Category Archives: self-worth

He Heard! Selah.

“I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.” – Psalm 3:4

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. It’s a musical notation meant to make us pause and reflect on what we’ve just read (or sung – the Psalms were songs). And what better to think about than the Lord of heaven hearing our cries?

I Cried

קָרָא qârâʼ (kä·rä’), translated as “cried,” could mean to recite, read, cry out, or proclaim. But in the context, and especially sense this word has also been used of animals crying out – and since the root of this word has to do with the sound a person makes when confronted unexpectedly, or accosted – I think the cry David made was more like a loud, desperate call for help . . . like the desperate plea from a fallen child.

Just think about that for a moment. Are you a parent? What does it do to you when your child cries out for help? What does that cry sound like to you? When your child is being chased by a dog, or when he falls and gets hurt, does he recite his proclamation of displeasure? You know the difference, don’t you?

So does God for His children when they cry out for Him.

He Heard Me

What an expression of hope! What an expression of joy! David was thrilled that God would actually hear him when he called.

He heard me from his holy hill” was an expression humility…of wonder…of amazement that the Holy One would be mindful of him (Psalm 8:4). But it was also a testimony to David’s enemies who had said previously that there was “no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:2).

Oh, God hears! David wrote this song as a testimony to that fact. He reminds us that heaven is not deaf, but attentive and listening. Our prayers are not worthless words read or recited to a spaghetti monster in the sky. No, there is a God, and He hears His own.

Pause and think about that for a while. 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Selah, self-worth

A Doctrinally Worthless Bumper Sticker

Dear blogger friends,

Have you ever had so much to write, but being sleepy, tired, worn out and ready for bed kept you from it?

Have you ever wanted to launch into the deep waters of controversial topics only to realize the sails of your little boat were too tattered to catch the wind?

Well, that’s about how I feel right now. I’m tired, sleepy, and I need to get up early in the morning.

However, I saw a bumper sticker today that really got my goat, so I have to say something.

You see, just tonight I was going through a small book that was given to me by a Muslim “apologist,” and my head is still spinning from all the twisted scripture he used to “prove” his obscenely ignorant arguments. The former Baptist converted to Islam, then he wrote a book meant to “prove” that Jesus never claimed to be God nor died on the cross.

If there was one verse taken out of context, there were ten. If there were ten times he made ignorant inferences, there were a hundred where he proved nothing more than that he never studied the Bible as a Baptist, much less as a Muslim.

Maybe, just maybe, if this man had spent more time in the Word of God studying what it actually said instead of being caught up in some social or racial “gospel,” he might have never fallen victim to the foolishness he now believes.

And that’s where the above bumper sticker comes in… It’s about the most useless attempt at profundity I’ve ever seen; it makes no sense whatsoever.

You may think that “Jesus [loves] Feminists” is a wonderful truth, but let’s take a moment or two to unpack it.

First of all, Jesus loves feminists. Yes, He does.

However, Jesus also loves prostitutes and murderers, so what’s the point?

Jesus loves sinners, and that’s why He went to an old, rugged cross to suffer and die for the sins of the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Are feminists sinners? Is that what they’re saying?

Or, is the bumper sticker implying that Jesus loves feminists, but not chauvinists? Is it saying that Jesus prefers tree-hugging egalitarians over traditionally conservative complementarians? Does Jesus love some people and not others? Is that the point?

On the other hand, maybe it’s simply trying to say that Jesus loves feminists, also. Like, Jesus loves the chauvinists, the complementarians, the macho men, AND the feminists.

If that’s the case, then Jesus loves everybody, right? So what’s the point of the bumper sticker?

Unfortunately, the above bumper sticker does nothing glorify the love of Christ. All it does is pander to those who need to be affirmed.

Truth is lost in ambiguity; the reader learns nothing.

What a doctrinally worthless bumper sticker!

I did say I was tired, didn’t I?

And just for fun… watch “What it’s like to date a feminist in 2018.”  https://www.facebook.com/allieCRTV/videos/1986330614991509/


(Please send all your hateful and angry comments to Wally Fry – he’s got far more energy than me)

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Marriage, politics, self-worth

Sometimes I Feel Like a Failure

I am going to be very honest, as I’m sure you will appreciate: Sometimes I feel like a total failure.

You may have some impression of me, and that impression might be a good one. However, sometimes I see myself as a failure for not having accomplished a fraction of my stated goals, thereby leaving myself wondering, “Will I ever be able to do this?”

This morning has been difficult. It’s been a long time since any regular income has come in. And even though I felt sure I was supposed to be doing what I’m doing career-wise, it’s not put much money in the bank as of yet. I’m not talking about ministry; I’m talking about my work outside the pastorate (I’m bi-vocational).

So, I went to Blueletterbible.com and did a word search for “fail.” There were over 60 occurrences of the word, but two of them stood out to me.

The first one spoke of how David understood pain and doubt. He had questions about God’s compassion and promises.

Is his mercy clean gone forever? doth his promise fail for evermore? – Psalm 77:8

But then David went on to answer his own question by remembering what God has done and said:

Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. – Psalm 77:14

Then I came to the following verse:

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. – Isaiah 41:17

I am poor and needy. We have more than a water bill. I can’t do this on my own! Much of the help that should come from man is missing, but I have a God who hears my plea and has not forsaken me!

All I have to do is cry out to him!

I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. – Psalm 57:2

Lord, I am not a failure as long as there is still breath in my lungs and an opportunity for me to step forward to my Goliaths. My strength is small; my abilities are few; my vision is limited to the horizon, but You will not forsake me, and Your presence will go before me. You will get the credit for my successes, for Your name will be glorified as You help me stand, fight, conquer, and provide for my family (Deut. 8:18). I am not a failure because You are not.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Depression, Faith, God, self-worth, worship

Even a Trash Can…

This is a blast from the past post, but it is a wonderful story that someone needs today. Maybe it’s you.

Saturday night, March 5th, 2011, was the day I said about a shiny, silver trash can, “I have GOT to get me one of THOSE!

For our daughter Katie’s 15th birthday, instead of a party, we bought tickets to see Chris Tomlin and Louis Giglio in concert. Chris Tomlin sang, and Louis (the “Laminin” guy from YouTube) Giglio preached. However, before Chris or Louis got up to do their stuff, a group we had never heard of took the stage. Their name? Rend Collective Experiment.

Well, I am not Irish, so maybe that’s why I don’t fully understand or appreciate Rend’s style. Frankly, it was a little weird, at first. But on the other hand, once my ears adjusted, the energy and emotion from the stage were too contagious to ignore. Thankfully, because the lyrics were projected above on screens, I was able to understand what it was that I was being compelled to sing along with. Did I say I’m not Irish? I’m not even lucky.  Anyway…

Drumsticks NOT included.

The worship experience was awesome, and I don’t use that word flippantly. I really felt the Spirit of God move, especially in my own heart, and Sunday was evidence of that. Saturday night brought renewed strength and encouragement in the faith that overflowed from the pulpit as I preached. But one thing, in particular, stood out and has been forever sealed in my memory – the silver garbage can.

I kid you not, along with all the other instruments I expected to see a live band play, like guitars and drums, a girl with more enthusiasm than a hummingbird at the sight of a bird-feeder was whacking away on a tin trash can – a garbage can. And I am not joking when I say that I am surprised the can was as tough as it was because she beat the lead out of any alloy it was made of.

I had never seen anybody play a trash can, before; yet, after an initial period of jaw-dropping amazement, my immediate thought was, “How could I get one of those in the church choir?” “Who could I get to play it?” Really, other than rhythm (which is critical), what do you need by way of musical talent to play a tin can? All you need is a willingness to make a……WAIT……

A JOYFUL NOISE!

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. – Psalm 95:1 KJV

Some are piously thinking to themselves, “How could God have been glorified by a stinking garbage can? What rubbish!”  But God never said a joyful noise had to be made on a pipe organ, did He? When did God ever say he couldn’t be glorified by a trash can? But talk about the pot calling the kettle black – Praise our Father in Heaven!WHAT ARE WE that WE should be given the opportunity to sing praises unto the King of Glory? WE are nothing but “filthy rags!” If not for His mercy, we would still be in our sins.

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. – Isaiah 64:6

But PRAISE THE LORD, He has chosen to use us to bring glory to His name! Just like that old trash can the girl on stage was pounding with a stick, if God chooses to use us, He can put us in just the right place, just the right context, to bring out of us a new and joyful anthem of holy celebration. Even though the world says a trash can is fit only for garbage and filth, God can take the most humble of things and elevate them to the heights of a heavenly choir! HALLELUJAH!

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. … That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, 31 KJV

“How do you tune it?”

I was so blessed with that trash can that I looked over at my wife and said, “I have GOT to get me one of THOSE!” Then I looked over at my daughter and said, with the best Irish accent I could muster, doing an imitation of Rend Collective’s drummer, “That was GRRRET!” If God can use even a trash can, I know He can use you and me. Now the only question I have left, being a bassist, is “how do you tune this thing?

 

 

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Filed under Do not judge, General Observations, God, legalism, self-worth, worship

Different Metal, Different Furnace

Without a doubt, there is someone who needs to read this today. I know I did.

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts. – Proverbs 17:3 NKJV

Gold or Silver

In case you were not aware, there is a difference between gold and silver (Well, duh!). Seriously, there is a difference between the two, and that fact should not be taken lightly. Gold is gold, and silver is silver. Obvious stuff, right?

Well, sometimes the obvious is profoundly important.

Gold is extremely valuable but is soft and pliable. Silver is not as valuable per ounce but is nevertheless a harder precious metal. Gold is highly sought after and coveted; silver is more common but is still critically important for a wide range of applications, everything from electronics to medicine.

How one refines gold, compared with silver, is not the same. What’s more, the temperatures of the refiner’s fire is hotter for one than the other.

What R You?

When I read Proverbs 17:3 yesterday during a Sunday School class I teach, something obvious proved to be very profound: depending on how God wants us to be used, each one’s trial by fire will vary in intensity, the heat of which will determine what metal we are made of.

gold furnace

Source: The Australian

Unlike gold and silver, we are human; our qualities and usefulness change. Some days we are made of gold, while other days we are silver, but most of the time it is hard to determine which. That’s when the Refiner turns up the heat.

There is a lot to refining gold and silver. Not only is there heat involved, but various acids, too. Therefore, it should come as no surprise when God not only allows us to endure intense pressure (heat), but permits the caustic, painful situations of life to eat away the impurities within us.

God is the refiner of hearts.

Iron Man

But, you know what? Gold and silver, while both rare and beautiful, will never make good axes, swords, cannons, I-beams for skyscrapers, or bridges across raging streams.

Sometimes there are jobs that can only be done with iron.

Don’t feel special? Don’t think of yourself as gold-like? That’s OK! You’re important, too! As a matter of fact, the melting point of iron is nearly double that of gold.

You may think what you are going through right now is far tougher than anything a “golden saint” might deserve. Don’t lose hope; the fires forging you are instilling a strength that may be needed to wage war against the Enemy, support the heavy loads of many, or bridge the gap between understanding and ignorance.

Don’t curse the furnace. Let the Refiner do His work.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, self-worth, Struggles and Trials

Doing, Being, and Identity

Two Questions

Would you take just a second and think about something? Take a second and think about the following two questions:

  1. “What do you want to be?”
  2. “What do you do?”

When would you ask these questions? I bet I can answer that for you.

The first question (“What do you want to be?“) is one that you would pose to a young child. It would be asked with the qualifier of “when you grow up.” I’ve asked kids this question many, many times, and the answers are always entertaining. Children want to be things like firemen, doctors, cowboys, baseball stars, movie stars, even school bus drivers. Some even want to become the mythical, like super heroes, monsters, or unicorns.

When you ask a child what he wants to be when he grows up, all you are doing is opening up before him a world of possibility – the sky’s the limit. The question doesn’t limit him in any way. On the contrary, it affirms his potential to be anything he wants to be.

The second question (What do you do?) is one that you would likely ask an adult. Think about it, you wouldn’t ask a 10-year-old, “What do you do for a living?” Obviously, the child is just a student and preparing for the riggers of future employment as a “safe space” attorney, not an actual lawyer, or doctor, or super model.

But when you pose this question to an adult, instead of offering him the opportunity to dream big and affirming his ambitions, you cause him to face the here and now, the cold reality, the fact of what his childhood dreams have turned into. Unfortunately, affirming and praising one’s potential is a whole lot easier than affirming one’s present state.

When you ask a child what she wants to be when she grows up there is the possibility her dreams will come true. When you ask someone what he does for a living the answer is what he is doing, not what he is dreaming, and what he is doing might be all he ever does.

Is Doing Being?

I have always struggled with the temptation to find my identity in what I “do.” In other words, I’ve never wanted to just do things, I’ve always prided myself in being things. Do any of you feel the same way?

I have been a pest control technician, an industrial engine builder, a Sunday School teacher, an adjunct professor, a Level I Nuclear Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Technician, a sales manager, an eyeglass maker, an insurance salesman, a preacher, a pastor, a chaplain, a song writer, and an author. I’ve been a school bus driver. Right now I am an agent with Aflac, along with being a bi-vocational pastor.

No, I wasn’t a pilot. I just flew a lot when I worked in the nuclear field. (circa 1989)

I have always liked name tags, badges, lapel pins, and titles…because they give me identity.

But in reality, honestly, none of those things are really me, are they? They are only what I do. If I were to quit pastoring or driving a bus, would I cease to exist? Of course not! Even if  you were to take away my freedom, I might be labeled an “inmate” or “refugee,” but not even those labels would be me, only the condition of my existence.

Yet, I still find my deepest self wanting to be identified with something, to be known for something, to have a title, to find worth in what I have done or am doing.

I do what I do, but I am what I am. On the other hand, I do what I do because I am what I am. So, what am I to make of it?

What I Am

I am created in the image of Almighty God, so I am intrinsically valuable – my value is based on Who made me.

I am loved beyond measure, first by my Lord Jesus Christ (because He loved us first), then by my family.

I am a child of God, not by my own works, but by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ – that is my identity.

I am a soldier in the army of God, for He called me to serve in battle against the spiritual forces of wickedness in high places.

I am a Christian, because I’ve been given that title as one who identifies with Christ.

I am priceless, because of the price that was paid on the Cross to redeem me.

What I do doesn’t make me a child of God, a saint, or anything of the sort, but what Jesus did for me, on my behalf, thereby crediting those works to my account, is what makes me those things.

And all the things I do – whether it be drive a bus, be a husband, preach a sermon, mow a yard, or be a dad – I do for the sake of the one Who makes me His own, and I do it in His strength.

So, ask me what I do, and no matter what I end up telling you, I will no longer stress over the answer, for what I do is not what I am…

I do what I do because I am what I am, because of the Great I AM; my identity is found in Him.

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Filed under Christianity, Depression, God, self-worth, Uncategorized

I Did the Crane Kick. Yes, I did!

I’m still going to do a review of “Cobra Kai” on YouTube and then post it here on my blog, but first, this

The Karate Kid

Did you go see “The Karate Kid” back when it came out? I did! As a matter of fact, I went on opening day, June 22, 1984. Believe me when I say it made a profound impact on my life.

“Cobra Kai” just came out on YouTube last month (May 2), and it is worth subscribing to YoutTube Red just to watch all 10 episodes of the first season (I’ll talk more about that in the video). But before my youngest daughter was able to appreciate “Cobra Kai,” she needed to watch “The Karate Kid.” After that, she got a better sense for why “Cobra Kai” got me so pumped.

But what my daughters can never fully understand is what I felt when that movie came out. To them, it’s just a movie, but to me, it was a lot like real life…because I was a Karate Kid.

The Karate Me

Back around 1982, I think (maybe ’81), I started taking martial arts. My first lessons came from a man who worked at the hospital with my mother. As a favor (even though he did charge a fee), he took me on as his only student. For several months I trained with him at his house in a big room where he also sewed sails for sailboats.

The first style of martial art I studied was not Karate, but Hawaiian Kenpo. Training would start with a run through the neighborhood and then some wooded area, then some stretching. After that, we would work on various techniques meant to harm one’s attacker. Enough said.

After a few months with my initial instructor, he moved away and left me starting over. It was shortly after that that in 1983, a new Karate dojo opened up about two miles from my home. Walter Ward, a Marine combat veteran from the Vietnam War, became my new instructor (sensei). He was affiliated with Ben Kiker’s United Karate Studios in Dalton, Georga (Great people, btw. Highly recommend them).

I was Mr. Ward’s first paying student. The only other students at the time were his niece and another kid (if I remember correctly), and they went for free. This is one reason why “Cobra Kai” resonates with me, but you’ll need to watch the first episodes on YouTube to understand.

Real Tournaments

You may not have known this, but in order to make the movie set appear more realistic, the people who made “The Karate Kid” actually held a real Karate tournament during the filming of the last scenes. The “extras” in the crowd not only came to see a movie be made but to watch their own kids participate in a real competition!

Therefore, when I went to see the movie, so much of the tournament part struck a chord with me. You see, I had already been competing in martial arts tournaments and had won several awards. And, as a matter of fact, I had already been training for a tournament that was to take place the very next day!

Now, About That Kick

According to the directors, producers, actors, and stunt coordinators (including the guy who played the part of the main referee, Pat Johnson…9th-degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and affiliate of Chuck Norris), the “crane kick” was totally “bogus.” In other words, it was a made-up kick meant to look good on screen.

In other words, it wasn’t supposed to work in a real-life competition.

But it did.

Remember that tournament I was supposed to go to on Saturday, June 23, 1984? The tournament that took place one day after the opening day for “The Karate Kid”? Well, evidently one of my opponents hadn’t yet seen the movie… mwwahahaha!

Sooooo… Right off the bat, as soon as I squared off with my opponent and the judge said, “Fight!”, I made use of what has now become cinema legend. I took the position of the crane stance, one leg lifted, then waited for the unsuspecting fool to walk right into a front snap kick to the chest (no, I didn’t kick him in the face – that would have been illegal).

I scored the point and later won the fight! It was awesome!

Then everybody saw the movie.

Oh, well. It worked once, though 🙂


NOTE: As I mentioned above, I did most of my martial arts training with United Karate Studios. My dojo was in Chattanooga, but the main dojo was/is in Dalton, GA. I wanted to give them a shout-out. With UKS I learned respect and self-control. I learned how to fight, but I never had to – because I also learned how to walk away from one. It’s been over 30 years since I’ve worked out like back in those days, but what was instilled in my mind can be drawn upon in an instant.

It’s been a long time, but people with true character never change. I’ve got a feeling that Ben Kiker’s United Karate is still every bit the real-life “Miyagi-do” it was when I did that fantastic crane kick 🙂

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