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ISRAEL

 

 

HERNIATED DISC

 

 

2014 Thorsby Family Highlights

 

 

Burn New Bern @ Kingdom Impact Ministries

 

 

GUATEMALA - NOVEMBER 8-15, 2014

 



Guatemala Missions Trip...

 

ENCOURAGER, CHALLENGER & HECKLER

 

 

Burn New Bern @ The Church @ New Bern

 

 

Burn New Bern @ Breath Of God International Outreach

 

 

Burn New Bern @ East Coast Church

 

 

Guatemala Missions Trip - Nov 8-15, 2014

 

 

Burn New Bern @ The Oasis

 

 

New Seasons

 


Sara and I have been quite busy this season with two babies (Gavin & Gabriel) and a lot of new adventures.  If you're wondering where we've been in the blog world, we're probably focusing on our priorities as follows:


1) God (personal relationship)
2) Spouse
3) Children
4) Ministry

 

BLOG VACATION!!!

 



We've taken a temporary blog vacation to focus on our new babies.  We welcomed Gavin Michael Thorsby on August 29, 2012, we released our second album with a full band (Thorsby - The Grounded Project II) in July 2013 and welcomed Gabriel Blaze Thorsby on November 25, 2013.  We've been a bit busy so cut us some slack... we'll blog again soon!  Until next time...

 

EFFICIENCY

 

EFFICIENCY

Sometimes people give me a hard time about being “OCD” in the things that I do but I don’t necessarily find that as an insult in this context.  I understand the comparison to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) but I consider my meticulous actions quite orderly...

Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been a bit of a neat freak.  I’m not to the point of “don’t touch anything or I’ll freak out” but with a respectable amount of order.  Just like everyone else, I have my “problem areas” that I can’t seem to catch up on (which drive me crazy) but the primary areas are done as well as possible.  I even make it a point to mow the grass in straight lines when possible…plus it looks much better/professional!

I’m the same way with organization, communication and schedules.  I like to organize pretty much everything that has a potential organization scheme.  I like to communicate as many details as possible in a timely fashion to avoid unnecessary mistakes.  I like to schedule things on my handy calendar to manage and maximize my time wisely.  Efficiency and good stewardship are very important to me with everything I encounter.

Don’t get me wrong… I am all about spontaneous, getting dirty and having a typical hippy mindset of just not caring about anything but those times are enjoyed much more when I’m hitting the target on my other goals.  If my chores are done (neat freak/organization stuff), if I’m on schedule (anything planned), if I’m on budget (also digitally organized and forecasted) and if I’ve completed communication for any lingering “open ended stuff”, I feel free to do whatever the heck I want with no reservations.

“If you live frugal often…you can lavishly spend on occasion without regret”.  That’s my theory on finances.  I also apply that concept to my other responsibilities.  When I’m successful at reaching the reasonable goals I’ve set for myself, I feel free to chase dreams beyond the status quo… or just free to sit in a hammock on a beach while sippin’ on something with a fruit, an umbrella and maybe a straw doing absolutely nothing except getting refreshed!

 

IT'S A NEW DAY!

 

It's a new day and you get the opportunity to start fresh.  It's time to sow some good seed so you will eventually reap the harvest!  Don't settle...

 

THE GROUNDED PROJECT II (PRE-ORDER)

 

Thorsby - The Grounded Project II_resized

THE GROUNDED PROJECT II

We are now accepting pre-orders for The Grounded Project II (plugged).  We spent some quality time in the studio adding full-band layers to the existing acoustic album and we re-mixed/re-mastered to add just the right amount of flavor.  We added a bonus track (Humbled) and even added a sax layer to one of the songs!  We believe you’ll be excited to hear the “plugged” versions of these songs.

These are the musicians on The Grounded Project II:
Alex Anders (acoustic guitar leads)
Jason Persilver (electric guitar)
Jordan Thomas (drums)
Michael Thorsby (acoustic guitar/vocals)
Sara Thorsby (vocals)
Timmie Raynor (bass/sax)
William Johnson (percussion)

Recorded & Mixed by Alex Anders & Eric Myers @ PureMix Studios

Mastered by Kitchen Mastering

PRE-ORDER details:

$10 each album or $100 (Promo Pack) Buy 10/Get 2 FREE (mix & match optional) – taxes included

Pre-orders will be shipped before they are made available to the public.  Anticipating early July.

FREE SHIPPING if ordered/paid by June 20, 2013.  After that, all physical album purchases (under 12 albums) requiring shipping will be available @ www.cdbaby.com/thorsby and digital downloads available at various locations (CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon…etc).  See www.thorsbyjams.com for more purchase details.

Send/write checks to:
Thorsby Jams
7180 US HWY 70 E
New Bern, NC 28560

(We are accepting donations to help fund these projects.  Initial goal = $10,000 in sales/donations.)

 

LINE IN THE SAND

 

LINE IN THE SAND

It’s important for us to set goals and boundaries for ourselves.  As our seasons change and we mature (hopefully), we should be re-establishing that hypothetical line in the sand to challenge us beyond the status quo.  Some people are content with coasting through life and just wingin’ it for everything.  Some people are so goal oriented that they forget to enjoy the journey.  What category do you fall into?

The Bible sets certain perimeters for those of us that believe/follow Jesus Christ.  Some people never really get much further than believing in Jesus Christ (even the demons believed).  Some people take it to the extreme and get so legalistic that they are essentially ineffective in reaching others.  As you grow in your relationship with Christ and your knowledge of the Bible, you should be establishing your lines in the sand for various areas.  Don’t make those goals so small that you allow yourself too much wiggle room and massively stumble but also don’t make those goals so large that you get discouraged in your efforts to reach them.

In my experience as a goal oriented Christian, I find that each time I reach a goal and think “I have arrived”, God reveals to me the next step on the ladder and re-establishes my line for me.  Although it can seem discouraging to reset after working so hard for a goal, I am also grateful that God has chosen to reveal these stepping stones to me in each season so I’m not completely overwhelmed.  I truly believe that God won’t give you more than you can handle.

It’s alright to occasionally increase your line in the sand to more aggressive goals as you prove faithful.  The ideal situation is to eventually be past the “status quo” line and into the “safe zone” line so if/when you have an occasionally stumble, you don’t find yourself back at the starting line.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 - 23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”-but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

 

IT'S A NEW SEASON

 

Hello Friends & Family,

It's a new season for The Thorsby Band and we're excited to announce some new stuff...

Thorsby just released three new raw acoustic MP3 singles on CD Baby, iTunes...and a bunch of other digital sites:
Humbled
Too Far
Patiently Waiting

You can always go to our website for purchase information.

We're also going back to
PureMix Studios Feb 18th/19th to work on The Grounded Project II (full band).  If you haven't bought The Grounded Project (acoustic) already, shame on you...go buy it!

We're excited to work with awesome musicians for this project:
Jason Persilver (Electric Guitar)
Jordan Thomas (Drums)
Timmie Raynor (Bass/Sax)

We realize we still haven't posted any videos or live audio in the past few years and quite frankly...the quality is terrible and we may be doing you a favor!!!  We got a new HD video camera and a handheld audio recorder so we will hopefully capture something soon... or see if we can restore some of the old stuff a little better.

We're slowly updating the website and facebook page... so stay tuned!

Until next time...

Michael

P.S.  If you want to help us fund this new project, we welcome donations or you can always buy a Promo Pack (12 CDs/$100)!!!

 

DO THE RIGHT THING

 

DO THE RIGHT THING

We’re often surrounded by people doing things wrong.  Lack of service, professionalism, skills, integrity, purpose, supervision, inspiration, discipline, character…etc play a major role in the world we live in today.  We find ourselves frustrated at people that are doing these things and if we examined close enough, we’ll find that we do some of these things ourselves in some form or fashion.

We can’t fix everyone around us but we can lead by example and be inspiring to those in our sphere of influence.  Regardless of what you believe in (God, karma, tooth-fairy…etc), the law of reciprocity (you reap what you sow) is a pretty sure thing.  I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and I do believe we are all accountable for the things we do here on this Earth.  I believe that “every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” and that we will have to answer for how we lived our lives.

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

I ask you to get the words, “DO THE RIGHT THING” stuck in your head and “let your conscience be your guide”.

When everyone else is going astray… DO THE RIGHT THING.
When nobody else is looking… DO THE RIGHT THING.
When it doesn’t seem very significant… DO THE RIGHT THING.
When we’re frustrated at everyone around us… DO THE RIGHT THING.
When others seem to get away with doing the wrong things… DO THE RIGHT THING.
When there is potential for it to compromise your integrity or character… DO THE RIGHT THING.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

 



MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR from the Thorsby family (Michael, Sara & Gavin).

 

BABIES

 

BABIES

So I find myself staring at my son (Gavin Michael) and treasuring the moments that I get with him.  I don’t want to miss a second of his life but yet I have to go to work and do responsible things so that I can properly care for him.  It’s almost as if everything else that seemed so important has taken a back seat for this season as I invest in my son’s life.  Sometimes the limited amount of time I get with him include changing diapers, spitting up or crying but I don’t really seem to mind it.  I prayed over my future children years in advance and for His will to be done…even if it wasn’t my ideal situation.  My little boy is healthy and I’m overwhelmed with the love I have for him in such a short amount of time.  I pray victory over my son for his endeavors and I will do my best to give him options and opportunities as he is under my supervision.  I’m sure I’ll learn a lot of things along the way as a parent but at the end of the day he will ultimately be responsible for the directions and decisions he makes throughout life.  I will try my best to do my part and I implore my friends and family to hold me accountable as I intend to lead by example.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not stray from it.”

I’m sure God has some of the same feelings and love for us.  He probably wants to just hold us and love on us all day but at some point He has to release us to be what He’s called us to be.  He’s given us free will to make our own decisions but also blessed us with the Holy Spirit to intercede for us if we choose to accept it.  The love of the Father is so amazing even when we choose to go astray.  Having a child of my own just encourages me more to do my best to not disappoint my Heavenly Father.  I pray for victory!

 

ELECTIONS

 

ELECTIONS

It’s that season again where we have the privilege of voicing our preferences by voting for the President of the United States, along with many other supplemental office positions.  Warriors from multiple branches of the military have given their lives to fight for these freedoms and it should be taken seriously.  We should all take part in this opportunity to engage in selecting the policies and people that determine how we will operate as a society.

I am not a big fan of politics or the ridiculous garbage that goes along with it.  Politics and religion generally put a strain on relationships, but it’s important to fight for what you believe in as respectfully as possible.  I’m going to touch on both subjects here so get ready!  People will get offended and that’s just the nature of disagreements.  “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”.

PLEASE DO NOT VOTE IF THE FOLLOWING APPLY:
-If you have NOT educated yourself on the policies and principles each candidate represents (from reliable sources).  You don’t have to be a scholar in each area...just a reasonable awareness.
-If you are voting based on race or gender
-If you are voting for a particular candidate just because your friends/family are…even though you may trust them.
-If you have been pressured
-If you aren’t confident in your decision (even if it’s not your ideal preference)

There are many factors in voting and you will agree/disagree with multiple aspects of each candidate.  You may like portions of one and portions of another.  You won’t fully understand each policy and principle and it will seem a bit overwhelming as if the pressure is all on your shoulders.  Promises are often made during campaigns that can’t realistically be kept even with good intentions.  This is where personal discernment based on historical data comes in.  There will always be additional factors that each potential president will not anticipate (like wars, storms, crisis situations…etc) but you are voting based on which candidate you think can handle the situations the best while working with their subordinates.  Once again, you may not agree with all decisions each candidate would/will make but we even disagree in some areas with our best friends.  It’s natural.

As a follower of Jesus Christ (a Christian), theological integrity is quite important to me.  I want a leader that will utilize their position to influence our society in ways that align the closest to my belief system.  Does that sound selfish?  Sure it does…but I’m considering it passionate.  I am so passionate about the God I believe in that I want everyone that I can possibly reach to experience the same relationship that I have with God.  If you aren’t passionate enough about what you believe to want to share it with others, you probably aren’t that passionate about it.  Does it impact freedom?  Not really.  A relationship with Jesus Christ is a personal decision that can’t or shouldn’t be forced on you.  If you don’t want it while here on this Earth, that’s your choice – although scripture (which I choose to believe) says in Phillipians 2:10-11 “…every knee shall bow and every tongue confess…that Jesus Christ is Lord”.  I personally believe in hell and I want my friends and family to experience eternal life in heaven praising our Creator instead of eternal life in hell.  I don’t expect a candidate to “force” you to follow his/her religion but I would love to see some of the basic principles exercised.  Many of those principles were part of our historical foundations anyway.

Good stewardship, fiscal responsibility and the sanctity of life are large factors in my decisions.  I look at the fruit of a man (historically) more than promises for the future.

Needy and Poor – I’m all about feeding the needy and poor.  My wife and I give a large portion of our gross income to missionaries and ministries that are God’s hands and feet across the globe.  We also give to charities and individuals, and it’s never recorded on public record since some aren’t tax deductible.  We generally don’t advertise our giving because it’s not about us but it’s important for people to see examples on occasion.  We have been called poor in the past because of our frugalness and lifestyle but we’re confident that we are rich in the things of Christ.  We give because we want to – not because we have to.  The Bible is clear about taking care of the needy and poor among us but that is the responsibility of the communities in which the needs reside.  This also encourages proper accountability at local levels.  I also believe the terms “needy” and “poor” aren’t interpreted correctly in the Biblical sense.  Needs are basic food, clothes, shelter and water… not cable, cell phone, electronics, fancy cars, alcohol, drugs, expensive bling….etc.  Many people choose to be in the situations they are in for various reasons.  I’ve heard and seen that in person.  It’s especially easy when there are government systems in place that encourage dependency and laziness.  Even though I don’t think government should be the administrator of those programs, we will still have them regardless of who is president.  I’m just looking for the candidate that will regulate it the most efficiently and effectively since it’s the tax payer’s monies they are playing with.  Each additional dollar the government takes from you to “invest” in someone they determine “needy and poor” is one more dollar we don’t have to freely give on a personal level when a true need arises.

Deuteronomy 15:11 “There will always be poor people in the land.  Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” – It’s not a matter of being generous, it’s about being good stewards.  If you really want to help someone, teach them a skill in conjunction with helping with their basic needs.  Sometimes people don’t really “need” help but they might be in a tough spot so we personally “choose” to help them.  There is no problem with that and I encourage this practice but that should be the choice of the people and not the government.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 “…If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” 11-13 “We hear that some among you are idle.  They are not busy; they are busybodies.  Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.  And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.”  - This is where the phrase, “idle hands are the devils workshop” comes from.  There are exceptions like certain handicaps but our government gives out too many exceptions for people perfectly capable of doing some type of work.

Stewardship/fiscal responsibility – What incentive is there for someone to work hard and make wise decisions if the fruits they’ve earned are stripped away from them?  We fight for equal rights (which will never logically exist) in so many areas but rich, middle class and poor get treated differently.  I believe everyone should pay an equal share (percentage) based off of what they earn…not a floating scale with unequal write-offs.  If someone my age goofs off in grade school, plays video games all day, mooched off of parents/others, skips college and can only get a $5 an hour job while I started working at the age of eight, studied hard in grade school, worked through grade school and college and paid for my own college to get a higher paying job… I shouldn’t have to share my earnings with them (redistribution) to cover their chosen laziness.  The law of reciprocity kicks in – “you reap what you sow”…but then we cancel natural accountability with handouts.  Our government shouldn’t implement programs that force us to send additional tax dollars to cover bad stewardship.  If we expect current and future generations to respect hard work and dedication, we can’t continue to reward laziness.  Our government must lead by example as well.  If the gov’t can’t balance the budget and work within their means, how do they expect the American people to follow suit?  I’m looking for the candidate that has been financially successful and responsible.

1 Timothy 5:3(-8) (subscript from the Life Application Study Bible, NIV) – “Paul wanted Christian families to be as self-supporting as possible… The church has always had limited resources, and it has always had to balance financial responsibility with generosity.  It only makes sense for members to work as hard as they can and to be as independent as possible, so they can adequately care for themselves and for less fortunate members. When church members are both responsible and generous, everyone’s needs will be met.” (*This concept applies to our nation and government as well!*)

Proverbs 6:1-5 (subscript from the Life Application Study Bible, NIV) – “These verses are not a plea against generosity, but against overextending one’s financial resources and acting in irresponsible ways that could lead to poverty.  It is important to maintain a balance between generosity and good stewardship.  God wants us to help our friends and the needy, but he does not promise to cover the costs of every unwise commitment we make.  We should also act responsibly so that our family does not suffer.” (Again, this concept applies to our nation and government.)

I don’t believe in redistribution on any level for personal taxes.  If McDonald’s charged me $1 for a burger and $2 for you, you would be mad especially if you worked hard and made wise decisions to put you in a better position.  That $1 loss cancels your efforts and reduces your motivation to try so hard in the future.  How about $100,000 house vs $200,000?  This inequality in taxes/fees cancels the premise of treating people equally on so many levels.  I’m looking for a candidate that will move closer to equality/fairness in the financial sense even though we’ll most likely never see a flat tax.  I do however understand encouraging businesses with reasonable tax incentives to encourage domestic job creation and comparable with foreign competition.  Those formulas are too lengthy to discuss here.

Sanctity of life – This topic is always sensitive and disputed on multiple levels.  Simply put, I believe life begins at conception and I intend to vote accordingly based on who is for or against abortion.  The Bible is pretty clear when it says, “you shall NOT murder” in Exodus 20:13.  That precious and innocent life doesn’t have a choice at that stage and he/she is counting on their mom to protect them…even if they made bad decisions.  There are a few exceptions that I’m willing to be accountable for if I’m wrong…including capital punishment.

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…”

Psalm 139:13-16 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…”

These are just some of my personal convictions for voting but it goes way beyond these topics.  You may not agree and that’s ok.  At the end of the day, we are each accountable for our own personal convictions.  For the Christians, if you’re convictions don’t line up with the Word of God, you may want to revisit them.  All I ask is that you make the most educated and informed decision you can as these decisions will make a lasting impact.

 

GAVIN MICHAEL THORSBY

 

We interrupt this blog to welcome Gavin Michael Thorsby into this world on Aug 29, 2012 @ 9:08pm.  He was 7lbs, 8oz and 23 inches long.  Sara and Gavin are both doing well.  We'll be taking a little bit of time to focus on our family and we will get back to blogs and making music in the near future.  Video blogs coming soon and hoping to get back in the studio as soon as possible to put out a full band album.  Until then....

 

BOW DOWN

 

BOW DOWN

What is the significance of bowing down?  We see people bow down to the Queen at the Olympics, we see it on television/movies, we read about it in history books, we observe it in other cultures and we even see Biblical examples of it.  I’m certain that each culture has their own spin on methodology and etiquette rules but it universally seems to be a sign of respect and honor.

Sometimes it may be a simple nod or bowing gesture.  Sometimes it requires falling to your knees in a simple bow or even repetitive bowing motions while assuming the humbled posture.  I even picture the guys from Wayne’s World bowing down and saying, “We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy”.  It’s meant to be a joke but the intention is they are giving someone respect for doing something awesome and significantly above status quo.

Scripture says, “you shall have no other Gods before Me”.  Shadrach (Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael) and Abednego (Azariah) were commanded by Nebuchadnezzar to fall down (bow down) and worship the King but they refused to do that since they were servants of Jesus Christ.  In this instance, Nebuchadnezzar was expecting them to worship images of gold and things that were beyond the scope of general courtesy for authority.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were rewarded by God and saved from the fiery furnace (literally) because of their dedication.

I don’t always understand the practices and expectations other cultures and religions put on their followers but I do understand why I’m willing to “bow down” to Jesus Christ (the Lord of my life).  When I put my hands in the air and/or bow down during worship, it is a sign of surrender and ultimate respect for my Creator.  It has meaning and it’s not just going through the motions because someone expects me to.  There was a time in my life when I would stand with a posture of toughness (arms crossed) because I was going through the motions of Christianity but wasn’t ready to completely surrender my life to Christ.  Once that change occurred in my life, it’s as if a million chains were cut off of me and I was free to live according to God’s will and purposes for my life.  Don’t be afraid to bow down… if it’s for the right reasons!

 

I NEED YOU MORE

 

I NEED YOU MORE

I love the lyrics to this simple song and it has become the cry of my heart as I purposely invest into my relationship with Christ on a daily basis.

I need You more, more than yesterday
I need You more, more than words can say
I need You more, than ever before
I need You more, I need You more

More than the air I breathe
More than the song I sing
More than the next heartbeat
More than anything
And as the time goes by
I’ll be by Your side
Because I never want to go back
To my old life…

I need You more

 

BUILDING BLOCKS

 

BUILDING BLOCKS

Since we were babies we played with toys that were intended to increase motor skills.  Most of us had building blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs or something similar that involved strategic planning to accomplish the goal.  We all quickly learned that the foundation of our masterpiece was essential in completing the task.  Without a proper foundation, the structure would crumble.

Life is very similar in a number of ways.  If we don’t have a good foundation, we tend to sway to and fro throughout life without ever really being grounded.  We will spend numerous amounts of precious life trying to fix some of our mistakes and backtracking when we should be moving forward in this journey of life.  This applies to many things such as basic motor skills, education, relationships, finances, dreams…etc.

Our relationship with God is a foundational building block that is ideal to be established at the earliest possible age but can still be accomplished if you still have breath to breathe.  When you are rooted in the foundations of Christ, it disperses into so many other areas of your life.  The opportunities are endless when you have a strong faith in Christ coupled with the Biblical foundation elements acquired through education, worship and prayer.  These things won’t happen by attending a few church services on Sunday mornings.  This is the part where you have to inquire, invest and engage in an ongoing daily walk with Christ.  It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship!

 

DISTRACTIONS

 

DISTRACTIONS

So I was riding my motorcycle down a winding country road that was lined with beautiful trees on each side.  There was no other traffic and the temperature was a comfortable mid-70s.  They had recently logged a portion of the woods so the smell of fresh pine was lingering in the air as the sun was beginning to set beyond the tree line.  The comfort level was quite nice as I was strolling at a safe 60mph with no worries for this particular few moments of my life and then all of a sudden....OUCH… a bug just nailed me in the face under the half-shell helmet.  What in the world?  That just ruined a special moment for me as the needle quickly scratched across the hypothetical record where Hakuna Matata was ringing in my head.

Sometimes life is like that.  We have a choice to focus on the adversity the sneaks up on us (whether it was a result of our actions or just something random), or to roll on and live to fight another day.  Sometimes we get so worked up and worried about stuff that we can’t even enjoy life.  We will also have responsibilities.  We will always have distractions.  We will always have the law of reciprocity (you reap what you sow).  We will always opportunities for fun.  We just have to learn how to balance our unique lives in a way that brings joy to ourselves and to others.  There seems to be a lot of angry people around our world and some of them might have valid excuses.  We have to make a conscious choice to focus on the good things and shake off the bad.  Don’t let a little bug juice ruin this ride we call life!

 

CALL ME MAYBE

 

CALL ME MAYBE

If you haven’t heard the song “Call Me Maybe”, you’re not missing much.  This song is quite catchy but it drives me absolutely crazy…and sometimes I even catch myself singing along.  The song is basically about trying to get someone to call you that you barely even know.  It goes beyond that but let’s just keep it simple.

There is a lyric that says, “I just met you, and this is crazy… but here’s my number, call me maybe”.  I know you’re singing it aren’t you?!?!  When you’re talking about love (or lust), you’re willing to do bold things such as giving your number to someone you just met.  Sometimes I feel like God is like that with us because He is so in love with us that He desires to have a relationship.  Not in a creepy way but in a Fatherly love kind of a way.  He’ll tug on our heart strings and let us know He’s there but won’t be pushy and lets us make the choice.  He’s given us life, He’s given us breath, everything we have is His anyways but He still seeks to have a relationship with us.  It’s as if He’s given us His number and saying, “Call me maybe”.  He doesn’t force His love on us.  He just puts it out there and gives us an opportunity to come to Him when we are ready.  Have you called Him?  The prayer line is always open!

 

NOT ENOUGH TIME

 

NOT ENOUGH TIME

How are you investing your time?  We all feel like there are not enough hours in a day sometimes.  We should be spending about 8 hours sleeping (I wish), about 8+ hours working and have a ton of other things to squeeze into the time that is left.  We have plenty of things grasping for our time like kids, chores, prep stuff, bills, service, play time, eating…etc.

All of those things are important and most of them are based on choices you made.  You choose to make kids.  You choose to buy all of those things (big house/nice car included) that cause you chores.  You choose to buy things that create bills.  You choose your leisure activities.  You choose whether you make an extravagant dinner (with dishes to clean) or eat PB&J on Chinet paper plates.

Somewhere along the lines we have to find the sweet spot in our schedules where everything seems to flow.  Don’t forget to leave a little wiggle room for the unexpected things.  While you’re planning out those schedules, make it a priority to spend some time taking care of yourself physically and spiritually.  What good are all of those things if our body fails on us due to lack of maintenance?  What good are all of those things if our relationships with God become an afterthought instead of a pillar in our lives?  I challenge you to make time to exercise and rejuvenate your body to its fullest potential.  Don’t just stop there but also make some time to invest in spiritual nourishment while reading your Bible and having some uninterrupted time with God in your prayer closet.  It’s amazing how refreshing these physical and spiritual exercises can be…even though it seems like an extra item for the “to-do” list.  No excuses… make it happen!

 

PREPARED FOR WORSHIP

 

PREPARED FOR WORSHIP

Somewhere along the lines many Christians have become accustomed to spoon-fed worship.  They show up unprepared and their level of expectancy isn’t very high.  Our Western culture church atmosphere has trained people to come together unprepared for corporate worship at traditional Sunday services and it often produces a status quo atmosphere of going through the motions.

Musical worship is a very serious, intimate and powerful action as there are numerous biblical examples.  Many people never experience worship in a powerful way because they come unprepared.  At that point it just becomes good music (hopefully).  We have an opportunity all week long to get in the Word of God (Bible), spend quality time in prayer, exercise our opportunities to serve and do what God has called us to do with excellence.  Those are all acts of worship as well.  When you’ve done those things throughout the week and you come to a corporate service expecting God to move in powerful ways, you’re able to worship from your overflow instead of always coming in with an empty cup.

 

If we don’t have overflow of the Holy Spirit, we can’t really give it away because we’re just getting enough to sustain us.  It sounds a little selfish when you put it like that.  When we’re constantly in flow with the Holy Spirit and submitting our lives to God, it’s so much easier to keep a constant connection to the power source.  It’s kinda like an engine.  If you turn it off, you’ve got to let it warm up again before you can get going.  If it’s already warmed up, you can jump right in.  If we prepared for worship on a regular basis and have faith with expectations that God can move in our lives and the lives of others… it could get a little rowdy!  Are you satisfied with just going through the motions?

 

YOU GAVE IT ALL

 

YOU GAVE IT ALL

Sara and I wrote a song with a tag that is stuck on repeat in my head quite often.  It says, “You gave it all for me, so we can be together…You and I as one, now and forever.”  I think about that lyric and reflect upon the scriptures as it describes the life and death of Jesus Christ and how He gave His life for me.  God gave His son Jesus Christ as a perfect and living sacrifice to bridge the gap between us.  He sent His Holy Spirit to intercede for us and to help us live life to the fullest and to prepare us for an eternity with Christ.

That seems a bit crazy sometimes but it’s true.  People can argue theology all they want but nobody can take away the experiences and testimony that I have in my personal relationship with Christ.  God has moved in my life in tremendous ways and filled the voids in my heart beyond measure.  I have no doubt that Christ lives in me and through me and I look forward to an eternity praising my Creator.

Some people get so focused on the eternity part that they forget about the now part.  God wants to use us now.  God wants to fill us now.  God wants to minister through us now.  God wants relationship with us now.  God wants to heal us now.  We’ve all spent so much time investing into things of this world but we often put off depth in our relationship with God.  This is an investment that shouldn’t be neglected.  Non-believers do the same thing as they don’t invest much time and effort into whatever it is (or isn’t) that they believe in.  If you’re going to base your life on something, invest the time and energy to gain depth and proper perspective on it so you can be effective in sharing with others.  This isn’t a one-time task… it’s a lifetime investment.

 

COMPLAINERS

 

COMPLAINERS

So often we find ourselves griping and complaining about the simplest things.  Many times it’s not intended to be ungrateful or offensive but it sometimes comes from unrecognized selfishness and is a regular part of our everyday conversations.  When was the last time you’ve have a complete conversation without something negative to say?  It rarely happens because we all think we can do portions of things better than others (occasionally true) and we’re selfishly not satisfied with what we’ve been given.

Many of us speak with a negative attitude as a regular part of our vocabulary and it becomes natural after a while.  Many of the things we complain about are legitimate things and some of them are necessary to address for educational purposes, consistency purposes, safety purposes, customer satisfaction purposes…etc.  What I challenge is to try and eliminate the complaining and negative connotation when it’s not necessary.  This will not only make us more pleasant people to be around but our stress levels will probably be reduced as well.

This isn’t meant to sissify situations when addressing a problem is necessary.  We may come off as complaining but it’s in the best interest of the person or people receiving it as complaining.  I’m talking about more trivial things.  For instance this morning I was complaining that I booked myself a 7:30am dentist appointment on a Monday morning.  Although a legitimate complaint (if there is such a thing), praise God that I had a bed to wake up in, a vehicle to drive me there, insurance to afford it and a job to be a little late for.  Our perspective gets out of line sometimes and it’s like we’re complaining just to hear ourselves talk.  It’s silly, it’s unfruitful, it’s selfish and it surely isn’t making anyone else feel better.  Maybe we’re complaining out loud so others will learn from our situations if it was about us or agree with us if it’s about someone else.  We can try to justify it but it still remains.  I recognize that everything isn’t always a warm fluffy situation and people are going to have legitimate gripes but if we eliminate the unnecessary ones from our conversation, we might be perceived as more pleasant people.

We have so many things to be thankful for and we must learn to put things in perspective prior to releasing the tongue to speak so ignorantly.  Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Phillipians 2:12-18

12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. 14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life-in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

 

DON'T BE CHEAP ON THESE

 

DON’T BE CHEAP ON THESE

1-Toilet Paper
2-Socks
3-Shoes
4-Pillow
5-Mattress
6-Mountain Dew (no generic stuff or Mello Yellow)
7-Toothbrush
8-Underwear
9-Protection Gear (for contact sports)
10-Sunglasses (can cause eye damage over time)
11-Deo (yes…it does matter!)

 

STRONG FOUNDATION

 

STRONG FOUNDATION

It is imperative when you build a structure of any kind that it has a strong foundation.  Without a strong foundation, it will eventually fall apart.  Often times we try to run too far ahead in the building process and our foundations get neglected.

When people are trying to build a house, they get so excited about the décor that they forget about the base on which it’s built.  They forget about run-off, quality of materials, craftsmanship, proper techniques, sealing surfaces for long-term use…etc.  When people have a dream and decide to venture out on their own to build a business they often forget the essentials and foundational items necessary to succeed.  The dream sometimes overshadows the necessities and the structure of the business suffers.  Often times people get discouraged and quit because they aren’t great athletes the first time they try something but they haven’t invested the necessary time and practice to build a core foundation to build on.  It’s a process, not magic.

Relationships most definitely fall under the strong foundation theme.  Many young couples base their relationships on the wrong things and ignore the core foundations.  Attraction, touch, sex, temporary satisfaction and sometimes even basic companionship aren’t enough to sustain.  What is the core of the relationship?  Do you have common spiritual convictions?  Do you have similar dreams?  Do you have a good friendship (“you can’t be lovers if you can’t be friends”).  Do you have good communication?  Do you have similar goals?  Do you have a bond beyond sensual because there may be seasons where you are apart?

P.S.  Sex should be considered a bonus (after marriage) and not a foundational factor.

Sara and I celebrated five years of marriage this weekend and it feels like we’re just warming up.  We courted for four years prior to marriage to build a foundation before we jumped into something that is supposed to be forever.  Divorce has run rampant in my family and I’m determined to break a generational curse.  We ironed out a lot of things prior to marriage that a lot of couples don’t get into until it’s too late.  We encouraged each other to build our personal relationships with Christ both deeper and stronger.  This allowed us to be confident in whom we are in Christ individually thus making us even stronger as a couple.  That has been a huge foundational pillar for us.  We really haven’t had to deal with a lot of struggles that many other couples have because we’ve done our best to do it right in the eyes of Christ.  Are we perfect…NO.  We are however striving for perfection, willing to ask for assistance and/or accountability where needed and we’re willing to disciple and be discipled in multiple areas.

Our relationship with Christ is very similar.  Our foundation comes from reading His Word (The Bible), spending time in prayer/worship and in corporate fellowship (accountability and discipleship).  If we aren’t willing to seek some sort of depth, we’re just going through the motions and our spiritual house will crumble at the first sign of a storm (temptations, struggles, other pressures…etc).  What are you doing to build stronger foundations?  It’s not something you can just wish you had/have, it’s an action that you must to be willing to take.

 

TIME TO PLAY

 

TIME TO PLAY

I refer to the term “going through the motions” often but I’m usually referring to church, religion and/or relationship with Christ.  We also go through the motions of life in general sometimes and forget there is a world full of adventures out there.

Many people get caught up in the busyness of their everyday life.  We have jobs, chores, children, family, extended family, spouses, animals, homes, churches, sports, clubs and so many other things that are usually legitimate stuff.  Sometimes we get so busy planning for the event, preparing for event, hosting the event and then cleaning up after the event that we forget to enjoy the event.  It may not always fall in that order but you get the idea.  Sometimes our “fun” things end up feeling like “forced” things and we can’t wait to be done with them.  Sometimes we put expectations on ourselves that are unnecessary and we should simplify for sanity sake!

There is a level of responsibility that is necessary at times but it’s important that we don’t forget to enjoy life in the midst of our busyness.  Some people go to the extreme and are a little too chilled out and leave all the responsible stuff to others but there is a time to just enjoy the moment.  We can learn a lot from hippies as their stress levels are much lower than most of us in the western culture.  It’s bad for your health to be stressed all the time too.  I’m a fan of the cliché “stop and smell the roses”.  It makes sense because sometimes we miss out on some of the most amazing moments because it doesn’t fit our agenda.

A good Biblical example of what I’m talking about is Mary and Martha.  Martha opened her home to Jesus and was running around and distracted over all the preparations that needed to be made while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus.  Even though Martha was trying to be a good host and servant, Mary recognized the limited opportunity to sit at His feet and listen.  Sometimes we miss out on moments in our lives because our agenda trumps our experiences sometimes.  Don’t be afraid to take an occasional detour that may prove fruitful!

 

DIG DEEPER

 

DIG DEEPER

I often ask God for clarity and understanding in my prayers and sometimes He reveals things in the most random ways.  If we’re willing to pay attention, we will see God moving all around us and He will speak to us right in the midst of our situations.

I was using the pressure washer a few days ago and the concept is quite interesting.  It’s amazing how much difference it makes when you’re utilizing the same tap water at a higher pressure.  Why isn’t the rain good enough to wash the sidewalk and driveways, and why isn’t the hose sufficient enough to clean the siding and gutters?  Sometimes it’s necessary to dig a little deeper and go beyond the surface to really get to the roots of the situation.  If we just keep washing it off with low pressure, we’ll never really get into the pores and have a deep cleansing.

We often settle for just rinsing off with the hose in our spiritual life instead of going deeper (pressure washing).  We sing songs without passion and purpose, we go through the motions of traditional “church”, we don’t study God’s Word (Bible) enough, we don’t spend enough time in personal or corporate prayer, we put God in the back seat instead of the forefront and we’re willing to settle for status quo way too often.  We make tons of excuses but realistically, we are just unwilling to sacrifice the time, effort and commitment needed to go a little deeper each and every day.  God is worthy of our praise and part of our praise is the preparation.  Are we ready to encounter God?  Are we willing to dig a little deeper?  Are we willing to seek beyond just going through the motions?

Maybe you didn’t know there was more.  Maybe you’ve never really seen “depth” in your fellow followers in Christ.  It happens all the time and religion begins to take over.  Be willing to step outside of your box and experience new things.  Find someone that you think is “deeper” than you and ask them to disciple you.  If they don’t know what “disciple” means than they aren’t deeper…try again!  Try another person, try another leader or try another ministry.  Somewhere along the lines we have lost the art of discipleship and that is often where growth is encouraged and stimulated…along with our own personal efforts.  We are limited in our own strength, but God can use willing disciples to help you reach new levels and seasons in your relationship with Christ.  He can work in you and through you if you are willing.

Just like pressure washing, depth in Christ is a recurring theme.  We should constantly be digging deeper to refuel and to grow in our spiritual depth.  Once we think we’ve got it all figured out, God will reveal a new area of growth to focus on if we are willing.  Relationship with Christ is a progressive orchestra that will have amazing dynamics if you’re willing to invest!

 

APRIL SHOWERS...

 

APRIL SHOWERS…

We’ve all heard the phrase “April showers bring May flowers”.  This is a classic example of the “reaping what you sow” process.  We all have opportunities throughout life to sow seeds along our journey and we must recognize that there will be a harvest at some point.

When I’m talking about sowing seeds, I’m not necessarily talking about planting a garden or making babies.  Those are more literal examples but it’s figurative on some level.  We have a life full of choices and God graciously gave us the freedom to make them.  Even though God has given us these freedoms, He clarifies in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial”.  Sometimes we justify our actions with a wide variety of excuses but at the end of the day we have to make a choice.  Those choices will begin a season that involves a reaping of the decisions that we make (aka - the seed that we sow).

I’ve heard people make tons of excuses over the years about how they’ve run too far from Christ and He could never save a sinner like them.  I disagree because God is bigger than anything we can do.  It’s a matter of true repentance and a willingness to turn from your ways and focus on the God who created you.  God doesn’t expect us to be perfect but He does expect us to strive for perfection.  He has given us this handy road map (the Bible) and we have to invest the time to understand it more and more as our relationship with Christ grows.

Whether you’re a follower of Jesus Christ or not, the law of reciprocity is still applicable.  If you’re sick of seasons filled with a bad harvest, start sowing good seed.  Change your ways, change your attitude, change your heart, change your socks, change your demeanor and be willing to change those things that are causing you to sin.  Just because you finally start sowing a few good seeds doesn’t mean you’ll have an immediate harvest.  It takes time and you’ll have to ride out the season of the bad seed you have sown over the years.  I challenge you to take inventory on the garden of your life and see where you can improve.  Put a little water on those seeds and they will be activated in the appropriate timing to give you the fruit you desire…

 

PSALM 119:9-16

 

PSALM 119:9-16

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
   By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
   do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
   that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, O LORD;
   teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
   all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
   as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
   and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
   I will not neglect your word.

Self explanatory!

 

PROSPERITY

 

PROSPERITY

Too often our success is based on monetary standings, positions and/or social status.  We all know that success is a subjective term that is often misguided and skewed.  What I do know is that the blessings of God are not always measured by tangible things.  There is something to be said about spiritual riches.  You can have tons of money, fame, stuff, achievements, companions and more while still being completely unhappy.  Many people have a void in their life and heart and try to fill it with so many things.  They try to fill it with riches, sex, alcohol, drugs, companions, addictions, entertainment, jobs, hobbies….etc.  Some are fortunate to find that the void was meant to be filled by a relationship with Jesus Christ.

There are some mixed messages out there from those of the Christian faith and I apologize on their behalf for their ignorance and/or lack of clarity.  There are many scriptures that can be taken out of context for various reasons and often times the prosperity messages are not necessarily delivered correctly.  Scriptures such as Job 22:21 which says, “Submit to God and be at peace.  Thereby prosperity will come to you” goes a lot deeper than the initial words.  Simple but yet complicated.

To start with we must “submit” to God.  John 14:15 says, “If you love Me, you’ll obey what I command”.  That covers a lot of ground so you have a lot of commands and submission to prove your love.  Fortunately for us, God loves us either way and wants the best for us.  He can choose to bless us regardless of our sin but desires for us to “strive for perfection”.

When it says “prosperity” that doesn’t mean that your wallet will necessarily be filled with miraculous bling to go beside the Monopoly money you swiped from the last board game victory!  Prosperity goes well beyond money.  Our health, our spiritual well being, our happiness, our peace, our family/friends, our basic needs and many other descriptions can define prosperity.  Don’t forget to count your blessings on a regular basis.  We often get so accustomed to our prosperity that we neglect to recognize just how blessed we really are.  God is so good and He deserves our praise…even when we don’t always recognize what He has orchestrated.

 

CREATIVELY AMAZING

 

CREATIVELY AMAZING

My wife Sara and I had the privilege of seeing our baby via ultrasound today.  Sara is 20 weeks along and we are proud to announce that we will be having a baby boy.  This is an exciting time for us and I can’t help but reflect on how amazing God’s creations are.

The human body is a finely tuned machine that can’t be duplicated even though attempts have been unsuccessfully made.  God uniquely designed each and every one of us to be similar but yet very different on multiple levels.  He even knows every hair on our head (if applicable) according to scripture.  I just can’t fathom the complexity and precision that goes into each precious creation that we know as humans.

Animals are just as amazing and I continue to be perplexed as we discover and explore new creatures from various geographic locations.  The intricacies of each design just blow me away as the different shapes, sizes and colors are so detailed.  The animals even have their own communication systems.  The food chain itself is even a disturbingly wonderful thing that reflects the perfection of the designer.

Nature is a tapestry that is hard to even describe.  God’s amazing designs are written all over the world around us and it covers the spectrum of sight, smell, taste, touch, audio…etc.  The mountains, the valleys, the deserts, the plains, the islands, the marshes, the rainforests, the everglades and so many other areas are just so uniquely orchestrated that it seems almost impossible to believe in anything other than our Creator.

As an analytical guy I often try to figure things out and God’s design is just one of those things that can’t really be explained.  Since I can’t seem to analyze it in a sufficient way, I make it a point to at least enjoy it as often as possible.  We are so blessed to be alive and I challenge you to make the most out of this life while you have the chance.  As I grow older, I understand more clearly the cliché “stop and smell the roses”.

 

UNSUNG HEROES

 

UNSUNG HEROES

When most people think of “heroes” they think of a traditional police officer, a fireman, military personnel and occasionally the fictional superhero!  Although these people have heroic opportunities at times, they purposefully signed up for those positions and get paid to do so.  There should be some level of expectation.  Don’t get me wrong… we appreciate their service and selflessness to put their lives on the line to protect us on various levels.

What I’m getting at is that we often forget about the everyday hero that doesn’t wear a uniform, a cape or have a fancy title.  When I think about heroes I think of the following:

Missionaries who left everything to minister in foreign lands
The unpaid servants in the church
The informative mom that teaches others moms the ropes of motherhood
The volunteer soccer coach (or any sport) for those kids (our future)…and the team mom too!
Those that invest their time at old folk’s homes
Those who do things for others and expect no recognition in return
The people picking up trash on the side of the road (not the prisoners though… but thanks)
The environmentalists trying to keep our planet clean (not the crazy ones)
The animal rescue peeps
The neighbor who always volunteers to help (I would like one of those)
Those who offer to disciple someone knowing they’ll have to be the bad guy at some point

The list goes on and on but pretty much any volunteer that is attempting to give an offering of time, talents and treasure has potential to be a hero in my book.  I’m not really into the people that are like “look at me, look at me” but sometimes certain positions are just more in the spotlight than others.  Those that do things behind the scenes get extra credit from me because they can work tirelessly for years and most people will never know.

Even though we all have our struggles, our frustrations and an occasional thorn in our side, there are some really amazing people living among us and serve in various facets of life.  Don’t forget to thank people when they’ve been a blessing to you.  You never know when you might be the encourager that motivates someone when they are having a rough time.  Being served is nice on occasion but don’t forget to serve in some capacity yourself… and do it with excellence whenever possible!

The greatest servant of all was Jesus Christ and He has and will be my ultimate hero!!!

 

HANDS AND FEET

 

HANDS AND FEET

Many of us have a heart and passion for other people and we often feel limited in our aspirations.  Sometimes we’re limited by our availability, experience, monetary positions, inabilities, knowledge, calling, skills, willingness, health…etc.  We often have valid reasons (and sometimes lame excuses) but at the end of the day we still want to help people.  Religious affiliation isn’t even necessary to have a heart, a passion or a purpose.  As a follower of Jesus Christ I continue to believe that God has placed those desires in our hearts along with a general sense of right and wrong via our conscience.  Even if you don’t believe in Christ, it’s fairly common to want to see people get on the right path, to feed the hungry, to provide education, to clothe the needy, to provide medical/dental care and to provide physical/spiritual nourishment…as your beliefs allow.

Sara and I have the privilege of partnering (prayerfully and financially) with some amazing people who are being the hands and feet in areas that we are passionate about.  We wish we could jump on board with every ministry and missionary we come across that are doing awesome things for Christ but we have to use discernment with the resources we’ve been given.  God has called us to pray for our partners daily along with giving a monetary investment in the seed they sow on a regular basis.  I consider this a privilege instead of an obligation.  We’ve partnered with some for years, some only for seasons and some for one-time opportunities.  It is so awesome to see fruit come from these ministries and missionaries and to know that we played a small part by investing in their vision and obedience to Christ.

This doesn’t excuse us from being fruitful in the areas God has called us to with the talents and treasures God has blessed us with.  Part of our calling during this season is to be in marketplace ministry so we can generate the income to support others through giving.  He’s also given us our own set of talents outside of our jobs to invest within our sphere of influence.  It’s so important for each of us to do our part as we are all intricate pieces in this puzzle of life.

On April 14, 2012 we are excited to host Pastor Steve McDaniel for an event at The Hobbit House to promote awareness of the mission in Guatemala through Living Water International and Adopt-A-Child.  Steve is the Director of Operations/Evangelism & Discipleship Coordinator and his wife Ana is the Coordinator for visiting groups, feeding program menus and medical/dental campaigns.  They have been full time missionaries in the field since 2007 and have a passion to promote spiritual/physical nourishment amongst the thousands of children in the
Adopt-A-Child program.  They also have a large influence on the Guatemalan employees of LWI, the pastors of the local churches and the parents of the children involved in the programs.  We will be doing a bonfire (weather permitting) @ 5:00pm.  We will be serving Smithfield’s Chicken & Barbecue for dinner and request that you donate at least $5 per person (preferably more).  All proceeds will go to the McDaniel family to support their ministry.  If you can’t afford to donate, come anyways and we will cover your portion because we want to take away any obstacles that would hinder your opportunity to hear what God is doing in Guatemala.  See our calendar on www.thorsbyjams.com for event details and updates.  Please RSVP by April 12th to michael@thorsbyjams.com or on our Facebook event page.

I challenge you to find areas of ministry within your own sphere(s) of influence… and also to step out in faith and support someone who is ministering in an area you’re passionate about.  Whether your support is through prayer or finances, missionaries need the support of their ‘kingdom family’ and it’s our responsibility to help make sure they’re ‘covered’ as they venture out to preach the gospel.

 

OLD PEOPLE

 

OLD PEOPLE

In the midst of racing through life, we often dismiss the wisdom and knowledge acquired by those who have many more years of experience.  Those people are often referred to as “old people”.  This technically could be defined as anyone older than you but we’re mostly talking about the older generation for the blog purpose.

They seem to slow you down.  They are out of date with technology.  They are often in your way.  Their driving isn’t always the best.  They often require additional attention and care.  They take lots of random pills.  They sometimes seem like they just want to ruin all of your fun.  They think hard candy with pocket lint on it is acceptable.  I could list a lot of things here that are often referred to when talking negatively about old people and many of them just aren’t appropriate enough to discuss.  Don’t forget that you too will one day be old and someone will be making fun of you for things often out of your control…although often true.  You reap what you sow!

Many times old people get written off way too quickly.  The older generation has a plethora of knowledge they have acquired over the years and it would be wise to give them a listening ear from time to time.  They may not know about the latest technology or be able to compete with you in your favorite sport but their knowledge can be applied to your innovative ideas to keep you grounded as you pursue your dreams.  We may not always agree with everything they have to say and it may even take a bunch of boring stories to get to the punch-line but the bits of knowledge sprinkled in the mix are priceless and shouldn’t be ignored.

In addition to the wisdom and knowledge our older generations can provide, they have earned the right to be given a reasonable level of respect.  If they were physically and legally allowed to smack us upside the head each time we were disrespectful, we would all be in serious trouble I’m sure.  If someone is blessed to live into their 70s, 80s, 90s or even 100, they deserve to be given a little grace and maybe even a helping hand at times.  We shouldn’t treat them as though they are just buying time until they die.  We should be treating them as though they are blessed to still be kickin’ and do our best to make them more comfortable and excited about the time they have left on this earth.  We’re not all called to work in nursing homes or assume full time care for our elderly but we can make a difference in the little things.  Find and old person and creatively bless them today… and be respectful for goodness sake.

Proverbs 13:20 “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm”

 

BELIEVERS vs UNBELIEVERS

 

BELIEVERS vs UNBELIEVERS

Just to clarify the title, we’re talking about belief in Jesus Christ.  I generally don’t even use the terms believers/unbelievers anymore because lots of people “believe” but are not “followers” and tend to ride the fence quite often or have limited depth and understanding.  Scripture says even the demons believed and trembled (James 2:19).

This particular blog isn’t like my normal rants about Christians being satisfied with going through the motions and just believing instead of following the God they serve…with passion and depth.  This is more about the misunderstanding that many unbelievers have about believers and sometimes vice versa.  Somewhere along the lines people have taken an “us against them” mentality and that should never be the case.  I recognize the “if you’re not for me you’re against me” mindset, but it’s God’s job to sort that out after our last breath.

Our job as believers is to do our best to learn about the God we serve and do our best to lead by example in every area possible.  Unbelievers generally don’t understand that many believers are just scratching the surface themselves and their mistakes don’t necessarily negate their belief in Jesus Christ…although it makes it easier to pull the hypocrite card.  Unfortunately we’re all sinners and fall short of the glory of God, and we are often hypocrites on various levels.  The intention is to continue to improve as we progress in our faith.  It’s not a requirement to be perfect before giving your life to the Lord.  Actually, it’s just the opposite.  When you truly believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, has sent His Holy Spirit to intercede for you and promised you eternal life with Him, it’s natural to desire to walk in His image and obey the commands of the one you love.  John 14:15 “If you love Me, you’ll obey what I command”.  It’s a process, not a magic trick.  There are instances where people have had miraculous transitions in various areas immediately upon receiving Christ, but that’s not always the case.

Although leaders are also human and make mistakes, it’s understandable why unbelievers have an even harder time believing when they see leaders that aren’t representing the faith with excellence themselves.  I also expect a lot more out of those who consider themselves leaders in the church, so it’s imperative that they be sanctified and set apart.  But I wouldn’t consider abandoning my faith because of a few bad apples.  Believers have faith that they will spend eternity with the God they serve and love and have most likely experienced something to solidify their faith in the spiritual realm.  This creates a desire to want to be better (scripturally speaking).  Unbelievers generally don’t understand the full spectrum of a Bible-based belief system and just catch bits and pieces here and there that - quite frankly - sound pretty stupid to them.  Taking things out of context is quite popular and shows ignorance on both sides of the fence.  Unbelievers also see the confusion among different religious organizations that call themselves “churches” and often just get a bad vibe across the board.  This is why each believer must make it a point to live a life worthy of following with a “follow me as I follow Christ” mentality.  It’s not about us but what God can do through us.

Unbelievers don’t realize that believers just want to share the amazing experiences they’ve had and the faith that defines them.  Believers often don’t realize that unbelievers haven’t experienced the same things and just don’t understand it, and so they are apprehensive.  Unbelievers don’t understand that believers love them so much they don’t want them to go through life without knowing Christ.  It’s not that we are trying to force our beliefs on you, because we don’t get credits or additional shares of heaven stock if you join our club.  We just genuinely want to share what we’ve experienced.  Believers could selfishly keep their faith to themselves and not share of God’s great love, but scripture has commissioned us to go into all the nations and tell of the Gospel.  Unbelievers generally aren’t interested in unsolicited information about our crazy faith but living a life that is set-apart may give them reason to entertain our convictions or belief system.  Unbelievers are only one decision away from changing their lives and avoiding an eternity in hell - but sometimes hell doesn’t seem so bad to them when they are disgusted with the actions of those who believe.  Give them a reason to believe on a regular basis and your responses may be different in future encounters.  Unbelievers (atheists, scientologists, other religions…etc) are not the enemy (unless they are professed Satan-worshippers) so share your faith in a manner that is respectful but still confident.  It takes faith to believe, but it takes maturity to follow.

 

OUR COUNTRY GIVETH AND TAKETH AWAY

 

OUR COUNTRY GIVETH AND TAKETH AWAY

“Friend, you cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom.  What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.  The government can’t give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody.  When half of the people get the idea they don’t have to work because the other half’s going to take care of them and the other half get the idea it does no good to work because somebody’s going to get what they work for.... that, dear friend, is about the end of any nation.”  - Dr. Adrian Rogers

I thought this was a quote worth repeating.  I often struggle with the inverted mindset our country has when it comes to charity.  I am a giver on many levels so it’s not about the giving itself but it’s more about the freedom of being able to give at my own discretion with the monies I have worked hard to earn.  We continue to raise up a generation of lazy people that are accustomed to living off the government and abusing the flawed systems we have in place.  Those that work hard get frustrated and lose the benefit of making it to the next level and thus creating a country that will fall behind in production, innovation and growth.  Others will continue to live off of the government until they sap it dry and are forced to do something else.  If the system allows it, what motivation is there to make a better life for yourself, become financially independent and make wise choices that compliment your current position in life?

It’s not in my budget to get most of the things that are WIC approved but yet I see people with carts full of stuff they are essentially getting for free (and pay for the cigarettes and alcohol separate), driving a nicer car, watching a nicer TV (with full cable), living in a nicer house, have more cash flow....etc.  There are a few select people (about 2-5% of current) that might truly qualify to be on government assistance of any type but even they should be cared for by their family, church and/or community around them.  People that know the recipients have an opportunity to bless them, hold them accountable and help them to realistically get on their feet.  People in the communities will be more likely to hold each other accountable when assessing the situation and validity of a truly needy person.  People shouldn’t be blessed because they made poor decisions such as continuing to have kids when they can’t afford them, choosing to ignore public education opportunities and rejecting jobs because it’s below you.  I see help wanted signs all over the place but why should people take a lower paying and humbling job when the government is willing to give them even more...with no cost?

Recently someone who won the lottery, had a few houses and a few hundred thousand in cash was caught using food stamps because the gov’t continued giving them to her.  She had no problem using them since it was like free money and she used the excuse that she didn’t have a job to validate the continued use of the program.  This is just a sample of the deceitfulness that people have in their hearts that is encouraged by our country.  We the people must rise up and defend our country and the values it was founded on if we want to restore our future and leave a great legacy for future generations.

 

PASSIONS WITH PURPOSE

 

PASSIONS WITH PURPOSE

I’m a very passionate guy about the things I believe in, the people I love, the dreams I dream and the God I serve.  I’m even passionate about other people’s passions.  I can’t stand going through the motions or doing thing half-way when there is room for more.

Have you ever had that feeling of falling in love?  I’m not talking about the numerous crushes you had in grade school that had a phase time about as long a clean pair of underoos!  I’m talking about genuine, passionate, “I will conquer the world for you” kind of love.  Often times we confuse lust with love.  This principal could be applied to many things.  We might lust over the opposite sex, a vehicle, a house, a job, a situation…etc but that doesn’t mean that we should pursue those things.  They are often fantasies, illusions or temporal type situations.  I’m talking about things that stand the test of time.  I’m talking about dreams that you’ve held on to that have never wavered and have been a part of your core for a significant amount of time.

How awesome would it be if we could drop everything responsible to pursue those dreams?  What is really stopping us besides the normal things like responsibilities, finances, timing, others….etc.?  There are days when I consider the fact that I’m not getting any older and my clock is ticking!  I’m a planner and a very meticulous person when it comes to details but sometimes my dreams are so big that I can’t even seem to put them on paper, describe them or even know where to start in the journey of pursuing them.  Often times my dreams are bigger than me and anything I can do in my own flesh.  Maybe God just gives me glimpses of things to give me something to look forward to but not too much because He knows I will run a hundred miles an hour with it if I have the full picture.  It’s all about timing I guess!

Sometimes I reflect on my life and consider that I might be living the dream right now and I’m so focused on the finished product that I forget about the journey of getting there.  I have a great life and yet I seem to always want more.  I’m satisfied with what God has given me now but I know that there is more to come….in the right timing.  I have an amazing wife, a baby on the way, a good job, talents, treasures, material things, health, family…etc.  My list was different ten years ago as a single guy and it should be changing as we go through seasons.  Maybe these constants are the building blocks on my journey to the future dreams I anticipate.  In my desires to be in the next phase I must not forsake the blessings that I’m resting in today.  Without them I may never get to the final chapters of the dreams.  It’s important to look forward and pursue these dreams with passion but I must not forget the roots from which these dreams were born.

 

THE MISUSE OF CHURCH

 

THE MISUSE OF CHURCH

Sometimes I’m floored by how stupid… I mean uninformed… people can sometimes be.  Stupid isn’t edifying so we probably shouldn’t use that word but sometimes the truth (factual, unarguable evidence) isn’t pretty no matter how you package it.  Now that I’ve already ticked a few of you off… let’s get started! I’m sure I’ll tick off both sides of the aisle so read on…

Non-Christians – The occasional and inconsistent use of church by many people who profess to be atheists, scientologists or other random non-Jesus following religions makes absolutely no sense to me.  Many of these people  (some are my friends) wouldn’t be caught dead in a traditional church service (well, they might be…literally) and would go out of their way to tell you how stupid your religion and your belief in God is.  These same people often seek the services of pastors, priests and the church for weddings, funerals, counseling, hand-outs and other random stuff.  That makes no sense to me.  The fact that churches embrace this nonsense (probably with ministry intentions) is also quite confusing.  What makes it even more interesting is when a non-believer goes into a church and expects to be catered to, and rules are subsequently changed just to accommodate their needs.  I recently read about a lesbian being denied communion at her mom’s funeral service.  She was well aware of Catholic practices and the meaning of communion.  Instead of making a big fuss that you were denied communion, why not honor your mom’s Catholic values by following the stinking rules if this day is supposedly so valuable to you?  Why would you even have a funeral at a church if you don’t want to respect its values?  Why would you want to take communion if you don’t even believe in the purpose and biblical teachings behind it?  It makes no sense to me.  That’s just utter disrespect and unfortunately Christian leaders will fall prey to this kind of stuff and not stand behind a guy that was respecting the position, the church and the God he serves in the name of love.  Hate the sin, not the sinner.  If the person doesn’t think homosexuality is a sin then they don’t agree with Christian faith and have no business taking communion.  End of story.  Agree to disagree but that still doesn’t give you the freedom to dictate the rules of a church.  We all sin and fall short of the glory of God but true repentance precedes communion as we reconcile with God.  Marriage falls under this area too.  Marriage is a covenant before God in holy matrimony between a man and a woman.  If you don’t believe that, if you don’t believe in God, if you don’t believe in church values (and intend to practice them) then please take your happy butts to the justice of the peace or some country club to complete the formality of marriage for tax purposes or whatever other reason.

Christians – The church is not intended to be a country club.  This isn’t the place to put on your Sunday best and pretend to be righteous and plaster yourself with a big dose of fake.  It’s meant for real people who serve a real God with real passion.  The corporate concept is biblical but intended to unify through discipleship, training and experiencing the power of God together through the worship (musical, teaching, serving…etc).  There is major opportunity for the Holy Spirit to move in corporate worship during musical praise but so often we just sing songs instead of passionately and purposefully praising Him with the lyrics we sing.  Non-believers that are “checking it out” notice that fakeness or lack of passion and usually check out because they aren’t interested.  Granted, many believers are very young in their faith and don’t have much depth; but often, it’s because the churches are never getting past the “church 101” phase.  Step it up, church.  For those who truly believe… start showing it with your actions in all areas and especially corporate worship.  Be consistent.

There are many different denominations with the “Christian” label but they are not all the same.  Some have similar doctrine with different dogma, some have skewed doctrine and some have sound doctrine but just don’t follow it.  I don’t agree with all denominations (or at least portions of them) but the common denominator is belief that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior – and that I can agree with.  You’ll have to study for yourself and never depend just on what you’ve been taught or have perceived because men are flawed and make mistakes in interpretation.  One thing I believe is not flawed is the inspired Word of God (BIBLE).  Don’t get tripped up on translation mistakes, but look to the roots of the Bible for clarity coupled with historical findings confirmed even by non-believers.  It will make even more sense and will come to life when you’ve given your life to Christ and have open communication (prayer) with Him on a regular basis.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”.  I believe that.  If you don’t believe that… at least appreciate all of the “nice things” we do because of the belief system we have that you don’t agree with.  No need to argue.

 

RESTART

 

RESTART

I noticed a facebook pic posted by multiple people that simply had the following words on it:
“Maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken.  Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.”

I’m torn by this statement as I struggle with some of my own convictions, dreams and desires.  I’ve always been the kind of guy that loves restoration.  I love to fix things that people throw away assuming that they are junk sometimes just to prove them wrong but sometimes to avoid wasting something of value.  Since I was a young boy my dad and I fixed small engines (mowers, trimmers, chainsaws…etc) that were often found in the trash as a side job and often to put food on the table.  I love it when people restore old cars and I now have a ’65 Mustang and an ’85 Kawasaki motorcycle to restore.  I love restoring old houses that have a good foundation but need a makeover.  I have a ’93 Ford Ranger that has been totaled four times with over 250,000 miles on it but I keep restoring it to working condition because I can’t stand to waste a good thing.  I have a 1945 farm house (The Hobbit House) that I’ve been restoring for a few years with the help of my wife, my dad and a few others.  I also have a passion to see people restored, relationships restored, passions restored, health restored, hearts restored…etc.  You get the point… I’m in the business of restoration.

Sometimes restoration is good but sometimes it’s imperative to hit the “restart” button to start over and create something better.  Sometimes you need to redirect your attentions and efforts to get the most out of your investment.  Some things you can’t technically start over but you can begin each day as if it were a fresh start.  You can’t really go back in time to change things but things progressively change anyways.  You have to roll with the punches and adjust accordingly sometimes too.

Think of a potter that is making a clay pot and has a major blowout during formation.  Sometimes it’s better to start over and regroup to avoid tremendous frustrations with little chance for success.  You may want to hit the “restart” button with your career, your relationships, your resolutions, your dreams, your health, your geographic location and the list goes on and on but you will have to assess the situation to make wise decisions as you consider change.  There are risk and reward factors involved and sometimes we have to take the risk to have a chance at the reward but sometimes a safety net may be the wiser choice.  It’s not a cut and dry methodology so it becomes very frustrating at times.  I’m a 1 + 1 = 2 kinda guy so I just want answers.

As I know I have a heart for restoration, I also have a relentless dedication to responsibility.  Sometimes I eliminate the potential rewards by taking the more responsible route and putting security above my desires.  I have visions and dreams of big things and they have only gained strength over the years but they continue to be on the back burner as I pursue this game of life.  I often prayerfully consider my decisions, request clarity and peace in God’s timing and wait patiently until my time has come.  This is a tough process but I believe character is built during these times.  I often look forward to hitting the “restart” button but I recognize that it’s merely a new season in the life of my story.  I need to embrace the history of my story and use it as a testimony to press forward in the pages that are yet to be written….

Psalm 32: 8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.  I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

 

SWEETHEART

 

SWEETHEART

Just for starters, those Sweet Tart Hearts are some of the best candies out around Valentine’s Day.  Is it bad to start with a side note before you even begin the blog?  I just thought it was worth mentioning a mostly sugar based candy since we’re talking about sweethearts anyways!!!  Sweet like sugar!

There are pros and cons to being married but it’s really more about seasons versus one being better than the other.  The Bible states that it’s better not to marry but if you’re burning with passion about the person God has set aside for you, then it is ok (if you do it the right way).  The purpose for the Bible stating it’s better not to marry is so that you can be completely focused and devoted to serving the God in whom you worship.  This is a role that should be clearly confirmed by God...not just a good intention.  Not many people have the dedication, calling, desire, patience…etc. …or some might call it a curse… to have the gift of celibacy.  Praise God that this isn’t one of my giftings.

On the other hand, God has given us the privilege of marriage and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.  This is meant to be a covenant between you and God that include following His decrees to fulfill the purpose of marriage.  Not only is it meant for companionship, love, sex, being fruitful and multiplying…etc but it’s also intended so you can be even more effective for God through unity.  It’s a privilege to marry and isn’t just some ritual to celebrate amongst friends and family with a half-hearted commitment.  It’s meant to be forever.  She is supposed to be your sweetheart FOREVER.  Not optional.  Somewhere along the lines people have forgotten the roots of marriage and purpose for which it was intended.

I have been blessed with an amazing bride (Sara) after spending 27 years living the single life.  After years of going through the motions and eventually getting my life right with God, God called me to utilize my years as a single to grow closer and invest with Him, to focus on who God has called me to be and to minister to those in my sphere of influence during that season of my life.  He wanted me to discover who I really was in Him before moving on to the next chapter.  Once I finally reached a level of contentment and totally focused on God, He revealed to me the woman of my dreams… literally!  Sara was WORTH THE WAIT.  We courted for four more years and have now been married almost five years and I love her more each day.  We did things the right way (God’s way) during our courtship and God has tremendously blessed us because of it.  We have had so many opportunities to minister together as a team but will now have the opportunity to minister to our own family as we have a child on the way.  God is so good and I thank Him so much for my sweetheart.

Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord”.

 

PRAYER CLOSET

 

PRAYER CLOSET

How often do those of us that call ourselves “Christians” spend in our prayer closet?  What is a prayer closet you ask?  It’s not where you go into your dark, creepy closet with scary noises to close the door and pray but it paints a pretty good visual though.  The concept makes sense because the idea is to separate yourself from all other distractions for a portion of time to be totally focused on God.  We often toss up an occasional Hail Mary prayer while we’re on the go or quote the one Bible verse we know but God wants a more intimate relationship with us.

You say, “but God already knows everything about me”.  He is omnipotent and omnipresent but He desires for you to willfully communicate with Him.  Share your joys, your dreams, your hurts, your requests, your concerns, your confusion, your confessions…etc.  Sharing with the Lord the desires of your heart is a Biblical concept but that doesn’t always mean you’ll get what you want.  Don’t forget the… “according to His will” portion of scripture.  He’s not a genie in a bottle but God does care about your desires.  As a matter of fact, many of your desires are probably seeds planted by God anyways and they are just in a holding pattern before coming to fruition.

God ultimately desires for us to worship Him as our Creator.  That can be done in many ways.  Serving, communicating, studying, musically, lyrically, prayerfully and even in the ways you conduct your daily lives.  We often think of worship as musical because there is such tremendous power in music.  It’s hard to define but music is a unique instrument that crosses cultural barriers and reaches the hearts of man but can be quite edifying to God if focused on Him.  If the focus is on Him musically and lyrically coupled with prayerful preparation, anointing and flow then the tone is set for the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself in the setting.  Musical worship is often present when barriers get broken, when the Holy Spirit moves in the hearts of the people and when freedom is released in the hearts of believers.

When people are just going through the motions and singing songs of praise in a dry and passionless way, you can expect a less than impressive spiritual movement.  When freedom coupled with preparation joins forces you can expect a move of God.  Love songs are sang with passion for a reason… and that’s how we should sing to our God with relentless passion.  Don’t get stuck going through the motions.  Enter into your prayer closet often when you’re alone and don’t be afraid to enter in while participating in corporate worship as well.  That’s what it’s designed for but all too often it become dry and barren because people are afraid or ashamed to show their supposed passion for Christ in public.  Be sanctified/set apart and don’t just talk about your love for God...show it!  You might be the reason someone else decides to inquire about the amazing God that we serve.

 

CHARACTER BUILDING

 

CHARACTER BUILDING

Life is full of “what ifs”.  What if this had happened, what if that had worked out, what if I would have… etc.  In New Bern, NC we have an awesome group of people that make up the community known as Craven Chains Disc Golf Club (www.cravenchains.com).  This club has developed leaps and bounds over the years and had extremely humble beginnings.

Many people don’t even know what disc golf is.  Go to www.pdga.com to get a better idea.  I call it poor man’s golf!  No green fees, no carts, no fancy clothes, low budget equipment and many free public courses!  We have an awesome group of people that have contributed to the development of the Glenburnie Disc Golf Course.  This course is located in a public park and the city has given us permission to maintain, upgrade, run public events and utilize the course as needed to increase knowledge of the sport in the local area and beyond.  The presence of the disc golf community has decreased the crime and sketchy people hanging around the park and has made it a more aesthetically pleasing and safer place for families to enjoy.

These results come from selfless people volunteering countless hours of course maintenance, scraping and scratching to get local sponsors to help fund these efforts and events and learning to utilize the talents each person has to work together to accomplish a common goal.  We invest a ton of our own resources (time, talent and treasures).  It has been a beautiful tapestry in the making…and it keeps getting better!  The diversity in the group is the most awesome part.  This community has a wide age range from teens to grandparents and a wide range of professions and skill levels.  It’s awesome to see how well many of these people work together all with the purpose of making our community better.

The character traits that are built in these kinds of situations are amazing.  It would have been nice if everything was done for us, if the course was perfect when we got there and didn’t need all the maintenance, if sponsors just gave us tons of money and we didn’t even have to interact (and practically beg), if someone else ran all of the weekly, monthly and main events on our behalf, if all of the admin work behind the scenes wasn’t necessary….etc.  You get the point.  If all of that stuff was done for us, we wouldn’t have had the chance to build character, build relationships and have a greater appreciation for something that we helped develop with our own hands (and still growing).

I challenge you to embrace the opportunities that you get for character building whether it is a project, a team, a mentorship, a situation/experience (both good and bad), adversity…etc.  Sometimes it’s nice to just skip to the final product or final scene but there is a lot that happens along the journey that we don’t want to miss out on too often.  Your experiences influence your character.  Cherish the moments!

 

PASTORS & POLITICIANS

 

“PASTORS & POLITICIANS” (REWIND)…originally posted July 25, 2011

This could get a bit touchy…

We all know you’re not supposed to mix politics and religion unless you want to see a brawl in your local bar, grocery store, or community park.  I can’t help but notice some similarities that interest me.  Disclaimer:  This is generally speaking and exceptions do apply!

Pastors and politicians both have a desire for common good and often stray from their good intentions when reality sets in or they have to lead by example.  This is where the rubber meets the road and people rightfully expect both to “practice what they preach”.  Some stick to their guns (convictions) no matter what the cost but many others fall under the pressure that society quickly throws at them from various directions.  It’s tough to be in the spotlight but positions of leadership do come at a cost.  Regardless of the titles attached to certain names it takes anointing, education and extremely strong people to be effective leaders in both the church and the government.

-Pastors don’t want to get “too deep” into the Word or relationship with God publicly because they don’t want to scare off the fringe people that cushion the numbers and offering…even if it’s what’s best for the people (unless they’ve just never experienced depth themselves and have no clue what that means).

-Politicians don’t want to cut “too deep” on public votes because their name will be attached to that legislation and will affect the polls and campaign support…even if it’s what’s best for the people.

-Pastors and politicians often extend their verbal resume of the things they are doing right but fail to expose the things they are doing wrong because they don’t want to seem unfit for the position.

-Pastors and politicians sometimes only qualify for portions of their titles and fail to utilize the talents of qualified people around them to subsidize their shortcomings.  Examples:

Some pastors are great preachers but are not good pastors or church business managers.

Some politicians are great speakers but have limited ability to execute the verbal promises.

Some pastors are great at specific ministry but have no experience in ministry foreign to them.

Some politicians are great business managers but have no experience in foreign policy.

Some pastors are great “pastors” by definition but shouldn’t be behind the pulpit publicly for any reason.  (Most true pastors don’t have the title “pastor” or a paycheck for that matter.  Many of those titles are handed out for tax reasons…but there are many that have the title and paycheck and deserve every penny and more)

Some politicians are excellent desk jockeys but have no public debate skills and often get unfairly judged during campaign time.

The list goes on and on.  Some of these could be explained further but I’m running out of ink… oh wait I’m typing this.  Someone might print it!  This isn’t intended to put anyone down but it’s just a few observations that I’ve noticed over the years that remind me that people and positions are more alike than we realize.  The main point I would take from this is that we all sometimes think a bit too highly of ourselves or our titles but need to realize that the people we surround ourselves with can be the pillars that hold us up when we fall short.  Just as one body has many parts, each person is limited in their abilities without the skills of those around us.  Don’t be afraid to release those people that you have authority over and learn to work as a team to capitalize the gifts you’ve been given.

Many pastors and politicians are great people with great intentions and are highly skilled at what they’ve been called to do.  There are always some that cause the titles to have asterisks beside them because the legitimacy has been compromised.  Whatever your title is, do your best to live up to the name and do your part to make this country great!  Don’t forget to give God the praise in everything you do!

 

WITNESS CHALLENGE

 

WITNESS CHALLENGE

Below are a few excerpts from a letter I wrote to some of my fellow sports brothers in Christ.  These are the type of challenges that go on behind the scenes that most people never encounter.  We should all encourage and challenge each other if we intend to get better… it’s not PC, it’s not super sensitive… it’s reality!

Note:  Certain groups and names are changed to protect identities.

Hey Brothers,

I write this to encourage and challenge you as fellow brothers in Christ that wear the “Christian” label.  We have an amazing opportunity to share our witness through our positions of influence in our local sports clubs, our jobs, our communities and with the way we conduct our families.  I’m becoming increasingly discouraged by the example some of you are setting with foul language, alcohol, anger issues, family neglect and other unfortunate actions.  This isn’t legalism… it’s just the basics.

Foul language – Self explanatory… guard your tongue and be SET APART.  Course joking fits in here too…use discretion (myself included).  You hopefully won’t hear me cuss (God delivered me of my potty mouth 12+ years ago) but feel free to discreetly check me if my jokes are inappropriate.

Alcohol – I don’t have a problem with having a social drink (not the whole pitcher) during dinner or something when the unbelievers around you are well aware that you’ve only had one, you’re not drinking and driving, you’re not influencing others to drink who may have had or currently have a problem and you’re aware of those around you that you may be leading astray.  Sometimes it’s best to be on the safe side and not drink at all if it could make your brother(s) stumble.  Just be aware of your surroundings.  If it’s just us together, I don’t mind having a few drinks (keeping far from drunkenness) but I wouldn’t do that around certain people who wouldn’t know the difference.  Keep in mind that I got hit by a drunk driver a few years ago and I’m still suffering the consequences.  I was an alcoholic myself at one point and quit completely for a season but now I trust myself to have an occasional drink.  I look at some of our friends and acquaintances whose lives revolve around drinking; I see that they are empty and searching and I ask myself if we are helping them fill that void.  Are you helping them get closer to Jesus or pushing them further away?  An example is one of our common friends… his dad is an alcoholic and he used to party with me.  He finally quit drinking a few years ago and now I’ve seen him drunk multiple times in our group settings and heard of stories that just make me cringe.  His language has drastically changed too!  Years of investing in him…wasted.  Are we influencing guys like him in a positive way when we have beer in our sports bags or are being sneaky with “disguised flasks”?  Are we men of integrity when our associations say no alcohol during the events?  Is it really that good, or are you just trying to fit in with the crowd?  Some of these decisions must be based on your personal convictions but I challenge you to dig deep and ask if your witness could be making others stumble along the way.

Anger Issues – Simmer down, it’s just a stinkin’ game.  Plus it doesn’t represent self-control and it frustrates everyone around you.

Family Neglect – Those who have wives and/or kids… if your favorite sport or “you time” becomes more of a priority than your family, I challenge you to take time off.  If you win a game but lose your family what did you gain?  Once again, others see this witness on and off the field and if they don’t want to be anything like you, than why would they want to know Christ if we were “made in His image.”  P.S.  Once you got married, you lost your “playa” card.  Some of you are stumbling with your eyes and need to keep your focus on Christ and your wife.

This letter might tick some of you off if you even read this far but your relationships with Christ and with your families are more important to me than our friendships…even though I value each of your friendships.  True friends speak up but people who avoid the tough conversations just want to be liked by everyone and don’t truly have your best interest in mind.  Proverbs 27:6 (NLT) “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”  I ask that you pray regularly about “how can I be a better man in Christ.”  If you’re not interested in getting out of the “lukewarm” river of life (for those applicable), I ask that you please remove your “Christian” label and come back when you’re ready to man-up and give your life fully to Christ.  The thing that sucks most about this email is that some of you are leaders in multiple areas and some of you serve in leadership positions in your church.  If any of you want to know more about discipleship or accountability, I would be glad to help.

All of these items aren’t applicable to everyone.  I just felt it necessary to make sure we’re all on the same page so we can encourage and challenge each other.  You are each uniquely talented guys that have a lot to offer this world in multiple areas and I don’t want any of you to sell yourself short.  Bring your “A” game… not just for sports but for your ministry as well!
STEP UP.  BE SANCTIFIED.  BE SET APART!!!

 

PERSPECTIVE

 

PERSPECTIVE

I am constantly looking for areas where I can learn and grow in my walk with God and life in general.  Often times we have to take a step back from situations or take a break from our busy lives to look at our journeys with a different perspective.  Being exposed to friends, family and/or acquaintances with differing opinions is not always a bad thing either.  It’s good to see life through the perspective of others as their ideas or beliefs may challenge us to examine ours and either cause us to change as needed or solidify our convictions.  I’m a people watcher so I learn lots of lessons… both good and bad.

Sara and I are pregnant (PRAISE GOD) and we now find ourselves prioritizing our decisions based on “how will this affect our child?”  As I’ve seen with other parents along my journey I notice that habits are altered, schedules are rearranged, finances changed and life in general is seen through a different lens when considering the children involved.  This is a good thing and selfless in most cases.  You don’t have to abandon the reality of life and the responsibilities outside of your parental responsibilities but you have to be mindful of it when stepping back and getting perspective on your life as a whole.

When I consider this example I’m challenged to put these concepts into practice in my relationship with God.  With every decision I should ask myself “how does this affect my relationship with God or my witness to others?”  Am I willing to change my habits, rearrange my schedule, release my finances and live my life in general as an ambassador of God?  God has blessed us with any talents, finances, time…etc. that we boast of so it’s only fair to offer those things to God on a regular basis.  There is no special formula that many religious organizations attempt to place on people but God will reveal to you through a relationship with Him what he desires from you.  You will feel convictions when needed, confirmations when needed, peace when needed and occasionally you’ll just have to make decisions on your own and adjust accordingly.  God allows us to go through things for a reason and I pray that we can find ways to grow in our situations through the life lessons often disguised by the hype of the moments.

 

BURDENS

 

BURDENS

Burden:  mental weight, stress, affliction, excess baggage, hardship, strain, trial, trouble, worry…etc.

We all have burdens of some type.  Some are normal and expected while others are stupid and unnecessary. We often carry more burden than what is necessary and add additional weight to an already heavy load of life.

When I say some are normal and expected it’s because scripturally we will have trials and tribulations.  These things naturally stress us out and we have to learn to deal with things as they come with a calm and collective attitude.  The saying, “do your best and trust God with the rest” is quite applicable here.  Some people jump the gun a little and are a little too care-free but it’s important to do your part to address situations (as necessary) and be willing to trust that God will bring remedy to situations according to His will.  Keep in mind that “His will” does not always line up with the results that you might have in mind.  I can’t necessarily explain this concept but I’ve learned time and time again that His plans are much better than mine.  There is usually a purpose for the results beyond your understanding in the grand scheme of things.  It easy to begin questioning if you heard God right when obeying the Lord’s calling on your life, but He will reveal things to you in due time to solidify your decisions if you are actively in relationship with Him.

When I say some are stupid and unnecessary it’s because we try to carry too much weight when we often have assistance readily available.  We’re either: impatient, persistent, ignorant, stagnant, or anything else that ends in “nt” that means you’re trying to do it all in your own strength.  Remember the scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Phil 4:13?  You are limited in your own strength and you must be willing to release things to God to help you make it through.  If not, it will eat you up inside and will completely take over your life.  You will lose focus on the things you are called to do and get tunnel vision with a large percent of focus on things that are probably out of your control anyways.  I’m not saying that you can’t pray about things that seem impossible or occasionally dream the “what if” situation but I am saying that you must be willing to release things.  “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27.  Seriously… some people spend an enormous amount of time carrying weight that isn’t theirs to carry.  Sure we hurt for others or relationships or situations or even ourselves but an “I can conquer the world” attitude is usually going to get you further than a “woe is me” attitude.

We all go through stuff.  Some more than others and some are stronger than others.  Friends and family can be very uplifting and helpful (or reverse) but you have to be careful to not over burden them as well for things out of your control.  Do your part, pray about it, release your burdens to the Lord and move on with your life.  I’m sure many opportunities are lost because the pity party was over-extended beyond what is healthy.  Don’t miss out on life because we have a few burdens.  Do your best to roll with the punches and don’t get bogged down with drama.  It’s just not healthy.  If you’re looking for a quick fix… go exercise.  Not only will it be one step closer to being healthier, happier and better looking but it is a great stress reliever and an awesome opportunity to refocus and pray especially on a nice long run without interruptions.

P.S.  Don’t try to fix everyone else’s problems for them either.  Sometimes people just need a listening ear and sometimes a good swift honest kick in the pants but don’t linger in their business too long… unless it directly effects you.

 

WE'RE PREGNANT!!!

 

Sara and I (Michael) found out on Christmas morning that we are pregnant!  God is so amazing!!!

 

"THE 12 PAINS OF CHRISTMAS" - why is it such a pain?

 

“THE 12 PAINS OF CHRISTMAS” – why is it such a pain?

Guest blogger - Sara Thorsby 

This morning I was jamming out to Christmas music.  (I’m bingeing on it because I only listen to it for about a month out of the year, and it’s just fun.)  So I’m car-dancing to the seasonal tunes and then the song ‘The 12 Pains of Christmas’ comes on.  I thought about the ‘pains’ they were talking about:

-whiny kids
-
facing the in-laws
-5 months of bills (due to living outside of your means)
-Christmas cards
-Lights
-Wrapping presents
-Finding a Christmas tree

Let’s be real, people: most of the misery we experience at Christmas is self-inflicted!!! Since when are we required to hang lights, send cards, spend time in awkward family situations, or even put up a tree or buy gifts?

You’re probably comparing me to a few famous people who share my opinion – namely The Grinch, Scrooge, or Charlie Brown.  I agree – by the end of each story, The Grinch had a big heart, Scrooge became a giver, and Charlie Brown… well, Charlie Brown stayed the same. But I love how he stuck to his guns when he said that Christmas is commercialized, and he loved that sorry-looking little tree even though everyone thought he was crazy for doing it – because although it was small, it was real – not some fake, commercialized big deal.

We keep trying to remind each other about the “real reason for Christmas.” Reminder: the ‘real reason’ had nothing to do with lights, décor, shopping yourself into ridiculous debt, acting ‘fake’ to avoid family drama, finding a tree bigger than Clark Griswald’s, or even giving gifts. <insert shocked gasp here>

I keep hearing that the ‘heart of Christmas is love/giving/remembering Christ’s birth…’  I agree with the last one. I think it should be a big, crazy birthday party for Jesus.  I think we need to remember what a sacrifice it was for Him to come down from glory and be one of us, and be humbled – and then more than humbled, he was disgraced, mocked, tortured, and killed so that we could be restored in relationship with the Creator.  We need to remember that, and we need to be grateful and joyful for the amazing gift He is to us.

Christmas is a cool season that we celebrate, but if Christ is in your heart and the fruit of that is coming out in your life, shouldn’t you act like it’s Christmas all year round?  Think of things that a lot of people only do at Christmas: give gifts, host events, cook/bake for others, give to charities… if you do that year round, there is no need to stress about it at Christmas because it’s a lifestyle, not a season.  If you love your family & spend time with them year round… if you’re humble enough to admit & apologize when you’re wrong and gracious enough to forgive others when they’re wrong… Christmas with the family wouldn’t be so awkward, now would it?

Christ had & has no intentions of stressing you out for His birthday.  Yeah, angels announced his birth, but that was to some people doing manual labor on the night shift – if you weren’t looking for it or paying attention, you’d have never known.  There was no fancy parade or public service announcement.  There’s no law saying you HAVE to put up a tree, HAVE to put up lights, or even HAVE to give gifts!  If it’s not in your heart to do it, don’t do it.  Be real, and don’t stress yourself out.  A sincere heart is more appreciated than the façade we often feel it’s necessary to put up along with the decorations…. The only problem is, when the Christmas décor comes down, the façade of peace, happiness, and joy often doesn’t.  And that’s what we’re left with: a fake happiness, peace, & joy – a front that we’re constantly putting up that says, “I’m fulfilled, I’ve got it together” when in reality, our attitudes suck and we constantly fill our lives with stuff we feel like we ‘have to do’ instead of living our destiny and being fulfilled in walking out God’s calling for us.  (I’m preaching to myself here, too!)

For Christmas, I want peace in my life, peace in my family, peace in our country and in our world.  (And I’m not even trying to be Miss America here!)  Peace starts with trusting God.  Let’s stop being so crazed with commercialism and really remember the heart of Christmas.  Let’s put Him first and not quit on December 26th.  Let’s trust God to help us trim the excess stuff and drama out of our lives so we can focus on Him more.  Let’s celebrate Christmas year-round through a lifestyle of giving, service, & worship.  Now… do I still sound like the Grinch? J

 

SOCIETY CONTRIBUTIONS

 

SOCIETY CONTRIBUTIONS

Last week we talked about THE TROUBLE WITH POSSESSIONS with the intention of getting us to be good stewards of what we’ve been blessed with and the stuff that so easily entangles us.  Now that you’ve taken inventory of your possessions and the realistic cost they have on you and your family, I ask you to examine your contributions.

Are you making a contribution to society through your possessions?  Did you buy/build that larger house to be utilized for ministry and hospitality or is it just empty and useless space?  Is that new car used to be more efficient and effective in the service you are providing through working or volunteering in the community?  Can some of the toys you’ve bought be used to increase relational ministry opportunities or is it just for you?  Do you have stuff or does your stuff have you?  It’s hard to categorize success, what levels of materialism is acceptable, what levels of spending/giving is acceptable…etc.  Each situation is subjective and each person is accountable for their actions.  One person can give away $10 and another 10 million and they be considered equivalent when considering all factors so don’t get caught up in what others are or aren’t doing.  Are you using your stuff to the fullest ability?  Can you use your possessions and/or money in a way that can help others?  I challenge you to take inventory of the things you have been blessed with and consider why you have been blessed with those things.  Maybe…just maybe God has entrusted you with those things so that you can bless others in return.  He can take it away just as fast as He has given it to us.  It’s God’s anyways.  If you think you’ve earned things in your own strength, you might want to consider where your strength comes from… and breath to breathe for that matter!

Are you making a contribution to society through your service?  Are you employed and making a difference in society through the traditional workforce?  Are you a volunteer that donates your time and resources to the community and beyond?  Are you a stay at home mom raising children (and all the chores that go with it) to help develop the next generation?  We have all been given skills, talents and giftings of some sort.  It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor.  We all have an opportunity to serve on some level and I challenge you to ask yourself if you have been a good steward of what God has given you.  Can you make more of a difference and impact those around you?  It’s not about us but what God can do through us!

Take inventory of your life as it stands today and ask yourself if you are being a good steward.  Don’t wait until you’ve reached a certain level of “success” before you contribute to society.  It’s the normal everyday people like you and I that can make this world a better place.  Selflessness not selfishness is the key.  Let’s make a difference…

 

THE TROUBLE WITH POSSESSIONS

 

THE TROUBLE WITH POSSESSIONS

We all want stuff.  For the most part there is nothing wrong with wanting a reasonable amount of stuff.  I keep hearing the line “all we need is love” in my head.  That sounds good in theory but we usually want at least a little bit of stuff like food, water and shelter.  That’s stuff!  It’s a normal desire.

One of the problems with stuff is that is often consumes us.  We’re rarely satisfied with the stuff we get and constantly want the latest and greatest.  We accumulate large quantities of this stuff and need to buy a bigger house, shed or even donate your money for a storage unit where moth and rust will literally destroy your stuff.  Does the word hoarders mean anything to you?  When we get the bigger house it requires more maintenance which requires more money.  You can do it yourself and invest time or pay someone and invest more time at work to pay for it.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Once you get a television you have to use more electricity, you upgrade often, you end up getting cable/service and generate a monthly bill.  If you get a vehicle you have to do maintenance on it, upgrade it as things break, pay the bill, fill it with the ever changing gas prices (or electric) and the cycles continue.  Computers/Phones…. well you know the deal with that!  Don’t blink or you’ll be considered ancient!

All of these possessions require some sort of sacrifice… unless you’re one of those people that buy nice things and never pay the bill thus requiring the rest of us to bail you out!  Sorry… I got sidetracked.  Everything we acquire requires additional attention, finances, maintenance, dependency on others, upgrading, storage or even disposal.  The list goes on and on but how often do we really count the cost when we are whining about how bad we want that new thing?  Just look at your bills.  We add additional monthly stress just to pay for these things and we have to count on others to provide us professional services which are often discouraging and stressful.  See my last blog….BATTLESHIPS KEEP COMING!  P.S.  There are the exceptions that shine and I challenge you to make it a point to give honor where honor is due.  Professionalism and quality are becoming rare!

I have a lot of things and I praise God daily for blessing me so much.  I try to thank Him for even the little seemingly insignificant things as many people only dream of having the “stuff” we have.  One man’s junk is another man’s treasure!  Some of these things might actually be curses…especially if I owe debt on them or they keep me from investing more into Godly things but I ask that God give me wisdom in my choices.  I’m thanking him for the breathe I have to breath, the “love” that I have to give and receive, anointing, His timing, family, opportunities….etc.  I most importantly pray that I can be a good steward of the stuff God has given me.  If I get caught up wasting my time, energies and monies on too many possessions, I won’t have ample time to invest in the areas God has called me too.

Let’s continue to pray for wisdom to be good stewards of what we’ve been blessed with.  The more I think about all of the stuff I have and the responsibilities that go with it, the more I consider being a hippie and just going back to the simple life!  Our culture shapes our purchases but we can shape our culture… dare to be different!

 

BATTLESHIPS KEEP COMING

 

BATTLESHIPS KEEP COMING

So I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately and have been quite discouraged with services offered by those that call themselves professionals.  We all know the old saying “If you want to get it done right, do it yourself”.  Even though that unfortunately applies to multiple things, it’s not always applicable due to lack of special tools, man-power, equipment or skills.  Sometimes it’s just necessary for us to depend on other people.

Part of the reason we employ others is to reduce our personal stress over the issues.  This also is a good way to redistribute income into local businesses providing goods and services.  These concepts only work if the job is done with excellence as you expect the professionals to do a much better and more efficient job than you can do yourself.  Lately I’ve been more stressed by the professionals than helped and it has not been cost efficient.

A few recent examples where portions of the experience were unprofessional and required confrontation:

Appliance delivery - wrong delivery days, split orders, damaged items, rough installation experience…
Carpet installation - scheduling issues, billing surprises, stock changes, size issues…
Motor/Transmission Repair - told me what I already diagnosed and charged me without being able to fix it
Mustang Repair - communication issues, didn’t fix correctly, wasn’t timely…
Timeshare Resort - terrible customer service, room issues, sales issues…
Timeshare Resort 2 – construction all around us during much needed peaceful stay, management issues…
Airline Baggage Lost – you know the drill
Heat Pump Installation – 3 days turns to 16+ days, wrong equipment, not supervised, billing, sloppy work…
Government Employees – self explainable (extra people are employed for the purpose of fixing their mistakes)
Sponsors – Leading on and then changing their minds, bad communication…
Tree Service – dropped tree on power line, damaged house, lied about insurance coverage, pending charges…

I’m a pretty bold guy so I won’t hesitate to communicate in whatever ways are necessary if a job isn’t done correctly.  You’re paying for it so it should be done with excellence right?  I don’t cuss…I don’t yell… I’m just very articulate and firm to communicate what is expected and agreed upon.  The problem is that I don’t like being the bad guy all the time.  I like being the encourager.  I like telling someone that they did a great job (that they are supposed to do anyways) and maybe even give them some extra encouragement or even a bonus.  I don’t think my expectations are too high.  If you quote me ABC then give me ABC… not XYZ.  It’s just simple 1 + 1 type stuff to me.  Even though logically it seems easy, I don’t understand why people have such a hard time doing their job… and doing it with excellence.  I’m saying these things after giving a butt load of grace to allow error space because nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes.  Thank God that He has given me a lot of grace.  That doesn’t give a permission slip to take advantage of those giving you grace.

Too many nice people get completely run over because they want to avoid conflict and I just don’t think that’s a Biblical concept.  I can quote verses in both directions where we need to be firm but also need to give grace.  It comes down to discernment but at the end of the day, both parties are accountable for their actions on some level.  I would just like to have more faith in people that they can be counted on.  I don’t want to expect the worst in people but regular occurrences tend to discourage employing outside sources to do things that I can do myself.  I would just like to have peace.  Peace = Do job with excellence, as quoted, in a timely fashion with a professional process throughout the entire experience.  It’s tough enough trusting your stuff to other people.  It’s like leaving your kid at the hospital… there is stress regardless, there is a bill to pay and your peace is limited until you get that kid home safe and sound and the bill is paid!  Stuff is very similar but it’s still just stuff!

“You can be right in the position that you hold and wrong in the disposition in which you hold it”

“Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as working for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

 

BODY BY MIKE!

 

BODY BY MIKE!

EXERCISE, EAT HEALTHIER, POOP – REPEAT DAILY

 

GIVE WHAT...TO WHOM?

 

GIVE WHAT … TO WHOM?

I’ve really been struggling lately with those that abuse “the system” and take advantage of the generosity many volunteers and organizations offer on various levels.  I’m naturally a giver at heart to many in foreign nations and in my own back yard so it’s not about the willingness to give but about the stewardship of giving.  Obviously many people give for various reasons (philanthropy, tax write-offs, to boast, for public praise, because you feel led by God, obligation…etc).  We’re all givers by default for those of us that work and pay taxes in the United States.  Someone else gets to choose who and what to give to on our behalf with that money without our input or proper oversight.  That’s a different argument though!

I’m struggling with who qualifies as “the needy and the poor” biblically speaking.  I recognize that certain things are subjective and if God is calling/leading you to give… you better do it.  Be sure not to put your convictions on others as He may not be leading them in the same way for that specific situation.  We can debate the literal definitions of needy and poor but there needs to be some level of discernment in our personal choices and those our government makes for us.  2 Thessalonians 3:10 states, “…If a man will not work, he shall not eat”.  I can give you a butt load of verses about giving to the needy and the poor but it still isn’t real clear.  If a man chooses to be lazy and not work, I don’t consider them needy or poor.  Some people choose to have a simple lifestyle and aren’t necessarily lazy (a lot of hippies) but yet they reap the benefits of the poor from their choices.  I go to the grocery store and can’t afford to buy the nice quality foods that people are getting for free via WIC.  Many of those people are selling that food, trading it for other things or just plain wasting it.  I’ve seen all of them first hand.  I have served in soup kitchens/food banks where people are dressed in clothes nicer than I could ever afford or roll up in a decked out vehicle that cost more than my house… literally.  I know people on government assistance that don’t seem to have money for bills but yet drive nice cars, have the latest technology, the biggest flat screen television (with the best cable package) and I’m still rollin’ with my tape player and $7.00 basic cable!  The list goes on…

Our systems continues to reward those who do it wrong and punish those who do it right.  I paid full price for college because I chose to get jobs at an early age while others get a free ride because they were goofing off while I was working or because their skin pigment is different.  We’re giving extra benefits to those having children out of wedlock while those that are doing it right get punished.  I personally know some people with kids who purposely didn’t get married so they can get more benefits (taxes, schooling, discounts, food stamps….).  Our system gives very little incentive for people to do things right and strive to be their very best.  It instead removes necessary punishments that are natural for people to learn from mistakes.  It also discourages those that are doing things right and is breeding a generation of dependents that will spend the majority of their lives in the receiving line instead learning how to be contributors to society.  If we follow the biblical concept and stop rewarding those who do it wrong, they will eventually end the generational curses and we can focus on the true needy and poor.

There are a select few people that are truly needy and poor and could use some help.  There are many jobs out there but lots of people just don’t want to work.  A little humbleness goes a long ways.  How long should we pay for other people’s laziness, lack of work ethics, lack of appreciation, lack of honesty, lack on integrity, lack of ….?  I get the concept of “give without expecting anything in return”.  It sounds good and fluffy but the reality is that you give because you hope it will help them get to a better place, get on their feet, have motivation to move forward and not just linger in the downward spiral.  Usually I give with intentions.  There are occasions when I feel led to give even if it seems sketchy and I have to rest in the fact that each person is accountable at the end of the day for their own actions.  My goal is to also be a good steward of what God has entrusted me with.  I’m already trusting Caesar with the monies I’m required to pay through taxes but once again it’s a commandment that I have to release the authorities to be under their own accountability.  We can still voice our concerns to our representatives and play a part in selecting those representing us (voting).  All this to say I’m a strong advocate for giving… just don’t forget about the true needy and poor!

 

SORE LOSER

 

SORE LOSER

This weekend I finally got my first official Pro Disc Golf Association (PDGA) first place finish in the Intermediate Division at Northeast Creek Fall Classic Tournament.  If you don’t know what disc golf is (not frisbee golf)… go to www.pdga.com and you can learn all about it.  Now that you have been sidetracked… let’s continue this story!

I have been playing disc golf since 1997 and I thought it was just a goofy looking hippy sport.  My friends talked me into going and I’ve been hooked since.  I don’t play as much as I would like but I love the opportunities I get to hang out with a unique blend of players and enjoy the natural scenery that God has blessed us with.  I usually don’t tell people how long I’ve played because they expect you to be pretty good when you’ve been playing for double digit years.  Like I said, I don’t play that often so my skills reflect the lack of experience.  Some of the new players we have mentored have played more in a year than I’ve played in ten years combined.  Good for them… they will exceed expectations!

I have always been a very competitive guy but I have learned through many years of sports and leadership positions to have a good attitude whether you win or lose.  Sportsmanship is an important character trait that will define who you are when you walk off the field, court, rink, course…etc.  Over the years I have won a lot of games, championships, trophies, races and so on… but I have lost quite a few as well.  I’ve tried my best to learn from my mistakes when I lose and take those opportunities to grow so that I can win at some point!  I learned a lot about sportsmanship and have watched other players that “take it like a man” when they lose and those that act like babies, complain, thrown tantrums and even sometimes quit.  We all get frustrated when we lose (especially if we’re competitive) but the person you are after the loss will determine the character associated with you for much longer than the memories of that particular event.

Are you giving people a reason to want you on their team?  Do you have a good attitude?  Are you putting in the practice time to be your personal best so the team can be that much better as a whole?  Are you slacking but still expecting good results?  Are you honoring God?  Do your gestures, actions and language reflect good sportsmanship?  It feels good to win sometimes.  There should be a certain level of humbleness but it’s alright to celebrate as well.  I’m sure you’ve earned it.  More importantly we can’t be sore losers.  It’s alright to have a little smack-talking amongst friends but don’t get too carried away and try to be an encourager in the midst of it.  Your example might just lead to someone else’s success!  And remember… it’s not about you but what God can do through you!

 

GET IT, GOT IT, GOOD

 

GET IT, GOT IT, GOOD

It is amazing how much people engage in consumer driven holiday seasons.  I understand how it’s easy to get caught up in the hype with a great excuse to escape the everyday “normal” scenery of life.  There are so many options that release creativity like costumes and décor at Halloween, gifts and extravagance at Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day (colored beer), Easter bunny foo-foo stuff, 4th of July patriotic stuff, naming a street in every city Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, birthdays, weddings… etc.

There are a lot of people that are amazingly gifted in our society and they are just looking for a great excuse to release their gifts, energies and other resources.  I’ve seen people (including myself) spend countless hours designing special projects, purchasing just the right gifts, investing in the adventure of the moment, spending whatever it takes to complete the task, engaging others to participate…etc.  Some people go to the extremes in efforts to keep up with the Joneses and some just have a desire to break through barriers of “better than last time”.  Either way, we naturally have an inclination for certain things that interest us to bring our “A” game when it comes to competition or just being goal driven.

Many of these people are Christians and I wonder why many of them aren’t compelled to utilize their gifts, energies and other resources in a Kingdom oriented way that is productive in reaching those that don’t know Christ so they too can partake in the gift of everlasting life.  This doesn’t necessarily have to be in a church setting or during some special program but even just in everyday life.  Better yet even using these “holidays” as an opportunity to minister during the hype and commercialism that often completely misses the point of most holidays anyways.

I challenge you next time you; dress up in your favorite homemade costume, create the most amazing haunted house, extravagantly landscape with Christmas lights and tree décor, invest money and time into the most awesome gifts, paint two million eggs and stuff plastic ones with whatever didn’t make it in the basket or whatever is your vice, to ask yourself if you have made the effort to invest at least an equivalent amount of resources in the God who created you.  You don’t have to stop having fun, just incorporate it in your ministry!

“Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as working for the Lord and not for men, know that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”  Colossians 3:23-24

 

BREAKING GENERATIONAL CURSES

 

BREAKING GENERATIONAL CURSES

I am reminded today of why I refuse to settle for status quo.  The headlines on the local news channels and local papers are crowded with more crimes committed by my very own extended family members.  Sometimes when certain things happen quite often or certain people act particular ways so regularly, we just get numb to it when new things occur.

Beginning at a very young age I have had various family members commit crimes that are not only embarrassing and crippling to the family but are detrimental to society as a whole.  I have seen various levels of punishment but rarely justice is served by the damage already done physically and emotionally.  My family has a history of alcoholism, multiple drug addictions, homelessness, drug trafficking, rape, multiple thefts, domestic violence, vandalism, multiple divorces, adultery, liars, mental illnesses, bastard children, multiple automobile violations, abuse (physical and emotional), multiple prison vacations and the list goes on and on.  Just when I think we’ve set the bar pretty high on the criminal meter… a cousin vandalizes multiple buses and steals one while intoxicated.  Didn’t think of that one!  I’m just glad most of these people have different last names than I do!

Many of these people know right from wrong and still continue to selfishly do stupid things without thinking about those around them that it might affect.  Sometimes family members and society encourage such behavior by rewarding them instead of the tough love they need.  For instance, my Grandma has bailed family out of jail so many times, puts her house up for bail and lets them (ages 0-60) live with her and mooch off of her to unthinkable extents.  She is one of the most loving and hospitable people in the world and I understand her position but being an enabler doesn’t help remedy the character.  It puts me in a tough situation because even though you love people (especially family), sometimes you just don’t like them and it’s tough to minister to them when you’re purposely distancing yourself for safety purposes (and also for accomplice purposes).  I’ve seen the damage it has done over the years and it’s important for me to protect myself and my immediate family from anyone that poses a threat.

I made it a point, years ago, to set standards for myself to be different than the example set by many in my very own family.  I didn’t want to fall into the traps of this world and look back with regrets.  I did my best to put a line in the sand and stay far off of it so that if I did fall I would still be on the right side.  I’ve had plenty of struggles, especially in early college years, but I purposely surrounded myself with people that would kick my butt if I strayed too far from the right path.  I initiated accountability and set goals for myself to become better than the day before.  I still do these things and have all intentions of breaking generational curses that have seemed to haunt many of our family members and friends.  I’m now 32 years old and seem to be on the right path but I will not back down from my pursuit to be a better man of God than I was yesterday.  I can’t earn God’s love and grace because He loves me anyways and gives me a tremendous amount of undeserved grace but I want Him to like me too.  If I do my part, it makes it easier on both of us!  I welcome your prayers for healing and restoration in my family for current and future generations!

 

FOCUS ON THE NINETY

 

FOCUS ON THE NINETY

I’m a big advocate of striving for perfection and giving 110%.  Even though we all fall short, that doesn’t give us a valid excuse to eliminate giving our best efforts.  Even the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV) to “aim for perfection”.

Sometimes in our efforts to be successful in many things, we tend to focus more on the failures instead of the victories.  There are pros and cons to this concept so I’m going to ramble a bit until we are inspired!

It is important to do self-assessments to not only maintain our current attributes but to promote growth and maturity in the areas that we struggle in.  This is a good thing and a reasonable level of discipline is encouraged to help us to be successful in the areas where we are lacking.  This discipline can be based from our personal goals, outside suggestions, team observations and comparisons with those we look to for examples of exemplary performance in the target areas.  While chasing after this percentage (whatever it may be) of areas that we feel need improvement, it’s important to not let the previously successful percentage fall prey to idleness.  We must maintain a posture of integrity in everything we do and not try to “fake it ‘til we make it”!  If we’re doing 90% well and struggling at 10% then it is important to identify and address that 10% and set reasonable goals to conquer these mountains.  As we reach certain rungs of the “success ladder” we will continuously realize that we could do more, and more, and more… so the bar never really seems to be permanently at 100%.  Don’t be discouraged by this but welcome this challenge so life doesn’t get stale in our efforts to be the best we can possibly be.  The real challenge here is to stay motivated, to take on the challenges and to not have a defeated attitude.  A defeated attitude will result in an automatic loss for those keeping score.

With that same concept of trying to do our best and reach for that extra 10%, don’t lose focus on the 90% (or whatever our number is) that we are doing correctly.  Sometimes I see people get so discouraged because they weren’t the best at something.  Some people take constructive criticism way too hard and should instead embrace it as a challenge and respect that someone took the time to give them a good swift kick of reality…even if it wasn’t with the best disposition.  If we ask someone their opinion, we should be prepared to get it whether we agree with it or not.  Somewhere along the lines people just started lying to each other to avoid conflict… that’s not the way to go… and we shouldn’t want people to say stuff to us just to make us feel better.  When we’ve realized that we’re falling short in an area (or a few areas), we should try to focus on them one at a time, set new goals and take steps to remedy our situations.  In the midst of these challenges, we need to go ahead and leave all offenses at the door, put on our battle armor and don’t forget  to remember the foundation (90%) of the things we are doing right to boost our confidence on our journey.

SET PERSONAL GOALS – We can’t always expect to live up to the standards of someone else.  Start somewhere and set goals.  As we progress we can begin to aspire to the standards of those we see as victorious in the areas of concern.  Whatever we do… don’t give it all up because we failed in a few areas.  Use our strengths as pillars to catapult our weaknesses into victorious pieces of art!  YOU CAN DO IT!!!

 

GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS

 

GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS

I don’t want to go through the motions
I don’t want to go one more day
Without Your all consuming
Passion inside of me
I don’t want to spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything
Instead of going through the motions

These lyrics by Matthew West linger in my mind as I struggle with people just going through the motions of Christianity.  It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship with God.  If you were to change the question to “are you a follower of Jesus Christ” instead of “are you a Christian”, I’m certain that the answers would not be consistent.  I guess the fact that people aren’t verbally denying that Christ exists is a good place to start but even the demons believed and they trembled.  It’s more than just believing that God exists and being a nice person.  Dig a little deeper.  Do a little studying on your own.   Don’t expect the person at the pulpit, the tv, the critics or the fancy books to give you all the answers.  Examine the Bible thoroughly and prayerfully consider any lackluster attitude you may have towards your level of dedication to Christ.  He doesn’t want robots with empty performances…. He wants a relationship with you!  Yes YOU!  Don’t be prideful.  If you’re not sure where to start, go ask someone that you think has a deeper understanding than you.  Hopefully they will disciple you…

 

REWARDS - NOW OR LATER

 

REWARDS – NOW OR LATER

I look around me and I recognize how blessed I truly am.  I have a roof over my head, I have plenty of food to eat, I have a good job, I have a phenomenal wife, I have awesome friends and an awesome family.  I have troubles just like everyone else does and the caliber is subjective depending on who is judging.  Some of these troubles are trivial and I just have to ride out the seasons or events and some are longer term like broken relationships with family and/or friends or illnesses.  Sometimes our struggles seem so much bigger to us than to those that are on the outside looking in.  For most of us, we’ve got it pretty stinkin’ good and have very little to complain about.  Some people have some pretty legit stuff going on but have to find a way to be positive and press through.

Sometimes we all get frustrated with things going on around us that are out of our control.  Let’s use government for example.  Regardless of what side of the party lines you reside on, we get frustrated on many different levels.  I personally get sick of being punished for doing things right while others are rewarded for doing things wrong.  I’m a hard working, coupon clipping, frugal and responsible young man that seemingly gets punished for those things while other lazy people get benefits for free that I break my back trying to earn.  I see prisoners getting a better lifestyle than our elderly… and many of us on some levels.  When is the last time you have had free room and board, free meals, free education, free gym membership, free cable, free laundry…etc as a reward for doing bad things.  I know it’s not that simple but some of these types of example really get under our skin sometimes… and rightfully so.  Many times our systems give little inspiration to do better, to try harder and to strive to be the best that we can be.  It often rewards laziness and punishes success.

I try my best to be a man of integrity.  I remind myself that those responsible for making stupid and seemingly unfair rules are accountable for their actions.  Sometimes I want to be the enforcer and regulator for things that I see as unjust but that’s not my job.  I read these scriptures and it changes my mindset:

Jeremiah 17:10 – I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.

Jeremiah 20:11 - But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.  They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;  their dishonor will never be forgotten.

Colossians 3:23-24 - Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Perspective is sometimes a tough pill to swallow but I know that God is bigger than our struggles.  Don’t give up when is seems unfair.  Don’t stop because it doesn’t seem worth it.  Work hard, play hard, pray hard and don’t forget to include God into your daily routine… He is worth the investment!

 

WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

 

WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

I’m all about encouraging people and I love to be encouraged as well… as long as it is authentic!  I’m not necessarily a believer of the general rule of thumb:  “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.  I get the point of it but there is a time when you should say something and it’s not always nice.

I’m a people watcher and I get frustrated with what I observe in person, on television and even on the radio.  Quite often I hear of examples where people literally lie to each other to make the other person feel good instead of just being real and telling the truth.  Yes, sometimes the truth hurts but it’s reality and I would rather find out earlier than later about the subject at hand.  Does this make me look fat?  Do these threads look good on me?  Do I look good?  Am I a good singer?  Should I do this thing?  The list is endless and I’m sure you can think of multiple examples.  I just don’t understand.  I’m not talking about something like telling a little kid he/she runs really fast with the cool shoes on.  That’s a subjective thing.

I think of the recent McDonalds commercial where the girlfriend says something about her friends boyfriend thinking Sunday’s are for football and the guy agrees internally but thinks about it for a minute and says what she wants to hear (“that guy’s a jerk”) just to be the good guy and avoid conflict.  That’s called lying and our society encourages that all too often.

Sara and I established early in our courtship that we were going to be completely honest with each other and not walk on eggshells or lie.  This ensures that when we have uncertainty we at least know that we’re going to get the most honest answer from the other instead of a warm fuzzy answer that avoids the question.  Our answers to each other aren’t always what we want to hear but it makes communication a lot easier because we don’t have to play the little games… and we’re honest to each other.

The classic:  “does this make me look fat?” line floors me.  If it does, answer yes and you shouldn’t have to worry about getting in trouble for answering truthfully.  Actually… a proactive thing would be to mention it before it’s even asked if something isn’t flattering or doesn’t work or isn’t up to the potential it could be (disclaimer - some things would only be appropriate from a spouse, family member or really good friend).  Most people want to avoid conflict but in essence make the situation worse and don’t have other people’s best interest in mind.  It’s a selfish mindset because you either don’t want to “offend” someone or you don’t want to make someone upset with you… for being honest!  Unfortunately many people want you to lie to them.  Not me!  Haircuts are the worst.  Instead of telling someone that you like their haircut and then telling all your friends they look like they got stuck in a blender, just tell them it’s not your style instead of lying to them.

I even see it with comments like:  “you did your best”, “great job”, “you’ll get them next time”…etc.  Often times we can find encouraging things to say while still being honest.  If you know someone was a slacker and did barely enough to get by followed by failure, you can’t say “you did your best”.  You shouldn’t say “great job” when you know their potential was much higher and they just did the minimum required.  You shouldn’t say, “you’ll get them next time” when you know they aren’t making a realistic effort to be competitive and thus giving them false hope.

American Idol is a good example.  The friends and family members of some of these contestants should be severely punished for the embarrassment they have caused to those singers who are completely horrible.  I know some opinions are subjective but some of these things are so obvious that it makes me cringe to think someone would be that cruel to not give you wise counsel.  It happens in homes, churches, offices, politicians, gov’t…etc and only you are accountable for your own actions and the example you set to others.  I’m not saying to go around telling everyone everything bad about them.  I’m saying to use discernment, especially when asked, and tell people the truth in love.  Occasionally be proactive and try to make this world a better place when you see things that can be better or potential to be reached.

“You can be right in the position that you hold and wrong in the position in which you hold it.”

 

ROOT WHERE YOU'RE PLANTED

 

ROOT WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED  (Guest Blogger:  Sara Thorsby)

Succulents are a really cool type of plant.  Their leaves are usually puffy and full of fluid.  They’re a family of plants that includes cacti and aloe, just to name a few.  The juicy leaves enable them to go a while without water, and one of the neatest things about them is that if you break off a piece of the plant and put it in some dirt, it’ll usually take root in a few weeks and become its own plant – growing on its own and producing shoots off of itself that can be broken off and replanted, continuing the cycle of replication.

One particular type of succulent I’ve been trying to ‘breed’ is called “Chicks-n-Hens.”  The hens are the bigger plants, and they’re surrounded by little off-shoots (chicks).  Sometimes it can get pretty crowded in the planter with all the Chicks-n-Hens and it gets to a point that if you want them to survive at all, you have to separate them – give them some breathing room and growing space – so that they can thrive.  So I’m thinking I can break off the Chicks… stick ‘em in some dirt… water… wait… and voila! They’ll start growing like all the other succulents, right?

WRONG. These chicks were stubborn!!! The bottom leaves kept folding down, pushing the plant up out of the dirt and exposing the stem that needed to root. The stems would then dry out and kill the plant before it even got rooted.  Half of them died after about a month of cautiously cultivating and even smooshing them back into the dirt! I started thinking a) this is weird, and b) God, what are you trying to teach me? I mean, I’ve never seen a plant with such a death wish!

I think it was at that point that God said, “Well, since you asked, this is what I’m trying to tell you:

Sometimes, I want you to break away from the busyness, take root, and grow on your own.  Even if it’s dry, or lonely, or you feel like you’re too distant from me.  You’re not… I’m here with you, your living water, your comforter, your cultivator.  Even if you feel like I’m smooshing you deeper into a ‘dirt’y or unpleasant situation, it’s only because I want you to mature and take root on your own (the Hen), and eventually make disciples (Chicks) who follow after me.  And at the right time, I’ll take those Chicks away from you and help them root on their own so that they can become Hens and make Chicks too.  Now, how could I possibly accomplish all that if you keep trying to uproot yourself?  Dig in, dig deep, and take root where I’ve planted you so I can create growth in your life – otherwise, you’re committing spiritual suicide and you’ll be completely unusable in my kingdom, besides ending up as fertilizer for those plants that do take root.”

So ask yourself this: Am I rooted, rooting, or uprooting? Am I established in my relationship with Christ (and still seeking), getting established, or trying to get as far away from Christ as possible? Am I mature and growing, young and growing, or dying? It’s important to remember that God deeply and passionately loves us all and desires for us to grow in Him, but he cannot help cultivate our spiritual growth if we continuously try to uproot ourselves from where He’s planted us.  Let’s dig in and dig deep, despite the temporary discomforts, and look for more growth than we could’ve ever imagined!

 

KISSY FACE

 

KISSY FACE

Remember the first time you decided to hold hands with that special someone when you got all nervous and filled with butterflies in your stomach?  Remember when you used to daydream about smootchin’ on your boyfriend or girlfriend?  Remember the fireworks that went off in your imagination as you hugged or cuddled or innocently snuggled at a bonfire?  Remember when flirting turned into dating/courting?  Remember when you decided to get married?  Remember how exciting the thought was of spending the rest of your life with this person that made you feel so special and all warm and fuzzy inside?

Somewhere between the busyness of life and the lack of investment, people tend to drift apart and forget the roots of relationships they committed to.  Unfortunately we see this all too often as some relationships progress in years.  I understand there are a lot of factors that contribute to “drifting apart” but many of them are preventable.  Here are a few things that are easy to say, hard to live out but possible with the right intention:

*Life can get busy… be a better manager

*Finances… we have to work to pay the bills but live within your means and don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses”

*Kids are overwhelming… invest in your relationship first, build a good foundation and then let the good times roll!

*He/She isn’t taking care of their body/temple… be purposeful and diligent in your lifestyle (diet & EXERCISE)

*He/She doesn’t communicate well… say what you mean and mean what you say!  Eliminate all of the unnecessary darts, no yelling EVER and say what’s on your mind before it builds up and explodes.

*Date each other… you should intentionally set aside a specific time/night each week to focus on each other and nothing else… all other encounters are bonus!!!  Get on the same schedule as well!

*Sex life… all of the above items are factors in your sex life.  Create peace in the other areas and it will lead to better, unforced, unhindered, amazingly fruitful reminders of how awesome you are together.  If you base your relationship on sex alone (especially before marriage) you will have a tough time as you will have to rebuild your foundation.

*Spiritual discipline… make sure God is in the center of everything you do.  If you try to do it in your own strength you will be less than your potential (at best) or totally unsuccessful (at worst).  P.S.  Sex is even better when your spiritual house is in order… after all… He did create it!

Stop whatever you’re doing and find time for some “kissy face”.  Let your spouse know that you love them and don’t ask for anything in return…at least at that moment.  Don’t just say it with your mouth but show it with your actions on a regular basis.  There is comfort in knowing that somebody loves you regardless of your faults and imperfections.  We all know that God loves us but we sometimes can’t see beyond our own failures to recognize that the person we call “lover” is more interested in the total package!  Sometimes we “hurt those we love” more because we feel comfortable with them and sometimes have a lack of restraint.  Your words are like weapons and they can bring life or death to a relationship so use them with wisdom and speak life into your future.

Disclaimer – Some items such as unfaithfulness, laziness, lack of concern, spiritual backsliding…etc are items that require additional work and counsel.  There is personal accountability though for all actions and reactions regardless of who is at fault… Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

 

TRASH AND TREASURE

 

TRASH AND TREASURE

This past weekend I traveled to Lima, Ohio for a 1,000 acre swap meet.  My family has been going to this event for over 50 years in Kenton, Ohio and it recently was moved to Lima.  I’ve been going for over 10 years myself.  This massive flea market consisted of vendors from all over the place selling a variety of stuff like dogs, guns, dolls, car parts, trinkets, jewelry, food, Amish stuff, art, homemade items, toys, clothes, fishing gear, hunting gear, new stuff, old stuff… etc!  If you can think of it, they probably sell it there.  As I walked around and looked at all of the items at each vendor, I stop and window shop at the ones that spark my interest and I simply walk right by for the ones that don’t.  There were many items that I would classify as trash and worthy of a dumpster and many items that I would classify as treasure that just needed the right person to come along and purchase.  But the verdict doesn’t end there…

Some of those items I thought were trash were sold just as fast as the items I thought were treasures because other people had differing opinions or utilizations for the items being judged.  You never know who might have interest in something that you’ve given up on or moved on from.  This is why yard sales are so popular amongst those that are on a budget.  There are still those things that are way overpriced that nobody thinks is treasure and the things that never seems to sell because it is classified as trash to the majority of the people but those are more of the exceptions.  I even saw a casket that was converted into a massive cooler in this unique yard sale atmosphere.

Sometimes I think of this trash and treasure concept it’s interesting application to people.  We may ignore people that don’t seem to spark our interest and engage more with people that do.  We may think someone is ugly but someone else might think that person is the most amazing thing that has ever walked the earth.  We may think someone’s personality is way too different to “fit in” but someone else may say that they fit perfectly and the rest of us are outcasts.  We have multiple styles, looks, ways of talking, ways of walking, ways of dressing, work skills, haircuts, sizes, shapes, colors, personalities, smells, languages, cultures…etc.  All of these differences are what make us our own special individual ingredient in the soup of life.  You fit in somehow, someway, somewhere with someone.  Sometimes people just haven’t found where they fit yet.

I challenge you today to be slow to write people off when their potential is just being discovered.  Help them to fit where they feel comfortable and help catapult them into a life of success through discovering who they are and surrounding themselves with people that “get them”.  You don’t have to be their best friend or feel guilty about it if you don’t have much in common.  We click with certain people and that is where I would invest the majority of your time but that doesn’t mean you have to write-off those that don’t fit in your crowd.  You can’t be everyone’s best friend and your deeper investing is limited to only a few but I challenge you to sample other types of friendships and acquaintances as you may find that you can expand your horizons with various treasures that you once considered trash.

 

SMELL THE STINKIN' ROSES ALREADY!

 

SMELL THE STINKIN’ ROSES ALREADY!

I started my day off clearing debris and cutting down trees that were so kindly dropped by Hurricane Irene.  As I was using my 20” Husqvarna chainsaw to cut branches off of my 60+ year old oak tree that crushed my prized 1993 Ford Ranger, bad turned to worse in just a moment…

This Ranger was about to roll over 250,000 miles after being totaled three times and still had plenty of life left in it.  This thing is a beast!  Just for the record, none of the three times were my fault…now four!  1st was a collision with a deer (front end), 2nd was a t-bone hit when a woman crossed into oncoming traffic to go to the tattoo shop (front end) and the 3rd was when I got hit by a drunk driver head-on at 55mph (front end).  Side Note - the front end has a license plate with a soccer player kicking a ball that says, “God calls my shots”.  The license plate wasn’t damaged in any of those incidents.  I was able to repair the damage in all of those collisions with junk yard parts way cheaper than paying someone or buying something new.  A salvaged title doesn’t bother me if it gets me from point A to point B!  It was ugly… but it worked!

The old oak tree was one of two really old ones that were lost in the storm along with about ten other full trees (maples, oaks, dogwood, pecan…etc) and many tree tops, branches and debris.  The old trees were a main factor in purchasing our old 1945 farm house with only 1,000 square foot of living space and no hallways.  Anyone can buy a new house but this house had character like no other and the trees are a big part of it.  This was quite a bummer for me to not only lose so many trees but I had to clean up all of the mess too.

So as I was cutting this oak tree off of my Ranger, I hit a knot in the tree and the chainsaw kicked back and made a nice fillet through my knee cap flesh.  All progress was stopped as we wrapped my leg to stop the bleeding, called the ambulance and spent quality time at our local hospital getting stitches and hearing that I shouldn’t bend my knee for a really long time to avoid the stitches coming out and the to avoid the wound re-opening.  That is not the kind of news I like to hear when I’m an extremely busy guy with lots of projects and activities that involve bending knees… and walking normal for that matter.

After whining a bit about all that occurred, I quickly recognized that it could have been much worse and I had a lot to be thankful for.  Although it still stinketh when you go through something that isn’t an ideal situation, we sometimes have to step outside of our own little world and recognize how good we really have it compared to many others.  What are you whining about today that could be turned into praise for the things you do have that are going well?  We just have to deal with obstacles and roll on!  If we marinate in the crap that happens, we will probably be too busy to recognize the flowers that are blooming directly around us!

 

SEARCH WHAT?

 

SEARCH WHAT?

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve”.  Jeremiah 17:10

Does that scripture gut check anyone else?  This principal totally hinders the concept that we can fool people on the outside with our church going, Bible toting, scripture quoting, nice person front that hides what is truly beneath the surface.  Our relationship with Jesus Christ goes so far beyond what others see or hear.  It supersedes the extremities of knowledge and the number of titles in front of our names.  It’s deep, it’s real, it’s legitimate, it’s evident and it’s known by the God is which we serve.

God doesn’t just want us to be people that put on a mask of fakeness that portrays anything other than who we really are.  If the Lord was to search your heart and examine your mind today, what would He find?  Would you be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?  Would He find selfishness or selflessness?  Would He discover hidden truths or skeletons that the public is unaware of?  Would He find the same person you are or act as on the inside as portrayed on the outside?

God isn’t looking for more acquaintances.  He is looking for a relationship with those who call Him their Lord and Savior.  He’s looking for warriors that are willing to go against the grain and stand up for their beliefs.  He is looking for servants that are excited about the opportunity to worship Him… now and for eternity.  He is looking for those that claim with their mouth that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior and actually believe it in their heart.  He’s looking for those that desire to be sanctified (set-apart) for the Kingdom of God.

What would be found in your heart and mind?

P.S.  The desire to “be a good person” doesn’t actually qualify unless the appropriate actions are taken.  God wants to give us clean hands and a pure heart but your passion for Jesus has to be stronger than your passion for sin.

 

LEADERS

 

“LEADERS”

Does anyone else get frustrated when leaders don’t seem to be leading?  We see it every day in our government, in our jobs, in the places we do business, in families and even often times in ministries.

Somewhere along the lines people have lowered the bar of the excellence it requires to be considered a leader.  Many of today’s leaders settle for good enough and status quo without recognizing the legacy, or lack thereof, they are leaving behind.  By the time some of these leaders train up their replacements, they are often already on their way out and have lost the passion and purpose they once had.  That snowballs over into a half-hearted training and pass-down that immediately puts the replacement at a disadvantage and lower level of quality, efficiency and excellence.  Many times newer leaders have a lot more motivation and innovative ideas which is good but it’s much more effective when coupled with past experiences from those that have plowed before them.

I mention these things because I often get discouraged when I see people with specific titles that aren’t living up to even the basic expectations.  I see managers that aren’t managing, parents that aren’t parenting, pastors who aren’t pastoring, government officials who aren’t governing, trainers who aren’t training, disciples who aren’t disclipling….etc.

What are you doing to break the mold of status quo?  Are you satisfied with doing just good enough to get the job done or are you striving for excellence even if it’s not noticed?  If you’re aspiring to be a leader, what are you doing to prepare yourself?  The status quo mentality has a trickle-down effect that can become a devastating snowball in your life and the lives of those around you.  I challenge you to be unique and do the right thing.  Don’t settle for less than your best.

“Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as working for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”  Colossians 3:23-24

 

COMMUNITY

 

“COMMUNITY”

Community - a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.

What does community mean to you?  I think of community as the people around you that have talents, flaws, unique characteristics, differences, similarities, love you, hate you, common interests…etc and would call themselves your neighbors in the big picture of the demographic you occupy.  Jesus had a unique community surrounding Him and He engaged in the communities he traveled to but a common theme was that He chose to serve those in each community in some form or fashion.

How are you serving in your community?  Some people say “well we serve in our local church”.  Although I think that is a great thing and commend you for actually giving back instead of being a selfish bump-on-a-log receiver only, I think it’s important to reach further beyond the walls of the “comfort zone”.  I know many people who have extreme talents and treasures but yet they keep it to themselves and don’t share their blessings with the community that surrounds them.  For many people, they would never think of you as a servant if they’ve never witnessed it at your local church.  There are a lot of people that refuse to go to church because they’ve never seen a reason to be like you because they’ve never seen you in an act of service (or putting your money where your mouth is).

I challenge you today.  Find creative ways to serve in your community.  The volunteer opportunities are endless and there is always a need for a helping hand if you look hard enough.  Figure out what your talents are and try to utilize them to the fullest extent to enhance the community around you and share what you’ve been blessed with.  What’s even better is when you get the opportunity to do something you love anyways in a volunteer capacity and have the opportunity to impact those around you with your witness through the relational ministry opportunities that open up as you invest into those around you.  Get out of your bubble, make a difference, explore your own community and do your part to create a place where people want to call home!  You just might have an opportunity to tell them about Jesus…

Give us some feedback of how you serve in the community…

 

THE NOTHING BOX

 

“THE NOTHING BOX”

Mark Gungor uses “The Nothing Box” as an illustration in his amazing series called “Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage”.  If you’ve never seen the DVD series or attended one of his seminars, stop reading this, go online (www.laughyourway.com) and buy the series or sign-up for the seminar and then return to read the rest of this!!!  Ok… just go ahead and read it now!

Sometimes we just need a few minutes alone!!!  Can I get an AMEN?  The nothing box is symbolic of the place you go when you’re blocking out everything around you and just trying to get a few minutes of peace.  This is very important for your sanity and at times for the benefit of those around you!

Sara and I are very busy people.  It’s usually a good busy like working on the house, ministering to others, serving in the community, coordinating events, working at our jobs or even planning fun stuff.  Sometimes being too busy can be counterproductive and you can lose the focus of what your intensions were in the first place.  We’ve learned that it’s important to have a time of restoration as individuals but also as couples (alone).  Sometimes we’re even spending goof-off time together but with other people or an elaborate plan but it’s nice to just enjoy each other’s presence without an agenda or unnecessary distractions.  Sometimes it’s good to be completely alone for the same reasons.  It’s important to have time for self-reflection and the opportunities to step away from your busyness to ask yourself if you enjoy what you’re doing, if you’re making a difference, if you’re following your dreams, if you’re being a good steward, if you’re following where God is leading you…..etc.

In the same sense, it’s important for us to go to “the nothing box” with God sometimes.  No distractions, no busyness, no agenda, no other people and absolutely nothing that will take away your focus.  I recommend spending that quality time with God on a regular basis (daily) because He may be trying to speak to you and your busyness and the clutter of your life is so LOUD that you can’t hear His voice.

Take a few minutes and enjoy “the nothing box” each day and extended versions every few weeks or so.  Don’t feel guilty… you need it, I need it and it’s good for you.  This is not a permission slip to abuse the nothing box on a regular basis and become a lazy bum…. use in moderation!

 

PASTORS AND POLITICIANS

 

“PASTORS AND POLITICIANS”

This could get a bit touchy…

We’ve all know we’re not supposed to mix politics and religion unless you want to see a brawl in your local bar, grocery store, or community park.  I can’t help but notice some similarities that interest me.  Disclaimer:  This is generally speaking and exceptions do apply!

Pastors and politicians both have a desire for common good and often stray from their good intentions when reality sets in or they have to lead by example.  This is where the rubber meets the road and people rightfully expect both to “practice what they preach”.  Some stick to their guns (convictions) no matter what the cost but many others fall under the pressure that society quickly throws at them from various directions.  It’s tough to be in the spotlight but positions of leadership do come at a cost.  Regardless of the titles attached to certain names it takes anointing, education and extremely strong people to be effective leaders in both the church and the government.

-Pastors don’t want to get “too deep” into the Word or relationship with God publicly because they don’t want to scare off the fringe people that cushion the numbers and offering…even if it’s what’s best for the people (unless they’ve just never experienced depth themselves and have no clue what that means).

-Politicians don’t want to cut “too deep” on public votes because their name will be attached to that legislation and will affect the polls and campaign support…even if it’s what’s best for the people.

-Pastors and politicians often extend their verbal resume of the things they are doing right but fail to expose the things they are doing wrong because they don’t want to seem unfit for the position.

-Pastors and politicians sometimes only qualify for portions of their titles and fail to utilize the talents of qualified people around them to subsidize their shortcomings.  Examples:

Some pastors are great preachers but are not good pastors or church business managers.
Some politicians are great speakers but have limited ability to execute the verbal promises.
Some pastors are great at specific ministry but have no experience in ministry foreign to them.
Some politicians are great business managers but have no experience in foreign policy.
Some pastors are great “pastors” by definition but shouldn’t be behind the pulpit publicly for any reason.  (Most true pastors don’t have the title “pastor” or a paycheck for that matter… many of those titles are handed out for tax reasons… but there are many that have the title and paycheck and deserve every penny and more)
Some politicians are excellent desk jockeys but have no public debate skills and often get unfairly judged during campaign time.

The list goes on and on.  Some of these could be explained further but I’m running out of ink… oh wait I’m typing this.  Someone might print it!  This isn’t intended to put anyone down but it’s just a few observations that I’ve noticed over the years that remind me that people and positions are more alike than we realize.  The main point I would take from this is that we all sometimes think a bit too highly of ourselves or our titles but need to realize that the people we surround ourselves with can be the pillars that hold us up when we fall short.  Just as one body has many parts, each person is limited in their abilities without the skills of those around us.  Don’t be afraid to release those people that you have authority over and learn to work as a team to capitalize the gifts you’ve been given.

Many pastors and politicians are great people with great intentions and are highly skilled at what they’ve been called to do.  There are always some that cause the titles to have asterisks beside them because the legitimacy has been compromised.  Whatever your title is, do your best to live up to the name and do your part to make this country great!  Don’t forget to give God the praise in everything you do!

 

WHAT IF

 

“WHAT IF”

Do you ever wonder about your decisions and wish you had made better ones or just plain curious about the destination different decisions would have taken you?

What if I would have been a better role model?
What if I wouldn’t have taken this career path?
What if I would have been a better student?
What if I wouldn’t have ruined that relationship?
What if I would have taken care of myself better?
What if I wouldn’t have made specific bad decisions?
What if I would have been more responsible?
What if I wouldn’t have made bad financial decisions?
What if I would have taken more initiative?
What if I wouldn’t have burned bridges from the past?
What if I would have invested more into my relationship with God?

These just scratch the surface of things that pop into our minds.  We all have made choices in the past that were either amazing and deserve some sort of trophy… or make you want to vomit and change your name!  Even though you can be forgiven by God or others if you are willing to humble yourselves and ask, we still reap what we sow and it’s sometimes hard to forget the past when it’s lingered into your present.  The best advice I can give is to start sowing good seed today and at some point you will reap a harvest!  Eventually the bad seed will fade away and the good seed will be triumphant if you refuse to have a defeated mindset.  Work with the hand you’ve been dealt and find creative ways to invest into your future by making wise decisions today.  You don’t have to live in the past!  Today is a new day… make it worth it!

 

STORMS OF LIFE

 

“STORMS OF LIFE”

I’m a fan of the Casting Crown’s song “Praise You In The Storm”.  If you haven’t heard it… pause, google, listen and repeat!  Sometimes we go through stuff and it just seems like there is no end in sight.  I assure you that God is bigger than any of your struggles and He can guide you through if you will allow Him to.

Often times we go through situations where we doing everything we can in our own strength and then turn to God as a last resort when we realize that it’s bigger than us.  Although I think God allows that to happen sometimes to help us to recognize our need for a Savior.  He would much prefer that you give your burdens to Him and allow Him to walk you through your everyday life and be a pillar for when things get extra tough.

I’m a pretty strong willed guy and I’ve been through my share of struggles but I’ve learned that if I don’t humble myself and permit God to be a part of my life, I will crash and burn.  Once again, God is not your genie in a bottle but He is our Omnipotent Father that desires a relationship with His children.  He’s not going to beg you, force you, or strike you with lightning (will He might) but He gives us the choice to serve Him and allow Him to be the Lord of our lives.

Have you ever been in the bathroom with the worst stomach cramps you’ve ever had, you’re head propped up on whatever is nearby and confessing every sin you could possibly think of if only God would take away the pain that you were currently enduring?  Don’t play innocent… it happens to everyone.  It’s worse if it’s not at your own house!  This kind of submission should be a daily thing for us.  At that moment of weakness we realized that we needed help.  This doesn’t mean that God will take away all of your struggles, pains and situations that aren’t your preference.  It just means that God can take away some of the burden, give you a better perspective of the situation and maybe gain knowledge or experience from it and may protect you from some of your dumb decisions in advance if you’ll listen to His voice before the “you will reap what you sow” rule kicks in.

All of that to say… don’t forget to involve God in your life at all times and make sure you praise Him in the storms of this life even if you don’t feel like it.  That separates the true followers of Jesus Christ and those that just claim His name when they want something or just want to sound spiritual in front of others.  You can fake religion but you can’t fake relationship!

If you’re going through something tough right now, I pray that God can direct your decisions, put a hedge of protection around you, infuse you with the light of the Holy Spirit and somehow help you to grow closer to Him and others as you endure this season.

 

INDEPENDENCE

 

“INDEPENDENCE”

Dearest Protesters,

As the child of a retired Master Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps and as a government contractor I have experienced a lot of seasons serving this great country called The United States of America.  I have come to realize that not everyone is a supporter of the military or those that represent it.

What I do know is that there are a lot of men and women out there that have willingly put their lives on the line both in battle and on the homestead to give this country the freedoms that are celebrated today.  Without those freedoms we wouldn’t have the opportunity to speak freely and protest, engage in our religion of choice or have the opportunities to vote our leaders into place.  These leaders carry the weight of our country on their shoulders.  There are many things I’m sure we each disagree with among multiple tiers of government.  We each have the opportunity and freedom to vote and hopefully each voter gets educated before they chase after unreasonable offers made by candidates that will represent them.  If you get outvoted, there is no sense in making matters worse… just endure the season and use your freedoms to support another candidate in future elections.

There are many children born that lived without a parent for periods of time, many spouses that spent seasons alone and many soldiers who never returned home because they were defending our freedom and independence.  If you don’t agree with what your elected leaders engage in, please don’t take it out on the soldiers that are just following orders under contract.  They are here to defend you whether they are on a ship, in a plane, on the front line, behind a desk, working in the shop or just trying to be a good family member to those they often leave behind.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you’ll obey what I command”.

Romans 13:1 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

1 Peter 2:13-17 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority:  whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.  For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.  Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.  Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

Sometimes this can get confusing when you consider some political items that seem to be against Biblical principles.  My suggestion is to take the Gospel as the ultimate authority, government authorities secondary and remember that each man is accountable for his or her actions.  For the gray areas, I challenge you to pray and follow your personal convictions but don’t push them on others.  In your efforts to prove a point, don’t become the same sinner that you persecute!

Go hug a soldier and say thanks!

I personally want to thank Michael David Thorsby Sr. for his service to our country.  Our freedom was worth the sacrifice.

 

FILTER

 

"FILTER"

We use filters for a lot of things.  We use water filters to clean and purify our drinking water.  We use air filters to protect our engines from random debris that could hinder performance.  Lots of people smoke cigarettes with filters… I guess it reduces the nastiness.  Some people should use filters in addition to their underwear to avoid airborne fecal matter but we won’t elaborate on that here!  Let’s move on…

We have been blessed and sometimes cursed to have this thing we call a conscience.  Some people are well aware of theirs and some people have avoided it for so long that they are practically numb to common sense and reality.  This conscience is a natural inclination but also incorporated and refined during adolescence (some more than others).

Those that call themselves “Christians” and are actually followers of Jesus Christ (with actions and not just merely words) also have the Holy Spirit to intervene in their lives and decisions.  Often times we go through the motions of life making quick decisions, speaking before thinking and generally living life without a filter.  We have the opportunity to use the inspired Word of God (The BIBLE) as a guide and filter for many of the situations we come across in life.  We also can pray directly to God and ask for direction as He guides us with The Holy Spirit.  Many times we try to do things in our own strength and we sometimes fall flat on our face because we fail to recognize the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It’s not about us but what God can do through us.

I challenge you today to get familiar with the Word of God on a daily basis, spend time in prayer, seek wise counsel and utilize these filters to make decisions that will not only impact your life but the lives of others in a respectful way!  Let your filters purify the debris in your life so you can have clean hands and pure hearts in the eyes of God!

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward each man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve”

 

FATHER'S DAY

 

“FATHER’S DAY”

There is way too much commercialism around some of these holidays we celebrate here in America.  But at the same time, I get where some of it comes from.  As long as the focus isn’t lost…

There are a million things I could talk about with dads ranging from:  daddy/daughter issues, too tough, too much of a push-over, not involved, overly involved, kids/spouse time priorities, amazing, fixes everything, fixes nothing, beer belly, good role model, bad role model, flaws, good characteristics, inspirations….etc.

I can’t unpack all of those but here are my thoughts…

If you’re a daddy, I challenge you to be involved in your children’s lives.  Show them and tell them you love them.  That doesn’t mean you have to spoil them… that’s what grandparents are for!  Don’t leave it up to the mommy because you need to be a part of their story as they are molded into our future generations.  Set a good example.  If you mess up, admit it and move on.  If you have to be tough, just use the phrase “this hurts me more than it hurts you”!  I understand that when I have to spank my dogs as they look at me with those sad eyes!  Be a good husband so your kids can see an example of what love is so they don’t look for it in all the wrong places as they grow older.  Set a Godly example.  Man is supposed to be the head of the household for various Biblical reasons but they are supposed to follow you as you follow God.  If you’re not following God wholeheartedly, you’ve lost your foundation to stand on.

If you’re a father figure or a single parent do your best to follow all the above things that apply but be sensitive to your situation as children have enough uncertainty in unstable situations.

If you’re a child, do your best to show your love and appreciation.  Don’t just use them as an ATM (if applicable) or a handy-man but be sure to let them know how much you care.  Find out what makes them tick and try to be involved in some manner.  A simple surprise or gesture from a child can make a world of difference… why else do you think parents put our goofy looking pictures on the fridge during our younger artistic years!!!

There are many factors that distance relationships such as divorce, past or present hurts, differences of opinions…etc but those that can build a firm foundation from them beginning can avoid a rough future.  You can’t always fix yesterday but you can start new today.

 

ON SOLID GROUND

 

“ON SOLID GROUND”

Sara and I have been doing construction on our old 1945 house for a few months now.  Various elements have decayed and broke down over the years due to a variety of factors but the foundation was built quite strong.

Relationships are very similar to houses being built…

Matthew 7:24-26 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”

I challenge you to build your relationships with a firm foundation.  Don’t rely on the “warm-fluffy”, “we can live on love” or “we can do it ourselves” mindset.  Build your relationship with depth and don’t forget to include God.  Don’t let Him be an afterthought… let Him be the foundation.

There will be times when you will go through storms, you will be broke down and your bodies will decay but if you’ve built that strong foundation, you’re going to still be standing when the tide rolls through!

 

DISCIPLESHIP

 

“DISCIPLESHIP”

I get discouraged when I see people get “saved” like twelve times or massive salvations resulting in little or no change and thus filling the churches with inch deep and mile wide “Christians” that are going through the motions.  Now that’s what I call an opening statement!!!  But seriously…

I know some of you have just judged me for saying that or think I’m being too judgmental towards others.  I’ve been in church most of my life and I’ve seen the extremes from overly traditional and religious to overly charismatic and quite freaky!  I’ve been around the scene a while and gained just enough wisdom and discernment to be dangerous!  I don’t have it all figured out and I pray that God reveal His will to me daily through experiences, wisdom beyond my understanding and discernment.

It seems as though more and more churches are becoming social engagements instead of places of worship.  Many people do their part by checking off the box of attending (occasionally) but have no desire to dig deeper into the Word, have a deeper relationship with Jesus, have relationships with others, serve or to give in any way that would make it uncomfortable.

God is more than a meeting.  God is more than just singing a song.  God is more than going through the motions.  God is more than meeting with a group of people that pretend to like each other and act different when outside of the church.  God doesn’t do fake!  He is a real God that loves you and desires to have a relationship with you.  He isn’t just the “big guy in the sky”.

It’s imperative that you personally know the trinity that you call God.  How much have you invested into this relationship?  Do you study His word regularly to know the historical, the current and the future promises of God?  Do you spend time in prayer and include God in your daily walk or do you only allow Him into your rehearsed prayer that has become habit instead of a passion?  John 14:15 “If you love Me, you’ll obey what I command”.  The commandments are only a sample of the things God has asked us to do.  The Bible is full of things that will help you to guide and guard your heart as God designed it.  We often try to live this life in our own strength and God isn’t going to force you to love Him.  He wants you to choose it… not just with your mouth but with your actions.

Somewhere along the lines many Pastors have become only preachers, many disciples aren’t being discipled or discipling others, many leaders aren’t leading and ultimately many are becoming groups of “Christians” that are just trying to maintain until Jesus comes back.  I don’t want to be in that group.  I want to be in the “Jesus follower” group that actually makes a difference as we attempt to walk in His image.  I have seen some of the minority of churches, ministries and ministers (investors) that are actually “making disciples of all nations” and the fruit is evident.  These places and investors give me hope when I get discouraged by the masses that are just going through the motions… and sometimes those motions are very entertaining and confusing to those who think that this is all Christianity is about.  I hope my ramblings challenge you to explore Jesus more for yourself and resist the temptation of settling for a surface relationship that many think is “good enough to get them to heaven”.

 

YOU GAVE IT ALL FOR ME

 

“YOU GAVE IT ALL FOR ME”

So I’ve got these lyrics stuck in my head that Sara has been working on.  I added a little guitar ditty to it and the repeat button seems to be stuck in my head for this rendition.  The lyrics…

“You gave it all for me
So we can be together
You and I as one
Now and forever”

There is something powerful about music.  It’s as if it reaches to the depths of our souls and sometimes the lyrics seem to digest as if it was food for our body.  Sometimes it could be related to a nutritional supplement and sometimes it’s more like junk food.  I’ll leave that up to you to decide.  Either way it’s amazing how music affects our attitudes, moods, energy levels, romanticism, expressions, physical movements…etc!

I’m passionate about music and the messages that are sent.  I love the term “musicianary” when referring to musicians that use their musical warfare and lyrical messages to minister to those in their sphere of influence whether it is locally or globally as missionaries.  It’s been amazing to hear some of the testimonies shared about the first acoustic album we put out (Thorsby – The Grounded Project) in 2009.  More importantly to us than any compliments (or insults) that we get is that it reaches those that need to hear the message that God put in our hearts to speak directly to them at that moment.  It may have been one gig, one album, one song or just one lyric but if it somehow brought them closer to God then we feel it was successful.  It’s not about us but what God can do through us… and we give Him all of the glory for any success!

As these lyrics remind me of how God gave it all for me it helps me to focus in on why I do what I do.  No matter how spiritual we may think we are we should always be growing with forward progress and sometimes need reminders of the basics to refresh our spirit.  You’re either hot or cold… lukewarm is not an option.  I pray today that you are filling your life with lyrics that will stick in your head to remind you of how amazing our God is!  He is worthy of our praise!!!

 

SHE STILL LIKES ME

 

“SHE STILL LIKES ME”

On May 26th, Sara and I celebrate four years of marriage together.  YEAH BABY!!!  Not only does she love me but she still likes me!  For those of you that know us you are very aware that we don’t fit in the status quo box very well.  Just when you start to think we’re normal, BAM… you realize that we are _________ (unique, crazy, goofy, unorthodox, weird, funny, adventurous, dedicated, Jesus freaks, loco…etc)?

I’m fine with being a little different and not always fitting in the mold set before me.  Based on what I read, I think Jesus was a bit of a trend setter Himself.  Not to compare myself with Jesus but we are made in His image and are supposed to “walk in the image of God” right.  He was a regular guy (a carpenter) that: faced temptations just like us, had relationships just like us, had the abilities to lead people just like many of us and was able to do those things with a tremendous amount of faith that set Him apart from those around Him.  He was faced with some of the same things that we are but chose to take the high road that we often miss.  He chose to defeat the temptations that we often give in to.  He understood the concept that if you don’t work, you don’t eat… He wasn’t lazy by far.

I say all of that to encourage you to understand why we do some of the things we do.  God has given us life and breath and has saved us through Jesus Christ and has sent His Holy Spirit to intercede for us until we ascend to spend eternity with our Redeemer!  He has blessed us with an amazing road map called the Bible and Sara and I take it very seriously.  We don’t always get it right and we’re constantly in a learning process.  It’s amazing how much God can teach you as you go through seasons of life.

I didn’t necessarily do things right in my relationships in the past but at some point I finally realized that my relationship with God was the void that I was missing and I was trying to fill it with so many other things (temptations).  I chose to take a break from dating to pursue God and focus on who He wanted me to be.  That was the best thing that happened to me but I thought my vow to stop dating would be a short-lived event.  After three years of focusing on God, I met the women of my dreams (Sara) and decided to court her for another four years.  So about seven years after making that vow to God I was certainly privileged to marry Sara not just because I realized that I married up but because she also shared in my passion towards God.

We are doing our best to model our relationship based on Biblical principles and I’m certain that God has protected us as we follow hard after Him.  We’re determined to break generational curses of divorce and we’re trying our best to lead by example for others.  If we fall down, we’ll get back up.  We’re not perfect but we’re striving for perfection and you might be one of those people that are part of our story!  We’re constantly watching other people for examples of what to do… and sometimes what not to do but ultimately we’re following hard after God.  We challenge you to encourage us on our journey!

P.S.  Maybe your journey has had a few bumps and bruises... God is bigger than your mistakes and will forgive you if you’ll ask.  It’s your choice what you do with today!  Start sowing good seed today and eventually some of the bad seed will be weeded out!

P.S.S.  Did I mention that Sara and I waited until we were married to share in the physical privileges God ordained for the bounds of marriage?  Let’s just say that was a long four year courtship but worth every minute of it!  God has blessed us tremendously and many of you are included in those blessings!  Whatever it is that you are waiting for… it’s worth the wait if you do it in God’s timing!

 

SOME ME TIME

 

“SOME ME TIME”

Doesn’t the title sound selfish right off the bat?  We often have different views on the interpretation of “me time” and I would like to unpack some random Thorsby thoughts for you to ponder…

We all have different skills sets, responsibilities, kids, obligations, callings, chores, hobbies and other activities that don’t have a classification.  I think it’s very important to have a little “me time” each week regardless of age, sex, religion, ethnicity or marriage status.

Some people are naturally givers and spend a lot of time serving others, catering to kids or a spouse or just doing busy work that leaves little or no time to do something that they really enjoy.  Sometimes that thing might just be a few hours alone in a hammock with a drink of choice and no interruptions.  You know how the saying is to “stop and smell the roses”.  That’s very true and sometimes we get soooo busy in our lives that we forget to enjoy the little things… or even the big things that we’ve worked so hard to accomplish or acquire.  What good is making a lot of money if you can’t enjoy it?  What good is building a mansion if you never spend time in it?  What is the purpose of buying that boat if you don’t have time to use it because you’re working so hard to pay it off?  What’s the purpose of having kids if you’re not going to have time to invest in them? (P.S.  If you don’t have time for them or can’t afford them… tie the knot baby… we can’t afford your kids either!)  It is a good thing to take at least a few hours a week to yourself or even with some friends.  If you’re married, it’s good to have date nights away from your busyness together but it’s also good to have guys night and girls night…. otherwise you become that couple that is disconnected with the world because you’ve never left your house!  Getting outside of your comfort zone is good for accountability as well.

Some people take this to the extreme and it becomes more of a selfish act.  If you’ve neglected your family or kids and it’s all about you… we’re cutting you off from “me time”.  These people need to find a balance (as well as those that don’t take enough) and it needs to be more of an inclusive mindset.  I understand there are different circumstances such as jobs that require one parent to be more involved than the other but time-off is pretty limited the moment you decide to be a parent… if you choose it, do it well!  You tend to see this type of selfish behavior in people that were spoiled or an only child but being distant, disconnected or all about me will put a strain on your relationships with others…especially the ones who are getting hurt.

There is nothing wrong with vacations!  Sara and I take them often together.  We work hard, minister regularly and play when time and finances allow.  We often combine them all together.  We also have a little bit of “me time” each week and purposefully have guys time and girl time to give us a variety of connection with the world around us.  We don’t have it all figured out but we are people watchers and we try to learn from the fruits of what we see around us from others.  BEWARE… we may be watching you!  Some people give us examples of what to do and some people give us examples of what not to do!  Which ones are you?

Oh yeah… take a break!  We’re going to Mexico May 12-22 so we won’t be blogging next week!

 

TOP ELEVEN PET PEEVES

 

“TOP ELEVEN PET PEEVES”

Pet Peeve:  A particular and often continual annoyance.

11 – Stupid people (don’t get all churchy on me and say that isn’t nice… you are thinking it too!)
<I love the quote “we are all entitled to stupid moments but some people abuse them”!

10 – Toilet paper and paper towels
<This is a simple concept… if you use the rest of it, replace it.
<I prefer it to go over the top but if you choose the other way… at least you replaced it.  Have a cookie!
<Leaving one square does not qualify as “there was some left”.

9 – Pay at the pump receipts
<It eliminates the convenience part when the receipt paper is out (often) and you still have to go inside.

8 – Attitudes
<We all have our moments but some people are just one big piece of attitude pie.  Talk to the hand!

7 – Quitters
<They are good sports when they are winning but they lose once and they give up… with an attitude.
<Some people just have no motivation and quit before they ever get started (see defeated blog)

6 – People who mow their grass into your yard.
<If we wanted your junk in our nicely groomed yard we would ask.
<If our yard looks bad already we don’t need it to look worse.

5 – Cigarette butts all over the beautiful landscaping God has blessed us with.
<It’s illegal to litter so quit being a lazy moron and dispose of your trash like you have a brain or something!

4 – People who assume.
<Self explainable… we all know what assuming does!

3 – Leaving the toilet seat and/or lid up!
<Men…your aim isn’t that good… and you eventually have to sit down too!
<Women… if you leave the lid up, don’t complain when the men (or women) pee on the seat!
<Everyone… the water might be clean-ish but someone just dropped the bomb in there and the airborne fecal matter is still getting in the air and on your toothbrush so shut the lids for the love of Pete!
<Also… unless you like fishing that much, you can eliminate opportunities for dropped articles in the toilet!

2 – Cruising in the left hand land when driving.  AAAAAHHHHH!
<If you’re not one of the following… stay to the right while driving in America:
-Passing a nearby slower car… not way ahead of you
-An emergency vehicle (police, fire, ambulance, etc)
-About to poop your pants (the universal sign is flashers and speeding)
-In congested traffic going less than 40mph…then it’s the guess who’s faster game!

1 – Leaving neon OPEN signs on when the place is closed!  What in the world…
< Regular signs don’t bother me as much but….use them…that’s what they are there for!!!

 

DEATH & RESURRECTION

 

“DEATH & RESURRECTION”

As we celebrate another Easter surrounded by commercialism, the reason for this holiday is dimmed as if it were a volume button on a remote control.  We visualize a picture of Easter bunnies, candy, gifts, lots of food, egg coloring, egg hunts, gatherings and some even make a concerted effort to attend a “religious” service in honor of a God that they barely know.  Although these things are nice and I partake in some of them myself, I’m discouraged by the limited amount of people in the big picture that really get what the purpose of Easter is…

Sara and I spent the Thursday before Easter studying Matthew 26-28 with our Couples Enrichment Group to reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We followed that up on Sunday morning with a comparative study of Mark, Luke and John to get the full picture from multiple accounts of the events.  It’s quite interesting how many people have never read these gospels themselves and have only relied on the threads that have been read to them over the years.  There is power in education and I challenge all of my friends to study the things that they hear to solidify their beliefs based on biblical principles.  I’ve read these scriptures hundreds of times and they are filled with new breath and life every time I read them!

Jesus prophesied His own death and the prophetic vision was lived out in the final chapters of the gospels.  Jesus was human and fleshly just like the rest of us but He knew He was supposed to be the sacrificial lamb.  He even prayed “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done”- Matthew 26:42.  He didn’t necessarily want to be tortured and crucified on a cross but obedience to the Father was more important to Him than His own flesh.

Jesus went through the agonizing pain of crucifixion as the ultimate and perfect sacrifice so that we could have life.  Years prior, animals without blemish were sacrificed to represent many offerings that will require a different blog for explanation.  Upon taking His last breath the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom signifying the connection we would have to God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior as He sent His Holy Spirit to intercede for us so that we don’t have to try to live this life in our own strength.  God has given us an amazing gift and the main thing that He asks from us is to accept that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.  No man comes to the Father except through our Lord Jesus Christ.  It’s not about a religious experience but it’s about a relationship that is developed through giving your life to Him figuratively speaking.  He gave His life literally so that you could be free!  He’s not asking you to be perfect but He does desire for us to strive for perfection and to show our love for Him by obeying His commands (John 14:15).

He is worthy of our praise and it’s so much more than just a historic event, it’s a relationship today that will determine your eternal destination in the future…

 

YOU CAN BE GREAT TOO!!!

 

“YOU CAN BE GREAT TOO!!!”

I often get discouraged when I see self-defeated people that quit before they ever get started, when they give up as things start getting tough or when they speak death instead of speaking life into the goal in front of them.  I’ve written a few previous blogs about self-defeat so I won’t elaborate here but people often have a lot more potential than they give themselves credit for (unless you’re a bad singer on American Idol that should have been told by your friends to never attempt the tryouts)!

God has given each of us specific talents and even though you may not be good at everything doesn’t automatically mean you’re not good at anything.  I challenge you to be encouraged in the goals and desires that God has placed in your heart.  Sometimes God will bring people into your life to challenge you to do better in those specific areas and you’re supposed to use that challenge to sharpen your giftings and not to give up on them when it gets a little tough.  Picture a track coach yelling at you as you approach the final stretch of the race and telling you to step it up a notch.  He’s trying to help get that adrenaline pumping and encourage you to give it your best.  Some people immediately think that strong encouragement and challenge is negative feedback when instead it’s intended to help you grow into the potential that others see in you.  You are probably your worst critic and you assume that others feel the same way.  We all know what assuming does!!!

If you’re supposed to be a representation of Christ, shouldn’t Christ shine through you?  Walking in the image of Christ requires faith, relationship, connection with the Holy Spirit, discipline, accountability and a desire to be better than you were yesterday!  Not cocky… but confident!  Don’t waste the opportunities to grow.  Seize those opportunities and live life to the fullest!  You may not be great at everything but I’m sure you’re great at something so I challenge you to find those areas and do them with excellence.  When you are victorious, you become an excellent witness for Christ as He has given you those abilities and talents.  Don’t be defeated as you celebrate the success of other people because you can be great too as you follow their lead or plow your own path!  It’s not about you but what God can do through you!

 

CLUTTER

 

“CLUTTER”

Have you ever seen the shows about people that are extreme hoarders?  Many of them have soooo much stuff in and around their homes that they have to climb over stuff just to get to their destination.  Their rooms are full of “blessings” that have overtaken their lives both literally and emotionally.  It’s crazy!

Most people aren’t that extreme but we have our own forms of disorder.  Have you ever done a self evaluation to examine if you have too much clutter in your life?  Sometimes it’s literally stuff and sometimes it’s not tangible like multiple obligations and responsibilities.

Stuff – Sometimes we acquire things over the years that we’re not willing to let go of.  We’re constantly bringing home new things.  People keep building bigger houses, garages and some people even have storage units for all of their stuff.  I challenge you to ask yourself if you’re being a good steward of the “stuff” you think God has blessed you with.  Sometimes that same stuff can be a curse instead of a blessing.  Stuff requires maintenance time (cleaning, fixing, moving…etc), additional space to store it and financing the items (purchasing, maintaining, housing…etc) and many of these physical items become liabilities instead of assets.  Whatever it is that is causing you unnecessary stress, give it away, throw it away, sell it, bury it….or whatever sets you free from bondage.

Time – Some of us take commitments to the extreme and fill every waking moment with obligations.  These obligations vary between fun and responsible but they are still time consuming.  Are you being a good steward of your time?  Are you finding a balance between responsibilities and enjoying life?  Many people lean towards one extreme or the other and very few find that perfect balance.  I challenge you to prioritize and clean out the clutter of busyness.  Sometimes we do things just because that’s what we think we’re supposed to do.  Examine your obligations and figure out what you are doing that is taking up unnecessary time and what you are missing out on that you would like to factor in.  Is your schedule fruitful?  An occasional review of your schedule will eliminate or at least reduce the chance of you looking back years later and saying “I wish I would have…”  Carpe diem!

Someone once told me that “the clutter in your life represents the clutter in your heart.”  So many things get in the way of our main priority of growing closer to Jesus.  Many people say they don’t have time to read their Bible or to invest more into a relationship with Jesus.  Many people are too busy to exercise and take care of the vessel that God has entrusted them with to carry out His plan and you can’t be very effective if you’re unhealthy.  Many people don’t have time to be responsible because they are too busy goofing off.  Many people don’t have time to goof off because they are too busy being responsible.  Many people don’t have time or money to any of those things because they are catering to and paying for the stuff they have acquired.

What kind of clutter is holding you back from living life to the fullest?  Identify it and refresh accordingly!

 

DO YOUR JOB...WITH EXCELLENCE

 

“DO YOUR JOB…WITH EXCELLENCE”

Do you ever catch yourself saying, “I wish people would just do their job”?  The lawyers, the doctors, the gas station toilet cleaner guy, those making my food at a restaurant, co-workers, pastors, leaders, customer service departments, mechanics, politicians, parents….oh…and us!  We’ve become a culture of “good enough” and it snowballs through the generations as we get more and more slack.  There are companies that pay QA people for the sole purpose of checking behind those that should have done their job right in the first place.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re all human and capable of making mistakes but it should be the exception and not the norm.  I like the quote, “We’re all entitled to stupid moments, but some people abuse them”!  Unfortunately we laugh at this but it’s sooooo true!

There are many reasons why people are the way they are ranging from laziness to bitterness to unappreciated to incapable to untrained...etc.  Colossians 3:23-24 states, “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as working for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”  At the end of the day we have to answer to God for what we do or don’t do.  There will be accountability whether you choose it or not.

We often take our worldly lackluster mentality into Kingdom business as well.  We aren’t willing to go the extra step to give God excellence in our work through service, giving, investing, discipling, teaching, preaching and anything else ending in –ing!  This ain’t right!  I believe we’re set apart to be different than everyone else in a way that would challenge others to try to be more like us as we follow Christ.  What kind of example are you setting for your co-workers, children, friends or anyone else in your sphere of influence?  Step it up a notch!  Whatever you feel you’ve been called to do, I challenge you to “do your job…with excellence”!

 

CAMPUS HARVEST

 

“CAMPUS HARVEST”

My wife (Sara) and I spent the weekend at a conference called Campus Harvest.  This conference was extra special as it celebrates twenty years of existence and more importantly twenty years of fruitful ministry.  There were over 2000 college students (including random partiers like myself) and 200 campuses represented (including international students).

Some people come to this conference prepared with anticipation and expectation for God to show up because they’ve experienced the powerful presence of God at these events before.  Some people come a little bit intimidated as first timers but quickly settle as they encounter the presence of God and the welcoming atmosphere.  The unity in the facility is phenomenal.

From the moment you walk in the door, the excitement overwhelms you as you marinate in the presence of the Holy Spirit as intercessors and prayer warriors have gone ahead and prepared the place for your entry.  As the agenda, administrative and facility duties are underway, you recognize the level of excellence that is presented to create an atmosphere that is inviting and functional.  As we enter into worship through music, prayer, spoken message…etc a flow is created that gives room for the Holy Spirit to move as He speaks to people, through people and into the corporate body to engage a transforming mindset to ultimately live out His plan.  We are called to be like Christ and the best way to do that is to spend time in His word, to spend time in His presence and to corporately be unified with one God for one purpose (to worship Him).  We are all gifted in various areas and God can and will speak to you on an individual level to clarify those giftings if you’re positioning yourself in a posture of reception.  It’s amazing how God can minister to thousands of people in the same facility about various things resulting in a unified corporate mission.  When we experience things together, it’s as if God gives us a supernatural power to walk out the mission in which He ordains.  Those that haven’t been part of the experience are left wondering and wandering aimlessly in what they thought was a “comfort zone”.

There is something special about a corporate body of believers coming together with preparation and anticipation for God to move.  Concerts, conferences, workshops, seminars….etc are amazing tools as they are a concentrated solution for each applicable subject.  Sometimes we wonder why we have to go away to conferences to acquire these “mountaintop experiences” but it’s not always necessary.  There is something about getting away from your everyday life and busy schedule to focus on something with everyday people that you don’t normally encounter but it’s available to us at home if we’re willing to step-it-up a notch.  Our local church gatherings are an amazing opportunity to corporately experience the Holy Spirit and let Him flow freely in an inviting environment.  Many times our agendas and “extra things” get in the way of flow and forget to incorporate time for God to move.  There is no problem with parameters…we just need more orderly freedom and flow within the parameters.  At some point we have to step aside and let the Holy Spirit be the leader of our gatherings instead of the “guest of honor” that never gets a chance to speak.  When we capture that concept, be prepared for God to move in a big way!  Hold on….

I was baptized in a horse trough at one of these conferences in front of a thousand of my colleagues and it was a defining moment in my relationship with God.  I had the privilege to pray over the building these conferences are currently held in (King’s Park International Church) while it was in the construction stages sometime in the late 90’s.  I spent a few hours on the site praying for the future students that would encounter Christ through the ministries that God empowers through Every Nation.  As we finished Saturday night with a few hours of intimate musical worship led by Jon Owens, there were people all over the building praying and seeking God with intention and purpose.  I began to walk around and pray over each seating area just as I did years ago and I saw people praying and calling out to God and claiming freedom (like in a Braveheart movie), I saw people with tears streaming down their faces as God dealt with them and I saw people claiming victory over strongholds.  I saw people giving their lives to the Lord as their colleagues prayed over them, I saw people that were in the process of breaking free of the chains that bind them and I saw people just marinating in God’s presence.  Sometimes it’s nice to rest in God’s presence and He is probably waiting on us wondering where we’ve been.

We saw hundreds of students give their lives to the Lord for the first time, hundreds of students get right with God as they had gone astray and over one hundred students that received water baptism and baptism in the Holy Spirit.  I believe everyone in the place experienced some level of breakthrough because it’s hard to sit idle when the Holy Spirit is filling the room!  I get choked up every time I see people legitimately giving their life to the Lord.  I get even more excited at Campus Harvest than other places because I know that those people have faithful campus ministers and a support structure that will encourage growth, discipleship and continuous accountability.  They also are willing to invest time to train and equip the saints for service in the Kingdom with a high standard.  It’s amazing what God can do when we are willing to invest.  It’s about relationship, not religion.  Don’t get caught up in going through the motions… get caught up in the presence of God!!!

For more info visit:  www.campusharvest.org

 

theBurn

 

theBurn_March_2011.jpg

“theBurn”

This past weekend Sara and I participated in a 24 hour worship and prayer event called “theBurn” in Greenville, NC at The Boiler Room.  We had the privilege of leading a musical worship set from 11pm-12pm and engaged/invested in about five hours of the event as others led.  We worshipped through music and prayer, our hearts were permeated in a room that was saturated with the Holy Spirit and chains of bondage were broken in lives full of strongholds.  When you welcome God to freely move in the meetings that you hold, come with expectation because He will move mountains that you never can do in the flesh!  A major demonstration of unity in the body of Christ:

*18 hours of live worship with prayer and intercession
*14+ worship leaders
*14 scheduled intercessors
*8+ churches represented
*4 shift leaders
*4 sound techs
*Many worshipers…

This event is focused on vertical worship (to God) and not so much horizontal (leading people).  This was an opportunity for followers of Jesus Christ to spend unhindered time of musical worship and prayer in efforts to Praise our Creator, cover Greenville and surrounding communities in prayer and to seek God for His will in our lives.

This is the type of event that separates the men from the boys.  You generally see those that are truly seeking hard after God at these events (and a few that are just curious) but many people miss out on what God is doing because these type of events don’t fit in the “well-packaged-hour-long-Sunday-service-agenda” that many are accustomed to participating in.  I use the word participating lightly.  Have you noticed the trends like having a barbecue will draw in 300 people but a Bible study or prayer meeting at the same time/same place will only draw 10-20?  You don’t have to attend church or other corporate events to maintain a certain level of spirituality but there is something biblically unique and amazing about a body of believers gathered together with the focus of praising and/or learning about the God that we claim is the Lord of our lives.  Many people think they are satisfied with tasting the crumbs leftover but if they were willing to sacrifice just a little and jump into the deep-end with God, they will find themselves in a whole new realm of life.  I challenge you.... are you sampling God or are you stepping out in faith by jumping in the deep-end with both feet?  Don’t settle, don’t settle, don’t settle.... 

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop and you might find yourself working for the wrong team as your luke-warmness radiates to those around you.  Is your example repelling or inviting others to join in your quest for God?  Keep in mind that even the demons “believe” and those of the world do “good deeds” and “serve” while even attending places they call “church”.  Those things don’t make you a follower of Jesus Christ.  It’s about relationship, not religion.  Relationships require investing…

P.S.  See www.622ministries.org for more info on theBurn and other events for future reference.

 

RESTORATION

 

“RESTORATION”

My wife (Sara) and I spent the past few days remodeling our bathroom.  From Saturday (8am) to Tuesday (8am) we managed to work for 48 of those hours, slept for 12 hours total and then went to work at the normal time Tuesday.  This was a long and tedious process and we’re still not done yet.  We’ve gutted, scraped, sanded, painted, mortared, tiled, grouted, trimmed, cleaned…..etc.  You get the point!

When I think of this example of restoration I can’t help but think of our lives in Christ.  Sometimes it’s necessary to gut some things out of our lives to make room for something fresh.  Sometimes we need to scrape a little here and sand a little there to prepare the surface (us) for a fresh paint job in our lives.  Like the process of installing porcelain tile, we have to start with a solid foundation to build on (a relationship with Christ).  As we begin to grow we add the next layer of mortar (basic Christian foundations) followed by adding the tile in our lives (meat and potatoes Christianity…relationship with God, studying the Word regularly, serving, giving, experiencing…etc).  Finish up with a final layer of grout (above status quo Christianity) and cleaning as you begin to see and nice transformation.

We should continuously clean to maintain and preserve the work that has been accomplished but always be aware of potential restoration that may be needed as time progresses.  We are leaky vessels that need to be filled up.  If we base our relationship with God on the principles of restoration and maintaining, God will not only be victorious in you but most likely through you if you’re a willing servant.  God doesn’t expect us to be perfect but we should aim for perfection so that when we stumble we won’t fall so close to the line that distinctly separates us from non-followers of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

I believe God has come to set us free if we are willing to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to move in our lives.  Jesus gave us the victory in restoration when He chose to die on the cross for our sins.  Let’s choose to use this gift of life wisely as God directs and enables us.  It’s not about us God, but what you can do through us!

 

JUST ENOUGH

 

“Just Enough”

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the service is under par and hardly tip worthy or the food was just barely good enough to be considered edible?  How often do you go to places of business in the community where they are doing the bare minimum required to fulfill their obligation to the customer?

Unfortunately, many of the things that bother us about other people often tend to be symbolic of ourselves.  We might be that employee that isn’t working to our full potential, the student that is studying just hard enough to pass, the parent-friend-spouse-leader-follower….etc that is doing just enough to be considered worthy of the given title.

We also fall prey to this concept in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  I understand that people reside in various stages of their relationship with God but I often wonder if a relationship exists at all based on the fruit portrayed by many people.  I wonder if people are truly encountering Jesus Christ when they call themselves a Christian or if they are just going through some rituals that are considered “just enough” to get to heaven.  I see people figuratively check the box when they go to a church service or toss a few dollars in the offering plate or do a good deed and many times it’s with an attitude of obligation and not admiration.  If people are truly seeking and encountering God, doesn’t it seem fitting that they would want to do things in excellence to represent Christ, give until it hurts (joyfully) and serve because they want to and not because they have to?  If people are truly encountering God shouldn’t it show in some form or fashion in their lives besides just the words spewing out of their mouths???

Quite frankly I’m sick of Christians that are willing to settle for “just enough” when they are supposed to worship a God that is “more than enough”.  I’m sick of churches that are so efficient in their agenda but too busy to invite the Holy Spirit to the party!  I’m sick of ministries that are speaking and singing sound Biblical principles but aren’t empowering, training or experiencing those very treasures corporately (or individually).   I can’t help but get excited about my relationship with Christ!  It’s not a one-time event, it’s a life-long relationship.  How can people call themselves a child of God and have no excitement in their voice, actions, worship…etc?  It’s time for the body of Christ to step-up and quit doing “just enough” to get by.  There are souls that need to be saved and lives that need to be changed and there are many people that “get it” that are sitting on the sidelines selfishly waiting for the rapture I guess.  We have been empowered to preach the Gospel to the nations and that includes your own demographic.  We don’t need a title, a paycheck, a fancy suit or a Cadillac to tell people about Jesus, to share our testimony or to live in a way that confirms what we are telling people.

Somewhere along the lines many churches and individuals have strayed away from an imperative Biblical concept of discipleship.  Let’s bring it back and quit letting the blind lead the blind.  We should be discipled and at some point begin discipling others….but neither of them should ever stop!!!  We should never stop learning and growing and we should never stop sharing those experiences with others!  I ask you to examine yourself.  Are you certain of your salvation or are you just going through the motions?  If you’re certain, are you doing “just enough” to keep it or are you living it out as you would with any other relationship?  Do others see legitimate (non-showy) fruit in your lives?  If we take it that extra step and begin to give God our first fruits, we can change our home, our workplaces, our schools, our churches, our communities, our country and other nations as directed!!!  Game on!

John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will obey what I command"

 

THORSBY - 2010 YEAR IN REVIEW

 

"THORSBY - 2010 YEAR IN REVIEW"

Dear Family & Friends,

Here’s the download on portions of what the Thorsby family invested into for 2010!

2010 Highlights:

-Sara is now full time with New Bern Cancer Care (CCHC) as a Clinical Trials Coordinator and has ended her seasons with CarolinaEast Medical Center and Help-At-Home.  Sara also has some new letters behind her name… Sara Thorsby, RN, BSN, OCN (Oncology Certified Nurse)!!!

-Michael is still employed with LTM INC. as a Systems Analyst/Logistics Technician and this pays the bills so he can focus on his unpaid job as a musicianary!  Michael also has cool letters… Thorsby, MD!

-We went to Disney World and spent some quality time relaxing in Orlando, Florida!

-We had a tremendous time camping with friends from multiple states @ Creation Festival in Mt. Union, Pennsylvania (aka-Christian Woodstock) (
www.creationfest.com)

-We spent Thanksgiving in Guatemala with some amazing missionary families, took the children we sponsor through Living Water International’s Adopt-A-Child program (
www.adopt-a-child.com) to McDonalds for their first time ever and visited the Mayan Ruins… AMAZING trip!!!

-We invested more into our ministry-based business, Thorsby Jams, LLC.  We incorporated training, guys bible studies, girls bible studies, couples enrichment group, jam sessions, community ministry…etc. while also promoting our debut album:  Thorsby - The Grounded Project! (
www.thorsbyjams.com)

-We sold the ’85 Honda Prelude / ’98 Plymouth Breeze & upgraded to ’06 Toyota 4-Runner / ’10 Toyota Corolla but couldn’t part ways with the faithful ’93 Ford Ranger….250,000 miles & going strong!!!

-We also bought a pony – 1965 Ford Mustang…it’s an old project car with character but it is paid for!

-We enclosed portions of the yard with a privacy fence and added a carport to the side of the house!

-We made a lot of construction, landscaping and cosmetic improvements to our old 1945 Hobbit House!

-We paid off all student loans & unsecured debt!!!  We refinanced our house @ 3.875% & got 0% on cars!

-We incorporated weekly date nights to strengthen our marriage as we consider family expansion!

-We gave away more this year than ever and have seen a tremendous amount of fruit from those missionaries and ministries we partner with locally and internationally!  It’s so worth the sacrifice!

-We have SO much to be thankful for and recognize God’s grace as He loves us so much!  Although we appreciate the things we have, we value most the relationships we invest in and the Creator we worship!

2010 Bummers:

-In the midst of our busy schedules, we didn’t make it to our local beaches much…we intend to change that this year and purposefully explore the surrounding local landscape God has blessed us with.

-Michael didn’t ride the motorcycle much due to mechanical issues, extreme weather & other priorities!

-Our dogs Toby (Tobias Tyrone Thorsby) and Oakley (Oakley Rascal Thorsby) have been demoted to the large fenced back yard (instead of the whole yard) due to: being overprotective and trying to eat people, public bathroom displays everywhere, digging to China in the flower beds and breaking and entering under the house through the block walls while tearing up insulation and duct work…multiple times!

2011 Goals:

-Become yoga masters… ok scratch that… be more diligent in our workouts!

-Build a detached double-level two-car garage with a studio, office and guest room areas (The Upper Room)!

-Finish Hobbit House restoration… windows, heat pump, siding, interior, tile, kitchen, bath…etc!

-Get back in the studio and generate a full band album to follow up our acoustic debut album!

-Blog weekly for
www.thorsbyjams.com and include occasional live worship and training video clips!

-Tell more people about Jesus through our testimony, relational ministry and our musical worship!

 

HI, HOW ARE YOU?

 

How often do we say things that make no sense?  I'm guilty!  Recently I've been trying to catch myself before saying "Hi, how are you doing" or anything similar when I have no intention of proper follow up.  I'm learning how to just say hi, hello, happy monday (or whatever day of the week), hey, it's nice to see you or something that doesn't have a question mark at the end of it if I'm in a hurry.

How often do we receive the "how are you doing" phrase as the person speaking obviously has no interest in hearing our story?  Not only do I get it from others but I say that generic phrase myself.  Sometimes we literally want to dig deeper and find out how a person really is but we realistically can't invest that kind of time into everyone we run into.  Some people have rather lengthy explanations if we're really ready to listen and ours might be quite lengthy as well.

If you reduce the timeline to "how are you doing today"... that could be a shorter conversation!  It's not that I don't want to talk to people.  I have an evangelistic mindset so I'm all about pouring into people but I don't want to lead people on and have my words seem empty.

It's like when we say "I'm starving".  Not many of us are actually starving.  I've seen what starving people look like in other countries and we're usually fat and happy in comparison... but we still say it.

I challenge us today to use our words wisely and intentionally speak life into people!  Try to stray from the negativity that so often surrounds us and find positive responses so we can be encouragers!!!  Rock on!

 

SEARCH ME (REWIND)

 
Jammin' In Guatemala

Originally posted – December 22, 2009

“SEARCH ME…”

Jeremiah 29:11 says:  "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."

I often reflect on this verse and wonder what I look like to others on the outside.  Sometimes I come off to people as mean but I’m really a nice guy…. just tough and realistic!  Sometimes I can seem insensitive when in reality I am very sensitive and have a huge heart for people.  Even though I’m openly opinionated on various subjects, if you dig deep enough you’ll realize that it’s because of the effects the subject may have on people.  On the other hand, I may seem like I’ve got it together in some areas when in reality I’m struggling to be what others may perceive.  I’m real, I’m human, I’m flawed…. but I’m not satisfied with just accepting that without making the effort to be better.

This verse helps keep me in check as I go throughout my day.  I can fool other people, but I can’t fool God.  He knows everything about me.  He knows what I think.  He knows what I say under my breath.  He knows my attitude even if it’s not reflected on the outside.  He knows my sins.  Praise Him for loving me anyways regardless of my inadequacies.

This verse also inspires me to want to do good even though sometimes it seems insignificant in a world full of darkness.  I believe you’re accountable for what you do (both good and bad) and the whole “reap what you sow” deal is very literal.  Call it bad karma or whatever but it still is a fairly sound principle.  You don’t always see fruit from your good deeds (both internal and external) but many times it’s because it doesn’t come in the form in which we expect it.

Are you willing to say “search me oh God” and allow Him to form you into the man or woman He has called you to be?

 

ATTITUDE OF THE HEART (REWIND)

 
Prayer Partner

Originally posted - June 14, 2009

“ATTITUDE OF THE HEART”

Judgmental & Critical vs Challenging & Encouraging

I’ve recently been spending some time in prayer, study, and self-reflection to determine whether I’m judgmental and critical or challenging and encouraging.

Let me preface with this…. I love people!  I don’t always like the things people do or say but I have a general desire and passion to see people succeed in life.  I’m especially passionate in helping others pursue their specific visions and dreams as God directs me.

I often utilize my personal experiences to share with others my opinions on various subjects.  My opinions are not necessarily right or wrong… just personal experiences!  You can’t really argue with me on that one!!!  Sometimes my opinions are received with open ears and sometimes they are shot down like skeet on a shooting range!  I sometimes wonder “why do I waste my time and energy trying to explain something that is going to get ignored anyways”.  But then I realize that I might be the very person that may encourage and challenge somebody to do something that they already desired to do but just needed that extra little boost.  Sometimes it may be in the form of rebuke, or utilizing myself as an example (both good and bad), or praise!

If I’m sharing something I’m successful in, I have to ask myself if I’m sharing my opinion to brag or to be judgmental and critical or to utilize my experiences to challenge and encourage someone else as a resource.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it really comes down to the attitude of the heart.  I can say one line and it could always be classified two ways based on the attitude of my heart… regardless of how the person receiving it perceives it.  I always have to ask myself… “is my purpose for saying this to build-up or to tear-down?”

What comes out of our mouths (and body language) can always be interpreted in various ways but most definitely it’s important to be confident in the purity and integrity of our actions based on the attitude of the heart.  Check yourself!

I personally am not offended when others share their opinions with me… especially if they are different.  I understand that people think differently based on their experiences and training (or lack thereof)!  It’s actually a good idea to try to understand the way that others think… you might learn something and be a better communicator!  Side note:  I actually learn a lot from children… adults complicate things!

Some people’s opinions have more weight in my life as those people earn my respect based on living by example.  Some people’s opinions have to roll off of me like sweat on an NC summer day… especially if they have no fruit in their lives!  I purposely surround myself with specific people that I respect with regular differing opinions than me because I trust them and I can try to see the world through different lenses even though it’s nice to have people around you that share in your opinions too!  Try to get a good mix of accountability or you just might become prideful and ignorant of the world around you.

Anyways… I say all this to challenge and encourage you to be open-minded and before you speak, check the “attitude of the heart”.

 

OKINAWA, JAPAN ADVENTURE (REWIND)

 

Oki Gang_resized

Originally posted - May 31, 2009

“OKINAWA, JAPAN ADVENTURE”

Sara and I had an amazing adventure as we traveled to Japan!  We spent a lot of time exploring, eating, and spending quality time together so it’s hard to capture that stuff but I will try to capture the basic highlights for those interested:

May 15 ...... Go to sleep @ 1:30am (Sara @ 2:30am)

  • Wake up @ 4:00am
  • Arrive @ 5:30am to New Bern, NC airport, leave @ 7:00am
  • Arrive @ 8:27am to Charlotte, NC airport, leave @ 9:25am
  • Arrive @11:26am to Toronto, Canada airport, leave @ 1:15pm

    May 16
  • Arrive @ 3:00pm to Tokyo, Japan (13 hour time difference plus 12 hour flight), leave @ 5:45pm
  • Arrive @ 8:35pm to Okinawa, Japan
  • Total travel time – 26 hours
  • The reuniting with Brett & Shauna Ralston begins @ Camp Foster with special guests Rayna and Nahum (the little peeps) and Dezzie (the cat) who fell in love with my suitcase!

    May 17
  • Church @ Futenma Chapel @ MCAS Futenma
  • Lunch @ Onokaukau – Hawaiian restaurant (Matt & Brittany Talicuran joined us)
  • Big public parks with really cool and big roller slides

    May 18
  • Italian breakfast @ Rose Garden
  • 100 Yen store
  • Chula-U – basically a very nice Japanese bath house with jacuzzi, hot and cold saunas, pools with healing oils, …etc.
  • Doctor Fish – This was a jacuzzi sized pool, located inside of Chula-U, filled with fish that eat the dead skin off of your feet and hands.  Very weird but cool at the same time!
  • Jusco @ American Village … basically a Japanese Super Target but with fresh food and department store quality

    May 19
  • Four Seasons – shopping
  • Lunch @ Ichiban Tei (aka – Sushi-Go-Round) – basically multiple sushi plates rotate in a circle around the chef as they are prepared and those seated on the outside perimeter just pick the plates they want and pay based on the design of the plate!  Very cool!
  • Guys goof off @ Dragon Palace (huge arcade) and Make-Man (hardware store)
  • Girls get pampered @ Cocok’s for a Japanese style pedicure with massage and amazing toe art

    May 20
  • Breakfast @ Tee House Restaurant overlooking the flight-line at Kadena AFB
  • Bowling @ Kadena AFB – Guys won 15 minute foot massage wager – oh yeah!
  • Visited Torii Beach @ Torii Station Army Base – collected some cool ocean glass
  • Sunset Beach followed by dinner Seaside Jet City Burgers

    May 21
  • Lunch @ CocoIchibanya Curry House
  • Ryukyu Mura (Historic Japanese Village)
  • After seeing live and 3-D snake expos, we had the privilege of eating Habu snake in the form of smoked snake skin powder (extremely healthy) and it tasted like fried pork skins with a bad kick….so we attempted to dilute that taste with a few shots of Habu sake… hmmm… where’s the Mountain Dew when you need it!

    May 22
  • Ocean Expo Park featuring Tropical Gardens (amazing) and Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (2nd largest in the world) … very cool!
  • Nago Pineapple Park – it was way cooler than it sounds!  I had big plans to buy a huge dessert I saw on a poster upon entering but after the automated golf cart tour through the pineapple gardens, the merchandise stores gave us sooooo many samples that I was too full for the poster dream!
  • UNO – Girls won 15 minute foot massage wager

    May 23
  • Tropical Beach – spent some quality time in the water soaking up the sun
  • Lunch @ Kebabs Indian Restaurant (this was some seriously good curry at a hole in the wall joint)
  • Ageda Street Market
  • Sushi Night @ The Ralston’s Pad
  • UNO rematch – Guys won 20 minute back massage wager

    May 24
  • Church @ Futenma Chapel @ MCAS Futenma
  • Lunch @ Chili’s (we had plans for a different local place that was closed)
  • Dinner @ Okinawa Soba – Traditional Soba place (no shoes, no chairs, short table, noodles, and chopsticks).  Not too shabby!
  • Big Dip Ice Cream joint (Blue Seal) – We prepared a two family attack on the “Big Dip Adventure” and we were successful!  Basically it was a ridiculous concoction of multiple ice creams, fruits, cones, corn flakes, and other unidentifiable things that we ate until the victory!

    May 25
  • Mini Mini Petting Zoo – I didn’t do much petting but I saw some cool animals and monkeys!  They didn’t throw any poop at me so I was quite pleased!
  • Lunch @ McDonald’s – We had to eat at a Japanese McDonald’s!  The food is similar with a few different selections, the service was excellent, and the staff attire was business class professional!  P.S.  They also had very nice toilets!
  • Comprehensive Park – This is one of the nicest and biggest public family parks I have ever seen complete with multiple playgrounds, ponds stocked with fish, zip lines, marked running courses, bicycle and sports rentals, bike racing track, and a place for just about any sport you can think of.

    May 26
  • Michael & Sara 2 year anniversary!!!  Forever baby!  Still going strong… and she still likes me!
  • Michael & Sara each get one hour massages from a Japanese lady – WOW!  It hurt so good!
  • Shopping Day – After scoping out what was available throughout the visit, we now had to decide what would be coming home with us.  If we had more money, we would have bought the island!
  • Elegant double date dinner @ Beach Tower Okinawa overlooking the ocean (but it was dark)!  The girls got dressed up and they looked beautiful while Brett and I did our best to try to keep up with them but they are just much better looking than we are!  We had Japanese barbeque style (yakiniku) seating where we cook our own selections in front of us.  We also had an all access pass to the all- you-can-eat raw and cooked selections, buffets, and drinks!  It was a bit overwhelming but we really enjoyed the food, ambiance, fellowship, conversation, and just happened to hit up a gift shop on the way out where the ladies found their treasures in the jewelry section!

    May 27
  • Forest Adventure in Onna (Jungle Zip Trip) – This place was amazing and challenging!  This was a good test of physical endurance and fear of heights!  We strapped into EXTREMELY tight harnesses and flew through the jungle on multiple zip lines (most above the tree lines) overlooking the coast.  We came across a zip line obstacle course that required a free fall before the zip line catches and zips you into a large cargo net!  I’m not a big fan of heights or free falls but I conquered the task… because everyone else did it… and I didn’t pee or poop my pants in the process!  Go me!  The ladies decided to do it twice to make us look weak but they were just showing off… I had nothing to prove at this point…just happy to be alive!
    P.S.  I had to tell myself in my Pinocchio voice often… “I’m a real boy” due to the tight harness!
  • Gyro lunch on the Sea Wall
  • Dragon Palace – we returned to use up the $120 worth of tokens Brett won on the previous visit but then I won another $80 worth that we had to use up.  There were no prizes or cash-out options so we just kept playing games until the money ran out!

    May 28
  • Pack-up and say good-bye.
  • Starbucks for breakfast!
  • Arrive @ 9:30am to Okinawa, Japan airport, leave @ 11:50am
  • Arrive @ 2:25pm to Tokyo, Japan airport, leave @ 5:00pm
  • Arrive @ 3:50pm @ Toronto, Canada airport (13 hour time difference plus 12 hour flight)
  • Flight to Charlotte delayed and then cancelled until next day.  After hours of attempting to retrieve baggage, hotel vouchers, and transportation, we finally made it to the hotel at 9:30pm…. Enough time to shower, eat a quick meal, get four hours of sleep and get up at 3:30am to go back to the airport to relive the security searches, customs, and airport maze madness!  We were scheduled to be home at 11:36pm! Leave @ 6:22am the next day…

    May 29
  • Arrive @ 8:22am to Charlotte, NC airport
  • 9:22am – supposed to be taking off for New Bern but the flight crew hadn’t arrived.
  • 10:12am – finally board plane….
  • 10:49am – plane reaches peak take-off speed and harshly slams on brakes instead of going airborne to avoid a t-bone collision with another plane on runway.  Sara and I see the other plane very intimately in our window just feet away as the rest of the plane frantically is trying to figure out what’s going on!  We have to wait for a while to let the brakes cool down and let someone get scolded in the air traffic control tower before another attempt.  If it’s called “air traffic control”, maybe there needs to be a “ground traffic control” at this particular airport!
  • Arrive @12:00pm to New Bern, NC airport – HOME SWEET HOME

    Total return travel time – 40 hours
 

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES (REWIND)

 

Broke Piggy Bank

Originally posted - April 14, 2009

“KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES”

Ever heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”?

In the materialistic world we live in today, many people feel they are less if they don’t have more.  Success tends to be measured by your stuff instead of your dreams.  Wikipedia states, “To fail to "keep up with the Joneses" is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority”.

Why do people care so much about what other people think?  Is it pride?  Specifically, why do people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ live in the same financial bondage as the people of this world?

I see people my age living in mansions they can’t afford, driving cars they can’t afford, running up credit card debt to buy “things” and they still don’t seem to be any happier… if anything, more stressed!  Some people don’t seem to grasp the idea of living within your means.  If you can’t pay cash for it, you don’t really need it…for the most part.  It’s not a blessing if you’re paying interest on it… ouch … it’s actually a curse in the majority of cases.  Also, when you sacrifice and go without sometimes, it makes you appreciate, respect and recognize the blessings you do receive.

As a university educated adult, I recognize the importance of investing wisely.  I don’t believe it’s a wise investment if you: can barely make your bills, can’t pay tithe’s and offerings, have to live at work and take on extra jobs to make ends meet, neglect your family and other relationships, ask for handouts, or lose the ability to serve freely as God calls you to without your financial commitments (bondage) holding you back.

Some things might require investing some interest such as house or school loans (investing in your future) but you must be reasonable and live within your means.  You don’t need a $250,000 house when you have the budget of a $30,000-$80,000 fixer-upper or trailer regardless of what the bank tells you.  You don’t need a $15,000-$40,000 vehicle when a thousand dollar used vehicle is just as economical and cheaper in maintenance and fees.  Many young people try to live a lifestyle comparable to their parents and don’t realize that it took their parents 30-50 years of hard work to get to that point of financial freedom (if applicable).

I’m not a big fan of handouts!  Work ethic is important to me.  I’ve been working since before the age of 10 and I’ve never had to ask for handouts… or received any.  I put myself through college through scholarship, work and loans (almost done paying for the loans @ 1.3% interest), Sara also mostly put herself through college with earned scholarships, work and loans that are paid off, we hold the title to three old vehicles that are paid for but not cutting edge, we own an old 1945 fixer-upper farm house with lots of land that will be paid for in 2 years, we own the titles to two timeshare properties that have tripled in value, we give away an average of 20% of our gross income (tithes and offerings) joyfully and we enjoy life to the fullest through vacations, traveling, concerts, events, and blessing others.  We are able to do these things because we set a budget, buy things as we can pay cash for them in full, we don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses”, humbly eat peanut butter and jelly sometimes so we can go to Sizzler later, and we are faithful to God as we stay away from financial bondage to the best of our abilities.

The funny thing is that people (including some of our close friends and family) sometimes treat us as if we’re poor or lower status than they are because our “stuff” isn’t as nice as theirs.  We are actually happier than we’ve ever been, we’re two years away from being completely debt free, we truly appreciate the small blessings that others take for granted, and we look forward to having those “nice” things as God chooses to bless us.  We have an almost perfect credit score and an endless supply of credit but more credit doesn’t fit a realistic budget at this time for us.  If He wants us to be where we are, then we’ll be content, if He blesses us with more, then we’ll be even more appreciative!

A few Bible verses to solidify my stance:

-Job 22:21 “Submit to God and be at peace.  Thereby prosperity will come to you.”

-Proverbs 22:2 “The rich and the poor have this one thing in common, the Lord is the maker of them all.”

-Phil 4:11-12 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

-1 Tim 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

-1 Tim 6:8 “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

-Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

-Matt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

I challenge you to examine your situation today.  Don’t make a future ignorant financial decision that will haunt you.  Sell all your “stuff” if necessary to get out from the grips of death (spiritually speaking).  Do whatever it takes to get out of financial bondage and stay out.  If it was easy, everybody would do it!  Be different!

Disclaimer – To all my friends with the last name of “Jones”, rate your standings based on your own situation and don’t get caught up in living to the hype of the name!

P.S.  “If you live frugal often, you can lavishly spend on occasion without regret”- Michael Thorsby

 

CONVICTIONS (REWIND)

 

Rough Morning

Originally posted - March 11, 2009

“CONVICTIONS”

I started working at the age of ten as a young boy.  I learned at a very early age the art of business, responsibility, the value of time and money, leadership, passion, and work ethics.  I also grew up in a military family so I’m very well versed in discipline and respect for authority.

I’ve worked and volunteered in various industries including:  grocery stores, hotel/resorts, restaurants, landscaping, small engine repair, government contracting, Disney World, various sports (ages four to collegiate level), Special Olympics, various ministries and non-profit organizations just to name a few.  I’ve held positions such as player to coach, bench warmer to captain, toilet-cleaner-guy to management, follower to leader, supervised to supervisor, ministered to and ministering to!  I’ve experienced a spectrum of positions that have helped shape my views in the last twenty years of working and I’m sure I will experience more as I grow older.

One thing I’ve noticed is the amazing difference between dictatorship and leadership.  Leadership tends to skillfully manage with authority and regards for the individuals involved and their purpose and passions towards a common goal… while leading by example.  Dictatorship tends to be a more prideful/self-serving position forcing authority without regards for the involved individuals purpose and passions while trying to accomplish a personal agenda.

The business world and ministries have quite a few similarities in day to day operations.  They both need structure, a business plan, qualified and skilled staff, anointing and passion to pursue the vision.  I’m a big fan of stepping out in faith on various things but I do believe it’s the duty of the visionary to extend a realistic amount of effort and planning to fulfill the vision.  “Without vision, the people will perish”.  I also believe that without appropriate action, the vision will die.  A good example is a person trying to live a healthier lifestyle… if that person believes in faith that it can happen but doesn’t make a plan and take the appropriate actions (usually above and beyond normal), then success will not be knocking at the door.  NOTE – normal usually is a good measurement of status quo!

Sometimes leaders tend to forget how important their team is to the success of their vision.  Sometimes leaders mistakenly try to dictate the task at hand for their team instead of laying out structured perimeters and guidelines and letting those called to the positions utilize their creative strengths and talents to accomplish the vision.  I’ve seen success and failures on both ends of the spectrum and the encouraging advocates of individuals tend to reign.  I understand that we all experience seasons (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  I question authority when leaders place individuals on their team (with the individuals concurrence) based on their skills, abilities, calling, anointing…etc and then attempt to clinch those very attributes by trying to dictate their job for them.  Doesn’t that seem counter-productive?

If I can’t do what I’m called to do with excellence, I would rather not compromise my convictions….especially if I feel it’s God given.  God trumps any worldly man-appointed authority in my life!  Obviously if you’re working on a team, you have to compromise in non-critical areas to flow as a team and you will sometimes endure frustrations that you’ll frankly have to get over.  But… if you find yourself in a rut of conforming to something that doesn’t compliment your convictions, it might be time for a new season!  I guess you have to ask yourself, “is what I’m doing fruitful in the big picture and could I be more effective on a different team”!  You can apply this to a job, a ministry, a sports team, ..etc.  This does not apply to family… you’re in that one for the long haul!

 

THORSBY - the grounded project (REWIND)

 

Album Cover Final_resized

Originally posted - Feb 15, 2009 (portions + new update)

“THORSBY -
The Grounded Project”

After over a decade of engaging in music ministry and leading worship in various forms and venues, I (Michael Thorsby) have decided to share my heart of worship by going into the studio for a recording project!  I have decided to do a full length acoustic album of original songs I have written.  My goal is to capture the raw inspirations behind the story of each song as I worship our Creator in freedom!  I hope to engage others into worship through this project and this particular style of music and lyrics.

I have partnered with Christians With A Mission (CWAM) to help fund this project.  CWAM is a 501-C3 non-profit organization that has offered to facilitate donations from supporters wishing to sow seeds into this ministry.  100% of all donations go directly to the project and are tax deductible.  The funds will go towards tracking, mixing, mastering, graphics, photography, duplication, production, and promotion.  Donors will receive a statement shortly after the end of the year showing their contributions for tax deductions.

I will be working with Pure Mix Studios (
www.puremixstudios.com) out of Raleigh, NC.  I will be spending the next few months preparing for this project.  My amazing wife Sara will be tracking some vocals for most of the songs and I may have a few guest musicians for this project.  We will be in the studio at various times April-June 2009 with a hopeful release date in July.  The bills for this project begin accruing in April so offerings prior to then would be awesome!

Your financial and/or prayer support would be greatly appreciated as I pursue what God has called me to do in music ministry.  Please pray and ask God how you can help… $10, $100, $1,000, prayer, words of encouragement…etc.

I am trying to raise over $10,000 for this project!  If you decide to partner with me by sowing into this ministry financially, please contact me with the amount for accounting purposes after mailing.

Make checks out to:

CWAM or Christians With A Mission and put Michael Thorsby Music Project in memo line!

Mail checks to:

CWAM

C/O Michael Thorsby Music Project

P.O. Box 1764

Morehead City, NC 28557

CWAM supports numerous missionaries on the field and other missions/projects as God leads them based on personal relationships with those ministering!

CURRENTLY…

We finished the debut acoustic album “Thorsby- the grounded project” …unplugged… and it was released in September 2009.  Within the first few months we distributed over 500 copies and still counting.  We have heard many stories of how God has spoken to or touched individuals through this album and live performances and that is the whole purpose…to glorify God while “reaching the lost and strengthening the saints”!  If it impacts just one, it is all worth it.  We are looking forward to getting back in the studio to do a “plugged” full band album once we catch-up from the expenses from round one!  May God be glorified as we continue to do what we feel called to do!!!

If you feel called to bless us financially, the following options are available:

Send all monetary donations (tax-deductible) to:

CWAM

C/O Michael Thorsby Music Project

P.O. Box 1764

Morehead City, NC 28557

(Make checks out to CWAM or Christians With A Mission)

Please send confirmation email with amount to michael@thorsbyjams.com

Send all direct monetary donations (non tax-deductible) to:

Thorsby Jams

7180 US HWY 70 E

New Bern, NC 28560

(Make checks out to Thorsby Jams)

Please send confirmation email with amount to michael@thorsbyjams.com

Purchase merchandise (non-tax-deductible) @:

See "BUY" link on
www.thorsbyjams.com for more details!

 

IGNORANCE OF THE LAW (REWIND)

 

Mailbox Baby

Originally posted - September 11, 2008

“IGNORANCE OF THE LAW…”

Apparently, ignorance of the law is not considered an excuse or good reason for infractions.

Before I go any further, NO, I didn’t do something stupid and get in trouble…it’s just something that bothers me….

There are thousands of laws and sub-laws in our cities, counties, states, and country.  How in the world could we possibly know them all… especially when they change often?

There is potential that you will learn of a small portion of said laws from the television news media, newspapers, internet or word of mouth.

<
I personally don’t really read newspapers very often…plus most of them cost money.

(Even if you read every local newspaper in its entirety, you still wouldn’t get all the laws that are introduced)

<
I’ve got more productive things to do than to sit in front of a television all day… plus they cost money… I have the $7 cable package (the basics).  It’s not in the budget for some people for the extra electricity, T.V. or the cable package. (P.S.  I do miss having ESPN though…but FOX, NBC, & ABC works for now)

(Even if you watched every news channel all day long, everyday, you still wouldn’t get all the laws that are introduced)

<
I occasionally stumble across articles of news when using the internet to check email and other networking sites (myspace, facebook, blogs…etc)…. But I have better things to do than to scan news sites on the computer all day.

(Even if you looked at every news site all day long, everyday, you still wouldn’t get all the laws that are introduced)

<Then there is always word of mouth.  I talk to lots of people about lots of things… but discussing the latest and greatest laws is a very rare subject that comes up.  New residents to the local area very rarely ask me about local laws nor would I be a good reference because of personal ignorance.

Solutions:  I don’t really have a “fix-all” solution and apparently the experts don’t either….but I do think there is a difference in ignorance and just being uninformed.

The few pro-active things I can think of are:

>
To utilize the postal system to send out periodic law changes and then maybe a complete current copy of local, state, and national laws be sent out yearly and to new residents upon move-in.  This would cost the tax-payers a butt-load of money to incorporate this but it would be more effective and informative.

>
To have courses in grade school and college/university levels to create a continuing education setting as laws change.  I don’t remember ever learning about legal stuff in school.  I guess I just learned a lot of stuff from absorbing bits and pieces as I go about daily life.

Not everyone has the luxury of communication resources.  Many American families are working multiple jobs just trying to feed their families.  Time is limited, how can we be better stewards?  Any suggestions?

 

DEFEATED??? (REWIND)

 

Bad Day

Originally posted - August 15, 2008

“DEFEATED???”

…so I’m stretching out and getting ready to do my daily exercise routine and my brain decided to go into overdrive!  I’m a very goal oriented guy so I was trying to get mentally prepared for a very physical 5K outdoor run (not to be confused with jogging or a treadmill apparatus)!  I started thinking about the obstacles that have held me back and the motivation that I have to refuse to be defeated….

I started running while the stopwatch reminded me of my mortality.  I started thinking about some motivating things like:

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Olympian Michael Phelps winning gold medals in all of his events (swimming) and setting world records… not to mention he’s now the most decorated Olympian and counting!

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Olympians Ryan Lochte and Peirsol (US teammates of Phelps) competing against but also pushing Phelps to be a better athlete and having success of their own.

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All of those successful swimmers hate to lose but they’re motivated by their teammates abilities and successes even when they get beat … basically iron sharpens iron!

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Olympians Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor winning 100+ straight games in beach volleyball and defending a gold medal.

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Olympians Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs trying to work their way to the top in beach volleyball to challenge their US opponents and friends (Walsh & May).

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Those volleyball players also hate to lose but are motivated instead of defeated when one does better than the other.

Sometimes we get a defeated attitude when we don’t succeed every time at everything.  I choose to look at my defeats as challenges for the next time.  For instance…. when Kip, Andrew, and myself got smoked in a ping-pong tournament the other night by Bryan, I was a little bummed but not defeated.  I chose to be motivated by a better player and will attempt to try harder for next time instead of grovel in the defeat of the evening.  Plus…it was for fun… if it was something I’m really into, I would have to put training and practice time in to be better!  I ran a road race in Beaufort recently and finished in the top 20 out of 400+ but it’s not as good as I used to be.  I can choose to be defeated or motivated to train harder and set my long-term goal to be back at the #1 spot.  Short term goals are even more important to help defeat defeat!  I’ll aim to beat the person directly in front of me instead of the person at the front….I’ll get there eventually one step at a time.  I’ll also aim for my personal best regardless of what those around me are doing.  There is huge success and motivation in personal goals.  My wife Sara ran her second road race ever with me and she was extremely motivated that she beat her personal best time regardless of the fact that she was towards the back of the pack.  That’s a great attitude.  I’ve noticed she has taken that attitude home and used that energy in her training.  I’m oh so very proud!!!

Obstacles will always get in our way in this walk of life but we have to make a choice of defeat or victory in spite of challenges.  Do you give up or push harder when things don’t go as you planned.  When a car drives in front of me when I running I have to slow down or stop and I have to push harder to make up that time.  When I got hit by a drunk driver, I had to push harder to rehabilitate (still working on it), and give it everything I’ve got instead of giving up.

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Don’t get defeated… get motivated… and push harder if necessary!

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Remember... half of the game of life is mental… don’t let your brain defeat your flesh!

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Bummed when losing is alright…. Giving up and quitting is a defeated attitude!

P.S.  I exercise because I want to be in the best physical shape I can be in so God can use me and my health not be a concern or a limitation….at least the parts that I have some control over.  I also find it hard to teach about discipline in areas of life if I can’t even have discipline with my flesh….it’s very visual and hard to hide!!!

P.S.S.  For those that use the slogan “I’m too old” for getting in shape, I rebuke that.  That’s not a good reason… it’s a bad excuse.  I regularly run road races with people in their 50’s, 60’s, and sometimes 70’s and they are not only finishing the races but they sometimes are even finishing in the top 10.  I see the old lady (70+) across the street walk a 6+ mile strip of road every morning around 6am.  I see fairly new mom’s in these road races pushing running strollers with up to two children….hello!  I ran a road race with my friend Ed Salau who lost his leg in war and still refused to be defeated!  Amazing motivation.

Look around you at the successful people in whatever area of life that interests you… don’t be jealous, angry at yourself, or defeated…. be motivated to get your butt in gear and do something about it if you want to see change!

Oh yeah…the run….so I broke my own personal record for that course by one second!!!  HOORAY!!!  That included some obstacles that I had to overcome…. wind, rain, traffic, and a turtle!

 

CURRENT TOP 3 PET PEEVES (REWIND)

 

Asleep on the toilet

Originally posted - August 7, 2008

“CURRENT TOP 3 PET PEEVES”

1)  Leaving neon OPEN signs on when the place is closed!  What in the world!

- Regular signs don’t bother me as much but…. use them… that’s what they are there for!!!

2)  Cruising in the left hand lane when driving.  AAAAAHHHHHH!

If you’re not one of the following….stay to the right while driving in America:

- Passing a nearby slower car … not way ahead of you

- An emergency vehicle (police, fire, ambulance, etc)

- About to poop your pants (the universal sign is flashers and speeding)

- In congested traffic going less than 40mph… then it’s the guess who’s faster game!

3)  Leaving the toilet seat and/or lid up!

- Men… your aim isn’t that good… and you eventually have to sit down too!

- Women… if you leave the lid up, don’t complain when the men (or women) pee on the seat!

- Everyone… the water might be clean-ish but someone just dropped the bomb in there and the airborne fecal matter is still getting in the air and on your toothbrush so shut the lids for the love of Pete!

- Also… unless you like fishing that much, you can eliminate opportunities for dropped articles in toilet!

THE END

 

BOOYAH...ATTITUDE (REWIND)

 

Power Behind You

Originally posted - July 22, 2008

“BOOYAH.…ATTITUDE”

So as I’m running my 3.1 mile (5K) exercise/training/rehabilitation routine this morning, I find myself at the 1 mile marker saying “oh crap, I’m tired and hurting and it’s only been a mile”.  And then I heard the voice in my head say, “BOOYAH….negative ATTITUDE”.  The commentary in my head went something like this:  “Instead of having a negative attitude, why not try a positive attitude and perception like “sweet, I’ve been blessed enough to run an entire mile… and I’m still going”.   For those that know PT, I even pictured and heard Pastor Tom Roberts saying “it’s too hard” in a whiney voice…..

Many times we mentally defeat ourselves before we even give ourselves a chance.  It took me about a half mile to get over my attitude and my time was steadily getting worse.  My mental attitude even affected my physical performance.  It happens!  Once I gathered myself together and changed my attitude/perspective, I started quoting things like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13, and “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11 and “..I will run with patience the race that is set before me…” Hebrews 12:1.  I started claiming victory over everything I could think of in the name of Jesus including the race that I was in.

I actually finished with a pretty good time despite my attitude breakdown before the mid-point.

It’s amazing how God gives us a good check (like a hockey check) sometimes to get us out of a funk!  It’s usually stuff we already know… it’s just a friendly reminder!!!

Try utilizing a positive attitude and perspective and see if your outcome doesn’t change!  Some things may literally change, and sometimes you might just be able to find the good in a bad situation!!!

BOOYAH….ATTITUDE!!!

 

CREATION FESTIVAL (REWIND)

 

Creation 2008_resized

Originally posted - June 30, 2008

“CREATION FESTIVAL”

Festival tickets - $100 each for 5 full days from 9am-midnight + after party (discounted if volunteer)

Gas and staple foods (PB&J, pop-tarts, sour gummy worms, soda, water) - $211

The opportunity to experience the following:  www.creationfest.com


Skillet***
Switchfoot*****
Sanctus Real***
Pillar****
Family Force 5***
Ron Luce*****
David Crowder*****
Newsboys**** (didn’t get to finish due to lightning storm)
Paul Baloche****
Fee***
Phil Keaggy***
Disciple***
Hawk Nelson***
Kutless****
Amy Grant *** (special guest performance with Hawk Nelson as band)
Chris Tomlin*****
KJ-52****
Washington
Projects***
Thousand Foot Crutch***
Reggie Dabbs****
Jeremy Camp****
Toby Mac*****

Worship workshop with Paul Baloche (front row seats)

Vocals workshop with some professional lady from Christian Musician mag – (front row seats)

Sound reinforcement/engineering worship with a guy from Shure (front row seats)

Candlelight ceremony with almost 100,000 fans

Thousands of people giving their lives to the Lord and/or getting refreshed

A huge “non-Holy Spirit clinching” party with God’s people with no guilt and no chains

….many more bands, speakers, events, and stuff to do…. I even watched Superchick


……..PRICELESS

We drove over 1,000 miles, we spent our money and time (5 days), we camped on a mountainside valley with rocks poking us in the back, we didn’t shower (the occasional bird bath), we cooked in the sun and melted in the rain, and we slept only the few hours necessary for survival……. it was worth every bit of it!  Thank you Lord for letting us experience You!!!

 

WHO HELPS WHO (REWIND)

 

Gas 2

Originally posted - June 20, 2008

“WHO HELPS WHO?”

Have you ever heard the quote:

“God helps those who help themselves”?

What is your take on the subject?

Be honest…. Don’t give me a fluffy answer!

I’m looking for personal opinions, personal convictions, and even scripture with personal interpretation.

Ready…set…go…..

 

JUSTICE (REWIND)

 

drunk_witch_cropped

Originally posted - June 12, 2008

“JUSTICE”

Is there really a thing called justice?

I struggle with the concept of justice when I continue to see inconsistency in a system we call law.  Just like everything else in this world… it’s up for interpretation!!!

I see Grandma’s getting tickets for a light out on their car and yet repeat offenders get their tickets dropped daily for reckless driving.  I see criminals that killed people serve a few years in jail with benefits during and after (at our expense) and then I see someone who stole a TV so they could pawn it to feed their family with a similar punishment.  I just saw a story about a guy who was watching a TV show and fell on the floor laughing.  The tenant below his apartment heard the loud thump and called the police in case something was wrong and they arrested him and put him in jail for resisting arrest when he tried to tell them that he was just laughing at a TV show.  This guy got an immediate response but yet when real crimes are being committed, there seems to be insufficient evidence to rate a warrant!  It just doesn’t seem like we’re on the same playing field.  I understand that each circumstance has its own twists but……..what in the world???

In Feb 2006 I was in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.  We were going in opposite directions at about 55mph each.  This guy had no license, no insurance, and a record that would make you puke.  He had previous arrests for DUI’s, armed robbery, assault, not showing up for court, and other charges.  The punishment he received was 24 hours of community service and after completing two hours of it, they signed him off.  Justice…. What?  Lucky for me… the friend’s car he was driving had insurance on it!

His punishment….. 2 hours of community service

My punishment…. 2 years and counting of physical therapy, orthopedic appointments, chiropractor appointments, possible surgery, knee injuries, back injuries, neck injuries, sleep deprivation, bad dreams/memories, headaches, vision problems, huge medical bills, labor loss, reduced abilities in most activities…..etc!  All resulting in lifestyle changes……..

After two years of legal paperwork and stress, we finally settled for the max amount the insurance companies were liable for and the drunk guy paid nothing personally because no matter what big number the jury puts on the worth of the case, the law protects his personal assets up to a certain amount.  So basically the settlement didn’t even cover the already incurred medical bills and I still have the expense of past and future labor loss, future medical bills, and get nothing for past, present, and future pain and suffering!  I’m already thousands in the whole….and counting!

It’s hard to resist taking matters into your own hands when you want to punch someone in the face…..

Romans 12:19
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.”

Thank goodness I’m a Christian and believe that we are all accountable to God for everything we do… both good and bad….

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

On a good note…. the doctors said that I probably wouldn’t even run again but I refused to believe it.  I’m not going to take cover-up meds to hide the pain and injure things worse.  I believe that God is going to totally restore my body as I do my part to help.  I have a choice to wine and cry about it while sitting on the couch feeling sorry for myself or do everything in my power to rehabilitate my body even if it means working harder than I did before.  Sitting around will actually makes it worse.  I am currently running and working out as my body allows while I rehabilitate despite the predictions of the doctors.  I refuse to be defeated and I don’t just plan on getting back to where I was, but I plan on being better than I was before this incident.  I serve a BIG God and He can heal me completely if He so chooses.  My body may not currently be as good as it was but it is way better than it could have been.  I could have been dead that night.  A few weeks later, somebody died in a similar situation near the same spot.  I guess the Lord still has work for me to do here…….

If you see me playing sports, running, or doing any physical activity (and you will), it may not look like I’m in pain because I hide it well but don’t be fooled… it usually hurts… especially when sitting down at work for long periods of time!  I just ask that you say a quiet prayer for me for total healing.  Don’t feel sorry for me or treat me as fragile… feel blessed on my behalf!

P.S.  I praise the Lord that He gave that guy another chance to get his life right with the Lord… that could have been lights out for him as well.  He is still accountable to God for his actions…. even though there is forgiveness… we still reap what we sow.

P.S.S.  That’s the third time the ole 1993 Blue Ford Ranger has been totaled and none of those were deemed my fault by police…. (1-a deer thought he was a car, 2-a woman driver cut out in front of oncoming traffic and I t-boned her, 3-a drunk driver was all up in my grille…literally!)  I’ve bought the truck back at junk yard prices three times and it’s still going strong!  It’s ugly and full of junk yard parts (cheaper than new stuff) but it gets me where I’m going and runs great.  I would rather drive an ugly truck that protects me with chrome bumpers than a car that squishes like an aluminum can like that guy’s Honda Accord did!  Disclaimer… due to the current gas prices… I’m actually driving an old 1985 Honda Prelude (with sunroof) so my safety is less than desirable than my truck!!!

If you’re reading this line… you get extra credit for reading this way too long blog!!!

 

OBEDIENCE (REWIND)

 

Mike & Sara Big Chair

Originally posted - May 23, 2008

“OBEDIENCE …it’s worth the potential sacrifice”

…..after graduating from East Carolina University in 2001, I quit my job at the Hilton and I decided to take a trip around the country for about a year with a three fold mission.  I wanted to see the country I call home, interview for many jobs, and visit churches of different and like cultures while sometimes leading worship.  It was a successful trip full of adventure!!!  I had friends and families from all around the country put me up (and put up with me) for a few nights each as I tackled over 40 states on this adventure in the 1993 Blue Ford Ranger.  I was a little bummed that I couldn’t drive to Hawaii… apparently a boat is required!!!  That’s the short version…..

….So when I get back to my hometown community of Havelock/New Bern North Carolina, I began praying more intently about the places I had just seen and the job offers that I had.  I was officially broke without a penny to my name and I was totally dependent on God for direction on what was next.  I kept feeling like God was calling me to stay in the area and leave my career behind in the Hotel/Restaurant/Entertainment/Business Management industry where the money was GREAT with the experience in management I had acquired starting at a young age and the degree(s) and training I had received.  I kept blowing that notion off until I realized that it was God speaking to me…..besides…I still had/have a huge college debt to pay.  I tried to argue and even compromise on a deal…… He won that fight.  The jobs I was pursuing in my field were taking me out of the ministries I wanted to be in due to long hours, nights, weekends, and holidays….etc.  I submitted to His authority in obedience with one last request for God….. “help me to find a good job in the area with great flexibility for ministry purposes and a church that is comparable to the “on fire for God” church I just came from in Greenville (Greenville Christian Fellowship)”……

….Needless to say, God provided both a great job and a church.  The job entails me working for the government with AV-8B Harrier airplane engines utilizing neither of my Hospitality Management or Business Management degrees.  Luckily I had been rebuilding engines from the young age of 10-ish so I caught on quick.  The salary is nowhere near the offers I had in the Hotel Management field but it’s not always about money… if God has called me to do something…. He will provide all that I need to do it.  After visiting 14 or so churches in the local area, I finally found what I was looking for when I found Liberty Christian Church.  I was starting to feel like I made the right decision……..

….I plugged into serving at the church almost immediately in many different areas:  (worship team, singles (leading worship), home groups (leading worship), men’s meetings/retreats (leading worship), Vacation Bible School (drama team), discipling ….etc…. and also ministry opportunities outside of the church.  After only being there for a little over a year and finding contentment with being single and totally focused on God and not on my flesh anymore, I found myself in a position to receive God’s blessings…..

…..it was then that I met the woman of my dreams… Sara …. and I met her in character as we were both members of the Vacation Bible School Drama Team.  The funny part is that I didn’t even realize she was the woman of dreams until later…  I just thought she was pretty, funny, and cool…..and she liked cheetos!  I’ll have to elaborate on our story in another blog…….

….after courting for four years (we were waiting for her to graduate college), we developed an even stronger relationship with the Lord individually and together and we utilized that time to serve wholeheartedly in the ministries God called us to be a part of.  After Sara graduated from ECU School of Nursing, we finally got married on May 26, 2007.  It was the wedding of our dreams involving 200+ of our family and closest friends, followed by a 10 day trip to Hawaii….  we had to fly there… apparently you can’t drive!!!  We celebrate our 1 year anniversary together in a few days and we have been blessed more than we could have ever imagined……..

It’s a good thing that I was obedient when God spoke to me about leaving my career for ministry purposes….  His plans are always better than ours!!!  I don’t consider it a loss either… God has given me BIG visions that will incorporate all that has been set aside for a season……

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Samuel 3:9 “Speak, Lord for your servant is listening”

P.S.  Did I mention that Sara and I made sure our relationship was done right in God’s eyes!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…. “It is worth the wait”!!!  We may not have done it everything perfect…. but we tried our best to lead by example……  still trying ….. :-)

 

OOPS (REWIND)

 

bridge_sign_cropped

Originally posted - May 19, 2008

“OOPS!”

So I’m driving home from a long stressful day of work on Friday and I’m ready to get home.  As I’m pulling into the intersection near my house, I see a car practically buried in the ditch parallel to the highway.  I could barely see the top of the car from the road.   I instinctively pulled over to see if the man standing by the car covered in dirt was alright.  The man was hysterically crying but seemed to be physically alright (at least until the adrenaline wears off).

He was a foreigner so between his broken English and my broken Spanish we were able to communicate enough to accomplish the task at hand.  I was trying to ask him if he needed me to call an ambulance, a tow truck, or the police.  He told me through the tears that he had no license and no insurance.  He wasn’t really concerned about his own physical health or the car.  He just didn’t want to get in trouble with the police because he was trying to take care of his wife.  He also took out a road sign in the process.  I have no idea how his car got in the ditch like that without another car involved…..?

My usual first thoughts would be, “make sure he is physically alright and then let him face the judgment due to him for his driving skills (or lack thereof), not having a license, and not having insurance.”  This time I decided to use the sympathetic side of my brain/heart and felt that this guy was genuinely in need of a mulligan!  He didn’t hurt anybody else and there was no harm done other than his own self and stuff.  With a heavy duty chain and a truck, the neighbor and I proceeded to help tow his car out of the ditch in efforts to just get it on the side of the road so the guy didn’t get a ticket as is custom.  After slinging lots of dirt and watching pieces of his car stay behind, we actually got his car back on the road and it actually still worked.  Wow!  We told the guy to get out of there quickly before the police came and gave him a ticket.  He kept shaking our hands and giving us hugs as if we just gave him a million dollars.  I told him to “get out of here”….this was his warning and chance to do things right!

If he was an illegal immigrant, the government pays border patrol to catch him.  If he was doing something illegal, the government pays law enforcement to patrol for him.  Sometimes I get tired of doing other people’s jobs…especially the corrective (big meanie) roles!  This time I felt the need to be human and give grace to someone who just needed a break.  I knew he didn’t deserve it but I helped set him free.  It felt good!

Shortly after he drove off, an unmarked police car stopped by my car as I was leaving the scene and asked “what happened here”.  I told him the story and he said “thank you sir”.  He wasn’t mad at me for helping somebody.  He was probably glad he didn’t get there earlier because he would have had to write a ticket to someone who just had a bad day.

As I got in my car to drive away, I felt like the Holy Spirit said to me,
“You didn’t deserve it either, but Jesus died on the cross to set YOU free!”

WOW!!!!!

 

MONOTONY (REWIND)

 

Snowman Head_resized

Originally posted - May 16, 2008

“MONOTONY”

(I know you’re singing the Fresh Prince song… “…just a little somethin’ to break the monotony…” )

Do you ever get stuck in a rut and do the same things over and over again? I do!!!

There is safety in tradition but I challenge you to try something new on occasion….

Here are just a few options:

-Drive a different route

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Listen to a different genre and generation of music

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Go try new things…look at life from the outside looking in… not the inside looking out

-
Eat and drink something different than normal

-
Change your routine

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Try being nice to those you don’t like (but love…because we’re supposed to love one another!)

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Sit in a different seat at church, work, or school

-
Try a different style of clothes

-
Learn a new language

-
Hang out with people that aren’t like you

This experiment will challenge you to do a number of things:

-
Either appreciate what you usually do more or bring life to newness and newness to your life

-
Get out of your rut

-
Develop a new zest for life

-
Be willing to accept that there is more than one correct way to do things (sometimes)

-
Realize that you’re boring (or not)

-
Release the robot mentality

-
Be unique

Give me some one liner challenges (can be applicable to anyone)……
…….And try a few of them yourselves

 

WORfreedomSHIP (REWIND)

 

Freedom_Isn_t_Free.jpg

Originally posted - May 9, 2008

“WORfreedomSHIP”

It’s time to poll the audience…… I need your opinions…be honest… no offenses taken!!!

These questions are for both my Christian and non-Christian friends.

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Why is it that we are sometimes more intrigued and drawn to concerts, events, clubs, sport events, bars and other gatherings than we are at church (this applies to whatever churches you’ve attended but mostly towards what we call “contemporary” churches)?  We spend lots of our money, we scream, we clap, we jump up and down, we participate, we are drawn, and we can’t wait for more …. but then when we go to church, it seems as though the excitement dies down and the level of intensity drops (some exceptions apply).  This even applies to those of us that actually lead worship.  If we aren’t freely letting it rip…. why should we expect you to???

<
What steps do you suggest that churches make to remedy the situation while still putting Jesus as the main focus?  Jesus is real, He is amazing, He is our Creator, and He died on the cross for our sins so we could be FREE… don’t you think that deserves Super Bowl level celebrations at any cost???

<
I believe freedom has a lot to do with it!  I believe that we clinch the Spirit as more constraints, rules, and limitations are put on worship, the programs, and even those preaching.  I’m not talking about chaos, lack of structure or being out of order… I’m talking about freedom and organized flexibility!  …oh yeah… did I mention sensitivity to the Holy Spirit instead of sensitivity to messing up the agenda!

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This is for the worshipers...
  when you experience worship (if you have), what is it at those times that draws you in and captivates your attention so you can worship freely in the Spirit and receive from God while offering praise effectively?  I’m not talking about going through the motions of singing or hearing good music (or bad for that matter)… I’m talking about being ushered into HIS presence.

<
How do we experience more of those intimate times in both fast and slow songs?  How do you think the following things impact worship (or even the bar scene):  the professionalism, the volume, the equipment, the anointing, the lighting, the attire, the song list(s), the people involved, the stage presence, the look, the structure (whether too much or not enough), the monotony, the predictability, the passion……etc!

Oops… this was supposed to be short.  Please give me feedback on one or more of those questions and statements!  If you don’t have an answer, ask a friend!

Disclaimer >>>>>I understand your opinions are based on the number of churches you’ve attended…. not a problem.  If you think church worship sucks… I want to know why… and suggestions on how to fix it!

 

READINESS (REWIND)

 

May_June_2008_020_resized_cropped

Originally posted - April 30, 2008

“READINESS”

From my hotel room desk at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida……

As I’m called upon by my company and the United States Government to assist in hosting meetings dealing with some of the areas of my job description (AV-8B Harriers), I find myself a bit nervous.  We’re running, editing, and preparing power point presentations, taking minutes, supplying research, technical and engineering information and supporting our government customers as contracted to do so.  I’m accustomed to doing this in my every day job but this time the pressure seems a little more intense because it’s a once a year meeting with the BIG dogs (Colonel(s), Lt. Colonel(s), Major(s), Master Gunnery Sergeant(s), Squadrons….etc)!

This example reminds me of how important it is to be prepared….for the BIG opportunities(s) in life…especially in our Christian walk…..

Thoughts that come to mind to ask myself/yourself:

<
Am I prepared for the next BIG job opportunity (training, education, work ethic, dependability….etc)

<
Am I preparing myself for the unknown BIG events that might happen….. it’s hard to prepare for something you don’t know about yet….. but doing something towards something is preparing you more than doing nothing and just waiting for something good to happen…. that’s like lottery rules!

<
Am I prepared to step it up in my Christian walk (reading the Word, studying, praying, being a servant, humbleness, worship….etc)

<
Am I prepared mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially for what’s next?  If not, what needs to change?

<
Am I prepared to lead someone to Christ as is noted in the Great Commission?  If you don’t know what that is…read all of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible to get the bigger picture…. Those couple of versus are only the beginning!!!

<
Am I prepared to meet JESUS?  If He played your life back for you…what would He see?  If it wasn’t a good picture before now….. start today and let the film finish with a strong ending.  ***Disclaimer for non-Christians***…Don’t wait to get cleaned up and then give your life to Jesus…give your life to Jesus and you’ll most likely have the desire and strength to clean it up!!!  Don’t wait too long…. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed!

Enough of my thoughts….. what are you preparing for? (or trying to get motivated to prepare for?

ARE YOU READY????

 

SELF REFLECTION (REWIND)

 

Mirror Broken

Originally posted - April 24, 2008

“SELF REFLECTION”

I often take long road trips and vacations for the purpose of self reflection and relaxation.  I like to roll the windows down, open the sunroof, and crank the jams as loud as I can stand it.  Yes, I still “roll” the windows down… I’m not as fancy as some of you!!!  While I’m jammin’ loudly, I like to sing at the top of my lungs, with white boy car dancin’ moves, and I don’t seem to care about what anyone around me thinks at that given time!  Do you ever have times like that?

I’m sure you’ve heard of “go to your happy place” to relax!  Most of you are thinking of the Happy Gilmore scene in your head…. that’s just one example.  I like to “literally” go to my happy place whether it be the beach, the mountains, a sporting event, a concert, the beach….it rated mentioning twice, or anywhere that I can “get away from it all”.

Sometime busyness creeps into our lives and the only way to get a grip is to get away to clear my mind and take time for self reflection…..at least that’s how it works for me.  I ask myself questions like:

“why do I do what I’m doing”

“is it for me or for someone else”

“am I doing what I feel called to do”

“am I happy”

“what could I change to make it better”

“is this season ending, beginning, or am I right where I supposed to be….hold on”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

“how could I be more efficient so that I’m a good steward of my time” …leaving more fun time!

“___________________” add whatever you’re thinking here!

Why is it that we have to go to a “Happy” place to be happy?  I am even happier when I go on my mini/many vacations but I’m still happy in my everyday life….. because I choose to focus on the good stuff!  Crap still happens but we have to be prepared for it!  “In this world, we will have trials and tribulations…..”

It’s our life….why shouldn’t we live it in a way that makes us happy!  We have lots of choices (some of them get us in trouble) but you pretty much choose how you live your life.  You choose your education level, your job, your hobbies, who you marry, how many kids you have, what you invest your time into, your obligations…etc.

You’re probably saying.... “it’s not that easy”.  Actually it is for the most part.  Some things are out of our hands and we have to make the best out of our situations but many things we can do something about if we’re not content and living life to the fullest.  Some things you may be stuck with based on choices you made in the past (you still had a choice) but you have to live with it now…. make the best out of it!  If you are determined to be happy and have an attitude that reflects it…. it’s amazing what could happen!

Oh yeah…. attitudes are contagious…. it’s hard to frown around happy people.  Try laughing…. I’m sure you can find something funny!

Last thing…. If you don’t like something about yourself… do something about it to change you (obviously that only includes changeable things….plastic surgery not included)!

Any thoughts????

 

PASSION (REWIND)

 

Jesus

Originally posted - April 17, 2008

"PASSION"

So I’ve recently discovered that I’m passionate about helping others discover and pursue their passions.  I can’t decide it for you, I can’t walk it out for you, and I can’t live it for you…. but I can encourage you and kick you in the butt to make steps towards pursuing that passion(s).  I may not be able to do anything for you but be a listening ear… and I might just learn something about you!  That’s what friends do!!!

Sometimes when you write things down or even proclaim them to friends and family, they become more of a reality.  You never know who might be able to help you open doors to your passion…. Networking is sooooo important!!!  I challenge you to speak life into your passions and dreams!

With that being said….. WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT???

If you could do anything in the world with no limitations (finances, time, commitments, etc) what would it be!  I’m not talking about being a lazy beach bum or something… I’m talking about a career or ministry type of deal (paid or unpaid).

Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Have you shared the desires of your heart?

I’m looking forward to your responses…………. Don’t be shy!!!

 

EFFORT (REWIND)

 

WayToGoSeth_resized

Originally posted -April 8, 2008

"EFFORT"

True accomplishment is achieved through effort!  That seems pretty simple doesn’t it?  It’s amazing how many people expect to achieve an accomplishment without putting in the main ingredient…effort

Examples:

-It’s hard to do well in school or work without paying attention and applying effort to the subject at hand.

-Guy’s – it’s hard to be cut like Sylvester Stallone when the only arm workout you do is fork-to-mouth

-Girl’s – it’s hard to be cut like Jennifer Love Hewitt without putting in the gym time!  Insulting them won’t change you!

-It’s hard to do well in sports when you haven’t dedicated the time to practice…. Practice makes perfect right?

-It’s hard to be a musician when you don’t put the time into playing.

-It’s hard to be an educated Christian when the dust on the Bible is mistaken for a cloth!

-It’s hard to be productive when you sleep most of the day and the TV is stuck in the on position.

-It’s hard to ……………… when ………………..

You get the idea!  Fill in the blank for what applies to you!  How can you get motivated?  How can you get out of the rut you keep digging deeper?  Make a plan, set a course, and decide on a realistic schedule….. stick with it!  Don’t defeat yourself with your own disorganization!

Get up!  Get going!  Get motivated!  Get away from the distractions!  Get a plan!  Get a goal!

Get inspired!  …. Inspiration is only applicable if it’s acted on!  Inspiration is more than a warm fuzzy

Until next time…….

P.S.  Don’t just settle for good….. go for great!  If you fall a little short with great… you’re still good!  If you fall short on good… you’re ………..

 

RUN YOUR RACE (REWIND)

 

Beaufort_Road_Race_031_resized_cropped
Originally posted - April 2, 2008

"RUN YOUR RACE"

As I prepared to go on my scheduled run yesterday, I almost talked myself out of it because of the high winds and recent rain.... but then I got a burst of inspiration and decided to go against the odds because that’s the kinda guy I am... I love a good challenge... especially if it will make me stronger!  I use my work-out time as a chance to claim victory over things, self-reflection, to memorize scripture, talk to God and enhance myself physically and spiritually.  I didn’t want to miss out on that!

So I begin my 5K (3.1 miles) run against the head-on wind.  (NOTE...we had a tornado touch down in my town that day...what an idiot!)  I immediately began to get discouraged as I felt like I was pulling an extra hundred pounds of weight as the winds gusted at me!  I started saying to myself, "there’s no way I will beat my last time in this wind" and "I’m not going to make it"......etc.  I quickly realized my self-defeated attitude and was reminded of some things I’ve claimed a long time ago and continue to say in various ways kinda like this......

I will run my race regardless of what or whom may try to hold me down.  If I fall, I will get back up.  If I stumble, I will get back on track.  If I’m not the best, I will continue to strive for perfection so that I’m not the worst.  If I’m hurt, I will rehabilitate.  I will NOT be a quitter.  The classic...NO PAIN, NO GAIN!  You get the idea!

These principles don’t just apply to running.  What is your race?  A job, a talent, a passion, a physical activity, a relationship with someone, an internal battle, exercise, spiritual warfare, your personal relationship with God........

Hebrews 12:1
".....let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (NIV)  ....run with patience (KJV)  ...run with endurance (NKJV)

Phillipians 4:13 "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me".  Do you really believe this or are they just empty words that you quote?  I believe!

How well are you running your race?  How is your attitude?  Are you conquering yourself with a self-fulfilling prophecy (a negative attitude) and claiming defeat before you even start?  If you don’t like your results, change your attitude and you will respectively change your actions.  Previous defeats can always be remedied by forward progress.  Don’t live in the past....  Your past mistakes and defeats can be an asset if you use them to strengthen you for your future journey... otherwise they are dead weight!

Phillipians 3:13-14
"...But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

....just for the record.... I not only met my time goal in the run against the wind but I beat it!  It’s amazing what an attitude adjustment can do!  Even if I didn’t meet my goal, I can celebrate in the fact that I finished the race!

2 Timothy 4:7  "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

Have faith that YOU CAN DO IT!!!   If it cost you nothing......

 

INVESTING (REWIND)

 

Originally Posted - March 27, 2008

"INVESTING"

Investing?  What does that mean?  Here is one definition:
Invest - to use, give, or devote (time, talent, etc.), as for a purpose or to achieve something

What do you invest in?  Where does all of your time and effort go?  Why doesn’t there seem to be enough time in the day to do all that you want to do?

Many times I see people that want to be good at something such as a sport or skill but they are unwilling to invest the time necessary to be great.  They perform under par the first few times they try and they prematurely quit without investing.  On the flip side, some people invest too much time into something they aren’t called to do!  Don’t live someone else’s dream.... live yours!!!

I see people who say they want to make an impact on the people around them but they don’t invest the time and energy to build relationships.  On the flip side, I also see people that try to invest too much time and neglect the responsibilities they have......get a job yo!!!

I see life like a taste-testing event.  You expose yourself to trying many things just to give it a chance, invest in the things that you enjoy and have interest in, and set aside a larger amount of time and energy to invest in the things that you are most passionate about.

How can you accomplish a goal without investing (besides the luck factor)?  You can’t!!!  What are you waiting for?

I have experience in lots of different areas of life (taste-testing) and some of my closest friends from college would say this about me....  "Mike knows a little about everything and a lot about nothing".  There is some truth to that and it got me thinking.... what am I investing in so that I can be great and know a lot about something?  I don’t take that comment as an insult, I take it as constructive criticism!

I’ve been in the process of prioritizing for a few years now while pondering that comment.  I still like to have my hands in lots of things but I had to choose what to dedicate and invest the majority of my time and efforts in so that I wouldn’t come up short on my passions.

My current passions:
My God (Reading the Word, worship, prayer, corporate meetings...etc)
My Family (Wife, Parents, Siblings, ...etc)
Music (leading worship, songwriting, guitar and other instruments)
Relational Ministry (building relationships ***see note***)
Restoring my house/land (my city of refuge)

I have decided to dedicate and invest the majority of my time and efforts to these things for this season.

***Building Relationships***  It’s great to have lots of friends but it’s hard to invest quality time into all of them.  You have to choose the few that you can dedicate the most time to for that season of life and be willing to have a "see you when I see you" attitude for the rest hopefully without offending everybody.  You can’t be everyone’s best friends and you shouldn’t expect them to be yours.... let nature do it’s thing.  You know who you relate to the most.  If you’re not investing into anybody....turn off the TV and go find someone!  It’s great for accountability as well.....for those that want it!

FYI - myspace, facebook, and email networking is a great way to keep in touch with a larger group of friends both old and new.  It doesn’t take too much effort and you can still stay connected.  There really isn’t an excuse these days!!!  You can update all of your friends on portions of your life with the click of a button!!!  It’s not real deep but at least it’s a start!

What are your thoughts on the subject?

IMG014_resized_cropped

 

TREES (REWIND)

 

Hawaii Tree_resized
Originally posted - April 13, 2007

"TREES"

People often ask me why I'm so infatuated with trees! I believe that it is connected with the value I place on the gift of life and the similarities they have with people. They all have general boundaries but also have freedom that makes each one unique. Trees are very much like humans. There are many different species and subspecies (ethnicities). They have a basic heights, widths, leaves, fruits, etc.... and generally look similar even though each one is completely different. Some are young, old, weak, strong, fragile, flexible, stiff, reachable, unreachable, intriguing, boring, colorful....etc. It's amazing to look at the way the trees grow based on their surroundings and the creativity each one reveals as God's creation. Trees have the ability to branch out as they choose with different branches, leaves, seeds, bark, textures, and whether or not they will produce shade or be shaded. The surroundings create boundaries but yet they still have "free will" to grow as they choose within those boundaries. They are both influenced and also influencers to the area around them (to animals, other trees, grasses below, ...etc)

It is amazing how much our surroundings dictate (influence) our lives as humans (similar to trees). Do you ever wonder things like: "What if I didn't grow up around....", or "What if my parents did/didn't.....", or What if I did/didn't have....", or "What if I did/didn't do....", or "What if I tried harder at.... " ........ the list is endless. You know the saying, "You are who you hang around". There is so much truth to that. If you notice, the same species of tree on the west coast looks different then on the east coast. Same thing with people. Life is so influenced by the factors that entangle it. It is ,although, your choice to do as you wish with those factors. Even though some factors naturally influence you, many of those factors you have control over. Look at your surroundings.... your leaves, branches, seeds, barks, textures, and influence. Are you where you want to be and doing the things you're wanting to do or are you letting your surroundings dictate where your life will go? If you're not where you want to be, change something.

Life is a choice... it is your choice on how you choose to live it! It is also a choice who you will influence and how you will influence them (sometimes without even knowing). Always be aware that someone is watching you... are you leading by example? Life after death is also a choice.... will you choose Heaven or hell? Will you choose Jesus or fall prey to the things of this world? Jesus Christ died for our sins and to give us everlasting life with God the Father. He loves you and has influenced you as you read in the Bible of His sinless life on the earth. He has come to set us free!!! If you don't know Him, now is the time to confess your sins, profess your belief in Jesus Christ, and begin living as He has called you to in His Word. John 14:15 says, "If you love Me, you'll obey what I command." For those that already know the Lord, don't get complacent. It's easy to say you're a Christian.... it takes a real man/woman to actually act and live like you're a Christian. It's not easy... but worth every bit of effort. The reward will be amazing... for those who have earned it!!!

 

REWIND SERIES

 

As I've been reflecting back on the last few years, I've been inspired and challenged as some of my past passions and convictions still stand strong today.  I've decided to do a series called "REWIND" capturing some of my old blog posts from the last few years posted on other sites!  I encourage feedback (good and bad)!  I would love to hear your thoughts on these various subjects.  These will be daily blog posts for the next few weeks with possible slight changes from the originals to fit current settings. Check back often and chime in!  I pray these posts may encourage you in some way either through conviction, confirmation, reconciliation....etc!  Until next time.... blessings!

Michael

 

THE ARTS

 

“The Arts”Journey06bw.JPG

The best approach to stir up the giftings in the hearts of the people is to:

Experience (Observation), Express (Participation), and Expand (Impartation)

Experience – It is imperative for people to experience “the arts” on some level before they will even recognize their interest in particular areas.  When “the arts’’ are done with excellence, it has a luring affect that stirs your spirit…especially if you have or are developing a passion for that particular area.  This many times is a receptive situation like listening to a concert or watching an artist.  Many people never get past this level due to a variety of factors.

Express – If you want people to participate, they must be given the opportunity and freedom to do so on various levels starting with corporate settings.  This is usually an inclusive opportunity given by leadership as people are being ushered in.  A good example is entering into deeper musical worship or slow dancing with your spouse instead of watching others on the dance floor!

Expand – If you want people to expand their giftings to another level, a good swift kick in pants is often required after they have experienced and expressed the area of interest.  It’s only effective if offering solutions to go with the challenge.  This is where training and impartation come in... usually after the individual shows a concerted effort in the “experience” and “express” areas.  Examples: (conferences, workshops, more examples of excellence in particular area, one-on-one training…etc)  This is where accountability partners really come in handy to recognize gifts and to help find creative ways to challenge and equip the saints into action.

Some things are hard to teach or train in the “expand” module.  Examples:

1)  You can teach a skill like how to play instruments but you can’t teach the anointing that goes with it to lead triumphantly.

2)  You can teach the basic foundations of how to create art but you can’t teach the anointing of a visionary to see the art before it’s created.

3)  You can’t teach things that have a visionary anointing very effectively (songwriting, preaching, art, worship leading…etc) but you can help sharpen those areas for people that already have a basic foundation and anointing in the giftings.

I concur with the quote “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies those He calls.”  I also do believe that we should do our part to make the effort to sharpen our skills whether it be personal or in an outreach mindset.

The more quality examples people see (exposure), the more they can/will uniquely imitate!

Artistically creative people are drawn to the freedom and passion of the arts (musical worship, instrumentalists, creative speaking, poetic symphony, dance, art, theatre, choreography, videography, audio/visual...etc).  If there is not room to breathe, the creativity and freedom gets clenched and therefore extinguishes the desire to pursue those passions in the subject venue and often in general.

Musical worship specifically is very similar.  If there is little freedom, flow and room to breathe we in essence tend to clench the Holy Spirit and limit the ability for God to move and flow in the moment (even though He can override us at any time).  That basically often leaves us predictably singing songs from A-B (although sounding good) with reduced passion or forward progress in the spiritual realm.  I constantly see (in churches) seasoned followers either going through the motions with limited spiritual growth or frustrated with the depth level of corporate worship and seek alternate venues.  I also see new seekers looking for something to grasp onto and rarely experience intimacy during worship due to the “in and out” “seeker sensitive” model that churches so often adopt.  Offering additional services for the seasoned followers is a nice addition but Sunday mornings may be the only chance seekers get to see what legitimate followers experience.  It’s hard to argue with the big guy standing next to you weeping before the Lord during worship.  Even though deepness and “super spiritual” may freak out some, it’s so inviting to others that are looking to develop that same relationship with the Lord and encourages the law of “buy-in”.  I understand and agree with time restraints (mostly) but uninterrupted freedom within the designated parameters can make a world of difference in effectiveness!  So many things that churches do (offerings, announcements, hand shaking…other random flow breakers) can easily be done at the beginning or end of services to give the spoken and musical worship time an opportunity to breathe and pierce the hearts of the captive audience!

Disclaimer... these are only my thoughts and opinions based on past experiences and not intended to be an authority on the subject.  I also struggle with trying to find the balance between feeding the newbies and the more mature in the same service.

 

IDLE WEAPONS

 

Idle Weapons

I’ve been feeling a stirring in my Spirit as I think about the men and women of God that are sitting on the bench in this game of life.  Some are educated, passionate, skilled and many of them called by God to do great things but there are barriers that they just can’t seem to get past.

These barriers include things like:  politics in the church, bad examples that have led them astray or disgusted them, hurt by other followers (that may be trying to figure it out themselves),  not recognizing the scope of their impact, feelings of inadequacy, going through the motions….etc.

Are you by any chance one of these people?  Or do you know one of these people?

What’s it gonna take to break the trend?  In the BIG picture, doesn’t it seem like we just hurt ourselves and the Kingdom as a whole when we withhold our giftings and talents from the world?  I understand that people have different callings…. Some more internal ministry minded (inside the church), some more external minded (in the community) and some a mixture of both.  I challenge you to set aside your struggles and frustrations with things of the past (and maybe the present) and focus on what God has called you to do now and do it with excellence.  Don’t just sit on the bench and watch the starters do all the work… study their leadership and technique, prepare and practice for your specific talent(s) and make yourself available for when the coach calls you in the game!!!  Don’t just complain about the past, help shape the future!

We can be “weapons” of warfare in the Kingdom of God or “weapons” of mass destruction when our piece of the puzzle is missing from the master plan.  You have more impact than you realize!!!

 

FORGIVENESS

 

This blog was my response to a friend about forgiveness....

Forgiveness…

I can give you a few scriptures to describe some of God’s advice but this will mostly be my opinion.

Forgiveness is a tough thing.  For the most part, there really is no such thing as “forgive and forget”.  You can and should forgive but just like when we’ve repented of our sins, we still usually face the consequences of what needed to be forgiven in the first place.  I do firmly believe in “you reap what you sow”.  Even though I live a totally different lifestyle than I did 12+ years ago, I’m still dealing with some of the consequences of the bad seed I’ve sowed in my past but I’m beginning to see more and more fruit from the good seed I’ve planted…. I just have to continue to plow through what some would say “the bad karma”.

Forgiveness is very similar in the fact that if someone hurts you (thus needing forgiveness), you may be mature enough to forgive the person and move on but the pain inflicted (seed sown/memories) will still remain for a period of time.  You just have to make sure that you truly forgive that person (whether they truly apologize or not) and make sure bitterness doesn’t rise up when you think about the effects or else you are in sin too!  You have to remember that the other person is not really accountable to you (in the big picture) and the only thing that you can control is your own personal attitude/actions towards the situation.

I’m fairly good at forgiving and moving on but I do struggle sometimes.  For instance, I still struggle with pain from my past and present with the drunk driver who jacked up my sleep, my body, and my life.  It’s hard to let it go when I’m reminded of it daily but the main thing for me is realizing that there is nothing that I can do to change the past…only the future.  For offenders that you’ll never see again…let it go…move on!  For offenders (like family/friends) that you want to reconcile with, you have to give it time.  For the mental aspect….I’ve learned that if you don’t let it go, you give the other person continuous power over you (and they probably moved on a long time ago or don’t even recognize that there is a problem).  For the physical aspect…. You just have to deal with the results (the cards you’ve been dealt) but don’t compound the problem with the mental aspect and bitterness.

My personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the foundation on which I am able to release many things including my pain and burdens which gives me tremendous peace in crazy situations.  It’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it but it’s as if a weight is lifted off of you when you release those burdens to the Lord.  God is not a “genie in a bottle” that will fix all your problems (especially if you haven’t confessed that He is your Lord and Savior).  Sometimes we go through things so that we can be strengthened for other things we may go through in the future and we can use those experiences to help out someone else in their time of need!

Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” – we all need forgiveness for something!

John 16:33 “…in this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” – Jesus even said we will have trouble but He is bigger than our troubles….just trust Him

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve” – it’s out of your hands for other people’s judgment… but it’s in your hands for your own.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

 

Dear Family & Friends,

Here is the scoop on what the Thorsby’s have been up to in 2009!

Michael celebrated his 30th birthday on July 7 and Sara celebrated her 25th birthday Dec 22!  (We are now officially “old.”)  ;-)

2009 Highlights:

-Michael is still employed with LTM INC. as a Systems Analyst/Logistics Technician.

-Sara is still employed with Carolina East Medical Center as an RN on the oncology floor, recently started a new journey part-time with New Bern Cancer Care (a doctor’s office) that she really enjoys, and is training a replacement for her home health job with Help-At-Home to make room for new adventures!

-We plugged into a new church (New Song…
www.newsongchurch.tv) and met some new peeps!

-We traveled to Okinawa, Japan in May for two weeks to spend time with some amazing friends!

-We released our debut acoustic album:  “Thorsby – The Grounded Project” in September…check out
www.thorsbyjams.com to buy the album if you haven’t already - we could use the support :-)

-We spent the month of October in Antigua, Guatemala attending Christian Spanish Academy (
www.learncsa.com), utilizing our talents as we immersed ourselves in the culture, ministered as we did home visits with children we sponsor through Living Water International’s Adopt-A-Child program (www.adopt-a-child.com) and spent quality time with the local missionaries.  VERY cool!  We also got to lead worship in a church Michael helped build on a 2006 missions trip!

-We started a business in December:  Thorsby Jams, LLC … see
www.thorsbyjams.com for details!

-We bought a motorcycle – 1985 Kawasaki 454 LTD…it’s old with character but it is paid for!

-We have SO much to be thankful for and recognize God’s grace as He loves us so much!

2009 Bummers:

-Due to lack of time and finances we haven’t invested much into fixing up our 1945 fixer-upper farm house (Hobbit House).  Hopefully we can give it a bit more attention in 2010!

-Due to our busy schedule (mostly good busy) we haven’t invested as much time into friends and family as we would like but we will keep working on that!  Have your people call our people!

-Our dogs Toby (Tobias Tyrone Thorsby) and Oakley (Oakley Rascal Thorsby) have been neglected in the attention department so we owe them a little quality time… in the meantime they have occupied themselves by digging up the yard and peeing on everything else!

2010 Goals:

-Train for the Olympics… ok scratch that… be more diligent in our workouts.

-Get Sara down to one full-time job instead of multiple jobs.

-Begin to build our business and increase our musical abilities/training.

-Get at least one newer vehicle and possibly increase our housing situation!

-Sorry… kids didn’t make this year’s list... our dogs and Adopt-A-Child program works for now!

 

Search me...

 

Search me…

Jeremiah 29:11 says:  "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."

I often reflect on this verse and wonder what I look like to others on the outside.  Sometimes I come off to people as mean but I’m really a nice guy…. just tough and realistic!  Sometimes I can seem insensitive when in reality I am very sensitive and have a huge heart for people.  Even though I’m openly opinionated on various subjects, if you dig deep enough you’ll realize that it’s because of the effects the subject may have on people.  On the other hand, I may seem like I’ve got it together in some areas when in reality I’m struggling to be what others may perceive.  I’m real, I’m human, I’m flawed…. but I’m not satisfied with just accepting that without making the effort to be better.

This verse helps keep me in check as I go throughout my day.  I can fool other people, but I can’t fool God.  He knows everything about me.  He knows what I think.  He knows what I say under my breath.  He knows my attitude even if it’s not reflected on the outside.  He knows my sins.  Praise Him for loving me anyways regardless of my inadequacies.

This verse also inspires me to want to do good even though sometimes it seems insignificant in a world full of darkness.  I believe you’re accountable for what you do (both good and bad) and the whole reap what you sow deal is very literal.  Call it bad karma or whatever but it still is a fairly sound principle.  You don’t always see fruit from your good deeds (both internal and external) but many times it’s because it doesn’t come in the form in which we expect it.

Are you willing to say “search me oh God” and allow Him to form you into the man or woman He has called you to be?

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

 

Sara and I own an old 1945 fixer-upper farmhouse barely reaching the 1,000 square foot line.  We call it the "Hobbit House" because most of the ceilings are 7ft or under and the bedrooms slope down to 5'6' with little windows that swing wide open.  I've been working the land the past few years trying to clear it, clean it, and nurture it to make it a beautiful masterpiece... still in the works... it takes money and time and I'm short on both!

I have some nut trees (pecans, bitternut, walnut, acorn...) that I've been taking special care for and praying that they would produce fruit!  This year we had a tremendous harvest with our pecan tree in the front yard and at some point I said "praise God for the harvest".  But as I was picking up the pecans and after filling up a few buckets, I caught myself grumbling because there were too many, my back was hurting, I stepped in dog poop, it was taking time away from other things I wanted to do, thinking about how much time is was going to take to crack them all open....etc!  How selfish is that?

God has blessed us in so many ways that we should be thankful for (and don't even recognize many times) and we still find a way to grumble even when He has given us the fruit and directly answered specific prayers we have offered.  I challenge you today to learn from my "stupid moment" and be gracious and thankful in all things... especially the obvious ones!!!

Sara and I are thankful to those of you that have supported our ministry and business of the King!  Your efforts and encouragement do not go unnoticed!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Michael