Saturday, December 30, 2006
I started this year by resigning from a firm that was paying me a (livable) salary, but with whom I saw no future. I had no job to go to, or any prospects of employment. I am a person who does not believe working harder or even smarter is what will make me successful, wealthy, or satisfied. I believe that doing work that is personally important and relevant to my purpose in life is what will make me wealthy - spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. So in the first 45 days of 2006, I made some life-changing career decisions that, on the surface, seemed (at the least) crazy, financially impossible, and just a bit insane. But I knew in my heart that in order for my life to be in order, I was going to have to define and understand my purpose, and have all the parts of my life - my goals, habits, and occupations - fall into that order.
The good news is that God has been able to do exactly that. All I did was allow Him to work in me, and change my attitudes. That's a pretty bold statement from someone who isn't "there" yet. I'm not perfect and I haven't "arrived" yet, but I know I have gotten one part of my life transformed. I am in a rare minority of people who can say, "I love my work." I was having a conversation with one of my nephews the other day. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him. I didn't tell him I am a financial planner/consultant/advisor or dazzle him with fancy titles. I told him what I actually do, and that I am so grateful that I can do what I do. You see, I realize my work is important, not only to me and my family who are the beneficiaries of the commissions and fees my clients pay me, but also those people I serve - my clients and the credit union that took a chance on an unknown broker and gave me a platform on which to practice my profession. I realize that by helping people understand what they need to be doing to plan for their financial goals, or to preserve their assets and generate an income in their retirement, I am greatly satisfied, fulfilled, and am becoming wealthy - spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially.
Let me entertain you by capsulizing the past year. In January I was broke, living check-to-check (barely), and I was months behind on 2 house payments, my car, credit cards, etc. I had no savings, no credit, and had spent all my retirement savings. I had nothing tangible to offer anyone or to capitalize a business of my own. I felt like a loser, wondered if I had ever heard anything from God, and had no idea what I was going to do to support my family and keep a roof over our heads. I submitted to my wife's urges to apply for a real job, and I took my "impressive" résumé to several major employers in town. I didn't even get a nibble, save one from a company that indicated they would not be able to meet my income requirements.
Through divine intervention, I met some key people - John, Bobby, Gary, Ronny - who together, formed a network of people that would change my life. So many people have been part of that network - Jay, Bob, Jimmy, Ray, Bob & Ellen, Dr. John - to name just a few. All I can say is thanks for adding so much to my life.
Over the course of a few weeks God was able to do this:
I transferred to a new broker/dealer with no out of pocket cost to me
My occupation and purpose got definition
I had a major emotional breakthrough in understanding that with God I cannot fail
I was offered an office, marketing support, and a business relationship at no apparent cost to me
My professional credentials were upgraded - again, no cost to me
From August to November I was able to generate more in personal income than I had made in all of 2005. I hardly worked in December and took the last 10 days of the year to concentrate on family and get recharged. I can hardly wait to get back to work. I truly love and am grateful for the work I do. I wish I could list all of the good things that happened this year, but I would lose a few people after the first 100 lines.
These things I know - “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
"And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
God will change a life that is willing. I am not a "man of great faith," nor am I anyone more special than anyone else is to God. But God is faithful, and He who has begun a good work in me will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6) Take an inventory of what God has been able to do with your life this past year, and be grateful for where He has taken you, where He has you, and where He is taking you. Realize you have everything you need already to let God take you beyond where you could ever hope or imagine. Believe that with God, nothing is impossible.
I wish you a very prosperous 2007 - spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Back when I was just a muchacho, they passed a law from El Rey, Cesar Augustino, that all the barrios should be registered. So we all went to our hometowns, every vato to his own barrio.
Jose also went up from L.A. back to his barrio in Bethlehem to be registered with his prometida, Maria, who was embarazada. And while they were there, it came time for her to deliver, and she had the niňo, and wrapped him like a tamale, and laid him in the back of the carro, because there was no room at the motel.
Now in the same country, all us cholos were in our parking lot, showing our lowriders and hanging out in the night. And suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood before us, and the glory of God was shining all around us, and we were big time freaked out. Then the angel said to us, “Calmate, vatos, don’t freak. Orale, I bring you buenas noticias of great joy which is for todos. Today, ese, in David’s barrio, was born a Savior, who is Cristo El Senor. And here’s how you know for sure: You will find the bebe wrapped in his ropa like a tamale, lying in the back of a ’57 Chevy.”
And suddenly the whole sky was full of grupos musicales, conjuntos, and Tejano bands with the angel, praising God, throwing gritas and singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward all people.” So when all the angels went back to heaven, the cholos said to each other, “Vamanos! Let’s all cruise to Bethlehem, and let’s check it out, what the Lord told us about.” And we burned rubber down there. We found Maria and Jose, and the bebe in the back of the lowrider.
When we saw Him, we all got on our cell phones and called all the gente and told them everything the angel said about the Bebe. And all the tias and mis compadres were freaked out and said, “Way cool, que suave, ese” about everything us cholos told them. Then we all cruised back to our barrios, throwing gritas, glorifying and praising God for all we had heard and seen, as it was told to us.
From the gospel according to Pauly, paraphrased from Luke 2:1-20
Saturday, December 09, 2006
There are certain types of people in the general public I just won't get very close to, trust, or allow to be a part of my life whenever they want to show up:
- drug addicts, alcohol abusers, and the chemically dependent
- thieves, liars, and the chronically obnoxious
- thugs, gangstas, and the generally-criminal in nature
- child abusers, wife beaters, and deadbeat parents
For the most part, I would never deny someone the benefit of the doubt, no matter how grievous their offense may seem to me, if they were seeking advice or help. I understand what a sinful and guilty person I have been, and am grateful for God's forgiveness. When I came to God, He forgave me and accepted me in my sinful state. He didn't wait until I cleaned up to accept me into His grace. I think anyone deserves the same forgiveness, and I try not to think of myself as better than anyone else. Consequently, I have many times reached out or opened my house, and been generous with forgiveness and even help for those who maybe didn't even deserve it.
I'm just trying to sort out my thoughts here...
How am I supposed to act/react/pro-act to someone who is loud, rude, obnoxious, or otherwise unwilling to hear any opinion, thought, or ideas other than from their own self-percieved wisdom? Is it really just my issue or perception? Do I need to adjust something here? Are there those that we should intentionally shun and not allow around us AT ALL? Is "FAMILY" more important than circumstances and uncomfortable situations? Do we entertain someone because "blood is thicker than water?" Maybe - just thinking.....
Any thoughts on this matter? Does anyone else feel this way? After all, it the holidays. Who are YOU entertaining?
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Now I know the root of the problem, and I prayed this morning that God would :
- give me the grace to accept people and myself for who we are, not what we do
- help me use the wisdom to make different choices on how I react to things, and how I perceive things - and to know my perception is not what God sees
- let me have His compassion to love people, especially when they're not "performing" to my expectations
- allow me to live out and exhibit the fruit of the spirit:
that I can LOVE people, not their deeds
that I can have JOY in knowing we are His creation, made for good works in Christ
so I can have PEACE knowing God is God - and I'm not
that I can practice LONGSUFFERING and KINDNESS, and show the love of Christ
that I would practice GOODNESS in my life for His sake
that my manner would be a reflection of Christ's FAITHFULNESS
that the GENTLENESS in me would be warm and inviting to those that are hurting
and that I would practice SELF CONTROL, and keep my feelings from overwhelming my understanding of what God desires for me
- let me operate in mercy, because He's had mercy on me
- show me how to bring light and hope to those around me who are in darkness and despair.
My feelings are just feelings. I'm thankful today that I can make choices based on truth, and not my feelings.
I'm thankful that God's word is relevant to whatever situation I face.
I am thankful for my family, who love me even if I'm a cranky old man sometimes.
I'm thankful that God is helping me understand the difference between perception and reality.
I'm thankful for my church family, who encourage me and pray for me.
I'm thankful that I love my work, because I know it is helping me fulfill my purpose in life - it's not my whole purpose, but a part of living it out, and I am able to help many people.
I'm thankful for a wife that prays for me, prays with me, and loves me enough to hold me accountable.
I'm thankful for brothers in Christ, the men who love God, and are a part of my life; that ask me hard questions, counsel me when I need counsel, and help keep me accountable.
I'm thankful for you reading this blog, and I pray that I can somehow be an influence in your life, that I might encourage you, and bring hope into your life.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
A pile of kolache
An abundance of donuts
The table discussion
then moved into the living room where we had a time of confession, sharing with each other the different struggles we have as we each walk out this life of faith we proclaim. Sometimes it’s not easy, and we become convicted of the things we preach but don’t act on. Hmm…can Christians be human too?
I’m beginning to understand how much I desire, even need, a relevant church. The act of “going to church” for the sake of attending an event or to get my spiritual feeding has long passed. The time of sitting in a pew and “getting fed” is over too. The Friday night group met all the criteria for church: we met together in Jesus’ name, we broke bread together, we shared our struggles, encouraged each other, and had communion. We listened to each other and prayed for each other. Simple. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?
I made the bread for communion. The bread was made from a mix of wheat flour, tortilla mix, and Ezekeil 4:9 cereal, mixed with a little olive oil and some water, and baked for about 15 minutes. It was something we all could enjoy together, and not only was it healthy, it tasted good too. The grape juice was crushed by the feet of 2 young virgins in our church (just kidding - some guy name Welch made it).
My communion message was that at the last supper, Jesus was doing what he normally did with his disciples – having a meal. And much like any family or even a business dinner, there was discussion going on. I can imagine the 12 sitting around the dinner table with their leader. Some of the discussion may have been light, some may have been serious. No doubt (at least in my mind) there was some time for some laughing. At some point though, Jesus brought up a subject that was relevant. He reviewed the mission, and He gave instruction. He discussed the relevance of bread and wine – His body and blood – and what we were to remember when we broke bread together.
The Friday night before, we met for fellowship and to spend time with Tony and Felicity Dale, authors (Foundations of Simple Church, An Army of Ordinary People) house church leaders, and contributors to house2house.net. Rather than have a traditional meeting where Tony and Felicity might have been “center stage,” we actually all shared our hearts, about our ministries, and our passions for about an hour or so before Tony and Felicity began to facilitate the rest of the meeting. I guess they spoke for about 30 minutes and facilitated the rest of the discussion for the next hour or so. It was great. We had church – and it was relevant.
One caution we seem to get, usually from someone new, or unfamiliar with the way our meetings flow, is that we are in the same danger as the institutional church of becoming traditional. Yeah, it’s happened. We come to service with our 3 lb. bible tucked under our arm, we smile at everyone and exchange the usual, “Howyoudoin’I’mgoodthanks,” then we get our coffee and wait for someone to kick off the meeting. Of course, that always begins with someone being asked to give the opening prayer, and then we have P&W, announcements, the offering, and a message. The church that meets in my home has been careful to move away from that, and instead, we try to facilitate relevant discussion and meet people where they’re at. Much like Friday’s meeting, it flows. People share, we pray for each other, and we are encouraged. Everyone is encouraged to bring their gift to the service. If someone has a word, a song, a scripture, or a message – great! We want to hear what God is doing, where He is moving, and what He wants to speak to us. We allow anyone to speak. And God moves.
Here are some more pictures of a typical service. Although, each meeting is unique, and far from typical.
The youngest participant of the evening gets greeted by my lovely wife
This is ONE CRAZY street preacher - this guy's ministry is going into the bars and hanging out with the prostitutes and pimps on the street - and yeah, people get saved, fed, and some are given a place to stay and get straightened up. Greg had just led someone to Christ that afternoon after having a church service in an oil-change waiting lobby.
Ellen and Bob usually meet with us Sunday mornings
Thursday, October 12, 2006
50 Found in Texas Home... (From Drudge Report)
Mom came home from her shopping and found the block cordoned off, police cars, Border Patrol, and a Homeland Security bus there. It's a fun story to tell, but in her neighborhood - with homes that are in the Monticello Park Historic District of San Antonio - something of this magnitude was happening. And no one suspected anything.
I was writing a friend of mine who grew up with me about it. He remember my house - just 2 blocks from our high school - as a fun place to go after school. Back then all our neighbors knew each other. I remember Tim Skinner lived next door. "The Old Crow," as my Dad used to refer to her, lived on the other side of us. Dr. Richmond, his wife, and his kids, Cliff, Linda, and Louisa lived across the alley behind us. We all knew each other, talked with each other, and played with each other. Today, that's totally different.
The sad part is, it's pretty reflective of the degeneration of our society - neighborhoods are no longer places where neighbors socialize and know each other. They are merely areas of town, where busy people have a place to sleep, watch TV and eat. People are too busy or afraid to get involved - or just don't care enough to get to know their neighbors.
I've made it a point in my neighborhood to know everyone on my block. There are 15 houses on this block, and I went house to house to meet every household. No one has ever knocked on my door just to come meet us or be social - except the Jehovah's Witnesses next door. We get polite waves as people drive by, but for all they know, we could be nice people, terrorists, or manufacturing drugs.
Too bad we've "evolved" to that. How I wish I could just sit and have a beer on my porch with a neighbor once in a while...
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
I wish there was a scripture in the New Testament that said, "Jesus laughed until his sides hurt." Surely, hanging around 12 goofy men, at least 6 of whom were sailors, He had occasion to laugh. It may not be recorded in writing, but I can't imagine a man, who was familiar with every emotion we have, that didn't spend a great deal laughing. My image of Jesus is not a stoic, bearded, long-haired man in a white robe who walked around holding His fingers in a peace sign. It's of a man who had compassion, passion, and a heart to know and feel what we feel. Surely, the 12 men He hung around did some pretty crazy crap.
Get 12 or 13 guys around a campfire on a beach, or on the side of a hill, in the woods, or in a house, and I promise, there's going to be some cutting up - even with the Son of God present. Thinking about this begs the questions found in Matthew 19:16:13-15: "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Who is Jesus to you? Peter answered, saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." That image of Jesus was not what was visible to Peter's natural eye. It was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, as Jesus told him. What the Spirit reveals to us, He reveals to our heart, not our flesh. The image we need to have of Jesus must be an image seen with our heart.
The Old Testament talks about God having fun:
"The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."
Does that sound like a stuffy, stoic, sad-faced guy moving slowly flashing a peace sign?
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Most of the time, I see an interesting headline, click on it, (what the hell) and skim the article to see if it's worth the read. Usually it's not, so I go on to the next one.
Here's some interesting headlines from today:
Blackberry addiction 'similar to drugs'...
"Crackberry" addicts are addicted to the illusion of importance - those little devices are the pocket protectors of the 21st century. Just like those Bluetooth headsets.
Psycho Killer Raccoons Terrorize Washington Town...
I just had to read that one... that's some mean 'coons...
Karr's Mother Tried to Kill Him, Family Friend Says...
Even she didn't like him
Teacher Burns American Flags To Motivate Students...
Yeah - that's motivating me...
Professor Says Liberals Face A 'Fertility Gap'; Not Having 'Enough Children'...
The gene pool is diluted, er, deluded.... well anyway, that's less votes in the future - how long before they eventually become extinct?
Rap music blamed for teen pregnancy...
And all this time I thought it was because they were having unprotected sex....
But my FAVORITE headlines today were:
PARAMOUNT severs ties with Tom Cruise...
Behavior of star 'unacceptable'...
big surprise... now let's axe Barbara Striesand, Charlie Sheen, Alan Alda, Pamela Anderson, Michael Moore, Spike Lee, Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon, Ben Affleck, Sean Penn, et. al.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Why do we as Americans have an obsessive curiosity for details about things that are intensely private concerning the death of another family’s loved one? The tragic murder of Jon-Benet Ramsey, while shocking and sad, is, frankly, none of my business. I didn’t say “concern, “I said “business.”
My granddaughter is a year younger than she was when she was brutally murdered. Had it happened to my granddaughter instead of Jon-Benet, I would be intensely protective of any news that would be released. The MSM, in a frothed frenzy for sensational news, seem to think they have the right to broadcast personal details concerning her death, her admitted murderer, and her family. And they complain about lawyers and politicians being barracudas and wolves….
I don’t need to hear about this man’s admission of the sickening details of this poor child’s death. It literally turns my stomach when I read headlines of what he supposedly did to a 6 year-old child. If I was her grandfather or father, I would have already flown to
I haven’t and can’t bring myself to read the news articles, when scanning the headlines tells me more than what I want to know. Drudge Report had 6 headlines linking to stories. I went to one of the news articles that had 7 links to related stories, 2 video links, and 3 more related links. I feel even worse for the family because of the invasion of privacy the MSM thinks they have a right to.
OK – all I need to know is that she was murdered, it was sickening what happened, and they caught the guy who admits he did it. Now make sure he gets what he has coming to him. Don’t publicize it – I don’t need to know all the details. Just tell me when he’s executed so I can pray her family has peace.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
- bible study for boys on fear courage (Google)
- "become an investment advisor" and cpa (Google)
- bible study hard heart (Google)
- FISHERS OF men artwork (Yahoo)
- Bible Study on being refreshed (Google)
- seinfeld bible study (Yahoo)
- barbeque for 40 people (Google)
- five fold ministry in tucson (Google)
- 20 something mens bible study (Google)
- Cool Men's Bible Study Cards (Yahoo)
Here are the weird ones though:
bible chicano glory (Google)
(I had a pastor that used to call me the “Chicano glory”)
chihuahua dingo (Google)
(What the h……???? What exactly are they looking for? Is there really such an animal?)
"my daughter's panties" (Google)
(Sick bastard…I hope you at least learned something when you dropped in.)
barrio bebe lowrider (Yahoo)
And probably the one that’s the weirdest…
flyers Bible Study liberal (Google)
(I have NO freakin’ idea…)
Friday, August 04, 2006
I'm of the opinion that it is not GREAT faith that moves mountains - at least not OUR great faith...Rather, God's great faith.
I was thinking this morning that when it comes to faith, my role is to simply believe that God can do something, and then watch Him do it. My faith is in what God can do and it doesn't matter how much I can't do. (OK, a bunch of analyticals just blew a gasket on that one.) What I mean is, if my level of faith is based on what I know is possible for God, then all I have to do is believe He can and will do it and He will act according to what His will is. I don't always know His plan, but I do know this:
“ For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“ For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
“ For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater"
My fears, uncertainties, and insecurities, although real emotions, are second to the truth. God has my best in mind.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
We can't control what's not in our control. We can't force life to do what we want all the time.
Life is not perfect.
We just have to do like we always have, and trust God that He'll get us through.
And He does.
Because we really don't have control.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
- God's providence and protection over our son and grandson who were in a serious auto accident this past Saturday.
- That the injuries, although serious, were not life-threatening
- The surgeons who operated on our son in three places, who are skilled and did their best to repair a lot of damage.
- That there was no other damage; internally, or to the brain
- Three successful surgeries that went extremely well
- That our grandson, even though he sustained two fractures- his hip and his ankle- got up from bed on his own today and was released
- Our friends, Bob and Ellen, who came to the hospital Saturday and took us to dinner. That was some real ministry that met a practical need
- All those who prayed
- All those who came to see the boys in the ER and again today
- God's grace to heal some emotional and spiritual hurts in my relationship with my son
- Words that were spoken in love
- my wife, who is such a trooper....
"He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone." Psalm 91, 11-12
Monday, July 24, 2006
Why do I want to flick that little Bluetooth thingy every time I see one?
Why do people who aren’t all that important think they have to carry on a cell phone conversation- loudly - in public- and that somehow makes them look important?
I wish I had a device to electronically disable the cell phone of someone who is rudely and boorishly carrying on a conversation in front of me, holding up the line, when they should be focused instead on what they’re doing and not hold up the line.
Why do people with ghetto-bass in their car think I want to hear it too?
I wish I had a remote device that would turn up the bass on someone’s already-too-loud car speakers so loud, that it would permanently fry their system.
Why do people with a little fish decal on the back of their car drive like hell?
Why do people drive slow in the left lane on the highway when every ¼ mile there is a sign that says “Left Lane for Passing Only?”
I wish I had one of those lighted marquis signs in my back windshield so I could send messages to those people.
Why do liberals have long toes?
Why do 40 year old men think a goatee looks cool on them?
Why are there always huge people driving little bitty cars?
Why do people on a diet eat cottage cheese? I only see fat people eating it.
Why can a skinny guy eat two triple bacon cheeseburgers, large fries, and a 44 oz chocolate shake for lunch 4 times a week?
And eat Ding-Dongs and drink Dr. Pepper all day?
And never gain weight?
Why do homeless people always have money for cigarettes?
Why do women with large rears wear stretch pants?
Why is Dr. Z and Taylor Hicks on every 3rd commercial? I think we got it...
Am I the only one who thinks Taylor Hicks dances like Elaine Bennis on "Seinfeld?"
Saturday, July 15, 2006
That's 340 undecillion, 282 decillion, 366 nonillion, 920 octillion, 938 septillion, for you numerophobes out there. Seems like 4 billion just wasn't quite enough, seeing as there's 6 billion global neighbors, and what's going to happen when all those third world countries get online?
To put it in something we might be able to imagine, here's a perspective on what a billion might be. I once saw $1million in $20 bills. It was a stack roughly 3 feet high, and about 4' x 4'. A billion $ would be 1000 of those. And those were $20 bills... I can't imagine $1 bills....
1 million seconds was 11.5 days ago
1 billion seconds ago was the year 1975
1 million minutes was 1.9 years ago
1 billion minutes ago was the year 104 AD
1 million days ago was 733 BC
1 billion days was 2,739,726 years ago
A billion is hard to imagine...Even less, I can't imagine a undecillion, or how much space that will create on the World Wide Web.
Surely there's a spiritual lesson in that - maybe relate it to the infiniteness of God... I remember doing a study once on the vastness of the known universe - and that blew my mind. Our Sun is 92,955,820 miles away. And our sun is close...comparatively. Just in the known universe, travelling at the speed of light, 186,282.397 miles per second, it would take between 46 and 78 billion years to reach the edges of what we know to be the universe. OK, I'll stop... As I was excitedly relaying this to my wife last night at around 11:00 p.m., her comment to me was, "You're a nerd!"
That really blows my mind.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
They all fit.
Last week the church from Killeen came to meet with us. While it is always nice to have a larger group, the worship time, and a good message to hear, I enjoy the close fellowship of a smaller group.This week we only had 8 attend, including 2 kids. The smaller the group, the more intimate the fellowship, and the more each one gets to share.
Here are some pictures of the larger meeting last week.
Roman & Tanya and Becky lead worship
Jim, Sheridan, and Bobby
Pastor Phillip preaching
I will post more pics soon at the Association of Home Churches website.
I want to invite you to come Sunday morning and take part in our service. Today we all shared about God meeting us where we are. I shared the previous post with everyone and we discussed Ephesians 1: 6-12, and Eph. 4: 7, 11-17. We believe the "five-fold" gifts of Eph 4:11 are present within the body of believers, not just in one person, i.e, "The Pastor." God gives each one of us a unique gift, in order that we can use it to encourage each other, thereby equipping each other for the work of the ministry (encouraging those that need hope), and strengthening the body so that growth can occur. If you need help, encouragement, prayer, or want to offer some, please consider joining us Sunday mornings. But don't wait until then - call me or write me during the week. After all, it's really about developing relationships through Christ with each other. That's what church is about - so that we see God meet us where we are.
Did you know that God wants to meet you right now? Right where you are- He'll meet you no matter what you're state of readiness or spiritual condition is. We don't have to do anything to recieve His grace except open our hearts to accept it. God is always ready to hear your prayer, and to respond. We can never make ourselves good enough, worthy enough, or ready enough for His grace. It's just GRACE - unmerited favor - that we recieve from Him. He is the one who is always ready, and He waits for us to open our hearts and give Him the opportunity to spend a moment with us. Yes, He loves us that much, no matter what we've done, where we've been, or why we haven't opened ourselves to Him before.
The 1st chapter of the letter to the Ephesian church tells us He chose us first - predestined us to become His sons and daughters. That's good news. Not just that, but the bible goes on to say that
- He made us accepted in the Beloved.
- He has reclaimed us by paying the debt of the weight of our sins by sending Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for us
- He forgave our sins, even though we don't deserve forgiveness, it is by His goodness
- He makes known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure
- when it's all over, He'll gather us all together with Christ
- We have that inheritance, which He predestined us with
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
You win a free link to your blog and a lifetime membership to read this blog anytime you want!
Ya'll check out Kansas Bob at his blog,
Friday, June 30, 2006
I was thinking this morning about opportunity. How many times do we have opportunity, and we fail to seize it? How many times do we see opportunity, and we think it's too much, and we fear, because it overwhelms us? Or how many times do we simply miss opportunity because we are out of position, not prepared, out of shape, or anemic?
I have had missed opportunities all my life, for all of the above reasons. All of a sudden though, here I am, almost 49 years of age, and God continues to lay opportunity before me. And all of a sudden, I realize my whole life has been a preparation for this moment. The book of Joshua opens with Israel, which had been in the desert for 40 years, at the doorstep of Canaan, the promised land. I'm not sure how old Joshua was - perhaps he was near my age, perhaps a little older. Nevertheless, God had prepared him for this very moment, as he had been in training as Moses' successor for many years. He was no longer the understudy or the assistant; he was now the leader.
I realize I am now in a similar position. I no longer have a manager or a leader, and I am now at the doorstep of my promised land. And there are giants in the land, and the people are strong - the cities are fortified and very large. The clusters of grapes are so large it takes two people to carry them. But I see a land I am able to take - one that is "exceedingly good" (Num 14:7), and one that the Lord will give me.
I find it interesting that the charge and promise God gave to Joshua, "Go...be strong and courageous... I will be with you...I will not leave you nor forsake you...," was given because God knew Joshua had already seen, and had previously declared, "...do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread.. the Lord is with us. Do not fear them." (Num 14:9) Joshua already had faith; not in himself, but in the Lord. He was prepared - spiritually, emotionally, and physically. He was not intimidated by the size of the opportunity, the people, or the land. And he was not discouraged by everyone else's whining.
God honors faith - even more so, His faith meets ours and increases it exponetially. He allows us to do things others deemed impossible. He lets us see what everyone else declares too big, too overwhelming, or too strong, and declare it "exceedingly good."
Friends, I've made a decision - a choice - to declare the land in front of me as "exceedingly good," and I will not fear what others have reported before me. I will not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are my bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with me. I will not fear them.
Is there an opportunity before you right now? I can assure you, right now, you have either just missed an opportunity, or you are at the doorstep of one, or you are in the land, seizing the opportunity. I would encourage you, do not fear; the Lord is with you. Lay hold of that opportunity and enjoy what God has for you.
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
This was hard to do, considering the fact that I worked in the public, was a member of several community committees, and ministered at church. Outwardly, I maintained a façade, but inwardly, I was totally separated; detached from my surroundings. Anytime I was around people, I could hardly wait to get away from them, and I cherished moments when I was totally alone - not having to talk to anyone, or deal with personalities, issues, or anything of substance.
For the most part, I was nice, continued to smile and function in a “normal” manner. People had no clue what was brewing inside of me. Even those I am somewhat close to had, at best, only a vague idea of my condition, and probably attributed my sudden seriousness to my having to deal with a sick parent. Even now, if I mention this mood to someone who was around me during that time, they would look at me like I was nuts, because no one knew.
My change actually began sometime around February, when I left my last firm. I met a man on the racquetball court, John Garcia, who asked me, “So what do you do?” Rather than the standard reply of, I’m a stockbroker,” I took my time to think about what it is that I really do. It was a challenge to me, but freeing to tell someone that I help people grow their assets, save on taxes, and maximize their retirement incomes. For once in my life, I understood I was more than just a stock order taker….more than just a mutual fund sale person… more than just a financial planner. His reply to me was, “That’s fantastic! We need more people like that!”
I found out he is a motivational speaker, an author, a cancer survivor, and a Christian. I made an immediate connection with John, and that day, I knew my life had changed. I woke up the next morning and decided I was not going to be in a bad mood any more. Three years was long enough.
As I opened myself up to the scary prospect of enjoying my life again, I also began to pray in a different direction. I began to ask the Lord for peace. I began to ask him to change me, and get me out of the trap I had been in for so long. I actually realized the direction I had taken and the path I was on was leading me nowhere. I also saw that I had been in a pattern of self-destruction by isolating myself, and that was not healthy.
Not long after that, I met another person who helped me see even more. Here’s the part about the revelation – I made an appointment with a Life Coach, Bobby, who writes at Kingdom Life Coaching Resources. (Well worth reading this blog daily…) We met one morning at my kitchen table, over a couple of pots of coffee. As we spoke, he asked me some direct questions about faith and fear. I realized all of my life had been motivated by fear: fear of performing well enough to make myself look good – for my father, my teachers, my bosses, my wife, my kids, my church…yada yada yada… I came to the understanding that all of my 48 years I had struggled with the fear of someone finding out that maybe I really wasn’t who I appeared to be. Since things came so easily to me, I always felt like I was “lucky” or cut corners – and if people really knew who I was, or what I had done to get there – that they wouldn’t like me, or they would think less of me.
There is a scripture that says, “We are God’s workmanship, created for good works in Christ.” Back in 60’s and 70’s, in the era of “Jesus Freaks,” there was a saying that went, “God didn’t make junk.” We are created by a perfect God, who endowed us with purpose, power, and provision. We don’t need to perform. All we need to do is “BE.”
One of the good things that came out of my “funk” is that I discovered I have a purpose. It is multi-faceted, but amazingly simple. God created me to GIVE –whether it be through my writing, my painting, my sculpture, my mechanical ability, or my knowledge of financial planning, He created me to give.
He also created me to LOVE. I realized (this all happened that one morning, inside of 2 hours over 2 pots of coffee) the reason I didn’t like people all my life is because I didn’t really like myself. I was disappointed in myself, and perpetuated a cycle of self-destructive behavior and habits that just created shame and guilt. I lived with the fear of “being outed.” So I kept people at a distance, justifying it with a self-righteous and critical attitude. Once I accepted the fact that Jesus loves me just where I am, I began to pray for compassion. And God healed my hard heart, allowed me to have a heart of compassion, and set me free.
Finally, He created me to fulfill my purpose. Not through PERFORMANCE, as I had tried in the past, but through FAITH in the knowledge that Christ put everything in me to fulfill that purpose, and He gives me the power to make it happen. Also, when I operate in FAITH, I no longer have to FEAR, because God loves me, no matter what.
For the first time in 48 years, I actually LIKE people – even more so, I LOVE people, and am willing to listen to them, because that’s who God made me to be.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
These things I remember about my dad:
He taught me how to enjoy life with a good sense of humor
He had the best corny jokes
He was not afraid to be sensitive
He challenged me without pushing me
He was proud of me
He encouraged me to work hard and enjoy the rewards
He let me try new things and mess up on my own, but then he showed me how to get back on track without doing it for me
He taught me not to take things at face value, but to look things up myself if I wanted to know for sure
He took an interest in my schoolwork
He showed me how to use a slide rule (I'm providing a link because someone - a 20-something - I was talking to didn't know what a slide rule was)
He taught me how to reason and had a better way to solve math problems than the way the book was trying to show me
He could do complex calculations in his head
He was at all the band functions and always told me he had a good time
He loved my mom
He loved to bring her flowers
He helped me learn all my knots in Boy Scouts
He showed me how to set up a tent
He showed me how to start a good fire
He took us camping every summer
He cooked a mean brisket
He told each one of us that we were his favorite son/daughter (and he meant it)
He was more concerned about his impact than an impression
He cared about his profession and taught hundreds of men and women professional courses
He took life seriously but he could joke about anything
He had an opinion about everything
He let you know his opinions
He was the only one alive that could beat me in Scrabble (hahaha, Margie, you never will!!!)
He did the hardest crossword puzzles in ink
He taught me it was OK to be smarter than my teachers (well, I WAS)
He always dressed better than anyone else in the room
He had the coolest ties
He wore black silk pajamas after his surgery
He never let on that he was sick
He fought to the end
He died with a smile
I loved my dad, and I miss him deeply. He was my mentor and my friend, and I will always have his impression on my life. He didn't always do everything right (he would argue with me on that) but he did everything the best way he could.
I've recently learned some things about myself because of the close relationship I had with him. I wish he was still here, because there's so much I would still like to ask him. The problem is, I took so much for granted when he was here. Even though I knew for at least 6 months that his condition would lead to his death, I didn't spend near enough time with him to ask everything I needed to. Some things went to the grave with him, and I'll have to figure them out myself.
Happy Father's Day, Dad... I miss you.
Update: 2006 - Another year has passed since my dad left to be with the Lord. ALthough I still miss him, the pain of his death has been easier to bear. I've grown in these last 2 years, and I realize how precious and short this life is. I am understanding how important it is to have strong relationships with other men who can encourage me, bless me, and keep me accountable. And I am relying more and more upon the voice of my Father, God to lead me through this life. I thank God for the relationship I had with my dad while he was alive, but even more for the relationship we both have with Him. Happy Father's Day to you dads out there - Kansas Bob, Matt, Bobby - and all you guys that encourage me.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Pete came to JC and asked, “Lord, how much slack do I cut my brother and let him backstab me over and over? The dude’s pushed my buttons seven times already, ain’t that enough?" JC took a breath and told him, "You ain’t even close, little bro, try it another 500 times. Let me tell you what it’s like, man, if you’re gonna walk this walk. There was a man named Jimmy the Boss and he was out collecting his accounts. Guido had a meeting with the Boss, and he was nervous, because he owed the Boss some serious coin: close to 100 grand, and he couldn’t pay. He’d been ducking him for a while, but now it was crunch-time. He was trying to figure out a way to ask the Boss for a little time, but even then, he knew the debt was too large.
When the Boss showed up, Guido was pretty edgy, because the Boss had some of the other family with him. “Let’s take a little ride,” said one of the Boss’s men, holding open the limo’s door. Guido got in, and as the door shut behind him, the limo took off. There he was, face to face with the Boss, who was preparing to deal with one of his most faithful men in his organization.
“So whatabout the cash, Guido? It’s over a year’s pay for you. Since you can’t pay, you know what I gotta do. It’s strictly business, Guido, it’s not personal.” The Boss ordered cement shoes for Guido, and then to have his family picked up to settle the debt. Guido fell on his knees, kissed the Boss’s ring and begged, “Give me a little more time, Boss, and I’ll pay every dime. You know I’m good for it.”
Jimmy the Boss was soft on Guido, so he told his boys to let him go, and then told Guido. “Fugetaboudit…someday I may need to ask a favor of you.” So Guido split and found Little Ray Smalls, who owed him about fifty bucks. He knocked Little Ray in the knees and said, “Pay up, you loser!” Little Ray fell on the ground, kissed Guido’s hand and begged for mercy, just as Guido had done. But he would not have mercy and ordered his boys to break his fingers until he could pay his debt. When his boys saw what he was doing, they went and ratted Guido out to Jimmy the Boss.
So the Boss had Guido picked up again, and said, “You ain’t right, Guido, I cut you slack because you showed me respect, and this is what you do to Little Ray? The Boss cut Guido off right there and ordered his men to work him over until he paid back all that was due.
That’s how it is, Pete. You ain’t gonna get no slack if you can’t cut your brother no slack."
(Paraphrased, Matthew 18:21-35)
This is a story that centers on three things: forgiveness, mercy, and remembering where we came from. I wonder why Peter came and asked this question of Jesus. What was going on with him? Who had offended him? Or, was it just a hypothetical question? But Jesus went to the heart of the matter quickly, telling Peter, the kingdom of heaven is like this…
The story itself is a paradox. Why, we wonder, does a man who has just been forgiven of a huge debt, turn right around and not show mercy from someone who used the same course of begging for mercy as he did, and for a much smaller amount? Looking at it from the third person, we may even be indignant and judgmental of this servant. Yet, in reality, many times we are guilty of doing this very thing. We tend to want judgment for others and mercy for ourselves.
We forget we were once lost, apart from God, and had to ask forgiveness and mercy. We are offended by the lost people around us, and even worse, our Christian brothers and sisters. It’s been said that the “Army of God” is the only army that regularly shoots its own soldiers. The bickering and backbiting in the church is a disgrace, and it’s no wonder that the world wonders where the hope is. It’s interesting that Peter asked about forgiving a “brother” who offended him.
The principle of “seventy times seven” is not a formula to give us a limit on the number of times someone can offend us before we don’t have to any more. Forgiveness, by its nature means we no longer hold the offense against the offender any longer. So, in a sense, technically, it is as if he had never sinned or offended us. Isn’t that how God handles our sin when we confess and ask for mercy?
I think though, that the master in this story probably was wise enough to not ever trust the servant with such a large account again, and might not have allowed further credit unwisely, unless he was again willing to lose it all. We need to exercise wisdom in forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean we just blindly trust the offender again, at least not until the offender can rebuild trust. In other words, we may forgive an abuser, but not allow that person back to cause more abuse. That’s another issue.
God’s grace was enough to forgive my sin, as great as it has been. Who am I to hold judgment on another for something less than I did to offend God?
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
- An office I don’t have to pay (cash) rent for
- An inherited client
- My granddaughter telling me, “I love you”
- My dog being healed
- Lobster instead of beans
- A place to display my artwork
- Not having to drive to Austin to pick something up – it was delivered to me
- Money in the bank
- 2 new friends
- A good night’s sleep
- Good health
- A reliable racquetball partner
- A lower phone bill this month
- A lower insurance bill this month
- All of my business expenses paid for – phone, business cards, stationery, furniture…
- A deeper understanding of who I am
- Getting my glasses fixed
- An old acquaintance from almost 30 years ago getting in touch with me
- Selling an old book I had in my file cabinet
- A professional photo of me I didn’t have to pay for
I was challenged to come up with a list of 20 ways God is blessing me right now. That’s my list. Can you think of 20 things too?
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Acrylic and colored marbles on wood
(30" ' x 23") $75
Colored stones on painted wood, with aluminum clef
No Longer For Sale
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Click on any picture for a larger image
Stained glass pieces on wood
(20" x 17")
Blue broken glass on wood
(20" x 17")
Green broken glass on wood
Wrought Iron, painted
(17" x 8 1/2")
All of these are handmade from weathered, unfinished wood fence slats, suitable for covered outdoor display. They're currently all in a retail gallery and for sale. Contact me if interested. I also make custom designed crosses, both hanging and free-standing.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
- Someone I met a few months back when my regular racquetball partner didn't show up just happened to be the CEO of a credit union I just finished negotiating a deal with to become their investment advisor. Their board approved the proposal I submitted, and today I had lunch with him and my broker/dealer at a nice restaurant downtown to iron out some of the details. I start there June 1st.
- I got a call from my CPA yesterday telling me he found a $500 overpayment to the IRS due to a wrong amount due they placed on an amended return. I signed a letter today to get my overpayment back with interest.
- A friend of mine asked me if I needed any food. I said, "Sure," and he gave me 3 lbs. of lobster tails, several pounds of shrimp, alfredo sauce, crab sauce, shrimp scampi, fried shrimp, fish, and a couple of pounds of snow crab legs.
- My broker/dealer told me today they would pay for my Series 66 exam and registration to become an Investment Advisor Representative. I had been holding off pending a good commission check because of the expense.
- I "inherited" a client who is investing a substantial sum of money monthly into his investment account, and he asked me about purchasing more. I'll be working with him to help manage his investment accounts.
I remember a pastor that used to say, "God is El Shaddai, the Lord, our Provider, He's not El Cheapo." God truly does hear us in our distress, and He loves us enough not only to give us what we need, but in abundance, and beyond what we ask or expect.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Helen Steiner Rice
A Mother's love is something that no one can explain,
It is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain,
It is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may
For nothing can destroy it or take that love away . . .
It is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking,
And it never fails or falters even though the heart is breaking . . .
It believes beyond believing when the world around condemns,
And it glows with all the beauty of the rarest, brightest gems . . .
It is far beyond defining, it defies all explanation,
And it still remains a secret like the mysteries of creation . . .
A many splendoured miracle man cannot understand
And another wondrous evidence of
God's tender guiding hand.
My mom sacrificed a great deal for us. Besides being pregnant for the first 10 years of her marriage, she made a few major moves - some all by herself since my dad was busy with his Air Force career. She moved from San Antonio - her home - a newlywed, away from her family and all that was familiar to her - to Lincoln, NB. And then moved with a newborn just 6 months after I was born, to Wichita Falls, TX. Within the next 6 years she had 4 kids, and moved us all - by herself - to Loan AFB, France to join my dad in Europe. A year later we were in Germany, and she had 2 more kids. With 6 of us now, and my youngest sister still an infant, we all moved back to the states to Indiana for a year before dad retired.
Another year later, we were all piled in a station wagon for a cross country trip to Texas, where they eventually settled. I was 10, and my youngest sister was only 1. She put up with the crying, my sister getting carsick, my brother wetting his clothes, and all of us doing what a pack of kids do when they're cooped up in a tight space for a few days. She never let on to us that she was stressed. She was a picture of perfection and grace. She honored my dad, took care of all of us, and just loved us.
Mom never worked outside the home while we were growing up. None of us were "latchkey" kids. She was always home when we got home from school. She made us snacks. She cooked us good dinners, helped us with our homework, made sure we were all clean, fed, and rested when we settled down for the night. And we never heard her complain. If anyone could ever push her buttons, it was me. The only time I ever remember her losing her cool was when I was being a total rebellious ass over the dinner table. My dad hadn't gotten home yet, and I was really being a little shit and not letting up. In front of all my siblings, mom picked up the entire salad bowl full of salad, and chunked it at me. That wasn't the worst part - she saved that for when my dad got home. I must have really gone over the edge to get my mom to lose her cool like that. I remember dad's lecture that night: "Son, there's 3 things you never mess with - a man's car, a man's money, and a man's wife." Total fear.
Mom was my dad's faithful partner for 48 years before he died. She was holding his head when he took his last breath. She loved him to the most she could give. Mom is still there when I go "home." Our relationship has gone to another level, a deeper one, and for that I am grateful. It's still a comfort to head "home" and know she's there, tending her garden, cooking something, or just being Mom. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
There's a lot being written about home church, and a lot of questions/curiosity on the subject. It seems, though, that few are actually willing to jump out there and see what it's really all about. There are plenty of fellowships available, if one would take the time to seek them out. There's also the option of actually starting one in your own home, if you dare. Real live preacher had a post, If We Could Do Church, and I replied to one of the commenters. The question of legitimacy was raised:
"Not to be flippant, but it if a "church" like this is legitimate, then what about a
church of one? Is a church of one still a church? I think you're sliding down a
slippery slope there."
Here was my answer:
My greatest spiritual growth has been made in the last 14 years meeting in groups of as little as 2 and sometimes greater than 100, mostly in homes, but the for the larger groups in the past we have rented a banquet room at a hotel, or met out at the lake.
Legitimate? Only when our meeting/fellowship meet to glorify God and build the faith of those in attendance. Have we done that with only 2 people present? yes. Have we missed it with 50 people present? maybe. Maybe it was just me. The point is, that wherever 2 or more are gathered in Jesus' name, He is there. And when we know His presence, and we honor that with our words, deeds, and worship, we've had church.
We don't have a paid pastor, but rather, a plurality of leadership. Worship is open for anyone to participate and offer a song, psalm, a word of encouragement, a prophecy... even a sermon, if that's been led by the Spirit. In short, we have adopted the "priesthood of the believer," and recognize, even encourage the use of whatever gifts God has given someone. Is it always a perfect service? No. But we're open to allow the Holy Spirit change us, admonish us, and even correct us.
A church of one? Well, that may be pushing it, since the purpose of a church involves "the assembling of yourselves together," and corporate worship is intended for the glory of God, the edification of the body, and the teaching of doctrine. The five-fold ministry is not intended to be present only in the pastor, or leader of the group. It was given to the body of believers for prophecy, evangelism, aposotlic ministry, pastoring and teaching. It requires a body of believers to carry out the "perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry, and the edifying of the body of Christ." So one person, although said person may be able to have a powerful worship time alone with God, is not a church by himself. We are designed for relationship, and the body of Christ is fashioned to be dependent on interdependent relationships with God and each other.Just as I believe that the instiutional church has legitimacy, so I believe that the smaller fellowships such as home churches, be it 2 or 100, have the same legitimacy...as long as the body is functioning as the body of Christ, and not just meeting for the sake of meeting, or to meet the overhead.
Our Church has a new web page: Association of Home Churches. We just started posting stuff there, so bear with us as we build the site. Stop by and visit! If you have questions or comments regarding home church, I'd like to answer them in an article on the new web site.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
So they tested him. Why? Were they truly seeking the truth, or looking for an answer from Jesus? No, they were also looking to justify their own self-righteousness.
Don’t we have the same attitude sometimes? We know the law, or we have an idea about what the scripture says concerning _______(fill in the blank – the way someone dresses, gossip, adultery, cussing, tattoos, etc., etc., etc.). We all of a sudden become self righteous and decide to judge. We justify our judgment with scripture, all the while forgetting our own sinful state. Instead of wanting to restore someone in sin, we look for a rock to throw it at them. We want judgment for others while expecting mercy for ourselves.
This past weekend Linda and I led another Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat for 4 women. Rachel’s Vineyard is a weekend retreat for those seeking spiritual and emotional healing from a past abortion. It is a time for those seeking healing to deal with the sin, receive and give forgiveness and restoration, and give dignity and honor to the child or children they lost to abortion. This weekend 8 babies were named, memorialized, and given dignity in a resurrection service.
One of the exercises involved carrying a stone (representing an area of unforgiveness or needed healing) until we could release it, as the Lord led. I carried my stone less than 24 hours before Linda and I both threw them in the lake. In addition to ministering to the ladies, we received some healing in our marriage. Carrying the stone and then letting it go was an act of giving up our right to have been offended and actually forgiving that person we held that offense against. It was a powerful reminder to let go of our self-righteous attitudes.
Got a stone you want to throw? If you’re sinless, go ahead and cast it. As for me, I’ll just leave it on the ground.
[The Abortion Recovery Process and God's Grace]
[More on Recovery]