Thursday, October 13, 2011

How I plan to stop stealing from God

This was a simple FB post that I thought I should share.  Along with the text form the post I will add the following:

I am a selfish ASS and I am always reminded of how true that statement really is.  God has a wonderful way of revealing things to those of us that truly seek His guidance.  I know that I have been stealing from God and others for way too long.  I truly long to be a percentage giver and I know the benefits that doing so offers.  I haven't always been so stinking selfish and I use to give God what He has asked for and deserved.  It is time to get back to that part of my life that I am really lacking in.  True I give my time and talents but I fall way short in giving my treasures.

So . . . this is step one to a multiple part plan (from my FB post):

In an effort to stop being selfish and to stop stealing from God and others, I have downgraded the following: 

Cut iPad cell plan + $25/month
Canceled gym membership that I haven't been to in 3 months + $60/month
Cut Hulu+ + $7/month
Reduced cell minutes since I text mostly + $20/month
Downgraded internet + $15/month
Canceled other stupid services + $20/month

Started back to school (deferment on loans right now) + $85/month

Next on the list:

Find and eliminate other stupid costs + $???
Cut down on going out + $200/month (this is a tough one)
Get out of storage unit + $ 50/month

Start giving more to God and others + Priceless

Total: +/- $400/month

Come be my friend:
Or follow me:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Forgiveness Part 1

This is the first post that I have not pre-written, read ahead, edited, and then wrote again.  I am typing this one, right here in the blogger window, so please bear with me; grammar, misspellings, and all.

I have come to the conclusion that for Stella (my 2-1/2 year old daughter) to be fully whole, then her dad must be fully whole as well.

I know that I am an amazing father and that I provide way more to Stella than most dad's could even hope to provide.  But . . . I still realize that I have forgiveness issues and that Stella will ultimately suffer from the issues that good ole dad has.

So . . . it is with every effort that I have from this moment going forward that I resolve the broken relationships in my life.

Like with my father that robbed a bank when I was 14 years old and spent over 23 years in prison; me never receiving a card or an apology for the wrecked life that I was facing.

For the aunt that took the oath of Godmother but yet turned her back on me when the shit really got bad, only to try to reform a relationship with me 23 frigging years later . . . after her good ole brother was released from prison.

I have a lot of remorse and inner hate toward the people that should be my everything.

Most people talk about "family" . . . I see it as a fairy tale.

People talk about mom and dad, I shrivel away in shame because of the absence.

I have to resolve these things . . . not so it will help me because I don't really give a shit . . . But I know that Stella deserves so much more.  So I will swallow my pride and create a relationship with those that never cared an iota before . . . because that is what a good father would do.

Stella deserves a grandfather and an aunt and cousins and extended family.  Even if I was robbed of the same thing!!

It is not about me . . . and I am really starting to grasp that.

I refuse to be like my earthly father but I would die to be nothing less than my eternal Father.

Please continue to pray for me and those!!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Growth

I’m in the midst of the worst storm of my life.  And it’s a booger.

A pastor friend of mine a few years back told me that if things are going too easy for too long then you are too separated from God and that the ferocity of the coming storm would be like living hell on earth.  I didn’t understand what he meant.  I couldn’t fully comprehend the ramifications of his statement at that point in time.  My life was seemingly perfect.  I never desired for much but I was provided with way more than most could dream of.

My life was storm-less for way too long it turns out. 

My dependency on God turned to dependency on self.  I failed to walk with God and as such my life suddenly came crashing down.  It’s such a damn shame that it required such brokenness for me to turn back to the God that loves me.  For me to live the life that glorifies God and that acknowledges my utmost dependence on God.  To have life that is filled with the Spirit, a life that feels conviction deeply and desires to be wholesome in the eyes of my Savior.

This storm rages but I know that I face it not alone.

Although my happiness at this point in time is at its lowest ever, my soul is filled with joy and I know that the grinding of my teeth will eventually turn to smiles.  I know that on the back side of this storm I will be walking closer with Jesus.  I welcome the loss and the brokenness because of the new blooms of life that will sprout from it. My faith ensures that I will rise from the ashes.

My testimony continues.

I will take the things that He has entrusted me with and I will multiply them for His good and for His service.   I long for the day when I hear the words, “well done my good and faithful servant”.

If not for the awesome and undeserved Grace of God, this storm would be unbearable. 

Thank you God for loving me unconditionally. 

Thank you God for sending your Son to die for me.

Thank you God for providing your Spirit to live inside of me.

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Exclusion Based on Religion – Part 2 (Finally)

OK, sorry for the long delay between Part 1 and Part 2, I know my 3 or 4 followers have been on pin and needle anxiously awaiting the continuation.  So let me get right to it.

As mentioned previously, I signed up for in a reactive manner, and although I have decided to not date for the next year,  I am intrigued by reading profiles and getting a small introduction to what I can expect when May 8, 2012 rolls around (ladies, don’t wait to start lining up).  I very rarely log on to and actually do a search.  As it turns out, Match sends a daily email, aptly titled, Match by Mail.  This along with a few other tricks, they are extremely successful at keeping interest in the site at a maximum.

Of course, I fall for it and find myself browsing on an almost daily basis.  Please believe me when I say I am not interested in any kind of romantic relationship, if anything, I would enjoy a casual friendship, one where we would more often than not, meet in a group setting.

I like most men, have a “type” of woman.  What we are most attracted to, what we are certainly not attracted to.  I am shallow, I admit.  I will not go into how shallow I am because for the purpose of finding new friends, I am not shallow at all.  As it turns out, I actually am.  There is still the issue of making sure the expectation is clear.  I would be devastated if I were to give anyone false hope of a romantic relationship.  Trust me; I am very clear on this with my profile and the limited correspondence that I have established.

There are however a few things that I shy away from because I know that even a friendship would be hard to maintain.  Like if she is a smoker . . . that’s a no way!  If she lives more than 50 miles away . . . I mean how could that work, right?  Although, that really isn’t a deal breaker, after all, the woman I would like to pursue when May 8, 2012 finally gets here, lives about 260 miles away, and I’ve never met her, and she doesn’t even really know me, and she might be even farther away by then  . . . geez . . . how I digress sometimes.  I’ll save that lack of a story for another post.

The first thing that I look at when looking at a profile is religious beliefs.  Sadly, with much regret, I immediately judge (yuck, I hate that word) a person on what their religious beliefs are. 

Among the numerous choices are as follows, along with my thought process:


Well she’s going to hell.  She doesn’t believe in anything, no spirituality or a desire to know a higher being.  There is no way that we could connect on any level.

At least she knows part of the truth, the wrong part, but it’s a part.  She’s still going to hell but maybe I can lead her into a relationship with Christ.

Buddhist, Islamic, etc:
She has her beliefs set in place and she is likely unshakeable.  I might be able to introduce someone to Christ but convert them, no way.  I have no idea how to talk spirituality with a Hindu or Taoist.  A good Jewish girl, doubtful, at least she is one of God’s chosen people, so maybe some good conversation.

Spiritual but not Religious:
What the hell does that mean?  I’m so confused by this one.  It is often followed up with some silly jargon like, “God and I have an understanding”, “me and him, we’re tight, no explanation needed”, “I believe in God but I don’t think we should talk about him” . . . WHAT?!?  Lord help you, I’d actually love to chat it up with you.  To follow up, I understand the spiritual vs. religious debate but please, pick a side.

There is no way that you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ the way I do.  But I would love to tell you about my personal relationship.  No priest required.  3 Hail Mary’s and 4 Our Fathers later, we might get somewhere, who knows.

Ah, now we are getting a little closer to home.  Not sure what other means but at least you have a fundamental faith.  We can certainly grow from there.

This is what I envision the Bible means as equally yoked.  We will probably have a few arguments about faith and our beliefs but our foundation will be rock solid.

Now with all of this predetermined prejudice, where am I allowing room for The Great Commandment (2nd greatest really):
 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
And where am I following The Great Commission:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

After all, I am only looking to build friendships at this point, no romantic expectations or desires.

Maybe just maybe there is a nice woman out there that, just, needs, a little, nudging, to get her to accept Christ and guarantee her place in Heaven.  Maybe just maybe, she has lived a life of hell and is looking for what Christ has to offer but no one has ever taken the bold step to introduce her to the Savior of mankind.  Maybe . . . just maybe, she has been abused and forgotten her entire life and can’t fathom what it means to have a male friend that would enjoy nothing more than just getting to know her and her story, nothing more.

I need to stop being so narrowed minded; I need to practice Jesus’s teachings in all areas of my life, in all situations, regardless of the outcome.  True, I will never marry an unbeliever nor will I enter into any romantic relationship with an unbeliever.  Common values are at the foundation of any successful relationship, among those, a fully surrender life in Christ is most important.  But, I am strong enough in my faith that I can tilt the table for a teeter-tottered unbeliever toward Christianity.  It is not only my concern, it is my responsibility, and it is what Jesus has entrusted me to do as His follower.

No worries, I will not become a street corner preacher, “come to Jesus or you will all go to Hell”.  But I will certainly display my faith as much as I can.  I will not shy away from a wink or an email from an atheist, agnostic, or otherwise.  My profile is extremely clear and I transparently describe where I am emotionally, romantically, and most important, spiritually.  I have used 3753 of the 4000 allotted characters in my profile description.  So believe me, I am a pretty open book on just as I am here on my blog and in real life.  I don’t lie and I don’t sugar coat the truth.  If anything, I am open and honest, sometimes too much so.  Beyond that, I’m not too sure.

So, if a non-Christian reaches out to me after reading my profile, it is obvious they are looking for something beyond me.  In this crazy, lock yourself in your room, Facebookme, Twitterverse, imagined self of sense world of social media; I believe God is opening a new world of proselytizing.  Kind souls, Children of god, are starting to realize their voices for the first time.  Should we shun them as most of us were in junior high school years ago?  I think not.

Reach out, extend Grace.  You know . . . that Grace that has been given to you so many times . . . that Grace you never deserved yet you received it with open hands regardless of your situation.  Give some back!  It was given to you with the full expectation that you would share it with others . . . Yes, those people, the ones that you would rather not get involved with . . . Yes, that ex-husband or wife . . . Yes, that friend that deceived and betrayed you . . . Yes, that boss that cheated you . . . Yes, that un-believer that winked at you, I mean me!!!

Snake Oil

Even though I'm going through the toughest season of my life right now, and I could share something sad, moving, or inspirational, I'll just share something funny.

It was about 3-4 years ago at the Great Chili Cook-off, which is held at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia every year. The event always takes place in September so hopefully the temperatures have cooled off just a little.  Not this year, it was a scorcher.  I remember I drank 2 or 3 ice cold beers and about twice as many ice cold waters.

Throughout the day of tasting chili and Brunswick stew, I had to keep some kind of cold refreshing beverage in my hand.  One, because of how unbearably hot it was, more importantly because most of the chili was so stinking spicy hot.  Now let me tell you, some of the offerings are quite tasty but some of the other offerings are almost puke in your mouth disgusting.

Right about the time I decided I was going to surrender for the day and give my taste buds a much refreshing break; I noticed a table in the corner of the event, back in the woods, hidden mostly by trees.  Although the location was rather secluded, quite the large gathering had assembled around the tasting table.  Behind the table were two incredibly talented sales men, the kind you see selling magic potion at a carnival side show.  They immediately drew me in.

What these two men were selling, actually giving away, was what they described as the hottest chili on the planet.  On the planet they claimed!  Well, I'm a skeptic and I had tasted what I thought to be pretty darn hot chili throughout the day, so I figured these two men were just trying to drum up their reputation a little bit.  So I walked up and challenged them by saying, "I'll try some, it can't be that hot".  But before I could get my hands on the goods, the mood turned serious.

One of the two overly loud magic potion salesmen got real quiet and warned me that the chili that I was about to eat was extremely hot and that I could change my mind.  Of course by this point, most of the crowd was focused on the next victim, the victim being me.  With all of these eyes peering at me in anticipation, I had no choice but to eat.

What an observation; if the loud man getting quiet with his warning wasn't enough to dissuade me and the crowd anxiously looking on as I grabbed the small spoonful of chili from the man's hand wasn't enough to change my mind, then I deserved what came next.

I boldly ate the bite of chili and as soon as the spoon left my mouth, the crowd of onlookers gasped in surprise and most of them started snapping pictures.  I must have seen 20 or so flashes explode in the relative darkness of the shaded corner we were standing in.  It was about that time that I realized I had made an awful mistake.  The pain of the immense heat in my mouth took about 30 seconds to fully engulf the inside of my lips.  My throat became raw, sweat started beading on my bald head, and fear started pulsing through my veins.  I couldn't even speak.  My only thought was what have I done?

My fear quickly turned to embarrassment and I quickly walked away, fortunately the table of horror was about to claim a new victim so I became old news to the new jester in the crowd.  Of course this was the first time during the entire day that I didn't have a drink.  And because of the remote location of the torture table, there were no vending stands in sight.

I walked as quickly as I could, trying to find something to help quench my fiery pain.  Unfortunately when I did get my hands on a tall bottle of ice cold water, it did little good to relieve the pain.  Time . . . time was my only relief.  The severe pain lasted 15-20 minutes; uncomfortable pain lasted 45-60 minutes.  My lips were still numb when I went to sleep that night.  I won't even start to describe the pain I felt the following . . .  if you know what I mean.

Moral of the story . . . if someone claims to have the hottest chili on the planet and there is a large crowd gathered around waiting for the show, don’t become the main character.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Exclusion Based on Religion – Part 1

So, when my wife left me in April of this year, my initial knee jerk reaction was, “that’s fine, I’ll just find me a new lady”, and I immediately signed up for  After all, I saw all the success from the commercials and heard nothing but positive things about the dating website.  And it comes with a guarantee!  It didn’t take long for me to realize that my decision to jump right back into dating was not only the wrong thing to do but it was probably a very dangerous thing to do.  I reluctantly but wisely made the decision to work on myself and to let my heart heal before inviting someone else in to my life on that level of intimacy.

About the same time I made this decision, I heard Andy Stanley’s message series, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating.  The 2nd message of the series was directed at men exclusively and with the message, Andy introduced the one-year challenge.  The challenge is to take a year off from dating or exploring new romantic relationships and to focus on self-improvement with the ultimate goal of becoming like the message series tag line, “Am I the person I am looking for is looking for?”

Equipped with a new outlook on my romantic future and the realization that one full year would easily be needed, I went back on and I changed my profile.  I clearly state that I am in a transition stage and that I would like to make friends, Christian friends, with no expectation or desire to move into a romantic relationship.  That being said, if I were to strike up a good friendship, I would not be opposed to seeing where it may lead when the time is appropriate.

It turns out that there are plenty of potential dates friends in the same situation as me.  And surprisingly enough, the honesty of my profile will often open up eyes and will persuade someone to enter a similar, take it slow, kind of journey.  I still check my account daily and will find messages that are hauntingly similar to my story.  I have struck up a couple of email, text, social media relationships but I have yet to meet anyone, in person, through the site, which is fine with me.

So far, I have only laid out the scene for what I really want to discuss in this blog entry . . . but being that what I have already written is its own little story, I will stop here and call this part 1.  So stay tuned for part 2, where I will discuss the implications (my opinion only) of preferential dating, stereotyping, and excluding potential friends (mates) based on religious beliefs and how it relates to The Great Commandment &The Great Commission.

Deep stuff . . . right?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

If Only for One Heart

Speak For A Change

Once again, Alece’s blog, Grit and Glory inspires.  She lays out a perfect inventory of what I intend to accomplish with my communication.

Although I am new to the world of blogging, I know what I want to accomplish through the things that I share.  All of my posts up to this point show my vulnerability and what I hope is obvious; my honest and humble heart.  I pray that over time, more and more people will learn about me, my blog, and my story; hoping that someone can relate with my struggles on some level.

As I take inventory of my life, I am hyper-focused on the things that will make me a better person, knowing full well that a better me is a far way off from a perfect me, only in heaven will I find that version.  I have become like a sponge and every good thing that I come across (through what I believe is divine intervention) I soak it up.  I jot things down and I record them in my memory bank.  These days you won’t often find me without my iPad or a pocket with some note cards and a pen.  I save everything that is positive and uplifting.

I pray that through me, the spirit of God can be seen.  I pray that I can share some of the blessings that I have received with others.  My cup is full, it is my responsibility to take the things that God has given me and share those things with someone else.  I choose to pour my full cup of blessings into my neighbor’s empty cup because I know, with 100% certainty, that God will fill my cup to the top again and again.

I try to communicate in all of the ways that Alece described.   I choose to be an open book and I choose to share myself with truth, vulnerability, passion, love, humility, wisdom, and authenticity.  My prayer is that through the things I share, someone will relate with my sin struggles and they will take notice of the God that I praise and give credit to, through all of my shortcomings.  The ultimate hope being that someone will place their faith in my God of 2nd chances . . . and 3rd, 4th, 5th, chances.

God is good all the time.  All the time God is good.

I have a long and storied past.  My story is one of sin and remorse, of a lost child that was dealt a crappy hand of cards, a story of brokenness and shame, and missed opportunities.  But my story is also one of redemption and praise, a story of hope and happiness, a story of repair and positive reflection.  My story is like so many others . . . and as such, I earnestly pray that my unending faith in God and my love for Jesus Christ will shine brightly for others to see, even in the darkest of places.

I really doubt my ramblings would ever change the world, the country, the state, the city, or even the neighborhood.  But if I can change just one heart, it is all worth it.

"In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present."  -  Sir Francis Bacon