One Wish

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An old man was walking by when he heard the voices of two young men. He pursued the sound and called out to them just as they were about to enter a cave.

They turned and waved.

“Hello, sir!” called the oldest of the two, no more than 30 years of age. He shook the old man’s hand and his eyes were alit with adventure. The youngest, a mere 18-year-old, stood back, impatient to continue traveling.

After all, the old man was slow going, with a cane and unconcerned with the passing of time, surely he would hold them back, and they wouldn’t make it to their destination.

“Where are you boys heading?” asked the old man.

“We have heard a tale about a magician who lives at the top of a cliff some distance away, if you can make it there before nightfall, he will grant you a wish, but only one.” The oldest smirked at his young friend, “no matter who is with you, after one wish has been made, he will disappear from sight, and you won’t find him again for some time.”

“I see,” said the old man in interest, “what is it that you hope to gain?”

The young men hesitated, not wanting to disclose such information to a stranger. At last, the oldest said, “I want a wife, I’m at the age where I want to start a family and begin a new adventure as a husband and someday, a parent.”

The youngest quietly said, “I want to know my purpose, why I am here, what I’m supposed to do….that’s all.” He glanced at his feet shyly.

The old man smiled, “great wishes, very wise. Is it alright if I come with you? As you can see I am old and nearing the end of my journey. The adventure you are going on may just make me feel young again.”

The 30-year-old shrugged, “fine by me, I understand.” meanwhile the youngest frowned but nodded anyway.

The journey was long and harrowing. There were many obstacles and times when everyone had to face their fears. The cave was dark, the forest eerie, the open fields never-ending, but finally the steep cliff stood before them.

They formed a circle at its base. “We made it, and the sun is just setting, we should storm up it as fast as we can!” The youngest said, his face red with sweat pouring down his brow.

The 30-year-old nodded, “okay, but we should still be careful, nothing is more important than staying alive, wishes or not.”

The old man smiled at them, “you can take your path or you can follow me, I am going around the cliff and finding an easier route to the top.”

The young men laughed, “that could take ages, and we don’t have enough time for that. Plus, if we go together, only one of us can make a wish and I don’t want to decide, so whoever makes it to the top first will get his wish fair and square.”

They shook hands and parted, each with their own plan in mind. The youngest made for a good start, but he exhausted himself and slipped, fracturing his ankle.  His friend saw him trip and cautiously climbed toward him, offering him a hand. From there they both climbed together as a team.

In his heart, the youngest had decided that his friend deserved the wish, but kept his decision to himself for the time being.

The 30-year old, though at first annoyed, now felt sorry for the younger and knew that he wanted the wish more than himself, so he decided that at the top he would give the wish to him.

Once they made it to the top, the sun was just dipping over the horizon and an old weathered hand reached down for theirs, they accepted gratefully as the old man pulled them up. The young men shook their heads in disbelief, “you won old man, the wish is rightfully yours.”

The youngest finally shook the old man’s hand respectfully, “you were wise and I was foolish, make your wish to the magician.”

They turned and saw not a magician but an image. A vision of both the young men, the oldest married with children in his arms, the young man a doctor in a mission field, reading a bible. The old man was nowhere to be seen in the image, they turned and looked at him in confusion, the old man smiled and tears rolled down his face.

“I already made my wish, and that is that your wishes would come true.”

The young men stared at him in shock and wonder, “why?” was all they could ask.

“I am old, and my time here is almost up, there is nothing I could want for myself, and everything that I want for others. I want you to have everything I couldn’t have. You see I never married, never had children of my own, and I went nearly my whole life without knowing my purpose, until now.”

He looked over the cliff at the clouds and earth, too beautiful to behold. “I wasted so much time, and I hope this small thing will make up for some of it…now I guess my wish is to simply go home.”

To the young men’s further amazement the magician, whoever and wherever he was granted two wishes that day…the old man disappeared from their very eyes and both knew that he was home.

Later, as they stood at the base of the cliff, the moon shining and stars filling the night sky, the youngest asked, “if you could make one more wish what would it be?”

His friend smiled, “that I wouldn’t take a single thing for granted…including you.” He threw his arm around him and together they traveled back to the beginning, forever changed.

What is your one wish?

 

We Haven’t Forgotten

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“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” 

-George Orwell

I found this photo at a flea market. Most of the items there were gathered from barns and old forgotten buildings, most likely this photo didn’t cost a thing originally, and was merely given away…it was either that or be thrown in the trash.

Just looking at it I could tell that it was some sort of military division from around WWII, all gathered together for a picture, even the cook. This is only part of the large scroll-like image, full of people that may not be alive anymore.

I did some research on the writing, which in one corner says, O.A. Tunnell, who was a photographer around that began around the 1920s, known for his panoramic images, which is what this is.

In the middle of the picture in large font it’s titled:

Battery “A”… 55th A.A.  Training Battalion, Camp Callan, California. October 19, 1942

These men were part of a selective service program, hand-picked for Camp Callan (which was disbanded in 1944). There they were trained to use long-range weapons, protecting the coast of California from Japanese Navy attack.

March of 1940, the Luftwaffe (German aerial warfare branch) attacked the United Kingdom, also known as the Battle of Britain, this led to changes in training exercises in 1942, the year this photo was taken. These soldiers were specifically trained on combating aerial assault.

I cannot count all the faces on this one photograph, nor will I ever know all their names. Their faces all reflect a life I couldn’t understand, some of their expressions are joyful and proud, others are rather young and anxious. WWII was a terrible reality, something truly unforgettable. My uncle Herman served in the Navy during this war, and in his final days, he still remembered the horrors he faced as if it had happened yesterday.

The purpose of this post isn’t just to shed light on these brave individuals this Memorial Day but to shed an even bigger light onto what they were fighting for and the importance of remembering their sacrifices. As well as remembering the evil that started it all…

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Statue of Confederate Soldier: Destroyed 2017
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Statue of  President Theodore Roosevelt: Defaced 2017

 

There is a reason we learn about both the Nazi’s and the Allied Forces, the Confederates and the Union, the wars against Communism, against slavery, against, more recently, ISIS, and the 9/11 attack. Why do we remember? Why is it so important for our children to look back upon what made this country and the world what it is today?

So that we don’t repeat it.

The moment we forget any of it, we invite destruction upon ourselves! A repeat in history that would’ve been avoided if we had faced the truth instead of trying so desperately to erase it.

In the Bible, there are many times the Israelites forgot their past, they even forgot what God had done for them, and each time this happened, catastrophe struck! If America continues stomping on the flag, destroying statues, removing historical events in schools and trying to change the documents that we have stood surely upon since our nation’s founding we invite the same destruction upon ourselves.

What’s happening already? America has forgotten the horrors of Communistic beliefs, they have forgotten that this country was founded on Christianity and it’s morals which are a necessity for peace, order, and equality. They have forgotten 9/11 and how it was a Muslim attack, they turn a blind eye to immigration and how open borders can’t possibly work, they murder their own babies and call it mercy! They create new laws that strategically give the government more power over the people and they radically attack anyone who opposes their beliefs, which destroys the very foundation of America: freedom and equality under God.

If this continues we will soon see the repercussions, and in fact we already have, of such acts that dismantle the sacrifices of so many soldiers of both the Faith and the Nation.

My uncle was appalled by what this country had become…he didn’t understand how Americans could be so hateful of America and what it stands for. He said, “where is the patriotism?! Where is the respect?”

My uncle was a good God-fearing man, he adopted two girls and raised them no different than if they had been his own flesh and blood, he treated everyone with equality and respect, believing that we should treat others how we want to be treated.

Men like my uncle represent an era that is dying. A time when the country was united, willing to die to defend this great nation, both black and white, legal immigrants and native-born, men and women. It was a time when nearly everyone went to church on Sunday, could walk home in the dead of night without fear. Children were the future, the sole ones that soldiers died for, the ultimate king of this nation. The TV was child-safe and the news was honest and often involved real footage shown in theatres. They left nothing out of the horrors of war overseas so that no one would be naive.

This Memorial Day, we remember it all. Not just the hand-picked parts of history, but the entire thing, encompassing all the lives lost, and those who stood for what’s right as well as those who stood for evil and what that cost the world at large.

We remember the Christians that created this country and our founders who sought the best for us all. I salute you, and I promise to remember you…it is time we Honor the past again.

“Death. Destruction. Disease. Horror. That’s what war is all about. That’s what makes it a thing to be avoided.” -Captain Kirk

 

A Mother’s Love

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His first cry reached her heart

And love poured out to greet it

Did she know that someday soon

His cries of pain would break it? 

 

The tears she used to wipe away

When he would trip and fall

Now mixed with drops of blood

While others laugh and scoff

 

Oh how she must’ve smiled so

As he slept safe and warm

Now she cannot bear the sight

Of his body, broke and torn

 

She used to help him climb the steps

Now she helps him lift the cross

Knowing that this must be

But oh! how great the cost!

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She loved him as a mother would

Her heart died on that cross

While all the memories flooded back

Of years that we know not

 

I do not think that we can know

How much she did give up

Until we walk in her shoes

With a baby in our arms

 

So thank you, mothers, all around

For your love reflects our God’s

That hopes, believes, endures all things

In children such as us…

 

 

 

 

All or Nothing

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“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” 

-Victor Hugo

Before we can become more and believe more, we must first know that there is more. Without Jesus, we wouldn’t know the Father’s Heart, and now that we do, we now can go further than we ever have in love.

“We love because He first loved us” -1 John 4:19

God had to first reveal to us our meaning before we could begin to believe what He said is true and start to allow His words to change us into the masterpieces of our Lord’s original intent.

We cannot hope to hope without such revelations, without the Word of God we would have no hope. It is in hope that we find our conviction, our Faith. And this, coupled with the assurance that we are loved is enough to keep us standing no matter what hardships are thrown at us.

Though our bodies may perish our spirit lives on, and so we must mature it and protect it. We must allow God to reshape us into the image of Christ and in doing that both our bodies and minds will be captors of our spirit instead of the reverse. This must happen, we must “die” to ourselves in order to open the floodgates of “more”.

What is the more? They are the miraculous signs that demonstrate the Will of God on earth. Healings, prophetic words, visions, signs, and wonders that show Heaven can and must invade our world, our temporary plane. The words we say must be demonstrated as truth to those whose faith is small and eyes unseeing.

We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, and so we must show our King’s intent and good faith to all mankind. We must be a witness to His love and grace, and go out into the world proclaiming it.

Those from another place stand out, their cultural differences stand out as well as how they live and believe. This is the change that takes place in every new believer as the old self dies and is replaced by the new. The two selves cannot coexist, just as one cannot be both saved and condemned to hell. Those who “fence sit” are lukewarm and the Lord spits them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16).

And so, we must constantly remind ourselves of who we are and what has transpired by time alone with God, and time reflecting upon His Word.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” -Romans 12:2

Now that depression has been squashed, God is taking me to the next problem, the next obstacle that is hindering me. Apparently, the root of my depression started from the feeling of powerlessness in my life. This feeling alone holds me back from walking in authority, I fear failure and so I do not risk!

God reminded me of a dream I had last year, in the dream I was home looking out my front room window at a tornado, quickly approaching. I remember feeling peace because my options were few and the Lord’s Will would prevail. At the time, I believed that His Will was for me to carry out my destiny on the earth, and if I was mistaken in that, the end result would still be one of victory because I would meet my maker face to face.

I stood strong as the vile thing approached, and declared that it would stop in the name of Jesus, that it had to obey the Jesus in me. And just as the words left my mouth, the tornado dissipated, turning to mere mist and gentle breeze before uprooting a single shingle.

It was an all or nothing moment, in which everything is risk and the only option is for God to show up and make a move. I want that conviction in the face of reality when I pray for people to be healed of cancer, I want that conviction in the face of spiritual attack when demons are stirring up opposition against me, I want that conviction when I am faced with death or torture and mustn’t let my flesh consume me.

It is time that what I want becomes what I need in order to really make a difference in this world or even through my writing. Don’t you agree that our best example is set by doing rather than saying? And that before we can teach we must learn?

Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

When will I give my all to this walk? I’m tired of reaping small fruit because of my small sacrifice. If I gave my all wouldn’t it be worth it? We all give our lives away to something, or rather, someone….isn’t the call of God the greatest of these….worth every single part of ourselves?

You want to slay the demons in your life? Then finally, say yes to Jesus…not just “yes” to the belief that he existed, died, and rose again…but yes to the call he has now placed upon you to finish the work he started, the Great Commission. The baton has been passed on to his disciples and if you identify as such you will continue their work wholly surrendered to it, no matter what that may bring upon you or your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Love….is the greatest risk of all. And I would rather love wholly….than not at all.

Nothing hurts us more than love, compassion, empathy….I’ve asked for God’s heart on the matter quite often in my life and because of it, I’ve felt the painful sting of heartbreak…not just personally but in the lives of those around me…I’ve shouldered their burdens, feeling their pain as if I’m walking in their shoes. I know that this isn’t the case, that I do not know what they really feel or are facing. But, God has given me a perspective into their pain, a taste of it, to remind me of His own Heart that is ever breaking and ever whole all at the same time.

Love is a powerful force, and it is the source of our conviction and passion. Let love in and you will be moved to action despite yourself. Hardening your heart may keep pain from coming in, but it will also keep all that is good out as well. We only fully live in the face of love, without it (the ALL) we have NOTHING.

 

 

The Dinosaur Dilemma

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“Sarcosuchus imperator” – The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

The scariest movies I was allowed to watch as a kid were the Jurassic Park series, I remember going through that all to common phase where kids love dinos. I always chose dinosaur toys over Barbie dolls, sometimes those barbies became lunch for my T-Rex.

Even now, in my church preschool class, my children gravitate toward the dinosaur toy chest which is even more popular than the Hot Wheels race cars. The truth is, we never really lose our love of mystery. That curiosity toward the unknown and bizarre.  I mean let’s face it, dinosaurs are so terrifying and strange that it’s hard to imagine they ever existed. How could such monstrous creatures ever walk this earth and how do they fit in with the Christian story of creation?

Despite their amazing preservation, which proves the occurrence of the flood in Genesis (I will explain later), I believe that God also wanted them to be discovered, years later, so that they would serve as a reminder of pre-flood times.

Some say that they were in the Garden of Eden, created by God in the beginning. I believe that some were, such as the dinosaur-like creatures they termed “Behemoth” and “Leviathan,” which remain to this day a mystery though the description of the Behemoth matches that of a herbivorous dinosaur with a long tail and immense strength, while the Leviathan is more crocodile in description (Job 40-41). Either way, it seemed that mankind lived with them as naturally as we do creatures today. But what about the others?

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The monsters of nightmares with razor teeth and claws that surely were killing machines of immense strength and ferocity. I find it difficult to imagine such creatures snuggling up to Adam and Eve in the garden, nor can I imagine God creating these creatures which depict pure savagery. Sure, we have crocodiles today and many reptiles that could be dangerous, but nothing like the T-Rex which was roughly 20 feet tall with a head large enough to swallow a man whole.

To find out what went wrong, we need only look to the beginning, the moment Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and God placed a curse upon them and the land. From that moment everything changed and “forgot” it’s identity and purpose. Animals that once possibly talked to Adam (Eve didn’t freak out when the snake spoke to her), became dumb and timid of man. The plants that once grew freely and were easy to cultivate now required work, and had to be distinguished between thorny and poisonous plants.

The safe bubble was sealed away from mankind and they were cast out into the world which was already under satan’s control. I believe that the climate at this time was still rather tropical and “garden-like” since all the waters that God would later send down in the flood, resided in the earth and skies promoting a greenhouse effect. Mountains and water channels would exist only after the floodwaters retreated, carving out the landscape we know today. 

I heard that in Florida, pet boa constrictors have become an issue. People dump their pets into the Everglades where they flourish in the perfect temperature and space filled with prey. You see, reptiles have the potential to keep growing so long as everything is just right. They say that pet reptiles grow to the size of the exhibit or cage, remove such boundaries and they will continue to grow. Boa’s at home stay somewhat small, in Florida, abandoned snakes have grown to 10+ feet and can weigh over a hundred pounds!

Without God keeping things in check, reptiles all around grew and changed, warped by sin, turned into something other than their original intent. Satan is good at destroying what God originally created to be pure and just. Once Noah’s time had come, all creation and mankind had been fully corrupted and twisted. Noah’s Ark was large, and God started over by preserving the original animals, the core species that other varieties would come from later on. However, it is my belief that many of the creatures were left behind, T-Rex and dinosaurs of the like including.

This is of course just my opinion, setting aside the secular science timeline and its eras, I believe that the majority of dinosaurs died in that flood, and this becomes more believable by the preserved remains that have been found throughout the world.

Footprints, if you walked out in the mud your tracks would soon disappear, wind, multiple storms, and other animals/plants would destroy the prints. Today we have fossilized dino prints that are perfect and seemingly untouched.

Remains, if an animal dies in the woods it will deteriorate, be eaten, and it’s bones scattered. Today we find complete dino fossils, in death pose as if frozen in time.

Place, dinosaurs of the same species have been found in sporadic locations as if carried there and placed, ocean fossils can be found on mountain tops!

Age, if you believe that the Bible is accurate (as I do), this earth really isn’t that old and so dinos existed only briefly in the span of time, dying rather quickly and catastrophically which is something most scientists can agree upon, though I was taught that the event was a meteor and not a flood.

The floodwaters came fast, depositing layer upon layer of sediment, forever sealing away the remains of dino and man alike. Is Genesis History: Rocks and Fossils is a great source of information from scientists who set out to find the truth, regardless of the push to accept what’s been deemed popular science.

Was the flood cruel? I used to think it was, how could God do that to his creation, and yet if mankind and the earth had really slipped so far, perhaps we would’ve destroyed ourselves in the end. I personally am grateful that dinosaurs don’t exist today, it isn’t so far fetched to think that if they did we would be living out a real Jurassic Park film, which proves that the past should remain in the past. And what God has destroyed, should not be resurrected.

What do you believe?

 

Purpose-Centered Life

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“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how” 

-Friedrich Nietzsche

What’s your purpose?

I’m not talking about our shared purpose, the Great Commission to spread the gospel to all (Matthew 28:16-20), the truth is, reaching the lost looks different for each of us, and our purpose is the “how” we are to bring about the most influence. The world is waiting for us to discover our own unique destinies. God isn’t one for copycats or clones, he created us all uniquely and our calls reflect that, but do you know what you are called to do? Do you know what your destiny is?

Throughout my life, I’ve discovered that any person of greatness was someone who knew without a doubt what their calling was and chased after it with everything they had. They didn’t fear but surrendered their lives entirely to the call and the glory of God. Now because of their passion, we remember them and think, “Wow, they had a greater call than the average man or woman.” The truth is we all have a great call, we just don’t have a great desire behind it.

Remember, we all have as much of Jesus as we want. As much influence as we desire. If we truly wanted to give our lives over to this destiny, everything would change! Our lives and our hearts reflect what we really love. Ouch, that is a painful fact, and yet realizing that this is where we are is the first step to going further.

But how can we chase after something that we haven’t yet discovered? What is our destiny? What is MY purpose?

When I was a child, I caught a small black ant. I remember to this day what my expectations were and what happened in the course of only a few hours. I thought that the ant would eat, drink, sleep and explore the large “cage” I had bought for it. I placed it in the cage and watched…the ant searched the rim of the exhibit looking for a way out, it ignored the food and water. It searched more and more frantically and by the time the sun set, it simply laid down and died.

I was astonished and sad. I realized then and there that an ant can’t live alone, it’s purpose was to serve the queen. I had taken away its purpose and without a purpose… there was nothing left to do but die. WE slowly die without vision and purpose!

It is so vital that we discover our purpose here, not just for ourselves, but for the lost who are starving for vision and direction in their lives. They can only grow to the point we have grown. In other words, we are the ones who show them what is possible. We live by example and we demonstrate the Will of God, the Mind of God, and the Heart of God.

I wish I could say how to find your purpose, but unfortunately, that is something only you can discover for yourself. I am still discovering or more accurately, uncovering, who I am and what I am called to do. Here are some questions you can ask yourself though that will help clarify your search.

Your DESIGN reveals your DESTINY:

  1. What are your talents/abilities?
  2. What are your spiritual giftings?
  3. What are your desires?
  4. What has brought you success?
  5. What do others see in you?
  6. What are the opportunities in front of you?

Don’t know where to start? Just ask your pastor where you are needed most and go do it. Take out the trash, serve in children’s ministry, be a greeter. The whole point is to take a step forward, do this and doors may just open that wouldn’t have if you waited for destiny to just fall in your lap.

Don’t compare. We all have important roles and callings. No one’s call is more important than another, and comparison really is the thief of joy. You really want to bring glory to God? You can’t do that trying to copy Sarah or Mike or whoever…you can only do that by being YOU. No one else can be you…and God created you specifically for a purpose.

Do you know that your purpose existed before you were born? A problem exists before a solution is created. We are that solution. God looked around and saw that this universe was missing something…you.

Jesus was purpose driven, even by the age of 12! He knew that he had come into the world to fix a problem, and his final words as he hung on the cross were, “it is finished.” His mission was complete, his purpose for coming into the world was fulfilled. The problem was solved.

Ultimately, we are all called to make a difference in others. People are God’s agenda. You can’t love God and hate people, that just isn’t possible. We are God’s heart, and He loved us so much that He sacrificed His Son! Not just for you, but for your neighbor who has a drinking problem, for that childhood bully that pushed you, for the coworker that likes to start trouble, for the person who sits beside you at church judging, every saint and sinner alike. He died for them all. 

Nothing ventured nothing gained...just start by stepping into the opportunities around you, noticing the needs that you can take responsibility for. Live every day as though you are on the mission field. Work is a mission field, the store is a mission field. Anywhere there are people there are opportunities to minister!

God will work through you where you are at, in fact, He placed you exactly where you are for a reason. And generally, that goes hand in hand with the people He placed with you or those who you come in contact with daily. This verse from Esther paints it very clearly:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows, but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (4:14)

You were placed strategically. In this country, state, city, and neighborhood…for such a time as this. 

And so what will you do? How far are you willing to go? You may have plans for your life that are contrary to your call, you may fail time and again, you may go through Joseph-like moments that make you wonder if anything will change. We are all broken vessels, and you know what? Jesus is the ultimate redeemer. Read the story of Joseph and you will see that God can use our trials and our failures to bring about His glory.

All of this…I learned this weekend at our church, we had a speaker come and stir our hearts to action in Marion, Ohio. A lot more was said and I took many notes, we worshipped and prayed, and I believe that we all took a step farther on our journey toward fulfilling our purpose. I asked God what it was that He wanted from me specifically and I want to share that response in close.

He said…I want you to be willing.

We just have to be willing, we have to trust God. And take a step, a leap of faith, a risk…and watch God move. Amen?