Saturday, June 22, 2013

Light of the World

In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus lets us know how we should present ourselves to the world when he says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (NIV).

To begin, why would we need to be light in a world that was already lit brightly? The first part of verse 14 lets us know that this world is shrouded in darkness. This is not visual darkness, but a spiritual and moral darkness that covers the world. When there is darkness, there is only one way to remove it. Since light is the absence of darkness, the only way to remove darkness is to add light.

What does it mean to be the light of the world? We know Christ and have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Due to this, we as Christians have had the spiritual veil lifted from our eyes. We no longer live in darkness. More than not living in darkness, with the aid of the Holy Spirit in us, we have the ability to glow like beacons of hope to others.

We glow like beacons by living for Christ. We live for Christ by being the city built on a hill, the lamp placed high upon a stand. How? We stand out from the rest of the world by being spiritually and morally different. We should not blend in with everyone else. Our light should shine before men!

There are many ways our light should shine. Going to church twice a week does not make my light shine. Getting dunked in water by a pastor is not enough. Doing the right thing out of obligation or guilt isn’t the way to brighten the world. Sitting in the front row, having the Bible memorized, singing the loudest and raising hands in worship do not cause our light to shine.

If I want to illumine those in the dark, I must live dynamically outside of the church. Dynamic living is getting yelled at but not yelling back. It is refraining from joining in the gossip at work. It is not judging someone by how they look or dress, or what they have financially. It is saying a kind word and being nice to the person you least want to because it is the right thing to do.

If I live dynamically, I will apply the golden rule and then some. I would challenge you to treat others BETTER than you want to be treated. That is letting your light shine.

Being dynamic is being open and honest about my relationship with Christ. Living dynamically and having a personal relationship with Christ that I keep to myself are diametrically opposed ways of existence.

I can no more hide my relationship with Jesus Christ than you could hide that city on a hill in broad day light. I want others to know the incredible power of change and hope gifted by the Holy Spirit.

Sin extinguishes our light. “Thou shall not lie” means that we should not even tell little white lies. “Thou shall not steal” refers to cheating on our taxes too. Lust is cheating. Pride, greed and coveting seem to be common. We are called to be uncommon!

Inaction is a huge sin. When we see a wrong and do nothing to make it right, that is a sin. Being silent about my faith when it is my duty to be vocal and lead by example, to always be the bigger person when a situation could go south, is sin.

If we are the light of the world, we are to live our lives well. People should know that we are Christians by our love, compassion, hope and how we live our lives. That is how we become the beacon of light to a dark, dark world!

can be seen on the Global University 360 Harvest Blog here:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Between Us the Cup is Full

I tend to be a pretty positive guy. There are some times that I become a little negative, mostly due to my job. Not that I don’t enjoy my job, because I love what I do. I get paid to deal hope to people. I like to say that I went from dealing dope to dealing hope and it is a fulfilling way to live my life.
What gets me down is when a current client, former client or one of my clients friends/family members dies from a drug overdose, gets murdered, commits suicide or commits a serious crime and goes to prison.  I take those things to heart sometimes, even though I know I should not. There are other times when I will briefly get down over not seeing my son all of the time or with not reaching the current goals that I have set for myself.
It is rare, but it happens. Even rarer are the times that my wife is down, feeling a little pessimistic. We both tend to be optimistic, but occasionally one of us has a bad day. I have them more than my wife, to be quite honest. I can only speak about myself on part one of this, because I do not feel that I can read her mind and know what she does for sure to help her through those times. Wait a minute, yes I can.
She does the same thing I do. She prays. Then I remind myself that even though it may not always go the way I want it to go, it will always go the way it is supposed to go. I imagine my wife realizes that there is a bigger plan, that we are a mere paint stroke on God’s great masterpiece. We also talk to each other. That is of the upmost importance. Communication is one of the keys to happiness.
The other day was one of the rare days for my wife. She was having a poor afternoon and I cheered her up. She looked at me and said that it did not matter whether our cups were half full or half empty, together we had a full cup. I have been smiling ever since. I love that woman! I am pretty sure I am going to keep her J

Monday, June 10, 2013

What I Want 2 Do and How You Can Help

When I was a kid I listened to heavy metal. I can still remember the Twisted Sister video for their song "I Want to Rock." The father is yelling at his son, who he obviously feels is wasting his life, and asks the question,  "What do you want to do with your life?" The son yells, "I want to rock." This is what today is about, because my answer would be, "I WANT TO TALK!" Just a spoiler, I could really use your  help in my endeavors and will talk about how at the end of this.

FYI when I use the word  recovery it refers to those who have overcame struggles they have had with drinking/drugs, physical/sexual abuse, mental illnesses, eating disorders, cutting, bullying, losing faith and everything in between.

I want to use my past and present life as a way to enable BLiR to:
  1. Steer people away from addiction and other life consuming issues
  2. Let those who have been physically/sexually abused and/or struggle with mental illnesses know that they are not alone
  3. Give hope to those who are struggling with issues that control their lives or the lives of people that they care about
  4. Educate youth and young adults on the dangers of addiction
  5. Make parents more aware of the dangers their children face and teach them how to have conversations with their children and what to be aware of
  6. Share with those in the church what it means to be a Christian while discussing ways they can make an impact in their own communities
  7. Remove the stigma those who struggle with addictions, trauma and mental illnesses face both from themselves and the community
  8. Educate the community on the strength and power those in recovery have and the wonderful things they do to begin reducing the stigma
In order to do these things, BLiR has to be able to get out and share more. There are various ways to accomplish the goals above, and they are to complete the Better Life in Recovery documentary , complete writing the book entitled Spiritual Spackle and filing for non-profit status for Better Life in Recovery, Inc. Those 3 things will allow BLiR to really begin sharing the message of hope and recovery.

I know that I need to do this. I was built from the ground up to do this, and I am a little depressed currently because I feel that I am not making the type of impact that I need to be because I am not reaching my goals. I feel that I have been given a commission and a second chance and I am squandering it. This is where you can really help me if you are so inclined.

For starters, BLiR will be having a fundraiser at the end of Summer or the beginning of Fall. My wife will be putting this together, but I know that she needs help in multiple ways. She needs someone to help her plan the event. It will be for 50 people and we do not even know who those 50 people will be. It will consist of a meal, a discussion of what Better Life in Recovery, Inc purpose and vision are and a silent auction.

BLiR needs items donated for the silent auction. BLiR needs 45 attendees that can help us meet our goal of raising between $2,000-5,000. This money will pay for the event, help us file for nonprofit status and hopefully allow us to throw another BLiR event. BLiR also needs people to talk about and share the event once we have the date.

BLiR needs to finish the documentary. In order to do that, there is a need people who  have overcame struggles with drugs, alcohol, eating and abuse that are willing to share that story on camera. The need is currently for youth and young adults that are not Caucasian. If that is you or you know someone who is willing please let get a hold of me.

Finally, BLiR needs to have more events and I need to speak more. This can only be accomplished by me getting more opportunities. I speak in and at schools, events, seminars, trainings, churches, recovery groups, small groups, youth groups, city/school council meetings, etc. If you or someone you know has a venue that I could speak at or would like to partner with BLiR for a BLiR event, please contact me.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday Month 1

Here are my goals:
  1. Lose 5 pounds by June 1st (240)
  2. Lose 10 pounds July 1st (235)
  3. Lose 25 pounds by October 1st (220)
  4. Lose 50 pounds by May 1st (195)
  5. Walk a 5K this year (no idea about time because I have never done one)
  6. Run a 5K next year (no idea about time because I have never done one)
  7. Do the MS 150 next year
So, I  have already missed my first goal, to be down to 240 by the 1st. I weighed today and I was at 243. That means that in the last month I have only lost 2.2 pounds, not 5.2. There are some good reasons for that, so here they are in no particular order:
  1. I went on vacation for 10 days and ate horribly the entire time. There was cheesecake and BBQ, chips and sausage, ice cream and fast food plus a lot of frozen cokes and sodas!
  2. I hate cardio, so I have done none.
  3. I am too exhausted by the time I get off of work to do anything physically other than lift weights.
  4. I love chocolate........and fried foods...............and Hardee's shakes and burgers..........and sweets.........and red meat.........and grease. 
  5. I am lazy!!!!!!!!!!!
As you can see, they are honestly not that good of reasons. In fact, they are poor attempts at to justify staying how I am and that is not acceptable. I am going to not let myself fall into their traps again. Instead, I will tackle my excuses one at a time.
  1. First, when I go on vacation there are always healthy alternatives to eat. I am challenging myself to do that when I go on vacation in July.
  2. I may not like cardio, but I am going to like not being able to keep up with my kids as they get older and want to play even less. I have to do this, and there are no really good excuses.
  3. I do enjoy lifting weights. I also like riding my bike, which is fully functional and gathering dust in my garage. I need to start walking at least twice a week, to eventually turn into jogging. I also need to ride my bike, and if that does not work then I need to show my wife how much I love her and do some Zumba with her. She loves it and I can handle the embarrassment.
  4. I also love fruit, fish and chicken. I just need to eat them more. I am even beginning to enjoy vegetables.
  5. I was also a drug addict, alcoholic, smoker, etc and I no longer do those things. I just need to get more motivated.
Part of being more motivated means that I need some constant reminders. One reminder is that I don't ever want to be a hypocrite, yet I am being one. I am sharing with others the love, hope and grace of Christ I talk about how the Holy Spirit can transform us and cause us to sin no longer. Then I engage in sloth and overindulging in food. Those are sins as well. My body is a temple of God, and I need to treat it as such. Why is this so hard?!?!?!?!?!?

Then I remember that unlike drugs, alcohol and cigarettes which I only wanted I NEED food in order to survive. It is on the bottom of the pyramid in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs because food and liquid are vital to our survival. Unfortunately, it seems that the better most food tastes the worse it is for you and that stinks!

I just have to be smarter, which has never been one of my strong points. So, I  need to focus on my kids and the fun we can  have if I get into better shape. I need to remind myself that being in shape is spiritually, physically and emotionally important. I give a message of hope that a better life exists when I am in shape. I will remember all of this, and I will not relapse on bad food and laziness. This will not fail, but if I can not meet my next goal in time I see a Daniel Fast and a lot of meditation in my immediate future. I will meet my next goal, which is to be down to 235 by July 1st.

I am ready to do this, but I ask for your help. If you talk to me, ask me how I am doing at keeping focused. If you live in the Springfield area and ride bikes or play tennis, maybe we should get together. Give me a call. Thanks for your help, and here is to me losing 8 pounds this month!! I CAN DO IT!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Holman's Quicksource Guide to Apologetics Chapter 6: Where Did the New Testament Come From?

Today we will look at the 27 books that make up the New Testament. They are the bedrock that Christianity is built upon, and knowing more about them allows us to better defend our faith. We need to have answers to questions that are often raised when people have doubts: Who wrote the books? Are the authors trustworthy? Are the books of the Bible historically accurate? Why were these 27 chosen? Why were there some books that were rejected?

Who Chose the Books
The councils of Hippo in 393 and Carthage in 397 fixed the list of books the New Testament contains. There were certain criteria that  needed to be met in order for them to be included. They had to have apostolic origin, meaning they were either written by apostles or an associate who kpet the apostle's teachings. Exceptions were made for Jude and James because they were brothers to Jesus.

They had to be written during the apostolic age, meaning while the disciples were still alive. They had to have been accepted and in use by the church. They also had to agree with accepted Scripture. Last and most important, they had to have been inspired by God  and have the power to transform lives. That last part is the hardest part to define.

As early as 115 AD Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, referred to "The Gospel." Marcion created a canon that contained 10 of Paul's Letters and the Gospel of Luke in 135 AD. The oldest known list of the New Testament  canon books was compiled around 180 to 200 AD. It contained 23 books. Tertullian, who lived from 120-220 AD quotes from 23 of the 27 canonical books. The reason these books were used was because they preserved the teaching of the disciples, who were comimissioned by Jesus to spread His teaching.

Who Wrote the Books
Polycarp was a disciple of the apostle John. The bishop of Lyons, Irenaeus, was a student of Polycarp. Irenaeus passed on the following in AD 180, which was directly given to him by Polycarp who had been told by John himself. He said that Matthew published his gospel, Peter and Paul founded the church in Rome, Mark wrote what Peter had preached and Luke recorded what Paul had declared. John the disciple of the Lord published his own Gospel in Ephesus.

Clement wrote a  letter to the Corinthians that quoted from 10 different New Testament books in 95 AD and recorded how the book of Mark was written. It is thought by some scholars that Matthew was written relying on Mark. If this is true, than Mark myst have accurately preserved the teachings of Christ or why would it have been copied.

The best explanation for the names given the four Gospels is that those men were the authors. Otherwise, why affix Matthew to one since he was seldom mentioned in the Gospels? Even more so with Mark and Luke since they were not apostles at all. Peter knew about Mark's writing and gave it his blessing, and Paul was known to refer to Luke's writing as "my Gospel" in Eusebius church history.

Dating the Gospels
According to Clement, John wrote his Gospel after the other 3 were written. In his writing he talks about the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem as if it still existed. It was razed in 70 AD, which would put his works as well as the other gospels pre-70 AD. Also the ommission of the destruction of Jerusalem in all of the gospels further supports the books being written before 70 AD.

Acts ends with Paul in a Roman prison. His beheading is not mentioned, so that puts the writing of Acts a nd Luke at the latest in the 60s.The other gospels also have landmarks and customs that would not have existed after  the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Dating Paul's Writings
Since Paul died during the persecution of Nero around 64-67 AD, his works had to have been written earlier than that. Acts 18:12 is used to date the book. It mentions Gallis as the proconsul of Achiai, who was discovered through a letter found in 1905 that was dated to 52 AD. There is also a famine mentioned  that was dated by the historian Josephys to 45-46 AD. Using this information, Paul's conversion is dated to 32-35 AD with his letters written after that.
What About the Books That Were Left Out?
The Acts of Paul were written by an elder at Carthage while the Didache was of unlikely authorship.The epistle of Barnabas was believed to have been written by an early church father and not Barnabas. The Sheperd of Hermas was also likely written by an early church father. The Apocalypse of Peter was written in the first half of the second century, far to late to have a connection to Peter himself.

Although there are dozens of other books bearing names such as "the Gospel of Peter" and "the Acts of Pilate" they did not meet the criteria for inclusion. Most of these were writtten beyong the apostolic age and some as late as the Middle Ages.

To close, it is curious that the New Testament standards made it more likely to exclude authentic Scripture than to include false writings. Therefore, we see that the New Testament has a very strong case for the information it contains to have been events recorded by those who could reliably document them. Join us next month when we look at the reliability of the New Testament.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Happy 6th Birthday DJ and What I Have Learned

Just a quick blog to make everyone that reads this aware that my son, DJ was born at 11:58 AM on this very day, 6 years ago. It has flown by so fast, but there are a few things that I am very proud of that have happened in that 6 years. They are things that have made me a better parent, helped him become a more positive little man or both. I would like to share them with the hope that what I share could possibly help someone else.

For starters, his mother and I get along. Not only do her and I get along, but I get along with her husband and she gets along with my wife. It actually goes beyond that. For example, on Friday my wife and I took DJ and his baby sister to Silver Dollar City. We were joined by his mother, her husband and his two children. We had a blast and got to share that fun together. How great that my son gets to see all of us get along well.

When he was born I was an alcoholic. In fact, my alcoholism got worse the year he was born when my father committed suicide. Since he was born I have stopped drinking, smoking cigarettes, cussing, going to bars and getting into fights. I can actually set a good example for my son. I could have never done that before. In fact, when he was born I was a pretty good example of how not to act.

I married a wonderful lady who also does not drink, smoke or cuss and never has. She also sets a good example for DJ. We dated for a year before we got married, and the first time we had sex was on our wedding night. That is something that we can use to encourage him to wait until marriage. I treat my wife like a lady, and because of that my son has picked up a cute habit. He will open the door for her to get into our car, and holds the door for others when we are at stores and restaurants.

I do not listen to music that contains bad language or immoral things in it, because all I listen to is worship music. My son's mother is the same way. My son sings songs that praise God and talk about living moral and upstanding lives. He does not hear at home the garbage that promotes drinking, drug use, violence and immorality. That also gives him a better chance to grow up to be a good man.

The most important change that I made was turning my life over to Christ after living as an Agnostic since I was in the 5th grade. It happened before my son turned 2, so he will have no memory of the wreck I once was. Since the day I turned my life over to God I have not drank, smoked, done drugs, got into a fight (outside of a ring) or been promiscuous. I had what could be called a Pauline Conversion, and my life has changed forever.

I have learned several things along the way, as you can see. God is great, and truly believing in him and allowing him to influence your life will make you a better person. What I am saying is always put God first in all that you do. It will trickle down. You WILL become a better husband/wife, mother/father, son/daughter, friend, employee, neighbor and person! Treat everyone the way you would want them to treat your children, and never do anything that you would not want your child to either see or do themselves. That is all it takes, and by all I mean everything.

In closing, I have added another addition to my family, a daughter named Addison Grace. My son dotes on her. He is awesome with her. He is a good student and a good athlete, a good brother and a good son. I am so proud of him. I hope that between his mother, his step-dad, his step-mom and me he is given the foundation he needs to become a great man. He is already a great kid.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Nichols' 4th Law

Nichols' 4th Law says that you should, "Avoid any action with an unacceptable outcome." This is about as straight forward as you can get, but it probably still needs to be broken down. There are those who choose not to accept anything and argue against everything. I would call them naysayers, but they don't really run around saying "nay" so I guess that title is out. I will call them funsuckers, because they have the ability to enter into any conversation and suck the fun right out of it.

In fact, here they are now.................

Ummmm, now.....................................................

Okay, now?

"Every thing can have an unacceptable outcome, so I guess this means we should do nothing. Is that what you are telling us?"

"Yes, that is exactly what I am telling you. Do nothing. Nothing at all. That shouldn't be hard, right?"

"I do nothing all the time."

"Untrue, doing nothing is impossible. I dare say you are not factually reporting. Care to argue that you do nothing?"

"I don't do anything when I sleep, so there,"spoken with outstretched tongue!

"Actually, you are dreaming, breathing and your muscles are repairing themselves while you are sleeping. Just an FYI, sleeping is not doing nothing. Sleeping is definitely doing something. So is sitting, standing, laying down, playing video games, etc. You are always using muscles and you have neurons firing electrical impulses. Do you have anything else? I thought not."

Now it is true you can do just about anything and have a negative outcome. It is also possible that you can do just about anything and have a positive outcome. Case in point, I heard about a guy who took ecstasy for the first time and was hit by a semi. It was deemed the semi's fault, and the guy who took the ecstasy was awarded $3 million. I would not recommend going out and taking ecstasy to get rich just because of that one occurrence. That is a random, chance occurrence that is highly improbable.

So what we are talking about is outcomes that are likely. We mean you should not be taking any actions that make unacceptable outcomes probable. Here are several example:
  1. I don't want to get into a bar fight. Going to bars could lead to this outcome, which I have deemed unacceptable. Therefore I do not go to bars. "That doesn't mean you won't get into any fights, just because you don't go to bars," yells the cynic. "True," I reply, "but the fights I get into won't be bar fights. If it's in a house, it will be a house fight. If it's in the street it will be a street fight, but there is zero probability it will be a bar fight because I do not go to bars."
  2. Imagine I don't want to have a baby. I know that having sex can produce babies. In fact, it is one on a very short list of ways babies are created, and the only way for it to happen unplanned. If I have sex and I do not want/am not ready for children, then it could produce an unacceptable outcome so I will not have sex.
  3. I don't want to go to jail. I know there are multiple things that could cause me to go to jail. They range from murder to theft to doing drugs and on and on. I make sure, to the best of my ability, that I follow the law.
So, what is Nichols' 4th Law? It is using logic and common sense to make informed, positive  choices. Using rational thinking and a process of elimination/deduction, you look at the possible LIKELY outcomes of an action before you engage in it. If the outcomes are acceptable, then you take action. If the probable outcomes are not acceptable, then you do not.

I used a hybrid of this that I call, "The 1 Rule That Changed My Life." Before I would engage in something, I would ask myself these 3 questions:
  1. If my son or daughter was standing here, would I say or do this?
  2. If Jesus was standing here, would I say or do this?
  3. Is this something I want my son or daughter to do?
If I could not answer yes to all three of these questions, I had no business doing it myself. I get more indepth with the explanation of the rule here:

Let us use "The 1 Rule that Changed My Life" with drug usage. For starters, do you want your children to watch you doing drugs? Would you get high if you were standing next to Jesus? Finally, do you want your children to do drugs when they grow up? Not will they experiment or will they do drugs, but do you want them to? If your answer to any of these questions is no, then you should not do drugs. So I know I should not do drugs. How do I most readily accomplish this?

Nichols' 4th Law states that I should avoid any action that would make me doing drugs a possibility. I know that being around people who do drugs and going to places where drugs are abundant could enable me to use drugs. Therefore, I avoid playgrounds and playmates where drugs are likely to be in use. It is that simple. If I am not around drugs they are hard for me to do. If I do not do them and my kids know I don't do them, they are less likely to use themselves. That is what I call a win/win situation.

That is why Nichols' 4th Law is important; it forces us to think before we act. So I hope that you can apply this law to your life. After all, it makes you think. What could be more important than that?