Wednesday, June 10, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  You’re in the moment but all you can see looking forward is uncertainty, inconsistency, confusion.  Sometimes wondering why you continue to stay in that moment and do what you’re doing while others keep leaving for the greener grass on the other side of the fence.  You’ve been in this moment for quite some time now.  Living in this moment of my work life, I don’t like the person I’m allowing myself to become.  Angry, on edge, snap at a moment’s notice.  This is not who I want to be.  What happened to the person that used to live at the surface that so easily found the good in all situations?  Esther was brought to my mind today.  Did she find herself in the ideal situation?  I think not.  Did she want to leave that situation?  I’m sure she did.  Did she take notice and gain wisdom?  Yes, she did.  Did she allow herself to be used for God’s will for the benefit of many?  Absolutely.

When you live and work through extended periods of challenges like this, one of the benefits you can experience is that you’re able to look back while still in the moment, and see how you’ve served others and have grown.  What is He preparing me for?  I don’t know.  I just don’t know.  But I do know that I don’t want to let these moments pass by and not gain the wisdom He is placing before me.  I know that I can not do this on my own.  I need Him and those He has purposefully placed around me.  I know that moments of silence can be a greater ally than many words spoken.  And I know that scaling this mountain is but a single step in Your plan.  Although I feel ill prepared, You have made me for such a time as this.  Lord, I pray that I accept that which the journey has to offer and not just focus on a desired outcome.  Bless others and be blessed.

#MileyCyrus – The Climb

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  There is just something about sunshine and warmer weather that brings with it a feeling of hope and possibility.  Even through all the frustrations that come daily with my job, my midday lunch walk always calms and recharges me for the afternoon ahead.  That brief time in the sun can change your perspective and brighten your outlook.  There is a definite difference in me when I’m not able to take my lunch walk.  Think for a moment what it feels like outside when it’s 65 and cloudy, maybe damp or rainy, compared to 65 and sunny.

Now think for a moment how your life feels when Satan blocks out the Son.  Think about how drained, uninspired, melancholy your days feel.  John 1:5 tells us “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  The light doesn’t try to overcome the darkness.  The light is the source and it’s the darkness that tries to over shadow the light.  Remember that.  At the core of your being there is light.  The Light and life of Christ.   John 8:12 reminds us, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  With Christ at the center of your life, you are the light that will shine and break through the darkness.  The darkness can only try to cover up the Light, but it can never break through the Light.  That reminds me of something my daughter has shared with me on multiple occasions and has really stuck with me.  “The sun always comes out after the storm.”  And why is that…because the Son is constant and the clouds are simply passing through.  Stand strong in the Lord and His beacon of Light.  Bless others and be blessed.

#DebbyBoone – You Light Up My Life

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you. One of the challenges to parenting is after you offer your wisdom and experience, you allow your children the freedom to make their own choices and suffer the consequences of their typically self- centered, unwise decisions and actions.  That was me last week.  So, my kids are probably trying to figure out who did what, but it was me.  I was the unwise child acting in my own self-centeredness.  That event happened at the end of the workday last Thursday and then I had four days off.  And that’s when God the Father leaned in a bit harder on the parenting side of our relationship.  The scripture He kept replaying those four days was Matthew 18: 15-17.  “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”  Me in my oh so incredible wisdom allowed my frustrations with a situation to build up to the boiling point.  What made it worse was that I skipped steps 1 and 2, as instructed in the scripture, and went right to letting the whole church know.  Honestly, I hope I’m the only person this has happened to, but I’m guessing some of you may have skipped a few steps along the way also.  First, I would not want to be treated that way.  Second, taking that approach doesn’t solve anything.  Third, humility and apologies are necessary follow-ups, whether you choose to or not.  Regardless of whether we feel that we’re in the right or not, there is a reason for God’s three step approach to challenging situations and people interactions.  Yes, it’s about protecting the other person, but a big part of it is about protecting us from ourselves.  Our Father is guiding us to be the best that we can be for ourselves and more importantly for Him.  Lord, I pray that I listen to Your wisdom and guiding words sooner, so that I don’t work myself to the boiling point again.  Let me be a better example of Your love and grace.  Bless others and be blessed.

#ThomasRhett – Be A Light

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you. Peace, that’s what I’ve been desiring lately. I’m being pull in so many directions that I can’t sustain. I’ve found myself this past week feeling very physically and mentally anxious and having to talk myself down to a place of stillness. I’m thankful that God is allowing me to recognize what’s going on and He has given me the knowledge to work myself through those situations. But none the less, I do not like living in those moments. It feels as though I’ve come to a place where I’m mentally beat down and I just want to do nothing. I yearn for His presence and peace. Just quiet moments sitting with Him, letting go of my grasp on things, and letting the stress roll off my back. Brian gave me a devotional book for Mother’s Day called Unbridled Faith by Cara Whitney. I’m not too far into it yet, but it seems to be about her relationships and interactions with horses and how they allow her to experience the Lord and the lessons He has to offer. I told Brian last night that I really like how Cara writes very plainly, as if she’s just having a conversation with me. I could use some down to earth peace, with highlights of heavenly backing. With today’s music, I would encourage you to put everything aside, close your eyes, and allow the music to break open your exterior shell and penetrate to your soul. Don’t rush this. Breath in, then out. Melt into His presence and be overcome by His peace. Play it a few times, if that’s what it takes. Christ’s peace be with you and those you bring it to. Bless others and be blessed.

#OurWorshipSound – Background Instrumental Track – One

#CaraWhitney – Unbridled Faith

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  Recently God has been showing me how trust, faith, and patience in His plan will come with great joy and peace.  And yes, I’m saying this with a big grin on my face.  I know there is a part in all of us that wants to rush His plan.  You may have even said to yourself, “I need ___ now!”  Actually, it’s that you want it now, not that you need it.  I’ve had a couple dreams of things that I’ve wanted since I was in high school.  God plants dreams within us to bless us.  But when we try to rush those dreams, sometimes they will hurt us more than bless us.  Last month we were actually able to accomplish one of my high school dreams, without going into debt for it.  What a great feeling that’s been.  And a lot of fun.  I’ve tried to rush the process a few times on the other dream I’ve had, but the results weren’t lasting.  Again this week He told us, “Not no, just not this one.”  Although we don’t always understand, He knows the real difference between achieving something and thriving within it.  What is it that you’ve been dreaming of?  Anxious and excited about and trying to maybe achieve outside of God’s timing?  Take a breath……In…….Out.  Step into His stride.  His pace.  Allow His gifts to be the full and complete blessing He desires them to be for you.  Have faith and walk in that faith.  Bless others and be blessed.

#JordanFeliz – Faith

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  Gifts and blessings come to you in many ways, shapes and sizes.  It could be a joyous smile to end a long day at work.  It could be the satisfaction of a task well done.  It could be the gift of a financial program that enables living a debt free life style. (Thank you Linda!)  It could be the gift of health and confidence from a fitness program.  That’s exactly what I was given this past week.  My daughter Diana offered me a one year subscription to Beachbody On Demand.  She’s been a Beachbody coach for about a year and even though I’m a pretty active person and she asked me multiple times about doing one of her fitness programs, I wasn’t quite ready.  Isn’t that true for so many things in our lives.  The Lord keeps coming to us and offering us what He knows to be the best for us, but mentally, physically, whatever the case may be, we just aren’t ready to accept His invitation.  He may leave you alone for a while, but be sure that if it’s best for you and will prepare you for the next adventures in your life, He will be knocking on your until you say yes.  Likewise, with things that we go to Him about.  He’ll give us a Yes, No, or Not Now answers.  We do the same to Him.  Afterall, we were made in His image.  So, here’s the thing.  When you hear a YES, you need to be ready to embrace that gift for all it’s worth.  Don’t just take it and put it on a shelf where it sits and looks pretty.  Put some wear and tear on those gifts.  Be like a cat with a jingle ball.  Bap it.  Chase it.  Bite into it a little.  Throw it in the air.  Wear yourself out trying to get every little bit of learning, entertainment and enjoyment out of your gift.  If you don’t, you will NEVER know the full extent of the gift you’ve been given.  Allow Him to expand your mind and grow your perspective.  After all, you’re worth it.  I mean, He did willingly die on a cross to prove that.  Flaws and all.  Bless others and be blessed.

#Mandisa – What You’re Worth

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  Moments matter.  As I sat down to begin writing, I put the thumb drive in the computer and opened the file that contains all my 😎🐫🎤 messages and song list.  What…Why is the file empty?  Okay, close it out and reopen it.  Nope, still empty.  Okay, move it from one port to a different port.  What?  Did I seriously delete 5+ years of messages???  Well, it would take awhile to rebuild, but I’m not going to stress about it.  I need to focus on today’s message and just start writing.  This thumb drive has been kind of touchy lately.  I better copy the files to another drive before I lose them all.  Silly me.  I was looking for my file on the wrong drive.  Here it is!  It’s okay, you can laugh with me.  I was laughing at myself.  Me and computers have a love hate relationship.  I love it when they work and hate it when I don’t know how to make them work.  Some of you may have the same kind of relations with technology.  I’m sure some of you have also proven the definition of insanity by trying the same thing over and over again and expected different results.  Although this could have been a potentially stressful moment, God guided me to keep focused, not worry about trying to recoup the past, and press on with the task at hand.  By doing so, I found my “lost” files and He reshowed me the peace He brings if we trust Him and live in the moment.  You know, not get swept away and overcome with fear, stress, anger…

In light of the unexpected changes within our world lately, you may be experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions trying to deal with your new social distance / closer family normal.  It’s been interesting talking with individuals that normally don’t work from home.  We love our children, but you have to admit it can be a BIG change to be around them 24/7.  It makes me smile, although those that I was talking with weren’t smiling at the time.  I’ve heard construction work going on, dogs barking, packages be delivered, kids crying and yelling “Dad!  I want to play with that!”  I’ve heard parents walking into different rooms trying to find a quite place to conduct business, only to find those little ones like a trail of chicks were still at their feet.  True, we aren’t able to attend normal church services right now, but I think we’ve all probably experienced parents trying to keep their children quiet in church so they don’t disrupt the service and embarrass the parents.  Now that I’m no longer on the side of experiencing those moments as a parent, I’m able to find peace, calm, and a smile in moments like those.  I’ve also learned to say a prayer for the parent as well as the child so that they to will experience peace, calm and a smile.  Yes, these can be very challenging moments, but they are also opportunities to actively seek Christ’s peace and the blessings He is offering you and your family.  Seek the joy, the playfulness, the gazes, hugs and kisses that you wouldn’t otherwise had the moments together to experience.  For a couple years Brian and I worked side by side.  It certainly wasn’t always hunky dory, but there was no doubt that the good times far outweighed the challenging and we both agree that we had great conversations that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to experience.  Soak in these moments and don’t allow yourself to be distracted.  Every one is precious and a gift to receive.  Both for you and them.  Bless others and be blessed.

#JeremyCamp – Keep Me in the Moment 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  Sunday’s Gospel reading was about Jesus visiting the disciples two different times.  Once without Thomas present and once with him there.  I really like the different treasures and focal points God gives us whenever we read His word.  This time He called my attention to John 20: 21-24 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.”  And in the 25th verse Thomas says “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my fingers into the nailmarks, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

So often Thomas gets a bad wrap for wanting, desiring proof that the Lord is alive and that kind of becomes the focus of these verses, but did you notice that Thomas didn’t get to have Jesus breath the Holy Spirit upon him?  Sure, it’s easy to believe when He’s standing right in front of you breathing His Holy Spirit upon you.  I can only imagine if Thomas was there the first day and Peter wasn’t, we would all be saying doubting Peter.  After all, Peter did have a history of denying Christ, right?  Once we’ve experienced the true presence of Christ breathing His Holy Spirit upon us, it can be hard to remember what life was like without Him.  Because of that, it can be hard to put ourselves in others shoes when we see and hear them express doubts and unbelief in the Lord.  Be patient and just as Christ did, offer them peace and His presence.  Looking at verse 21 “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.”  It took a couple times for His closest friends and disciples to be willing to accept His peace when offered, so no doubt it will take multiple offerings of Christ’s peace for someone who doesn’t know Him to be willing to trust and not doubt what they cannot see.  The eleven disciples saw and felt His presence in that room when Christ breathed the Holy Spirit upon them.  They expected Thomas to believe without seeing Him or feeling His presence.  It takes multiple experiences of Christ’s peace and presence for us to believe.  So, what does that mean for you and me?  It means that we never know where that person, that is standing in front of us, might be in their walk.  We have a choice to offer His peace and presence to them or not.  Even when you offer His peace and presence, you may never know the results of how He is moving within that person.  But here it is…That’s where we have to trust and not doubt that which we cannot see.  We have to trust that He is present and making Himself known so that they too will come to believe and rejoice in His glorious presence.  Bless others and be blessed.    

#ZachWilliams – Walk with You

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you and happy blessed Easter.  Due to a new work schedule, I was off last Friday.  To take full advantage of that day, my plan was to get up at my normal work time, get ready for the day, start laundry, clean the bathroom, and work on some other chores before meeting a couple friends for a walk and celebrate Good Friday Mass.  I had my morning all planned.  Got up at normal time…nope, slept in about an hour.  Okay, that was kind of nice.  I got ready for the day, started laundry, and headed to clean the bathroom until I was distracted with…”Send a Good Friday message.”  Okay.  I sat down and sent a Good Good Friday message and prayer to a few friends, and another, and another, and another as the Lord placed each particular person on my heart.  Two and a half hours later I hadn’t even made it to the bathroom and I was on the verge of being late to meet my friends for our walk.   Well, I guess my plans weren’t His plans.  I remember a few times while sending out those messages I thought, “I need to stop and get back to my list.”, but then I was quickly corrected with “This is what I want you to be doing.”  Although I shouldn’t have been, I was surprised by the responses I received.  “God works in amazing ways.  Thank you.”  “I need all the prayers I can get.”  “I really needed this.”  “I truly need the prayers at this time.”  “Thank you so much for the text and being a vessel of Jesus Christ.  I needed this this morning.”  “Your prayers were delivered right on time.”  “Love that you are thinking about little ol’ me.”  I had no idea so many people needed and longed for a word from God Friday morning.  I am but one person and you are but one person, yet if we listen and act upon His call, He can physically reach and speak to many.  Yes, some times we just long for that physical presence of the Lord.  During Holy Week we remember and celebrate the last supper or our Lord.  I’m sure you all have a pretty vivid image of His last supper, right?  A farewell dinner with friends, but also the institution of the Eucharist for generations to come.  Luke 22:19 “This is My body which is given for you.”  Luke 22:20 “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”  There are a few things that I miss about not being able to go to church to attend Mass, but the greatest is not being able to physically receive Christ in the Eucharist.  I pray that both you and I will always long and desperately desire to be in the physical presence of Christ our Lord and Savior.  Bless others and be blessed.       

Quick reminder, our next Walking with Emmaus walk is Saturday, April 18, 2020, 10:00 AM at Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve.  Click on the Walking with Emmaus tab for all the details.  I hope to see you there…at a socially acceptable distance.  :0)

#DannyGokey – Undertow

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace be with you.  Happy Holy Week!  This is my favorite week of the year, which leads up to praying and celebrating my favorite Mass of the year, Easter Vigil.  Yes, it will be different this year but the most important people (Father, Son, and Spirit) will still be with us.  You know, it may be harder for some than others, but we could continue living our lives in this atmosphere of social distancing, but socially distancing yourself from God is never a good idea.  Honestly, we need and crave His love and friendship too much to want to be distanced from Him. 

During Holy Week, we read and pray the Passion of our Lord twice.  Palm Sunday we read from the Gospel of Matthew and then from the Gospel of John on Good Friday.  While reading the Gospel during Mass Saturday evening there were a couple verses from the Passion that really jumped out at me. 

Matthew 26: 48 “His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.”  49 Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.  50 Jesus answered him, “Friend, do what you have come for.”  Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.”  Jesus called Judas Friend.  Wow!  Face to face in the actual moment of handing Jesus over to be tortured and put to death, Jesus still called Judas Friend.  That is so incredible, but as a human being I don’t know that I’m that forgiving.  If you ever think that your sin cannot be forgiven, in that very moment Jesus is still calling you Friend.

Matthew 26: 73 “A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away.”  Without even trying or thinking, his speech gave him away as a follower of Christ.  Does your speech give you away?  For many years I was a closet Christian, unwilling to profess my faith and belief in Christ as a daily part of my walk with Him.  I guess at that point it really wasn’t much of a walk with Him if I wasn’t willing to talk about Him with others.  I honestly believe a prayer that I’ve been praying for about 19 years, every morning when I brush my teeth, has helped me break free from my unwillingness and fear of what others would think.  The prayer is Ephesians 6: 10-20 The Armor of God, but more specifically verses 19-20 “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”  And then I always add “In Your Son’s name, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.”  You see, it doesn’t do any good to just declare something if it’s not being declared in the Lord.  A declaration has no real meaning without the Lord being at the center of it all.  I pray that this Holy Week moves you in mighty ways.  That miracles are seen and felt.  And that you will know beyond any shadow of a doubt that YOU are a friend of God.  Happy Easter!  Bless others and be blessed. 

#PhillipsCraigandDean – I am a Friend of God