Category Archives: Christian

Enjoying The Journey

Enjoying the journey sounds so simple.  Isn’t it amazing how difficult that can be to do sometimes?  Yet it is so crucial to do.  For our own well-being.  If we’re not taking steps to do that, life has a lot more stress to it, doesn’t it?  And it’s far less enjoyable.

I am reminded that Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11 that through his life experiences he learned how to be content wherever he was at.  The word “content” in that verse means “satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted”.  That’s a pretty good place to be!  It’s no wonder that this is what God wants for us on our journey and that’s what trust in Him brings.

This is something I am needing to remember right now.  I have a lot going on with renovations to a house we just bought.  And most of it needs to be done by next weekend.  That doesn’t need to be stressing me out though.  “I am anointed and appointed for such a time as this.”

Isn’t it amazing how God takes care of things if we do what he tells us and expects us to do?  He told me to cast my cares on Him; He told me to trust Him–completely; He told me He has His very best in store for me;  He has told me how faith works and what to do to live it out.  As great as these things are, if I’m choosing not to do any one of them, I’m choosing to disobey and cause myself unneeded stress and complication.  Why do that to myself (and those around me)?

That’s easy to let happen, but so worth the effort and practice to overcome and change.  The incredible thing is, even that isn’t something I have to do (or can do) by myself.  God has given me (and you) the Holy Spirit to be a constant help as we walk out this journey.

We are so taken care of in His Kingdom!  It truly is a great place to be.  It’s there–He’s there–for anyone who wants this to be true in their life.

I would encourage you to cross that line, my friend!

The Immigrant

Have you ever heard the story of the immigrant who came to the New World?  Way back in the horse-and-buggy days, an immigrant decided enough was enough.  No more of this oppressive life he had been experiencing.  He was going to the New World!  There was just enough money in his possession to buy a boat ticket for a passenger liner with a little left over to begin his new life.  He didn’t have a cabin, so he just slept on the open deck every night.  For food, all he had available to bring was crackers, which he rationed out to two per meal.

The immigrant was thankful he was journeying away from oppression and on to freedom.  Even so, he couldn’t help but notice something as each day passed.  As he sat eating his crackers, he watched the other passengers walk into the dining hall and help themselves to all kinds of delicious food.  He longed for the opportunity to do that himself.  All he could do, though, was look down at the crackers he was eating and try not to think about how hungry he felt.

Day after day passed and finally the big boat arrived in the New World.  As he sat on the deck waiting for the boat to dock, a young girl approached him and asked him a question.  “I’ve been watching you every day since we got on the boat.  Why do you sit out here and eat crackers?”  He looked up at her and said, “Well, I couldn’t afford to buy any food inside the dining hall.  All I was able to bring with me to eat were these crackers.”  Her response shocked and angered him.  “Mister,” she said, “every ticket for this boat includes a free meal from the dining hall every day–morning, noon and night.  You could have had anything you wanted to eat in there.”  And she turned around and walked away.

This immigrant was entitled to all the food he wanted for the whole boat ride.  Because he didn’t know any better, however, he missed out on all of it.

Don’t let that be you!

Whether you believe it or not, God has an amazing life in store for you that He wants to give you.  But that life is only available through His Son and what you choose to do with His sacrifice for you.  You’ve been with me long enough to know what I’m talking about here.  There is such an amazing life awaiting you!  It’s got its challenges, sure, but it’s so worth it–especially when you consider eternity and where you’ll be living it.

You don’t have to be eating crackers!  If you do nothing about this, you will reach the end of your life and find out that a huge buffet was yours for the taking and you chose to ignore it.  The biggest difference between you and the immigrant is this:  When you see that reality, it will be too late for you to do anything about it.  Your choice has been made.  And it’s forever.

So once again….choose wisely!

A Crutch

“It’s a crutch.  Your faith is a crutch you use because you’re emotionally weak.”  There are some who believe this about anyone who has faith in any belief system that’s not “rooted in science”.  But why do they say that?

There is so much emphasis right now on equality.  When it comes to a belief system, many say they approach this the same way:  “Believe whatever you want to believe, man.  It’s alright with me.”  But it really isn’t.  Not when they find out what the Bible says.

Sure, we all have the right to believe whatever we want to believe–about anything–but that doesn’t mean that we’re right about it.  Many years ago, most people believed that the earth was flat.  Were they right about that?  Was that considered a crutch?

So what am I getting at?

My uncle on my Mom’s side of the family isn’t expected to live out the next 24 hours.  What happens to him when he dies?  It’s a question we all must face.  And many run from that question because they’re scared of what the answer might be.  But force yourself to face that question for just a moment…..

Let me mention a foundational point that Jesus Christ taught.  Anyone who genuinely accepts Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior and lives out the rest of their life with that realization has an eternal home with God in Heaven.  That person is known as a Christian.  When that Christian dies,  his spirit enters into Heaven, just as Jesus said it would.  A promise.  From the God of Heaven to every human being on Earth. So why not believe that?  It’s too good to be true?  We don’t want to be accountable for our sin?  The list of excuses is many.

My Dad died in a highway accident four years ago.  He loved Jesus with all of his heart.  I know I’ll see him again (and my uncle).  Jesus promised me that in the Bible.  That is living hope!  Why not believe that?  Is that a crutch?

Bottom line, a person is going to believe what a person wants to believe.  If someone believes that faith in God and His Word is a crutch, so be it.  No one can change what someone else believes.  But what will change a belief?  A willingness to see what a person has been previously unwilling to see.  Personal revelation of something  (like the Earth isn’t flat after all).

I would leave you with this example.  Let’s assume for a moment that I am a Christian and you are not.  If you are right and I am wrong–there is no God; the Bible isn’t true; there is no life after death–than you’ve gained nothing and I’ve gained nothing.  When we die, we die.  End of story.  But if I am right and you are wrong, I’ve gained everything and you’ve lost everything.

You couldn’t be gambling with any higher stakes than that.  Is it worth it?  As we are told in Deuteronomy 30:19, we have the ability to choose life and death, blessings and curses.

Choose wisely, my friend!

This Man’s World

I’m sure you would agree that a man’s world and a woman’s world are two fundamentally different places.  Strange lands.  Alien territory.  Different languages.  You get the idea.

I wrote a story for my wife for Valentine’s Day this year.  If you have had some challenges in bringing these two worlds together, I offer you the reading of this story.  You may just find a nugget or two of truth that may help bring into clarity something that is currently blurred for you.  I hope you enjoy it:

As a man, I sit upon the throne of my male world. It is a unique position that gives me a view like no other, one that extends to the furthest reaches of my domain. This domain consists of vast and varied landscapes that grow more beautiful with each passing day. Places like the Land of The Dream, the Land of Marriage, the Land of Family, the Land of Friends, the Land of Church and the Land of The Workplace are easily viewed from this regal throne.

These lands are separated by rivers, like spokes on a wagon wheel. At the center of the “wheel” are the headwaters. Known as The Godhead, it is the source of the rivers that flow out between each Land, providing all the Life needed to sustain each one.

At one time, however, the scenic beauty of some of these Lands was absent. They were dry and arid with little if any life to be found at all.

Then God gave me you.

Without even trying, you brought life to the Lifeless Places. You completed everything that was incomplete. You did something that had never been done before: You made me whole. And, just as importantly, you helped me discover what had up to that time been an uncharted territory: the Land of Here And Now. Since that time, I have come to realize that you hold the Sacred Treasure Map to that Land, given to you by God Himself.

Now, looking over this male world of mine are two thrones. One is, of course, mine. The other, my sweet Beth, belongs to you. You, my soul mate, complete me. You are the cool breeze on a scorching August afternoon. You are the gentle kiss of moonlight as it rests upon the waters. You are the laughter of a thousand children on the darkest of days.

You are my everything.

Now we sit upon the two thrones, hand-in-hand as we look over my domain. You look on in awe and wonder as I point to different Lands and the things we can see coming towards us on the distant horizon. Then, still holding my hand, you walk me down into my world.

Without fail, we always enter my world below through the Land of Here And Now. And then it is my turn to be in awe and wonder! For I find that as we walk the length and breadth of the different Lands of my world, we are at the same time still in your world of the Land of Here And Now. With absolute skill, you continue to use your God-given map to show me amazing treasures to behold as my own every day.

What a beautiful union of two worlds! I could never have asked for a more wonderful, incredible and more amazing woman to be by my side. I am so glad it was you!

Forever Yours,

Matthew

When The Lion Roars

We’ve all heard it before.  There’s no way anyone or anything can ignore it when a lion roars.  An attention-getter for sure.

But when we hear that lion roar, what are we actually hearing?  Now, you’re probably wondering what it is that I’m really asking here.  Hang on for a minute and I believe you’ll see it.

If you’ve been walking with me in my snowshoes for any length of time, you already know two things about me:  One is that I am an adamant follower of Jesus Christ and the other is that I respect your right to believe what you believe.  So even if your belief system differs from mine, I need to lay that foundation real quick for you to see something really good.

We human beings have a very real enemy.  Satan is his name–an archangel whom God banished from Heaven because of his rebellion.  It’s important that you know that Satan couldn’t care less about us humans.  But because he knows how much God loves and values us, he absolutely despises us as a result.   This means then that he is committed to doing everything possible to ruin our lives.  So the Bible tells us that Satan “goes about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

So how is he seeking to devour in your life?  Quite often, it’s whatever you’re hearing that lion roar in your ear at any given moment.  And it could be about anything.  Fear, anger, resentment….you name it, he’ll use it.  The point is, if he can roar loud enough at you with whatever his tool-of-choice might be (a life-threatening disease would be a perfect example), he will succeed in getting your focus on him instead of where it ought to be.  And where is that?

If a person is being honest with himself/herself, something will be very obvious about the human condition and science.  Enough research and study has been made in these arenas to show that there is far more to life as we know it than these three dimensions we live in.  The human spirit is a place of incubation–meaning that we always have something there that we are growing.  Something “faith-based”.  Whether it’s a promise from God (which the Bible is full of) or fear, something is always incubating there.  We were created to always be focused on what God has promised us.  Satan knows that and that’s what that lion roars against!  If he can get your focus off of what God says and onto what he is screaming at you, he wins.

So get focused!  Thankfully, Jesus has made that pretty easy to do.  And once you are, stay focused.  I guarantee you it will pay off in the end.

Resolutions….Do We Have To?

It’s the thing everyone thinks of at one time or another as the new year approaches:  Resolutions.  And, inevitably, everyone has the same thought hit them next:  Will I fail again?  It’s something that we all begin and then fight the thoughts of failure the whole time we’re doing it.  More on that in a minute.

The first of the year is certainly a time of reflection.  But I also believe that reflection needs to be coupled with a good sense of humor–something to help balance out the intensity that can often accompany the realization that something needs to change in your life.  And so, I offer to you some examples of New Year Resolutions that may or may not be the wisest of choices:

  • “Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to switch to a gym where there are far fewer people whose New Year’s resolution was to go to the gym.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to be more selective about my bad decisions.”
  • “New Year’s Resolution:  To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to stop hanging out with people who ask me about my New Year’s resolution.”
  • “Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people.  So overweight people are now average.  Which means you’ve met your New Year’s resolution.”
  • “New Year’s Resolution:  This year I’m going to incorporate ‘I don’t roll that way‘ into at least one conversation a week.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to stop crying at Google commercials.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution was to start smoking.  One day in and I already stopped.”
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to spend less time interacting with people and more time with my phone.  Doing pretty well so far….”

Like I said, not sure how much wisdom there is in those words, but food for thought, right?  I would encourage you not to take yourself too seriously as you pursue a resolution or any other goal you have this year.  And, for what it’s worth to you, my personal experience has shown this to be true:  Put two people pursuing the same goal next to each other–one attempting to do it on his own and the other doing it with God’s help as a follower of Jesus Christ–and you will always find that the person who enlisted the help of God Himself accomplishes much more with much less effort!  So, my friend, save yourself some time and effort and do it right the first time…..

Where No Tree Has Gone Before

There’s an older couple that goes to our church who live just outside of town.  I was over there recently and was reminded of a very unique tree that he has.

It’s a very old pear tree with a trunk that’s a good foot or so in diameter and a height of twelve to fifteen feet.  “What’s the big deal about a pear tree?”, you may ask.  This tree is unique because it has nothing growing in the center of it!  Here….take a look:

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As you can see, this tree literally has nothing but its bark supporting it and keeping it alive.  And yet, it lives!  It produces fruit every year and has been like this for years.

Clarence (the owner of the property this tree sits on) said that when he discovered this so many years ago, the Lord spoke something to him.  He said to Clarence, “Even if the center is rotten, you can still find good fruit.”

Thought-provoking.  Until next time!….

Stepping Into The Unknown

My family and I have never been in the place we are right now.  Uncharted territory!  Exciting.  And unnerving.  It’s uncomfortable for sure.  Stretching us in every way imaginable, it seems.

But where do you think you find God and His help?  Where it’s comfortable and safe?  Or where it’s dangerous and requires faith?  I’ll bet you already know the answer to that.  Me too.  Namely because that is exactly where I have been finding Him the most:  out where it’s dangerous.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are times that you need a reprieve, times when comfort and safety are a necessity for soul-rest.  So obviously, God is in that as well.  But we aren’t to live there.  And that’s where many of us get hung up:  We don’t want to give up that comfort and safety (after all, it feels good to be in a place like that, doesn’t it?).  Out of those two places we can live, where do you think God spends most of His time?

Where it’s dangerous.

Where faith is required on our part.  Why?  We were created in His image; we reflect Him.  So we are never more alive than when we are living out our “dangerous” faith, desperate for Him to show up and just as confident that He will.  And He does!  Every time.  Because when we’re living out in the unknown, we find that this is also where God is.  And then, to our amazement, we find that He has been waiting for us there all along.  Patient.  And so loving.  I believe it pleases Him greatly when we choose to live our lives like that!  Very little in life  is more satisfying than being in that place of desperate faith and watching Him show up!

So what about you?  Is there something He has been pulling on you to do or pursue and you’ve been too fearful to do anything about it?  Will you choose to step out in faith and trust Him to meet you there?    Watch Him show up for you!

Boys Will Be Boys

Our society is really screwed up.  Now more than ever, you can look all around you and find men who don’t know what it means to really be a man.  The thing is, these men shouldn’t shoulder the entire blame for this because, at least to a degree, our society has made them that way.

“How’s that??”, you may ask.  In all honesty, some of the blame comes from women who insisted that they could do everything a man could do.  While that is mostly true (simply meaning that the strength equation plays an important factor here) and not much is said anymore about the feminist movement, the insisting of the feminist movement that men have held women back long enough and need to step aside and let women be all that they can be has resulted in many men feeling emasculated as they watch the role God created just for them–that of being a King, a Warrior, a Mentor and a Friend** to his wife, his kids and others–become something that is now considered to be taboo.  Now, I realize that for a long time women and their accepted role in society were pigeon-holed into that of being “Suzie Homemaker” and nothing else, which wasn’t right.   But the pendulum so drastically swung the other way that it caused a whole new set of problems that we are still facing today.

The other direction the blame should come from is that of fathers who abandoned their role and left sons to figure life out on their own (or learn it as best they can from their mothers).  With no real-life male role models to be with and aspire to, all those messed-up boys have grown up into messed-up men.  Strong words, but look around you.  The condition of our families in this nation proves how true this has become and how desperate we are to have men become the men God originally created them to be.

One thing is certain:  Deep down inside the heart of every man is the God-given need to be one.  “You can take the boy out of the fight, but you can’t take the fight out of the boy.”  Why do you think that Moms try to “raise their boy right” by refusing to buy him a toy gun (trying to keep the suggestion of violence at bay as much as possible), only to find that he insists on using a stick or his finger-and-thumb as a gun and has just as much fun?  In his mind, he’s just as much a hero saving  his world as he would be any other way with any other “weapon” in his hand.  It’s hard-wired into who we are as men:  A family to lead; a family to protect; a family to lead by example; and a family to be real and vulnerable with.

Food for thought.

 

**You can learn more about these four pillars of a man’s heart in Stu Weber’s book “Tender Warrior”.

Waiting On God To Move

Waiting.  And waiting some more.  We all hate that part of our lives, don’t we?  I have heard Joyce Meyer say that most of our lives are spent in that “waiting for something” phase and that it’s what we choose to do while we’re waiting that makes all the difference.  If you look at your own life, I imagine you can see that for yourself as well.  Most of our lives are indeed lived in that place of waiting.

But waiting for what?  Circumstances to change?  Something to be provided for you that you don’t have yet?  Examples could go on and on.  But there is certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves:  Is there something we are waiting on that we are actually supposed to do ourselves?  What if you’re waiting for something to change and all the while you actually have the ability to do something about it yourself–you’re just scared to?  Hard words, but what if your path to your Dream is right in front of you and it’s simply a matter of you putting some action to it?  Don’t put it off any longer!

But maybe you’re in a situation like I am, where you’ve done all you know to do to prepare for and attain your Dream, and now you’re playing the waiting game.  In a way, this is a much harder place to be than any other, because you’re now waiting for things that are completely out of your control.  Especially when you know that God has given you this Dream that you’re chomping at the bit to begin doing!

My friend, take courage.  And know that God is right there with you, walking your journey out together with you (or at least He wants to!).  His companionship itself is worth it all, but He has also given us all kinds of promises in His Word for us to lean on and use to get us through these times of waiting that we’re talking about.  Promises like this one from Habakkuk 2:3, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end; it will not deceive or disappoint.  Though it tarry, wait earnestly for it because it will surely come.  It will not be behindhand on its appointed day.”  One more for you:  Psalm 27:14, “Wait, hope for and expect the Lord.  Be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring.  Yes, wait for, hope for and expect the Lord.”

Directly from His heart to yours!