January 26, 2012 - Psalm 25:3

25:3 - Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. 

It's easy to get caught up in the nonsense that surrounds us. It actually does so much more than surround us. It's everywhere. Every single aspect of daily life in this world we've built for ourselves represents the opportunity for sin. Even the clothes we wear can represent sin. Do we focus more on what they cost than what they cover? Do we "have to have" certain brands? The food we eat is opportunistic from the devil's point of view. Gluttony, laziness, greed.....they can all be identified within the dishes on our dinner table. With all this said, these same aspects also offer incredible opportunity to "wait for God." Sacrifice, hard work, constant works in every other endeavor from which we have extracted success in our lives, so why not our Faith. Constant belief, and constant acknowledgement of God's presence and hand in your life will leave you in a much better place than the "trend-setters."

December 29, 2011 - Peter 3:8

3:8 - But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

And our earthly accomplishments mean even less in the eyes of the Lord. Stop trying to achieve perfection, you cannot. 

October 6, 2011 - 1 John 4:7-8

4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.  Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 

Anyone who does not love, does not know God? That seemed like gibberish until recently. That feelings of anger and hate that had consumed me. Unhappy with work, income, house.....all the usual suspects. I would love to say that I had one of those sudden bursts of knowledge so many people speak of, but it was more of a gradual process. Almost like coming in from out of the cold. God's love gradually blanketed me and opened my eyes to the fact that all of the things I feared; all of the things I hated....they were not important. The things that are important; I mean really important; they all center around love. God loves me unconditionally. That took a long time for my brain to comprehend, but when I finally latched onto that one key element, everything else seemed to fall into place. God loves me the way my dad loves me. He loves me the way I love my son. It can't be explained but it can't be broken. Anyone who can't love; those who are intentionally hateful, deceitful, and any other personality disorders you can think of; those are the people that God can't help. Doesn't mean that He doesn't love them, just means that they have not fulfilled the one request God has of mankind in exchange for the kind of peace only He can offer.

October 3, 2011 - Proverbs 3:5-6

3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths. 

What a powerful verse. Think about what those words are actually saying. If you trust in God, He will better your life. I believe that too often, we overlook God's greatness in our lives because maybe our life is not going exactly the way we dreamed it would. We see pain and suffering and assume God's absence when the truth couldn't be further. Suffering is needed to appreciate joy. Without death there could be no life. You may pray to win the lottery, but what are you really praying for? Are you really praying to win the lottery, or are you praying for the opportunity to quit your job; buy your kids something they don't necessarily need; a bigger house, etc.? Are you praying for material possessions, or for safe passage into the next stage of your life? Just because you prayed for a million bucks and didn't wake up next to a big pile of cash doesn't prove that God doesn't exist. In fact, if you've ever said such a prayer and are sitting there reading this message; I would say it actually speaks more to God's existence than His absence. No, you didn't win the lottery, but you obviously got through whatever hardship had inspired the prayer. Things may not be perfect, but they're not the hell you imagined either.I have a friend that lost her mother to cancer a few years ago. It was horrible. The heartache my friend suffered was unimaginable to me, but the life that she now leads is one that her mother inspired. It's a life that wouldn't have been possible without the indelible lessons taught by her mother's passing. Pain is part of life and God puts it in our path for a reason. Stop trying to assert your own will and accept that God knows better. 

September 28, 2011 - Proverbs 3:1-2

3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commandments 2 for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. 

I realize the verse itself is referring to the relationship between God and mankind in general, but how fitting that this verse should arrive in my line of sight this morning as I am receiving a letter of encouragement from my absurdly supportive and patient father  (R-Earth). It was also delivered to me on the same morning that I was explaining some rather difficult concepts to Aidan. The exercise of writing my biography for the novel I'm trying to publish has reminded me of several lessons I was taught when I was his age. Not only the lessons, but the overall guidance and moral compass I received from both of my parents. I may have resisted their logic more often than they would have liked, but the mistakes I have made in my life would have been far more irreparable than they were if my parents hadn't raised me the way they did. God was a focal point, not a social topic. I am the kind of father I am to Aidan because of the example I was shown in my youth. We all make occasional, sometimes frequent mistakes as parents, but our overall demeanor and general set of inherent values leaves an indelible impression that shapes the subconscious of our children in ways our words or self-assessed wisdom will never accomplish. In the verse above, God promises that following his commandments will extend our life and enhance the pure joy we feel in our hearts. Nothing has ever proven to be more true in my own life. 
September 27, 2011 - Philippians 1:6
6 - And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

So,  the verse itself has more to do with the fact that those who believe in God will be rewarded when Christ returns, but the thoughts provoked when I read this verse were more selfish than that. It's amazing how often a verse will find me at exactly the right time, or inspire exactly the right state of mind. Lately, I've been getting a bit discouraged in several areas of my life. Financially, things never progress as quickly as we'd like them to. My relationship with Jackie has been strained due in part to the financial restraints put on our daily life. The book that I am trying to get published has become more of a sinking ship feeling than the fun, pride-filled work it should be. With very few literary agents responding at all and rejections from the ones that do, it's easy to get down. It's easy to let those feelings of failure and planned escape routes start to consume my head but then.....BAM!!! A verse like this comes along and reminds me that I have "begun a good work". I put all of the measures in place to make sure that the book was something I would be proud to show the most virtuous people I know. I have let my father read it. I have encouraged my mother to read it. (May have to produce a hard-copy for her. Reading a document on her computer is proving to be more trouble than it's worth!) Jackie has read it, and someday I will be proud to let the kids read it. God will deliver the publication in his time, not mine. I keep reminding myself of that as I stare at this Publishing & Distribution Contract I have sitting, unsigned, on my desk beside me. Something about the contract just doesn't feel right. It feels like there is something else I need to do before God will allow this to be the break I am hoping it will be. Stay tuned!