we live in a world wrought with repercussions?

Would you give up your job to stop someone from committing a crime? Would you risk a beating to save someone else from one? Would you lose your business to stand up for your religious beliefs? Would you alienate your family or friends by pointing out immoral and indecent behavior?

These seem like rhetorical questions/situations, but they are all pulled from headline news. Normal, decent, everyday people who have been unwillingly thrust into untenable, often unthinkable situations.

Where do you draw your line? I think it’s worth a thought.

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Lofty Thoughts

The following is a wonderful poem by Maltbie D. Babcock that I thought I might share.  The first few stanzas ring with truth about how I view my surroundings, what about you?

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came – a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The Lord is King – let the heavens ring. God reigns – let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

A wonderful reflection verse for me is Psalm 89:11, “The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.”

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Elusive Trust

Another excerpt from my latest book to tease you into reading further:

Trust is a difficult beast to master. For me, encumbered as I am with my baggage, it’s nearly impossible. While it is one of the cornerstones to a healthy relationship, it’s also the building block that’s most easily broken (and often the weakest to begin with).

Building trust is often exhausting and it may also be extremely painful to earn, and yet it can be shattered all too easily by ill-timed, unfounded or malicious gossip, misunderstandings, or purposeful attempts to cause strife in our lives. Sometimes for no other reason than for the sake of inducing drama for someone else’s personal entertainment. Marriages and friendships can be endangered from outside influences that should never be given a chance to gain a foothold.

As we spend time together as friends or spouses, we fight the vulnerabilities, the insecurities and the doubts that plague us in all other aspects of our lives. We learn to communicate (usually and hopefully) and bare our souls to one another–to trust that we can be free with each other without fear of harm or judgment. That trust is generally rewarded and reinforced over time when our forthrightness and honesty don’t bite us in the proverbial butts. When secrets are kept, weaknesses aren’t exploited and vulnerabilities not shared with outsiders.

We often put forth magnificent amounts of effort at coming to that understanding and proving our commitment to one another (some people more than others). Some people trust far too easily and are often burned in the process; some become hardened while still others refuse to be deterred by their experiences. Regardless of how easily we trust, it isn’t something to be taken lightly. And yet we seem all to willing to throw all that hard work away when something or someone comes along to play upon those vulnerabilities we thought we had overcome. Something or someone throws a specter of doubt into our overactive imaginations so that we can toss it around in our brains like a kitten with a ball of yarn, till we’re so entangled we can’t see beyond the mess. Are our relationships really so tenuous that a careless word, a misunderstood inference, or a purposeful misdirection from an outsider can destroy the trust and confidence that we’ve spent all that effort, years and tears to build? Are we willing to throw away friendships and endanger marriages because of misunderstandings? Because of personal baggage, biases and fears that we project onto others?

For the answer to those questions and more, read Love…Like You Mean It available in multiple formats at the top of my blog page.

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Why am I here?

We each have a different purpose on this earth and are each given different gifts. These are given so that we may glorify the Lord and go about his work. We are meant to spread the gospel in proper, worthwhile ways in order to be the aroma of Christ so that others might share in our joy.

Anytime I come across something while studying, reading or writing, I’m very aware that we must be very cautious to properly handle the word of God and be careful not to remove things from their proper context. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Cor 5:20. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19.

Nobody can say anything better than God already has. While I never want to distort His word or message, there are many in this world who may never open the Bible or go to church in order to hear that message. So I write. I write in a way that hopefully disarms those with a grudge against “religion.” I write in common words about common issues that affect us all. I write about how to deal with those issues and how to reframe our thoughts to better withstand the trials of this life and find our joy and contentment. I write because I want to use one of my gifts to highlight what others may be missing, are afraid to see, or may never see. I want others to see the love of God, the beauty that he has given us in this marvelous world, and the blessings that he showers upon us daily.

I want to attempt to spread His words of peace, love, patience and forgiveness through daily application and simple discussions about exercising morality and decency. I write my books and blogs not because I feel superior to anyone else, not because I feel smarter than anyone else, and certainly not because I’ve got “it” all figured out. I do what I do because it gets me into His Word. It helps me to center my own life around Him and to apply the words I share with others. It helps me to study and try to discover his will for me. I like to think that the words I write glorify God by spreading His message through application of biblical concepts while dealing with our everyday lives.

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life” John 6:39-40. God doesn’t want anyone to perish apart from his love. I was not raised in the church, but now that I have found my way here I can tell you it is glorious. It’s certainly something you don’t want to miss. His love gives purpose to our otherwise meaningless life (explained throughout the book of Ecclesiastes).

The hardest part about spreading His word is getting it to those who need it. My writing hopefully edifies believers, but in order to be most beneficial, we need to touch and relate to those outside of the church. Please help me to do that by passing along anything you think someone else needs to hear.

Thank you.

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Prideful Ignorance

Pride is not only a sin, but the inevitable downfall of many. It’s strange how little you can actually know after years and years of formal education. Street smarts, although different, are also amazing…until they don’t cut it. There are so many things that we can still learn, even if we think we know it all.

Never be too prideful, to arrogant or to blind to see that we are never finished learning…there is always going to be someone smarter or more experienced. Keep an open heart and open ears in order to discover the answers to the questions you didn’t even know existed!

“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for the fool than for him.” Proverbs 26:12

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