Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2011

Phil and Carrie sat in church, and as the collection basket was passed Phil pulled the check from his front pocket and tossed it into the basket with a neutral look on his face. Inside, he was feeling the pressure; he had just tossed another twenty-five percent of his monthly income into the basket. Carrie smiled tentatively at him as the pastor took the lectern and began prepping for the service.

Phil loved God, and he wanted to do God’s will, but things were not going exactly the way he had imagined it. He had pulled his kids from Christian school and placed them in public school to free up more cash to give back to God, they had gone down to one car, and although they were current on the house, the last of their savings was now gone, and this was the root of Phil’s anxiety.

The visiting pastor had talked to them about giving more than a year back, at the time, Phil and Carrie had been tithing, and giving an additional twenty dollars a month to a missionary work. The pastor had told the congregation that giving God ten percent of their income was not giving, that was God’s anyway, as a matter of fact, it is all God’s, but He only asks for ten percent back. The pastor went on to say that real giving begins beyond ten percent.

The congregation was energized by his testimony, his story of giving all he had away to the poor and needy. He had started with one car, then the other, then his house, then all of his retirement funds. He had given it all away, yet every time he would give something away; someone would give him something better than what he had given away. He would give away his income, and someone would give him a check totaling ten times what he had given away. At one point, the pastor had begun to feel smug about his giving, he had nothing left and he looked coyly toward the Heavens and told God he thought he had actually out-given God. Soon after, a member of the church donated him a brand new airplane with a pilot whose salary the man paid, at a hanger in the airport that would also be paid for, even the fuel and maintenance. The pastor lost his smugness immediately and then promptly gave the plane away.

Phil and Carrie loved the story, but the generous pastor’s story had not been their story. They were broke, and they were waiting for some payback. They had given until it hurt, they had given until they had bled, but there were no planes waiting in hangers for them. When they gave away their second car, no one had replaced it soon after, not at all for that matter. When they began giving fifteen percent above their tithe, they looked out for the blessings, waited for the blessings, prayed for the blessings, but nothing happened. Phil didn’t get it, what was the deal, he had tried to do everything right and Carrie had been on board too. He wasn’t even listening to the sermon because of his inner turmoil.

Service let out and Carrie went to get the kids at the children’s ministry. Phil approached the pastor near the rear of church and asked if they might talk a little when the crowd thins? The pastor smiled and said no problem, “we don’t need to wait Phil, let’s go talk now” he said, and they headed to the pastor’s office down the hall. Phil and the pastor sat, and after a beat Phil began to explain their quandary to the pastor. When he was finished, the pastor sat quietly with his hands together in prayer fashion at his chin as he contemplated his answer to his troubled friend.

Finally, the wise old pastor began to speak, and told Phil that he understood the problem, and he also knew of a solution. Phil smiled and scooted to the edge of his chair expectantly, eager to finally have the answer within reach. The pastor looked Phil in the eyes and said “give less, and replace the car you gave up, and your problems will go away”. Obviously disappointed, Phil asked if the wise pastor would mind explaining.

Well Phil, what it all comes down to is the motivation of the giver. Phil looked exasperated and said, “But I did exactly what the visiting pastor did”. The wise pastor slowly shook his head and said, “No, Phil, you didn’t do exactly as he did, let me explain”. The visiting pastor never expected to get anything back, he was willing to be broke and without possessions altogether for the Lord, in serving others who had a need. He trusted The Lord to provide his daily bread, and nothing beyond that, while on the other hand, you gave with the hope of receiving tenfold in return. Giving is about just that, giving, not receiving. The visiting pastor gave without any expectations, and he would not have been disappointed if nothing came back to him, he wasn’t expecting it. I guess what I am saying is, the pastor was willing to live in poverty and carry the cross with Jesus to be closer to Him. The blessings that came he continually passed on to others, not to get more, but to show God he was content in his faith that he would be taken care of, to show his trust in God. The pastor leaned back and looked at Phil, noticing that the lights had come on, Phil got it now.

Phil stood and reached across the pastor’s desk and shook his hand, thanked him for the insight, then joined his wife and kids in the parking lot. As they drove home, he told Carrie about the conversation with the pastor, explaining everything as the pastor had explained to him, Carrie nodding in understanding. They agreed that they needed to work on their perspective, and that they had something to work towards, a growth opportunity.

God Bless-JFT

This is a work of fiction, based on some fact.

Read Full Post »

The boss man tells me the project needs to be in by Friday because our client wants to review it for bugs before they implement it. He has a nervous look about him as he tries to be firm with me, expecting a negative reaction. I just nod and say “okay boss, I will do my best”. He quietly nods and walks out of my cubicle, heading back to his office.

Willy, the guy in the cubicle across from mine wheels his chair across the aisle into my cubicle and says “what did the old man want”? I tell him and he shakes his head, what’s his deal anyway, dropping this bomb on you at the last minute. Does he think this software is written in a day or what? I nod my agreement and whisper “I hear his home life is not too good, he seems to be going it alone these days”. Willy’s interest peaks as he leans closer still and says “do tell, do tell”.

Well, Cindy in payroll said that she has seen him having a lot of lunches down on the second floor lately. She insinuated that Bill, our boss has been having lunch in the office of a certain female executive in HR, across the hall from payroll. Cindy said that Mary in HR has been shutting the door to her office for months now when he comes. Not only that, but she has noticed that Mary has made it a point to nonchalantly close her window blinds in the hour leading up to lunch time. Rumors have been circulating for months, something is obviously going on between them, and it has become common knowledge.

Then, rumor has it that Bills wife busted them, of course it is only rumor. Nate the shipping supervisor knows one of Bills neighbors and clarified that Bill was alone these days or at least for the last two weeks.

Bill seems downcast when he comes in lately, he never smiles anymore, and he is having his lunches in his own office, probably because he got busted. This morning when Bill had stopped by my cubicle, I noticed that his wedding ring was missing, and he always wears it. What more proof was needed, the wedding ring told the story. The rumors are obviously all true.

Later in the evening, I sit down to dinner with my wife, and she begins to tell me about her day and its events. We talk about things that husbands and wives talk about, and then she begins to talk about the small group Bible study she went to last week. I missed it, choosing instead to play eighteen holes at an exclusive golf club, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, and so she had gone alone. After I had gotten home, she told me that it was about evangelizing to those we work with, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. She then asked me to choose someone that I would like to share the gospel with before the end of the year, someone that I would like to lead to Christ. I had chosen Willy, the guy in the cubicle across from me.

My wife is kind of my accountability partner, so she asks me how that is going, and I respond “Oh, you know, it is a work in progress. She then asks me if I “know” what his beliefs are yet, or for that matter if he has any? I look at her and say not yet honey, it takes time to get to know someone well enough to start talking religion with them, you know. She looks at me and gives me that look, the one that lets me know how lame I am being. Honey, she says, we are not talking about religion, we are talking about his soul. I hang my head a bit and say, yeah, I know, I just need to get to be closer friends with him before I am ready to take that step with him. I will, I promise, just give me a little bit longer.

She looks me in the eyes and smiles kindly, Okay honey, just trying to encourage you as we rise and start to clear up the dinner table. As I load the dishwasher, I stop to think about my day and the lies I have just told my dear wife. I don’t know him well enough, what garbage! I obviously know him well enough to talk about how I suspect from rumors that my boss is having sex with another woman, who I also imagine is cheating on her family as well. Willy and I are close enough to talk about that, just not close enough to talk about his everlasting soul. Cindy from payroll, Nate from shipping, same thing, we talk about other people and spread vicious rumors based on speculation, not fact. Yet I am not close enough to inquire as to whether their everlasting souls are judgment ready. The Bible tells us not to call others fools, but it doesn’t say anything about us doing it to ourselves, so I deduce that I, in fact am a fool. As I place the garbage from the kitchen into the dumpster, I decide tomorrow will be different, I am going to be brave and talk to these folks. I think about the rumors I engaged in, and shame fills my soul. Why is it that we so freely spread damaging information about others, whether it is true or not, yet we make excuses when it comes to our faith? Well, it ends tonight.

I lie down next to my wife, and resolve fills my heart. I want to be different I think dreamily as the softness of slumber begins to seep into my mind, and consciousness begins to slip away. Pillow soft dreams activate within my mind as I fall into a deep sleep.

“Myocardial infarction” the young man says as he smiles at me and I do my best to get my bearings. You have had a heart attack, he says. I look around the bland room, and there is no hospital equipment to see. He recognizes the confusion on my face, and smiles again and tells me “we need to talk”. Fear rises in my chest as he explains that my earthly body died during the night, and that much time has actually passed since then. It is now time for me to go and face judgment. He explains that he is Fred, an angel of the Lord. As we walk into a larger room, I begin to see people I know, there is Cindy, and she is looking afraid also. There are many lines, and it reminds me of when I would go through security at the airport.

Near the front of a line I see my wife, and I run to her. We embrace, and she smiles radiantly at me, then someone calls her name and she kisses me and approaches judgment. She is welcomed into heaven, and she disappears behind a large curtain. I look to my right, and it is Bill, my boss. He looks down at me and smiles, “give yourself a break kid, things are going to be just fine”, he says, then winks. Just so you know, my cousin worked in HR, and when my wife got increasingly sick I used to spend a lot of time getting moral support from her. When my wife went into Hospice, it was all I could do to keep it together; she died a week after you. I sobbed but he placed a hand on my shoulder and said “relax, I forgave you, I knew what folks were saying”. Then his name was called and he smiled and stepped forward. He too was welcomed and went behind the large curtain. Then I see Willy, standing in line also, and I run to him, knowing it is too late.

He looks sadly at me and his eyes tear up as do mine. Willy I cry out to him, I have no words, and I can say nothing else as I begin to gag. He too begins to sob as his name is called, and he stands before the bench. He is found guilty as two hideous guards come out and cuff his hands behind his back, and lead him toward a side door. He looks one last time over his shoulder at me and quietly mouths the word “why” to me, and I just stare back, tears streaming down my face.

They let me in, not because I earned any of it, but simply because of the blood, Christ’s blood was the only reason. My biggest regret was going to bed that night, had I just called Willy, just tried, just made an effort, who knows. If I had just put half the effort into Willy’s soul as I did into Bills rumor, Willy might have made it too.

God Bless-JFT

This work is fiction.

Read Full Post »

Hello Friends,

Welcome again to “Blessed Dad, thoughts on being a Christ follower”. Last Sunday, I broke from tradition and shared with you three writers who inspire me. I enjoy exploring the scriptures and learning with you as I write my blog and share my discoveries and inspirations. But I also read a lot and I have several writers that I enjoy reading too. I have learned many things from these people, and the things they write about and the subjects they discuss are as different as night and day from me, and I love it. I told you I would share three other writers with you this week, but in fact, I will be sharing four. I will assure you that if you take the time to follow their links, you will certainly be blessed. So here goes;

1). Larry Nevenhoven

I have been blessed to read Larry’s blog since I first began to become a part of this community. Larry is a man of deep faith who walks with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, and writes about it. Larry is a humble brother in Christ that knows the power of the Holy Spirit, and only wants for the rest of us to learn to use the gift of the Spirit as he has. Larry has had a lot of rough road in his life, but those rough times were each just times when God was guiding Larry this way and that preparing him to be a better tool for the kingdom. Larry likes to write in series form, and he has a talent for leaving you with a cliffhanger very often, making you wait till tomorrow to see what happens, a trademark of a talented writer. I would like to share with you Larry’s latest post “Will today’s Israel survive as a nation”? I know you will be blessed as I have been when you read him.

http://larrywho.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/will-todays-israel-survive-as-a-nation/

2). Tammy Hodge- In Progress until I’m done.

Tam as she prefers to be called, is a wife and mother of two teens, a boy and a girl. She works at church in some form on the praise team (I think she actually leads it, not sure though), and they recently relocated to Nashville from Oregon. As Forrest would say, “Tam’s blog is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”. One thing is certain, everything she writes is meant to be interactive, and she wants to know what you think. Sometimes it will be light and playful, and sometimes she will hit you with the really hard questions that you need to be asking yourself.

Tam has a huge heart for those who have had abortions and seek God’s forgiveness about that, because she too has had to deal with that. She is as courageous as she is funny, and as bold as she is humble. I will guarantee you will be as blessed as I if you will click on over to this kind and inspirational sister in Christ.

http://www.taminprogress.com/i-am-bitter-and-selfish/

3). Linda Kruschke

Linda has been a good friend for a couple of years now. She is a wife and mother, but first and foremost, a follower of Christ. She is an amazing writer with a talent of few, and a consistency I have never known. She has written every day for over a year I believe, and her writing is clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit. She refers to herself as a reformed lawyer, a career path that she chose to leave. She and her family also live in the Pacific Northwest where they attend and serve in a church. Linda too is varied in what she writes, from deep Spiritual subjects, studies of the scriptures, to her favorite recipe’s and most recently, Poetry. The poetry she writes is amazing for someone who has just recently taken it up. As a poetically challenged amateur writer, I really appreciate her writing. This sister in Christ has challenged me, inspired me, and taught me repeatedly since I began to read her blog. So without further hesitation, dig in, you’ll be glad you did!

http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/when-the-dice-are-in-the-air/

4). Linda ?????-Shoes for an Imaginary Life.

I do not know Linda’s last name, but I don’t need to. She is a sister in Christ who has gained much wisdom over her life, and much of it has been gained the hard way, the school of hard knocks. She has navigated many waterways in her life, and met many challenges head on, only to be guided to where she is now, serving God and others. She minces no words as she describes where she has come from, her honesty plain for all to see. Her writing is fantastic, she is a great storyteller, and every story has a theme that becomes apparent in the end. Every theme seems to lead back to the same place, invariably the feet of Jesus. Her writing exposes her and her thoughts and intentions, which can best be summed up by 1 Corinthians 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am. That thing that you notice in her writing but can’t quite put your finger on is gratitude, for that is what she has, she is grateful. She knows she has been bought and paid for with the blood of Christ, that He loved her enough to reel her in and give her a home. A kindred soul in our community, I would like to invite you now to make her a part of your daily reading, you won’t be sorry!

http://shoesforanimaginarylife.com/?p=4801

Well folks, Have a great evening! God Bless-JFT

Read Full Post »

Peace, blessed peace. Sometimes I crave peace, peace and quiet, peace of mind. Sometimes I crave an empty mind, the kind of empty mind that doesn’t have a care in the world. What comes to mind for me is the cabin by Lake Vallecito, Colorado that I used to rent for summer vacations every year. It had a large covered porch with log railing, and I would love to lean back in a rocker, and put my feet up on the rail in the evenings when thunderstorms would roll in. Close my eyes and listen to the clap and roll of thunder as it echoed through the mountain valleys, carrying with it the fresh mountain rains and a scent I have smelled no-where else.

I can still remember that smell, so fresh and earthy as the rain would begin to fall and the warmth of the summer day would be ushered out by the cold rain. The rain would usually only last for an hour or so, and then by sunset, it would be gone, the skies clear again.

Another memory of peace that I reminisce of often was last years vacation in the mountains of Arizona with my family, a similar cabin, and again the mountain thunderstorms that come every evening. Lying in a hammock, not thinking about the trivialities of life that we all must endure. Last summer when we went on vacation, I think I liked being in that hammock more than just about anything else, listening to the music of my family laughing inside. Rocking slightly in the cool breeze until I would drift off to sleep.

It was so nice to not have anywhere to be, not having to look at my watch or having a schedule to keep. And not having to worry about needing to be here or there, but to just swing and relax, letting the cool mountain air mend what a busy life does to us, it was pure bliss.

In times where things are stressful and busy, I think about those memories, I think of the good times we have had in the past. I think about all of us riding horses in the mountains together, recharging our batteries and having fun as a family. I have always believed in taking a vacation as a family every year, and this is why, because we can leave it all behind and go unwind.

When we enjoy those times together, it is easy to become addicted to the “simple, easy, or good” life. It is easy to enjoy it so much that you want it to be your reality all of the time, you begin to think it would be a good idea to leave behind the hustle and bustle of a busy life for a life on easy street, complete with hammock.

In the evenings we would hang out as a family and play board games, enjoying the absence of distractions that seem ever present in our daily lives. My wife and I would go on long walks through the mountain community and begin to daydream about how wonderful life would be to live there all of the time, to have a log cabin in the forest, to live the dream. The desire would cause us to begin to consider what it would take to make that dream come true, so before you know it, we would begin to collect flyers from the tubes under for sale signs, looking for that one miracle that we would need to actually be able to do it. Then the Spirit would gently tap us on the shoulder and remind us how blessed we already are, and we would enter into reality again, realizing we had allowed the devil to seed our hearts with a bad case of the wants.

As much we enjoy getting a chance to purge the stress and clear our minds out once in a while in such a wonderful environment, we realize that our vacations are a gift from God. These great family times where we have a chance to step away from the hustle and bustle are meant to be a time of repair and healing, not an everyday reality. It is amazing how much you can heal in one short week with those you love, but if it were an everyday reality, it would cease to be sacred and instead become something that we would begin to take for granted.

When I was younger and less seasoned by life, I used to have the dream of one day leaving the city behind and retiring into the mountains where we would have a nice big log cabin. We would have a place big enough for us and our four girls and their future families and our home would echo with the laughter of our future grandchildren. It was a beautiful dream, but as I grow older I know that it is just a dream, it will probably not be our reality. You see, those dreams we used to have had failed to include a very important part of our life. We never thought about how we would go about serving God while achieving our personal goals.

Another aspect of the dream that I never really thought about is this. If I build a life that is based on setting ourselves up in comfort and excess, life begins to be about us and our own wants, which does not leave a lot of room for God. Our world is full of examples of what happens when people first seek to serve themselves, chasing their dreams and becoming obsessed with financial and material gain, only to find that winning the lottery and getting that dream house, car, or vacation home was not the secret to happiness that they thought it would be. Without God at the forefront, their lives were still empty but now much more complicated.

Now I am not suggesting that if you live in the mountains in a log cabin with a hammock that you cannot serve God, because that could not be farther from the truth. What I am saying is that when you put your goal of achieving something like that at priority number one, it might be time to do a self check. When your “wants” begin to drive your life, you are entering dangerous territory. So now, when we are blessed enough to still get away and recharge our batteries, we take it as just that, a gift from God, and we try to keep our case of the wants in check.

Matthew 6:31-33 (NKJV)  “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

God Bless-JFT

Read Full Post »

I was angry! I came in from working a twelve-hour shift and wasn’t even thinking about dinner, I had to work some things out, so I immediately began to change into bike-wear.

She knew, she understands me, and my wonderful wife wasn’t surprised when I waived having dinner because there was only a little daytime left. I wanted to ride alone and stew, I blew out of my driveway right as my riding buddy Mike drove right past my house and saw me, a question in the expression on his face. “Were you not going to call me”? So I followed him to his house and waited while he dressed too, somewhat dismayed that I would not be alone today. I wanted to ride angrily against the mountain, I wanted to rail against it until there was nothing left. I was angry like I hadn’t been in a long time, and the anger was directed at my greatest nemesis, the one who has caused me the most heartache over the years, the nemesis was me.

I told Mike I didn’t really want to talk about it, didn’t know when I would be able to talk about it, I just wanted to turn and burn today. His good-natured attitude was there as usual and he said fine. As we rode toward the trail he ran something by me, a situation where he was afraid he had been a jerk, and felt conviction from God for it, to which I chuckled and said, “no Mike, you are not a jerk, but you could take a few lessons on it from me”. We were at the beginning of the trailhead when we stopped and I told him that in fact, I was ready to talk, I needed to know “why” I had done the things that made me feel so bad, and I trust Mike as an accountability friend. So here goes.

At five fifteen that morning, I began a seven hour start-up of unit one (a power plant), and was very busy, directing people while typing commands into the eight computers that control the unit, while watching various indicators that show me its progress. Our supervisor came out and gave us a short meeting while we worked; he seemed annoyed, which he quite often does (power plant work is famous for annoying people). We only see our boss four days a month, the rest of the time, myself and Joe (not his real name) rotate being supervisor, but this man is our boss. Since we don’t see him often, we try to talk to him about any needs we have or issues we need to discuss while he is with us, so that he can direct us as to what he wishes us to do. We presented our issues to him, and he got further annoyed, and completely blew up at us. This was only the beginning.

Sam, we will call him stood over me and my crew and screamed at us at the top of his lungs in an uncontrolled rage, pointing his finger at me, and then my young partner. He is still angry because I refused to fudge the numbers a few months back and it comes out now in a hateful tirade as I sit wide eyed and disbelieving, one eye on him, the other on my start up. He rants and raves, then even makes it personal, taking shots at us personally. In recalling, there was so much said to us that I can’t even recall it now, it is just a giant black cloud that occurred between five thirty and six AM yesterday. Finally, I held my palm out, stood and told him to knock it off and leave, we had a unit to start and I didn’t have any more time for this. I ordered him to his office, which I have absolutely no power to do, and he complied.

I looked to Joe, asked him to assume the controls for a few, and then I went into the restroom. There is a chair in the corner (I don’t know why, who goes to the restroom to just sit?) and I kneel, resting my elbows on the chair, and go to God in prayer. I ask Him to help me through this, to make me the man He wants me to be, then I do something that is really hard for me, I ask Him to bless Sam with peace, to calm his heart. I then went into Sam’s office, and told him that when the start up is over, I would like to speak with him, and that I will do it only in front of Joe and the rest of the crew, and he agrees. I would make two more visits to the chair in the bathroom during the remainder of the seven-hour start-up, and text my wife to ask her for prayers, explaining in rapid-fire thumb typing what the situation was, so she too prayed.

Two PM, I tell Sam that we are ready to talk, and he comes into the control room, he begins to start his talk and I hold my hand up, telling him to be quiet, and he does. I then tell him I am going to talk, that I do not want to be interrupted, and that when I am done he will have a chance to respond. I then tell him that his trying to make me into a supervisor like him will never work, because I believe in mercy, and he believes in a hammer. He begins to speak and I stand up and point my finger at him and tell him to be quiet, he does. I then tell him that he is abusive to the people on my crew, he has no self-control, and that if he can’t communicate with us in a proper manner, then he needs to send an email. I tell him that I was so happy when I was assigned to his shift a year and a half ago because I thought he was a true leader, a man I would be happy to follow, and that he is the biggest disappointment as a boss that I have ever had, he is a bully. As I talk, I am actually talking quietly, and I don’t even know where the words are coming from. I explained to him that my partner Joe and I work as hard as we can to train the people we have in the manner he instructs, and when there I an issue where we need help, he is demeaning and abusive as he tells us we obviously are doing things the wrong way. He is hateful on four of the four days a month that we interact, and that we are done tolerating it. Every man deserves to be treated with a certain level of respect as a human being regardless of his station in life, and Sam shows respect to no one with a lower pay grade than him.

I said to him that every time I meet with him, I try to be meek and humble in my communication, and it always ends up with him yelling or threatening. Standing over this angry man, I point my finger at him and say that it is over, his behavior in this manner is over, never once wondering how I would force him to stop, a man who actually has the power to fire me. There was actually much more said, but it has become a gray fog that has blended into a bad day, hopefully forever to be forgotten.

This tough supervisor who is always so rude to everyone then dissolves into his chair as though he were a bowl of quivering Jell-O, and the whole crew then sees him as he really is, anger gone and something like fear now in his eyes. Once again, I tell him I am done, that we are all done, and I tell him to go back to his office, dismissing him. I then turned my back on him and returned to my unit, now at full load. He left, and never came back for the rest of our twelve-hour shift.

I look up at Mike, and he is just staring at me, I chuckle and say “Hey, I really showed God’s love today, huh”, and he stares and remains quiet, deep in thought. Then, he says “wow”. He then says Jim, what you experienced was a righteous anger, which is one of the hardest things for a Christian to accept. We focus on love for so much of the time that when faced with righteous anger, we don’t know how to take it. He then said he had never heard someone admonish another so quickly and concisely without selfishness or profanity. He reminded me that I was protecting others in my talk. He also said, don’t you think that by going to God in prayer three times first, and having your wife pray also, that God was in control? After considering it, I agreed begrudgingly. He then asked me if I had wanted to do harm to the man, No, I answered. Did you seek to hurt him with your words? No, I answered. Did you look forward to or plan what you were going to say to him? No again I answered him. Finally if you didn’t plan your talk with him, then where did the well-spoken, concise admonition come from, because there is no way you could have said what you did without planning it and had it come out so well. I had no answer for him. Mike then said Jim, anyone who knows you, knows that you are a teddy bear. He thought because you are a teddy bear that you were an easy target, the fear in his eyes was when he saw that the teddy bear was actually just a kindly grizzly, but none the less, a grizzly.

We then hit the mountain, my anger gone, it was one of my weakest rides in a long time, clearly the teddy bear was back. I am still very tentative in my feelings toward yesterday, I am still not really very comfortable with them, but I will trust God is in charge. God Bless-JFT

Read Full Post »

Hello friends,

I want to thank you for stopping by at my little corner of the web. I hope you have found something here that has inspired you, something that has maybe caused you to think about your relationship to the Lord. I know writing it is a blessing to me and I am grateful to you for your reading and commenting.

Writing this blog is only a part of the blessing though, I also read quite a few other blogs too, and I would like to share some of those writers with you also, they are so varied in their writing styles, but they all have one thing in common. They also seek to encourage others to grow closer to the Lord. These Various writers inspire me, teach me, and help me to grow closer to God, and I know they will inspire you too.

I am going to showcase three this week, and three next Sunday again. So here goes;

Char,

Char is a medical student in the UK, going through the final stages of becoming a doctor. This young lady has been a Christian for a couple of years, and works her faith out through her writing. The title of her site is “Learning to be Still”, and it has encouraged my immensely. She writes from her heart, and is honest and open. This post is on being gentle as a Christian, and it struck a very soft spot in my heart, so please read and enjoy.

http://learningtobestill.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/on-gentleness/

Next, I would like to introduce you to a writer that I have read over the years, The NorEaster is a nice man who lives in the northeast United States. I recently read a post by this man that really hit a chord with me, and caused me to think. I know you will enjoy reading “Dawn Changes Everything” as much as I did, and you will be encouraged. So here you go, enjoy.

http://thenoreaster.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/dawn-changes-everything/

And Finally, I would like to introduce you to a dear friend and fellow writer, Debbie. Deb and I have been reading each others posts for a couple of years. Deb writes very uniquely, and has an amazing talent that I have never seen before. She goes through scripture each day, and picks out a passage, then writes a poem about it. It is truly amazing, she in her humility always introduces it as “A simple Poem”, but her poems are anything but that. They are deep and completely inspired by God. Many has been the day when I was feeling downtrodden and I clicked over to her site, and her post would encourage me and the fog would lift. So please, if you haven’t been to her site, give it a visit, you won’t be sorry.

http://iftodaywehear.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/delivered-to-drive-out/

I know you will be inspired by reading these posts as they have with me. God Bless-JFT

Read Full Post »

April 14th, 2010. I have had an unfinished blog in my “works in progress” bin since that day. I occasionally clean out unfinished ideas that never came to fruition, but I could not force myself to delete this one. I knew I would have to finish it one day, or rewrite it all together, which is what I am finally doing. The title of the unfinished blog, “Justified”.

Justification is so integral to our way of life, we seek justification and validation from others and from ourselves in most everything we do. Think about it, how many times have you said or thought, I am not going to talk to him/her because of what they did to me, I am justified. I am not going to go waving an olive branch, she did this to me, and I am justified. I wasn’t the one who did the wrong, why should I go crawling back, he is the guilty one, and I am justified. That waitress was no-where in sight when I needed a refill on my coffee, so she isn’t getting my tip, I am justified. What if we were measured with the same yardstick with which we measure others? You do know that we will, right?  Matthew 7:2   For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Justification is the nasty tool of the evil one who patrols our world with his slimy minions trying to trip us up at every corner, whispering that it isn’t our fault, we owe others nothing, and we deserve everything because we are righteous. But if, just if, we look at this through Gods looking glass, it looks completely different. Self justification and constant seeking of validation or affirmation can be summed up sufficiently by looking at the very first word in this sentence, and also the last one, “Self”. Justification when focused on and bracketed on both ends by self is not us serving the Lord, but rather being fooled by the lies of the devil.

So, what do we do with this? What do we do when we discover that something that has been a heavy part of our culture, is wrong, do we plead ignorance and beg for mercy? Do we change our ways and try to avoid justifying our wrong actions with empty excuses, or do we just continue on and say, “well, that’s how we’ve always done it? I am having to re-evaluate long held beliefs that have even been passed down to me from my ancestors, are they right? I have always been a stout defender of capital punishment for the worst offenders in our society, am I right to hope justice will be served by seeking the death of another? Do I continue to think that “they had it coming”, because remember, the scriptures tell us, we will be judged as we judge others. How would I fare in the courthouse of God without the precious blood of the Savior to be used as a “get out of jail free card”? Especially if we were not only talking about life and death in the judgment, But the everlasting death of my soul, banished to the fires of hell forever?

I will tell you how I would fare, I would not even have a chance to sit at the table of my council, I would not even make it through the wooden gates to the defense table before God’s thundering Gavel would pound the table and His courtroom would ring with the thunder of His voice as He shouted “GUILTY”. The trapdoor would open and I would be forever flushed into the lake of fire, that is how it would go.

In the past year and a half or so, ever since the Spirit placed it on my heart to study and write about “making excuses”, I have tried in vain to remove them from my toolbox of justification. When you choose to no longer make excuses, what have you got left? Ownership!

I truly owe a huge apology to the Spirit, but there are no excuses to make, I simply did not know how to proceed concerning “justification” until today. Maybe the Spirit wanted it to be there on my dashboard every time I went to post, a reminder of unfinished business. Maybe a year and a third of seeing it caused me to stew over it enough until I finally got the message. The message I have come up with is this, No-one is justified, “ever” by our actions, we are all guilty. There is only one justification, and that is the one that comes with the blood of Christ. And we need to be careful how we judge others, whether we do it professionally in the legal system, or whether we are holding a grudge against someone that we feel has wronged us, no matter the case, we will be measured in like manner. There is an urgency to making things right with others, whether we were the offender or they were, it matters not.  Matthew 5:23-24

 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,  leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

The older I get, the more I am grateful for mercy, because it has been extended to me so many times. I have found that there is no way you can preach mercy out of one side of your mouth and demand justice from the other, we must choose. And when God pulls the book of life out and flips to my page, I can only pray that He will smile, look up and say Innocent, He has the blood, and he has the mercy, let him in. God Bless-JFT

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »