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Old habits sure are hard to break

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I like to talk to people. It doesn’t matter to me if they’re young or old, male or female, or what nationality they may claim. I find people interesting, and I enjoy striking up a conversation with them.

I’m that guy who goes to Walmart with his wife and disappears for a few minutes, only to be found two aisles over talking to someone he’s never met before.

Yep, that guy.

If I see someone just moving in the neighborhood I’ll probably strike up a conversation with them the first chance I get. Just did that a few days ago as a matter of fact.

The ladies in my house think my talking to complete strangers is a bit odd.

They may be right.

What’s funny (to me) about this is that until I was in my early 20’s I was extremely shy and socially awkward. Even looking someone in the eyes was a major struggle for me. Maybe some of you can relate?

It wasn’t until I became a Christian and began to grown in my faith that I actually began to see myself as “good enough” and on equal footing as the rest of the world. Oh sure, I had plenty of people telling me that I would never be more than the shy, introverted country boy I’d always been, but I was determined to be more than that.

By the grace of God and the support of the best wife in the world I went farther than what anyone ever thought I would or could. Along the way I found my voice and God opened many, many doors for me to use it. Again, it was nothing I did. To God be the Glory for every good thing that has come my way!

So, as I said, I enjoy talking to people. I’m finding out however, that I’m not supposed to be doing that any longer, at least not without some restraints. Let me explain.

A few months ago I was out walking and the school bus dropped off a young lady and as the bus pulled away, I said hello to her. She didn’t respond, which I took to mean she didn’t hear me. So I said something to the effect of “I bet you’re glad to be out of school for the day, aren’t you”? This time she murmured something that I couldn’t understand. With that, she seemed to pick up the pace and hurried to get home.

Odd, I thought.

Just last night I was wandering around Target and I hear the familiar sounds of SuperMario coming from the electronics section of the store. I used to love playing Mario when it first came out, so I was naturally drawn to the sounds.

As I round the corner I see a young boy about 10 years of age intently focused on the game he was playing. He was pretty good at it and I complimented him on his skills. In response he barely glanced over his shoulder at me. I watched a few more seconds and told him that I too used to love to play Mario, and this time he didn’t even look at me. The silence felt very awkward, so I quickly left.

Recounting these events with my family I was told that I was probably thought of as an old creeper. In other words, I cannot strike up a conversation with children I don’t know, because I will be thought of as a potential predator.

As I listened to my daughter(who works with kids at a day care)tell me about how I should keep to myself when I’m around strange kids, it all started to make sense and I knew she was right. After all, no telling how many times these kids have been told about “Stranger Danger”. To them, I’m just another old guy that wants to harm them.

I get it.

Still, none of this sits well with me. I don’t like not being able to smile at a child or make over a baby in the store without it stepping over some line that society has deemed uncrossable. It’s just an automatic, natural thing to want to say “hi”.

Honestly, I get it.

Sadly, I get it.

Actually, tit’s kind of heartbreaking if you want to know the truth about it.

So I guess I’m left to wander around the store, hands in my pockets, eyes straight ahead, wearing blinders so I don’t notice the children. I’m to pretend there are nothing but grown ups within 100 yards of me. Which really stinks, because I seem to get along much better with kids than people my own age.

And that my friends, is the society we have descended into. Not much more to say about that I suppose.

Old habits sure are hard to break…I wonder how long it’ll be before I smile at some kid and ask “how ya doin”?

Be blessed on this Lord’s day,

Ron

If it’s not in the Bible…

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I just had to share a link to an article that really resonated with me. In a day when many people who attend church do not study the scriptures and therefore will accept just about anything as the “Gospel Truth”, it is indeed refreshing to see that not everyone has jumped off the cliff!

From the “Messed Up Church” website:

“If God really wanted us to “Achieve our Dreams” and “Fulfill our Destiny,” wouldn’t the Bible clearly tell us that? Wouldn’t there be verses in the New Testament where we (the church) would be instructed to “Dream Big” or “Get out of your comfort zone” or “Follow the dream in your heart” or something like that? Did Jesus die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, or did He die on the cross so our dreams can come true”?

You can read the rest of this enlightening article here:

https://www.themessedupchurch.com/blog/dear-christian-stop-it 

Be blessed!

Ron

Gems from Proverbs

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Today I thought I would share with my readers a few choice verses from one of my favorite chapters in Proverbs, chapter eighteen.

The Hebrew term mashal, which is translated as “proverb”, means a “parable” or a “wise saying”. Just in case you are not familiar with the book of Proverbs, it is an Old Testament book written by Solomon and other wise men, or “sages” of that era.

These wise men were gifted with both Godly wisdom and counsel, and their writings touch upon the practical and spiritual issues of life. Personally, I find the Proverbs to contain some of the best teaching and Godly counsel to be found in the entire Bible.

So with that being said, here are a few of my favorite verses from Proverbs chapter eighteen. I wonder how many of you will also find comfort and encouragement in these words of wisdom?

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.   Prov. 18:10

I’m sure I could never begin to count the times I’ve ran to the Lord for shelter and comfort from the storms of life. His name exemplifies strength and power!

The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.   Prov. 18:15

The study of God’s word is a lifetime endeavor. Wisdom and knowledge do not come to those who approach the Lord with arrogance and a prideful heart. Wisdom and knowledge are earned…they are not given!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.   Prov. 18:21

What comes out of our mouth has eternal implications. Do you know that the words our tongue produces reveal what is in our heart? Words of hatred and evil have the power of death in them, while words of kindness and love have the power of life in them.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.   Prov. 18:22

I could have written this verse! I know I’ve found a good thing in my Princess. As a matter of fact, I’ve found my best thing in her!

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.   Prov. 18:24

Yes, there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Many people believe that to be their BFF. For me personally, that friend is called Jesus.

These are just a few of the verses in Proverbs 18 that really speak to me. What are some of your favorite verses?

Have a blessed Lord’s day!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

O Happy Day!

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Today I’m taking a break from blogging about church related matters because something much more important has come up.

Today my Princess and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary. Regular readers of this blog know that I am madly in love with my wife, and so today I wanted to share a little bit about this amazing woman who has made me complete.

My wife is the greatest encourager a man could have by his side. When I have been at my lowest, she has never failed to stand beside me and cheer me on. So many times I have wanted to quit or give up on something because I thought I couldn’t handle the resistance, yet she was always there telling me I could.

Countless times at work I would receive a text from her, encouraging me to trust God and stand firm. I’ve lost track of all the encouraging scripture notes that somehow found their way in my lunch box, but I assure you they made all the difference at the time.

When I suffered a massive heart attack, she never flinched but stayed by my side letting me know that we would pull through this. When the frightening news came that I had to have open heart surgery, she was a rock. Yes, on the inside she was terrified, but she never let me see that until it was all over.

When I was coming out of the anesthesia she was right there, calming me as I fought all the tubes, wires, and hoses connected to me. Even in my foggy condition, her soothing voice seemed to be enough to cause me to relax.

Not only did she nurse me back to health then, she has continually taken care of me whenever any kind of illness has come. She has done all of this without one word of complaint or bitterness.

She holds many job titles in our home. She is an extraordinary cook, and I’ve lost track of how many sweepers she has worn out because she loves for her home to be clean at all times.

She is the chief financial officer and budget controller as well. In an age when people find it too bothersome to balance their checkbook, I say heaven help the bank should they make a mistake because my wife will catch it. To. The. Penny.

Birthdays and holidays are always special because, well, she makes them special. Her decorating sense is amazing and should anyone visit our house, they can instantly see what season it is by her choice of decor.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her love for bunnies. At Easter, our house is filled with bunnies. Bunnies on the floor. Bunnies on the wall, Bunnies on the couch. Bunnies on towels and tablecloths. You get the picture I’m sure.

Just today, she saw a bunny in the yard and declared that she wanted to pet it. I had to remind her that the bunny would not appreciate that. Still, if that bunny would sit still…

My wife is also an incredible mother. It’s a whole another story in itself, but she was told she could not have children, yet two months after we were married, guess what happened? Yep. Eight or Ten pregnancy tests later we were finally convinced this was going to happen.

She has raised an amazing daughter who is now in her second year of college. Like her mother, she loves the Lord and is a very driven young woman. Her heart is to teach children, so to that end she is going to become a school teacher in a couple of years. I think any school system will be thrilled to have a new teacher come on board who actually loves children, don’t you?

There is yet one more thing about my wife that I believe surpasses everything else I’ve mentioned. She is a warrior. She is a fighter. When she believes she is right about something she will not back down. I love that about her!

Being raised as she was in a Christian home, the daughter of a pastor, her convictions are largely drawn from God’s Word. This is who she is, and who she will always be. People sometimes mistake her gentle spirit for weakness, but they only make that mistake once!

I am so thankful that God brought us together. Two broken people who had given up hope of finding real love were brought together and filled with a special, lifetime love for one another.

This is our Love Story

Happy Anniversary Debbie,

I love you with all that’s within me,

Ron

If you are in need of something to grab hold of today…

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Allow the Lord to bring you peace, comfort, and hope from His word. No one can do the great things that our God can do!

Psalm 77

1 I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted.
3 I remembered God, and was troubled;
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah
4 You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
6 I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.
7 Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
8 Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah
10 And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples.
15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were afraid;
The depths also trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
The skies sent out a sound;
Your arrows also flashed about.
18 The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known.
20 You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

 

 

 

Why can’t we just love on Jesus?

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That was the question my sweet wife asked me the other day.

So, we were having yet another discussion about spiritual things (notice I didn’t say ‘a spiritual discussion’!), which is a common topic at our house. The combination of me being in ministry and her being a pastor’s kid tends to tilt the conversations in that direction a lot of the time.

What I didn’t realize however was how critical I was sounding. That is until my wife stopped my ranting and said this to me:

“Instead of focusing on things that you think are so negative, why can’t we just spend an hour or so loving on Jesus? Why isn’t He our sole focus”?

Now just in case I haven’t mentioned this in a while on this blog, I am forever thankful that God brought my wife and I together. She has been a loving, steady, and positive influence on my life, and without her I would have never known that such a deep love could exist. If ever a woman was heaven sent, it is her, and she alone has my undying love and devotion.

Well, her comments stopped me in my tracks. I’m not sure if my mouth flew open, but it should have. In an instant, my heart was crushed over my negative attitude and critical spirit.

How does this happen to us so quickly?

My mind began to race as I thought of so many scriptures that tell us where our focus should be directed. In Micah 6:8 for example, we are given clear instructions in what is expected of a child of God.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

Nothing there speaks of being critical or negative. What it does tell me is to walk humbly with the Lord. If I do that, He will take care of all the petty details that seem to overwhelm us at times.

If you take a moment to think about it, it’s amazing how different our perspectives can be when we humble our heart before God. Just as amazing I suppose is how we can allow our hearts to become so callous.

In Matthew 22:37 we hear Jesus telling people to ‘love God with all their hearts, minds, and souls’. I don’t see a lot of room for criticism there either, do you?

If we love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, that doesn’t leave any room for doubt, criticism, or complaining does it? Seriously, if we love God in such a manner why would we want to be critical?

How could we be?

 In chapter five of Revelation we find Jesus as the center of adoration and worship from the 24 elders as well as millions of angels. Do you know why there is worship of Jesus in heaven?

Because He is worthy.

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”   Rev. 5:11,12

This Lamb who was slain is Jesus Christ, and the host of heaven declares Him to be worthy of adoration, worship, honor, and praise.

If heaven declares Him worthy of all of that, who am, or who are we to say even one word to the contrary, or one word that might be construed as being critical?

As my wife asked me…” why can’t we just love on Jesus”?

So, knowing what I know, I must do what I always must do…pray for His forgiveness.

Heavenly Father forgive me for my critical spirit and lack of love for your Son Jesus. You alone are worthy to be praised. Your word teaches me not to allow any corrupt communication to come from my lips, and I have stumbled in doing so. Anything less than my highest praise and worship of You O Lord is corrupt, and I offer up the prayer that David did: “create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me”. Amen.

Be blessed on this Lord’s day,

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are there so many broken people among us?

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I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Doesn’t it seem to you that everywhere you turn there is another person whose life has been shattered by something? What used to be somewhat of a rarity in families has mushroomed into an epidemic of brokenness.

Broken promises and shattered dreams now litter the landscape like so much garbage, leaving in their wake legions of shattered, disillusioned people all trying to make sense of what has happened to them.

What happened to the Utopia promised to us by the elite class of scholars, politicians, and the like? All of them at one time or another have tried to serve up their own version of a Utopian life, one where hardships and troubles can be voted away, taught away, and dare I say…prayed away.

Whatever happened to those promises?

Instead of Utopia, countless people are left trying to survive in the jungle of the fittest, and instead of inheriting a life of bliss and peace they are dealt something more akin to a prison sentence.

These ‘prisoners’ stand condemned to a life of hopelessness. How do they cope, those who do not know Jesus as Lord? What is there to cling to without the hope of Jesus Christ in this life and the life to come?

Certainly not more broken, empty promises from men who can never deliver on them!

Here’s something even more amazing about all of this. In spite of what you’ve just read, I believe God can still be found in the midst of our brokenness.

For you see, God never waits for us to reach a certain level of ‘good enough’ before he comes to us. No, He comes to us just as we are. Warts, bruises, and brokenness aside, He accepts us just as we are.

God can use you no matter how broken you are. You are valuable in His kingdom work because you see, God uses broken people just like you and me to redeem other broken people just like you and me. [1]

Did you catch that?

In what has to be one of the greatest mysteries of all, God uses the broken to rescue others who are broken. No matter what has crushed you, God will bring you through that so that He can use your brokenness to change the lives of others who are just as destroyed as you were.

It’s a fact: God uses people to reach other people. Or as one of my former pastors was so fond of saying, “sheep beget sheep”. [2]

Who is better equipped to reach out to the wife who’s just been abandoned but one who has also felt such pain? Or who better to mentor a person hopelessly addicted to drugs than one who has the needle tracks in his own arms?

This is why I believe that God uses the broken to rescue the broken. Those of us who have come through the fires of life’s trials are the best equipped to reach the shattered and broken. We are witnesses to His redeeming power!

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer as to why there are so many broken people in this world today. I wish I did. I suppose if I were pressed to give a Biblical answer I would say its because we are living in the dangerous times that Paul described in 2nd Timothy 3:1-9.

Or to break it down even simpler, it’s because of SIN.

What I am certain of however is that God can still use you no matter your past. I think it’s ironic that what the world looks at as beyond help, is exactly what the Lord Jesus is looking for to help gather His children to Himself.

My prayer is that we will find the courage and the strength to look beyond our own brokenness. If we would do this, there is a Savior who is waiting with outstretched arms to receive us unto Himself.

If you are one whom God has brought back from brokenness, please find someone to share your Good News with!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

[1] Toby Mac

[2] Pastor Walt Byrd

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