Are you independent?

IndependantTogetherIn our society, especially American society, we are encouraged by movies and family many times from childhood to be independent. Don’t depend upon anyone. Do it yourself or learn how to do it yourself so you won’t depend on someone else. All of this is good advice up to a point. But what do you do when life throws a wrench into your life, like a death in the family or a disease that isn’t easy to cure or live with? Being independent and on your own doesn’t seem like such a good idea at this point, does it?

Depression is also one of those “monkey-wrenches” which can throw you for a real loop! Man or woman, married or not, military, police, or firefighter or just coming out of your teen years, depression doesn’t discriminate at all! In fact, peer pressure and job stress or stress from a death or dying family member just makes it more intense.

I just performed a graveside service for a good friend and family member recently. It was hard, but God provided the strength to get through it. My point in writing this today is not to recount that experience but to focus on how people, men specifically, handle their independence. We usually have friends while going through elementary and high school and while in college. But, when college is over we usually get down to the business of life. Jobs, maybe marriage and children, although sometimes not in that order, particularly in today’s so-called “modern” age.

The problem facing men today is that many of us grew up without a strong father figure in our lives. Some of us didn’t have a father around at all. Some of us only had a grandfather and he tried to do the best he could, but he was afraid of possibly running us away if he got too strict with our upbringing. Some people say that this isn’t really a problem, but if you look at the population of our prison systems and talk to many of them, I think you would find that most, if not all, had no true father figure in their lives.

Also being independent as we are taught to be tends to cause us to push through life without a close friend. We don’t make friends as men, we make acquaintances. People that we know at work, but not outside of work. I mean, do you know a friend’s phone number that you could call if you needed to talk? Would you actually call them if you do know their number?

This is the problem which men face in our world today. Women tend to make friends very easily by comparison. Scientists say that it is because of evolution. I say it is because women share the job of raising children all the way back to the time of Eve, when she had daughters to help her. Later, as the population grew, the women of the village would gather to keep up with the children and wash clothes and other chores which needed to be done. They got to know each other.

Men only gather when it is time to hunt or to defend the village from marauders, or some other “manly” job such as that. When the hunt is over or the fire is put out, we tend to break up and go our separate ways. Living life alone. If we don’t have a family, that can be deadly. Seek out friendships with other men. Start a Bible study at church or in your home with them men of the church. Have a breakfast or a BBQ with some friends. Get to know some of the men who live around you. Because…you never know when you might need their help or they might need yours.

There will be another post on this topic on thelivingmessage.com later so as they say on TV, stay tuned.

people are never the enemy

In wartime and peacetime, this is one little bit of wisdom which never is heard, I wonder why is that? People really aren’t the enemy no matter what type of conflict it may be. Sometimes it is a religious war or conflict and it affects people of all ages, but the people aren’t the enemy and they aren’t the reason that the conflict is going on. It is usually because of a doctrine or something which was said about someone, maybe taken out of context, but once it is said it can’t be taken back.

GodisNearNo, people are not the real enemy. Satan uses people to attack others in subtle ways at times, but the attack usually works because of something that was said or maybe it was written somewhere. The hurt and pain caused by a word or a sentence can last for a lifetime and the retaliation for those words hurts for the same amount of time. Yet, it doesn’t matter what is said afterward. It won’t matter how much was said prior to the pain. Because once that happens, whatever it might be, all of the good is forgotten and will never be remembered again.

No amount of money or time or prayer will ever fix or even lessen the pain caused by a word or phrase which was said at the wrong time or in the wrong way. The pain which comes back toward the one who caused this in the first place will never go away either. Nobody will ever let the community or the church or their friends forget what happened. At least until Jesus comes again. I can’t tell you how that will fix things because I am not Him, but somehow He will do something which will heal the hurt and the pain.

That is what I am looking forward to, regardless of the amount of time that I have left on this Earth.

Depression

1623771_736809902997332_1536594980_nLife does have its ups and downs but sometimes the downs are a whole lot deeper and harder to get out of. Pastors are expected to be perfect at times and that expectation makes it harder to handle. I know that we, as pastors, are not perfect. We have our faults. I happen to have a brain injury from many years ago which is still causing me problems, but I haven’t told anyone about it other than my family. Why? Because it is one of those things which people think is just a story or an excuse. There is no outward appearance of injury and it doesn’t show up very often but when it does, it can be shocking to anyone around me.

When it happens I get angry for no apparent reason. This anger is more akin to rage which has no reason or purpose, like a pot left on the stove with the top on which boils over. My mood swings wildly on some days and then I may go for weeks without any depression or anger.

The answer to “How did you get this injury?” is this: I had given platelets at a blood bank one day and I was on the way home. I stopped to get a drink and a sandwich and right after I had poured a cup of coffee, I suppose I passed completely out. When I came to, I was lying on the concrete floor of the gas station with two or three EMT’s around me. I passed out a few more times before getting to the hospital and while in the ER. After about six hours or so, a doctor came in and told me that he has stitched up a cut on the back of my head and I had a skull fracture which went from the back of my head almost to the front.

My personality changed after this and I never knew exactly why, until they began talking about NFL players who had experienced concussions and the effect it was having on them. My life since that time has been one of, as I said at first, highs and lows on an emotional scale. Thankfully, my wife has been supportive and understanding even when she didn’t know what was happening or why. I don’t become violent, but my anger sounds like I could kill someone, although mostly it is aimed toward myself since I don’t have a way of stopping it from showing up.

Why am I writing this? As a form of therapy I suppose, but mostly because I need your prayers. It seems that reading scripture and having people pray for me helps far more than anything else could. I am sure they could put me on some drugs which would likely help, but I wouldn’t be able to be an effective pastor like that I don’t think.

So, when I say that I understand how depression and mood swings and anger affect our lives, I really do know. I just don’t bring it out into the open much because of the stigma that it brings out in people or the way that others treat the person who admits this.

If you need prayer or just someone to vent to, feel free to let it loose in the comments. With God’s strength and His healing us from within, each of us can get through each day, one at a time. Read Psalm 23, 24, and 51 for inspiration and help during these times.

Addiction

GodisNear

Amen!

When the storms of life get too rough, trust in God and in Him alone. Because Who would be better to calm the seas and storms of life than your Creator? He went through storms and trials and pain in order to bring each of us into His House in Heaven. So…don’t turn away from Him when you need Him, because He has never been very far from you at any point in your life. Prayer is the lifeline which will save you from any and all problems, heartaches and trials, if you will just trust in Jesus for your Salvation from sins and drugs of all kinds, He will give you the strength to get past all of them.

What is the difference?

There is so much in the media today about LGBT rights and privileges and their struggle with their identity. Gay or straight what is the actual difference other than sexual? Acting out a role in an identity, no matter which side of the “fence” you may be on, is just that…a role. Whether you feel like a man or a woman today or tomorrow doesn’t mean anything! The gender which was given to you by genetics and by God Himself/Herself, is the one that you were born with and it should be the gender that you live by.

You can’t “think” your way into being a man or male or female. It is your right to pursue happiness in your own way but truly it shouldn’t impair or impact my happiness if I choose not to “think” your way. Life is a challenge regardless of your gender or your preference in the bedroom, but your choices shouldn’t be forced into laws or into schoolrooms for children to learn. Especially since most children don’t find out about their own preferences in sex or identity until they are well into their teens or even into their twenties.

God created us as male and female in order for the human race to populate the Earth. The same way that animals in the jungle pair up as male and female to keep the species viable and alive. God loves all of humanity and His Creation but He isn’t very happy about our stupidity when it comes to the way we blatantly sin against His rules and the natural order of things.

The verses in God’s Word which address this can’t just be tossed out because it offends some people due to their ideas of gender and sexual partners. That is like taking a part out of a recipe to make a cake or brownies, leaving the sugar or the chocolate out just makes it a very dull and bland tasting mess. It may look like a chocolate cake or a pan of brownies but without that critical ingredient, very few people would want to eat it.

Seek God and His righteous ways through prayer and study of His Word, even if some part of it offends you. Why? Because, He gave those Scriptures to us as a guide for life, almost like an instruction manual. He didn’t give us step by step instructions for every situation but if you will turn to Him and depend upon Him in this life, then the other steps will work out in your favor. As Jesus said, “Seek out the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”follow Christ

If not me, then who?

I got a strange wake-up call, of sorts, this morning. In a dream I was told to make an effort to heal relations with the African-American community in my area. Why me? I am not in politics and I am not a figure who is in the public eye. Why me? When I posted this question in my dream, my answer was: If not you, then who? If not now, when?

This woke me from a sound sleep and the only other time I have been awakened like this the message was from God. Since I am a Pastor, I didn’t want to ignore it. But, how am I to go about this? I contacted a person on one of the local TV channels and since this was just a little while ago and it isn’t even daybreak yet, I haven’t had any response of course.

I suppose I will learn of the significance of this soon. This is an area which I am not familiar with, so all that I can say is that God is going to have to give me the words to get through this. I ask that all who read my writings here will be in prayer for me.

Thank you in advance.

Don’t legitimize….

You may wonder why I didn’t put a subject behind that but there is a reason. It is because we are giving legitimacy to many religions and beliefs when we shouldn’t be! There are too many subjects which would fit in that title. What are they? Dowsing, pyramid energy, mediums who claim to be using “angel cards”, ouija, etc.; all of these and more are part of the occult and people shouldn’t be consulting with them, but they are.

Giving these “optional” beliefs legitimate status doesn’t help us to get the message out into the world that Jesus is the way to salvation, not “alternate religions”. There are so many different beliefs in the world until it is hard to understand just why there are so many. Satan has been working very hard to give people an alternate viewpoint which can be molded into a new religion or faith. It seems that today it is so easy to put your faith in almost anything besides God and Jesus!

separatechurchesWe talk about religion and being religious as if that covers all of Christianity but you can be religious about anything. Just because someone seems to be religious doesn’t mean that they are a Christian. They could be religious about any one of the hundreds of different religions out there, you could even be a religious atheist! My point is this: don’t give religions other than Christianity a legitimate foothold!

I know, I am not being inclusive of all people and their beliefs and I will own that. What I am trying to get people to think about here is ETERNITY!! There is only one God and Jesus the Christ Who can grant you access to eternity, or at least one that you would enjoy living in! The Bible states it plainly that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, all other paths, even though they may be morally good, will lead you elsewhere for eternity.

Some faiths don’t believe in eternal punishment like the lake of fire foretold in Revelation. But, if God says that is where you will be and He doesn’t lie, then that is where your choices will take you! Seek out Jesus and His gospel, believe in Him and repent of your sinful ways and then follow Him, reading His Word and praying for strength each day because it is through Him that we are given eternal life and forgiveness.

 

A friend of mine…

TrueFriendshipCould we be friends?

Sometimes people get so caught up in life and living until they forget about the friends they have. Friends put up with all sorts of behavior that even your family won’t put up with, but that doesn’t mean that you should forget them. True friends are those that even when it has been years since you last spoke to each other, you can just pick up where you left off. How many friends like that do you have?

This is the type of friend that we all have available in Jesus.

When you give your heart to Jesus, He becomes your Savior and friend but HE also introduces you to many other people who can be your friends. Your brothers and sisters in Christ! They know Him and through their spirit and your spirit you can become close friends. I am not saying this is automatic because that is not how friendships work, but it can be.

God created us all to be as close as friends no matter where we live or what our life may be like. Could you be friends with God? Of course you can, if you will just decide to follow Him and His Son, every day not just once or twice per month. Walk with Him in life, daily…even hourly, because HE gives your breath to you and your heart beats because of His grace too!

Friendship is a relationship and being a child of God, saved and sanctified by the atoning blood of Jesus, is also a relationship which needs to be a lifelong one! Your relationship with Jesus should be one which is even closer than just friends and in order for that to be, you need to learn as much as possible about Him! This can be done by reading and studying the Bible and attending a church which teaches from it.

Consider that your relationship with Jesus is a friendship. Mainly because He already knows you far better than you know Him, so pursue Him like you would if He is the only Life that you have…because after this one He truly is your Life or your Judge, it is your choice which one He will be ultimately.