Category Archives: Receiving God’s Intimate Counsel

A Thankful Heart

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I pondered this post for a few days.  Thinking exactly where I would focus as we draw closer to Thanksgiving.  When I look over my life and all that is around me, it fills me with a thankful heart.  I have been blessed with such a beautiful wife that is such a beautiful soul.  A true Proverbs 31 woman in my life.  We’ve been blessed with 3 beautiful kids.  They are our pride and joy.  My boys are the apple of my eye and my daughter is my delight.  Proud of all 3 of them.  We’ve gone through a lot together as a family and we’ve made it through storms together.  I’m very thankful to the Lord for having each of them in my life.

There are so many other things I can call out to be thankful for.  The biggest thing above all things, however has to be full and complete transformation.  I can stand here today and say that 2015 has been a year of complete transformation, not just for me, but for my family.  Jesus took a hold of my life this year like I had never imagined possible and boy oh boy, this is just the beginning of what I can tell already will be an exciting life of following Him and leading the lost to Him.

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Through all of this transformation, through all of this change, there are so many things, just in this short period of time that I can point to and that am very thankful for.  I am thankful for my church family at The Cross Loganville.  My pastor, Tim Cash, and the rest of the team, our men’s ministry, the awesome small group Amber and I joined, and all the connections and friendships we have made so far.  Truly blessed to be walking with such an awesome body of believers.  They’ve welcomed us in and have been very instrumental to our lives.

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I’m thankful for Ransomed Heart Ministries, led by John Eldredge, and the opportunity to attend the Wild At Heart Boot Camp in Colorado.  This was the pivotal life changing moment for me.  One that God was prepping me for through many encounters right up to the day I left and I knew He was really leading me to, because of the spiritual warfare I dealt with before I left.  When I made it there, however, I was able to let go.  My life completely surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as I stood in those mountains and I knew I would never be the same.

I’m thankful for the change of my heart to know I needed to follow Jesus into the unknown.  To live the unscripted life and follow Him to wherever He is leading.  I’ve always lived a life with a plan about where I was headed.  I can no longer do that and since then, there is so much freedom in knowing God is now leading the way, not me.  I go myself out of the way and stopped trying to control things that were not in my control and let Him take control.

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I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend Liberty University to pursue a Masters in Counseling.  Something I never thought I would do, but somehow, I feel as if God has been leading me here for many years through the many encounters I’ve had and the moments of counsel that I have given to others.  I never recognized it until this year, but once did, He put me on the fast track.  I’ve been blessed with great teaching, great fellowship when getting to go on campus, and great Christ centered learning and development.  Truly excited to see what the Lord is going to do with my life through all of this.

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I could honestly go on and on and on here.  All of this points to what the Lord has done in my life since I surrendered completely to Him.  He’s been leading me back to Him for the last few years and this was the year He decided it was time to unleash.  The transformation for my life has transformed my home.  Seeing my kids light up, but most of all seeing my bride light up.  Now watching her day after day getting into the Word on her own and journaling.  Seeing her build up the courage to break out of her shyness to fellowship and know others in our church family and building the courage to share what is a very powerful story.  She just glows in it as I see her eagerness to grow and know God.  Of that I am also very thankful.

2015 has been the Lords year for me and family.  He’s taken the reigns and is leading us into the unknown.  It’s no longer about living the good, comfortable, content, and ‘successful’ life.  It’s about living the unscripted life that follows where we are led.  My heart is very thankful for this transformation and where He takes us from here.

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I want to wish every one of you a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! – 2 Corinthians 9:15

Discerning Truth and Growing

We had a powerful teaching at church yesterday regarding the subject of discernment and being able to tell what is truth from what is false.  For so many, this is a difficulty.  There are so many twisted teachings out there and compromised Scripture.  We see it on TV with those teaching the prosperity gospel and then in our local churches as well.  I wrote on this recently that there are so many attempts to compromise Scripture in order to make it fit into our social norms and cultural post-modern thinking that has become so prevalent today.

Our job as followers of Christ is to be able to learn and know what Truth is.  To be able to use Scripture as the testing block of all that we do and all that is thrown our way.  1 John 4:1 calls for us to test the spirit of everything.  Again, that’s everything.  It doesn’t matter where the teaching comes from.  We have a responsibility to be able to know and understand the Truth ourselves and not just trust someones word at face value.

When talking with my pastor and some guys last week about this coming teaching, a revelation hit me regarding the subject of discernment.  One point that was made is that discernment is essential for spiritual growth.  Years before I knew about Jesus, but didn’t know Him.  I knew what He did to save us, but didn’t really understand the full scope of His works.  I didn’t know God the Father and I didn’t know the Holy Spirit.  I never took time to really dive into God’s Word.  My level of knowledge was on surface level teachings from Sunday School growing up or things I saw on TV.  Essentially there was no growth in my life.

As into adulthood, with no significant backdrop in the faith and not real knowledge of discerning Truth, I easily swayed with the wind.  If there was a new teaching or some new enlightenment, it would be easy for me to almost believe, depending on what it was.  I didn’t know the Word and I didn’t know real Truth.

4 years ago, I began reading Scripture for the first time in my life.  Not for significant study, but to just read through it.  To know the stories of the Bible and learn a deeper understanding of what I now see as a 66 book love story laid out for us.

Since that time, I began to start studying deeper.  Reading through 3 times straight and them changing things up to get a deeper understanding and begin to connect prophecy to fulfillment and more.  Essentially, I was starting to understand and starting to discern Truth.  For the first time in my life, I now have a greater understanding and ability to stand on the Truth of the Scriptures and be able to test the spirits of things I hear.

As I said, discernment is essential for spiritual growth.  I could have easily spent a life of just spinning my wheels and not knowing Truth.  All this does is lead to death.  I was reading through something I wrote many months ago and am reminded of the journey God now has me on.  I can’t not be all in and not grow in Truth and intimacy with God.  Knowing Truth and being able to speak the Truth enables a closer relationship with God.  Because of this growth, I now know Jesus and have a deeper understanding of His works.  I know God the Father as my Father who through Christ has now called me son,  and I know the Holy Spirit and call on Him for guidance and counsel now every single day.

Once you know the Truth of God and what He has revealed in His Word, there is no way you can’t not be all in.  I thankful that God has blessed me with discernment and I pray for this to continue each day.  I pray that for each one of you to know the Truth for yourselves and then once you do, don’t compromise it for the sake of this world.

God’s Using The Round Table

I continue to get astounded by God’s lead and the way I continue to see Him working my life.  I had worried about falling back to “life as usual” in the months following Wild At Heart, where God pierced my heart to heal me and bring me to life like I’d never known.  With each passing day I seem to learn something new.  Something that just magnifies the glory of God in my life and the life and freedom that is now my through Jesus Christ.  One of these ways has been my Round Table.

When I was alone with God in Colorado, one of the things he put on my heart is the identity of King Arthur and the knights of the round table.  It was rather amazing to feel that on my heart.  In the weeks, prior, I was in our men’s Bible Study and it first hit me there.  I was a lone ranger.  I did life alone or with just my wife.  Didn’t lean to other men for counsel and to really do life with.  I wrote about this in late February in my post “The Round Table.”  Since then, God has shown it to be of great significance to my life as it should be for all of us.

I believe the circles we keep are very vital to our own growth with God.  Having people in our lives that we can trust to be honest with us, not just blow smoke with what we want to hear, and will be there to support and love you through your circumstances.  I think this is huge.  I’m finding those people each day.  Guys I go to worship with, my pastor(s), the guys from Colorado that I now connect with regularly.  Huge part of life and so thankful God has placed these guys here as a part of my round table.

It’s ironic we started a series at church on circles in our life, starting with God and then spreading outward to our family/marriage, friends, etc.  I believe these circles are vital and I believe this is part of the reason God put the round table on my heart, to show me this shortfall and trust that He was placing men in my life I could now trust and turn to.

Here is another example of how vital the round table has been.  In the last couple of months, I made the decision to return to school as I feel that God is calling me into christian counseling and even ministry.  Not sure of what would be the right program, I just chose one to get in the door.  Since then, my pastor/friend/mentor Tim, connected me with a good friend, who is also a christian counselor who sat with me to talk with me about this road and advise me on it.  HUGE!  He helped me to hone in on where I should go, based on my desires and how God is leading.  So now, I am pursuing a Masters in Professional Counseling with the goal of becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor over the next few years.  This will open up great opportunities for reaching peoples and counseling them from the Biblical perspective of trust and in the 4 Streams of Walking with God, Receiving God’s Counsel, Deep Restoration and Healing, and Spiritual Warfare.  I am truly excited about what God is doing and how he has used the round table to counsel me and steer me.

You see, 5 years ago, I started working on a Doctorate in Business.  With no real direction here, I just did it.  People would cheer me on through it, but in reality, I was doing it for wrong reasons after I lost my Dad in an effort to gain focus in my life again, but never received real solid counsel on this.  I didn’t have round table.  There have been other things I done in life in the same manner.  Just doing, but not seeking advice on anything from people or from God.

Again, I look at Scripture in this category too.  All throughout, we see people who have their circles to go through life with.  Most notably, look at Jesus.  He had his inner circle, those closes to Him, His 12, and then other disciples further out from the circle who were sent out.  These people were a significant part of Jesus.  Jesus taught them along the way through His earthly ministry to prepare them for the mission of spreading the Good News to the world after His death to defeat sin, His resurrection to defeat death and give new life, and ascension to the throne with all authority over heaven and earth now His.  His circles very significant, which leads me to believe it’s significant for us as well to as we are now alive in Christ.

I share all this because I believe my testimony here and in other circumstances are significant for all our lives.  God puts the round table in our lives because we are not meant to go through life as lone rangers.  I know there are many of you out there.  When you trust God and put that aside, the way He works in this is so amazing.  You’ll never figure it all out, known of us will, but when you let go and trust Him, He can use you in so many ways for His glory and the freedom we can gain from loving God enough to choose Him first is amazing.  We need people to guide us in this and there are people that need each of us too.  Trust in it and let God use your round table.   I have found, that when you go through life with others, we’ll be amazed at just how closely related we are in our brokenness and sin in the fact that we’re all jacked in someway but can walk through it all together to allow the healing of Christ to enter each of us.  We don’t have to do any of it alone.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”   C.S. Lewis

Diving Deeper – Receiving God’s Intimate Counsel

An important part of our journey the 4 Streams.  It’s import to remember what is the purpose behind it all.  What is the offer that God has given to us through Jesus Christ?  This is restoration.  Pure restoration of our hearts as his image bearers as both men and women.  Again, these 4 Streams are key essentials to that restoration.  Isaiah 61; Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free.  Again, John Eldredge lays all of this out clearly his book “Waking the Dead.”  It’s all essential for growth and restoration in our brokenness.

Today, I am going to deeper dive into the stream of Counseling, or rather Seeking God’s Intimate Counsel.  This is so critical as it touches the relationship we have with the Holy Spirit learning to invite God’s Spirit into the depths of heart.  As with the other streams, this one stems from first learning to walk with God.  All the streams are interrelated in some way, but we have to be able to know how to walk with God to learn to seek his counsel, healing, and deal with warfare.  Dallas Willard says, “God created us for intimate friendship with himself-both now and forever.” This goes beyond just reading Scripture.  We have to talk to God and invite him in.

So back to counseling, I believe this is very critical for all of us.  Counseling involves seeking truth in our hearts both from God and those that God uses to counsel us.  Psalm 51 says that God desires truth in our innermost being.  If have not read Psalm 51, check it out.  This is after David had his affair with Bathsheda.  He is broken now.  This Psalm is where he lays out his whole confession.  He is seeking God for his counsel. “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit” (vs 12).  He is seeking God’s counsel and inviting into himself.  He is laying it all out for God and allowing God to come deep down into his heart to restore him.

It takes the intervention of God to get down deep into our hearts to show us what we may not know was there.  To show us things in our brokenness that we either tried to forget or with all that goes on in life probably never even recognized it.  We have to be able to allow God in so that he can bring us to the place of our brokenness and then bring us to the fourth stream of healing, which I will cover next time.

In John 14:16, Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”   This Helper is the Holy Spirit.  Our Counselor, Comforter, Strength, and Guide.  Jesus offers the Holy Spirit to those that know him and the Holy Spirit is here to take us in those place in our heart that we don’t know.  The story and journey of our life is what has happened to our heart along the way.  What has brought about our brokenness?  What have have we let define us up till now?  The Holy Spirit is hear to help counsel through that and to discern the truth in our hearts.

So what does God do to counsel us and get to the core of our brokenness?  As with the other streams, I am learning each day.  What I have learned so far, as that he will get at us in different ways. Often times, it involves taking us back to the pain of our brokenness once it’s discovered.  John Eldredge said that “Usually what has been laid now in pain in our hearts can usually only be accessed by pain.  God will take us right back into our wounds.”  He will do this in different ways, too.

One of the first times I remember God doing this was just one normal day.  I have been on a journey for these last few years, but never got after my brokenness in anyway.  I was just sitting at my computer working in my home office.  I had some worship music come on.  Actually this happened twice.  The first time, Jeremy Camp’s song “I’ll Take You Back” came on.  If you have not heart it, go listen to it.  I just listened to the words and tears just began to flow.  God was getting right into my heart with the offer to take me back.  A few weeks later, it happened again, I had music on and this time it was the song by The Afters called “Broken Hallelujah”  It hit me again.  I knew God was up to something in me.  So fast forward a few months to the Wild At Heart Bootcamp and all I can say is, WOW.  The work God was doing in me and where he was going in my heart was finally evident to me.  He went right down in my brokenness.  He showed me wounds I didn’t even recognize.  He showed me the brokenness in my sin as well that I never wanted to accept.  It was painful, but God went right back in there because that was the only way to confront it, confess, fully repent, and allow God to heal me.

Jesus did this very same thing to Peter at the Sea of Galilee in John 21 after his resurrection.  First in a playful manner, he appears to them just as he first did to Peter when they first met.  They weren’t catching anything fishing.  Jesus again calls to them to cast their nets on the other side and this time they could not even haul in their nets.  At this point when John points to Peter that it’s Jesus, in such joy, he jumps out of the boat and swims to shore to him.  Jesus hung with the guys and invited them to have breakfast.  After eating Jesus does the work on Peter as follows in versus 15-17:

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

You see what Jesus did here.  Peter was already broken after having denied Jesus 3 times after Jesus was arrested.  Jesus went right back into his brokenness.  It was painful for Peter, but it was necessary to bring it out and restore Peter.  This is how Jesus counseled him.  He went right back into Peter’s wounds.  He did the same thing to me when he went into my wounds.  He will do the same for if you’re willing.  You have to let him in first.  We also have to accept our brokenness for what it is.  Michael Yaconneli said, “Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives.”

If we seek to walk with God this will allow him into the deepest works of our hearts and allow him to counsel us and give us back our hearts.  Proverbs 20:5 says, “A plan in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out.”  Walking with God will allow him to give us understanding of the broken places in our hearts that we not even recognize or know they are they are.  With understanding of our wounds, sins, and agreements we’ve made, we can draw those things out of the deep water, address them and allow God to heal us.

God will also use others to counsel us in different ways.  Maybe not always directly, but in the interactions we have.  If we are open and receptive to it, we can begin to see what God is telling us.  Notice how you react out people.  Do you shrink back, do you hide, do you come alive more, etc?  Maybe God’s telling you something here as well.  This is where the false self may really come out.  Go deeper into that and ask God what to do with that and what makes you react that way.  This can be added counsel as well.  Ever since the fall of Adam, something in every one of us is missing.  Figure out what’s missing.

Just know this, Jesus is always ministering to us.  Even if we can’t seek professional counseling or pastoral counseling, God’s counsel is always available.  Don’t just accept the lies that come out of our wounds.  Don’t listen to the false self.  John Eldredge added in his teaching of the counseling stream that “The story of your heart and life is the long and sustained assault by the one who knows who you are and who you could be, and fears you.”  The enemy is out to assault our hearts and plant himself in our wounds.  Seek God’s counsel through it all.  He is present throughout the tangledness of our lives.  Let him in.  Sometimes we may need the professional help, but always know God is willing and able to counsel us and through Jesus has offered his Spirit for us, and will be with us forever.

Seeking the Counsel That We Need

In this world we are filled with joys and sorrows.  We have things that happen to us through the years that seem to define who we become, whether right or wrong. We suffer from wounds that drive many of the choices we make and even the sin we live in.  Those wounds often get buried deep in our hearts for a long time.  We hide behind our fig leafs and those things never come to the surface.  We don’t let anyone in and then we let those wounds define a false self in us and for the world to see.  This could be wounds you suffered from your parents, siblings and other family, anyone else around you.  When they hit you as a kid they hurt.  You may not realize it, but they really begin to take hold of your life.

I’ve suffered through many of my own wounds.  Many I suppressed for a long time.  I bared a great deal of weight on my shoulders and tried so hard to prove myself in my family life and work life.  I realized I was missing a key part of it all.  God.  I came to believe in Christ long ago, but it was not until my 30s until my life really began to point more seriously toward him.  Now at 36, I’ve crossed a whole new bridge as I’ve come to realize that I really needed Jesus to get down deep into my heart to uncover those wounds so that they could be brought to the surface and nailed to Cross for good.  Jesus wants to restore our hearts.  He came to make our hearts new.  We have to be willing to let him though.  We have to open the door to let him in.  He opened the door to our salvation already now we have to let Him come in and heal us so we can walk through that door.

While I was in Colorado, Jesus dove way down deep in to my heart.  I had wounds in there I never wanted to admit or let out, but things that completely defined the false self I became for the first part of adulthood.  It hurt like I had never hurt before.  The thing was, this is exactly what I needed.  I needed the Lord to dig into my heart.  As I walked in communion with him I heard him initiating me into the man he new that I was. The man that I was meant to be all along.  I was never fully initiated into manhood and grew up faster than I should have.  Now I could hear the Father calling me HIS SON.  I was HIS SON and he called me out to be the warrior and the man I was meant to be.  Truly amazing the intimate counseling that He offers us.

Ephesians 4:23 says to “let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.”  I think I referenced this in my last post, but it is so true.  If you let the Holy Spirit in.  If you let God into your heart and into your wounds he will renew your thoughts and your attitudes. Verse 24 says, “Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.”  When we allow him fully into our lives to counsel and heal us, we come closer to the Father.  We are his image bearers and being renewed in him gives us our new and true nature.

This does not just stop with my trip out to Colorado though.  I now know I need to seek God’s counsel for so much more.  When wounds begin to resurface or when struggles come that seem to pull me down, I know I can walk with God and talk with him.  He will pull me from the struggles I find myself in.  None of us have to live in the dark places of our wounds.  Many choose to, but we don’t have to and Christ set us free from the enemies grip on us and our wounds.  We are told in Colossians 2, that Jesus disarmed the angels of darkness.  We don’t have to bound to them any longer or let them dwell in our wounds.  Christ won that battle.

God knows our hearts (Luke 16:15).  He knows exactly where we are in our life and Jesus came to restore our hearts.  In order to do so however, we must let him come to where we are and into our wounds.  He won’t leave us there if we trust him, though.  The pain will be temporary and you will come alive from that.  I’ve never felt as alive as I do right now and I’m fired up to where God is leading.  I needed his counseling first in order to come to where I am.

“God never said that the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.”  – Max Lucado

You Can’t Do This Alone

Everyday I find that I am a learning something new about myself and about my relationship with God.  I have been on a journey these last 4 years getting to truly learn about God, drawing closer to Him, and being more intentional about my faith.  It has not always been easy.  Last year, was a big step forward for my family and me in our growth and in our faith.  We connected with a body of believers that we’ve absolutely grown to love and worship with.  Then about middle of last years, life began to interfere and we drew away for a short time.  Toward the end of the year we drew ourselves back in and have made it a point as a family to become even more intentional about our faith.

Last week, I had a serious gut check of myself and how I was going about things.  I knew this all along, but it really hit me as I sat in my Men’s Ministry Group.  I have been a Lone Ranger for way too long.  For most of the last few years since I began to get more serious about my faith in Christ, I have done things alone.  I studied scripture on my own, read through many books of faith on my own.  Prayed and conversed with God on my own and dealt with my own issues and sins on my own.  I have my wife and together we would have our moments and discussions, but to be honest, we weren’t always on the same page and I was guilty of trying to force her growth, spiritually rather than letting her grow in her faith the way she needed to.

For both of us, though, we realized there was an element missing, especially for me.  I never had anyone outside my marriage, no other men in my life that I could do life with and converse with about my faith regularly and help me in my growth.  I was doing things on my own.  We were doing things on our own.  A lot of that stems from being married as young as we were and our goals to make in on our own.  We both have friends, but not, especially me, no one that I would connect with on a deeper level of spiritual accountability and faith.

So what’s my point here?  The point is you can’t do it all on your own.  Yes, there is a lot of spiritual growth that must be individual.  We need our alone times to converse with God, we need that solitude.  I am going to Colorado this week a lot for that purpose.  I’ll talk more about that later.  But, the simple fact is that we cannot do it all on our own.  We need to be connected with others of faith.  When we can connect in this manner it will stimulate our growth and connection with God even more.  I’ve missed out on that aspect, a lot because I just never would seek out those connections.

Look all through Scripture.  People had there connections to help them along.  Jesus had his disciples.  The Apostles had the support of one another and so much more.  It goes beyond just sitting in groups and worship once or twice a week.  We need to do life with others.  It is essential for our own growth and sanity.  Doesn’t mean it’s always roses and sunshine.  It’s a lesson I’ve been learning and slowly coming toward.  It’s been out of my comfort zone as introverted as I am , but I think very essential and I am making this a point to become even more intentional in this area of my faith

Rest From Life’s Distractions and Noises

I feel like it has been forever since I last wrote anything.  These last two month’s have been so full that it has pulled me away from my writing.  We all face those times where we are just so jammed up and full of activities and work in our lives that we don’t take those times for ourselves and our personal focus and attention to our life and faith.  We get so busy that even though we try to keep ourselves on point, it gets very difficult to to.

As an example, I have a daily habit of spending time in Scripture and prayer and then keeping my prayer journal to reflect on what I read and on my day and whatever thoughts come around for that day to reflect on.  I have been in Scripture everyday for the past 3 years or so and started journaling at the start of this year.  The last couple of month’s however, I noticed something.  I was not writing everyday.  I still read Scripture everyday, but I was not writing.  I would just brush this off as if there was just not much to write on that day, but there was more to it.  It came to head in the last week or so.  I really started to realize that my mind and life had been so jammed up and filled with noise that I could not focus enough to write anything.  Case in point, I have not written on this blog since early August right before a business trip to Colorado.

Since then, my work has been absolutely crazy, my poor wife was in the hospital in early September and of course kids activities for the fall have just kept so many distractions up.  I am not complaining, but what I realized is that I was letting so much noise get in my head, that my heart was not as focused on my faith as it should be and on ensuring my mind and my heart were clear and focused.

Our worlds are full of chaos and noise.  What I have come to realize is that through it all, we have to take time for ourselves to rest and refocus.  Get away from the craziness or life in some way to get reconnected with God in your life and with your family.  What’s the safety tip always given on an airplane if the oxygen masks come down?  Always secure your mask before helping others.    We have to make sure we take that time to ensure we are taken care of ourselves, otherwise it makes everything else that much harder.

I’m going to write more about this later, but this past weekend, my sons and I went on our first deer hunt together.  It was not long, but we spent about 5 hours in our deer blind Saturday morning. What a great time it was for us.  We got just hang out, but what else I loved was just sitting there and looking around.  Listening to the trees in the breeze, watching squirrels and a raccoon running around and the couple of deer we saw come up in range of our bows, but not where we could shoot this time around.  I was in complete awe of the beauty of it all.  This is all God’s creation that He saw was good.  It is absolute beauty.  There were no other worries other than just taking it all in.

I’m to chronicle our hunts on another blog really soon, but I just had to share this because, this was what really opened my eyes again.  I felt like I was reconnecting with God.  Just as I am when I sent in solitude on the beach, I felt the same way sitting in silence in the woods on a crisp Fall morning.  I realized I need to ensure I take those times to just reconnect.  It certainly helped me refocus myself.  While the busy life will always be there with work and 3 kids and my beautiful wife, I know I need those moments to give my heart and my mind the rest it needs to press that reset button and ensure I don’t lose sight of my God and all that He has created me for and all that He is in my life and that I stay connected with Him fully which helps me stay connected with my family and everything else even better.

Good to be back writing again.  I’ve certainly missed it these past couple months.

Don’t Lose Precious Time

I hope everyone is having a great summer so far.  It’s hard to believe we are nearing the end of July already.  Time just seems to move faster and faster as the years role on.  With all of the chaos that comes through our lives, often times there is something that gets put on the sideline, whether unintentional or intentional.  This is the time we spend with our loved ones.  Namely our spouses and children but also other family that may be close to us and even friends.  We may get so caught up in the daily grind that we forget that precious time we have.

I just returned from a wonderful 10 days on the Gulf Coast with my wife and kids.  This was a first full vacation away like this where we had nothing going on accept our time together and a big ocean in front of us.  It was a wonderful time for all of us.  We got a chance to unwind and sit on the sand or play in the ocean.  We even went on spontaneous outings to wherever we felt that night, whether out for ice cream, to one of the amusement parks in Panama City or whatever.  It was a great feeling to not worry about anything else and to have that time.  Something I cherish very much.

Often times, vacation may be the only time we get to spend quality time with our loved ones.  Work may get in the way or other calendar filling things that take away from quality time.  So what do you when you get back home and get back to the grind?  Do you go back to business as usual and everyone goes their way?  Everyone has different routines in their lives.

I have made it a point  that I was going to maximize as much time as I could with my family.  I freely and willingly take on the responsibility of providing for my family and raising our kids right and solid character.  I have made it a point, however, that I would never sacrifice my time for them to be so caught-up in work that I lost sight of them.  If my kids wanted me to go out and play with them I made sure I made the time for it.  I have been called a clock-watcher before in my work, but I make no excuses of the fact that I look forward to stepping away and getting back to my family.  Now-a-days I work from my house a great deal.  I have heard many people tell me they could not be home all the time.  I tell you this, I would work hear every day if I could if it meant I could be with my wife and kids every day.  That’s just the way I am.

The same holds true for the time with my wife, Amber.  Some say they could never work with their spouse and need that separation each day.  Granted, we all need our moments of solitude, which I have written about before and will talk about again very soon, but I cherish every day I get to be with my wife.  We were married at 18 and from that time have always wanted to be by each other’s side.  Now 17 years later that just as strong.  I love being in my home office when she is here as well.  Just being close is what matters.  It’s precious time.

Now I don’t say all of this about myself to guilt anyone.  This is the way I am.  I live for my God and for my wife and kids not to be away from any of them.  I cherish every moment of everyday I get to spend with God in His Word, writing, and prayer.  I also cherish every waking moment I am with my wife and kids.

My point is this folks.  We all have very limited time in this life.  We have very limited time with our spouses and even more limited time with our kids before they grow and move on to their new lives.  I know my time with them is running short as I have 2 almost 3 teenagers.  Cherish every moment you have folks.  None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so we have to make the most of what The Lord blesses us with while we are hear before He calls us Home.

Make sure you don’t take your time with your family for granted and squander those opportunities to be with them no matter what.  Never put insignificant priorities before them.  Never get so caught up in your work that you waste that time.  You don’t want to live with the regret of having lost that time.  Our time is short, our time with those we love is precious and just as short if not shorter.  Make the most of those relationships.

Finding Peace For Restoration

We live in a very noisy society today.  Everyday we get up and go about our business, we are bombarded with a million distractions around us, stuff on radio and tv, social media, daily traffic on our commute, drama in our circles, drama in the workplace, and so much more.  From the time we get up, until the time we go to sleep, we are under constant bombardment which can easily distract and wear us out, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.  With so much going on, many of us don’t take the time to step away and find time to sit in peace and solitude to restore ourselves.  I was reading an article yesterday about solitude an and the importance we have of finding a place where we can stay away from the distractions of this world and restore ourselves in solitude.

Some where do you go for that peace or do you at all?  For me, there are a few places I find helpful for my restoration.  First for my daily time, it comes in the early morning hours, before the house starts moving.  When I get this time, I dive into God’s Word and meditate and journal on what I’m reading that day and then pray on it.  This is a daily practice that helps really get the day going.  Also during my morning workouts at the gym.  I plug my ears in with Praise and Worship music whenever I workout and stay locked in for the next hour and half.  For my major restoration from the year of craziness that comes from work and family priorities, it comes when I am at the beach.  There is something about getting up in the early morning and walking on the sand before all the other vacationers come out.  I listen to the ocean, feel the breeze, and in that place I feel completely locked in with God.

During any of these times, it’s not about being alone and lonely, it’s about solitude.  As the article I read in And Sons Magazine describes, there is a distinct difference between loneliness and solitude.  The author describes loneliness as “Cold. It haunts us in the quiet hours when we have failed to create enough white noise to drown it out. It is scary. It is deafening.”  Solitude however, “is the quiet of standing in a windless snowfall. The snow acts as a sound dampener—it’s hard to hear a car even if it’s only 20 feet away. It’s more than quiet—it is substantive, as if you could stretch out your hand and push into the silence like a down pillow.”

As the article also points out, there is one who made moments of solitude a regular practice.  That is none other that Jesus Christ.  Many times in the Gospels we read of Jesus stepping away into the wilderness to pray and restore himself.  To connect with The Father.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone….” (Matthew 14:23)

Then of course there was the 40 days in the wilderness which prepared Jesus for what was to come in His ministry and in fulfilling His purpose according Scripture.

These moments of solitude are extremely important parts of our lives and our restoration and preparation for what is still to come in our lives.  In these moments we can connect closer with God.  We can sit still in silence and fill His Spirit fill us and restore us.  It is in these moments where we can fully let go of the stresses this world brings in our daily lives and talk with God and listen to where He leads.  These moments are priceless and really help prepare for the next steps in our journey.

I am going to touch on this more in the coming weeks.  My next video blog will come out in July and will be on this very subject.  I think this is such an important part of our lives in our walk with God and finding where He is leading us, dealing with the spiritual battles and sin that the Adversary throws our way every day, and in restoration our lives and relationships with those around us.  We all need that place and that time to find peace and restoration.

We Need Dad’s In This World

Yesterday, we celebrated Father’s Day where we show appreciation to Father’s everywhere.  Many of you know my story and know my Dad was lost a few years back.  Father’s Day is a little different for me since then, but I also have the blessing to be a Dad to three awesome kinds.  I am thankful to God that he has blessed me with the responsibility and privilege to be a part of raising these boys and girl along with my wife.

I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me yesterday in worship when I heard the crazy statistics about kids growing up without a father in the home.  This shouldn’t be news to anyone but it’s rather alarming to know how many kids out there grow-up without a father in the home (over a third of kids).  If you dig deeper, you will see a greater number of kids that grow-up without a Dad, whether there is a present father or not.  What really was striking me was how much this issue has become so normal and almost acceptable in our society today.  Guys make it too easy to step away from the responsibility of being a Dad and walk out on their homes or just check-out and refuse to be involved in the lives of their children.

This issue just frustrates, because it’s difficult for me to comprehend the thought of my kids growing up without me in their lives and involved in their lives.  I could have easily taken a different road.  I became a Dad very young.  When we first found out about it, I was scared to death of what kind of Dad I would be.  I knew it was a responsibility I had though and wouldn’t pass-up on it for the world.  Each and every kid we have in this world is a new blessing and God given opportunity that none of us should throw away.

I am not trying to diminish single-moms out their at all.  I applaud each of you for your efforts when left alone to raise children.  This goes to the, so-called men out their who skip on the opportunity and responsibility to raise their children in the way of Lord and be involved in every aspect of growing-up.  Don’t put career or other things of this world ahead of your family.  Keep God first and raise your children as a spiritual leader.  Teach them to seek God in their lives and walk closer with Jesus.

Psalm 127 3-5 says this.  “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are reward from him.  Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.”

They are a gift from God.  Don’t throw away such a precious gift and don’t be just a father.  Be a Dad.  This world needs more Dads in this world and not men who are checked-out of their children’s lives and their spouses as well.  Don’t leave women to raise these children on their own.  Lead your home and lead your children the way you were intended to.  Step-up and be a real man and don’t abandon your children.  Just read the statistics and read the stories of difficulty for people who grew-up with single parents.  That tells you enough.  There are also plenty of stories out there of men who are home, but completely check-out because of career or other issues and the impact it has on their children.

I’m not here to provide some quick fix steps for being a better Dad.  I’ve had to learn myself along the way as we all do.  There is not an easy guide for parenting.  People try to throw these together to sell what they think works, but in reality we all have to learn along the way.  It’s not easy, but step-up and take it head-on.  You won’t regret it if you try.  Anyone can be father, but it takes a real man to be a Dad.  We need more Dad’s in this world.  Don’t check-out and don’t walk-out.