About bradjacksontx

Bible believer, Jesus follower, God warrior, family man, Texas hockey nut and everything in between.

We’ve No Less Days

Day 3 of the “Crazy Love” plan is about God’s love for us. In the lesson, the following verses are given as examples of God’s amazing grace for us, despite our depravity:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matt 7:11

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. Matt 22:37-38

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10

 

I meditated and prayed on that scripture this morning and the song, “Amazing Grace” would return to my head over and over again. A bit annoyed that I couldn’t clear my mind like I wanted to, I gave in and listened to the hymnal version I grew up with in my Baptist church. I wanted to hear an authentic version of the song, which then led my curiosity down the path of who wrote the song. It turns out it’s a pretty great story of conversion and faith by a man named John Newton. I encourage you to read about it in these links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace and http://www.anointedlinks.com/amazing_grace.html

1.212818

I won’t go into the full story here but I do encourage you to read about the author, his life and the song itself. It’s a great trip that I think a lot of us will be familiar with…a life of sin and rejecting the truth, conversion and realization/filled with peace and joy. Something to remember as we think of God’s love for us (His children) and our love for our own children (remember rebellion, grace, patience and love I talked about earlier?).

Lastly, since I had to play the song to get it out of my head, I listened to many different versions. I hadn’t heard this version by Mahalia Jackson before but after hearing it, I believe it is my favorite rendition of this beautiful song now.

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The Time Has Come

There’s not much I can say to give my study any more meaning and praise than to share with you these verses and images that gave me life this morning…

James 4:13-17

 

13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Phillippians 4:4-7

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

1 Corinthians 10:31

31So whether you eat or drink or

whatever

you do, do it

all

for the

glory of God.

New Bible Study Plan – Crazy Love

While I can say I’ve been “reading” my bible consistently lately, I can’t say that I’ve been studying the Bible as much as I would like to admit. I can’t deny the historical evidence that bible studies, small group, etc. keeps me on track and gives me the push I need to dive in and seek wisdom more than just myself trying to pick something to explore. Hey, whatever works is the way I look at it and, now I’m confident what that looks like so, it’s what I’m going with.

I recently came across this quote that really struck a chord with me: “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” ― Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

I have a weird relationship with the word “success”. I say weird but, I have just never felt “successful” from any world point of view. Growing up, I thought success would look like a big house, multiple cars and of course, lots of money. Then I hit my anti-authority, punk rock, “money/greed is evil” phase (age 14) and thought I had everything figured out. I guess I was half-right…we know the love of money is the root of evil at least. Then, I graduated, always worked, always had more than enough, never really struggled with getting by but always had the question, “is this what life is about?”. All of this working, all of these hours…just to buy this…stuff? That question has really never changed but, I have a different outlook on “success” since having a relationship with God and that definitely helps give me purpose when I question where my time, energy and especially, love, goes.

I still have that weird feeling with the word “success”. We have such a worldly definition on the word and what it looks like. If you ask people from different parts of the world, especially from different eras, it is going to look like many different things. To some, it may look like survival. To others, it may look like excess. Either way, it looks different to different people. This isn’t a post about “success” and what it should look like…it should look like however you define it compared to God’s version of this in your own life.

Back to the quote’s purpose…so, reading this quote reminded me of Francis Chan. I never read any Francis Chan books, although I’ve wanted to, I just never took the time to buy one or borrow one (I know several that have his books). No reason why, I think it’s just because I had so many other books and studies “ahead” of his, I didn’t see a break far enough to see a good time to insert another book. I did really enjoy his preaching and hearing about his commitment to servitude and spreading of the gospel, making disciples, etc. so my heart was always open to hearing more from him if it happened to come my way.

I knew it was time for another anchor to help me study so I began seeking out a topic to dive in to. God’s love for us seemed like a really great topic at this moment. Being a parent, you quickly see parallels to this as you witness “sin nature” in real time! It’s actually a bit..amazing? Is that the right word? I’m not sure…I’m not sure what the right word is, I’ll go with amazing because “amazing” is supposed to catch you by surprise yet, it doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ll witness a child go from a helpless infant to a greedy, selfish, manipulating mini-adult right before your eyes! And the “amazing” part is, YOU DIDN”T “TEACH” THEM THIS! There was no Sesame Street “Letter of the day is T for Theft” episode that taught them to steal toys from other 2 year olds. No “Chomp Goes The Toddler” (sung to Pop Goes The Weasel) nursery rhyme that teaches a toddler to bite someone if they don’t get their way! Nope, these things just happen and reflects the sin that is in our hearts already, even right now.

But, here’s the thing. As a parent, you still love your child. Though these moments and other moments, and even moments you may not have gotten to yet, you’ll still love your child. That won’t change, just like God’s love for us. Which, as you get older and you realize how obstinate you purposely become or act or even desire to be…I’m not sure about you, but I’m just amazed (again) that God hasn’t just turned his back on us. I’m amazed that God just hasn’t tried to kick the planet into the sun like a soccer ball and choose to start over with another Adam on planet Mars or something. But that’s not who He is (thankfully), we know that. These are just thoughts I remember having as I read the Bible for the first time as a believer! Even when I read the Bible with a very skeptical mind, trying to find fault and flaw with the written word, I was amazed at the grace, the “visibility” and the love God presented to mankind.

Which brings me to the study I chose to dive into this week. “Crazy Love”…the title says it all…God’s love for us may very well seem crazy when you think about it…the grace and patience given to us when any one of us mortals would’ve easily given up a long time ago. The first verse to read is Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

That verse hits very hard for me because I think mankind enjoys using the “I didn’t know better” excuse as often as possible. But to me, this verse reminds me of everything around us created by God that we are aware of, that has consequences, that you cannot deny. Take the wind for example. Can you see it? Sort of…you can see leaves move, trees sway, etc. Can you deny it? No. Can you claim ignorance? You better not if you’re in the path of a tornado or on a cliff. I can’t recall having a personal experience of someone denying wind. E.g., no one has ever said to me on a windy day, “What is that stuff moving everything around?” I would say, “uh, wind?”. To which they would reply, “Hmm…I don’t know.” Sounds crazy right? Yeah…we all know people that do that with God ‘tho.

Same thing applies to other elements that you have to acknowledge and respect if you want to live..oxygen, gravity, etc. I’ve never known anyone (in their right mind) to question these things and try to prove otherwise..at least not without consequence. Same thing with God. He has made Himself known to you and I. For us to deny or, even worse, say “we didn’t know better” would not hold up under judgment.

Now, there is another side to this where, people may know “about” God but they don’t know what we know or know the whole truth. This is our opportunity to teach them and make sure they do know so they can accept the whole Truth into their hearts and teach others. It’s almost like electricity, especially high voltage. To someone (maybe a child or inhabitant of a remote island) that has never experienced or at least been warned about high voltage, you would do everything you could to stop them from touching that wire if you yourself knew better, right? THAT is our calling as Christians, to spread the gospel and crazy love of God to others because WE know! When you look at creation, the things you can see and also the things you can’t see but feel and know that they are there (love is one of these things), it’s so easy to show that ALL of that and ALL of this is created by a Creator, a higher power, one who loves us and wants the best for us. Have you ever done that with someone? Someone who really did.not.know.better??

Is that what success looks like? I’m not sure. I know some may look at creating disciples as a form of success and there’s definitely merit in that but, to put such boundaries on an act that we are supposed to do limits the effort of our potential. The problem I have with a word like “success” is it indicates a finish line. Do “this” and you’ll be successful. “Make disciples” and that will be a measure of success. Like I said, there is truth in that statement but don’t let it end there. Make disciples, definitely, but keep investing and keep loving and don’t give up. The only finish line I see is when God calls me home finally. Until then, I’m going to give it all I got.

VOTD – Psalm 56:4

‘In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? ‘ Psalm 56:4 https://www.bible.com/bible/111/PSA.56.4

As part of my quiet time and prayer meditation in the mornings, I am most successful when I choose to open my Bible before anything else. I know this seems like common sense but we seem to either forget or get wrapped up in everything else as we prepare for the day (see my previous 4-5 posts and large gaps in between posts, if I’m being honest).

Psalm 56:4 came up in my Bible app as the “verse of the day” and it was actually just what I needed this morning. In a time of uncertainty, which has always been….the devil has just honed his skills in dishing it out to us in just the right amount to drive us to fear. If I’m being honest, I woke up this morning with several fears, first with the simple (“what time is it, did I oversleep??”) to the familiar (“what’s going on in the news/world today, are we at war, what calamity occurred now??”) to the overwhelming (“are my kids ok, let me run from room to room and check!”). I don’t think these “fears” will every subside but I can learn to not let these thoughts have the impact they have where they overwhelm my thoughts, increase my blood pressure and, ultimately, make me feel helpless (wherein the devil wins because my faith has dwindled). Instead, this verse is a great reminder that our faith can conquer fear. We know this, we have read this a thousand times and…we know this. I can’t justify our fears, not even my own, when I consider the accountability we should have with these verses.

The main thing I wanted to consider with this verse is, the assurance I find when I consider when it was written, the circumstances and the chronology it fits in within the Bible.

We live in such a “wonderful time” with information at our fingertips. God bless those that focus on that information being wholly focused on the Bible and not the other detractors that take our time and attention away. I was curious as to the story behind the verse since it was prefaced as, “For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam.Title: Probably a literary or musical term When the Philistines had seized him in Gath” in my Bible. With a few clicks, I was able to discover that David likely penned this verse while in captivity in Gath, which, (from my very limited knowledge) was not as a prisoner, but as a temporary location to get away from Saul and take up with the Philistines (later) to fight against the Israelites.

This is while David was living in a town named Ziklag where he was sent to from Gath. From what I can tell, fear of man crept in with the Philistines and, not only did Saul fear the Philistines when he heard David was on their side but, the royalty/leadership feared David would betray them as well and David was sent back to Gath. Long story very short, Ziklag was conquered by the Amelakites and David was protected by God once again.

While we are able to read these verses thousands of years later in a nice chronological form, this story was being lived out in real time by David, thus displaying his faith had to be ironclad in order for his own safety but, also to be understood by everyone who would hear or read these words he penned in the Psalms. This may seem obvious but, when you consider we live in such a time where we have the entire Bible laid out before us, we read story after story of God’s protection and promises, even to the point of Jesus’s birth, death and ascension and we still struggle with belief, surrender and faith.

This is why “fear not” is so prevalent throughout the book. Why there are so many examples of God’s promises coming true. It is an overwhelming commandment that we are given to praise and trust! Praise and trust! When we do this, there is nothing left to fear! Nothing else can have a foothold on our mindset, fear will have nowhere to go, it is an amazing feeling to meditate on David’s writings and other examples of faith overcoming fear, please give it a try!

I’ll finish with this quote I stumbled upon as part of a commentary on this verse, it is simple, yet encompasses our life from birth to realization: “Faith groweth valiant in fight; albeit it began like a coward, and staggered in the first conflict, yet it groweth stout, incontinent, and pulls its adversaries under foot: In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” – David Dickson

 

No Longer A Slave

We are living in raging seas of brokenness, pain, abuse, and violence. The sad truth is, it’s nothing new. The life-changing truth is, there is a way out of this slavery of life that seems hopeless.
 
“You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone”
 
I encourage you to check out the song, the lyrics, the meaning behind it but, more importantly, the word of God that inspires moments like this and the hope that it brings. Here are a few starting points that I hope will encourage you:
 
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Gal 5:1
 
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” – Rom 8:15 https://www.bible.com/bible/111/ROM.8.15
 

Choosing Each Day: God or Self finale

By no means is this the end of the mindset to choose God first thing in the morning and throughout the day just because it’s the end of a 3 day Bible study. A few takeaways for me include:

• Write Joshua 24:15 in as many places I can, make it phone lock screen even!
• Pray, pray, pray…pray for God to clear your mind, to consume your heart and to guide your every word, thoughts and action!
• You have a choice to make with every moment of the day, pray for peace, hope, and renewal of your mind and heart!

Joshua 24:15
15But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Lamentations 3:22-24
22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

SWORD
What do we learn about God?
God is sovereign but has given us free will to make a choice. We have the choice to love or hate. Would we be able to give glory if we were programmed to only love or to “automatically” love God with no choice otherwise? The ability to set our sights, hearts and minds on God is glorifying to Him who gave us life.

What do we learn about people?
We are a wretched, ungrateful creation. We are susceptible to the slightest distraction, the most obvious deceptions and can display 0% loyalty with the drop of a hat. What if you were to build a robot with robust AI but programmed it to love only you, no matter what you did? Would that be gratifying knowing that the robot had no other choice? Fortunately we are not programmed only one way, unfortunately, we often make the wrong choice, a poor choice that can have eternal consequences.

Is there a command to obey?
Turn your heart and set your sights on the one and only true God.

Is there a command to follow?
With every thing, every day, CHOOSE who you are going to follow.

I will continue on my journey to CHOOSE God and document my experience here.

-Brad

Choosing God Each Day – Baby Steps

Disclaimer: A lot of reading and backstory, jump all the way down to the bottom if you want, I won’t be offended.

Day 2 of my Choosing Each Day: God or Self? Bible study from you version.com started at about 1:05am for me this morning. My youngest son is sick, “likely just a viral infection” the doctor said, since flu and strep tests came back negative (THANK YOU, LORD!). Because he is not feeling well and under the weather, the recommended medicines were rest and hydration. So, we’ve been letting him sleep outside of our typical structure because sleep is the foundation to the healing process as doctors say. Which, by the way, if this is true, why do they wake you every 2-3 hours during your hospital stay? Hmm.

If you were to become ill 2,000 years ago in the empire of the Ancient Greeks, you would have sought out an Asclepian physician. The Asclepians were priestly healers and the immediate predecessors to the better-known Hippocrates (of Hippocratic oath fame). Your medical management would have included an invitation to a private coastal villa for a retreat with plenty of rest and sleep for five or six days. A subsequent interpretation of your dreams from that time of restitution would be seen as divine inspiration to guide your treatment course.

5 or 6 days of plenty of rest or sleep?? Are the Asclepians and their Grecian villas still around? Forget Disneyworld, I know where my next vacation is going to be! Oh man, I’m getting way off topic…

Back to the story, my wife is sick as well right now. We were concerned because they both were under the weather around the same time but, once again, the doctor ruled out the major bugs going around this time of year and chalked her suffering up to a pretty bad case of allergies, otherwise known as cedar fever, aka, the plague of Central Texas during this time of year.

So, how does all of THAT fit into this study and the reason for divulging too much? Well, like I said earlier, my day started at 1:05am with my bedroom door shutting from my wife, being an amazing wife and returning with a peanut butter sandwich for my son, who is sick and on an odd sleep schedule right now. I know she didn’t wake me on purpose, she was actually in and out of our room catering to my son most of the night! Whether it was a cup of water, taking him potty, another snack, more motrin, she was likely in and out about a dozen times before this last time woke me up.

During times like this, we try to strategize and prepare for the battle that is coming. You may be familiar with this battle when you have a sick child, it’s called, “being able to care for your sick loved ones without losing your mind”. As a parent, you will need to change your cycles as well which means there will be lack of sleep and sacrifices made (no, not the Isaac kind although, we do have a history of “sleep eating” in this family). Speaking of sleep deprivation, there’s a reason it’s used on prisoners around the world…it is a scary-powerful tactic that can break a person, ruin a marriage and misconfigure your face to where every small child will hear you for miles around! I’m joking of course but, if you are going to suit up for such a battle, you have to have a method to be able to fall asleep when necessary so you can wake when necessary (my method: look up “10 hours of ocean sounds on youtube, I don’t think I last more than 5 minutes).

So with our youngest asleep by 7pm, we both knew he would likely be waking up anywhere from 10pm to 1am. Well, I say, “we” as my wife and I are usually a team (team is too gracious for my contributions…she does 99% of everything and I might be able to handle the 1% she left for me to do. Not that she thinks I’m incompetent but, she is just that awesome and handles the vast majority without keeping score.) during these times and we have our process ironed out but, with her down for the count, I knew I needed to take action and do what is necessary. So, I went to bed around 8pm. “Wow! What a sacrifice!” you might be thinking but I’m not mentioning this for my own attention, just setting the stage to show you my process to rest up because I will need energy later. I realize 8pm might be perfect or even late for some of you, it’s actually a little early but not by much, I prefer to be in bed at 9 so it’s all good and, once again, I’m sharing more than you want to know.

Now we are all 3 asleep so waking up whenever our youngest wakes up and needs attention or necessities, I should be in good form at least. But, I must be a heavy sleeper because I could tell from the cups and the crust on a paper plate and the fact the bathroom light was on that she instinctively did what a mother does and catered to our son while I slept. Once I was awakened, I assured her, “I have it from here” and…sorry, no joke, quick diversion…it’s now 3:05am and he was asleep about 20 minutes ago so I came out to the living room to dive into my study but I heard the pitter patter running in the hallway and he came out here asking for a bean burrito lol! Of all things…oh well, maybe that means he’s feeling better and the bean burrito should be filling and help him get back to sleep. Bean burrito delivered and he’s laying down with that sleepy look in his eye again, we’ll see if it holds. Meanwhile, mom is sleeping through all of this thankfully. I will probably want to crash again around 8pm tonight so I’m doing what I can, when I can, with what I have. Napping won’t be an option today (busy work schedule) so I pray that it works out a bit similarly tonight with a bit more sleep and then everyone heals quickly. Not that I mind trying to laughably fill her shoes in any way. Believe me, my wife is Mrs. Amazing and when I try to fill in and serve the way she serves, it is nowhere close!

Ok, let’s get back on track with the study and how it’s going, shall we? Today’s devotional really hit home this morning, I immediately went into the posture and prayer I should have defaulted to much earlier in the “day” but even more so, in my life.

Remembering from the day before in the study, Joshua 24:15 reminded us, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Today’s devotional included these words: “How might this choice play itself out, especially first thing in the morning? It seems that most people usually spend a few minutes gathering their thoughts for the day before they get out of bed in the morning. In these moments it can be a temptation to choose to think first about our day, our schedule, what we need to do, who needs to be where, etc. Before we know it, we can fall prey to the lies of the enemy and begin dreading our day or feeling overwhelmed by it, and then try to tackle it as soon as our feet hit the floor.

What if, instead, we were to choose the Lord? What if, by God’s grace, we would choose to fight our sinful flesh, put it to death as God’s Word instructs us, and set our minds on His way instead of allowing our thoughts to run amok? Practically, what would this look like?

We would begin by thanking the Lord for the gift of a new day and acknowledge that He alone is sovereign, that He alone is in control—not us. And then by His grace we would put aside our thoughts, our concerns, and our agendas and draw near to God by spending time in His Word and in prayer.”

After reading that far into the devotional and feeling hit upside the head with the reminder, I immediately went into prayer and did just that. It felt great, it felt natural and it made me think, “why don’t I do this already?” I know I have done this in the past but not only did it forcefully come about once I was reminded like this or convicted but it was also very short-lived I hate to admit. I am praying for God’s intervention to wash my selfish heart and help me assume this posture naturally. To make it my natural state when I wake and at all times in between.

My pastor recently preached on a “Journey To Freedom”, a very encouraging and refreshing journey through the steps of salvation and ability to grow in your faith that will only come when you have freedom. I’m paraphrasing and simplifying it more than it should be, it’s an incredible multi-part study that I encourage you to check out, it will likely be the best use of your time! – Journey To Freedom

There was something very impactful that was said, more of a challenge to me, that went along the lines of, “Fall in love with your Bible.” Psalm 119:97-100 was referenced:

97Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
98Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
99I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.

This particular scripture hit me hard in a number of ways. First of all, these verses were already highlighted in my Bible…BY ME! I don’t remember doing it, not sure why I did it, maybe for the same reasons I went to do it again when I saw the words up on the projector! I thought to myself, “Oh! I want to remember this and read it later!” but come to find out, I must’ve had that same revelation at some point years ago too!

Another way this scripture shook me was, I thought to myself, “You know, I used to read my Bible a LOT more than I do now…why is that??” That was a scary question but a wake up call that I was thankful to be alive and breathing to realize, therefore, that’s why I’m here writing about it, digging in to make the changes! Thank you, Pastor Peter for shaking me awake once again and giving me that nudge I needed (or as you say, “spur along” but that just sounds PAINFUL lol)!

Side note…it’s now 4:19am and the youngest just came out here to be on the couch with me so I’m going to try to wrap this up now so I can love on him and pray that the day is filled with restoration for mother and son.

SWORD

There were 3 passages today and I’ll try to verbalize what I got out of each one through this method.
Romans 8:1-14 (not a light topic by any means)
  • Because of our depravity and failure to live in the Law, we were doomed for eternity.  Through Christ Jesus, God has set us free.
  • The Law was weakened by the flesh so He sent His Son for our salvation.
  • To live in the flesh is death but to live in the Spirit is life!
  • To live in the Spirit is to be a Child of God!
  • Our natural, sinful state is to follow the flesh and obey what the flesh wants.
  • We are set free and no longer under this law, we know what the fruits of the flesh and the Spirit look like, pursue the latter!
  • If you belong to Christ Jesus, you have crucified the flesh!
  • Since you have been raised with Christ, set your mind and heard on things above, not on earthly things put these things to death or they will put you to death!
  • Clothe yourself with the virtues of the Spirit with the binding of Love, which holds it all together.
  • And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Well, there you have it…what seemed to be an inconvenience to me (waking at 1:05am for the day) has turned into a rich time to spend in the Word, prayer and service to my family. If I would have followed my flesh, stayed up late serving myself, therefore, waking up late to only serve myself more (and very shabbily as usual), I wouldn’t have this opportunity to write down my thoughts. Thank you, Lord for this day for it is pregnant with opportunity to serve and be your vessel to help guide others to You!

Choose Each Day: God or Self?

I started a new plan today. I’ve been feeling convicted for far too long to get back into my bible reading and study habits. This plan’s title stuck out to me as it hits directly home with my habits. Here’s a transparent, ugly, generalized view of my typical day:

– Wake up, check social media and news, what happened in the world and how will it affect me?

– Drive to work or begin work from home (I’m beyond blessed to be able to choose where I work from each day, only God could do this for a poor kid from Mississippi). Do I choose a sermon or biblical podcast to listen to on the commute or while I complete admin work? Hardly ever, lately. It’s either news, some worldly topic I’m interested in or music (and rarely God-glorifying music).

– Work all day, maybe get a lunch, interact with a few other self-professed Christians (in unintentional ways) but God, Jesus or anything related rarely ever comes up. Oh, I’m part of the Christian diversity group at my work but never go to our meetings or functions, another “check” in my own pathetic Christian box that I’m not proud of.

– Drive home, pick up kids from school. Work until about 6pm usually, dinner gets made miraculously from my wife (the miraculous part is that she’s still with me, still serves our ungrateful family and whips up the most delicious food, tailor made for all of our preferences (vegetarian, some don’t like this or that, she customized it all and eats last)). Needless to say, we don’t deserve her and she deserves way better but we are too busy thinking of ourselves. The ONLY thing we do that forces us to realize that there are others in this world is that we eat at the table, no tv and no devices although we slack on the no tv sometimes just to break the uneasy silence of no one really wanting to talk about their day unless it’s for the most selfish reasons (me, I, me, I, etc).

– Strict bedtime curfew of 8:30pm. The kids beg for some TV time since they have smart TVs in their rooms (big mistake if choosing spiritual walk with God, easy solution when choosing self). I bend and approve just to get the whining to stop. I turn on American Ninja Warrior for my 13 year old son and Austyn & Ally for my 11 yo daughter. I justify my actions by committing to a 30 minute limit (which I often forget because I get so wrapped up in my own comfort of not being bothered by them for the night) and thinking to myself, “well, there’s probably worse stuff they could be doing or watching.). They typically stay up past the time I would’ve cut off the TV judging by their grogginess and unwillingness to want to get up. Now I’m feeling guilty and likely stayed up too late myself due to my own desire to escape from the world…TVs in bedrooms I have to say are a huge regret.

– Now I’m in bed with my wife and 3 yo son, we do the co-sleep thing which I would never do if it were left up to me and my worship of self. Thank God for my wife and her heart because I deep down know that this nurturing produces compassion and kindness (and probably prevents us from having 2 dozen more kids). But this also produces a bit of dependency where the child is dependent on the need for us, which feeds into my ego. The child does have a bed at the foot of our own bed but I can count on one hand how many times he’s slept in that bed, and that’s ONLY because we put him there after he fell asleep elsewhere.

Well, I think that’s enough doom and gloom to paint the picture as to why I need more of Him and less of me. When it comes to gatherings of my fellow church friends and Christians, I try to wear the costume of a serving, unselfish, read-my-Bible-3-times-a-day Christian but I don’t think anyone buys it. My friends are way smarter than I am and can’t detect the lack of authenticity a good 2 miles away at the very least.

Since putting my faith in Jesus and professing to be a Christian, those first few years seemed to go quite well. I was on fire for God, read my Bible very often, participated in just about every study I could find and really felt good about my “walk”. Then I became confident I knew what I needed to know about God and didn’t think I needed any further study when, realistically, it was the equivalent of a 4 year old going to pre-School and, after finishing the first day, was convinced they had enough education to be independent and no longer require any further schoolin’. That story can be summed up in one word, foolish.

Now, during the midst of all of that journey (and this one too), one isn’t aware of the mistakes and damage that they are doing, at least, not to the full, realistic extent. This is one of Satan’s most useful tools, deception.  The past few years, I’ve known I need to do better, that what I was doing was not the life God wanted me to have but, it was all about me and those minuscule milliseconds in time where I would turn my attention and actions to Him, wouldn’t be noticeable to a flea.

So, here I am for the great I AM.

God did the unthinkable to the undeserving and kept me alive long enough to open my eyes to Him as well as bring my focus back TO Him. Death at any time in between might’ve meant a trip to hell for eternity or at the very least, a lifetime of explaining, guess we will eventually see in the future.

But, for now, through grace, I have been given a slap on the head and a spark back in my heart! Through actions that take away from me and focus on service and giving, I have been re-energized! Music, children and outreach ministries have all been impacting me as I serve and leading with a small group of fellow believers had just all been stoking the ashes and keeping the possibility of a raging fire alive! Thank you, God, thank you, Jesus, thank you to the people in my life, my family, my pastor, anyone that helps encourage as a Christian, thank you!!

Now, on to this study. It’s a 3 day study from YouVersion titled, “Choosing Each Day: God or Self – http://bible.com/r/2o3

I figure even I can do a 3 day study so I’m giving it a go, starting small but having bigger plans in mind. I really want to try to keep this study a bit streamlined, not overthink what is being spoken to me and just write down simply what comes to me right out of the gate…let’s begin.

Scripture: Joshua 24 1-15

SWORD

What do we learn about God?
God is faithful to His seevants, he will lead you to victory.

What do we learn about people?
People are weak, we will turn and fizzle out easily.

Is there a command to obey?
Fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness! Joshua 24:14

Is there a command to follow?
With everything, every day, CHOOSE who you are going to follow.

The fire is lit!🔥

Accountability

Just a reminder for myself and maybe something for you to ask me about if you see me and want to make me fess up if I’ve actually been sticking to this or not.

You know those “This day in history” Facebook reminders? Well, one popped up from 2010(!) with this tidbit:

“Total miles ran for 2009: 321.54 @ 9.24/mile pace. 2010 goal is 500 miles @ 8.5. Heading out for a 5k before work, first run of the year!”

So just to be honest with you, I fell short of the 2010 goal but it was my best running year yet and probably the best I’ve felt. I miss running and I aim to get back into it this year as well as better shape. For transparency, here’s how the past few years broke down for running miles:

2009: 321.5 miles (1st year running)
2010: 382.3
2011: 209.6
2012: 259.3
2013: 231.0
2014: 120.4
2015: 102.4

My cycling app only seems to keep last year’s history. I emailed them to see if I can get all of my history so we’ll see but here’s what I have:

2014: 58.65 miles
2015: 402.61 miles (what a difference)

Definitely SLACKED on the past few years with running and STACKED on quite a few pounds but there were lots of changes during those years. New baby, promotion at work and my Dad.

Watching my Dad suffer and my Mom’s heart break right in front of me the past few years took a lot out of us all both physically and emotionally. I know that he would want me to be healthy and able to provide for my family like he did ours and he did not have a lazy bone in his body so this will be a year of rebound and rebirth in honor of him.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.”

Something I forgot that helped me in my walk with God is the ability to meditate and pray while I run/bike/workout! This was so beneficial to me to clear my head and something I’ve been missing but couldn’t quite figure out why my head has been so cloudy in recent times! Looking forward to getting back in my groove so I’m back to firing on all cylinders, hope this inspires you to do the same or at least hold me accountable.

God isn’t going to fix this

Eden Restored

22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

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Good news, it’s already been fixed (John 3:16).

I would also like to take this opportunity to quote my friend, Brian Sumner, who summed it up and saved me a ton of typing:

“If only as many people who commented about God, actually knew what they were talking about. Praying does not mean God does what we say. It doesn’t mean every time a sports star points to God, or a wealthy business man tells people he’s blessed because he prayed for wealth, that God is actually in those prayers. We pray asking God to lead and direct, help us grow and show us what He is doing, according to His Word, while He leads us.

The tragedy of San Bernardino and the purpose of people praying is not to raise the dead, or a stop to violence by calling upon some heavenly genie. No, it is to ask God to help in difficult times, give people the “peace that surpasses all understanding” and to give Him Glory.

People look for evidence of God in His stopping hunger, bringing world peace, and often times adding to us financially. The evidence for God is that He did the most loving thing of all.

To all of you reading this, of whom 100% will die, of whom 100% have sinned, the evidence being we will die, God, when He did not need to, sent His Son to die on the cross, taking up our sins, and putting Himself in our place. “In this is love, that while we were yet still sinners, Christ died for us”.

And as you have heard, “for God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son Jesus”. When I pray, I pray that people would come to faith, as they hear the Gospel, and so heaven will be populated with saints who are currently sinners.

God is perfect, did not need to reach down and die for you, rising again, but He did.

Don’t mock God, repent, it’s life changing.” #‎God #‎Jesus #‎Jesuschrist #‎sanbernardino #‎pray #‎prayer #‎dailynews

Might I add that, ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ (Romans 14:11). This will either be done with your will or against your will. The good new is, if you’re reading this, it’s not too late.