Sunday, December 20, 2009

What are you driving now?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)-“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Okay, this is one of those things that you’re just gonna have to walk through at sometime in your life to really be able to see….trust me on this. Most people see something like that verse, and they wonder how that is humanly possible. In my opinion, it’s not. God has to help you understand and walk through this one.

Let me give you my take on how I lived it this past week.

On Wednesday, 12-16-09, we had a 3 hour weather delay for reporting to work. So, I didn’t have to be there until 0900. It was great! The weather was kind of crappy from an ice storm, and so it was good to not have to drive in the worst of it. I took my time. I left almost an hour before I had to report just to give me plenty of time. My usual drive is about 25 minutes, so I figured with the weather it would get me there safely. I was almost to my work site (~1-1.5 miles away). I had made it all the way through people sliding and pulling out in front of me thinking they were driving on safe roads (you know how people do….they see you giving the car in front plenty of distance, and so they think wrongly that they can just dart out in front of you…)

Anyway, as I am coming up to the last stop light I have before turning to my road, my truck begins to fishtail. And the more I tried to compensate, the more it hooked. I ended up going BACKWARDS down the road. I slid off the road, hit the ground and the truck FLIPPED UP ONTO THE DRIVERS SIDE and began sliding through a field.

Yes, I had used the bathroom before I left for work. Thank you Lord.

It came to a stop, and I don’t know how far it traveled. I had to climb out of the passenger side door, with the help of two good Samaritans, and then I ended up getting checked out at the local emergency room.

Okay Bo, where’s the “everything” you’re giving thanks for in this?

1. I didn’t get hurt. My airbag didn’t deploy; the driver’s side window on my truck didn’t break, and neither did the windshield.

2. No one else was on that particular stretch of road when I spun and flipped. Later on, as I reflected on it, I realized that I noticed it and thought it was odd that no one was on it, as traffic should have been going both ways at that time of day with the late work start. Not a soul.

3. This is relevant because of #2. See, the only thing I took out was a RR crossing sign. I didn’t hit anyone else. This is good, because, after the accident, we found out that our auto insurance company had dropped us from coverage in SEPTEMBER! Yes, that’s right, read it again, it read September. It’s amazing how many months you can go with automatic debit withdrawals with no problems and then all of a sudden, the company can’t get money out. So they said they sent us a letter; which we never received. We asked them to verify our address that they sent it to, which they……couldn’t. Uh huh……so I didn’t hit anyone, but now what?

4. Talked to a friend at work the next day, which had the same thing happen to him with the same company. He hooked me up with his agent. Becky called Thursday, an hour passed, and we were covered. This is relevant because my wife spent the rest of that day Wednesday trying to get us insurance, but couldn’t because all the carriers said we had been uninsured. We said that we didn’t KNOW because we had it automatically debited and our accounts balanced each month. (No, I’m not going to tell which company. I thought and thought and thought some more about it and I decided against it. It wouldn’t serve any purpose other than some ghoulish revenge for me, and so it’s not worth it.)

5. Picked up my truck Wednesday evening. Again, for the sake of rehashing it, let’s go through this: airbag did NOT deploy; windows did NOT crack. I was not in pain or hurting at all, even my neck. My front driver’s side tire was flat. As we jacked the truck up to put the spare on it, the tow place owner said it looked to him like the tire was just off the bead. So he directed us to a tire place around the corner from him to see if they would put it back on the rim and air it up. We went, they did, it held. No problems.

6. Drove Becky’s van to work the next day. I didn’t want to, but she wanted to have the truck checked out at our local Les Schwab. They looked at the truck and were amazed that I not only went to work, but escaped unscathed. The only thing wrong was the alignment, which was a quick fix. And, as an aside, we got to witness in a small way that way. See, Becky took my truck in and didn’t have any music playing, because she wanted to be able to hear the sounds it made. When she picked it back up and cranked the key, Christian rap began blaring out of the speakers. At that point, it came to her why the truck wasn’t ready when they told her it would be. She had noticed that they truck was out in front of the business, seeming to be done, but the doors were open. It seems they were jamming to my Grits CD that was in the player, and so God got glorified that way!

7. Oh yeah, since I drove Becky’s van to work, instead of my truck, I had the exit paperwork from the hospital that she had left in their when she drove me home. See, I needed that when I returned to work to get evaluated at the occupational clinic to verify I was indeed able to return to work with no restrictions. If I had driven my vehicle, I would have had to have her fax it to me at 7 in the morning, or go home (25 minute drive remember?), pick it up, and drive back.

8. Then of course, there is the fact that I had a truck tool box in the cargo area when I wrecked. I had taken my camper top off and was going to sell it, but NO ONE had made me an offer for the month I had it advertised. Of course, if it had sold, then I wouldn’t have had it to cover the 2 bales of straw one of my friend’s got me to put in the back of the truck to give me some weight in the back. Did I mention that he did that on his own….found the hay for me, bought it, hauled it to my place, helped me put it in and then helped me re-mount the camper top? And all because he was bored and didn’t have anything else to do? Hrmmmmm……..

I could go on and on with this. Becky and I had made a choice at the start that God was going to take care of us. He had never left us nor forsaken us. Right after the accident, it was really hard to keep focused on that with everything going on. But we stayed to our word and praised God even though it was HARD to do. And He multiplied what we did and then some. I admit the insurance thing scared us the most, until God reminded me that I didn’t have a chance to hit anyone. He is awesome.

Someone would say, He could have prevented the accident altogether. I say, yeah, but then we still wouldn’t know what our previous insurance company had done to us. Or worse yet, I could have been involved in an accident with another vehicle and been notified that way. Monte, I’ll take door #1 thank you!

So, here I am. I hope you can see through my ramblings to understand the point. Has everything gone the way I’d wanted it to the week before Christmas? Nope, not at all. Did it go the way it needed to glorify God and get Him some props? Absolutely!!! We have had so many opportunities to substitute other people’s use of the word “lucky” with the proper term, “blessed.”

I have had so many opportunities to let people know how God delivered us and kept me from harm. My truck has some cosmetic damage, and she lost the driver’s side mirror, but she’s alive. No fluids lost, axles not bent, tires okay, rims not bent at all.

God was in it and through it.

Where is God in your life? What has this helped you to see that God has performed for you? What are you driving right now that says you are glorifying God? My beat up truck is more of a testament of praise to my God than any brand new vehicle I could have. He placed His hands around me and protected me from harm and brought us into a land of milk and honey.

Praise Him….in all things. It doesn’t say BECAUSE of all things, it says IN all things. Because the more you praise Him IN all things, the more you will see how much He’s doing for you BECAUSE of all the things you are going through.

I hope this makes sense; it did for me.

Be blessed in the Lord today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Do they know Him when they see you?

Last night I attended a company sponsored “holiday celebration” and supper. I was actually urged to go by two co-workers of mine. The food was good and I had a LOAD of fun with my co-workers off the clock.

At one point in the evening, the Human Resources manager came up to the podium. She began reading from a list of people who had been recently hired and/or promoted. There were a lot of new people in the room, including myself. Now, I have worked for this company before, from 1999-2001, but then I left to go back to Tennessee. So technically I was a NEW hire, but neither my current co-workers nor the people I had known from before treated me as such.

Anyway, there was polite applause as each new worker was introduced as most of them were fresh off the street or from school or wherever. Some groups even gave a more rousing sound when one of their newly hired co-workers who were present was announced.

When she announced my name, the room erupted. It was shocking to me, as I didn’t see it coming. I was completely taken aback and embarrassed. And those of you, who really know me, know it takes a LOT to embarrass me. One other gentleman received a greater applause than me, and we were both there at the same time, only he stayed longer than I did at the first. It was truly amazing. I was proud of how I was received and what that meant to be remembered that way.

Then I began to think….what were they applauding? What did I show people? How do I exemplify Christ to a dying world? Why couldn’t I just bask in the glow?

Oh yeah, because it wasn’t my glow in the first place. I am nothing that God hasn’t poured into me already. I’m nothing without Him. The minute it becomes about me, it ceases to glorify Him.

Colossians 1:24-27(NKJV)-“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

I’ve floundered a lot lately it seems. It’s been hard to get motivated to do my quiet times, Bible study, and even to diligently search for a house of worship to learn and serve in here. It’s not that I haven’t done it AT ALL, it’s just that it’s been more hit or miss; no consistency.

I’m slowly (cause I’m a rock!) coming back to heart of it all. I’m remembering the reason I came back out here in the first place and how I feel that God wants to use me. I’m starting to remind myself more often that it’s not about me, it’s about Him.

This blog is a testament to that. Sometimes, you aren’t going to have all the answers. Sometimes, you are going to do more of what you consider, stumbling through the darkness, than shining light for those around you. Consider that the Bible says that the weak shall confound the strong, and the slow shall lead the wise. It’s not about me, and it never has been. It’s been about Him all along.

I got the message confused; but He never once lost sight of the goal. It’s hard telling you this; it’s embarrassing again. But sometimes, it needs to be, in order to realize how far along I really have been brought in my walk with Christ.

And also, to realize it’s NEVER, EVER too late to make a u-turn in your life. God IS a God of second chances. He isn’t disgusted by how you come to Him, but He doesn’t want to leave you the same way you came. When you come and let Him change you, it allows Him to interact through you, and affect even more people.

Start today. Start NOW. It’s not easy; but it’s easier than the alternative of living without Him.

Be blessed in the Lord today.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Wandering hearts.....

Jeremiah 17:9-10(NKJV)-"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?" 

I have tossed and turned most of the night with this burning in my mind. I don't know how to approach it other than head on. Here we have yet another celebrity, sensationalized in the media, who has allegedly committed infidelity and cheated on their spouse.

I had a friend ask me yesterday what it is about this that has struck me so; he wondered if I had admired this person or idolized him. I told him this truth: it bothered me because marriage is a sacred bond. Period. And it showed me, yet again, how a person can have seemingly everything, and STILL not be satisfied. It showed me how a person can have the "perfect" life and anything they want, and still look longingly at the grass in the next field, thinking of how much greener it is.

Some people will polarize this along gender lines. To me, it doesn't matter. It happens too much and too often. And the sad part about it is, this is a celebrity couple. How about those of us who aren't in front of the camera or on the news all the time? How about the people we go to work with? How many of them are wrestling with the thoughts and desires of their heart? How many of them know why we have the convictions that we do?

What happened here? You can say what you want; you can offer up any type of excuse that seems to fit. But to me, it's summed up in this question: Where did they place God? Is God at the first, ahead of everything else? Or is He relegated to a back seat? Or worse yet, do you not even know Him?

There will be jokes and tell-all's and quips and quotes and all kinds of media-bashing. But is anyone reaching out and telling them, or other couples, that there is a way out of this? Is anyone telling people that God can redeem their marriage, if only they will turn it over to Him? Or is everyone salivating over the next juicy details of what happens and what comes out? Do you try and help your co-workers or friends who are having problems, or do you simply use it as water-cooler gossip?

Where is the answer? Let's go back a bit from the verse I gave you above.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NKJV)-"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit."

God CAN and WILL bless the person who trusts in Him. It does NOT mean that you won't go through things; but you can have a hope. The Holy Spirit resides to let us know about the hole in our heart that is God-shaped. Jesus came to fill that hole and redeem us back to the Father, to be in right relationship with Him. And God just loves us too much to leave us where we are right now.

So, where do you we go from here? The choice is still up to you. The celebrity couple is not in my circle of influence, but you are. How can I help you to know that God is desperately seeking to bring you back to Him? How can I help you to realize that He has NOT left you alone in this, your deepest hour of need?

Be blessed in the Lord today.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who are you "chained" to?

Acts 28:16, 30-31-"Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him...Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him."

Paul is on his way to Caesar to appeal to him for the harsh treatment he had received as a Roman citizen. Along the way, he has several (well, more than that!) opportunities to spread the Gospel he has been commissioned by God to champion.

It is his time in Rome that this particular passage covers. I was struck by what it meant. You see, Paul was allowed visitors into his home. He had people who would and could come and hear him preach the Word of God to them. But he also had a Roman guard who was with him at all times. 

Think about that for a second. It struck me when I read it; and I KNOW I've read this account many times before. But this time, it really hit me. Paul had a captive audience. Now, I don't know if it was the same guard all the time, or if the guards had shifts or what. But think about that...Paul had people who HAD to be around while he was preaching to other seekers. Scripture never really states what these guards thought while listening to him preach, but you can't believe that God's Word was spread over them so thickly that it didn't affect them somehow.

Paul was in "chains", but had more freedom than most of us exercise right now.

What about you and I? If you work or do any kind of service, you have people who are contact with you all the time. It might be people in your office; your school; your home. We joke about it at my work area, but we spend more time with our co-workers than we do our families on an average week. What do they hear from you? Me? What do we portray in our walk?

Do we give them something quietly to listen to; hoping to catch a glimpse of where we get the hope for the future we have? Or do they hear someone who is always down; always muttering; always ruing the day and just making it look like their salvation is just another speedbump on the road of life?

Are people around you because they sense a hope in you that they want; or is it because they don't know how to cut through the shackles to get away from you yet? I want to be free in my bondage to Christ. And I want others to share that freedom as well.

Look around your eyes to the world beyond your walls.

Be blessed in the Lord today.

Friday, November 20, 2009

*Sigh* was easier when.....

So, there I was, just minding my own business. I wasn't hurting anyone; I wasn't messing with anyone.....well, I was conversing with some friends on Facebook and Blackberry Messenger....

But anyway, it pops out again, like it has at random times in the last year...."So, did you remove me from your blog list?"

I feel the anxiety again, and wonder why. I don't have anything to be ashamed about. I haven't done anything wrong. I've been busy. Plus, there are plenty of people out there writing about their experiences with God and how He walks with them through good times and bad.

Heck, 3 of the men I count as spiritual mentors in my life have a blog now. I mean, they are PASTORS, for Heaven's sake! What could I possibly add to their already enormous mountain of knowledge and wisdom.

I've got better things to do, than....than.....share my God with people.

Boy, it sounded better in my head than it looks out here in black and white on the digital page. I didn't expect it to be so stark and ugly.

Let's face it...this hasn't been a ministry to me for a while. It turned into a way to be out there among the people and have them look at me. It was a way for me to be in front of the audience, instead of in the back, serving and helping. It's the ugly truth, but it is just that....the truth.

I hope you will forgive me. I couldn't think of a reason to put myself out there, because I didn't think I said anything. Even when you encouraged me that I was speaking straight into your heart, I had a hard time believing that I said anything to anyone.

You've been here, right? Don't leave me alone in this. It was easier before. I made it into a job instead of an opportunity. I made it into something I DID instead of something I LOVED. I took something God created in me, and turned it to my own selfish whims.

Okay, enough of that. Let's move on, shall we?

Where are you today? Where have you awakened to find yourself and your relationship with God? I am not going to dwell on my past failures and hurts and pains. If I did that, I wouldn't even be here writing this. They are still there; but God has provided a way to get rid of them for me. He'll take the pain, if I would only ask Him. I'm His son; I'm His favorite child...and He loves me deeply and unconditionally.

He loves you too. He wants more than anything for you to be with Him and to be a part of your life. He desires you to find Him MORE than you desire to find Him. We try and pretty up and clean up our act and gussy up for Him. He wants us just like we are. He will do the clean-up if we will just let Him.

I'm going to try and keep from going down the path of self-indulgence again. So, there may not be as many different fonts and styles and formatting of my posts as before. It may just be words on a screen. But I want to know that they are my words; the words from my heart. The words of a man grateful for what His God has done for Him and continues to do for him on a daily basis.

I also want to know your thoughts. If you have a question, ask it. I don't want to be put in the position of ALWAYS just talking at you. A conversation needs at least TWO people. I'm going to go out again, and hope that it gives you courage to attempt whatever it is that God has placed onto your heart. If you want to sit and just take it all in though, that's perfectly fine too. I have lots of Blackberry sites where I'm just a lurker in the background; learning from those who have blazed the trail before me.

I've sat on the sidelines for far too long. The time has come. A year, a whole year. It would be easy to say it was wasted, but I know it wasn't. No time; absolutely NONE is wasted in my God's timeline. He uses each and EVERY moment to achieve His aim of bringing as many back into fellowship with Him as possible.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NKJV)-"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak, I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be a partaker of it with you."

Thanks for using me, God.

Be blessed in the Lord, today.