Friday, August 18, 2017

Ghosts

“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.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/jhn.14.27.niv


I had a great evening last night going for a walk. I got a couple miles in while listening to some Mercy Me. On their new album they have a song called Ghost. It's a good one. These verses made me think of it.


I have to admit I never liked calling the Holy Spirit , the Holy Ghost. I think it has to do with the connotation of a Ghost. You know the graveyard, spooky type of Ghost. I never was afraid of ghosts, but I'm not sure I could walk through a graveyard at night without freaking out! But MY Ghost is so different than that. My Ghost fills me with peace when I need it the most. My Ghost is active in protecting me, guiding me, and being my constant companion. That is WAY different than the "Casper" type Ghost.

God does not do things like the world does, like Satan does. God brings a peace which is not connected with external things. He is not a Ghost we see. He is a Ghost we feel inside our being. He gives peace from the inside. He fills me with his spirit and my own spirit can rest. Thank you Lord for loving me, giving me peace and rest from a dark and sinful world.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

24 hr Challenge - Thankful ALL DAY

“They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening”
‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭23:30‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/1ch.23.30.niv


I was challenged in my new devotional to be Thankful for the entire day today. No complaining, just thanksgiving. I'm going to give it a try. I was challenged to be outrageously thankful. Oh boy, I'm not sure about that one. No! It's not thanksgiving day. Hopefully, we have a couple more months of riding weather before we celebrate that day! And these verses don't designate a single day to giving thanks. We should give thanks daily, every day. But, ONE DAY IS A START. Praise God! For those that have noticed my grumpiness, this is NOT a cure. My attitude toward some of my enemies probably won't change. But, I will be THANKFUL God is protecting me from them. I might still harbor some bad feelings, but I PRAISE GOD he has brought me through the attacks and praise him I can overcome the challenges.


So here's my plan. I will be thankful and not complain to anyone and every time I hear a negative thought resound in my head, I will substitute a word of praise for my loving Heavenly Father. One day? Really if I can't do this one day, I'm worse off than I thought.

Dear Lord, you are amazing. I feel your presence every day. I am humbled by your love for me with all my flaws, sins, and stubbornness. Forgive me for not praising your name more and more. The energy I have to walk through a valley of evil every single day, only comes through you. I promise Lord to honor you throughout my day. My love is yours. Amen!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Battle Rages On

“for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/1co.2.16.ni

This was a great two week devotional by Joyce Meyer, "the Battlefield of the Mind." I really love the theme. I think all of us struggle with our thoughts. I am no different. Lately, I have struggled more than ever before with my own thoughts. Even  when I feel broken, I need to continue to focus on the Lord.

I'll be honest. I have been battling with some depression. This fight has been off and on for a few months. I have rarely felt closer to the Lord through this entire process. I believe the changes happening in my life are from him. So, I'm not fighting them. I feel his presence when my patience wears thin. With his power I've been able to control the urge to lash out. I feel his presence when I have felt rage welling up inside me, it passes quickly and then I am filled with peace. I feel the Lord is preparing me for greater things to come. He is making me a better person. I'm excited about that. But I still feel a great loss in my life like I've lost a dear friend. When you lose someone, or in this case something, it takes a while to heal.  I can wait. The Lord knows what he's doing. He loves me. His shield of protection is over me. I feel his love and his presence. Praise God he loves EVEN a sinner like me.

The battlefield in my mind is raging, but I feel the army of the Lord is on the front lines just for me. Victory is imminent!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Love with NO Boundaries!

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬. http://bible.com/111/1co.13.6-7.niv

There is so much evil in this world. The recent events in Charlottesville is a perfect example. Evil thrives on lies. It is the fuel that sustains hate in this terribly lost world. The lies blind us. How you can logically hate someone because of the color of their skin is WAY beyond me. It is utterly ridiculous. Satan wants to tie that kind of hate to Jesus and his followers. We need to stand up and fight this with our lives. Christians can not sit in silence, our passiveness can not be construed as endorsement. We must protect the innocent, the persecuted, and the lost. We must provide truth and hope for a world that is close to giving up.

We can't condemn hate from one group and not all! Jesus wants us, more than ever in these historical times, to love our neighbor. We love with absolutely no boundaries. If you can't do that, don't follow Jesus! It's that simple!

Monday, August 14, 2017

A moment in time.

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.””
‭‭James‬ ‭4:14-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/jas.4.14-15.

It was foggy yesterday morning. As a teacher, I have a completely different view of fog than the normal person. Fog in the morning usually means a delay for school and an extra two hours of sleep. I love sleep! When I got up to go to church, the fog was gone. Fog never lasts very long.

Stephanie and I are nearing retirement. We have plans. We will be downsizing. We will be stripping away the stuff we own and moving to a smaller place. We would love to continue traveling but our main goal is to simplify our lives and continue to serve the Lord. I think this is the will of God. We will find out.  We have placed our faith in the Lord. If he has different plans, we're ok with it. Our life on this earth is fleeting, here today and gone tomorrow. We welcome his plan. It's perfect. It always has been. It always will be. Praise God or his love.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

People sent by God

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/1pe.5.8-9.

I was reminded this morning in my devotion that sometimes we put too much emphasis on the battle or the enemy in our life. We make Satan bigger than he is. I also noticed something these verses do not say. The verse says he is looking for someone to devour. It does NOT say he finds anyone. Be strong. We are not going to lose.   God wins! It's not even a fight. The faithful are protected. Praise God! There really isn't even a battle. God wins! We are saved!

It has been several months that I have felt under attack. I really feel the battle. Satan is trying to destroy my faith. Yet, here I am praising God. While I feel under attack and in many ways battling the world, I can feel his presence and his wonderful protection. Much of the challenges I have been facing are dealing with people. Its not been friends, it's not been family, it's been from people that, frankly, could care less about me. Those people just don't matter. Through it all I have received overwhelming support from those that really care. God has placed those people in my life to show HIS POWER AND GRACE. While I am still dealing with my feelings towards the attackers, my day is hopeful because of former students,  close, dear colleagues, family, and friends. God is amazing. Just at the right time, he knows what I need. Praise God!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Withdrawal

“But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭1:2-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬ http://bible.com/116/psa.1.2-3.

When things aren't going well, my "go to" is withdrawal. When  I feel anger towards someone, silence is my response. I have always used these coping mechanisms to solve my problems. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, not so much. When I withdrawal, it gives me time to think, it suppresses my urge to lash out, and most importantly it gives me time with the Lord.

The more stress in my life, the more turmoil packed into my day, the more I desire to bury myself in the word of the Lord. I take so much comfort in studying, reading, and  internalizing the Word of God. I treasure our time, quiet, time together. I praise God for his word. I praise God he allows me to come to him through the storms of life. I praise him for loving me enough, not just to walk by my side, but to carry me when I can't take a step forward on my own.


Dear Lord, I love you. I praise you. I thank you for the word you have given us to get us through our lives. I promise to share that word with others. I will serve YOU alone through my thoughts, my words, and my deeds. I need you Lord. I can not do this life without you. Thank you for always being there. AMEN!


Thursday, August 10, 2017

No reason for Hope

“Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!””
‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/rom.4.18.

There have been many times in my life that I could not see a reason for hope. It seems like the whole world is gainst me, nothing seems to be going as planned, and I just want to crawl into a cave and hide. It is at those times, my faith grows the most. I have not lost my faith in the sovereignty of the Lord. He is all powerful. He does not waver from  his perfect plan. I turned my life to him and I have never seen a reason to take it back. If God says it, count on it. God has told me he is always with me and he will watch over me and protect me. Praise God!

Dear Lord, I have been facing some challenges lately. I have never lost hope in you. Even as I struggle with my thoughts and feelings, I can rest in knowing you are guiding my decisions and the path before me is yours. I praise you for your perfect love. I praise you for all the joy I see in my life. Everything I have and everything I am is because of you. You are my Lord. Amen!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Challenges of a Changing Life

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/pro.3.5-6.nlt

These couple of verses have been on my heart a lot lately. I don't always understand life. If I really think about it, I rarely understand life. Life changes for seemingly "random" reasons. It changes unexpectedly. I am so thankful I have my faith. Even now through the storms in my mind, I find myself leaning on the Lord. My world is changing right now and I'm becoming more at peace with the direction it is heading. God is at work. In my 57 years of life I have so many experiences where God showed up in big ways. I hear his voice. I think it is clear he is asking me to take more Leadership in some areas and taking a back seat in areas where I have led in the past. It is not in my nature to give up a fight and I have struggled with suppressing those thoughts. I believe God is helping me and he is directing my path. I will learn from the trials and challenges. I will be better because of them. God knows what he is doing.

I love the Lord and his ACTIVE role in my life. I praise him because of his love. I praise him because I feel his presence and I praise him for his perfect plan he is laying out for me.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Healing through Serving

“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/1pe.5.10.nlt

I had a great but tiring weekend serving the members of ABATE Region Zero. It was great to spend time with our dear friends, Marlene & Phil Bontrager, while serving others. I have mentioned since May that I feel Stephanie and I have been under attack by Satan. I can still feel it. The suffering we have been going through is easily defeated when we get the chance to serve the Lord. There is healing through serving. When we went to this event this weekend, we were serving others FOR the Lord. Although I am physically tired, I am also greatly strengthened because I see the Lord is with us. I want SO MUCH to just crawl into a hole and quietly live out my days. I know that is not what I am called to do. I will serve the Lord even through the storms of life.

I pray the Lord continues to make his presence known in our lives. I pray he helps us get through these stressful times. I pray for rest and restoration. I pray for strength and that we will remain on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. I love you Lord. I love you and honor the grace, mercy, and love you provide in my life every single day. Amen!



Friday, August 4, 2017

Choose Wisely

““Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/deu.30.19.nlt

Our lives are full of choices. I choose God. 

We are in control of our own lives. WE are in control of how we treat others. WE are in control of our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. It is so easy to blame others. We can blame our parents, our financial situation, or our employment. When it comes down to it, we need to look in the mirror for our life's circumstances. OUR CHOICES determine the quality of our lives. 

Choosing God overcomes all. This choice doesn't make my life perfect. This choice gives me the power and strength to overcome my life's circumstances and have a wonderful outlook through eternity. Rejecting God leads to a life without the power and strength of the creator of the universe and ultimately leads to death, FINAL death. 

I praise God he gives us control of our own lives. I am honored to be one of his servants. THAT is the best choice I have ever made.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tired: Giving up!

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/gal.6.9.nlt

I'm tired and I'm giving up.

Not really!

But, I sure feel like it sometimes.

I'm tired and when I'm tired I really feel like giving up. I'm physically tired and mentally weary of life. It's not that I want to do evil. I just get tired of the battle. The battle is fought everyday between good and evil. Christians all over the world are misunderstood, misrepresented, persecuted, humiliated, and attacked. Those attacks come in a variety of forms from a variety of people. Friends, family, coworkers, all are capable of some pretty vicious attacks. The armor protects us but it gets pretty "dinged up" in the heat of battle. We all get tired in the midst of the battle. That's the place I'm in right now.

But, just at the right time, an unexpected blessing will appear. Just when I want to give up, God shows up. My 57 years of life have taught me to never give up, God will show up in powerful ways. Sometimes I don't understand why he waits. Sometimes it feels like and eternity until he shows his face. But, I trust him just the same. So right now in the midst of my inner turmoil, I wait on the Lord. I will continue to do good and wait for his response. I will continue to fight for the lost, the forgotten, and those that can not fight for themselves. Come Lord Jesus, fill my heart. Show your face.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I'm not like you!

“Don’t eat with people who are stingy; don’t desire their delicacies. They are always thinking about how much it costs. “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭23:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/pro.23.6-7.nlt

Yesterday morning I had breakfast with a very caring group of people. Quite innocently, a biker friend organized a support ride for a young boy who was being bullied. He posted on Facebook that any bikers could meet him for breakfast and then we would ride Phil to his first day of school. He wanted to show support for this young man. Little did he know that God would touch nearly 50 bikers to come and escort him to school. It was a great morning

Bikers and bullied students have a lot in common. Both are greatly misunderstood. The stereotype of a biker has a heartless, gruff, alcohol, or drug crazed member of society is just not accurate. Bikers are outcasts much like those bullied in school. I can sure relate to these two geoups of people. Our society likes to label people and we like to do it with one look or a brief encounter. We label people based on reality tv or fictional characters. Rarely do we ever care to take time to get to know someone. 

I know the biker community. What we did yesterday is the norm,  not the exception. The biker community might interfere with you while we block roads on a ride most weekends.  But, we are nearly always riding to support a cause. This year I have been on rides to support suicide awareness, homes for vets, Breast cancer, horses for troubled teens, downed bikers, domestic violence, and many other worthwhile causes. These people give up their resources and their time to serve others. 

My advice, DONT JUDGE. GET TO KNOW THOSE THAT ARE REJECTED BY SOCIETY. COME TO THEIR DEFENSE. SUPPORT THEM. SHOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST TO EVERYONE, NOT JUST THOSE THAT ARE LIKE YOU!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Freedom today!

“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.””
‭‭John‬ ‭8:31-32‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.31-32.nlt

I can't thank the Lord enough for my great summer. The challenges were secondary to the great joy and blessings I received through my time away from the "Rat Race".  That is real freedom. 

My problem with this verse is the first sentence. I can't say I am always FAITHFUL to the teachings of Jesus. It's not that I don't try. It's not that I intentionally disregard those teachings. I am just not as strong in my faith as I should be. I am not perfect and my failings bother me. It's worse when those failings get in the way of my ministry or building relationships with people. But, THAT is where the second verse is so important. I know of my weakness. I see my shortcomings every day. But my imperfections don't rule my life. 

I know of something called GRACE. 

I know the TRUTH. The TRUTH is GOD does not expect perfection in us. He accepts us just as we are. The WORLD doesn't accept our failings. The world criticizes my weaknesses, my flaws and my shortcomings. They take joy in bringing me down and seeing me fail. It doesn't bother the world when they steal my joy. GOD doesn't see me as imperfect. He only sees me through the GRACE and LOVE that fill his eyes.  He restores my JOY. My sins and my failures are blinded by his love. PRAISE GOD! That TRUTH helps me to enjoy REAL FREEDOM! I am set free through the LORD!

The truth has set me free. The truth of God's perfect love, even through the trials of my life, the criticisms of this world,  has set me free to just be me. I can not praise him enough. I'm still working toward being a better person. I want to be the best disciple I can be, but I experience FREEDOM TODAY because of the LOVE OF JESUS!

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Battle Inside!

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:12 NLT
http://bible.com/116/eph.6.12.nlt

Pardon me while I open up a little bit. I don't post this for pity or for your particular help. I just need to share:

Mentally, I have not been in a good place lately. I have had a great summer, although it's been short! (As it always is) I enjoyed a wonderful vacation with my wife traveling the west. Yep, it did not end as we had hoped. Stephanie broke her wrist. We had some mechanical issues with blown GREAT Northwest. On my 2500 mile return, by myself, I had a lot of time to think. Sometimes that's not a great thing. As I neared Indiana and the upcoming school year a cloud of dread settled over me. I don't like it, but I can't seem to shake it.

I have lost confidence in myself as an educator. I love working with kids. I love the relationships. I love the value of helping them through their struggles, not just with math, but with life. In my 22 years as an educator, I have always struggled with the politics, the adults.  Sometimes those struggles have been with fellow educators, sometimes with parents, or community members, or politicians. I have RARELY had serious conflict with students. It seems like we can always solve those issues. But, my "dominant" personality is not conducive to great relationships with people. So Leadership in education has always been a struggle. In my view, I feel I am greatly misunderstood and NOW I just don't have energy to try to change the perceptions and views of the adults in my life. I just want to avoid the conflicts and the people that are involved.

Thus, my attitude right now is to just avoid contact with the people in my life that have a tendency to steal my joy, drain my energy, and don't really care to KNOW me or care about me. As a Christian, that attitude is not great. I need the Lord to work on my heart. He truly is fighting a battle for me. He is fighting an internal battle that I can never hope to win on my own. I trust the Lord. Even through dark times, I love and honor and praise his patience with me. His grace is perfect and I am humbled that he loves me. Praise God I can face the challenges of the day because of that grace and perfect love! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Facelift

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬. http://bible.com/111/pro.15.13.

Sometimes I just don't feel like smiling. Now is that time. I need help. Ever since May, my spirit has been crushed. Yep, I have put on a happy face but it's not deep. I need a facelift.

A new school year is coming quickly and my typical joy, anticipation of a new school year is nowhere to be found. My normal excitement is non-existence. I need your prayers. My spirit needs help.....


Friday, June 30, 2017

Let's see how inventive we can be.....

Hebrews 10:23-25The Message (MSG)

22-25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Stephanie and I are on the road. Our Annual GetAway Vacation, our rest and recovery trip is in full swing. We are about 400 miles from our first destination - The Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington. We have put over 2000 miles behind us and I am finally starting to relax. Yesterdays drive through Montana was amazing. 

These past several weeks, the last week of school and the week before vacation, have been quite successful. I wish the people in my life that have caused so much stress could read these verses. "Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, spurring each other on..."

People all over this country and around the world are so wrapped up in getting the final word in, taking a stand, and voicing their opinions. Sure there is a place to do that. Our question should be at what cost?  At what cost do we stir up dissent?  At what cost do we point to another's faults (Remember to remove your plank!)?  At what cost do we sow the seeds of hate all under the guise of unity! Our world needs to be filled with people that just ask the simple question, "How can I help make your life better?" or "What can I do to encourage you with YOUR GOALS (not mine)?  How can we drop our pretense of caring when it is truly centered around our own selfish agenda or the power we crave?

Dear Lord, I pray for my enemy. I pray for those that have felt it necessary to persecute me? I need to change my own attitude toward them and ask How I can serve them? I need your help doing that. Lord I need to encourage others, lend a helping hand. I can't do that with my present attitude. Lord, Change ME from the inside out. Help me draw your love into my heart. I praise you and love you! Amen!

Monday, June 26, 2017

I will never understand

Colossians 3:17The Message (MSG)

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

I will never understand. It frustrates me. Don't get me wrong. I truly love the Lord with every fiber of my being. I am humbled that he loves me and know I am only who I am by his grace and mercy. BUT, I still don't get it.

Why does calamity have to happen in my life? Why do obstacles need to be placed in my path?  Why am I opposed like I am some villain? Why do trials occur with seemingly no purpose?  My life has been stressful over the past month. I have written about it continuously. If I understood, would it make a difference in my attitude? I like to think so. But, God has chosen NOT to reveal his plan to me. I DO know why?  He wants me to trust him. I say I do trust him. Do my actions back up my words?  I have to say, truthfully, NO!  

Dear Lord, Forgive me for my weak faith. Forgive me for doubting you are in control even through the fiercest storm. I am exposed. My tenuous faith is out there. Forgive me Lord. I love you. I trust you. Your plan is perfect and I will praise you through every step of my day. I love you. Every detail of my life -- my words, my actions, and every waking moment are yours. I praise you in this present storm because I know the peace that passes all understanding is a gift you want me to accept. Amen!

Friday, June 23, 2017

I'm tired, worn out!

Matthew 11:28-30The Message (MSG)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

This past month has been a whirlwind. I have been beaten-up at work. I have been beaten up outside of work. I have been struggling. In my Chuck Swindoll daily devotional today he shared these verses. He mentioned about a system of measuring stress. In this method a person can not handle more than 200 points of stress. I think I am at 250. BUT, HELP IS ON THE WAY!

Today is the last day of Summer School. Tomorrow we leave on a month adventure out west. We are traveling to Medora, ND to see our grandson Klayton perform in the Medora Musical. Then we head to Beartooth Pass, MT; Olympia National Park, Mount Ranier, Mount St. Helens in Washington, Crater Lake, Oregon; and Redwood National Park in Northern California. We are more than ready to head out to enjoy campfires, epic motorcycle rides, time together, and time reconnecting with the creator of the universe. 

This trip is pure selfishness. But I think God understands. Yes, it is about me and my wife. If I am to be effective in ministry, at school, and at home, I need time away. I do not apologize, I rejoice. I am blessed that God has given me this opportunity. I know so many people do not even have the option of getting away. 

We all need time away. I am getting away with Jesus. 

Dear Lord, I love you and am humbled that you have given me the resources to get away, to relax, to enjoy your presence without all the distractions that life can send. I pray for rest and peace. I pray for a new spirit to fill me. I pray for time to reflect on my life and the goals set before me. Thank you Lord! 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

DEEP LOVE

1 Peter 4:7-11New Living Translation (NLT)

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.
10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

What is deep love? In our world today I think we have lost sight of what real love is. The deep kind of love we NEED to share is sacrificial. Shallow love is selfish love. Love is not about what we can get from it. Real, DEEP  Love is about serving someone else. Real, DEEP Love is about giving up your wants and needs so you can address the wants and needs of someone else. Real, DEEP Love is the love of Jesus Christ. 
God has granted us gifts, not for our own satisfaction, but for serving others out of love. The truth of the matter is, we DO get satisfaction and pure joy when we are deeply loving someone else. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and spirit means you sacrifice all to serve the Lord. Love is amazing when we do it right. I praise God I have the example of Jesus Christ to know what REAL LOVE is. I praise that he REALLY, DEEPLY, Loves me. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Voice

Romans 15:1-7New Living Translation (NLT)

15 We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”[a] Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

What do you live for?  Who do you live for? 
 I read a leadership book a few weeks ago called "Leading for God's Sake". What a wonderful book (Thanks for the gift Phil & Marlene Bontrager!) It claims leaders must focus on their purpose and the actions that back up that purpose. My purpose as a teacher is to serve my students. It's not to please an administrator. It is not to please my fellow staff members. It is not to satisfy the school board. Don't get me wrong. I honor my leaders, my fellow teachers, and the group of men and women tasked with setting policy for our school corporation. As a matter of fact, when I serve my students I DO serve those groups of people. When I lose focus I let down my school corporation who hired me to serve the students.

I need to make sure my actions back up my purpose. I hear so many teachers say they are putting the students first. It almost becomes cliche. They say they put students first but selfishness creeps in to every decision. Selfishness can destroy your purpose. It can get in the way of serving others. As a teacher, one of the best ways to make sure you are focused on your purpose is to ask the ones you serve. Student Voice is so important and most often neglected by teachers. What do students want? What do they need to meet THEIR goals?  My duty as a teacher is to serve my students, period.

Prayer is our VOICE with the Creator of the Universe. Isn't that amazing? WE have a voice and we have an open channel to the God of Abraham. I have seen the power of God through my conversations with him. He has set ME as priority in his life. He has chosen me and I will serve him with all the my energy. God cares so much about us that he sent his son to serve us and ultimately died for us. He could have been selfish. I'm glad he wasn't. Praise God for his love. Praise God for the opportunity to serve him and the students I teach every day. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Call me Rhoadzie!

Luke 10:20New Living Translation (NLT)

20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

My name is Steven Lawrence Rhoades. My dad used to tell me we were related to the "Rhoades Raiders from Russia". That conversation came about when my Grandfather claimed his family "Lewis" were descendants of Merriwether Lewis from the Lewis and Clark expedition. I later found out the famous explorer never married and was an only child. Names are so important. They say a lot about who you are and are forever connected to your character and the way you live.

Most of my close friends call me  "Rhoadzie".

My nickname is a family name that has been passed down from generation to generation. This might be the name I cherish the most because it is a FAMILY name. When I was in middle school one of my friends called me "Highways". Fortunately it never stuck. My sisters dressed me up in girls clothes (when I was REALLY young) and called me Stephanie. I hated that name. I swore I would never marry or even date someone with the name. I changed my mind. (I Love you Stephanie Rhoades!) My middle name is Lawrence. I love that name because it also was passed down to me from my Grandfather on my Mom's side. I know people that hate their own name. I love mine and cherish it and the ties it has to my past and what they have represented. 

The most important name in my life is Jesus. I am not afraid to proclaim his name above all others. Although people try to trash this name,it has survived the test of time and the attacks from the vilest of sinners. I am proud to claim this name above all others and will do everything I can to live a life worthy of being a follower. Praise God for the life of his son Jesus and the death he suffered for me on that cross. PRAISE THE NAME OF JESUS!


Monday, June 19, 2017

What's in a name?

“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬. http://bible.com/116/1pe.1.13.

What do you do to prepare your mind for action? The obvious answer is studying the word of God, prayer, and worship. Yes, these disciplines are so valuable in keeping our minds focused on the mission assigned by our Lord. There are other things we need to do to prepare our minds for action. In my daily devoitional today from "Insight for Living",  Chuck Swindol, talks about remembering people's names. I was convicted. I need to put effort in to remembering the names of people I meet.

There is nothing more valuable in building a relationship than to call someone by name. I have been approached by former students in Walmart and I have learned to avoid calling them by name. I just can't remember them. I am always impressed when people come up to me and remember me by name. I have to put more effort into that. I blame it on lack of memory, but it is probably more about effort. It's about focusing on the people you interact with. It is about caring to put them at the center of the conversation and avoiding distraction. It's about getting to know someone beyond pleasantries and connecting with them and the lives they lead.

I am glad God knows me by name. He knows everything about me. Even if I reject him and forget to call on him for years, he never forgets who I am. I praise him for his love!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Living like there's nothing but bad news!

“Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬.  http://bible.com/116/1co.15.1-4.

We are all sinners saved by the grace of the Lord. Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes we get caught up in the craziness of the world and lose sight of our salvation. We know the good news but we live like there's nothing but bad news. If we believe there really is no good news, maybe we never really believed in the grace of God in the first place. Are we confident in his Amazing Grace or is it just some words to an old hymn? Do we believe Jesus is the answer to life's turmoil or his he just a historical religious figure?

Turmoil surrounds our lives, all parts of our lives. I have a couple of dear friends faced with that in their own church. Yes, even Christian fellowship can be tumultuous.  We need to focus on one simple but glorious mission, bring others to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Satan wants nothing more than for us to forget about that purpose. We can't get distracted by, the sin around us.  We can't get distracted by the lies, deceit, selfishness, anger, and hate We see every day. It shows up in our families, our coworkers, our friends, and yes, in our churches. 

Lord Jesus, Open my eyes to your light. Open my heart and keep me focused on my real purpose. I need your hedge of protection from the evil that surrounds us and even lies in the midst of our daily lives. It is only by your grace and mercy that I have been saved. I praise you Lord. I praise you within the midst of a chaotic and sinful world. I need your eyes to remain focused on my real purpose, to serve only you. Amen!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Be nice!




Hebrews 13:1-3
Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. 

Stephanie and I will be heading on vacation next week. We will certainly run across a few strangers in our travels. I love talking with strangers. When you camp it seems like everyone is more open. It's like there are no strangers. We are camping this weekend and I had a great conversation with a family as I was walking down the road. People are more friendly in a campground. I think that's the way God would like it to be everywhere. 

People just aren't nice to each other anymore. Hospitality is a lost art. We need to get back to treating each other with love and respect. We need to go out of our way to be nice to our family, friends, and strangers. We need to love them, serve them and share Christ with them. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pray for those in Authority over You!

Romans 13:1-2New Living Translation (NLT)

13 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.

I have a boss. I love and respect my Principal, my Superintendent, and my School Board. God has placed them in authority over me.  I will support them in public. I will obey their rules, their plans, and their mission. If I have a dispute, I will keep it private and never air that in a public forum. IF we have fundamental, irreconcilable differences, I will quietly accept it unless it goes against the word of God. IF that goes against my faith, I will quietly step aside.
As a Christian, I will make sure I do the same with my Christian Leaders. I will not publicly bash my pastor or other leaders and will only deal with any dispute privately. How we deal with disputes says a lot about who we are as a Christian. We need to humbly review any and all conflicts. We need to look at ourselves. Are WE a part of the problem? How did we contribute? There are always multiple sides of every issue. BUT, when a person of authority disciplines us or makes a decision, we need to accept and support that decision even when we disagree. TO reduce those conflicts, instead of bashing those in authority, we need to be in constant prayer for our leaders. We need to pray they have wisdom and insight through any and all decisions and situations. This is true for our political leaders, work leaders, leaders of our households, and Christian leaders. 

Pray for those in authority over you.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hypocrisy

Philippians 2:3-8The Message (MSG)

1-4 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Today's "Insight for Living" devotional was awesome. It told a story about putting aside political differences to help another in need.

Here is the link.

I certainly can't commentate on these verses like the great Chuck Swindoll. He is definitely one of my favorites. But these verses, especially in the Message are so important for everyone to hear. One of the most significant barriers to the lost turning to Jesus is "Hypocrisy". Has Jesus changed us?  Can we set aside differences to help each other. Do we think to highly of ourselves? 
Our Society, me included, are so selfish. WE need to be more like Christ. We need to serve others, selflessly, and with pure love. Thank you Lord for your love even when we fail!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

BOTH the Good and the Bad


"Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10)

Let me start by saying I love my life. God is SO GOOD. My relationship with my wonderful creator is better than it has ever been. I feel his presence in so many areas of my life. My relationship with my students is so valuable to me. I love working with them. The ministry opportunities I have through CMA just keep increasing daily. I can feel the Lord guiding me and moving me along life's path. 

I feel under attack.

I truly believe the closer I draw to the Lord, the more satan targets me and my life. In the past three weeks, I have been personally attacked on several occasions. My wife feels it and so do I. I do not share this to garner some type of sympathy or action (except your prayers!). As a matter of fact, I am very much at peace who I am as a teacher and as a leader in ministry. God knows what he is doing and my faith in him is NOT wavering.

Job had it right. We must accept the Good with the Bad. The attacks will not draw me away from the Lord. They will drive me closer to him! The attacks will not keep me from the mission of serving my students. The attacks will not keep me from serving the bikers and the lost. I love the Lord and know he can do anything and everything. His plans are perfect. I may not understand why? I don't need to. Praise God he is in control of my life!

Job 42:2-6The Message (MSG)

42 1-6 Job answered God:
“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.
    Nothing and no one can upset your plans.
You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
    ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
    made small talk about wonders way over my head.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Don't Seize the Day....... Forget about it!

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”  2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭NLT‬‬. http://bible.com/116/2co.4.18.nlt

Today started a new week and tomorrow a new day. I'm glad last week is behind me. I know it's Monday and Sunday really starts the beginning of the week. After a busy weekend, TODAY officially starts the week. I don't know what this week will bring. I'm not going to fret about it. One bad week doesn't guarantee another bad week. I don't know what will happen in the next month, year, decade or the rest of my life. It really doesn't matter. God is with me. I also know beyond ANY doubt, God has guaranteed that I will live forever in ETERNITY with him.  I look to that great future. I look forward to it even though I really don't  know how I'm going to get there. I don't know what lies in between today and my life in Eternity. I don't really care.

A great advantage to my faith is I no longer dwell in the present or the immediate future. I do not have to fret. I don't have to look at the troubles I see as permanent.   We get stuck dwelling on the past, worried about the moment, and dreading the future. Our Society says "Seize the Day". I say forget about it. In the grand scheme of my eternal life, today means nothing. The only real meaning I can give to today is in convincing others to join me in eternity. Nothing else matters. My stresses at work, failed relationships, or my foggy future will all fade away. My eternal place in Heaven is permanent. Why do I get so caught up in my daily life?  Why do I let the struggles get me down?  God is in charge. He has a perfect plan and he alone has our eternity in his hands. Nothing else matters and all else will fade away. PRAISE GOD for my FUTURE in ETERNITY!


Thursday, June 8, 2017

I am a Thinker!

Ephesians 5:15-17The Message (MSG)

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!
17 Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.

I pride myself in being a thoughtful person. I am a Thinker. I analyze stuff! But, many times in my life that I have reacted without thinking. Along with being a thinker, I am an emotional, passionate person. I wear my feelings and my emotions for ALL to see. That's not always a great character trait. Those emotions and passions can lead me to say things I later regret. They can lead me to build barriers with those I work with or those I randomly meet on the street. If I don't use my head, If I don't think before I speak or act, I am not fulfilling the plan God has set before me.
God calls us to be thoughtful people. He calls us live life "carefully". In these end times, most people live with abandon. They live in the moment, with no consideration for the past or the future. We need to prayerfully consider our daily lives. We need to prayerfully consider our words and deeds. Every moment of every day needs to be processed through the filter of our Master, Jesus Christ. You can't do that and REACT to life's situations.

Dear Lord, Forgive me for letting my feelings, my passions, and my thoughtless actions get in the way of the path you have set before me. Help me Lord. Help me to live in a thoughtful way. Help me to use the thinking skills you have given me to be careful about my interactions with others. I Love you Lord. I praise you for the grace you have given me. I want to do nothing to hurt spreading your Gospel message to others. I can't do it on my own. I need you! Amen!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What REALLY matters?

Philippians 1:9-10New Living Translation (NLT)

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

I am here to tell you that it is often difficult to determine what REALLY matters. It's not just the world around us that gives mixed messages. As Christians, we often get tangled up with mixed priorities. We can over do it in ministry. We can neglect our families. We can absorb ourselves so much in ministry, hobbies, or work and neglect what is most important. So, how do you KNOW what to devote your time to.

Prayer, Bible Study, and worship

Connecting with God, filling your life with the Spirit of the Lord, is the only way to really set priorities. You need to listen to the promptings of the Lord. His will is revealed when you regularly study his word. The Bible is NOT just filled with stories from the past. It is alive. It is meant to be the voice of God right here, right now. Prayer is also critical to setting the correct "schedule" for your life. It's not just a way to provide a list of wants. It is a two way conversation. It's a way to develop a relationship with the creator of the universe and share your deepest thoughts. Your PRIORITIES, what really matters can be clarified through a deep relationship with the Lord. Worship the Lord, live a pure and blameless life until you join him in eternity. There will never be a question about your motives, your life plan, when you center all you do around the King!  Praise God for his power in my life!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Peace will return!

“When King David was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of God is out there in a tent!” Nathan replied to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.”” 2 Samuel‬ ‭7:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬ http://bible.com/116/2sa.7.1-3.nlt


Right now I'm not very comfortable! 

Do you know what that means?

God is up to something and usually that something deals with growth! But, I hate it. Don't get me wrong. I don't hate growth. I hate the pain associated with the growth. I love being comfortable. Comfort usually means peace in my life, just like King David. I have had more peace in my life than I deserve. That's grace! But, God doesn't let me stay at peace for long because he knows I will stagnate if I don't grow. Like the old saying, "we are either green and growing or ripe and rotting."

Nobody likes the idea of "No pain, no gain". It has been true throughout my entire life. I can look back and say the pain was worth it. I can look back and see the mighty hand of the Lord, active, and helping me through all the turmoil. He will not fail me now! 

So, I wait on the Lord. He will eventually provide peace. This season will pass. Joy will return. The Lord is still King! Praise God for his infinite wisdom, power, and strength!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The battle inside!

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.””  Joshua‬ ‭1:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬. http://bible.com/116/jos.1.8-9.nlt

God is trying to tell me something!

I hope you can  sense the battle inside me right now. I feel like Luke in Star Wars. I have often felt the spiritual battle being waged inside me. Like Luke the forces of good and evil are active and trying to capture my heart and soul. My recent study has been exclusively about standing up for yourself, giving up, and now being strong and courageous. God is speaking to me through his word. I want to give up, I don't want to give up. I want to crawl into a quiet hole and then I want to fight for my life. Confusion is part of life.

I love reading the Bible. I have learned so much through studying the God inspired words. There are times when a message is very clear, other times it can be a pure mystery. One truth I have discovered, I have to be patient and let God handle things. When I am confused about an issue, it's Gods way of saying don't try to figure it out, just sit back and let God be God.

Let God be God!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Accepting Defeat! Giving in!

“Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.”  Luke‬ ‭23:46‬ ‭NLT‬‬. http://bible.com/116/luk.23.46.nlt

It seems odd to talk about giving in when yesterday I was writing about making a stand. It's amazing the difference 24 hours can make. There are times in life where fighting is not worth it. There are times in yuor life when it is best to just give in instead of fighting. The perfect example is the crucifixion. 

Jesus could have fought his sentence. He could have denied his accusers. Instead he stood in humility, taking the accusations, not defending himself. He was beaten and took the undeserved punishment. He marched to the cross beaten, bruised, and a crown of thorns piercing his brow. On the cross, he endured the pain and then he gave up. He did it for us. He chose an odd path that no other historic leader has ever taken. 

I can relate to the idea of giving in. Our competitive society frowns upon giving in. People that choose to give in are looked as weak. Sometimes it is for the greater good that you just give in. The ultimate goal in life is not to win. I say these things but know I am a competitive person and have a difficult time admitting defeat. Today in front of all people I admit defeat. God has changed my heart that I can now admit defeat, give in, even when I know I'm right. That's what Jesus did. There is no greater example!