Peace That Passes Our Understanding

Today we visited Cornersville First Baptist to worship. I enjoy going there because they are full of Baptist tradition and it reminds me of when I first accepted Jesus into my life. It was at a Baptist church. However, I claim no denomination because there are some doctrinal issues I have with all the churches I have attended. So I guess you’d consider me non-denom but I believe that is becoming a denomination within itself.

The pastor, who is a very good friend of mine, spoke about peace today. He challenged the church to keep in mind Jesus did not come into this world to give us peace as the world knows peace which is without war and strife. Rather he came to give us another type of peace. An eternal peace.

John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

As I sat and reflected on the peace given by Jesus, I felt the Holy Spirit remind me that Jesus is eternal and what he brings is also eternal. Therefore, the peace he gives us is an eternal peace.

Philippians 4:7 says,  “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

By reading Philippians we see that the peace given to us passes understanding. In other words, when we feel the warmth of God’s peace come over us, it can leave us in awe because against all feelings we feel a something we shouldn’t. His peace stands in the face of conflict.

We can not understand eternity and the peace that Jesus gives us is eternal just as he is. Therefore, his gifts to us are difficult to wrap our minds around because even he is difficult to understand sometimes since we are finite and he is infinite. The peace he gives us is not understandable because eternity is not understandable.

So all we can do is trust that he is who he says he is and he will do what he said he will do and give us eternal blessings that last longer than worldly offerings.

 

2016 Book List

I have been blogging for near ten years now and this is probably the most sporadic I have ever been. I have a lot going on but still enjoy getting a chance to write a little something. I mostly write in my journal now which I have been keeping for 28 years. That’s a lot of journals, I know.

A few years ago, I was challenged to up my reading game. I did by reading twenty books that year. The next I read over thirty and the next year I read near fifty books. That is a lot of reading. I have dialed it back a little so I am in the thirty books range again. After finishing my Associates in Divinity, I am now working towards my Bachelors in Christian Leadership. Reading has slow to a grinding halt through the semester because the workload is heavy.

Anyway, here are the books I read in 2016.

2016 Book List

  1. A Tale of Three Kings – Gene Edwards
  2. Bear Bloopers – Carolyn Jourdan
  3. Sinners Creed – Scott Stapp
  4. Gandhi: A Life Inspired – Lynn M. Hamilton
  5. Searching For Sunday – Rachel Held Evans

  6. Lucky Man – Michael J. Fox
  7. Moneyball – Michael Lewis
  8. Courting Cate – Leslie Gould
  9. Halfway Home: The Story of a Father and Son Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail – D.L. and Q.T Reavis
  10. Bringing Up Boys – James Dobson

  11. Seeker’s Guide to the Spiritual Wilderness – Craig and Suzy Miles
  12. My Life With Deth – David Ellefson
  13. Man of Constant Sorrow – Dr. Ralph Stanley
  14. The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis
  15. The Life You’ve Always Wanted – John Ortberg

  16. Satisfy Your Soul – Mark Demarest
  17. The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers: Spiritual Insights from the World’s Most Beloved Neighbor -Amy Hollingsworth
  18. Legging It: Life Lessons Learned Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail – Craig Clapper AKA Hoosier
  19. The Causes of the Civil War – Kenneth Stampp
  20. Lost On a Mountain In Maine – Donn Fendler

  21. Devotional Classics: Selected Readings For Individual & Groups – Richard Foster & James Bryan Smith
  22. Diary of a Player – Brad Paisley
  23. Organic Leadership – Neil Cole
  24. The Garth Factor – Patsi Bale Cox
  25. Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name – Mo’ne Davis

  26. Likeable Social Media – Dave Kerpen
  27. Foundations of Marketing – Author unknown
  28. Tiger Den Leader Handbook – Cubscouts
  29. Cubscouts Leaders Handbook – Cubscouts
  30. Baloo Training Handbook – Cubscouts

  31. Spiritual Leadership – J. Oswald Sanders
  32. Transforming Leadership – Leighton Ford
  33. Gods for the Summer – E. J. Larson
  34. Cubmastering: Getting Started as Cubmaster- Liz Long
  35. More Than A Hobby – David Green

  36. For The Love of Cub Scouts – David Levesque
  37. Twas The Night Before Christmas

 

 

 

The Real Peace Rock

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A new chapter turned in my life. We signed my son up for the cub scouts. I volunteered to be the cub master and a den leader. The cub scouts were started in the 1930’s and were inspired by The Jungle Book. I went to Wal-Mart and bought the movie to watch with my family so we could get a better understanding of the concept of being in a pack or a den, having an Akela and BALOO training. It’s really cool stuff.

In the movie, there is a place that is called Peace Rock where all the animals of the jungle call a truce due to the drought and are able to go to Peace Rock and drink the water without fear of being attacked by prey. Peace Rock is the only place to find water in the whole jungle due to the drought and some animals would die of dehydration or die of attack if there were no truce.

Ironically (or is it) there is a real Peace Rock. His name is Jesus. When we are spiritually dry, everyone can go to the rock and drink from the water of life and find peace where there is no condemnation.

No matter where you are in life. No matter who you are in life. No matter what you are in life. There is a Peace Rock. He is the rock of our salvation. He is the peace that passes all understanding.

Droughts will come in our life. You may feel like giving up. You may feel like death is better than life. You may feel like you are gripped by unrest. You may feel there is nowhere to hide, nowhere to run, nowhere to find shelter. However Jesus is the answer to all our doubts.

He is our Peace Rock.

Scripture references

John 4:14 – “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1 – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”

Psalm 18:2 – “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Giving My All

I know it sounds crazy but I tend to be one of the few that give 1,000% when I do something. Recently, I’ve thrown myself into a few things and I am sitting here in McDonald’s (mooching internet) and thinking; Am I exhausted? Am I Tired? Why do I give so much? Why do I care so much? Why doesn’t everyone else give as much? Do I need to continue? Is it really worth it? Do people see it or care? We can all be vulnerable at asking questions like that and sometimes it is healthy as long as we don’t allow a critical spirit to control us.

I started a church, Village Church. I am working on my Bachelor’s in Christian Leadership. I do sports commentary for the local high school (Cornersville, Tn) on the radio along with ALL the show prep. I am now a den leader in the Cub Scouts. On top of that I am a worshiper of God, a husband and a father. That’s a lot to balance in a day, week, or even a year. Oh, and I’m sucking air. That means I have a life to live with all the freedoms and baggage.

I’m not saying this to complain. Not at all. But sometimes, I do sit here and wonder is it really worth it. Does everyone else give so much? Y’know, 1,000% or maybe even 150%? I don’t know because I don’t know enough of what goes on in the lives of those around me to make a judgement call such as that.

What I do know is this. After I sat here with my head in my hands just praying for all the things going on and all the lives impacted and all the lives around me that are experiencing pain, this one thing comes to mind.

Is it worth it? YES!

Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I bet you caught it didn’t you. We are not told to do things for ourselves nor are we to do things for others. We are to do everything for God. That means everything I do should be in worship to Him; Worship meaning my response to who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do in my life. So my life is a response.

I have to remember that. Everything I do is responding in worship to Him. So therefore Whatever it is, I’m doing it for His glory and giving thanks while doing it. When I’m scouting with First Graders, do it for the God’s glory. When I’m on the radio with Cornersville athletes, do it for the God’s glory. When I’m teaching at the High School, do it for the God’s glory.When I’m being a husband or father, do it for the God’s glory. WHATEVER it is, do it for the God’s glory.

This keeps me motivated because I know my ultimate reward is Him and being in His presence in His kingdom one day. Since He served us through death, we serve one another in life.

Can doing be draining? Sure. Is it tiring? Absolutely. Does it make you want to quit sometimes? You bet it does. But then I have to continue to turn to God’s word and hear Him say, “Don’t grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” (Galatians 6:9).

I have hope in the only one that gives eternal hope! I need Him to help me continue to give my all, knowing that in due time, we all who did not grow weary shall reap a harvest worth giving Him praise for.

What keeps you motivated when you want to quit?

When Life Gets Numb

We are all in different walks of life and at different levels of maturity. Where one person may be learning a lesson in business, another may have already learned it and has moved on. Where one person is learning a lesson in friendship, another has learned and moved on. We can all take a moment to lend a helping hand where others need it rather than point a finger at the immaturity or failings.

In this thing called life, we all have the potential to lose focus or desire. We want to give up when we feel like life is becoming overwhelming. I recently had a talk with a young woman whose life is bearing down so hard, she has become numb to her situation. She has lost all care and it really doesn’t matter what happens because of the numbness she feels.

Numbness

Have you ever sat on your leg or laid on your arm too long? You know that numb feeling you get when you do that? That’s about the way she feels. Numb to life. She feels nothing. She has no response to her surroundings. You could emotionally hurt her, physically beat her, spiritually defeat her, verbally damage her and she wouldn’t feel it because she has grown numb to life; even to the point of asking if life has a point.

Pins and Needles

The loss of value in life is a dangerous place to be. In order to find that value, it does not get much easier. You know that pins and needles feeling you get when the feeling starts to come back after the initial numbness? I hate that part. But it’s necessary. In order to get some sort of sensation back into your arm or leg or whatever numbness you are experiencing, you have to go through the pins and needles. It is not fun. It will make you question if it is really worth it. The numbness felt better. But we must persevere.

Getting Feeling Back

This is where this verse is valuable.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Psalm 51:12

David, someone who we would consider a powerhouse in the faith, had those moments too. He wrote this psalm after being called out by Nathan for committing adultery with Bathsheba. He needed a restoration because life was becoming to hard for him. Shame, guilt, frustration, hollowness, and numbness were setting in. He was becoming overwhelmed. Thankfully, he recognized it before it was too late and turned to the only one who could help.

As we all should, he turned to God to render him worthy to breathe the next breath again. He wanted to feel useful. He wanted redemption. He wanted to experience the joy found in God again. He wanted to experience being in unstrained relationship with God. So he asked God to restore that joy knowing full well that pins and needles would be next. Maybe if he saw Bathsheba, he’d have to look away or worse, apologize. Maybe he had to face those he had hurt.

Wounds do not heal quickly. It takes time. That is why David asks God to sustain him with a willing spirit. He knew that his spirit was easily distracted with worldly things. Only God can sustain our spirit. When the pins and needles come it will be tempting to numb it up again. But we have to persevere to get back to the point we can feel again.

Where do you turn when life gets numb? What about when the pins and needles start to take shape?

A New Chapter in College Life

GCD graduation

Three years ago, I never thought I would be writing this post. I ever thought I would be a college graduate. I never thought I would ever achieve higher education. I never thought I would have a degree. I never… Well you get the point. I simply never thought I could be where I am today. Yet here I stand with an Associate degree. I am pretty proud of that. Not the unbiblical kind of proud (not that there is a biblical kind of proud I guess). I just simply mean I am excited to be where I am in life.

Graduate

Nearly four years ago, I was given a great opportunity by being ordained as a pastor at GraceLife Church. I stood before the congregation and Pastor Carlo gave me a challenge and then gave me a huge responsibility and privilege to lead GraceLife as an associate pastor. The church prayed over me and set me forth in my new adventure. One of the responsibilities was ongoing education. He wanted me to continue my learning in the faith and recommended I return to school.

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Me and Pastor (Professor) Carlo and Levi

I could have taken a free bible course but Carlo was working as an adjunct professor at Grace College of Divinity (GCD) in North Carolina so I took a leap of faith and applied for FAFSA and began my student orientation. I was accepted and there I was, a college student.

I worked hard. I studied hard. I applied myself to the point of negating my family causing a lot of strain on my marriage. We worked together to get through the trials but it was a tough road. I learned so much about the bible, church, college life, myself, my marriage and my family and even though there were some major bumps in the road I wouldn’t trade it in because the growth we sustained from it is immeasurable.

GCD Graduation - me and Steve Crowther

Dr. Steven Crowther. President of Grace College of Divinity.

When it was time to graduate, I cried. Hard! I tried to hold back the tears standing there listening to my professors as they challenged us, encouraged us and prayed over us. I tried to hold back the tears as I stood there and heard my name called and those first few steps seemed surreal as I walked to accept my diploma. I shook the hands of each of my professors thanking them for their dedication to see me through it. They will never know (maybe they will because they have been there themselves) the respect and gratitude I have for them as we worked through ever paper and every exam.

Professor Tom Johnson, Dean of Distance Education

Professor Tom Johnson, Dean of Distance Education

There are so many people who stands behind my degree and without them, I would not be who I am today. Because of them and their belief in me, I walked across the stage as Summa Cum Laude (Highest Honors). I will forever be grateful!

With that being said, here we go again. Today, I begin my Bachelors in Christian Leadership. As I examine the courses I will have to hurdle I do believe this is going to be much harder. I am up for the challenge and a challenge it will be. I look forward to the day that I can look back and see what I have gone through as I again walk the stage to receive that piece of paper (that nothing is written on).

Associate degree

So let’s do this.

_______

Images of the blood, sweat and tears.

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Praying with the Echo App

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Have you ever needed an app to pray? Yeah, me neither. However, recently I was made aware of a prayer app called Echo. At first I downloaded it to just check it out. After “checking it out” I decided I could really utilize this app. Its simple interface makes it user-friendly and its notifications ability makes praying on a schedule manageable in our busy lives.

Believe it or not (and you should) most of us do not pray throughout the day because either we do not know how or we do not know what to pray for with the exception of the desperate prayer of “God help me.” Most times, in an attempt to be spiritual we ask God to bless us, keep us, or be with us and never get to the heart of God through directness or specificity.

Prayer is relational. When we boldly and confidently go before the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16), we have the fortune of going before a God who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). Why would we not want to dial in our prayers to be more precise petitions instead of just asking God to be mindful of us. Jesus did not ask God for help when he knelt in the garden the night before his crucifixion. He precisely asked God to take the cup from him. When Elijah faced the 450 prophets of Baal, he did not ask God to be with him. He built an alter of sacrifice, cut up a bull and placed it on the alter and precisely asked God to let it be known today who is the real God. So when we pray, it should be more than a mere acknowledgement God’s existence and your desire for his participation.

This is where the Echo app comes in. We meander through our day and hardly say a word to God unless we need him. We can turn this attitude around and give God a little more effort by redeeming the technology in our lives. I’m not saying we have to spend a large amount of time for every prayer need on our list but we can spend a little more time praying than we do.

ECHO

The echo app, as I stated earlier, has a very simple interface. You can either use it to pray or use it to schedule prayers. There’s really nothing more to it. When you open the app it gives you the option to “Pray Now” or “Add A Prayer”. I hardly use the pray now option because I mostly let the app notify me when it is time to pray for someone. So really the only time I even open the app is when I need to add a prayer need.

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You can open the app and swipe up from the bottom of the screen and it will give you four options that are quite self-explanatory.

  • Your Prayers
  • Reminders
  • Answered
  • Settings

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The one thing I will highlight in the settings is the Prayer Timer. You can set a timer so if you have a set time of day to pray through your prayer needs you can set the amount of time to pray for each need. It will then notify you when each prayer time is up and what to pray for next.

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The Reminder Type really is the heart of the app. Here you set when and how to be notified each time you need to pray for something or someone. I set mine to push-notify me on my phone. You can also set it to email you or both.

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Lastly is the section of answered prayers. I like this section simply because it acts as an Old Testament alter to remind us what God has done. Here you can check off you answered prayers and keep them to look back and see how God has moved, answered, and been a part of our relationship with him. I like to journal for the same reasons so I also keep a journal (or try to) each and every day so that I can look back where I was and where God has me now.

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I highly recommend this simple app to keep you on track praying throughout your day. It does not take much. When you receive a notification, keep working or doing whatever it is you are doing but silently pray for those needs. If you have the opportunity to stop what your doing, then that is even better. Stop for a moment and pray. This app will propel your prayer life. The best thing is it is FREE. So get to it!