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Archive for January, 2012

He now knew he had two flame-outs, the engines were toast since he had flown through that flock of geese and sucked a few of them through each turbine. He had a plane full of souls over a city full of souls, every second counted. He didn’t have time to think, there literally was no time for thinking, but only time for acting, if he hadn’t paid attention during all of those hours of training, then it would show, because it was all pure instinct now baby. He called out orders in the cockpit as the co-pilot Jeff responded quickly. The flight attendants also jumped as he issued orders and fearlessly prepared the passengers for the worst. They had to announce the one thing over the PA system that every flight attendant hopes they never have do, “ladies and gentlemen, please prepare for a crash landing”.

The pilot had located a place to set the big bird down that would have the least amount of impact (literally) on the crash zone, and would also suit their needs the best, it would be a water landing on a wide river. As he brought the plane about and fought the controls with no power, the big jetliner was effectively nothing more than a glider now as he lined it up over the river and began to feather the flaps as the plane started its descent.  He knew the river was plenty wide and long, now all he had to do was watch out for watercraft, but it was midwinter, so that should minimize things a lot. As the big plane neared the water, the pilot and his co-pilot Jeff braced for impact and gripped the controls with both hands firmly. As the plane hit the dense water, he feared it would break up, but he knew he needed to stick with the procedure for a water landing and follow it to the letter. They held on tight as the huge airliner skipped smoothly across the water like a flat rock thrown across a pond, not near as bad as he had suspected. The crew, even the passengers held it together like you wouldn’t believe, courage and professionalism ruled the day. The Pilot looked down and saw the big plane had stopped moving altogether, they had survived, and it was a miracle. He wanted to shout from the rooftops and tell the world, but their work was far from over, it had just begun.

Emergency doors were opened and the cool inflatable slides deployed and were then pulled over so that they slid out onto the wings. As Sully watched the last of his passengers deplane, he began to walk the cabin of the plane looking for anyone that may have stayed behind or been injured. Sully kept going as the water in the cabin was first an inch or two, then soon ankle deep, after checking the lavatory, Sully looked out the window at the evacuation progress and noted that they were about two thirds finished. A coast guard cutter and a white boat that had just pulled in and started taking people aboard had already rescued most of the passengers. Sully had already decided that he would be the last one to be rescued, because that is how it is when you are the captain of a vessel. He turned and made another full sweep of the cabin, restroom, attendant’s area and the water was getting deep now. He had one more thing to do; he retrieved the captain’s logbook, placed it in a plastic bag, and left the plane for the last time.

I was recently reading in Luke 6:46-49,    “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?  As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.  They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

This reminded me of Sully, because after this incident occurred, sully became a trainer for other pilots, and the thing he talks to them about is being prepared. In my job, we are trained similarly to the way Sully is trained, we run big turbine engines that cost hundreds of millions of dollars too, but we are not trained to monitor them when everything is going well, but to respond with lightning speed accurately when everything goes wrong. We are trained to act with fast reflexes, superior (right the first time) decision making, to not get rattled, and to be able to put everything back together when things go terribly wrong. That is why I know when Sully landed that plane in the Hudson and not a soul was wounded, Sully was a remarkable man. He is a man who was committed to training, he took his job seriously, if you had run in his circles, he probably would have been the one ridiculed by the others for being too much of a bookworm. When the guys were going out to let off steam and have a few beers, Sully would have passed because he would have been studying a bit more than the rest.

The same is true of us as followers of Christ; the level of our rooting is going to be determined by the level of our commitment. It is great to go to church, to take the little study guide that they give out each week and follow along with the pastor, writing down notes as you get to the key points. It is great to sing praises to God, raising hands in worship to him and to commune with him when the cup and the bread are passed, but does it go further, how deep are your roots? If Satan came and tried to pry you away from your faith like we do a weed in springtime, would it be a chore, would he have a hard time, or would you just pop right out. “But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. The foundation on bedrock is simple, do you know the word, do you know the stories of the Old Testament, or do you know the stories of the New Testament? The word holds the answers to this life that we seek, that we need, the covenant that God made with us, it is the bedrock on which we build our house. If we build our house there, what can stand against it, what can rail against the power of God? Nothing, so in my opinion, Sully showed us a great example of what can happen if you are prepared. So I ask you, are you prepared for a crash?

God Bless-JFT

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Hello friends,

Some of you have been wondering where I have been, let me just say 2012 has been an action packed year so far. A little over a week ago, I had surgery to repair the rotator cuff on my left shoulder, leftover damage from my mountain bike wreck last spring. Unfortunately when they got in there, there was a lot more damage than the MRI showed, and my whole shoulder pretty much needed to be reconstructed. The cuff was fully torn, the sub AC joint was in bad shape, the list goes on, suffice it to say, my dream of being a shoulder model will never happen as I now have more lines than a quilt. But enough of that, I also started back to school last Monday and immediately fell behind. I am now caught up completely, well as soon as I read 127 pages in the textbook, but everything else is done. 😉

Tired of lying around the house earlier this week, I decided to take a walk and make a list of the streetlights that were not working and write work orders online to have them repaired, so I set out up the street after sunset with pad and paper in one hand, the other arm in my sling. My neighbors from down the way were all out in the street playing football as a family; it was really cute, husband, wife, two daughters, and one son. They happen to be the very conservative Christian family who has never talked about their faith with me to date. They are unique in that the women all wear skirts to their ankles, women and children alike. It is apparently a requirement for women within their church, because all of their friends dress the same way, skirts to the ankles, none of them have televisions (not a bad thing by the way). Anyway, they were playing football, and they all stopped and came to talk to me. We chatted for a while, and somehow we got onto the subject of the fact that I have gone back to school, and am taking biblical/ministry courses. Their eyes began to light up, and they looked from one to another sharing some silent communication, and then they looked back to me.

In unison, several of them said “you should come to church with us mister Jim”. The father sent his son to the house for a business card to their church, as he explained that they meet four to five times a week, so if I couldn’t make it Tuesday, Thursday would be good, or Friday Etc… I felt a bit on the spot, but I didn’t want to be rude so I said that I would be honored to “visit” their church someday. I then made it a point of telling them that if you are a follower of Christ, where you go is not the church, but in fact “we” as the body are the church. He looked at me and smiled, nodding as if to say he agreed, but his eyes told a completely different story.

Bill, we will call him, then said “listen Jim, you have to come to church with us, you will like it because we really teach the bible”, I knew then that what he was implying was that no one else does by the way he said it. He then said “think about it Jim, the state of our world today, the queers are taking over, it is just going to hell in a hand-basket”. He continued to make reference to the queers and how they were allowed all the freedoms that everyone else has, they are allowed to be in the workplace just like everyone else, even after they come out. As Bill went on and on I looked down at his three preteen children, their somber and serious faces nodding with everything pops had to say, and believing it to their core, because they had been raised with it. I considered taking him to task here in the street, but feared it could get out of control and I didn’t want to trash their daddy in front of them, ordinarily I would have no problem speaking to him in love and guiding the conversation properly, but that night I had taken Percocet for my shoulder pain and was a bit out of sorts, so I let it go.

Later as I walked home I wondered why people focus on one sin over all others. Homosexuality is a sin, that is not my opinion, the bible says it is a sin, but it is no more of a sin than someone who has an extramarital affair, or someone who shoplifts for that matter. What if we were as repulsed by people who had cheated on a spouse as we are by homosexuals, that would make us repulsed at a large number of society. When you break it all down, it all fits nicely under one caption, sexual sin. Homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators (pre-marital sex) they can all will be grouped together as sexual sinners, no one is worse than the other. For that matter we better throw the folks who have looked at porn at one time or other in their lives in with the homosexuals, and for that matter, those who have looked upon a woman (or man) and lusted, because as the scriptures say, if you have lusted in your heart, then you have committed adultery, so those folks need to be grouped in with the homosexuals too, they are guilty of sexual sin. As a matter of fact, I have been guilty of sexual sin so I would be right in there with the homosexuals too.

Now back to that age-old question, what is the weight of sin? What is the value of a sin? Does being a homosexual win you a hotter spot in hell than if you are merely a home wrecking adulterer? Is it worse to be a homosexual than to be a shoplifter, or a bank robber, or a murderer? Not in the eyes of the Lord, sin is sin, it all punishes the same, and it all forgives the same. If a mass murderer gives his life to the Lord before his execution, he will be forgiven, or if a lifelong adulterer gives his life to the Lord, he will be forgiven, if a homosexual begs for help from God, gives his life to the Lord, he will be forgiven. It is time for us to stop getting hung up on individual sins that “we” don’t like and preaching our agenda’s as God’s, I don’t think He is going to be very happy about it.

Let us not forget      Romans 2:1-3     You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.  Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.  So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?           

God Bless-JFT

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“God will never give you more than you can handle”. How many times have you heard that phrase before, or used it for that matter? I will be honest, I have never liked it because I think it is meant to give us false comfort in thinking the threshold of our endurance must be close, because after all, we are about at our snapping point, right?

Abraham was a favorite of Gods, there was no doubt that God loved Abraham, but Abraham must have been wondering what was going on. God told him he was going to be a daddy with his wife Sarah at a hundred after a lifetime of barrenness, only then to command Abraham to kill that much cherished son on the altar of sacrifice. I would imagine Abraham was grieved beyond what he could handle as he tied Isaac to the altar and raised the knife above him.

Jacob was chosen by God for a big task, he was going to be the father of the nation of Israel, he would become Israel. His life was not easy though, he was deceived by his father in law Laban much in the same way he had deceived his father Isaac to steal his birthright. He had heartbreak as his daughter was raped, then his sons slaughtered a whole community of men. Then his dear son Joseph went missing and it looked as though he had been killed by a vicious animal. He grieved bitterly, and life was never the same, then there was a plague in the land and all was nearly lost, his family could no longer even feed itself, he needed to send his sons to Egypt to buy food. He watched them ride off and he wondered where the blessing God had promised was, he didn’t feel very chosen right now.

Moses had seen God more times than he could remember, first in that strange bush that burned yet was not consumed, that is when he first knew he had been chosen. God had spoken to him many times since, in the form of a pillar of a cloud or a pillar of fire, or even in the evenings when he went out of the settlement to his own tent and the pillar of cloud settled at his door. God would converse with him, giving him guidance, telling him what to do, building him up when he was discouraged. Then, the days up on the mountain receiving the law and the commandments, he had seen God, until after he had gone down and found his people in debauchery. Moses had been so stunned by what he found that he dropped the commandments that God had carved in stone with his fingers, breaking them. God was really mad, he wanted to kill them all, and Moses told God to kill him instead because he was their leader. God relented, God showed mercy, but there was a price, Moses would no longer be able to see Gods face from now on. Moses looked out at these people, led from Egypt through the Red Sea on dry ground, their pursuer Pharaoh and his men slain. They complained about food, so they were fed manna from heaven and quail, everything they needed always provided, yet they whined and complained constantly. Moses did not feel chosen most of the time.

David thought back to the day that he was tending sheep and his dad had sent word for him to come home now. He got back wondering what was up only to find the old priest Samuel waiting with a horn, as David approached, the priest said, “he is the one” and began to anoint him with oil from the horn. He was told that he was chosen by God to lead Israel. He would face lions, bears, and then the giant Goliath, killing them all. He could feel the power of God protecting him, putting him where he needed to be in the kingdom. He was eventually even assigned to work with the King, and the king loved him dearly, that is until he began to try to kill him. David had gone on the run, and been chased by King Saul and his men, determined to kill him. David had run until he had become half crazy, and was at his wits end, now here he stood in the dark with a dagger in his hand and his master and nemesis before him. The king didn’t know David was close enough to cut his throat as he relieved himself, But David knew it wasn’t time, so he was satisfied with taking a trophy, a piece of the royal robe as proof. King David would be a great ruler never to be forgotten in the history of the world, a true man of God. But he probably didn’t feel very chosen as he stood at the back of the dark stuffy cave watching Saul and his men go to the bathroom, he probably felt cursed.

The stories continue in the same pattern, disciples, Apostles, Jesus, etc… People are chosen to do Gods work and that is when the going really gets tough. God uses the hard times to condition us for the task ahead; a battle tested warrior is always a better leader. So be careful with that phrase God will never give you more than you can handle. God Bless-JFT

Matthew 10:34  “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”.

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I had a dream that I am going to be your boss one day, the cocky young man said to us as we all stood silently, our jaws falling open at the flagrant hubris the young buck displayed, neglecting the many years of experience before him. The silence only hung in the air for a short time before the angry retorts began to fly back at him, some of the men cursing and chastising him, but the message was clear, over our dead bodies.

He was the new guy, barely on the job for a year now, but the boss had taken a shine to this youngster, a yes man who was willing to do anything to get ahead. Many of us had been working hard for the boss for decades now and were beginning to show our years of hard labor. There was always a hope that when a position came open as a Forman or supervisor, the fruits of our labor might place us in line for it, but this young punk and the boss’ obvious affection for him was making it clear that would not happen.

An alliance against the youth began to form, even though we all wanted to be promoted, we would understand if one of us was promoted above the other, but not him, anyone but him. We began to plot ways to bring his downfall. The boss had begun to not trust us either, and the boy was starting to spy on us too, sneaking around on us while we were out in the field, taking notes on us and reporting back to the boss. We would come in from a hard day’s work, and the boss would be waiting for us, he would then question us on what we had been doing all day. The boss that we looked up to, the man we had honored for so many years was now becoming our enemy and busting our chops, something had to change.

One day, as we were hard at our labor out in the field, we caught sight of the little sneak nosing around and spying on us. The place we were working that day happened to have an empty well, and so we threw the boy in there in our anger to be rid of him. As the reality of our actions set in we began to pace nervously, we hadn’t wanted to kill him really, we just wanted him to leave us alone, stop throwing us under the bus with the boss all the time. We edged over to the rim and looked down, thank God he was alive. We hoisted him out of the hole and dusted him off, but he was really angry with us, and he began to tell us all that the boss was going to do when he got back and reported this little incident. We had no choice; we tied him up and took his jacket from him. We tore it up and dipped it in some blood, then made up a story about how we had found it this way and suspected a wild animal had attacked him. Just then, a band of travelers headed for a faraway land neared, and we offered to sell the boy to them cheaply if they would promise to take him far away and sell him again once they got there. They promptly agreed.

Dread filled our souls as we headed back to our homeland, knowing what we had to tell the boss, that his prized worker would not be returning, and then showing him the jacket that had been torn. We would see his anguish and pain at knowing that not only his favorite worker, but his favorite son was dead and gone forever, never to return. All ten of us were complicit in a horrible secret now too, all of us knew that we were lying to our dad, we would forever have that wedge between our father and us, every time he brought Joseph up and began to talk sadly about his death and how much he missed our brother since his passing, we knew the truth, we had sold him off cheaply to a band of drifters.

When we would all be together out in the fields away from prying ears is the only time we could ever talk about it. “It was the only thing we could have done” said Judah as Rueben countered “don’t drag me into that, I told you not to do it, and you did it anyway while I was gone, I wash my hands of the whole bunch of you”. The brothers who used to be so close began to argue more and more these days, and it seemed that happiness eluded our families as the months turned into years. God would surely deal harshly with us for what we had done to our own flesh and blood, we should have given him time to grow out of his foolishness before we acted, maybe embraced him before pushing him away.

Our lives became haunted ones, hiding a horrible secret from all but each other. Eventually even our crops became cursed and we could no longer support even our own families. Dad called us all together and told us there was food in a faraway land called Egypt for sale, and that we should go and buy some. Surely this was the beginning of the end, God was going to pay us back for the evil we had done so many years ago to our brother. We packed up our camels and set off toward Egypt and an uncertain future.

I have always looked at the story of Joseph from Joseph’s eyes, and thought of his brothers as horrible wretched people for doing what they did to him. In this writing I decided to try to look at it from their eyes and see things from their perspective, being second to a favored son.

God Bless-JFT

This story is fiction based on scripture.

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He was restless as he thought about the last leg of his journey into hostile lands. He didn’t know how he was going to be received by the lord of the land he was entering, they hadn’t left on the greatest of terms when they had last parted. As he sent the last of the caravan across the river just before sunrise, a brawny dark figure walked toward him on the grass of the riverbank.

“You worry too much old man, stop being such a pansy” he scoffed at Jake as he took his shirt off and playfully began to circle Jake on the grass. Jake stared at the man’s powerful body and dark leathery skin as he became aware of a proffered wrestling match and he too removed his shirt, just the two men alone on the grass by the river. The man lunged at Jake powerfully and Jake slapped him away feigning right, grabbing his opponents’ ankle and tripping him. The powerful man went down hard but sprang up quickly as Jake hit him midsection and they both tumbled to the ground.

They twisted and turned on the grass, grunting and groaning as one, then the other gained the upper hand in the match. The large man put Jake in a headlock and told him to say uncle, but Jake then threw sand in the big man’s face and flipped him over, freeing himself from the headlock. Jake threw his legs around the big man’s neck and placed him in a scissor hold, then said with a grin “I’ll cut you loose if you say uncle, haha”. It was almost daybreak, and the man realized he coundn’t beat Jake, so he said let’s stop. Jake smiled and said “only if you bless me” Jake’s smile was cut short though, the big man reached around with his powerful hands and placed his hand on Jakes hipbone. He then grabbed it in such a way that bright light of pain burst before his vision, then he smacked it with his knuckle and Jake lost all control of his legs and released his large adversary. Jake lay on the grass holding his hipbone and rocking back and forth on the grass in pain.

The big man stood, “what’s your name then he asked”? Jacob he said as he got to his feet unsteadily again. Well Jacob, you will now have a new name, you will be called Israel, because you have struggled with God and humans, and have overcome. The big man blessed Jacob there, and then left, and Jacob named that place as a monument because he had seen God face to face and yet his life was spared.

As Jacob went on ahead in his journey to meet the lord of the land of his birth, his brother Esau, a man he had cheated out of his birthright, he still feared that his brother would not want to see him, would maybe want to kill him on sight. But he had amends to make regardless of the consequences, so he forged on. His scouts told him that his brother was headed toward them also, with four hundred of his men. Jacob feared what this might mean, but what really was there to fear, he had just wrestled on the grass with the Creator of the heavens and the earth, that had to mean something. Why would He do that, why would God come down and choose to playfully wrestle with him, It had to be that He wanted Jake to loosen up, and that message about struggling with God and humans, and overcoming. If Jake was heading into his death God would not have bothered to come down and given him such a message of strength and courage. And why didn’t God “have” to win the wrestling match, in the end, if a winner had to be chosen, it would have gone to Jake, not God, had God not smacked his hipbone in that strange way Jake would have never let go. Again, a message of strength and encouragement.

As the sun rose high in the sky and Jake could see the dust from the horses of Esau and his men coming, his feelings of trepidation receded more, he knew it was going to be a good day. God Bless-JFT

This story is fiction, while based on Genesis 32

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Authors note: Hello, I don’t do reposts often, but I originally wrote and posted this last July. For some reason, this post, which of course is fiction based on fact has taken on a life of its own. It has by far been the most popular post I have ever written, itself getting 700 hits a week on average even now. I don’t know what makes it as popular as it is, other than it is a possible insight into Jesus and His disciples, but I decided I would repost it since people seem to like it so much. As always, God bless you all!

The hoopla and fanfare was all over now, it was now just a waiting game, and he was alone with his thoughts. He couldn’t lie, he was terrified as he was arrested and brought before Nero, who had publicly announced that he was the enemy of God. But he knew that it was all going to be fine, he knew the ending.

He thought back to the time when the Man he loved had been arrested. Prior to the arrest, The Master had foretold of Peter’s denial, and Peter had been offended, no way, there is just no way that will ever happen. Yet when that stupid rooster crowed, Peter realized what he had done. The hurt on Jesus face as those he had given so much to forsook him; it was almost more than he could bear.

Peter then realized he had begun to drool, and it had gotten in his eyes. He opened his eyes wider and looked around, there was blood pooling on the ground from the nails in his wrists, and he could see the legs of a few soldiers around, everyone else had gone.

He remembered the kindness the master had shown everyone, loving to a fault. Healing the sick, casting out demons, even raising the dead. He came bearing a message of salvation and grace, freedom from the old law, preaching a gospel of love. He had never hurt anyone, he had only loved, healed, and instructed, yet they killed Him. Not only killed, but humiliated Him first. He remembered the Savior hanging there on the cross, the Son of God, the Messiah. Sin and evil had ruled that day as the only perfect Man ever to walk the earth was nailed to the cross.

Peter hung there in anguish, remembering the suffering the Rabbi was made to endure, and the pain on his face. What made matters worse, Peter was always a hothead, and when Jesus had tried to explain that the prophesies needed to be fulfilled through His death, Peter has stood up proudly and said “never Lord, this shall never happen to you”. Peter was implying that Jesus would be crucified over his dead body, he would be Jesus’ defender. Jesus had then called Peter Satan, and said get behind me, clearly annoyed at Peters macho blustering. As Peter thought of this, Tears welled in to his eyes, and then rolled down his forehead into his hair.

He thought of his last huge failure, when they came to arrest Jesus, and he drew his sword and lopped off that soldier’s ear. Again, Peter saw the disappointment in Jesus as he turned and told him to sheath his sword. Then, in a way only Jesus had about him, He actually picked up the guards ear and placed it back where it had come from, He healed the guard. Even during His arrest, He had still found a way to do another miracle, He had healed the very one who was persecuting Him.

He reflected on the cross, the agony that Jesus went through, bearing not only His own weight, but also the burden of sin for all those who would choose to become His followers for thousands of years. He bore the burden of murder, adultery, hate, lust, cheating, lying and the list goes on. His perfect soul, cluttered with all that filth he was bearing for us. Jesus had known and understood, but Peter hadn’t. He remembered Jesus battered body hanging there, after he had committed His Spirit into His Fathers hands. What a horrible final mental picture in his mind. But, it didn’t end there, He rose from that tomb.

He spent time with His disciples after he had risen from the dead, they talked about a great many things. But Peter still carried the anguish of letting Jesus down so many times. Jesus had known about Peter’s anguish, and the pain it caused Peter from the guilt. But Jesus knew, and now so did Peter, that the anguish and guilt were needed to complete Peter into being the “Rock” that Jesus knew Peter was destined to be. The mental picture Peter had of Jesus that meant the most was of that time Jesus had prepared breakfast for them on the beach, after he had returned from the dead. He cooked them a meal of fresh fish over a fire, and then talked quietly to Peter.  “do you love me” he had asked, when Peter said yes, Jesus responded “then feed my lambs”. . Jesus asked Peter two more times the same question, and Peter answered the same, to which Jesus responded “then feed and take care of my sheep”, a reference to Peters future ministry. He then foretold Peter that he would face the cross also, and that his death would glorify God.

He knew the end was nearing, the pain was terrible at first, but he was becoming numb now. He could hear the soldiers laughing and making jokes as he and the others hung on the crosses up on this hill, how could anyone be jovial while surrounded by such suffering and death. Anyway, it now all made sense, when He had asked Peter three times “do you love me”, it had at first hurt Peter’s feelings, but now he understood. Jesus was letting Peter know that He knew how much Peter loved Him. Peter affirmed his love for Jesus three times, Jesus was telling Peter it was okay to forgive himself for denying his Master three times, He was telling Peter to cut himself some slack, he was forgiven. The love on His face that day on the beach is how Peter would forever remember Jesus.  More than sixty years had passed since that day.

When Peter was led to the top of the hill, before the soldiers began their grim work, they asked if Peter had any last requests. Peter then said “I do”, I would like you to crucify me upside down. The soldier’s jaws dropped, and they asked why anyone would wish for that. “Because I am unworthy to die in the same manner of my Lord”. They looked at one another, then said “whatever” and began their work.

As his vision began to blur at the edges, he realized there was no more pain, looking to the right, the left, he realized the blood puddles were large now, he was bleeding out. No longer distracted by the pain, he began to wonder how it would happen, would he go to Heaven immediately, would he have to face judgment first, would he be met and guided for the final leg of the journey, he didn’t know. For a moment, his vision cleared, and he noticed a pair of feet in sandals standing before his face. He strained to look up, it was so hard at this point, but he did, and then he knew. It was Him, He had come, Jesus stood before him, tears streaming down his cheeks. In the blink of an eye, they were embracing one another as they both cried. It was then that Peter realized it was finished, the cross was gone, and Jesus smiled and said, “well done Peter, well done”.

God Bless-JFT

This Story is fiction, but is based on facts.

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2012, a time when many people throughout the world examine the previous year and look to the coming one. Upon doing so, they see in hindsight many places where they wish they had done better, so along comes the inevitable “new years resolution”. New years resolutions in many cases involve weight loss and or a promise of regular exercise in the year to come. In other instances, people will set hard goals such as getting a new job by the end of the year, moving into a house “of our own” by years end. All it requires is a little elbow grease, determination, discipline, and taking the bull by the horns, right?

Discipline is a trait to be sought after always, elbow grease is always something that has worked well for me too, and a dogged determination has helped me to excel in the business world to a place where I was able to provide well for my family. But determination and taking the bull by the horns have a dark and selfish side to them also, and have probably set me back in life more than they have advanced me.

I will just tell you, I am not a fan of making new years resolutions, when I was younger I made them and failed at them. As I grew older, I stuck with them longer and got wiser about not making big lists and setting unachievable goals, but the truth is, I do not make them these days, and don’t intend to start, at least not in the “usual” sense. When I decided to stop using tobacco, it was on January 8th, and it had nothing to do with the New Year, when I decided to lose weight and exercise regularly, it was just because I knew I needed to do it. Now don’t get me wrong here folks, I am not saying my way is “the” way, it is just the way that works best for me. If a new years resolution works best for you, and you are able to accomplish things in that manner, God bless you, it just has never worked for me.

One of the things that I noticed about all of the new years resolutions I used to make is that they were usually all centered around me. Let me give you an example, if I want to lose weight it means I am not happy with how I look or my eating habits, “I” want to have better control over that part of my life, get the weight off and be in control of myself. By resolving to begin a regular exercise regimen, “I” wanted to be more disciplined in that part of my life, to have consistency to the point to where I would work out daily and be athletic and tone because I wanted to look good and be in better control of that part of my life. The same with what I used to call my career, “I” wanted to be in control of my career path, to be in constant upward movement, because if I stalled in a position, then I would grow stale right. A good employee in corporate America always has his head tilted slightly up right, looking at the next rung?

Yes, I did underline them, the words control because my new years resolutions were always about me gaining a little bit more control in my life each year. I am so thankful that God has seen fit to reveal to me this truth the way He has, because I never realized it until He did. I no longer feel I have a career nor care about having one, I just have a job that I have been working at for 22 years, and am blessed that it provides for my family. I don’t care about ever moving up anymore, and I actually don’t care if I move down one day, as long as it is where God wants me, I am fine with it.

So, here is where I am at, 2011 was an action packed year. In late February or early March (not sure which) it was discovered that I had a stroke. I had come down with a severe migraine headache that lasted 9 days, and on the 9th day, my Dr. sent me in for a brain MRI and discovered the stroke purely by accident. It had already occurred, and whatever damage had occurred was irreversible by this point because it was “acute”. The neurologist ran many tests, and was happy to report that there seemed to be no effects that he could find and he even referred to it as a miracle. My new motto became “if a part of your brain is going to die, it might as well be a part that doesn’t do anything”. The stroke was ruled a stress stroke, as my arteries were clear. I made a decision then I was going to make some changes in my life, that is when I began hardcore mountain biking 4-5 times a week, and changed my diet. I lost 60# and many of my health problems went away, but the difference this time was I really just put everything in God’s hands. Instead of going “on” a diet, I just stopped eating about four or five of my favorite foods, and prayed to God for strength. I prayed for God to do with me as he would like, and He transformed my health.

The migraines would become a way of life for me, called “cluster” headaches, they usually linger in mind numbing pain for a week or so, and daily medication is the only thing that keeps them away. But during these headaches, I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit like at no other time in my life; it is as though He carries me through them. 2011 brought a lot of personal growth for myself and my family with God; I went back to college in the fall, taking biblical studies. It was a huge step for me, and I am blessed and happy to be able to do this, I am continuing in the spring also. My brother was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gering’s disease) this past fall, and then in November, the fine Dr’s at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale were no longer able to find his disease, so his 3-5 year death sentence was returned to a normal lifespan, the Dr. just shrugged his shoulders and said he couldn’t explain it, but we could, it was clearly God working behind the scenes.  The year ended with my second oldest daughter graduating from college and finding a wonderful job in Dallas, just down the street from where her older sister lives, so at least my girls are together. Seasoned with trials and pain, all in all the year was wonderful in all of its blessings.

So if I had to say what I resolve to do in 2012, it would be this. I want to spend more time this coming year than I ever have before talking to people about the Lord. I want to care less about the material things of this world in the coming year, and more about the people in it. I would like to be a better husband, father, son, brother and friend than I ever have been before in the coming year. I want to man the controls of my life less while still being disciplined, yet turn the power of control over to God more and more, I want my will to be His will daily. And lastly, I suppose it would be that it “does” matter what other people think about us, it matters that when they see us, they see Godly men and women of character and love. These are not resolutions for 2012, but goals I have for coming closer to God and doing his work not only this year, but for how ever many more there are that lie ahead. God Bless-JFT

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