Monday, December 24, 2007

Child Abuse.....

I’m sure you’re all aware of what child abuse is and will agree that there is way too much of it going on. In fact, just one child being abused is way too many. But I’d like to address other forms of child abuse that may go unnoticed by most people and not just the obvious.

What else constitutes child abuse?

How about never saying “No” to your child? Some parents don’t want their children to feel bad so they give them whatever they want. Or the parent would rather be their child’s friend so they allow things they probably shouldn’t. If your child makes a mistake, they should be allowed to own it. Coddling the child or “taking away the hurt” prevents the child from learning how to deal with life’s problems. I think it is important to not rob the child of the opportunity to learn some of life’s lessons. If a child isn’t allowed to deal with the consequences of their behavior, how are they to learn what is appropriate and what isn’t?

Think of some adults you may know that often seem to feel that they are treated unfairly, when they may be the only ones who see it that way. Ask them about their childhood and you may find that their parents, or maybe someone else, was always there to bail them out of trouble. They weren’t held accountable for their actions growing up, and resent being held accountable as an adult. Child abuse.

Comforting and coddling are two totally different things. If you don’t know the difference, let me know and I’ll explain to you in more detail.

The Bible teaches us to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The bible also talks about what it means to “Train a child”, and it involves discipline and instruction. Teaching a child how to make good decisions is a good thing, allowing the child to call the shots is not. Proverbs Chapter 22 tells us to “…not withhold discipline from a child”, and Chapter 29 says that “a child left to himself disgraces his mother”. Kids need boundaries, rules and limits and they need to know what they are.

There are too many “do nothing” parents out there and they are guilty of child abuse, whether they realize it or not.

In a marriage, there is the example of the “Love Tanks”. In order to have a happy and fulfilling marriage, it is necessary to keep each other’s “Love Tanks” full. If one spouse isn’t filling the other’s tank, the “neglected” spouse may turn to the children for the love they need to keep their love tank filled. This is unhealthy for both the child and the parent. Filling your love tank is the responsibility of your spouse and not your children, and places an unnecessary burden on the child that the child may not even be aware of. It may not seem like a big deal at the time, but these things can have long term effects on the child that can carry into their adult life. More child abuse.

What about speaking negatively to your child? I see this happen quite a lot. I recently heard about one little girl who was at the mall with her mother. She saw a pretty shirt and asked her mother if she could have it. Her mother sternly told her “No!”. When the little girl asked her mother why not, her mother angrily replied, “Because it says ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ on it!”. This particular little girl loves her daddy but is told mean, hateful and hurtful things about her father (which are untrue) repeatedly by her mother. This girl’s mother was abused as a child and you can read about that here.

That woman is, in my opinion, guilty of child abuse!



Children are like wet cement, whatever falls on them leaves an impression.


How about another form of child abuse you may not have considered?

What about God’s Son? When we disobey the teachings of Jesus Christ, we dishonor the Son of God. When people reject Christ, or refuse to believe on Him, they are abusing God’s one and only Son. Could that too, be child abuse?

(This next idea I got from our pastor's opening statements in church this morning).
A very popular saying around this time of year is “Jesus is the reason for the season”. But what if I told you that the real reason for the season was me, Alpha Dude? Or, what if I told you that the reason for the season was YOU?

Yes, we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. After all, Jesus’ birthday is what Christmas is really all about, right? But have you ever taken the time to ask yourself why God sent His Son here in the first place?

Jesus came into this world as a little baby, born of a virgin, in a little town called Bethlehem and….well……you know the story. But consider this……

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life”. (John 3:16)

Guess what? YOU are a whosoever! God sent His Son here to walk this earth, to live a perfect, sinless life, to minister, to teach and to die a cruel death and rise again on the third day and give us a direct line to God Himself……for YOU.

The reason for the season, my friends….is YOU. It’s us. We are why He did it.


Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was nailed to a cross to pay for the sins of you and for me. So every time we sin, it is like striking one of the nails that held Him to the cross. It is for us and because of us that He came and died. And when we sin? Child abuse.

So anytime we reject the Son of God, anytime we treat Jesus in a negative way, we are abusing His child. The Bible also teaches us that when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become children of the Most High God (I John, Chapter 3). So what happens when we abuse each other? Child abuse.

So how are we going to treat Jesus this Christmas season? (Not just at Christmas, but all the time). Love your neighbor as yourself, and remember who your neighbor is.

“…..I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”. Matthew 25:40

Have a most wonderful Christmas, and please, don’t be a Herod.

Peace, Joy and Blessings to you.




Thursday, December 20, 2007

That’s What Neighbors Do….

“That’s just what neighbors do”.
This is what my next door neighbor said to me last Sunday morning. It occurred to me later that morning, while clearing my driveway, that I had said the very same thing to him last summer.

Confused? Well, hang on, we’ll get there….

Earlier this year, during the summer, my next door neighbor, Mark, came over to ask if I knew where he could find new wheels for his lawnmower. He explained that the wheels had actually broken into pieces and fell off of his mower and he needed to get them fixed so he could finish his lawn.
I had just finished mowing mine, so I asked him,
“Hey Mark! How would you like to use my lawnmower?”
“Really? Thanks!”
“No problem. That’s just what neighbors do”.

And Mark was able to finish mowing his lawn. I hadn’t really thought about since then.

This last weekend, we got a lot of snow. There was about 8 to 10 inches of snow in the driveway. Mark came over and rang my doorbell.
“Hey Scott. I just got a brand new snow blower and I thought you might like to use it this morning”
“Really? Wow, thanks Mark!”
“Hey, that’s just what neighbors do!”

I had a lot of fun and cleared my driveway and sidewalk in record time.
I filled the tank with gas and took it back to him. I told him thanks again, and again, Mark told me that this is just what neighbors do for each other.

Pretty cool lesson. Especially this Christmas season. The Bible teaches us to treat our neighbors well. “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
A man once asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus’ response to him tells us that basically, it is everyone you meet.

We are to show Christ’s love to everyone, not just the nice people next door to us. I’m trying hard to remember that, but it isn’t always easy.

Enjoy the following cartoon and please remember the real reason for Christmas.



Thanks for stopping by, neighbor!

Blessings.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Blowing Off Steam….

The last couple of weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster for me. There have been highs and lows, joy and sorrow, hope and then the rug pulled out from under me. So, rather than air all that crap and give you something to be depressed about, I thought I’d address some observations that have made me question the intelligence (or lack thereof) of some certain people.

Have you seen that commercial for the new weight loss product? They made the name sound similar to liposuction, most likely to make you think it may work quickly. It is called Lipozene, or something like that. The commercial shows a computer graphic of some fat guy and then they added some spongy looking fat cells for effect. Their sales pitch makes you think that taking these pills will make you skinny, rich and good-looking in no time at all. But, as with products such as these, there is a lot of fine print at the bottom of the TV screen. I have a habit of reading the fine print (I’m somewhat nerdy like that). The fine print says that the expected weight loss is about 3.65 pounds over an 8 (eight) week period. Eight weeks to lose 3.65 pounds? Good Grief!

I can practically do that after eating Mexican food!
They also recommend a proper diet and getting plenty of exercise. It seems to me that if you eat right and get some exercise, you’ll lose a lot more than just 3.65 pounds in eight weeks and you don’t need to waste money on some stupid pills that probably don’t do anything anyway.
And while the fine print talks about results in eight weeks, they only offer you a thirty day supply!

There’s a new country song out there called “International Harvester”. It sounds good and tells a good story, but there is something about the opening lines that are quite disturbing. The first couple of lines go something like this….
“I’m the son of a third generation farmer,
I’ve been married ten years to the farmer’s daughter…..”
Well, I don’t know about you, but it sure sounds to me like this guy is married to his sister.
(Things that make you go “Ewwww…”)

And what is up with those darned hand dryers in the restroom at work? And what happened to having paper towels in there? There's no towels, but there is a trash can. Why? There's nothing to put in it.

There is a label on the dryer that tells you to first, after washing your hands, to shake off the water from your hands, then hold your hands under the dryer and rub them together until dry. The dryer shuts off automatically. It seems to me that shaking the water off your hands onto the tile floor creates a slipping hazard. Those dryers also seem to use a lot of electricity. Wouldn’t having paper towels been a more efficient way to go? I don’t know what the cost would be for paper towels in the washroom, but it would be most certainly offset by the time saved by not having to stand there until your hands are dry (lost work productivity) and the rising cost of electricity. I’m just saying….

I took my wife out for Mexican food the other night. (Yeah, just had to test my theory).
The food was okay but the service was slow to non-existent. The waitress also didn’t have a real good grasp on the English language.
“Would you like separate checks?” huh?
“Would you like that on a plate?” how else are you going to bring it?
“Would you like me to bring it to you now or after you leave?” uh…now would be good.

Okay, I'll admit, with her broken english, it sure sounded like that is what she said. (She really did ask about seperate checks though.)
Anytime we needed something, I had to get up and go ask the manager. They weren’t THAT busy!
I’m guessing we won’t be going back there for quite a while.


This clown's smile is painted on right now. Hopefully, by the time the paint wears off, there will be a real one underneath. We'll see.

And we got snow. Lots of it. Good story to go with that, though. I’ll write about it later.


Blessings.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas With a Capital "C"

'Tis the Season, y'all.

Enjoy.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAckfn8yiAQ


The tree is up.
The lights are on the house.
The lighted deer is in the yard (the head moves).

And Jesus Christ is Lord!

Blessings.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

me and God.....

A question has arisen lately asking people why they go to church and what made them choose the one they attend.

Well, grab yourself some chocolate, buckle your seatbelt and enjoy the ride…..

I’ve been going to church since I was two weeks old. My mother played the piano and sang in the choir, my father led the worship music and my grandfather was the pastor. In my family, once you are too old for the nursery, you’re in church. My brother, my cousins and I all sat in the second pew so mom could keep an eye on us (the front pew was for people who came forward during the invitation). Knowing that the entire congregation was behind us and possibly watching, we tried to look as cool as we could. It was your typical small town Southern Baptist church.

My grandfather retired from the ministry and when I was five years old, he passed away. When I was six, my parents divorced and my mom remarried when I was eight. So up until the age of eight, my entire world consisted of our small neighborhood and our little church. We stayed at that church even after grandpa died and after dad left because it was our church “home”.

My step-dad was a construction engineer, so we moved a lot. Every few years, once the particular construction job was finished, we would pack up and move to the next one. Every place we moved, we would find a new church “home”. But it was never the same. I met a lot of interesting people and lived in some nice places and made some new friends, but I never experienced the feeling of “home”. It is hard to put down roots when you know you will move away in another year or two.

It has been said that you can’t go home again. That is especially true if you hadn’t actually had a place you could call “home”. My parents moved twice while I was away at college so when I went home for the holidays I felt more like a guest in someone else’s house.

Growing up this way I had to learn a few things for myself.
One: Home is where you hang your heart. You have no idea how many lives you may touch every day, so make the most out of where God puts you (after all, He’s the one in control, right?). A house isn’t a home without the people.
Two: Church is about people and has nothing to do with the building or the name on the sign out front. In just about all of the different places I’ve lived, I’ve been approached by someone who said, “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” I’ve been both flattered and ashamed at those times. Flattered because someone thought they saw Christ in me enough to ask, and ashamed because if they really knew me deep inside, would they still bother to ask? I’ve found that the children of the Most High God seem to be drawn to each other. I hope I am never regarded by anyone as, “Oh, he’s a Christian? Gee, I never would have known.”
The biggest testimony to your faith is YOU, and how you live your life every day (how you treat others).
Three: God loves me and has a plan for my life. That statement is so easy to make and yet so easily confusing to so many people. God loves me, I get that. But He has a plan for my life? Really? How do I know what that is? The truth to that is that you may never actually realize it. Unless of course, you take the time to examine your life and try to figure it out. To me, that just isn’t important. I know that a lot of people, pastors included, will disagree with me on this and that’s okay. (If you do know God's purpose for you, then great. If not, don't sweat it). I just don’t see the point in wasting my time trying to figure out what God’s plan is for my life. My reason for this is quite simple.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

“For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:15-16)

Many, many years ago I realized I was living my life for me and not for God. Each time I felt God calling me to serve Him in some way, I made excuses as to why I couldn’t do it. Believe me, I came up with some really great reasons why I couldn’t possibly be the right one for the task. While at a Men’s Retreat one weekend, I realized I had been missing out on so many blessings. A wise man once told me that, “Excuses only sound good to those who make them.”

I decided right then to do things differently. One on one with God, I told Him, “My answer is ‘Yes’, now what’s the question?” My life has never been the same. Wherever He leads me, I will go. Whatever He calls me to do, I will do.

Having said all that, you should know that I had not felt I was “home” until I moved here. I had never been to Indiana before, and I didn’t know anyone here, but I believe with all my heart that this is where God has called me to be. I have friends here that love me and hold me accountable. I have brothers in Christ who call me just because I crossed their minds and just wanted to say hello. My wife’s family accepted me from day one and show God’s unconditional love for me and my kids. Just a little bit of love goes a long way!

And for the first time I can remember, I feel I have a real church home. Northview Church is my church home. I feel loved here. I feel I belong here. I feel I am “Home” here. But it isn’t the building, or the name, or the programs that make me feel this way. It is the people.
From the moment you walk through the doors, several people will greet you and do their best to make you feel welcome. Don’t worry, you won’t get mobbed, just loved.
They are genuinely happy to see you and they are truly glad you are there. They don’t want your money and no one will ask you to join a group or to volunteer for any of the many programs going on. They will let you know about the many things available to you at Northview and that you are welcome to be a part of whatever you choose. The people here only desire to show God’s love to you in a practical way. What you do with it after that is up to you. You can just show up, sit through the service, get fed (spiritually), and leave without saying a word and that’s okay. Or you can hang around and get to know some rather awesome people. Either way, you will be accepted here and no one will judge you or look down on you, no matter who you are or where you came from. Jesus Christ hung on a cross and paid the price for your sins and mine, and if you are good enough for Jesus, you are good enough for us!

Our church’s mission statement is quite simple.

“Connecting People with God, Connecting People with People.”
It is all about people.

One of the ways I served God in my church was by being the “Alpha Dude”.  I got to enjoy that blessing for three and a half years!  Alpha Dude is known to be funny and smart and silly and entertaining for the children of the adults that attend the Alpha program. Alpha Dude gives the kids (pre-school through sixth grade) the same lesson the adults are getting, just on a level that the kids can understand and enjoy. It is a great job and I had an absolute blast doing it! God has shown me what a blessing it is working those kids, even though it used to scare the bejeebers out of me working with small children. Honestly, I used to be rather intimidated by little kids. I don’t know why. But God said to do it so I did it and it is an incredible blessing!

During one of the lessons, I told the kids how God is the best friend they could ever have. One little girl asked me if God was really my best friend, and I replied, “Dude! me and God are like this!” while holding up my hand with the first two fingers crossed. One of the adult teachers commented that it would make a cool t-shirt.  I agreed and thought it was the kind of shirt that Alpha Dude would wear and would go perfectly with the blue jeans and Hawaiian shirt. I searched high and low for something like it and could not find one. So I designed and made my own.















My son wanted one so I ordered one for him and he wore it to church.







Several people asked where he got it and how they too could get one.




During all of this, our church introduced a program called




God has really blessed our church and it is growing. It is growing so much, in fact, that we are running out of room for all the people. Saturday evening services aren’t too bad yet, but Sunday morning services are full and we can’t stand the thought of ever telling anyone that we don’t have a place for them to sit. So we’ve built a bigger building. We simply had no choice. The church is expanding and we needed a bigger facility for the church people to meet. After all, the church is the people.

The Next Chapter involves raising the necessary funds to construct the new building. So far, God is showing He will provide and my wife and I would like to be able to contribute more than we are able. Can you see where this going? We already give as much as we can of our time and finances, but desire to do more.

Here’s how you can help. Just visit
http://www.cafepress.com/doing_life and buy a shirt (or ten or twenty). All of the proceeds will go to The Next Chapter building campaign. All of it. One hundred percent (100%). And how much do I get? Absolutely nothing. Zero. Nada. It ALL goes to the church.

Please visit the website. You can find shirts, sweatshirts, clocks, mouse pads, pillows, baby clothes, coffee mugs, tote bags, just about anything you like, to show the world that God is number one in your life.

















These items make for great Christmas gifts. I’ve already purchased a bunch of them for my own family.

Thank you and may God Bless you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

If you can read this....

If you can read this,
thank your teacher.

If you are reading this in English,
thank a Vet.

Blessings.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Big Sky - 100th Post

For those of you who may have stopped by last week looking for something new and obviously did not find it…..sorry about that. I was in Missoula, Montana all last week at a Pavement Preservation Partnership conference. I met some interesting people and learned more than I thought I would. This particular conference was actually worth attending, and the workshops were rather educational.

I attended all the meetings and workshops, and I even managed to stay awake during the boring presentations as well as the interesting ones. The only meeting I didn’t stay to the very end was the final business meeting and my boss told me it would be over in about ten minutes and I could leave if I wanted. I didn’t see him again for another 90 minutes! Apparently, there’s a federal guy in there who can talk forever about absolutely nothing, and he did not disappoint.

All in all, it was a great week. Montana is a beautiful place. We were surrounded by snow-capped mountains and Missoula is not too big so it was easy to get around.

We arrived Monday afternoon and went straight to the first workshop. It is great to get to meet people in your field that know a lot more than you do, so you can ask them lots of questions and learn from their experience. My grandfather had told me long, long ago that the smart guy learns from watching others. So I watched, I learned, and I asked a lot of questions. Afterwards, we grabbed a quick dinner and watched the Colts beat up on the Jaguars.

Tuesday morning, I woke up at 3:30 AM. My body was still on Indiana time. I tried to get some more sleep since my first class didn’t start until 9AM. Shortly before 6AM, my step-daughter called me on my cell phone…..
“Did I wake you?”
“No. I was just about to get up.”
“Oh, good. Hey listen, I’m in Richmond (Indiana), giving a friend a ride to school, and my car just died right in the middle of an intersection. What should I do? I tried starting it, but it just rev’s up and dies.”
“Do you have any gas?”
“Of course I do!”
“How much gas do you have in the tank?”
“I don’t know, but I know there’s enough.”
“Well, the first thing you need to do is get the car out of the middle of the intersection. Have your friend help you push the car to a safer place, then call me back and we’ll see what we can do.”
“Okay, there’s a gas station nearby. We’ll push it to there and I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”
Several minutes passed by and she finally called me back…..
“Hi. While we were at the gas station, we filled the tank with gas and the car is running fine now.”
“Okay, good. Drive safe. See you Friday night.”
“Why Friday?”
“Because I’m in Montana and I won’t be home until Friday around midnight.”
“You’re in Montana? Then I did wake you! I’m so sorry.”
“No, you’re okay. I had to get up to answer the phone anyway. Have a great day. Love you”
“Love you too”
Yeah. She’s real observant like that. She’s only 19 and still learning. It was nice that she called me. She could have called her dad, or her boyfriend, which were both a lot closer to where she was, even if I had been in Indianapolis. Even after I had just told her few days earlier how stupid it was for her to get a tattoo. She asked me about it before she did it and I told her it was a bad idea. She wanted one so she did it anyway. She got a flower tattooed on her side, from her hip to just under her armpit. She showed it to me and asked what I thought of it. I still told her it was most likely the most stupid thing she’s done yet. She wanted so badly for someone to happy for her and tell her how cool her tattoo is. I said I couldn’t lie to her and told her what I really thought about it. Her little brother asked what kind of flower it is and I told him it is a blooming idiot. (My wife didn’t think that was funny). But still, I’m the one she called when she was in trouble anyway.

Tuesday night we went to dinner and the waitress asked where we were from. She said we didn’t look like we were from there (we were “too clean”, she said). There’s a big “M” on the side of the mountain overlooking the town, and our waitress explained what it meant and how it got there. After she left, and elderly lady came by our table and told us that the “M” stood for Montana, and was placed there by the University of Montana. (This lady had real class. She never once said that the waitress was wrong, she just corrected certain parts of her story). The campus is located directly below the "M". It used to be formed by a bunch of large rocks, but visiting sports teams would climb up and re-arrange the stones into their own school’s letter. So the owner of the land built a dirt road around the side of the mountain so the concrete truck could get to the spot and now the “M” is made out of concrete. There’s a small cave behind the “M” where they buried one of the football player’s jerseys, since it smelled so bad. So now you know the story behind the big “M” above Missoula. Just don’t ask your waitress, she may not know.

Wednesday our sessions let out early so we drove up to the Bison Range. We couldn’t get close to any Bison (Buffalo), but we did find evidence that were nearby recently.






We could see some buffalo across the way, but none were close enough for a picture. We did get close to some elk, though. I had to step back just to get this guy in the picture. He acted like he didn’t even care that I was there and just kept eating grass. The three fellows I was with thought I was crazy and urged me to get back into the car.



It sure was a beautiful place to be.


On the way back to our hotel, we stopped for dinner and I had a 10 0z. Big Medicine Buffalo Burger. It was just about as big as the plate. It was good, but could have been better if they’d have cooked it all the way. I don’t particularly care for rare meat, but this fellow didn’t look like he’d even been hurt too bad!

The next couple of days were spent attending seminars, presentations and meetings. It wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be and actually learned quite a lot. Even Thursday night at the final dinner and reception party when I learned how to graciously excuse myself from the table after one of the main event guys got so drunk that he started disclosing way too much personal information. It was a little embarrassing. My boss even followed my lead and excused himself also.

All in all, it was a really great time. Friday morning, before catching our plane, my boss and I climbed the mountain to the big “M” overlooking the city. It was beautiful from up there.

The flight home was okay, even though the stewardess on our little pond-hopper plane was wider than the narrow aisle (and seemed to be in a really bad mood). She really wasn’t very nice so I closed my eyes and slept most of the way home.

It was good to be home. I missed sleeping in my own bed and I miss the smell of my own sheets. The gentleman in me prevents me from saying more.

I thank God for the opportunity to meet new friends, to learn new things and to experience more of the awesome beauty He created in the Big Sky country.

Saturday, my wife and I served on the usher team at church. Sunday we drove to Cincinnati to watch the Bengals play. (Had they actually played, they might have won). Then Monday night we went to the Encore Awards in Indy. Our director won for Best Director in a Drama, and I got to watch. After the event, I congratulated our director and we all posed for pictures. Janet, who was nominated for Best Actress, really should have won. She did an awesome job. As I shook her husband’s hand and gave her a gentle hug across her shoulders, she looked at me and said that it was enough just to be nominated. But the look in her eyes said the same thing I felt in my own heart in that, “I’m only saying that to be gracious. I really hoped to win”. Next season will be different.

This is my 100th post.

I have so much more to write about, but that will have to wait for next time.

Blessings.

Monday, October 29, 2007

And the winner is......

Diane Hayes for Best Director of a Drama for Love Letters.

Janet and I.....watched and applauded with our families.
It was kind of cool to hear my name mentioned from the stage while they announced the nominees, and I got a really nice certificate for being nominated.

Diane did a great job as our Director. She deserved to win.
Not bad for a brand new production company and a first time director.
And her win? Makes me a part of an award winning production company.

Although winning would have been nice, it isn't why I did the play in the first place.
I learned a lot about myself in the process and I had a great time.

I can hardly wait to do it again.




Thank you and good night......

Encore, Encore

Hi. Sorry I haven’t been around for awhile. I’ve been away on business and I’ll write about that later.

Remember that play I was in a while back? It was called Love Letters and it was a total blast to be a part of. Well, the production company that produced the play (StageWorthy Productions) is a part of the

and every year they have a ceremony and give out what is called the “Encore Awards”. It’s the Indianapolis version of the Tony Awards. And tonight is the night.


The Encore Awards Ceremony
Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre
Monday, October 29, 2007 at 7pm.


Of course, the reason I am bothering to mention all that is because I have been nominated for “Best Actor in a Drama” for my role as Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, in “Love Letters”. My friend Janet Hodson is also nominated for Best Actress, and the amazingly talented, motivating (and sometimes intimidating) Diane Hayes is nominated for Best Director. Both of these ladies are awesome I am looking forward to watching them win.

Diane successfully pulled off what no director has ever before attempted and Janet made the production interesting and enjoyable. I could tell that the audience was completely captivated by her portrayal of Melissa. Diane also designed and constructed/painted the most amazing set I have ever seen. It is rather disappointing that the set didn’t get nominated for Best Set Design.

You know how a lot of actors try to be gracious and say that it is enough just to be nominated?
Well, although it is truly an honor to be nominated, to say that it is “enough” is a load of crap.

Just between you and me………I’d like to take home some hardware.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I was Just Being Me…..

We’ve been going to a marriage class over the past few weeks. It’s pretty good for learning how to better communicate with your spouse and other mushy marriage type stuff.

Well, this week’s class dealt with resolving conflict. So naturally, ‘cause you never know what may crop up, they had some counseling materials on the front table, just in case. One of the business cards had the person’s name on it in the center of the card, and the background of the card was a view of some really tall trees as if you were standing in a dense forest looking straight up. Hopefully you get the idea.

I happened to be standing next to the wife of the couple leading the course, and I mentioned that this may be what that little boy saw.

“What little boy?”

“You know, the one who got lost in the forest. He looked up and called out to God and said, ‘Dear God, I’m lost. Please help me find my way out of this dark forest’.”

“I’m afraid to ask, but what happened then?”

“As he was looking up, a little bird flew over and dropped a little doody right on the end of his nose.”

“And what did he do?”

"He looked upwards once again and said, ‘Aw c’mon God. Don’t hand me that! I really am lost!'”

(her laughing) “Only you would think of something like that. I should have known”

Yeah, she should have. But hey, I was just being me.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

And he prayed.....

Last night at Alpha Sprouts, the lesson was about “Why and How do I read the Bible?”

(Last week’s lesson was about “Why and How do I Pray?”)

The kids were great last night. They were really responsive and more attentive than usual. I asked them a lot of questions and they knew most of the answers and they seemed excited when Alpha Dude explained to them how the Bible was written, and that it was “God breathed”. I even shared with them the three Alpha Dude tricks to reading the bible so they can understand it and give the words a deeper meaning to them when they read it.

Alpha Dude, (that’s me)

(I just thought that maybe you didn’t know)

anyway, Alpha Dude told them that if they had a difficult time understanding what they read in the Bible, they can always ask someone like their parents, their Alpha Sprout teacher, the pastor, or Alpha Dude. Or they could just pray about it and ask God to show them through His Holy Spirit what it means.

Then they got to learn Alpha Dude’s three simple tricks to understanding the Bible.

Wanna know they are? Yeah. I thought you might.
Okay, Okay, you don’t have to beg. I’ll tell you.

It’s quite simple really. Whenever you read any passage in the Bible, just ask yourself three simple things…….
1) What does it say? That’s it. Easy huh? Just read the words.
2) What does it mean? Simple definition. Ready for the most important part?
3) What does it mean….to me?
And there you have it. Following those three simple things just may change the way you read the Bible.

At the end of each week’s lesson, Alpha Dude leads those little Alpha Sprouts in a closing prayer. Only last night was different.

One young fellow raised his hand and had a very urgent question.

He asked if he could pray. I explained that we did that last week.

No. He wanted to do the closing prayer.

As I glanced over my shoulder to the Sprouts Director, I said, “We’ve never done that before” (I’ve been the Alpha Dude for two and a half years, and no Sprout has ever asked to lead the closing prayer).

The Director gave me the nod that said this would be okay, so that one little boy lead the entire group, the Alpha Sprouts and all the teachers (and Alpha Dude, too) in the closing prayer.

He was awesome.

Just as Alpha Dude had taught them, all the Sprouts stretched their arms outward to the side, then CLAPPED them together, palms together, ready to pray. As this fellow folded his hands together, everyone closed their eyes and bowed their heads in respect for God, he buried his face in his folded hands and the room fell silent.

His prayer went something like this…..

“Dear God! Thank you for giving us the Bible and for giving us your Word and for teaching us to respect it. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for us so we can be with you forever. Thank you for all the Sprouts and the teachers and keep them all safe. God Bless you. I love you. In JESUS NAME……..”

And he waited for everyone in the room to help him finished by shouting, “A-MEN!!”

Like I said, this has never happened in Alpha Sprouts before. I feel honored and blessed to be able to see the Glory of God poured out and radiating from one six year old little boy.

If you’ve read my last few posts you will know that I have been struggling with living for God, and not just for me. That I am not perfect and that I make more than my fair share of mistakes. I just want to live for Him and do His will.

I am Alpha Dude.

I love what I do.
I love Jesus and I love all those Alpha Sprout dudes and dudettes.

God is sooooo Good!



I am only one, but I am one.
I can’t do everything, but I can do something.
And what I can do, I ought to do.
And what I ought to do, by the Grace of God, I shall do.
- Edward Everett Hale


Blessings.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Living my Life for….Who?

I like singing in church. Our church’s worship team rocks and our worship time is awesome. But last week we sang a song and I found myself just standing there, unable to sing. Some people, I suppose, just read the words on the screen up front and just sing whatever is up there. It could be about the wonder and joy of cow-patties and folks would sing for all they are worth, just because that’s the song we’re singing at the moment. But I tend to read ahead before I sing so I can really throw myself entirely into the song, because dude, this is worship, not responsive reading.

I enjoy making my part of the joyful noise, but I just couldn’t bring myself to sing this particular song out loud with the rest of the congregation. I could only hang my head in shame.

The first line of the song said, “I live my life for you, Lord……”

And you know what? I started to think about that and I realized that I really don’t. I felt that if I sang that song out loud, with my whole heart and made a “joyful noise unto the Lord” with those words, I would feel like a hypocrite.

Even though I try, and I would really like to, I do not always live my life for God. I live it for me. I like things done a certain way. My way. Which is not necessarily God’s way.

I’ve been asking certain people during this last week to please forgive me for my selfishness and not showing God’s love to them in a practical way. They looked at me like I was crazy.

I hadn’t always spoken to my wife in the kind and loving manner that I believe I should, but she said she understood and had already forgiven me. (She’s a keeper).

Sometimes I get irritated by certain people when things don’t go the way I’d like or they don’t behave in way I think they should and it affects my attitude towards them.

I still get upset at people I don’t even know on my way to work.

Why is it that anyone going slower than you is a moron, and anyone driving too fast is a maniac?

My wife is not perfect (but she’s close enough for me), my kids are not perfect (but almost), my life is not perfect. I am not perfect. (Sorry to burst your bubble, but really, I’m not).

I am not perfect and I don’t want to be. The last guy who actually was perfect? Well, they crucified Him.

I agree with our worship leader who said that even he had a tough time with that song. Maybe if it had said “I want to live for you, Lord…” or maybe, “I’m trying to live for you, Lord…” it would have been easier to sing.

The Bible says that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength and that I can do nothing outside of Christ. Perhaps that is my problem.

I think I’ll concentrate more on trusting God and doing things His way instead on doing things on my own.

That, and I’ll stick to simpler songs like “Jesus Loves Me…” for a while.

Okay God, my answer to you is “Yes”. Now, what’s the question?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Letters

Okay, so I did it again. I went away for a while, but now I’m back. I didn’t really go anywhere, life just keeps happening. My wife says that the problem with life is that it is so daily. I do believe she may onto something.

So just for grins (and because I want to do it), I thought I’d steal That Chick’s idea and write some letters……

Dear Step-Daughter,

Thank you so much for all the nice things you said to me the other night. I really enjoyed being woken up at 3 AM and holding your hand while you lay on the sofa telling me about all the fun you had that evening. You told all your friends that you just wanted to go home to your mom and dad and that you made sure that they knew that you consider me to be your real dad and not that bum in Ohio. I appreciated that, I really did. You told me you loved me and that you appreciate all the things I do for you and your brothers. You kept telling all of your friends at the party that your consider me to be your real dad. You said that a lot. You were still saying that when your brother and step-brother finally found you hugging your new best friend Ralph.

You remember Ralph, don’t you? You know, that real pale fellow with the large mouth who took in all you had to say and never once talk back to you? The fellow whose face is “flushed”? You must have really liked him since you kept calling his name long after your brothers brought you home. Did you know you talked to me non-stop for two solid hours? I am glad you appreciated the bucket I held for you and for comforting you while you experienced the dry heaves for the first time.

Thank you for holding my hand and for the nice words. I just hope you remembered at least some of it after you sobered up. I love you too.

Soberly,
Dead Dog Tired Dad

**********

To my Handsome Young Son,

I am so very proud of you. You spend time with your step-siblings and you all seem to enjoy each other’s company. You are proving to be a fine example to the younger boys.
Thank you for going after your step-sister and bringing her home and for not getting mad at her or yelling at her for abandoning you guys and running off and getting tanked. You didn’t drink and you behaved responsibly. Thank you.

A good friend of mine approached me after church Saturday night to tell me he had met you a few days earlier. He said he was very impressed at what a fine and respectable young man you are. Did I mention that I am proud of you? I am glad you are my son and I am honored to be your Dad. Thanks for being here.

I love you, son.

Your Grateful Dad.

**********

To My Dear Darling and Beautiful Wife,

I was almost finished mowing the lawn when your 14 year old came out to ask me to move my truck. I told him he’d have to wait and he went back inside. A few minutes later you came out to plead his case for him. Five more minutes and I would be finished, mower put away and the truck parked back in the garage and there would no longer be an issue. I explained this to you but you pushed anyway. You believed it was more important for the boys to able to go play right when they wanted to rather than be patient and wait a mere few minutes.

You asked me to love your children and to try to understand them. Have you ever asked them to love me and understand me? No, instead you teamed up with them against me. This seems to happen on a regular basis, but this time hurt more than usual.

You are my best friend and I love you deeply, but I am bleeding internally right now and this one make take some time to heal.

Your loving husband,
Odd Man Out

(We've discussed this and are working on it)

**********

Dear Little Alpha Sprout Dudes and Dudettes,

You kids are the reason I put on by blue and white Hawaiian shirt, talk like a surfer dude and act all goofy every Monday night. You dudes are awesome. Jesus is right when He said that the Kingdom of God is made up of little dudes and dudettes such as you all.
I have such a spas-tasticlly fun time with you all.

And Monday night when we prayed, you dudes got me real good. That lesson was only supposed to take maybe ten minutes, but you dudes stretched it to over thirty minutes. We talked about praying and why and how we should do it. We learned how to pray and when it was your turn, and I asked you all to pray for somebody, silently, to yourselves, you little dudes prayed…….out loud. One after another, more than half of you prayed for someone in your family or someone that you know that you wanted God to love, touch or heal. I am so glad I taught you to first close your eyes and bow your heads, otherwise you might have seen the tears rolling down Alpha Dude’s face.

You dudes totally rock the party! God Bless you.

Love,
Alpha Dude

**********

Dear Person Reading these letters,

God loves you so much that He sent His Son here to be punished and to die for you and me so that we can know Him in Glory.

Life happens. Sometimes its good, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes there’s pain, sometimes there’s joy. Someone once asked for a definition of the word “Joy”. Every person asked gave a different answer. This only proves to me that there is no definition for joy. Joy is not to be defined. Joy cannot be defined. Joy is to be experienced. The Bible says that God wants us to know joy. We are to know joy by serving Him. And sometimes it ain’t easy.

Bad things sometimes happen to good people because we live in a sinful world and the evil one still roams about. But remember this – God is still God. No matter what.

The Bible says that joy comes in the Lord. It also says that God is love.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

We can go into a lot more detail another time. Remember: Love is something you do. Joy is something you know.

So…..Just know.

Blessings.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Push of a Button

We’ve had some really great weather lately, and when the weather is nice, we like to barbeque. The way that works at our house is that my lovely wife prepares the chicken with spices and ........ whatever she does (I really don’t know), and I cook it out on the grill.

I like my gas grill. All I have to do is turn on the gas, push a button and presto……instant flame.

However, this summer the igniter hasn’t been working. Whenever I push the button, nothing happens. I figured it just wore out. All summer I had been using a fireplace lighter to start the grill (since pushing the button didn’t work anymore).

So while on my way home from work the other day, I stopped off at the store for some groceries and noticed they had gas barbeque grill replacement parts. Among those parts was a new igniter for the grill, just like mine. I had already spoken to my wife on the phone and she said she was preparing the chicken so I could start the grill once I got home. Naturally I bought a new igniter, thinking I would replace our old one as soon as I got home. It looked rather simple to install and I figured I should be able to install it in a matter of minutes before I started the grill for our dinner, while the grill was still cool.

I pulled my truck into the garage and carried the groceries into the kitchen. Once the groceries were unloaded, I proudly grabbed the new igniter and headed for the back patio to perform the manly task of repairing the grill. My wife would be so impressed (or so I thought).

As I got to the back door, I met my wife as she was coming back inside.

She said, “The grill is ready for you”.

“What do you mean ‘It’s ready’?”

“I started the grill for you”

“You’re not holding the lighter, how did you start the grill?”

“I just pushed that little red button and it started right up”

“You pushed the button?”

“Yep”

“And it worked for you?”

“Yep”




**Sigh**




The chicken was delicious too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Random Stuff

Okay, I’m back. Sorry it’s been awhile but sometimes life has a way of just happening without you realizing it. If that sounds like an excuse, it's because it IS an excuse! But it's the only one I've got for now.

The new job is going well. No work stories to tell. Well, actually there are, but I prefer not to write about stuff that happens at work or about the people there since that sort of thing could cause problems.

But the drive there and back? Now, that’s another thing entirely!


On the way home the other day, I saw what looked like a train crossing arm coming down where there are no train tracks.
A rusty old pick-up truck full of rusty old junk had apparently swerved to miss hitting the cars in the right hand lane, and it seemed he realized a bit too late that the traffic in front of him had stopped. He was able to avoid the car in front of him, but he took out the guard-rail and knocked the street light pole right off its base. The pole came down right on top of the car he tried to avoid running into. It also landed on the car in the next lane over. As I drove past (rush hour, all traffic was moving slowly) I saw that everyone involved had gotten out of their vehicles and were talking on their cell phones. The guy in the truck was still sitting behind the wheel of his truck, shaking his head. He tried to miss one and got two. Talk about a bad day!

This Power of Dad stuff is really hitting hard with me. I am learning about the awesome affects of the Power of Dad, but what about when you are the step-dad? The Bible tells us to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not part from it. But what if you are dealing with children who have been affected by a dad who knowingly and willingly severely misused his Power of Dad? What can you do? I’ll write more on this one later. The Holy Spirit is really dealing me on this one.

Last weekend, our church threw a huge party called Hillfest 2007. We’ve done this every year for the past 7 years. There’s carnival/fair type rides, games, food and all kinds of fun that you would find at a county fair. And everything is free. Last year we had over 8,000 people show up. This year there was even more. Why do we do it? Simply to demonstrate God’s love to the community in a practical way.
We had a great time.

We’ve also been attending our church’s Connections class. The Connections class is where you go to learn about the church, the pastors and get all connected and stuff. We’ve been members for almost three years and are involved in a few of the ministries at the church, and this is the only class we haven’t done yet, so we figured we’d go. Everyone else in the class is fairly new (less than a year).
While we were at Hillfest (it’s called that because our church is located on a hill, the highest ground in the county, and it’s a really big festival type thing), we ran into another couple from our Connections class.
They’re rather nice people and Catherine and I seem to have a lot in common with them. While we were talking, my son and two of his step-brothers walked up to let us know where they were going to be. We introduced the boys and my son Josh stepped forward to say hello to our new friends and spoke with them briefly before hugging me and going on his way.
As the three boys walked away, the couple commented on what a fine young man Josh is. They said he was polite, respectful and considerate. He referred to them as sir and ma’am. They said that a 19 year old who acts that way is rare these days. They then patted me on the shoulder and said, “Good job, Dad”.
Wow. How do you respond to something like that? I know he’s a good kid, and a fine young man. He is a joy to know and I am extremely proud of him. But to hear someone complement him like that after just meeting him? All I could say was, “Uh……thanks”.
(They didn’t even mention the other two boys).

I’ll also brag on him a little and tell you that he just got a promotion at work this week. He’s only been working there for less than two months and they really like him.

During our Connections class this week, we got to listen to the Youth Pastor talk about why he enjoys working with Junior High kids so much. In college, he ministered to and counseled college age men. Most of those guys had some sort of sin issue they were dealing with and over the course of the year he worked with those men, our Youth Pastor asked them when they first started having their particular “issues”. Most of them said it all started in Junior High. He said the Holy Spirit impressed upon him that, although he was doing a great work for God with these men, that his ministry was reactive, not proactive. He felt God was telling him to be proactive with his ministry, so he began working with Junior High students. It really is God’s calling for him.
Ever since, I have felt a “tug” to go volunteer in our Junior High ministry. I know someone who is already doing that in her own church and loves every minute of it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Well, it’s getting late and I’m exhausted. Morning comes way too early! I’ll write more later. I promise.

More later.

See? I keep my promises.

Blessings.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Power of Dad…part 2

We talked before about the awesome Power of Dad. Every dad has it. Some are aware of it and some are not. In either case, it is easy to abuse the Power of Dad and in most situations the dad isn’t even aware of the impact he is having on his children.

I’ve witnessed first hand the results of the Power of Dad. I’ve seen what abuse of that power can do to an entire family and not just the child affected.

Here is the story of one grown woman that I know….
This woman was severely affected by a dad who lived to serve only his own interests. Between the ages of 9 to 11, this woman was molested and abused by her uncle. She told her father about it, but he did not believe her and choose to defend his younger brother instead of protect his own daughter. She begged her dad not to send her back to that house, but he made her go anyway. Every summer. The little girl begged and pleaded for her father to protect her and not let her go back to that house, but he made her go anyway. His final response to his daughter was to tell her that it was God’s way of punishing her for not being a good girl. He told her that she deserved it!
(According to the rest of the family, she WAS a good girl.)
Her dad had let her down and proved to her that she wasn’t very important to him.
During her teenage years, this woman dated one boy for seven years. Her father thought this boy was terrific. However, this boy treated her badly. He abused her, took her for granted, controlled her, beat her and raped her.

She finally found the courage to leave that abusive relationship when she met the man who would marry her a few years later. She looked to this man to rescue her from her abusive boyfriend and from her controlling and demeaning father. Her father never respected her as a person and she was afraid of him.
The thing that puzzled me the most was that after all he had done to drive his daughter away, she still sought to please him and to make him proud of her.
That is the Power of Dad. Some men just don’t deserve to have it, but they do.

The whole family was affected by this man. Each of the woman’s siblings would sell one another out for just one glimmer of hope to be seen favorably in that man’s eyes. He had each of them under his thumb and did his best to control them, including his wife.

The only decent people in the family that I knew of were the woman’s grandparents on her mother’s side. They were truly nice people and they did not like or approve of the woman’s father. But he was their son-in-law so they tolerated him.

The woman grew up, got married and had a child of her own. But daddy wasn’t done with his life lessons to his children just yet. Once the grandfather passed away, the first person to the house was her “daddy”. No, he didn’t go to comfort the widow, he went to clean out his father-in-law’s closet and go through his stuff and fill his pockets. I’m not making this up, this is what this man did (I saw him do it).

Not long after the funeral, “daddy” talked his mother-in-law into "loaning" him the bulk of her savings account, telling her that he would pay her more each month than that account was paying in interest. It is important to know that this man initiated this deal right after learning that grandma had cancer and had maybe only a few years left to live. He knew he would never have to repay that loan.
Since she was the oldest grandchild, grandma showed the woman a copy of the will so she’d know what was in there. Grandma’s will stated that the grandchildren would each receive an equal share of all the liquid assets upon her death, and their daughter (the woman’s mother) and son-in-law (daddy) would receive the house and property (which wasn’t very much compared to the cash in that savings account).

In short, “daddy” took all of grandma’s money, paid off his own house and began making small payments to grandma. This cut his mortgage payments by more than half and he now had control over grandma since he now controlled her income (he took it all!).

Sure enough, grandma passed away a couple of years later and daddy was now debt free. The kids? After they sold grandma’s house, they each got a small portion of the sale price, which daddy refused to fully disclose.

She hated her father for what he had done, but still made every effort to please him. I once asked her why she was still so nice to him after all the things he had done to hurt her and cheat her. She looked me right in the eye, and with a devilish little sneer told me that she desires to stay in his good graces because someday he will die and she will get all that money!

Why is that important to the Power of Dad? Because a few years later, the woman drove her husband into an obscene amount of debt, stole all the money from her children’s savings accounts, divorced her husband in an effort to cover up her actions, and lied to everyone she knew, about who was responsible. To this day, a lot of people still blame her ex-husband for all of it.

Her daddy taught her well. He never told her to do any of those unspeakable things. He simply showed her how.

Another bad dad……
His daughter is still a teenager. She’s fun, she’s pretty and she is full of energy. She’s also very smart and incredibly talented. Her father however, thinks only of himself. He drives a brand new expensive car while his children are forced to use an unsafe old rust-bucket type vehicle. He dresses very well in expensive fine clothing while his children wear old rags. The children are often left on their own to fend for themselves while “daddy” is out enjoying himself. He has no skills, no education, but he’s married wealthy women. Twice. Yet he brags to his kids that he is a self-made man who worked his way to the top of the corporate ladder.
This girl recently won an award from school, and invited her father to come to the banquet to see her get the award. He promised he’d be there. As she arrived to the school where the banquet was held, she called her dad to let him know she was there. He was still at home. He had forgotten all about it. This is not an isolated incident. This happens all the time. I overheard her complaining to a friend about what a jerk her dad is, but then stated that he gave her a wad of cash, so everything is okay now.

His sons lie and steal and are constantly getting into some sort of trouble. One son is known to steal cars from family members and go for joy rides (without a driver’s license). The oldest said his dad taught him that before you do anything for someone else, you must first ask yourself “What’s in it for me?”.

This guy is clearly abusing his Power of Dad.

What about me?
I am most certainly not perfect. I don’t come close, not even on a good day.
I have made way more than my share of mistakes. I have abused the Power of Dad.
Any man who has children has abused the Power of Dad at one point or another. Most men don’t realize it at the time. The problem isn’t in abusing the Power, the problem arises in what the dad chooses to do about it once he realizes it.
No child will think any less of you for kneeling down beside them and begging for their forgiveness. I’ve done this many times.

Like I said, I’ve made my share of mistakes. I thank God that I learned to deal with it early on.

I have no memory of my childhood before the age of 5 or 6. Several family members tell me that this actually a good thing and would rather not tell me why, so they don’t.
It is for that reason that my wife encouraged me to start blogging, to keep a journal of some sort, to write down my thoughts as they came to me in an effort to help me remember things so I can resolve old issues and move past old hurts.

When my son was small, he got into trouble as little boys often do. Sometimes, when my son would need to be disciplined, I would find myself getting angry. One time, as I was about to unleash that anger on him, I had a flash back to my own childhood. I saw myself, as a small boy, being hurled into a wall or getting kicked in the backside by pointy-toed cowboy boots. Those are the impressions my father had left on me that I had apparently repressed.

Those visions scared me deeply and I vowed to never do those things to my son.
Instead, I would tell my son to go to his room and wait for me there. My son would go to his room and I would go someplace else so that I could cool down and think about how to deal with my son in a loving manner. And pray. None of this was easy. It took a lot of prayer and a lot of strength.

During this time my son would sit in his room and think about what he had done and what was coming his way. He and I had a deal. If he messed up, he would get spanked. Once I had cooled off and could think with a clear head, I would go to my son’s room where I would find him waiting for me. I would sit down on his bed next to him and we would talk about what he had done, why it was wrong and what he should do the next time. After our talk, I would hold him, hug him, pray with him and for him, then bend him over my knee and give him his swat. He was usually crying hard long before getting the swat. I would hug him again, tell him I love him, and leave his room. When he finished crying he was allowed to come out.

That’s usually how it went, but not always. Sometimes I messed up and had to ask his forgiveness.

My son is now 19 and lives with me. He hugs me every day, kisses me on the cheek and says “I love you Dad”. Every day. He works hard and everyone who knows him thinks he is terrific. He just got promoted at work and is doing rather well. He recently told me, “Dad? Remember how you always tried to teach me to do the right thing even when you don’t want to? Well, dang it, I keep catching myself doing that and sometimes it really bugs me!” From his tone of voice, he was complaining!

Then he paused and calmly said, “Thanks, Dad”.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Did I mention that he likes to go to church with us each week?
Yeah, I think we’ll keep him.

Blessings.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Alpha Dude Returns...

Hey Dudes and Dudettes!

Alpha Dude is back! I started my new job last week and then we went to a family reunion over the weekend, so I haven't been around much lately. Tonight starts off the new fall season for the Alpha Course at our church, so Alpha Dude will be hangin' with the Alpha Sprouts every Monday night for the next 12 weeks.

Whoo Hoo! What fun. Those little dudes are the coolest and we're gonna have a mondo fun time!

I don't have much time, so I'd like to share a little something I found in my e-mail today. The author is anonymous, and I don't know who it is either. Enjoy.

IMO, liberalism has murdered the American spirit.

President Bush did make a bad mistake in the war on terrorism. But the mistake was not his decision to go to war in Iraq .

Bush's mistake came in his belief that this country is the same one his father fought for in WWII. It is not.

Back then, they had just come out of a vicious depression. The country was steeled by the hardship of that depression, but they still believed fervently in this country. They knew that the people had elected their leaders, so it was the people's duty to back those leaders.

Therefore, when the war broke out the people came together, rallied behind, and stuck with their leaders, whether they had voted for them or not or whether the war was going badly or not.

And war was just as distasteful and the anguish just as great then as it is today. Often there were more casualties in one day in WWII than we have had in the entire Iraq war. But that did not matter. The people stuck with the President because it was their patriotic duty. Americans put aside their differences in WWII and worked together to win that war.

Everyone from every strata of society, from young to old pitched in. Small children pulled little wagons around to gather scrap metal for the war effort. Grade school students saved their pennies to buy stamps for war bonds to help the effort.

Men who were too old or medically 4F lied about their age or condition trying their best to join the military. Women doubled their work to keep things going at home. Harsh rationing of everything from gasoline to soap, to butter was imposed, yet there was very little complaining.

You never heard prominent people on the radio belittling the President. Interestingly enough in those days there were no fat cat actors and entertainers who ran off to visit and fawn over dictators of hostile countries and complain to them about our President. Instead, they made upbeat films and entertained our troops to help the troops' morale. And a bunch even enlisted.

And imagine this: Teachers in schools actually started the day off with a Pledge of Allegiance, and with prayers for our country and our troops!

Back then, no newspaper would have dared point out certain weak spots in our cities where bombs could be set off to cause the maximum damage. No newspaper would have dared complain about what we were doing to catch spies.

A newspaper would have been laughed out of existence if it had complained that German or Japanese soldiers were being "tortured" by being forced to wear women's underwear, or subjected to interrogation by a woman, or being scared by a dog or did not have air conditioning.

There were a lot of things different back then. We were not subjected to a constant bombardment of pornography, perversion and promiscuity in movies or on radio. We did not have legions of crackheads, dope pushers and armed gangs roaming our streets.

No, President Bush did not make a mistake in his handling of terrorism. He made the mistake of believing that we still had the courage and fortitude of our fathers. He believed that this was still the country that our fathers fought so dearly to preserve.

It is not the same country. It is now a cross between Sodom and Gomorra and the land of Oz. We did unite for a short while after 9/11, but our attitude changed when we found out that defending our country would require some sacrifices. We are in great danger. The terrorists are fanatic Muslims. They believe that it is okay, even their duty, to kill anyone who will not convert to Islam. It has been estimated that about one third or over three hundred million Muslims are sympathetic to the terrorists cause...Hitler and Tojo combined did not have nearly that many potential recruits.

So...we either win it - or lose it - and you ain't gonna like losing.

America is not at war. The military is at war.

America is at the mall.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Here I am Lord, Send Me....

Evangelism means to show the example of Jesus’ love to everyone we meet.

Do you plant seeds?
Or do you till the soil?
Do you water those plants and tend to them and take care of the soil?
Or are you one of those people who reap the harvest?

Each one of these types of people are involved in leading someone into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Everyone plays a specific role, whether we realize it or not. The “not realizing it” part can be rather damaging if we are not focused on living for Christ. No matter who you are or where you go, whether you are a Christian or not, your life, your actions will have some sort of an impact on someone’s life.

And you may not even impact that person directly. I went on a Men’s Retreat Weekend over two years ago. I had just moved here and I didn’t yet know hardly anyone. While on this retreat, I received some letters, notes and words of encouragement from people I had never met. The names on those things meant nothing to me. I didn’t know them.

One of the things I received was a small card, about the size of a business card, that said,


“God knows your purpose. Do you?”

“For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord….
“plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11


The card had the names of the couple who sent it to me on the back.

I found that card a couple of days ago while cleaning out an old drawer full of stuff. (Yes ladies, sometimes we do clean out “that drawer”). I remembered receiving it a couple of years ago and noticed the names on the back. These two people are now in my Life Group and have become very dear friends. The sermon this weekend was also about knowing God’s purpose for your life.

Wow.

So you just never know how what seemingly little things you do may affect someone else. Even years down the road. They had a planted a seed long before we all became friends. And it is still growing.

Most of my life, I have been a seed planter. Sometimes God uses me to water the seeds and sometimes to tend the soil, but I am normally not the one who reaps the harvest.

What I mean by that “farming” reference is that I usually find myself in a servant role. Helping others, talking to them or counseling them or just an act of anonymous servant-hood. That last one I like the best. I like doing things for people without them knowing it was me who did it. But once in a while, I like the idea of reaping the harvest. Closing the deal. Being the one who helps someone pray the sinner’s prayer and lead them to Christ.

I have been a Christian for 32 years and I have only led three people to Christ. Two of them are my children. God blessed me with the joy of being there when they each made that decision and said, “Daddy, will you pray with me so I can know Jesus and someday live with Him in Heaven?”

And that got me to thinking about Charles. In May of 1994, me, my brother, my step-dad and my two cousins all went to the Promise Keepers event at the Anaheim Stadium in Southern California. Five grown men in our mid to early thirties (except dad who is just an old fart). It was a great weekend and the stadium had mostly survived the 1994 L.A. earthquake (in January). One of the talks we heard was about how we can miss the blessing of sharing Christ with someone because we are either too afraid or maybe we simply weren’t paying attention. It made me sick to think of all the opportunities I was aware of that I had let slip by because I was too afraid to speak up. Fear of rejection, not knowing what to say, and a number of other poor excuses came to mind. I made the decision to be bold in my faith and never let another opportunity pass me by. If I miss the blessing, God may simply give it to someone else. During the weekend, I had asked God for the opportunity to lead someone to Jesus.

The last night of the weekend, as things were winding down, we had positioned ourselves on the front row of our section right next to the exit. The closing speaker had asked each of us to turn to someone next to us and share with them how this weekend has affected our lives and what we plan to do to keep this fire burning within us. We had already hopped over the railing and were standing near the exit tunnel. It was already kind of dark.

We turned around and there, standing right in front of my brother, staring him straight in the face, was a black man about our age. It seemed as though he had appeared out of nowhere. The man said, “My name is Charles Street. I have been working the concession stand just inside this entrance. I have been listening to you guys praising and worshipping God for the last three days, and I want what you have.”

I was so excited I almost wet myself. I had asked God for an opportunity and here He was testing me to find out if I meant it.

My older brother’s eyes were huge and he had that “deer in the headlights” look. I introduced myself to Charles and shook his hand. We exchanged information and got his phone number since he said he needed to get back to work. My brother and I looked at each other in disbelief at what had just happened. When we turned back to Charles, he was gone. As quickly as he had appeared, he had vanished. By this time the event was over and we were leaving. We looked around for Charles but we couldn’t find him anywhere.

My older brother Steve, and I worked on the LA subway tunnels project together and after work the next day, went home and called the number Charles gave us. We made arrangements to meet Charles at a “Big Boy” restaurant in Glendale the next night after work.

It was nice to see Charles in person again and confirm that he is indeed a real life person and we had not just imagined meeting him at Promise Keepers.

Charles and Steve hit it off right away and started talking about cars and engines and other cool stuff I never cared too much about. All the while I kept thinking “Hey! This isn’t what we are here for! We’re here to lead Charles to Christ. We shouldn’t be wasting our time with all this other nonsense!”

I was getting annoyed at my brother for wasting our time and I got annoyed at myself for allowing him to ruin MY opportunity to show God that I could do this!

It was all about me. It was supposed to be all about God.

While those two motor-heads were still talking, I closed my eyes and asked God for guidance. I asked Him to have the Holy Spirit take over because I did not know what to do. And He did.

Once those two stopped talking long enough to take a breath, I looked at Charles and I asked him, “Charles, do you want to know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?”

Charles looked at me and his expression changed to a more solemn look and his eyes began to well up and he said, “Yes. Yes I do. Please tell me how.”

We talked some more and then we prayed together and that night, in a Big Boy restaurant in Glendale, Charles Street gave his life over to Jesus.

A couple of weeks later I returned to Texas to finish school and I have since lost touch with Charles. I used his real name here in the chance that someone reading this might know who he is and could tell me how he is doing. I think of him often, pray for him and wonder how he is doing.

I’m still planting seeds. I still water them and tend the soil. I keep doing what God has for me to do and if He ever sees fit for me to pray that prayer with someone and lead them to Christ, I am ready, willing and able. Either way, I am happy to be at whatever point on someone’s journey on their way to knowing Jesus, as God desires for me to be.

And if no one remembers me, that’s okay, as long as they do remember the One who sent me.

So, how is God using you?

Planting, watering, tilling, cultivating, harvesting?

Your life is a reflection of your relationship to Jesus.


Imagine who's life you might touch today.

That reminds me, I need to go love on my family now.

Blessings.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Job Hunting Update

It was just about one month ago that this happened. I’ve spent the last four weeks looking like crazy for a job. There are plenty of jobs out there for me and I had some really good interviews. But for some reason, those particular employment opportunities never materialized into anything.

Then I got the job interview with the state agency.

Things went rather well and an offer from them seemed highly likely, but the paperwork had to go through the system and that takes time.

I kept up my search to make sure I have all my bases covered and not put all my eggs in one basket. (Feel free to insert your favorite cliché here.)

I landed an interview with a top firm in Indianapolis and that interview also went well. It started with two of the engineering managers. At the start of that interview, the fellow that I would actually be working for informed me that they had scheduled an hour with me but that he had a project to complete and would need to leave after thirty minutes. When his time was up, he said he knew he needed to go, but wanted to stay longer and learn more about me. Afterwards, I spent another half hour with the company vice president. That went okay but not nearly as good as the first hour. They said I would hear from them next week sometime.

I could see myself working there, but it didn’t feel as good as the other one I was hoping for. I’ve spent a lot of time on my knees talking things over with God about my job situation. I finally agreed that I would go wherever He wants me to go and do whatever He calls me to do. I also added that, “Lord, you also know my heart. But I will leave it all in Your Hands.”

The day after that interview I got a phone call from the state agency. I spoke with the guy I had interviewed with previously. He informed me that all the paperwork had been processed and had gone through all the channels.

The result?

One week from today at 8:30 AM, I will officially be working here

as the new Pavement Maintenance Engineer in the Pavement Preservation Department.

Finding out about the job, landing the interview and making it through the process in the comparatively short time it took is most certainly a God thing.

So this week I will be finishing up some projects around the house and play some golf.

My boxes are by the door and ready to go, with my umbrella resting on top.

Thank you all so much for your prayers.

God is good.



Blessings.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

…and the Earth…Shook!

I’ve noticed some writings lately about dreams, and trains, and dreams involving trains, and I was reminded of a dream I had a very long time ago.

Have you ever had a dream when you were a kid and you can still remember it to this day? Yeah, me too. I have a couple of those. But I’m only going to tell you about one of them. (This time).

I had this particular dream when I was 9 years old.

I can still remember seeing everyone in the car that day. Me, my brother, sister, my two cousins and our moms. My mom, little sister and my aunt were in the front seat, while us four boys were in the back seat of our old Nash Rambler. There were no seat belt laws back then so people usually piled as many people into a car as they could.

Not really paying much attention to where we were or what was going on, we boys were busy goofing around in the back seat. We only looked up when we noticed the car had stopped and my mother was frantically trying to start the car. The old Nash had stalled and simply would not start. We didn’t think much of it since this sort of thing happened a lot with this old car.

Then we noticed why mom was so panicked. We were stopped on the tracks and we could hear a train whistle blowing in the distance. Then we saw it. A big, black locomotive heading straight for us and it showed no signs of slowing down.

We tried to get out but the doors were locked and we couldn’t get them open. There was screaming and yelling and frantic jiggling of the door handles, but no one could get them open. And the train was getting closer.

More screaming, more yelling, more pounding on the doors, but still no luck. I was in the middle of the back seat and all I could do was watch.
Watch as that big, black train drew closer every second. There was nothing I could do but look out the window and watch as the train just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger until finally…..

It hit.

Everything went black and I felt violent shaking and banging and bumping and a constant loud rumbling noise that seemed as though it just wouldn’t stop. It sounded a lot like a train.

When I opened my eyes, I noticed I was still in my bed in my room in our home in Saugus, California (just a few miles north of the San Fernando Valley, north of L.A.). My bed was shaking like crazy. At first I thought it was my step-dad hiding near the foot of my bed, shaking it trying to scare me (it was like him to play jokes like that), but then I watched as the antique style lamp on my bed-side table danced across the surface and shattered on the floor of my room. This was no joke.

As the house continued to shake, my step-dad ran up and down the hallway yelling for everyone to stay where they were. Finally, the shaking stopped. The shaking probably only lasted a minute, but it seemed like much longer.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was shortly after 6:01 AM, on February 9, 1971, and I had just experienced my first earthquake.

There were things all over the floor. Items that had been hanging on the walls or sitting on the dressers were a mess or were scattered about the room. My older brother had his own room and slept in a double bed. Luckily, he had rolled over in his sleep just before the quake hit and just barely missed being crushed by a large, heavy bookshelf my step-dad had made out of thick, heavy wood. The entire house was a mess, but it was still standing, and in relatively good shape.

I had to wait until my mom came and picked up enough of the glass off my floor before I could even get out of my bed (it was THAT bad).

A lot of us kids in the neighborhood spent the rest of the day riding our bikes around the area checking the damage to people’s homes. Ours wasn’t too bad. The only real damage was to our block wall around the back yard where the top row of blocks fell off. Some homes had broken windows and some fireplaces had fallen. Our fireplace was still intact.

There were some after-shocks during the day and we found out that if you run (or ride your bike) in a straight line down the middle of the street, you can’t feel the quake.

It was kind of cool. I suppose we wouldn’t have thought so if we had been closer to the fault line.

So that’s my dream involving a train. Not too long after that, we moved to Colorado to a small town in the Rockies. (Not because of the quake, though. Dad got transferred).

I didn’t learn until many years later that our house in California was in Seismic Zone 4 (the worst one). The place we moved to next was in Seismic Zone ZERO.

We had some harsh winters in Colorado, and a lot of snow, but the ground never moved.
Not once.

God is good.

(I’ll never understand why our house in Southern California had a fireplace, but our house in Colorado didn’t).

Blessings.