The Journey we are on…

Some Encouragement for the walk we are on.

A Big Fat Mess

So last night I was having to do some running around for my mother and I noticed that everywhere I was going it was busy or just lots of people shopping or browsing for different things.  I had to go to three different places for her to get all her needs taken care of and the more I thought about it all, it became clear to me that it was just a big fat mess—all around.

There was the traffic, the people to deal with, lines in the stores, waiting for certain things, trying to make sure Noah stayed with me.  I could go on and on but I’m sure most of you know what I mean.  It was just a big mess trying to get it all accomplished.

As we started home, I got to thinking about this post and the word “big fat mess” had come to my mind.  I thought about my life, where it had been, and where it is today.  I thought of present times and how I’ve tried to make things go my way and work for God’s grace and how much of a mess I’ve made it by doing that.  But haven’t we all? I think sometimes in our lives, more often than not, we seem to forget the grace God has granted us by His ultimate sacrifice.  We try so hard to earn what has been freely given and ending turning things into a big fat mess.  I admit that I do that often, thinking I can make everything right by doing some awesome work and it will all be good again.  It doesn’t work like that thankfully because there is no amount of work we could ever do to repay the gift God has given us..

In my last post, I declared it was a season of thanks. So for this week, let us be thankful for the awesome grace God has given us!  For He has cleared the messes for us, set the records straight, and made our paths clear and bright to walk on.  In this Christmas season, let us remember the greatest gift of Christ whose purpose was to do all that I mentioned.  He made it where we could see the Father once again and keep on walking on this journey that we are on.

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A Season of Thanks..

I know its been a while since I posted on here, but since my 2nd job no longer exists (bye Hostess) its time to get back to reflections again.

This post is kind of a 2 week in the making.  I was in our Christian Life Class in the mornings and 2 weeks ago, we talked about what we are thankful for.  We watched a video from Ann Voskamp on her book on the 1000 things that she is thankful for.  After watching it, it made me think very deeply about what I am thankful for.  But then I asked myself, am I truly thankful for everything that is given me?  I mean I say I’m thankful, but am I just doing lip service to sound good?  Let me try to explain.

You see, today is my son Noah’s birthday.  He is a great little boy who has overcome so much in his 10 years.  He was hospitalized, put through so much surgery and whatnot that it would make anybody go mad.  God did some serious miracles and brought him through to where he is today.  I am thankful to God for what He has done.  But am I really thankful?  God has done something great for him and for our family and when I look back on all the things He has done, I feel like I haven’t given the thanks that He deserves.  I feel like I’ve only paid the lip service of “yep—God’s good and look what He did” when I should be like “OMG—look what He did! He brought Noah from the brink of death to a healthy boy now! Praise God!”

I believe though that on our journey, we can get like that.  We get mundane and forget the real thanks that should be paid Him.  We are entering the Christmas season to where we celebrate the awesomeness of Jesus coming to Earth and becoming human to be able to walk a mile in our shoes.  What was His purpose? To die to for us.  Plain and simple.  He died for us to save us from the death that would have overtaken us.  How great is that? We should be thankful, really thankful for all the things God has done for us and will continue to do for us in His faithfulness. 

So let us all declare this to be the season of thanks.  Let us not just be thankful for the next month or so as the holidays come upon us, but be thankful all year round.  Let us name our blessings one by one and be thankful to Him for all He’s done.  Let us be thankful as the sun rises, we take our first breath in the morning, the birds that sing to us, the freedom to worship our God, the ability to work, and so much more.  You get the point!

Let us today and forever more, for as long as we are on the earth, be thankful and I mean really thankful for what He has done.  Its the season of thanks!

He Sees You..

While I was on my way to one of my stops on Saturday, I was listening to the radio and one of the newer songs by FireFlight called He sees you came on and it brought some thoughts to my mind.  It seems like in this huge world we live in we can sometimes wonder does God even see me?  Does He even know that I exist?  Out of the billions of people who live in this world, how can He even possibly know what is going on with my life?

I have to say that throughout my life, I have struggled with these questions.  Haven’t we all though?  I have wondered when I went through some of the hardest times in my life, at some point I felt like God had no part of me or the thing I was going through.  How can God be able to focus on all of us here on the earth when we talk to Him?

Well, the great news is He knows us, through and through.  Our problem comes in when we, in our finite minds, try to understand an infinite God.  There are so many things that are above us when trying to understand how God listens and hears all of us.  In the book of Isaiah 55:8, we see that the Lord tells Isaiah that His ways are not the ways of man and the thoughts of God are not the thoughts of man.  We cannot possibly understand with our limited knowledge how God serves all of humanity.  I say lets leave that job to Him.

But, back to my point.  Does He see you? You bet he does.  He knows you and even has the hairs on your head numbered.  You see, God does care for us and wants the best for us.  Even in our darkest moment, when we think no one can see the problems we are going through or no one ever really cares–God is there.  He does see us.  He captures every word we say and knows every tear we have ever cried out to Him.  Your not alone and never have been with Him and He is always looking for those around you to send to you in your hour of need.  Have you ever noticed that?  It seems like everything is lost and then someone comes along and brings you that uplifting word or that presence of another to make things just a bit better.

God does see us.  He knows so well and is always at the ready to help.  So, in this journey never be afraid to reach up and reach out to Him in any of your needs.  He sees you.  Never forget that.

The Dash..

First off…I apologize for not writing more–two jobs and all just seems like time is never an option anymore.  Just going to try harder to do so.  I really enjoy this and want to do more.

Anyway..The dash.  What is it? I think we all see it when we go to the cemeteries and really don’t give it a second thought.  But I think it is something we should take a look at more closely than before.  That dash is our whole life.  The question at hand is, what did we do with that dash?

My pastor spoke on this subject very briefly at the end of service on Sunday and I heard it again on a twitter feed about a day after that and then the thoughts of this post came to me.  All the people who ever lived, their dashes, what did they do? Did they make a difference? All good questions and only they and the Lord knows how they did.  The reason I think of this is when my father passed away in July of 2011 and they finally put his headstone in, I looked at it and looked at the dash between 1935 and 2011.  That small dash represented his entire path in life.  From being a trucker, a husband, a father and everything else in between.  It was a lot of stuff for one little hyphen it seemed like.  Then I began to think of eternity–what about my dad’s path in his spirituality?  Unfortunately, my dad did not attend church but I believe with my heart that he knew God in his own way.  Where his soul is now–I’m not sure but that’s another story altogether.

The more I thought about his dash the greater my dash became significant to me.  What am I doing to impact the world for the Lord and for the good of humanity?  The more I think on it, the more I want to get moving in any direction to be of service to my fellow neighbors and friends and family.

The point of all of this is that we only get 1 dash.  1 chance to go around and that dash represents all of us.  What are we doing to impact the world for Christ and for others?  Basically, what are we doing?  This blog, The Journey we are on, is about that dash.  We are all just trying to make it here in this world and we all fail and fall short sometimes but we cannot give up to move someone to service or be of service to others.  2012 I believe is the year to serve others and be an example to others of Christ’s love.

So–what are you doing with your dash?  How will you be remembered? I choose to do something about it.  Will I always succeed? Heck no but I am going to at least try.  Tired of being lazy and waiting for the world to fall into my lap–isn’t going to happen!

Let’s stand up and be of service to others and make that dash count on the journey that we are on..

No Plan B…

If I was to pose the question how many of us have a plan B when it comes to the situations of life, how many would answer yes?  I would guess that many would say they always have a plan b in almost every situation and some of us may not have any plans at all when it comes to certain situations.  I’m one of them.  No plans sometimes but when it comes to major events I sometimes do have a backup.

What about following the Lord? Is there a plan B when you mess up? I mean can you just say “Well, I screwed that up, I guess I will just go this route and hopefully I will get to the same place.” I have to be honest–I don’t think we can go another route and end up at the Father’s house. Let’s talk about this.

I had some inspiration when it came to this post from a song that Manafest just released called “No Plan B.” I really liked the song and from the first time I heard it–there was a message in it.  He sings about how he is on a path and he really cannot turn back.  In his lyrics he says that he is too far from start to turn back now and that he has to follow his destiny and stick to the plan because there is no plan b. Doesn’t that ring true for a lot of us on this journey.  If we think about from where we came from and where the Lord has brought us now, can we really turn back? Could we go back to start? Most likely not.  I guess that also begs the question–would you want to go back to where you came from? I know I wouldn’t like to. As I mentioned before–he says in the song that he has to stick to the plan in which I totally agree with him on that because I know that God has a plan and a purpose for all of us. But do we really stick to the plan all the time? That’s a big fat NO!

I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have veered from the plan God has put in front of me and tried my own methods or Plan B.  I thought I knew better and I could control the situations around me to get the desired result and I would still be on the path to Christ. The end result? Usually ends up further from God than I ever intended and every situation I try to control ends up out of hand. Ever happened to you? I’m sure it has.

You see, there is really no plan B when it comes to following Christ. He has the plan and as Manafest says–we need to stick to the plan. His plans always work out for the best for us. Some might ask though, “Matt–how do I even know the plan or where to start? How can I go anywhere without the map to use?”  Here is the great thing–the roadmap to get you there is already here. It’s the Word of God. This is our part on learning what our path is and where we are to go. We read the Word and learn more Jesus and then we go to our prayer closets and silence the world and talk to Him.  He will guide us and direct us if we listen.

Bearing the Burdens of others..

I was talking to a friend today about all the stuff he has been going through with his marriage and his life when the thought of bearing burdens for one another came to me.  I was telling him that in his situation that I had no magical words or things that I could do to make his life any better now or even in the future but I wish there was.  The only thing that I could do for him is to be there and help him carry the weight of this burden he must bear for now. 

The more that I think about it and how it relates to the journey we are on, isn’t that what really as people of God do for each other while we are here?  You see, this life or this journey, there are many ups and downs as we all know. Some would say more downs than ups but as we move along who is there to help us in the times of need? Who is there to celebrate with us when good things come our way or the Lord answers prayers we so desperately needed answered?  If you think about the answer for just a second–it comes to you.  It’s your friends, your prayer partners, your spouses.  The list is endless and it should come as no surprise to you that when you share in the pain of a friend or a spouse–you help carry the weight of a burden that in essence may be too hard for that person to carry at the time.

You see, we all have it in us.  It’s compassion.  Some have it more than others but it is the compassion that God put in all of us to help one another when times are hard.  Look at the devastation of Haiti.  Droves of people came to their aid and are now and most likely will still be helping to rebuild their country and their lives once again.  Its compassion that drives us to help one another bear the burdens of this life and celebrate the joys of this life as well. 

But what about others that we don’t think about? Such as the poor, the needy, the brothers and sisters of other countries who are crying out to hear that same compassion that we have amongst ourselves.  There are many people in this world who would love to have someone care for them and help them out when they believe they cannot go any further.  These are the kind of people who Jesus had compassion for.

If you ever wanted a model of what real compassion and bearing the burdens of others looks like, look to Him.  He sought out the needy, the poor, the sinner and all of those who were counted as rejects to society and brought them in and listened to them.  He cleansed them and made them new once again .  People who thought that no one cared for them were made new and whole once again by His compassion and His love.

In this journey that we are on, let us strive to have compassion for one another and bear the burdens that others may have.  Let us look to go out of our comfort zone and have compassion for those whom we may despise or even hate.  Is that hard? You better believe it is! Its worth trying–seeing it from God’s eyes instead of ours.

The Simplicity of it all.

Just how simple is it to love God and to love those around us? It’s so simple that it is hard. Sounds confusing, doesn’t it? Really it isn’t though but we as humans seem to complicate the matter even more. You may be thinking to yourself is it really as easy as it sounds? Isn’t there a lot of rules and regulations that go along with loving the Lord and His people? Really there is not as much to it as you would think. Let me explain where I am going with this.

I got to thinking about serving the Lord and what He is all about and how we as people seem to cloud the service we give to Him. I have been in all sorts of churches in my lifetime and have seen many types of worship, heard many different songs and prayers, and seen many types of preaching. But the one thing that seems to stand out in all of them is how there are certain “rules” to worshiping God and the way we are in church on Sunday. Here is what I mean; the mere thought of wearing jeans and a nice shirt is appalling because you have dishonored God by your dress. Suit and tie is the only way to go and THEN God will hear you. How about this one; you can’t play THAT type of music here–you will make God angry and He won’t listen to you when you play that stuff. Here is one I heard that sadly, I admit I am guilty of thinking this; what are THEY doing here? Doesn’t God know that last night there were out partying and getting their drink on and they THINK they can come into the house of the Lord from where they have been?

Really? Is this where we have come to in our thinking about the Lord and His people? Even as I write this I am guilty fro saying or thinking those things above and many more things about how I think God should judge those around us and who is allowed and who isn’t. Who am I to tell God what to do? I am reminded of a passage in Job where Job was questioning God of why He did certain things and God told Job “Hey–were you there when I formed the earth? Did I seek your counsel when I made the oceans and such?” The Lord pretty much put Job is his place and needless to say Job shut his mouth! The more that I ponder on these thoughts of limiting God to what we want Him to do kind of makes me sad that we put Him into such a small box. We want Him to expel those who don’t think the way we do or dress the way we would like. We want God to slap those in the face who make fun of us for what we believe and in the same breath tell God to bless us abundantly with all of the good stuff of this world. Can we really limit God to that? Isn’t he bigger than that? Yes–He most definitely is.

Another thought is that those who do make fun of the way we worship or pray and those who drink and party it up–aren’t they are neighbors as well? Are we not supposed to love them as we love ourselves? Today in service I heard my pastor speak of the greatest commandment that Jesus gave in the Bible. He was speaking out of Mark 12:32-34 where Jesus was asked by a scribe what the greatest commandment was and Jesus replies that it was to love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself. Basically summed up by my pastor–love God, love people. I was really convicted by that point since I do love God but seem to despise some people. Its not possible to Love God and not love people. Didn’t He create them? You see, if we know God and love Him, we can’t help but love those around us. We then see through His eyes those around us and want to help them .

So, is it really simple to love God and those around us? Yep–it sure is. The key is to knowing God and His word and seeing that God is love and that Jesus is the ultimate model of how we should love others around us. John 3:16 just shows us how much He loved us. So what about the rules of man when it comes to loving God? My advice is to first know God and love Him with everything you got. Then, learn to see others through God’s eyes and you can learn to love them just like He does. It really won’t matter what others tell you about loving God. Its between you and Him.

Just another step on this journey we are on…

Time for a reset.

Well…today is January 2nd 2011 and I got to looking at all of the things I started in 2010 but never followed through on. Items such as my blog, being more active on twitter and facebook, being better at my faith and so many more things that it would take this whole page to go through them. But, I’m not going to do that–total waste of time to bring out all my faults! Hence, the title of the post–time for a reset in life.

The question I then had was how have I been with my faith. Is it any deeper than the year before? I am ashamed to say–no. I don’t feel like I am any closer to where I should be or where God wants me to be. What’s even worse is that today I read through my blog posts from the last year and have been successful and not even listening to myself when it comes to living on this journey. My thought then is maybe I should give it up–you know since I fail at it every time trying to become closer to God. But I can’t do that–its not in me to do that. I may fail–but i have got to keep trying. Maybe some of you out there think the same way. Its not worth it–you can never get on track and make it right. My question to you is–are we ever really on track? I mean have we ever attained the perfectness that God has planned for us? I know we have our plans and the things that God has given to us to minister to others here on earth but can we ever say that we have it all together? Nope, we cannot. Sometimes, life fails us. People fail us and worst of all we fail ourselves. Its no reason though to give up. Everything is at stake in this–the world we live in, our families, our friends and most important–our souls. I also believe that you cannot just give it up. My belief is once you have been exposed to God’s truth, you are never the same again. You may try to go back to what you once were, but once you do, you automatically know something is not right. You cannot replace the place in your heart where God once was with everything this world has to offer. It just doesn’t fill the hole all the way up.

I look at the statement–is there such a thing as a reset? Can you go back to where it was good and avoid all the bad? Of course not. You cannot avoid everything that happened in the past year that was bad. Its part of you now–it makes you who you are and makes up the character of person that you are. Is there a possibility that we as a people can start over and make things better this year than last? Absolutely. Can we as a people of God start over with Him and get even deeper in our faith than we did in 2010? Most definitely. That’s all part of the journey we are on. We make mistakes and start over. Heck–you don’t even need a new year to start over with Him–at any moment we can go back–He never lets go. If its one thing we can be thankful for–its that. Knowing that God loves us that immensely that we at anytime start over with Him and claim the purpose that He has for us.

Trying to understand the journey..

As I have decided to start blogging about this journey, I thought to myself that I needed to put my thoughts to paper (or computer) to see what this journey is all about and maybe in some way understand this life or help someone else meet God along this path. I’m new to this so will see just this goes. It will be a fun to try and to see what God has in store for all of us along the way!

You see, I am a Christian for many years now but have found myself falling off the wagon it seems like everyday. I ponder how those who call themselves Christians, like I do, look so good when it comes to church or matters of the heart. I mean, you go to church and you see these folks and you think to yourself they obviously have it right with God. I then look at myself and say wow–I suck! But, the more I start to travel along this journey I see what those others folks have is at face value. It’s only on the surface.

I want something deeper and I believe that is what this journey is about. Wouldn’t you like something deeper that what the church is offering right now? No knocks against church, but I have been to quite a few in the last 15 years and they all seem to have the same dry overview after you get through the first couple of layers. I want to be able to feel the presence of Him, walk in the power He has given us, and so much more. What happened to us as Christians? It used to be that the church was a place of healing and a place of refreshing. Now it seems that we have abandoned that to make people more comfortable and feel good rather than getting to the heart of what God wants for us in this life. What happened to the power of the church?

I’m ready to take this journey and learn what He has in store for me. I want something deeper and I am ready for it. Are you?

God’s Love..So Wide and So Deep..

I think that one of the things that we as Christians forget most is the love of God for us. I am sure that we have all heard it in Sunday school classes, church services, other people about how God loves us immensely. How many of us though really understand this? Sure, you hear it, you understand it on the surface but really how many of us deeply understand that God loves us so much that we cannot possible even begin to touch the surface of what it is? I believe that God wants us to know and know it in a more deeper way than we know it now. In this journey back to His heart I believe that understanding His love for us is a basic step, but knowing that love deeper than we know it now, that is a step that we all need to take new Christians and seasoned Christians alike.

I wondered to myself when I was writing this “what brought this on?” I mean, I know that God loves me and cares for me but why try to understand it even more? Isn’t this such an easy topic to understand? You see, in my morning prayer this morning I was reading Psalm 6 and listening to some music and just worshiping Him and I clearly heard Him say “A Love so wide and so deep that you cannot even fathom it..” Wow. I cannot even fathom it. So of course my human mind starts thinking of things that are deep and wide like the ocean and maybe the Grand Canyon. Those are wide and deep aren’t they? So, I asked the Lord about those things and do they compare. He says ” Wider and Deeper..” Now I’m thinking what is wider and deeper than those. I’m limited in my knowledge of geography so I say how about the universe Lord? Isn’t that wide and deep? Is it like that? He says “Bigger..” Now I am at a loss. I cannot wrap my mind around it and that was His point.

I share this conversation with you that will read this at some point to share with you that no matter what you do you can never be taken out of His hand. There was a time for me that I thought once I did some bad things or didn’t do what is right, I was no longer part of the family of God. I would withdraw and try to make it on my own. That is the furthest from the truth. Once we become part of the family of God, you don’t get kicked out unless you do it yourself. His point of telling me that we cannot wrap our mind around the love that He has for us is shown in His act of sending Jesus to come to die for us. He left His place on High to come to us to save us from the sins we had done, are doing, and will do in the future. He died on a cross just for that. In that act alone, He made us right with God and took us in as a part of the family of God.

The message that God loves us so deep and so wide is not just conveyed to me but to also everyone else. He wants you to understand that no matter what you do, you are always loved and when the situations of life do happen and we make bad choices, He is there. He wants to forgive and for you to pick yourself up and try again. Don’t fall trap to unplugging or withdrawing from Him–Remember He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. So the next time you hear someone say “God loves you”, just know it is so deep and so wide that we can never fathom it and you can reply “Yes, I know He does..”

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