Welcome to REAL Men RoCK

This blog is about the issues men face and things I have experienced.

I hope you will be encouraged, challenged, and stirred to take action.

Proverbs 27:17 (The Message)

17 You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another


ighteous   E ncouraging   A ccountable   L oving 


ely on    C hrist's   K indness

Saturday, November 29, 2008

History of the Salvation Army - Please place your donation in my kettle

William Booth embarked upon his ministerial career in 1852, desiring to win the lost multitudes of England to Christ. He walked the streets of London to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.

Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and a pulpit, instead taking his message to the people. His fervor led to disagreement with church leaders in London, who preferred traditional methods. As a result, he withdrew from the church and traveled throughout England, conducting evangelistic meetings. His wife, Catherine, could accurately be called a cofounder of The Salvation Army.

In 1865, William Booth was invited to hold a series of evangelistic meetings in the East End of London. He set up a tent in a Quaker graveyard, and his services became an instant success. This proved to be the end of his wanderings as an indepedent traveling evangelist. His renown as a religious leader spread thoughout London, and he attracted followers who were dedicated to fight for the souls of men and women.

Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among Booth's first converts to Christianity. To congregations who were desperately poor, he preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead people to Christ and link them to a church for further spiritual guidance.

Early Salvationists were subjected to violence and ridicule. Publications of the day, such as this 1885 issue of Puck, poked fun at their uniforms and methods.

Many churches, however, did not accept Booth's followers because of their past. So Booth continued giving his new converts spiritual direction, challenging them to save others like themselves. Soon, they too were preaching and singing in the streets as a living testimony to the power of God.

In 1867, Booth had only 10 full-time workers, but by 1874, the number had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists, all serving under the name "The Christian Mission." Booth assumed the title of general superintendent, with his followers calling him "General." Known as the "Hallelujah Army," the converts spread out of the East End of London into neighboring areas and then to other cities.

Booth was reading a printer's proof of the 1878 annual report when he noticed the statement "The Christian Mission is a volunteer army." Crossing out the words "volunteer army," he penned in "Salvation Army." From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army.

From that point, converts became soldiers of Christ and were known then, as now, as Salvationists. They launched an offensive throughout the British Isles, in some cases facing real battles as organized gangs mocked and attacked them. In spite of violence and persecution, some 250,000 people were converted under the ministry of The Salvation Army between 1881 and 1885.

Meanwhile, the Army was gaining a foothold in the United States. Lieutenant Eliza Shirley had left England to join her parents, who had migrated to America earlier in search for work. In 1879, she held the first meeting of The Salvation Army in America, in Philadelphia. The Salvationists were received enthusiastically. Shirley wrote to General Booth, begging for reinforcements. None were available at first. Glowing reports of the work in Philadelphia, however, eventually convinced Booth, in 1880, to send an official group to pioneer the work in America.

Commissioner George Scott Railton and seven Hallelujah Lassies officially “opened fire” in the United States on March 10, 1880.

On March 10, 1880, Commissioner George Scott Raiton and seven women officers knelt on the dockside at Battery Park in New York City to give thanks for their safe arrival. At their first official street meeting, these pioneers were met with unfriendly actions, as had happened in Great Britain. They were ridiculed, arrested, and attacked. Several officers and soldiers even gave their lives.Three years later, Railton and other Salvationists had expanded their operation into California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. President Grover Cleveland received a delegation of Salvation Army officers in 1886 and gave the organization a warm personal endorsement. This was the first recognition from the White House and would be followed by similar receptions from succeeding presidents.

The Salvation Army movement expanded rapidly to Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Iceland, and local neighborhood units. The Salvation Army is active in virtually every corner of the world.

General Booth's death in 1912 was a great loss to The Salvation Army. However, he had laid a firm foundation' even his death could not deter the ministry's onward march. His eldest son, Bramwell Booth, succeeded him.

Edward J. Higgins, served as the first elected general, beginning in 1929. The first female general was Booth's daughter, the dynamic Evangeline Booth, serving from 1934 to 1939. The Army's fifth general was George Carpenter, succeeded in 1946 by Albert Orsborn. General Wilfred Kitching was elected in 1954, succeeded by Frederick Coutts in 1963. Erik Wickberg followed in 1969; Clarence Wiseman in 1974; Arnold Brown in 1977; Jarl Wahlstrom in 1981; and Eva Burrows, the second female general, in 1986. General Bramwell Tillsley was elected in 1993 and was succeeded by General Paul Rader in 1994. General John Gowans was elected in 1999 and commands the Army from International Headquarters in London, England.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Prayer Answered

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I began a new job this week. I am working in Asset Protection of a large retailer and I am going to be praying that God will show me someone daily to encourage. It may be someone trying to steal one of the products we carry or it could be someone who is lonely or broken hearted.

I am thankful for this new job and the opportunities I will have to look into the eyes of someone and give them a smile.

Please share with us what we may pray for you about.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ever wish you were someone else?

Have you ever wished you were someone else or had the things someone else has? I remember watching one of my neighbors and catching myself kind of wishing I was able to do some of the things he does. Then I was reminded of this story I read in a book:

In those days, and later as a young man, I used to try to picture in my imagination the feelings and ambitions of a white boy with absolutely no limit placed upon his aspirations and activities. I used to envy the white boy who had no obstacles placed in the way of his becoming a Congressman, Governor, Bishop, or President by reason of the accident of his birth or race. I used to picture the way that I would act under such circumstances; how I would begin at the bottom and keep rising until I reached the highest round of success.

In later years, I confess that I do not envy the white boy as I once did. I have learned success is to be measured not so much by position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. Looked at from this standpoint, I almost reach the conclusion that often the Negro boy's birth and connection with an unpopular race is an advantage, so far as real life is concerned. With few exceptions, the Negro youth must work harder and must perform his tasks even better than a white youth in order to secure recognition. But out of the hard and unusual struggle through which he is compelled to pass, he gets a strength, a confidence, that one misses whose pathway is comparatively smooth by reason of birth and race.

From that point of view, I would rather be what I am, a member of the Negro race, than be able to claim membership with the most favoured of any other race. -- Booker T. Washington

It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ,...he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. Ephesians 1: 11 (The Message)

When I consider what Booker T. wrote and what Paul wrote in Ephesians I must stop and thank God for what I do have and not be worried about what I don't have. Be thankful for the life God has given me and the opportunities I have because of who I belong to and not be concerned about what God has blessed others with.

I have to admit that when I finished pastoral training I fell into jealousy of what some other guys and gals were being called to do. I forgot what God called me to do and what He has made me for. I have a calling that I am adequately equipped and gifted for. I forgot to be thankful for what I He has called me to do. One day I picked up "Up From Slavery" by Booker T. Washington and the Holy Spirit woke me up.

My question for you is: "Are you looking at some other person's blessing instead of yours?" God has gifted you for what He wants you to do. What is that special thing about you that He wants you to use in service to others?


Monday, November 24, 2008

What to do when everything in you wants to hold a grudge?

I find it is hard to describe the pain and fear that I felt as a young boy after my mom left except to point out how it demonstrated itself each time my dad left on Monday mornings for his out of town job. (See my post on November 22nd.)

I use to struggle when talking about the evening an Air Force Sgt., who I was suppose to trust, sexually molested me. How that one event for years would keep me from developing any close friendships with other men.

I cannot put into the words the day my first wife left me and the feelings of abandonment I felt and how I would experience those same feelings 10 years later when my second wife would kick me out of the house. How that last night I rocked my four year old daughter to sleep and after I placed her in her bed her mom would walk me to the door and tell me to get out.

In Mark 11: 25 Jesus tells us: "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions."
How do you forgive someone who has hurt you deeply? Just what is forgiveness?

Several years ago I started a men's small group and one our first studies was a book by R.T. Kendall called "Total Forgiveness". It challenged me to stretch to levels I quite frankly did not want to go to. This book helped me move beyond the bitterness I held against my mom, the Sgt. and my ex-wives. If you are struggling with forgiving someone here are some excerpts from the book that I believe will benefit you.

The first thing I believe we need to answer is: "What is total forgiveness?"

1. Being aware of what someone has done to you and choosing to forgive.
Some people choose to live in denial as a way of dealing with their pain. It is no spiritual victory to think we are forgiving people when we are only avoiding facing up to their wrong behavior. We can achieve total forgiveness only when we acknowledge what was done without any denial or cover up--and still refuse to make the offender pay for their crime.

2. Choosing to keep no record of wrong.
In 1 Corinthians 13: 5 "Love keeps no record of wrongs". Love is a choice. Total forgiveness is also a choice. It is not a feeling but is rather an act of the will. It is the choice to tear up the record of wrongs we have been keeping. When we do this all the time--as a lifestyle--we not only avoid bitterness, but we also eventually experience total forgiveness as a feeling--and it is a good feeling.

3. Refusing to punish.
Refusing to punish those who deserve it--giving up the natural desire to see them "get what's coming to the,"--is the essence of total forgiveness. If we harbor the desire to see our enemies punished, we will eventually lose the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But when perfect love--enters, the desire for our enemy to be punished leaves.

4. Not telling what they did.
There is often a need to talk to someone about how we have been hurt, and this can be therapeutic if it is done with the right heart attitude. If this is necessary, you should choose the person you tell very carefully, making sure that person is trustworthy and will never repeat your situation to those it does not concern.

Anyone who truly forgives does not gossip about their offender.

5. Be merciful.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" Matthew 5: 7 The fringe benefit for those of us who show mercy: We will also be shown mercy.

True forgiveness show grace and mercy at the same time. Graciousness is shown by what you don't say, even if what you could say would be true. Total forgiveness sometimes means overlooking what you perceive to be the truth and not letting on about anything that could damage another person.

7. It is an inner condition.
Total forgiveness must take place in the heart or it is worthless, for "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." Matthew 12: 34 If we have genuine heart-experience, we will not be devastated if there is no reconciliation between us and the one who hurt us.

8. It is the absence of bitterness.
Bitterness is an inward condition. It is an excessive desire for vengeance that comes from deep resentment. In Ephesians 4: 30 it heads up the list of things that grieve the Holy Spirit.

Relinquishing bitterness is an open invitation for the Holy Spirit to give you His peace, His joy and the knowledge of His will.

9. Stop being angry with God.
Although we often do not see it at first--and for some it takes a long time--all of our bitterness is ultimately traceable to a resentment of God. We must make the effort to recognize that we are angry with God about what happened to us and accept what happened by looking for His purpose.

10. Forgive ourselves.
Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. There is no lasting joy in forgiveness if it doesn't include forgiving yourself.

"Total Forgiveness" can be purchased at ChristianBook.com by clicking total forgiveness or you can purchase it at your local Christian book store.

How can we pray for you regarding forgiveness?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The fear, joy and thankfulness of a little boy

It was bedtime and the dad pulled the covers up to the chin of his son, he ran his rough hand over the boy's crew cut hair and then turned to leave the room. "Daddy, what time are you leaving in the morning?" The father turned and replied, "early very early, good night" and he slipped out of the bedroom pulling the door shut behind him.

The young boy woke to the sound of the truck door shutting and jumped out of bed as he heard the truck start up. He ran to the front door and out onto the porch to watch as his dad drove up the street on the long trip to the town he was working in. The boy stood there in the early morning light quietly crying as the tail lights of his dad's truck disappeared. With tears streaming down his face he turned to go back in the house. His tears flowed from the fear that he would not see his dad again.

At the end of a long week the boy would jump for joy and run to greet his dad as he drove into the driveway. He was so thankful that his dad had returned.

I can still feel the pain in my heart and the warm tears that flowed down my cheeks when my dad would get in his truck and drive off to work out of town each week. I can also remember the joy of having the fear erased each Friday evening when my dad would drive into our driveway.

As I consider that time period in my life I am thankful for a dad who when he was home he was 100% ours never his own. I am thankful for a dad who expressed his love by touch but not in words.

Here in the United States we begin this week focusing on our yearly "Thanksgiving Day" celebration. I want you to help me finish this post and share one thing you are thankful for. By you and I sharing something that we are thankful for we will encourage someone else to consider what they are thankful for. Thanks for sharing and stirring a thankful heart in others by doing so. I pray that you will have a blessed week.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Different Colours

I love this song and the caribbean beat. I also love the message.

How did God, yes I said God, speak to you through this song? Listen to it again and let God speak to you.

In Genesis 1 we are told that God created everything in 6 days. At the end of each of the first five days God said, "It is good" but at the end of the sixth day as He looked at Adam and Eve He said, "It is very good".

Out of Adam and Eve came all of mankind. The different colors we see today were all within Adam's seed and Eve's egg. We are all brothers and sisters just different shades. This song speaks to me about how God must see all of mankind...one people, different colors.

I would be interested in reading about how you feel about this song and this post.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What impact are you making?

The young man rushed home with the letter he just received from his favorite mentor. He was full of excitement about what his friend would say but also a little fearful of any correction he might give. You see this young man was a leader who was under the age of what the current society thought a leader or teacher should be.

Imagine the relief and delight he felt as he read these words, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope; to "Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

With those words ringing in his head Timothy no doubt became even more interested in what his mentor, Paul, would have to say. Paul goes on to share instructions for the church, for women, for elders and personally for Timothy.

Let's focus on the personal instructions to Timothy because I believe for those of us who call ourselves, Christians or followers of Jesus, Paul's words to Timothy are for us as well.

Let's begin in 1 Timothy 4: 12 "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."
13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift, within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.
15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all.
16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

Here are fie things I find Paul is telling us today through his instructions to Timothy.

Timothy was probably in his late 20's or early 30's and the tradition of society at that time was that you had to be older to be a teacher or leader. First, Paul encouraged Timothy not to let those who judged him for his age not to become a discouragement. No matter what your age you are to pursue the calling God has given you. The nature of being a leader makes you a target so do not let the arrows shot at you become your focus.

Second, Let your speech, conduct, love, faith and purity be an positive example for those who you come in contact with. These are the things people will be influenced by and remember about you.

Third, Do not neglect the spiritual gift that the Holy Spirit has brought to you. When you accepted Jesus and received the Holy Spirit you also received a spiritual gift that God wants you to use in service to others.

Fourth, We are to be obsessed with doing these things. They are to fill our lives and be evident in everything we do.

Fifth, The action of our lives and what it teaches can bring salvation not only for us but for those who observe us.

My questions for all who read this today are:
Is your life reflecting what Paul shared with Timothy in this scriptures?
Are you being a witness of Jesus through your speech, your conduct, your love, your faith and your purity?

If you answered no to those questions I encourage you to find another person you can trust and ask them to become your encouragement buddy and both of you begin to be a light to those around you through your speech, your conduct, your love, your faith and your purity.

I have to be honest and confess I do not always reflect Jesus in my speech, my conduct, my love, my faith or my purity. I have to daily examine my life to make the course corrections to move me to being a better example. I have hope though that when I rely on the Holy Spirit instead my own strength I am more likely to be the example God wants me to be.

If we will do this we will one day stand in front of the Creator of all things and hear Him say, "Well done my servant, welcome to my Kingdom." and then we will see those who came to Jesus because of our speech, our conduct, our love, our faith or our purity.

Please share your comments about how God spoke to you through this post.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Throw Rocks

Rising nearly 1,500 feet above the jungle below, Hill 488 was just 25 miles west of Chu Lai, Vietnam, and it was the perfect place for a Marine Corps recon team but for just a couple of factors...it was deep in enemy controlled territory and surrounded by massive enemy buildups.

It was June 12, 1966 and S/Sgt. Howard, 15 Marines and 2 Navy Corpsmen were let out on the top of Hill 488. Their job was to call in artillery and air strikes against the enemy below. For two days Howard and his men did their jobs well. The North Vietnamese control of the area was disrupted by the effectiveness of the American firepower. It did not take long for the enemy to figure out that there had to be someone in the area watching them. directing the fire upon their every move. By the 3rd day the enemy began to send 200-250 well trained and armed soldiers up Hill 488 and it was too late for Howard and his men to escape. Somehow they would have to survive the coming assault.

Everyone in the patrol knew it was coming. S/Sgt Howard placed his men in strategic positions around the summit of the almost barren hilltop, with orders to pull back into a tight perimeter the moment the enemy struck. That is just what the Marines did.

The enemy swarmed the hill amid gunfire, grenades, mortars and support from .50 caliber machine guns. Back-to-back Howard's men began to defend their small area of 20 yards, counting on each other to work as a team to do the impossible.

S/Sgt Howard moved among his men, encouraging them, directing their fire, shoring up the weaknesses in the perimeter. For most of the Marines it was their first major test of combat. Huddled in the darkness amid the crash of grenades and mortars, the sky filled with tracer rounds, and outnumbered more than 10 to 1; the leadership and inspiration of S/Sgt Howard was all that sustained the men.

Suddenly quiet engulfed the hill as the enemy pulled back, their fanatical human wave assault initially repulsed. S/Sgt Howard looked around him. Every one of his young Marines and both Corpsmen had been wounded in the initial attack and several were dead. Worse, he knew the enemy would return in force again at any moment. He also knew no rescue could take place until dawn.

From down below the enemy began to taunt the few survivors shouting into the darkness, "Marines, You die in an hour." Over and over the North Vietnamese yelled, "You die in an hour."

One of Howard's men asked, "Can we yell back at them?"

With nothing to lose Howard told his brave young men, "Sure yell anything you like." They did, and soon their taunts back to the enemy were met with gunfire. The enemy was preparing to swarm the hill again. The beleaguered Marines caught the enemy off guard as they joined in a "horse laugh"' The enemy suddenly stopped shooting and there was stoned silence. They could not understand how a group of men terribly outnumbered could be laughing.

S/Sgt Howard knew the silence would not last long. He surveyed what remained of his Marines and found that ammunition was running low. The grenades were gone, expended during the first wave of the assault. So he issued one of the most unusual combat orders in Marine history...

"Throw rocks!!"

As incredible as the order sounded, it worked. When the enemy soldiers began to push their way through the sparse brush and knee high grass to probe the perimeter, Howard's men threw rocks at them. Mistaking the rocks for grenades the enemy soldiers would move quickly out into the open, allowing the defenders clear shots that made every round of remaining ammunition count.

The Marines held the hill for another 5 hours and were finally rescued shortly after day break. After the 12 surviving men were safely back at Chu Lai it was discovered that among them they only had 8 rounds of ammunition remaining.

Isn't this like our personal lives? Aren't there times when you feel like all you have to defend yourself is some pebbles? Aren't there times you feel completely surrounded by the enemy?

Here are three lessons I got out of the story of S/Sgt Howard and his men.

1. Know your enemy.
In Ephesians 6: 10-12 we are told that God is strong and He wants us to be strong. We are encouraged to take everything the Master has given us. That our fight is not against people made of flesh and blood, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. Against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.

S/Sgt Howard and his men knew their enemy and their tactics and we need to study our enemy and know the tactics he will use against us.

The good news about our fight against these mighty powers is found in Job 1. Their power against us is limited by what God allows them to do. In James 4: 7 we are told to submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee you.

2. Know our equipment.
Ephesians 6: 14-17 Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. Put on salvation as your helmet.

S/Sgt Howard and his men knew their weapons and that is an example for us to get to know and use our weapons.

3. Know who has your back.
Ephesians 6: 18 In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

S/Sgt Howard knew that if they watched each other's back they were more likely to survive the battle and that is an example for us. If we cover each others back Satan will less likely be able to pull off an effective attack. Of course our ultimate back watcher is the Holy Spirit and we need to call upon Him when faced with overwhelming odds.

Today someone reading this is facing a giant or enemy that appears larger than Goliath. It could be cancer, unemployment, even a sin or it may be a giant so small you can't see it like discouragement, wrongs thoughts, wounds. Whatever you or a friend are facing your S/Sgt, God, wants to lead you through the battle and His Holy Spirit wants to guard your back.

If you are facing a giant and you feel like the only thing you can do is throw rocks, leave a message so that we can pray for and with you.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What do you focus on?

When I worked at Folgers Coffee Company my boss would yearly sit down individually with his team and give a very personal performance review. I can still remember Bob calling me to his office and pulling out his list and beginning my first performance review with me. My mind began to play the old tapes of when teachers, supervisors and pastors sat with me and went over the list of failures I had made.

I was shocked when the first thing he covered was how I was always on time, how I was willing to learn new things and then how I was creative in using the skills I had to overcome my weaknesses. He ended with these words, "Now, let's look at an area you and I can improve in this coming year."

What stands out to you about how Bob did his reviews? When I look at it I immediate see two things. 1. Bob was not going to have me face improving on my own and 2. Bob focused not on my weakness but on my strengths to overcome my weakness.

In their book, "Soar with Your Strengths", Donald Clifton & Paula Nelson ask this question: "What would happen if we studied what was right with people verses what's wrong with people?" Just think about that question for a moment. What would happen if you focused on what your wife does right instead of what she does wrong, or what your son 's strength is instead of what he is weakest? The author's point out that strengths are the things you do well. A strength is a pattern of behavior, thought, or feeling that produces a high degree of satisfaction and pride; generates both psychic and/or financial reward; and presents measurable progress toward excellence.

There is a story about how Larry Bird would go to the gym and practice nothing but shooting for hours and one time a reporter asked him why he didn't practice dribbling since that was his weakness. Larry something simple like, "If I focused on dribbling my shooting would suffer." A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals. Larry Bird

Again from "Soaring with Your Strengths", There is no alchemy for weakness. They can be removed but they cannot be transformed into a strength. The goal, therefore, is to manage weaknesses so the strengths can be freed to develop and become so powerful they make the weakness irrelevant.

Here are 5 Characteristics of a strength from "Soar with Your Strengths" Amazon.com

1. Listen for Yearnings: Yearnings are most often triggered when you see a performance or someone doing an activity and you say to yourself, "I'd like to do that; I'd like to try that."

2. Watch for Satisfactions: Satisfactions are those experiences where the emotional and psychic rewards are great; typically they are activities we get "a kick out of doing." Satisfactions are not merely momentary pleasures, but form our intrinsic motivation.

3. Look for Rapid Learning: If you catch on quickly to something, you are likely to be good at it. The dominant feeling with rapid learning is "Ifeel like I've always known how to do this."

4. Observe Glimpes of Excellence: You can spot a strength by glimpsing a moment of excellence within a performance. A performance is a finite activity: the singing of a song, the writing of a letter, the presenting of a speech, the greeting of people at a function, the tallying of a hotel bill, the servicing of a customer, etc.

5. Watch for Total Performance of Excellence: Total performance of excellence is a flow of behavior, when there are no conscious steps in the mind of the performer. The person is on automatic, at one with the activity.

Have you been trying to overcome a weakness by focusing on improving it? The bottom line from this books is focus on your strengths and they will become so powerful your weakness will completely be overshadowed by them.

Do You Love Me?
15 After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"

"Yes, Master, you know I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

16 He then asked a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

"Yes, Master, you know I love you."

Jesus said, "Shepherd my sheep."

17-19 Then he said it a third time: "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, "Do you love me?" so he answered, "Master, you know everything there is to know. You've got to know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I'm telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you'll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don't want to go." He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, "Follow me."

Four times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Why? It is evident from earlier actions of Peter that he loved Jesus but he had a weakness in the area of fear. Jesus wanted Peter to focus on his strength of love for others so that his weakness of being fearful would not control his life.

On a personal level here is what I have found: When I am focusing on my strength which is serving others I tend to not have my weakness control my life.

What do you focus on? Your weaknesses? The weakness in others? I encourage you to get this book, "Soar with Your Strengths", and begin to use the ideas in it to focus on building your strengths or building the strengths of those who work for you. I believe that if you do, you will find that your weakness or the weakness in your team become less of an impact in what you want to accomplish.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Center of your life

Colossians 3

He Is Your Life
1-2 So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

9-11 Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

As you listen to and read the words of the following song consider who or what is at the center of your life. This song, "Be the Centre", can be purchased at Vineyard Music.

What one thing can you do to place Jesus in the center of your life? What one thing will be the results of you making Jesus the center of your life?

Friday, November 14, 2008

What do you want?

When I graduated from high school one of my teachers told me I would never be more than average. This was based of course on the examples I set during the four years he knew me. Because of my 2nd and 5th grade experiences I purposely choose to become a slow reader. I knew that I would not have to stand in front of the class if I had not finished the book assignment. Because of the choices I made I found it difficult to comprehend what I read and so for years I almost stopped reading.

When I was 32 years old I made some decisions about my shyness and my fear of standing in front of groups to speak. I spent 6 years of being involved with a speaking club called Spokesman Club and one of the things we had to do was read books and the Bible to back up whatever we spoke on. As a result I began to read again and I started building a library. Today I have over 200 books in my library that I have read completely or partially.

One of the books I often quote from is "Dare to Desire" by John Eldredge. The book speaks to me in many ways but one chapter inspires me the most and that is "Taking Up the Journey". The beginning of the chapter quotes Jesus, "What do you want?" This is probably from Matthew 20 when Jesus encountered two blind men 32 And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" I believe that is a question Jesus is asking you and me today.

Have you ever thought about and answered these questions:
1. "If you could do what you've always wanted to do, what would it be?"
2. "What keeps you from doing what you always wanted to do?"

Some of us would answer that it is too late for me to accomplish anything more than what I have. Some would say I do not have the money to do what I always wanted to do. Others would use the excuse I have for so many years, I am not smart enough, rich enough or talented enough. And some would say there are just too many problems in the world and I do not know wher eto begin.

That last reason we do not more forward in our calling is the one I want to provide a solution to and it comes on page 39 of John's book. He quotes another book, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

In Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life" he talks about how God knew you before you were conceived. He knew all of the things you would suffer, achieve and fail at. He knew that all of those things would mold you to do the Purpose He had in mind for you. He used all of the experiences you have had to place in your heart a dream or purpose for your life.

That purpose has to do with what makes you come alive. My question for you right now is: "What is it that makes you come alive?" "What makes you burn with passion when you encounter it?"

Jesus is standing before you asking, "What is it that you want?"

Your job is to be His hands and feet and His job is to make the way for you to do your purpose.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Freedom, Liberty and You!

What do these two statements mean to you?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

If you have 35 minutes listen to this message by Bob McEwen


I apologize but I could not get it to embed.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

For years I feared stepping outside of the box I had allowed others to place me in. I believed it when they told me I could only achieve a certain level of success. I listened to them when they told me I was not talented enough or smart enough to be anything but average. I believed the lies that I developed about being too shy to speak in public and that I could never be a leader.

As Casting Crowns sang I lacked the faith to step out of the boat onto the crashing waves. I believed it when voices would tell me, "you will never win"!

For years my giants of insecurity, abandonment, lack of self-worth laughed at me.

Then one day I began to believe that the Creator God actually loved me and I began to listen to His Holy Spirit as He told me "do not be afraid" and "your life will be for my glory". I began to believe a different story.

Realistically I will not be a Rick Warren, a Bruce Wilkinson or a Mark Warner. I will not write and give great sermons like Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards or Billy Sunday. But I can be the best Larry Clark that I can be. I can discover and refine my gifts and my talents and use them to make the passions and dreams God has given me come alive.

What giant are you facing today? I encourage you to lay it down at Jesus feet and let Him carry it. Discover your gifts, talents, passions and dreams and then use them to bring glory to God.

Facing Giants
at ChristianBooks.com
Casting Crowns at ChristianBooks.com

Are You Living The Abundant Life?

In John 10 :6-10 Jesus tells us: Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. "I'll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn't listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

From the Christian Life Study Outline - The Open Bible
The only way into internal life is through faith in Christ as personal Savior. But let's not stop there; to have eternal life is great -- but there is more! Christ came that we might have life abundantly. That means now while we are yet alive. All believers have life, but not all have abundant life. You are living beneath your privilege if you are a believer and not enjoying the abundant life.

What is the abundant life?
1. The abundant life is a yielded life. - Romans 6: 10-13
2. The abundant life is a service life. - Romans 12: 12
3. The abundant life is a separated life. - Romans 1: 1
4. The abundant life is a Spirit filled life. - Ephesians 5: 18-20
5. The abundant life is a mature life. - 2 Peter 3: 18

You notice nowhere in that list does it say abundant living is having great monetary wealth, an expensive chariot or a big castle. I do not believe that being wealthy, driving an expensive car or having a nice big house are wrong but I do believe they are not the indicator of abundant living. I believe abundant living has more to do with who you belong to than your status or what you have.

If you are not experiencing the abundant life I encourage you to yield your life to Jesus, find someone to serve, discover your calling, be filled with the Holy Spirit and become mature by growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus.

From this moment on, determine not to be satisfied with anything less than God's best: living life abundantly.

What one thing in the above list may I pray about for you today?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why Sign-up with Covenant Eyes?

Listen to the following song by Casting Crowns called "Slow Fade" which can be purchased at ChristianBook.com or go to REAL Men RoCK Mall and click the link to ChristianBook.com.

Slow Fade
I believe that the video speaks for itself.

There are over 400 million pages of pornography on the Internet. It is scientifically proven to be highly addictive. It negatively affects people's relationships with:

- Community
- Ministry Calling
- Work Productivity
- Church
- Family & Marriage
- Personal Relationship with God

Pornography use is shame-based and leads to a secret life. 70% of Christian men and 21% of women struggle with Internet pornography.

One solution is Covenant Eyes. I have made a covenant with my eyes - Job 31: 1

Covenant Eyes is affordable: $7.99 per month. There are discounts for Household and Multiple users. Organization staff discounts for churches, ministry, businesses. You can add a filter for $1.50 per month.

Along with signing up with Covenant Eyes get an Accountability Partner. Accountability is an essential part of our lives. Being accountable provides safety and a sense of freedom from temptation.

I encourage you to seek out a friend who can hold you accountable for your dreams and keep you from greed, pride or lust.

I believe 100% of all men in church need to have an Accountability Partner and Covenant Eyes.

By clicking Christian Book or Covenant Eyes links I get a small commission on your purchase.

November 11th

Please take time to thank a Veteran today for risking his or her life in protection of the freedoms you and I so often take for granted.

To any Veterans reading this post today I salute you and want to say thank you for being willing to lay down your life for me.

From the Revolutionary war to the current conflicts the men and women in the United States military have fought for freedom and not as a conquering force.

About 2,000 years ago one man hung on a cross for the freedom of all mankind. Let's thank God for sending His son to live, die and be raised from death for our freedom from sin and death.

The Origins of Veterans Day

In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This site, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River and the city of Washington, D.C., became the focal point of reverence for America’s veterans.

Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation’s highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe). These memorial gestures all took place on November 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). The day became known as “Armistice Day.”

Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar Congressional action. If the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was “the War to end all wars,” November 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe. Sixteen and one-half million Americans took part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.

Armistice Day Changed To Honor All Veterans

The first celebration using the term Veterans Day occurred in Birmingham , Alabama , in 1947. Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, organized "National Veterans Day," which included a parade and other festivities, to honor all veterans. The event was held on November 11, then designated Armistice Day. Later, U.S. Representative Edward Rees of Kansas proposed a bill that would change Armistice Day to Veterans Day. In 1954, Congress passed the bill that President Eisenhower signed proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day. Raymond Weeks received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan in November 1982. Weeks' local parade and ceremonies are now an annual event celebrated nationwide.

On Memorial Day 1958, two more unidentified American war dead were brought from overseas and interred in the plaza beside the unknown soldier of World War I. One was killed in World War II, the other in the Korean War. In 1984, an unknown serviceman from the Vietnam War was placed alongside the others. The remains from Vietnam were exhumed May 14, 1998 , identified as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, and removed for burial. To honor these men, symbolic of all Americans who gave their lives in all wars, an Army honor guard, the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), keeps day and night vigil.

A law passed in 1968 changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I have corrupted my wife!!!!

My wife, Kat, had the day off today and as I was busy sending out some resumes she remarked how she would like to go to Lawrence, KS to do some shopping. We like to go flea marketing and so off we went.

We spent two hours at the Lawrence Antique Mall located at 830 Massachusetts. The store is two floors of all kinds of stuff. Kat collects carrot items and so my job is to look in every corner of every booth looking for anything with a carrot on it. I looked at old news paper prints for adds of carrots. At the end of our time we found one carrot item.

I have a routine with my grandkids based on a 3 Stooges skit. Whenever one of them says Niagara Falls I stiffen, slowly turn and as I do I say, "Niagara Falls, slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch, and I grab them and tickle them". I wanted to find something with Niagara Falls on it so I spent 45 minutes going through hundreds maybe thousands of old post cards to find only one that had Niagara Falls on it. The card was sent to someone on March 11, 1913 and I think it will make a nice gift for one of my grandkids.

One of my hero's is Abraham Lincoln and as I looked through the stacks and stacks of post cards I found an old card of a picture of Mr. Lincoln.

Another one of my hero's when I was growing up was John Paul Jones, the father of the US Navy and I found a book about his life but I am too cheap to pay $8.00 for it.

When we left the Antique Mall we went to lunch at Spangles a really good burger place.

After lunch we drove back downtown and spent another two hours walking up and down Massachusetts Street. Our final stop was a metal artist shop called "It's About Time located at 816 Massachusetts. I purchased an American flag metal art to hang either in my office or on our front porch.

It was a fun afternoon and as we got back into our Jeep, Kat turned to me and proudly proclaimed she had purchased something for me. She then clarified her statement by saying she had purchased something for me that I can give to Mark Warner, the senior pastor at the Vineyard Church in Overland Park, KS. She pulled out a coffee cup. It was a beautiful coffee cup with a beach scene, with the words Jam Session printed on it and 7 Pink Flamingos wearing swim trunks standing on the beach.

It was at this point that I realized I had corrupted my sweet wife's life with my sense of humor.

You see last year for Pastor Appreciation Month I talked a couple of people in joining me in purchasing a nice gift for Mark. It was the perfect gift for anyone who loved working in the garden and would enjoy a piece of art work among the flowers.

It as a nice 4' Pink Flamingo that would lite up at dust.

Now you know the truth, after 22 years of marriage, my wife has begun to think like me.

Oh by the way, Mark if this mug turns up on your desk, I have to confess my wife did it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

4 steps to improving your marriage

As I drove to our quarterly men's breakfast at Vineyard Church in Overland Park my mind was racing with thoughts of ways I had let my wife down, of how I have not achieved what most would call the American dream and I was weighed down with some fear of any discussion we might have after my friend, Steve, had finished what he was going to share with us.

My wife, Kat, and I have been married for 22 years and the failings I have had are long. She has been faithful and forgiving all through our marriage. I will confess some of my failings here and I say some because the list is so long.

For most of my life I have struggled with intimacy and I have hid my dreams, desires and struggles from her.

For several years in our marriage I struggled with sexual purity and found myself attracted to pornography.

For the last 5 years I have struggled with career issues. In 2003 I was part of a one person reduction in force and struck out on my own. Since then I have struggled with finding permanent employment and have had to settle for temporary work situations.

Steve covered each of these subjects in his talk and I found hope, real hope from what he shared.
He shared what has changed his life, improved all areas of his marriage and spiritual life.

His first point or step was about gaining sexual purity in his life. He used the following scripture:

1 Corinthians 6:18 (The Message)

16-20 There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "The two become one." Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never "become one." There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

1 Corinthians 7 To Be Married, to Be Single . . .

1 Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? 2-6 Certainly—but only within a certain context. It's good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to "stand up for your rights." Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it's for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I'm not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them.

His second point or step was based on:

Matthew 18:18-20 (The Message)

18-20"Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there."

Steve talked of praying with his wife and how that dramatically changed his life. This step made it possible for him to do the first step. Sexual purity has everything to do with having physical and spiritual intimacy with one's wife.

Steve's third point or step was to find a man who would be your encouragement coach based on:

Hebrews 3:13 (New American Standard Bible)

13 But (A)encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the (B)deceitfulness of sin.

Have you noticed how often men are beat up on by advertisements and some groups? Men need to be encouraged or they will escape into dark places to medicate their wounds.

Steve's fourth point or step was based on:

James 5:16 (The Message)

16-18 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn't rain, and it didn't—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.

For many men this is one of the most difficult things to do because they are going to take the risk of trusting someone with their shame and guilt. I believe that shame is placed on us by the fallen angels and keeps us enslaved to our sin and guilt is stirred in us by Christ's kingness and moves us to repentance by bringing our dark areas into the light.

Once you have found that man who you can trust make it a point to confess your sin. By doing so you will find healing for the wounds you have received through your life. Healing will lead you to wanting to reach out to other men and help them achieve the same blessings.

Steve mentioned a couple of books that can help you in your struggle to be intimate with your wife and in overcoming those things that keep you from achieving it.

Sex, Men & God by Dr. Doug Weiss

Listening for Heaven's Sake by David Ping and Gary Sweeten

Are you struggling with purity issues and a lack of intimacy with your wife? Do you have a hunger for encouragement and a need to confess? The solution to those needs is found in the four steps Steve talked about. Will things change instantly? Maybe, but if they don't I encourage you to not to give up. Keep getting up and take another step closer to the goal. As Steve said once you have achieved these 4 steps your marriage, your sex life, your ability to be intimate and your spiritual life will be the best you have ever experienced. Then you will find yourself like Steve and have a desire to be on a mission of helping other men experience the hope of real freedom.

I hope you will take the risk and leave a comment.

My Saturday

I spent most of Saturday at a breakfast for men. I will share with you over the next few days the things the speaker stirred in me.

Much of my afternoon was spent raking the fall leaves which covered our yard. Only the third time raking my neighbors leaves out of our yard. You might be wondering about where our leaves are, well, they blew over into my other neighbors yard before I could rake them up. In our little town of Louisburg, KS we believe in sharing.

I have decided to re-read a book I read when I was in grade school, "John Paul Jones" by Vinson Brown. I found this book a few years ago when my wife, Kat, and I were looking through a flea market close to my home town of Eldon, MO. I found the very book I held in my hands as a young boy. It was though I had found a priceless book when I found it. And to me it was because of the memories of how this book struck me back when I was a youth. As I read it again I will share with you each part his story that impacted me.

How I wish I had the same type of memories from my youth of having read the Bible and being struck by the truth that is found in its pages.

This post contains no great words of knowledge or stirring wisdom but for someone it will stir a memory. I encourage you to allow that memory to come out in your comment so that we can all benefit from your experience.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Politics and the Church

I live in a small town just 30 miles south of Kansas City, MO. I go to church about 20 miles away in Overland Park, KS which is the church I attended before I moved to Louisburg.

I have over 20 years of lay ministry experience and am ordained in the Association of Vineyard Churches, USA. Our little weekly newspaper publishes a weekly message by local pastors. I submitted one and the news paper called me to let me know I needed to talk to the leader of the ministerial alliance for their okay. When I talked to the leader of the alliance I was told they had a certain rotation and there was no openings for me to submit a message.

The purpose of my message was to announce a small group for men that I want to start in the community. There are about 55% of the people in our county that do not attend church anywhere and I wanted to provide a safe place for me to gather and talk about dreams, goals and issues they struggle with.

Later I was told by a local young pastor that most pastors in Louisburg did not support the idea of someone attending a church outside our community serving in the community in the capacity of a pastor. At first I was kind of ticked and I am just enough of a rebel to go against the grain.

I attend the Vineyard Church in Overland Park because I received healing for many wounds I had from my experiences growing up. For now I want to serve there as well as in my community.

The pastors who believe that someone cannot serve if they do not attend church in the community probably believes that only ministers are to do ministry and that the body is to just attend and behave.

I believe we are called to be uncivilized and to take risks to reach those who are hurting, who feel rejected and who are addicted. For a good book on this read, "The Barbarian Way" by Erwin Raphael McManus. You can purchase it at ChristianBook.com.

My question for any pastor who feels as those in Louisburg is, "Are any of the people who attend your church from other communities?" For example for Louisburg, do any come from Paola, Cleveland, or any of the other small communities around Louisburg? If so then why encourage them to attend your church when you believe that people should attend in their own community.

Why not encourage people to attend where they are ministered and then to serve along side of you when they can and when the time is right they will come to your church?

I know I am being somewhat of a rebel but our goal as pastors is to encourage minstry to those who do not attend church or even those who do but are not active in serving. Sometimes men will serve in their church after they receive healing for the wounds that they have suffered along the road of life. Along the Road.

I would be interested to hear comments from pastors on this post.

Shamless promotion of the sites I am affiliated with

I support the following affiliate sites because they provide the books, music and resources I trust and at a fair price. I hope you will use them from my blog site and I have to admit I hope you do so because I will receive a small commission.

Covenant Eyes provides Internet Accountability services.



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Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Cup of Coffee at Homer's

This afternoon I made my way to meet a friend at my favorite coffee house, Homer's, with feelings of failure and disappointment. For the past 1 1/2 months I have been working out of my home trying to sell a new product to a market that does not want it.

It might be I have been trying to do something I do not have the skill mix to do or maybe it was just trying to sell a product at a bad time.

As I sat at Homer's drinking a cup of Mexican Dark Roast I looked out the window. The sky is much as I feel dark but with some rays of sunshine. The wind blows the fall leaves down the street much as I feel being tossed by the events of life.

I look around the room and there are young and not so young people sitting having coffee or smoothies. I hear light burst of laughter coming from a mom and her son. Two young women talk of their nursing classes. Several young men stare at their lap tops instead of sharing conversation with each other.

My thoughts turn to the failures of the past few months. Losing a job that I actually loved even though it only paid $10.oo per hour and now struggling trying to sell a product no one seems to want. I decide I have a choice to make. I can either sit and focus on my failure and disappointment or I can look at the lessons learned and use them in moving forward.

James 1: 2 - 6, 12 comes to mind and I find peace.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trails, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

Blessed is a man who preserves under trial; for once he had been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

As I think of these words I find joy in the fact that my Lord, Jesus, wants to carry my burdens with me. That I can feel depressed and down for a time but because I have His help I can move forward out of those feelings.

My friend showed and we shared good conversation and a cup of coffee. We both agreed that our time together was just what we needed and that God had set it up for us.

What trial, what problem, what situation do you find yourself facing that just seems to be too heavy? Cast it at the feet of Jesus and leave with Him. With the help of the Holy Spirit and a good friend you can make your way out of your trial, problem or situation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What difference a weekend can make

In the spring of 2002 I went to a weekend conference for men. The conference began Friday evening and would conclude Saturday afternoon. I expected this to be no different than any other men's conference I had attended. I was wrong.

Have you ever been to a men's conference? I am not sure about you but my experience has been that most men who attend them talk a lot but never take action. Oh, I forgot I am one of those men.

This weekend turned out to be different. Our speaker spoke about dreams that first night and challenged us to really consider what it was God wanted us to accomplish. He asked us to think about what our life experiences were and what gifts had the Holy Spirit given us. After his talk he had us break into small groups to share what had been stirred in us by his talk.

Have you ever been in a men's small group? My experience was, not much was said and even less took place. I never experienced going deeper than "hi how are you?"

This evening turned out to be different. As we sat there looking at each other one guy in the group, Tom, asked who thinks he knows what God wants him to do? One by one we went around the group sharing what we thought God was calling us to do. When it came to me I muttered something but nothing of substance. Then Tom prayed over me. He prayed about how he knew God was calling me to work with men and to begin a small group. He prayed everything I had told God I would not do.

That night I did not sleep well and at about 3am I was awaken by someone saying, YES You Will!!. I looked around the bunk room and no one was awake. I layed back down only to hear the voice again. I knew someone was playing a trick on me so I sat up and looked around. Again no one was awake or even in the hall. This happened again and then again. Finally I said, Okay Lord if you want me to start a men's small group I will!" With those words I feel asleep.

I woke the next morning refreshed and hungry. After breakfast we headed to the conference room and heard another talk about what we were being called to do. Then he added what is the one thing that is keeping you from answering the call. He added to that this one thing was not a lack of money or talent or resources. He wanted us to break into our same small group and share what was the one sin that kept us from pursuing and achieving our calling.

A lot of men swallowed hard at that. Me I wanted to find a hole and hide. I found myself sitting with the same men from the night before and all of us just looking at each other waiting for someone to say something.

We sat there for about 5 minutes when suddenly my hand went up. I was stunned because I had no intention of sharing anything. Tom turned and asked, "What is it Larry?" I then shared how the one thing that was keeping me from pursuing and achieving the calling God had for me was I was hung up on pornography. I watched as four men's jaws dropped open. Tom smiled and asked if he could pray for me.

The other men did not share anything deep like me and I honestly thought about not showing up at church again because of the shame I felt. Tom praying for me helped change those feelings from shame to guilt. That is the day I discovered that shame is from Satan and makes you want to hide and guilt is from God which moves you to repent.

That weekend I began the process of finding healing and moving beyond addiction. I did not have the program such as Dr. Doug Weiss' Heart to Heart Counseling or the small groups now available at the Vineyard Church I attend so I struggled by myself until I found a man willing to be my accountability partner. I owe a lot to my friend, Gregg, and later to my friend, Doug.

What is God calling you to do? What is that one thing that is keeping you from pursuing achieivng your calling?

Don't let shame keep you from moving forward but let guilt move you to repentance. There are resources that will help no matter what you are dealing with. If you want help this is the first place to start. Leave a comment confessing your sin, email me and I will get you the resources to help move forward and find a trusted friend you can share and be held accountable to. We can with the help of the Holy Spirit and a friend overcome any sin!

What you hold onto keeps you captive.

For years I held onto and hid the pain of my mom leaving when I was young, the shame of having had and somewhat enjoying a same sex experience and that a man feels when going through a divorce.

I believe that holding onto these things and not sharing them with anyone kept me bound to feelings of abandonment, shame and worthlessness. When these feelings began to press in on me I escaped for a while into using pot but I did not like taking smoke into my lungs. Then I discovered the one thing that I could escape to that was fun, made me feel great and was something I could keep secret, pornography.

What is keeping you captive? Is it a drive for more material things? Is it a fear of failure? Is it wounds of childhood? Is it wrongs done to you by others? Is it a drug, alcohol or sex?

I do not believe it is wrong to pursue your dreams that result in more possessions if your motive is to bring glory to God through your accomplishments. I do not believe sex is wrong if it is within the boundaries of a marriage between a man and a woman. What is wrong is using anything but the love of God to medicate our feelings.

You can find freedom from your captivity. I believe you can find freedom by just following three simple but difficult steps. These steps came from a sermon, "Insiders Guide to Overcoming Failure" given Mark Warner at the Vineyard Church in Overland Park, KS (click the title of this post to go to Vineyard site).

Step 1 - Admit you have a problem.
For us men this step is probably the hardest to do. There are two individuals we must share the problem with. One already knows about it and the other we will have to find. God already knows about our problem and how we got there and if we will admit it to Him He will help us find the other person who we will share it with. God has made us for relationships but our experiences keep us from trusting others with our feelings and what we are going through. I heard it described best by a Quixtar speaker: "A man is like an M-1 tank. He is almost indestructible on the outside by very delicate on the inside". "If he opens the hatch to his inside and is betrayed he will batten-down the hatch and not allow another in".

I encourage you to share your problem with God and ask Him to guide you in finding another guy to develop a relationship with and when the time is right trust him with what your problem is. Now do the unthinkable admit you are powerless over your problem and ask God and your friend to hold you accountable to achieving victory over it.

Step 2 - Cry out ot God for healing for your wounds and deliverance from your problem.
James 5: 14-15 Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you've sinned, you'll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

Step 3 - Affirm God's kind intervention in your life.
Romans 2: 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? If you are facing a problem that just seems too large, if you are sick and tired of going through the same actions with no results and if you want more of the Holy Spirit moving through your life I encourage you to take the above three steps. Take the risk and see what God does in your life. There are men out there who God has shaped for service to men like us.

A great resource for protecting yourself from visiting inappropriate internet sites is Covenant Eyes (see link at right of page). If you need an accountability partner through CE then email me and we can make that happen.

I look forward to your comments.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dreams from the Dream Giver

My last several posts have been hard to write and have stirred old memories. This post will be about the dreams God has given me that have their roots in my youth and the events that resulted from my experiences.

God has planted in me a passion to be an instrument that He uses to help men overcome the things that keep them from achieving the passions He has placed in their hearts. He has given me a passion for the addicted, the rejected and the down trodden.

Look within your heart and find that one thing that God has placed there that burns when you think about it. What experiences have you had that reinforce it? God can use those experiences and the burning in your heart to touch the lives of others.

I encourage you to down the following:
1. Discover the burn in your heart.
2. Examine your life events.
3. Find a mentor who will encourage you to follow a dream.
4. Get the education to make your dream come true.
5. Pursue it.
6. Before you do any of the above pray, pray and do some more praying.

I believe it was Ben Franklin that said, "Most men are buried when they are 60 years old but quit living when they are 25 years old". Men don't quit living, don't give up on your dreams, get up out of that easy chair and quit watching television and move forward to accomplishing your dream.

A couple great books for you to read that will help you go through this process are:

"Leadership Lesson from the Civil War" by Tom Wheeler

"The Dream Giver" by Bruce Wilkinson

If the links do not work you can purchase "Leadership Lessons from the Civil War" at Amazon and "The Dream Giver" from ChristianBook.com. Both links can be found at the bottom of the blog. Clicking those links will provide me with a small commission.

Please share your dream with us by leaving a comment. We will pray for you to know God's will concerning your dream. I look forward to reading about your dream.

What happened then could make me who I am today

All of the events of my youth have had a direct impact on who I am today but I do not have to allow those events to control who I am to be.

For years I did not realize how much my mom abandoning me when I was 2 1/2 affected me and shaped my attitude towards women. Oh, I was a good husband, always coming home after a hard day's work, avoiding cheating and a good father. But... I was missing something. I did not know how to share my feelings or be intimate. Guys intimate is different than being sexual. I had no problem with sex but I just did not know how to share anything deeper than a grunt.

My first two marriages ended after 6 years not because I did something wrong but because I failed to give them what they needed, my heart. When I got married to my current wife, Kat, I began the process of changing that but it took me several years to move beyond the wounds of my mom leaving.

For years I allowed the actions of two teachers keep me from excelling. I knew that if I achieved success I would have to stand in front of people and the thought kept bringing back my 2nd and 5th grade experiences. I just could not risk having people laugh at me. When I was 38 I decided that I needed to change this so I joined some other men in a spokesman club. I spent 8 years learning how to write and give speeches. Today I still feel fear when I speak in front of people but I use that fear to do the best I can with what I have.

For years the sexual molesting I experienced by a man who I was suppose to trust when I was 18 kept me from developing friendships with other men. Later as a father I let this experience affect my relationship with my son when he shared with me that he was homosexual.

When I was 38 I decided to allow a guy into my life. Tom was pretty safe he was a quadriplegic so he could not molest me. Then a couple of years later I allowed Jim into my life. When I was 52 I decided to begin a men's small group and what I thought would be a low key group ended up with two homosexual and a transgender men in the group. It was a real struggle for me not to allow my past experience to control my relationship with these men. Thank God He delivered me from the fears and anger I had towards them.

Today I am still trying to building my relationship with my son but he is being held back by his hatred and anger at me for my actions.

Here is the bottom line guys. We all have experienced things that shape our attitudes and beliefs. We can either choose to allow those things to make us who we are or we can take control of them and turn them over to God and let Him make us who He wants us to be.

My brother is a artist and my son a graphic designer. I am a pot and like one of my brother's paintings or my sons creations as God shapes me into a more perfect vessel.

What is God doing in you? What is keeping you from doing the ministry He has called you to do?

I encourage you to share it here and then leave it here. Let God replace it with more of what He has for you.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My 18th year

My senior year in High School was very eventful. For the first time in my efforts at playing football I made the starting line-up. I was one of the smallest guys on our team but I played like I was much bigger. At the end of the football season my team mates choose me as one of the captains of our team.

I would have made the starting team in basketball too except I let my girlfriend talk me out of playing. She did not like the other girls cheering for me. My nickname was Co-Co, short for Clark bar, and she did not like hearing the girls cheering Co-Co or me running up into the cheerleaders area. Not that I always did that on purpose but I have to admit it was quite fun to do.

Later in the spring I did play on our golf team and we went to the state tournament and if I remember right Tom Watson of Kansas City played in that tourney. We did not place but we had lots of fun.

I was still shy but I was one of the most popular guys in our school. It seemed almost everyone knew who Larry Clark or Co-Co was. As a side note I went to my 40th school reunion and was voted the most changed person in our class. No one could put there finger on why I won that award but I believe it is because I was no longer that shy backward person they knew back then.

One spring evening my girlfriend and I were out on a date and we were laying under a tree in the park. As usual we started kissing and kind of getting out of control when I stopped and told her that I wanted to stop being sexually involved. I talked of how she could get pregnant and how that would ruin all of her plans for college and that I would leaving for the Navy soon. She started crying and asked if I still loved her. To make the story short we had sex and that night she got pregnant. That failure on my part to stand firm as a man changed our lives. She did not go to college until years later and I left soon after we got married for the Navy and Vietnam.

The next thing that year that affected my life and who I would become happened on my way to Vietnam. I had to spend one night at an Air Force base in California before I left for the Philippians. An Air Force Sargent offered to show me the town. Once in town he rented a Motel room and told me he needed to shower before we went to a local bar. After showering he sexually molested me.

I would let this one event keep me from having male friends until I broke free from that fear at age 41 and found healing for the wounds caused by it at age 52.

Guys we all have wounds resulting from others taking advantage of us or hurting us. It helps me to talk about my wounds and I encourage you to share yours here. I have the comment section set-up so you can be Anonymous. If I can help in anyway please contact me privately.

At 58 what's important to me

When I was 18 having fun was what I focused on. At 28 I focused on finding stability. At 38 I began to focus on changing those things in my life that kept me in a box. At 48 I began to focus on drawing closer to God. Now at 58 my focus is on several things.

I continue to discover areas I need to change, I continue to discover that I can improve in my relationship with my creator and I am finding new ways to have fun. My focus is on helping other men to move beyond the box they find themselves in.

What is most important to me now is to finish well.

I am interested in what is important to you and I encourage you to share it here so that those who come and read my posts and your comments will find something helpful.

My story - the school years

My experience in first grade was fairly uneventful but second grade was quite different. After the first grade year was over we moved back to Eldon, MO. The school year started off good and I was making new friends and I even found a girl who caught my eye. Being the boy I was I liked to tease her but one morning she got back at me. She was sitting at her desk right in front of me and I said something and she got out of her chair and took her scarf and placed it over my head. I laughed and reached up to take it off just as the teacher walked into the room. The teacher saw me and asked me to come to the front of the room and bring whatever it was that was on my head.

When I reached her desk she had me tie the scarf on my head and face the other students and she asked everyone how they liked her little monkey. She then had me get under our reading desk. turned the chairs around to make it like a cage and then when someone walked by the room she would have them come in and view her little monkey.

I can still remember how I felt that morning as the students and adults laughed at me. I vowed that I would never stand in front of the class again and I began to withdraw into shyness.

For the next few years I stayed out of view. I avoided every opportunity to get in front of the class by being below average in my learning. And then came fifth grade and the little musical instrument the recorder.

Our school had a beginning band in sixth grade and they used the recorder in the fifth grade to find students who had some interest playing a musical instrument.

I decided in the beginning that I would not learn the instrument because I knew those who did well with it would give a solo in front of the class. I did not practice our lessons and purposely struggled with playing it. I thought for sure I would not be asked to do a solo. Then the day came when we were to play for the music teacher at her desk. As I struggled through our assignment the teacher stopped me about half way through. Feeling confident that I had avoided standing in front of the class one more time I started to head back to my seat. She stopped me and asked me to face the class.

She then told the class that I was going to play the recorder so that they would know how not to play the recorder.

The laughter by the students drove me deeper into my shell.

Sisth grade was better. I played on the basketball team and the coach at the end of the year told each player their strengths and when he came to me he praised me for my attempts to follow his instructions and my improvement.

Junior High and Senior High were fairly uneventful years except that I was involved in football, basketball and golf. I was popular and well liked by most of the student. One important event took place during seventh grade when Charlie and James Thorton, the only two black boys in our school, came to my aid when I was attacked by the school bullies. When I asked them why they told me I was one of the only students who was nice to them.

Because of what happened to me in second and fifth grades I avoided standing in front of groups until I was 36 years old and made the decision to overcome the feelings that resulted from those events in my life.

I am sure that some of you have had similar experiences. I encourage you to share those events with us and begin the process of moving beyond them but more importantly maybe help someone else begin the process.