Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Group 1 Crew

some mo' Truth cominatcha!

Monday, February 25, 2008

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Have you ever watched a movie or read a good book that shows the main character going through overwhelming struggles and found yourself in tears? I know I have, and even though guys are suppose to be tough and not cry I can’t help but to relate to the struggle with the character and find tears running down my cheeks. What’s more is I relate to others in life the same way. I believe that every human being on this planet that has a heart beating in his or her chest feels the same way. Oh I know, some people are gruff and don’t wear their heart on their shirt sleeve and there are even some that have grown cold because life has beaten them up pretty badly. But for the most part people relate to the struggles of others and feel their pain. Why is that I wonder…? Seems like life would be a whole lot easier if we could be a little colder in our hearts and be able to just move on without caring all that much… then again that would make us more like robots that are incapable of feeling… feeling the love for a child and from that child, or hearing the words “I love you” from that special man or woman in our lives… or feeling the grief of losing a loved one or a friend. No… I don’t think being cold or heartless or not having feelings is a better way. I believe we all long to love and be loved. We love to see the little guy win and cheer when we see the underdog overcome. This desire drives all people everywhere. It drives the Muslim to blowing himself or herself up for the approval of a far away god. It drives a heartbroken lover to commit suicide or a jealous lover to murder. It has driven lunatics to genocide and countries to war over the smallest misunderstandings. However, it is not all bad…it drives men to find cures for disease. It drives us to build hospitals and to care for the elderly. It drives us to end wars and to find peace among our neighbors. It drives a brother to give a kidney to a sister and for mothers to give birth to babies. It also drives a man to ask the woman he loves to spend the rest of her life with him and it drives her to say “YES!” believing that her Prince Charming has just swept her off her feet and that their life together will be like a storybook fairytale. It is only after the realities of life have jaded us that we become a little colder, a little bitter, and a little uncaring. For some of us we become so cold, bitter and uncaring that even the most precious things in life become distant and meaningless.

We often look at the atrocities of the world and ask, “Where is God?” We conclude that obviously there is no God or if there is He is inept. We see things like little children being brutally raped and murdered. Husbands killing wives and their children. We see high school and college kids going on shooting sprees killing their peers. History has given us men like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Saddam Hussein that kill thousands and even millions without remorse. We have even seen the atrocities such as the Crusades and the Inquisition that brutally murdered thousands with the blessing of the government and done in the name of God. Where is God…? Does He care or is he incompetent? America boasts that 80% of its citizens are Christian, yet the whole world sees us as hypocrites. Muslims consider us the “Great Satan” while referring to there historical enemy Israel as the “Little Satan”. America has the highest rate of murder, rape, theft, pornography, abortion and gambling in the whole world… that doesn’t sound like a Christian nation to me… how about you? What’s worse is we see holier than thou Christians looking down their long noses at people they consider the dregs of society feeling as if they are secure in their place in the hereafter. Why does God allow such suffering? Doesn’t He see the brokenness of His creation? Does He even care?

I have taken much time to write on this blog the necessity of salvation. I have shown that the lost are like a blind person walking toward a cliff… the cliff is death, yet the blind man doesn’t believe he is about to walk over a cliff to certain death… so he is taken by the seeing to the edge of the cliff where ten rocks are dropped so that he can hear the crash of the rocks down below. The rocks are God’s Ten Commandments that we will be judged by on the Day of Judgment. Our blind person now sees his desperate need for a Savior and cries out “Save me!” I have made such efforts because I know the urgency in telling people the Truth… I see the urgency of getting that Truth to lost souls before they are judged by their sins that will lead to death in hell. Nevertheless, this death will not extinguish life but will be an eternal process of everlasting torment. So as I’ve already asked… does God care, can He not see our brokenness? Some may be saying to themselves… how can God allow such suffering and then punish us for an eternity in hell? The answer is YES! God does care. He loves us more that a parent can possibly love their child. He weeps over the broken-hearted. He loves us with an everlasting love. God is Love. He didn’t find it too high a price to let His only Son become a man, live sinless among us, and then to be mocked, spit on, beaten beyond recognition and then hung on a cross with two thieves until He gave up His Spirit and died on that cross. Let me give you an idea of the sacrifice… Jesus was sinless and kept all of the law never breaking one command, not even the command against eating yeast, which in the Jewish community signifies sin. When Jesus was hung on the cross, He was asked once if He wanted some wine with myrrh mixed in… myrrh in wine acted as a painkiller and it was considered humane to give to a person condemned to the cross. Jesus did not take this wine, but as He hung on the cross, He said, “I thirst” to which He was given a sponge dipped in vinegar wine. This wine had yeast in it. Jesus not only had the sin of the world on the outside of His body, but He willingly took it in to His body becoming sin completely. He that knew no sin became sin for the saving of the whole world. You see God knew that man’s heart was sinful above all else. Yet, He loved us so much and He knew we could never bare the price that needed to be paid for our iniquity that He decided that He would pay the price for us. Thus, the Law of God is satisfied and the separation from God that existed before Christ was no longer there. But, that doesn’t truly give you the idea of how extreme Jesus’ sacrifice was. When He became sin… there was a moment when God the Father turned from His Son creating a separation between the two that grieved Jesus and broke His heart. God the Father could not bear to see Him that was sin. Jesus cried out “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” it is the only time that Jesus didn’t refer to God as “Abba” or Daddy, but feeling the separation refers to Him as God. How He must have felt lonely, helpless, and fearful not being one with the Father for the first time in eternity. Yet He didn’t think it was too great a price to pay either… willingly giving Himself for us. Jesus had true faith, trusting in His Father, His God and our God to deliver Him from death. You see God is Love and loves more than we can comprehend. He is our Father and we are His children. First, God will never force us to love Him. We must love Him from our heart. Who would want forced love… in fact you couldn’t force someone to love you and consider it love. As a Father chastises his children when they are disobedient, God too will punish those He loves… this is to correct us when we get off course. Think about it like this… you tell your eight year old child not to play in the road… the child doesn’t see what the problem is… and you catch him playing in the street. What is your reaction? Some of us would yell at the child, some might spank the child, and still others would make the child come in the house and send him to his room or a combination of all three. Do you love your child any less… of course not… you are concerned with his safety and although the child doesn’t see the error of his ways you know the dangers that could hurt him if he disobeys. Sometimes the punishment hurts… but it produces the necessary effect. The child decides the punishment is too great to pay for some fun in the road. Pain produces positive results… this is nothing new, it is as old as mankind. No matter what our age… God sees us as little children who for the most part are helpless. Now I know that is going to grate on some people, especially people in positions of power, but it is true. Just look at the consequences of our behavior… let’s take STD’s for example. I know this may stretch your imagination but imagine if you can a world where one man marries one woman for life and neither party is unfaithful. Oh and by the way… sex outside of marriage doesn’t exist. So one man and one woman only have sex with each other… STD’s would not be able to exist. Ahhh… but that is not the case and STD’s run rampant around the world hopping from one bed to another infecting all its victims. Does God want this for His children…? NO! Nevertheless, this is a consequence of our actions. This is but one example… the world is replete with examples.

You might be asking yourself… OK…OK… I can see that God is correcting us for our misbehavior but what about all the evil in the world… like children being murdered? Certainly that is not a consequence of our misbehavior… Well… in fact it is. There are two important points to see here. First, the evil in the world came into the world through the sin of one man… Adam. The sin committed against the innocent child was the sin of the person committing the act, but that evil came into the world through Adam. Now the second point is this… because God will never force us to love Him, He allows evil to run through this world to give us a choice… to love and obey Him or to love and obey the lusts of the world, the flesh and the devil. To love and obey God in the midst of our trials and tribulations is the true mark of salvation.

Jesus was the friend of prostitutes, tax collectors, crippled, and the unwanted, unloved of society. The healthy don’t need a physician, He came for the sick, and the broken-hearted. He truly is Love. It is my prayer that you would ask God to reveal Himself to you… and that you would put your faith and trust in Him as you would a parachute if you were on a plane about to crash. God loves you so much… I know because He saved me… a poor wretch that certainly didn’t and doesn’t deserve His overwhelming grace and mercy. I love Him as a child looks up to and loves his father. He is my friend… and He has never failed me although I have failed Him many times. He knows your pain… and when you shed tears, He sheds tears over your hurt and pain… the same way it breaks a parent’s heart to see their child hurt. Well, enough of my droning for one day… good night.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hells Best Kept Secret Part 1

Over the next few days I will be posting a very important video series that can change your life... the series is called "Hells Best Kept Secret"

"Fight Like This"

A lil somethin' somethin' for ya! This song is from some good ole Christian boys... it describes the fight Christians have against the Devil, the flesh and the things of this world...ENJOY!

gift givers... forgotten and unappreciated...?

Well… it has been a very busy two weeks and I haven’t had the time to sit down and update the blog, so my apologies for not making an entry before now. Earlier last week I had gotten into a conversation with a friend on instant messenger and the subject of my faith came up. Now I still have not figured out why, but it seems that every time the subject comes up, especially with friends, people have this incredible need to justify their lives and apologize to me for things they may have said or done that would not agree with my belief system. I find it humorous to a degree, yet I also find it sad. You see I don’t believe people apologize for their actions because they are concerned about having offended me. Although this can be a part of it, I believe that the Lord has written His law on our hearts; we know it is wrong to do the things we do (lying, stealing, cheating, cursing, etc.) and Christ is the Light that came into the world that exposes our darkness. When a person identifies him/herself as a Christian, we instinctively begin to justify our lives and excuse our behavior, this is because our deeds have been exposed by the Light. At any rate, there can only be one truth, and truth is not relative. If I say I don’t believe in gravity, (I can’t see it, touch it, or smell it) but if I go to the top of the Empire State Building and jump… guess what…? SPLATTT! Just because I say I don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There are consequences for our actions regardless of what we believe. Most people treat Christianity as a buffet faith, picking what agrees with their personal belief system and discarding what doesn’t fit well or is uncomfortable. What, you may be asking, would be uncomfortable…? Well… the existence of hell and who goes there and why? Another thing I find is people make a god of their understanding… for example, they will say “Well my god doesn’t send people to hell” Oh no? well where is Hitler? What about a guy who commits a heinous rape and murder and gets away with it? Where does he go… heaven? I have heard people say “Well those people would go to hell, but not the average person.” Oh really? Who sets the standard… us? Well that would be convenient for us now wouldn’t. Let’s use some logic here. If there is an all knowing, all powerful God doesn’t make sense that He would be perfect? To say that He is not perfect is to say that there is something more perfect out there which would mean He is not God. There can be only one perfect God, one Authority on everything. So if He is perfect, doesn’t it make sense that He is going to hold us accountable for our lawlessness? Now I know you may be thinking… what lawlessness? Think about it like this… if a man commits a rape and murder 20 years ago, he is never caught, and then lives the next 20 years as a “good” law-abiding, upstanding citizen… he is then caught through some DNA evidence that comes to light… should he be held accountable? Should he be arrested, and tried by his peers? Is he still a rapist? Is he still a murderer? Should a judge just wink at his past lawlessness and let him go just because he has lived a “good” life from that point on? NO! No judge would just let him go. He must pay for his crimes. What about a thief? Same scenario… should he pay for his crime…? What about a liar? Well… you say, murderers, rapist, and thieves should pay for their crimes… but liars, adulterers, slanderers… that doesn’t rise to the level of being a “serious” offense and therefore should be overlooked… but remember what I said earlier… if God is perfect, and I think we’ve established that God must be perfect or He wouldn’t and couldn’t be God, then He cannot and will not allow imperfection around Himself. In other words, we all must pay for our crimes and God doesn’t view lawlessness in terms of one crime being worse than another… in fact He views lying to be as bad as murder. Listen to this from Revelation 21:8 from the New American Standard Bible "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." God has told us that He “changes not”, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. For to long people have mistaken the idea of God’s grace for being a weak limp wristed Jesus. To them I say, read the Book of Revelation. John, the beloved Apostle who held his head on Christ’s bosom, when he seen him fell at His feet as a dead man. Read this from Revelation 1:9-18

9“I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

10I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

11saying, "Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."

12Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;

13and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.

14His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.

15His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.

16In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

17When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

18and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

God has given us grace because He knew we were hopeless and helpless… we would always choose the evils of this world and the desires of our flesh over Him. We are like children on Christmas opening our most treasured gift and loving the gift more than the giver. It was the giver of the gift that had our happiness in mind when giving the gift, yet we are quick to forget them and become engrossed with the gift. We’ve seen our own children behave this way… why is it so difficult to see ourselves in the same light? Let’s take sex for example. Now I am not trying to come across as a holier than thou Christian because I have had more than my share of indiscreet relationships with many women, and I still struggle with lust. I love women. I believe they are God’s absolute best creation. However, I also know that sex was created to be a gift to a man and his wife. Yet, we try on each other like trying on a new pair of shoes, trying to find a “good fit”. Let’s face it folks, some people have athletes foot and sometimes we try on an infected pair of shoes! That’s why STD’s are rampant in the world! This is but one example. The Bible says we are all like sheep, gone astray, and the Lord has laid our iniquity on Him.

Sheep are not very bright animals. They are easily misled and are devoured by predators. Jesus came to lead us back to the sheepfold. He came to protect us, and love us. He is God in the flesh. He knew we couldn’t handle the heavy price required for our sins and decided it was a price He was willing to pay for us. This is the gift we so easily abuse, forgetting the Giver and His incredibly high sacrifice. So… what can we do? Believe in him, believe that God raised Him from the dead, cry out to Him to forgive us of our sins, which means we must see our sins the way He does, as vile, and filthy. Trust Him the way we would a parachute in a plane that is about to crash and we must jump, holding onto Him, believing He will deliver us from the certain death to come. What else? Well, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey My commands.” We don’t obey God out of duty, but rather out of love. He died for us, so we must live for Him. We owe Him our very lives… We will falter but we can overcome the sin in our lives by and through His strength.

So the question remains… what will you do?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

4:58AM... sleepless and The O’Reilly Factor

4:58AM… that’s what the alarm clock said when I woke up this morning. I had no reason to get up, no work, no appointments, no probation officer to see... yet sleep was also not going to be seen either. So, I lazily got out of bed and went into the living room after my normal morning routine and started watching FOXNews. It was a repeat of last night’s “The O’Reilly Factor” but I watched it again anyway pondering whether I wanted to write another entry in this blog. Someone once told me that “Christianity was for people that are missing something in their lives, and they fill that emptiness with ‘God’”. At first, I started to react in a defensive manner because I was offended, but I immediate bit my tongue and said “You’re right”, because she was right. She wasn’t right about some phony “God”, but she was right that there is an emptiness that needs to be filled and all my life I tried to fill it with women, alcohol, drugs, and sex, you name it I tried it and I tried it to excess, without success! That is until I tried Christ… funny thing is… I never “tried” Him, rather I like to think of it as He drew me toward Him with an unfailing love. Remember me writing in a previous post that God never left me in times when the only thing between me and death was Him... well I never asked Him in my life back then and He protected me anyway. Now, it is very easy to dismiss this away as coincidence but before you do, you would really have to know the details of my life to know that I have brushed deaths door on multiple occasions. Two occasions that immediately come to mind are once when I was 13 and a teenage runaway, I had run away to a drug house where people were shooting up a mixture called t’s and b’s or teddy’s and betty’s. During the early 1980’s heroin and cocaine wasn’t as easy to come by as it is today so this was a poor man’s mixture. At any rate, some people were getting high shooting up and thought it would be "funny" to hold me down and watch me get high… as they held me down I began to cry uncontrollably and although they were laughing and almost had the needle in my arm for some odd reason the guy whose idea it was had a change of heart or a moment of clarity and decided not to do it and he gave the dope to someone else. The second incident involved me overdosing on Xanax and alcohol and going into a drug induced coma. I am not really sure what happened to this day during most of that day or even some previous days but I can tell you this much. My father takes Xanax for some mental health disorder he has and he had giving me some of his pills to help me sleep during the day (I took a graveyard shift job, because I was also in school studying to be a network engineer). Well, I loved the effect the pills produced… remember what I wrote earlier about filling that emptiness…? The pills filled it… temporarily. It should be obvious by now that I wasn’t using them to sleep on but to get high on and it wasn’t long before I was stealing them from my father in mass amounts. Now Xanax has an incredibly long half life and for you folks that don’t know what that means… it means that if you take a pill today and it takes 72 hours for the pill to completely leave your bodies system, and you add a pill every 24 hours then you’ve compounded the pill based on how much of the pill has been depleted over that 72 hour period. So… in saying that, according to the doctors I had taken over 100 of the highest dosage Xanax over a 24 hour period and it had been absorbed by my system and my stomach could not be pumped. I also ingested alcohol making matters gravely worse. The doctor said there was enough Xanax in my body to literally kill a horse. They flew my sister in to the local airport in Syracuse, NY on a red eye flight… they did not expect me to live through the night. When I woke up about 7-8 hours later, I had a tube down my lungs and one down in my nether regions, neither of which was comfortable. The doctor told me that as a scientist he does not use the word miracle but he felt that day he witnessed one. He said there is no logical explanation for me to be walking or talking, that he had every expectation I would be dead by morning. These are only two brushes with death, there have been others. What’s the point here? The point is that there is an emptiness… my friend was right. Where she was wrong was I think we all have this emptiness… to some degree or another. It manifested itself in my life in the form of a rotten childhood, teenage runaway, troubled young adult, and equally troubled adult. By all of societies standards I would be labeled a loser. I am a 40something male, not a homeowner, divorced, have a child out of wedlock (which is not out of the norm anymore), 2x felon, had more jobs because I’ve lost more jobs than I can count and the list goes on and on. Why would God want to save me? Why didn’t he let me die any one of the many times He could have but especially the last time when I was in the coma and almost gone…? But what about the workaholic who is too busy for his family. Isn't he trying to fill that hole with his work? Or how about the shopaholic... the needy/clingy girlfriend that bounces from relationship to relationship because they just don't seem to ever work out but she desperately needs to be loved? The world is full of people and for every person there is a mental disorder that fits them in the DSM IV which is the handbook for mental health professionals. The fact of the matter is we all want to feel fulfilled it is what drives us in life. Yet the things in this life can never quite satisfy our inner most desires, so we push to even higher limits only to find they to dont satisfy. It is why a crack addict will never find satisfaction in one hit of crack and will chase the "high" to his death unless Providence intervenes. In the same way Donald Trump will pursue the art of the deal each and every time knowing that the stakes are high (millions of dollars, jobs, etc), he is never satisfied with his last deal, wanting the next bigger deal... a more extravagant Taj Mahal, Trump Tower, or Trump Plaza. The hole never gets filled... just a little more dirt gets tossed in. And now a word from our sponsor...

Friday, February 01, 2008

Lost and Found Part 3

So... where am I at now...? Well before I answer that, let me fill in a few holes. First, my ex-girlfriend was significantly younger than me. She is 22, soon to be 23 and our relationship was very much a whirlwind romance so to speak. Now, I generally don't fall so hard on short term relationships but as I already stated we got to know one another over a year period and I became quite attracted to her and she had many needs that I couldn't meet. In fact, being with her brought out issues in me that I hadn't dealt with in twenty years. Now, I'm not one for looking back at the past and dredging up old dead stuff, but I do have a tender spot in my heart when I see someone else suffer in areas that I have suffered in. I don't want to see anyone suffer ever, but there is a very special place in my heart for certain types of suffering.

Another thing I'd like to point out is the whole time the Lord was blessing me with a great job, a new car, a great new apartment, and obviously a very beautiful young girlfriend both inside and out I had been moving farther and farther away from Him. Now, at first it started off by me not tithing as much at church which made me feel slightly guilty, especially since I was making a whole lot more money. So, my answer to that was to stop going to church. Then, I felt guilty about that so I stopped praying to God, except when I needed something from Him. Now to the average reader this may sound like a big guilt trip, but it is far from that. God has been my best friend and has always been there for me, which may sound all flowery and sweet to someone who may not know me but if you knew me you would know I am far from sweet, flowery, and sugary... most of my young life was sad and rotten for a child and young adult. I had to learn to grow up very young to survive. God was all I had and He never left me in those moments when there was nothing between me and death but Him. God is very real to me; He is as real to me as my mother, my father, and my sister. I speak to Him and I feel His presence. I also feel the lack of His presence when I've strayed from Him, which is where I have gone this past year and half. I have strayed very far from my Best Friend, my Wonderful Counselor and I am trying to make my way back to Him... His Word says that if I search for Him with all my heart, soul, and strength I will find Him... and if I move toward Him, He will move toward me. I believe that. You see He made the first move to save me in the beginning, but then I forsook Him and moved away... now I need to move back toward Him again. So... what happened after we broke up? (that is the ex-girlfriend and I..., just to clarify, I have a tendancy to go off in different directions without notice) I started having some panic attacks. I went to my doctor who prescribed me a drug called colonopin to calm me down and within two days I was abusing the drug and within three days I was drinking on the pills and driving my car. I was arrested for DWI and thankfully there was no car accidents involved. I accept full responsibility for my foolish behavior and the repercussions that come with it. So... where am I at today? Most days, I am sad and depressed but... at the same time I am hopeful.

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