Tuesday, February 27, 2007

If Nothing Changes - Nothing Changes !!

There are portions of my life that I just do not remember. Perhaps by choice. A friend prodded me into writing a book about my life in an effort to remember certain things which may help to explain why I respond to particular things the way that I do. I have done my best to not sugar-coat anything and to record events as they actually happened, not as I wished they had or the way I would otherwise like to remember them. So far, the title of the book is called "Nice Guys Finish Last - and that's okay". I'll let you know if it ever gets finished.
The following is an excerpt from that book......

High School (in a small town in the mountains of Colorado)
For most people, high school is referred to as the best time in their lives. It wasn’t that great of a time for me, but I did my best to make the most of it. As I mentioned earlier, I was a rather small person. Much smaller than other kids my age, so I was still the target of bullies and insensitive bone-heads.
I remember one particular bully who fancied himself to be a cowboy, even though he wasn’t. He just liked to look the part and act tough. I hadn’t paid any attention to him until he started messing with me on a regular basis. I was getting frustrated with being pushed around by guys like him so I asked my Dad what to do. He told me to stand up for myself, and just not to take it anymore. He warned me that I could get beaten up, but at least the bully will learn that I am no longer an easy mark. One day, I was presented the opportunity to test my Dad’s advice. After gym class, as I was preparing to leave the locker room, this “cowboy” walked in (for the next class), sat on a bench in front of the lockers and ordered me to take his boots off his feet. I told him “No” and that he’d have to do it himself. When he stood up to come after me, I hit him as hard as I could, right in the face (my hand hurt like crazy). “Cowboy” fell backwards over the bench, hit his head on the lockers and slid down between the lockers and the bench. Boy was he ever mad! I just walked out of the locker room while he continued to holler and scream. I didn’t mind though, I was going to my next class and he was stuck! He never bothered me much after that. He made some threats later that day and I told him to bring it on, and although he’d probably beat me up, he’d know for sure he’d been in a fight before he was finished. We pretty much avoided each other after that, and quite frankly, that was also the last time any bully messed with me at all. Gee, who would have thought that a little self-confidence could do so much?

During the summer before the start of my senior year of high school, Dad got transferred and we moved to Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. I had to finish high school in a totally new place. I didn’t know anybody! Then the thought occurred to me that no one there knew me, either! I could be anyone I wanted. So, I decided, after much thought, to just be me. But not the wimp that was bullied, but the new me with an air of self-confidence that didn’t cater to bullies. I was also very quiet and somewhat shy at the time (my wife says I must have really outgrown that one!) After a few months a fellow told me that I had a reputation in that school for being a tough guy. When I asked him how that could be, since I hadn’t done anything, he said it was because I was quiet and kept to myself. Gee, that would have gotten me beaten up back in Colorado! The only difference here, according to that fellow, is that I now appeared to have confidence in myself. I was no longer afraid or timid. I joined the wrestling team and made varsity. I was a part of a team. It really is something when your friends are the strongest, toughest, most athletic and highly respected guys in the school. I was changing and my self-esteem was growing.

After wrestling season, a friend introduced me to the world of martial arts. Another highly respected group in our school! I did really well, advanced quickly and became part of another awesome group of guys. I was still small, but I was no longer wimpy, timid or afraid. I started working with weights, and continued to exercise and advance in the martial arts, competing in karate tournaments around the D.C. area. I wasn’t arrogant or cocky, but now I was more sure of myself and no one messed with me anymore. I was growing, both inside and out. I even found time to be on the school bowling team. We even won the state championship that year.

I wasn’t a really good student. I graduated with my class, and it took a lot of hard work (when I actually decided to DO the work). Out of a class of about 500 students, I graduated at around 498. Not the smartest kid in school, but I wasn’t stupid either. I just wasn’t motivated and I didn’t care about grades or think about the future or what I wanted to do with my life. I was only concerned with the now, and I wasn’t too sure that mattered much either. This lack of thinking and planning was foolish thinking and I paid for it dearly later on.
I was never popular in school and I didn’t have any popular friends. I knew some of them through classes we shared, but I had no desire to be one of the popular kids, or to try to hang out with them. My Dad had taught me to just be me and to think for myself. So I decided early on that if being popular meant that I had to smoke and drink and do stupid things (sex and drugs), then I didn’t care to be associated with them.

I guess high school wasn’t really all that bad. I did survive, after all, and I learned a lot from my experiences. I learned that life is basically what you make of it. You can be a “victim” and complain how unfair life is and how poorly you were treated, or you can take control of yourself and do something about it.

  • - Are you feeling left out? Then get involved.
  • - Do you disagree with how things are done? Then join the group or club and work with the team for a positive change.
  • - Are you not being encouraged? Then encourage someone else. Things like that have a tendency to come back around.
  • - Do you know someone who is down and not getting a fair chance? Then reach out your hand and help them up.
  • - Do you wish you had more friends? Then be a friend to more people. (This doesn’t mean spending your money or driving them around or doing special favors or compromising your moral standards, you cannot buy real friends).
Think back on your own high school days. I’ll bet you learned more than you thought you did. I’ve met too many people who believed they just “had” to do drugs, or get drunk, or have sex, just because they wanted someone else’s friendship so badly, or to just fit into the group. To each person who’ve told me such things, I’ve asked only one question: Where are these “friends” now? Each time the answer is the same. They’re either still doing those same things (meaning they never grew), or they’re just plain “gone”. All that’s left from those relationships are painful memories, and feelings of shame, even as far as 30 years later.
If this is you, don’t give up and don’t be too hard on yourself. There is a hope. Would you like to put it all behind you and forget all about it? Would you like to be forgiven for all of the stupid things you’ve done in your life? (Trust me, I’ve done plenty!) Then give it all to God. Why not? You’ve tried just about everything else. All you need to do is ask. It’s that simple.
Here’s the point I would like for everyone to understand: Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son, came to earth a long time ago, and sacrificed His own life, just so that YOU can know forgiveness for your sins and spend eternity in paradise with Him. Why did He do it? Quite simply because He loves you. Really! He does! No one made Him do it and He was under no obligation to do anything, He chose to do it! For YOU! Pretty cool, huh? Would you like for God to forgive you? Do want to know how to forgive yourself? It’s really easy, just turn your life over to Jesus. He can do a much better job of running your life than you or I can.
Jesus was falsely accused, beaten, betrayed, abused, tortured and murdered on a cross. Makes all those times of being bullied seem like nothing, doesn’t it? Well, compared to what Christ went through, it is.
If you’d like to know more about how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, just ask someone who knows Him. You’ll be glad you did.
You can ask me if you'd like. I'd be happy to talk to you about it, or just listen if that's all you need. In case you're wondering why I would post something like this - just scroll back up to the top and read my profile.
Blessings to you.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Twins - Times TWO!

Check my friends, Brad and Jen, who had four little boys - on my birthday!
These folks are really good people. Stop by, leave them a word of encouragement, keep them in your prayers.

I still think it's kind of neat that those four little guys have the same birthday as me.

God Bless.

Friday, February 23, 2007

They Call me....Alpha Dude!

Hey dudes! How are you all doin'? My name is ALPHA DUDE! But you can call me…uh…….ALPHA DUDE!

In case anyone was wondering (or if you weren’t) I thought I’d explain why I often go by the name Alpha Dude. Mostly because I Googled up the name Alpha Dude and I didn’t want anyone to think I was one of those macho, grunting, snorting, full-of-himself alpha-male boneheads. Or a computer geek.

I attend Northview Christian Life Church in Carmel, Indiana. One of the major programs we have there to reach people and help them understand more about God, Jesus, the Bible and stuff like that, is the Alpha Course. The kid’s version is called Alpha Sprouts.

I work with some other awesome, cool adult type dudes and dudettes in the ALPHA SPROUTS program. The ALPHA SPROUTS are what we call the kids of those adults that are attending the Alpha Course. Alpha Sprouts is not babysitting. We present to the children the same lesson that their parents are learning, we just bring it down to the children’s level so they can understand. As someone once said, “We put the cookies on the lower shelf so the Sprouts can reach them”.

The best part about being Alpha Dude is the people. It is a fun job that doesn’t involve any heavy lifting and I get to have a lot of fun. But it is mostly about people, both children and adults alike.


ALPHA DUDE is...well, he's a "dude". He has a laid-back, West-Coast surfer-boy dialect and personality. He dresses in jeans, a "Surfer Dude" T-shirt covered by an un-buttoned Hawaiian-style shirt, and sometimes a trendy hat. With each entrance, ALPHA DUDE brings along some kind of prop as both a conversation piece and a demonstrative object.

Each ALPHA DUDE interactive skit follows the same basic format. ALPHA DUDE enters, with prop. He involves the audience. He covers the same material the adults will hear, in an abbreviated and age-appropriate fashion. Finally, he summarizes and leads a closing prayer before exiting.

Above all, ALPHA DUDE loves Jesus! He is smart, yet silly. Funny, yet faithful. And, he will leave all the ALPHA SPROUTS with a simple and clear understanding of what it means to be a young faithful Christian and encourages them to share the love of Jesus with everyone they know.

The Sprouts learn about Jesus, the Bible, how to beat the bad little red dude, and how to pray. Also, Alpha Dude really loves those Sprouts. They are so smart and they learn quickly.

Being Alpha Dude, I get to have fun, act silly and tell jokes. I will tell jokes to anyone who will listen. I like to make people laugh, or at least smile. I don’t care if people are laughing with me or at me. As long as they are laughing, that means they are experiencing at least the slightest bit of joy, even if only for a moment. I know it isn’t my job to make people happy, but I try to at least make them feel good while I have the chance. I also get to use words like Dude, Gnarly, Righteous, Bogus and Awesome!

I have served in this capacity since Fall 2005, and each time has been a real blessing. (They keep asking me back to do it again!) I was a bit nervous at first, not too sure about what to expect. My buddy Ernest had been the first Alpha Dude and the kids all loved him. I wasn’t sure how the kids would respond to a new Alpha Dude, even though Ernest had only served as Alpha Dude for one Alpha course, but God reminded us all that He is indeed in control of everything and the entire program proceeded just as He planned. Go figure, huh? (They say that Ernest was Alpha Dude 1.0, but I’m not tall enough to be called Alpha Dude 2.0, so they refer to me as Alpha Dude 1.5. Can’t you just feel the love?).

Even though each course is exactly the same (same materials, same basic script/outline), the people involved and the children reached are different.

Alpha Dude enters the room with the same lesson plan, and the same props (and that same old shirt!), each and every course. However, not once has it ever become monotonous, mundane or "old hat". The reason for this is that each child is different and unique in their own special way. I am so very grateful for the lessons God allows me to learn with each group of Alpha Sprouts that passes through the course.

As I was thinking back on the fun we have during each course (the Adults as well as the kids), I am reminded of an old story. I'm sure you have heard it before:
A youth pastor once addressed a children's Sunday School class, and tried to share a story with them.
He asked the children to tell him what kind of animal he was talking about. "It is a furry little creature that lives in trees, is light brown and has a long bushy tail."
Silence. No one dared to answer or make eye contact with the pastor.
He continued, "This critter gathers nuts for the winter and climbs trees."
Still no answer.
Finally, the pastor called on one particular little boy who had made the mistake of making eye contact with the pastor. "Do you know what little forest creature I'm talking about?"
Sheepishly and nervously, the little boy answered, "Well, I know the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me!"

The Alpha Sprouts that I get to interact with are incredibly smart. And they catch on real quick. However, some of them seem to be a couple of steps ahead of me in the lesson. I like to ask the Sprouts a lot of questions to keep them involved and also to get an idea as to what they may be thinking about or getting from each week's lesson. One little girl in particular, when a question is asked, raises her hand as high as she can (straight up towards heaven), with a huge smile and a joy and excitement in her eyes, her answer is always the same - "God and Jesus!" And you know something? She's right! That's what each week's lesson is really all about, isn't it?

Okay, so I may be over-simplifying things a little bit, but we are here to learn (teach) about God and His love for us and His plan for our lives, and what amazing things He has done for us so we can know Him. No matter what the question may be - Jesus really is the answer. Every time.

The kids have all been terrific. There is something to be learned from each one of them. There was young fellow, in particular, who, at the beginning of one course, sat with his arms crossed, his head down, a scowl on his face, and his voice angrily responded with “No. I am not happy to be here. I am not having a good time.” Etc…. Let’s face it. This kid was NOT in a good mood! I felt something pushing me to involve him so I included this Sprout in the lesson and by the second meeting, he was happy, joyful and quite pleasant. I had dinner the following Monday night with this boy’s Dad. (That’s a God thing! Especially since I didn’t know who his Dad was!) His Dad asked how he was doing, so I told him that his son is a joy to have in the group. And he is! It is also worth noting that soon after the end of that course, I had the privilege of cheering this boy on as he got baptized during a Wednesday Night Baptism Service. God is so Awesome!

There’s a little girl, who just turned 3, who has a smile as big as Texas. Always smiling, always happy, always joyful to learn more about Jesus. Her mother recently shared with me how this little girl said “grace” for the first time soon after the lesson on prayer. This mom described how her daughter did it and what she said and it was exactly as we did it in Sprouts! How cool is that?! This little jewel always gives Alpha Dude a big hug every week.

These are just few stories from the life of Alpha Dude from the last few Alpha Courses. My only hope is that those little Sprouts have learned to love Jesus more than anything.

Jesus told us to love those children because the Kingdom of Heaven is made up of such as them. He told us to have a child-like faith and to love others unconditionally, just as children do and just as Jesus does. I love spending time with the Alpha Sprouts. I learn so much from them, and they have helped strengthen my own walk with Christ.

Wow. That’s how I want to be. A child unto the King. I am nothing more than an older Alpha Sprout. (I was going to say a big Alpha Sprout, but that term just won’t fly around here!)

We can learn a lot from those kids. Love Jesus. Read your Bible. Share Christ with everyone you meet. And Pray. Remember: those kids are watching us – let’s do it right.

Those kids are really totally smart. There is much to be learned from them. Thanks to God for allowing me that "awesome" blessing.

Blessings to you.
Yours in Christ (because Jesus is the answer),

Scott Trammell (Alpha Dude)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

About Forgiveness.....

Rockville, Maryland is a little town just outside Washington, D.C.
I had taken a semester off from school to go to work in an effort to try to determine what I wanted to do with my life. I worked for a small electronics company in Rockville.
On December 9, 1982, around 6:50 in the morning, I had just pulled into the parking lot across the street from where I worked. While driving across the lot, about half way across (the lot was empty that morning), my passenger side window exploded and I found myself slammed hard against the driver’s side door. It took a moment to realize….I’d just been shot. In the face.

I’ll spare you the story as to how I managed to stop the car, get a ride to the hospital, and eventually make it home. It was quite a day for a 20 year old fellow to experience. I often thought that something like this would never happen to someone like me, but it did.
I was soaked to the skin in my own blood and my jaw was broken. The officer interviewing me in the hospital said three other people were shot at around that same time in the same area, I was the only one who got hit. Lucky me.
The doctor wired my jaw shut for two months and put me on, naturally, a liquid diet. Through it all, I never once found myself angry with whoever did this to me. I only wanted them found so I could ask them why they did it. The person(s) responsible were never found. Nevertheless, I forgave them, and tried my best to put that day behind me. I forgave them. I didn’t even know who it was I forgave, but the Bible said to do that, so I did.
Even though I spent the six to eight years in a fog, I never once felt any anger towards whoever did that to me. (I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t remember things, old friends now seemed like strangers to me. Part of my life was missing).

Fast forward to the year 2003 (21 years later). Fourth of July weekend. Family fun, food and fireworks. My parents lived two hours south of us in the L.A. area (Simi Valley, CA). My sister and her children live there too. Now, my sister was never the type of person you’d want looking after your children. She was somewhat irresponsible and is known to make poor decisions. So when I was asked if my son could go home with them for a few days (summer time, no school), I said no. It has never been a secret how I felt about my sister. I loved her dearly but I did not trust her with the care and well being of my children. My parents offered, since they lived nearby, to allow my son to stay with them and he could then spend time with his cousins at my parent’s house. I agreed.

The next day, we received a phone call from the hospital in Simi Valley. My son had been in an accident. We later found out that he was riding his skateboard, being towed behind his aunt’s car down the street in her neighborhood. His aunt, my sister, (remember the poor decision maker?) turned a corner too fast and launched him towards the edge of the road. He wiped out big time. He had road rash all over one side of his body, and the side of his face. He looked like he had just been though a meat grinder. He was torn up pretty badly. Add a loosened tooth and a concussion, and this 15 year old kid wasn’t feeling very well. His only regret about the entire incident was that no one video taped it. I should have learned from him, but I didn’t.

My sister later called to apologize for what she had done, and I told her not to worry about it, and I hung up. Actually, on the inside, I was steaming. Anger was burning like an inferno inside me. On the outside I acted as though it was no big deal. Stuff happens, right? My son is alive and he’ll heal and he should be just fine. But no, on the inside I was furious. They lied to me. They deceived me, and my son, my one and only son, paid the price and got hurt. How could I forgive that? I didn’t speak to my sister for a long time after that. In my mind I was screaming, “YOU HURT MY SON!” “MY SON SUFFERED BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU DID!” YOUR POOR DECISIONS CAUSED MY SON PAIN AND SUFFERING!” “YOU…HURT…MY…SON!!”

I know what you are thinking, and you are right. But we’ll come back to that later.

Several months later, my son Josh was all healed up. His concussion was healed, all the road rash scars had healed and he felt great. He made a full recovery. And he still loves skateboarding.

One Sunday afternoon, after our monthly horse show, Josh and I were driving home from the arena, through a busy area of town. We were in the ¾ ton pick-up truck and hauling both horses in the large three horse gooseneck trailer. It was just about sunset. As we approached that particular intersection, the sun moved just right so we were both blinded by the sun. I couldn’t see that I was about to run a red light. We T-Boned a mini-van in the intersection. Totaled both vehicles. Josh cried out to God. By the grace of God, no one was hurt. I found out that the woman in the mini-van was a Christian, she was on her way to church. Once we knew everyone was okay, we all prayed together on that street corner.

As you may have guessed, it was my fault. I ran the red light and I caused that collision. I hurt someone, destroyed her vehicle and inconvenienced her life. I felt terrible. I couldn’t get over the fact that I was the one responsible for the entire incident. Don’t forget, my son was with me that day. That was important that he be there. I didn’t know that at the time. I found that out later on.

For weeks I anguished over what I had done. I was literally sick to my stomach. I constantly felt nauseous. It took all the strength I had just to get through the day.

One morning, while in the kitchen preparing to go to work, I cried out to God “How long to I have to feel this way?” I heard a voice, very loud, and very clear, in my head. It said, “Until you learn”.
“Until I learn what?”

Just then, it hit me. All the anger and negative feelings I had towards my sister came flooding back to my mind. I had never felt more ashamed of anything in my life before, or since that moment. I immediately fell to my knees, almost smashing my forehead against the kitchen counter, and I begged the Lord to forgive me. But God wasn’t finished with me. The next thing the Holy Spirit prompted was “Call her”. Ouch. I called my sister and confessed everything, and begged her to forgive me. She did. She didn’t know I had felt that way all that time. The burden of that sIn was immediately lifted from me, and I felt much better. I felt like I could fly. I also realized why it was so important that Josh had been with me that day. I couldn’t live with myself at thought of him being hurt or injured because of something I had done.

The Bible tells us to forgive. It doesn’t place any conditions on forgiveness, it just says to do it.
How can we expect God to forgive us, if we don’t forgive each other?

Do you have someone you need to forgive?
Is there someone who you would like to have forgive you?

Don’t forget God’s telephone number…Jer. 33:3, “Call unto me and I will answer thee, and show you great many things that thou knowest not”.

Make the call.

I am so glad that our Heavenly Father doesn’t react to situations the way I did. Can you imagine if He held it against us for what was done to His Son? Can your hear God saying “YOU HURT MY SON! HE DID NOTHING WRONG, AND YOU HURT HIM, AND YOU KILLED HIM!” YOU HURT MY SON!!” Yet instead, Jesus himself beseeched His Father, and asked Him to forgive us, because we didn’t understand what we were doing. How awesome is that!?!
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

Oh, how thankful I am that we serve a gracious and merciful and forgiving God. His Son was hurt and punished and put to death for your sins and for mine. But He did it because He loves us.

We are human. We sin. That’s life. Every time we sin, we hurt His Son. Call on God. Seek His forgiveness. Everything that could be done to secure for you a place in Heaven, has been done, through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Make the call.

I once heard a fellow say that even if you were the only person on earth, Jesus would have still died for you. Upon hearing this, the man’s wife said, “Yes, but then I would have to have been the one to kill Him”.

Something to think about.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Lesson from Jonah.....

I’m Angry
Scott Trammell
September 15, 2005

I’m angry. I am so angry that it burns deep within me, and wells up inside me like an inferno.
The fact that some people can be so dishonest and mean and hateful towards someone else, and then be rewarded for it, just burns me up. This sort of thing had always bothered me, but I hadn’t given it much thought until I found myself on the receiving end of all of that hatred and dishonesty.

Why do some people feel the need to behave this way? I just do not understand it.

I’ve learned recently about something called Borderline Personality Disorder. This is a mental condition, and so far has no known cure and any successful treatment has yet to be discovered. What happens is that this individual will appear normal and nice. This person may be quite pleasant to be around and may develop solid friendships. However, when any one of these relationships turn sour, meaning: if you disagree with this person, or try to correct them in any way, they turn against you. This otherwise nice, sweet person becomes mean, calculating and callous. These people have been known to go out of their way to hurt someone drastically, just because they no longer unconditionally go along with everything the BPD person says or does.

I always thought that true friendships, the ones that last, are filled with give and take, an exchange of ideas and thoughts and beliefs. We don’t always have to agree in order to remain friends. Think about it: if we always agree about everything and never challenge each other, the friendship will not grow. It will remain stagnant and may eventually fade. We need relationships in our lives that encourage us to grow and progress into the people God intends for us to be. This means that change in our lives is good. Of course, this change should translate in to growth.
A wise man once said “If nothing changes, then nothing changes”. Change is good. We need it in order to grow. People with BPD, however, have trouble accepting this.

I have learned a lot about BPD, and I am still learning more as time goes on. People with BPD will not recognize themselves as having this condition. They have also been known to fabricate elaborate stories to make themselves appear the victim while intentionally damaging someone else. The cost in people’s lives in behaving this way can be great, but that thought never enters their mind. They’re only concerned with winning, or “getting even”. Getting even for what? There was no wrong-doing done to the person with BPD, but they stopped getting their way, so they feel the need to “get” that other person. I still don’t understand that. Quite possibly, I never will.

I stated in the beginning that I am angry. Actually, I had been deeply hurt by a person with BPD. So “hurt” is what I am really feeling. But let’s call it what it is. I’m angry, I’m mad, I am bitter and confused. I’ve been hurt and it made me mad, so I’m angry. There it is.

What did this person do to hurt me so badly? Well, I had intended to write quite a dissertation describing the details of a particular BPD person, and how they went out of their way to destroy my life. But then a very good friend sent me the following daily devotional. God used this to change my heart, and to calm my spirit.

I hope this blesses you as much as it did me…..

How do we react when God shows mercy to people we think deserve punishment? If we are resentful, it may indicate that we have forgotten how much the Lord has forgiven us.

After Jonah followed God's second call to preach His coming judgment on Nineveh (Jonah 3:1-4), the people of the city turned from their evil lifestyle, so the Lord did not destroy them (v.10). God's mercy made Jonah angry. He told God he had been afraid this would happen, and that's why he fled to Tarshish in the first place. "I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, . . . One who relents from doing harm" (4:2).

But the Lord said to Jonah, "Should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons?" (4:11).

God's marvelous grace is greater than all our sin. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). Because of His grace to us, we should "be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave [us]" (4:32).

Instead of being angry when God is merciful, we should applaud. —David McCasland

What love the Father has bestowed on me!
For this I cannot help but thankful be;
I read His Word, His promises embrace,
And daily praise Him for His matchless grace. —Hess

We can stop showing mercy to others when Christ stops showing mercy to us.

So…..just call me …. Jonah.

Friday, February 09, 2007

What a Day!

What a Day!
Scott Trammell
March 29, 2006

This happened to me on Monday, March 26, 2006, in a little dusty town in California.
The story is true and people’s names have been left out because I think it’s the right thing to do.

I had spent considerable time preparing for a court case where false accusations were presented against me. I had proof that each claim was/is false. I sat in that court-room and watched the judge rule in favor of the opposition and would not even allow me the opportunity to defend myself. The judge wouldn't even look at my documentation. I left that courtroom a very angry man. Angry at the judge, my ex, and angry at God. Suffice it to say - I was fuming. We had waited all day to be called. No food or water - all day. I was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted!

King Solomon really knew what he was talking about -

14And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!15So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them. (Ecclesiastes 8:14-15)

I had other related matters to attend to before the end of the day so I hurried off to the building a few blocks away. When finished, I asked them where the next office was located I need to go to and it was in the court building I had just spent the entire day! Great.

I had spent that entire day waiting for our case to be called. During the day, I got to know some people a little bit, another “ex” couple, who were going through similar issues.
As I got back to the courthouse (where I had started from), I was heading across the parking lot towards the building, still angry and asking God why He had abandoned me today. At just that moment - God showed up.

The fellow I had met during the day was storming out of the courthouse. Apparently, things hadn't gone well for him either. I heard him as he passed by me as he raved at how the judge had gone against him, and I sympathized with him, as I could surely relate to his circumstances. The same thing had happened to me just a short time earlier.

Then, shaking his head and with tears in his eyes he angrily mumbled that he just couldn’t handle it anymore and was going to kill himself. I recalled what his ex-wife had mentioned earlier in that he keeps a handgun in his truck.

I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at me. I looked up at God and thought "Oh great! You mean now? They're about to close the office inside!" The Spirit said "GO!" - So I went. I turned around and hurried after him.

Long story short - I walked with him back to his truck, was able to talk him down, prayed with him and he didn't kill himself. I don't remember all that was said since the Holy Spirit was using me at the time and the words that came out of me didn't belong to me. I guess I should have been paying attention. We exchanged contact information and he got in his truck and drove away.

Afterwards, I went inside and had plenty of time left to take care of business - only this time, with a clean heart and calmness and peace. No anger. God blessed that too, and the staff was very helpful.

As I came back out of the building, I met the man’s ex-wife. She was waiting for me in order to tell me thank you for talking to her ex and for praying with him. She said I saved his life. I told her that no, God saved him, He just let me help. A few weeks later the man called me to thank me for taking the time to pray with him that day and what a difference that had made in his life. He said things had gotten better for him and he is now getting back to church and praising God.

God is good. And He is always there - even if we can't feel Him or see Him. He hadn’t abandoned me that day, I had just taken my eyes off of Him. God's blessings keep pouring in amidst the trials and tribulations.

Blessings to you.

“And we know that all things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose”. (Romans 8:28)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Listen to Me.....

When I ask you to listen to me, and you start to give advice, you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

Listen. All I ask is that you listen, not talk or do – just hear me. Advice is cheap; 50 cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper. I can do for myself; I’m not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and weakness. But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling.
And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what’s behind them. Perhaps that’s why prayer works for some people because God is mute and He doesn’t give advice or try to fix things. God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.

So, please – Listen and just hear me. And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn; and I will listen to you.


“A naturally therapeutic person is one who, by a natural response to those in pain, empowers them to realize that their own healing potential lies within them, and never in the one who is helping or giving advice.”
Jaquelyn Small, 1993