Archive for February, 2011

Joe the Smog Guy

Posted: February 26, 2011 in Inspirational
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In California, we have this really cool thing we get to do called getting your car smogged. Every 2 years I get to find a smog station that can get me in on a weekend, typically because I never have time during the week and smog certify my car. That is always the part that is the most nerve-wracking to me…will my car pass the test? I have taken to using a more secured approach by changing a few key maintenance items on all my vehicles to ensure they pass first time through…but I digress. You don’t care about my cars or my smog checks stories except for maybe this one.

Recently, I had 2 of my vehicles come up for their scheduled smog certifications at the same time and I happened to find a guy whose name is Joe, on a Saturday morning who was not busy and could handle both of my cars…great news. I took care of the first one, then ran home and got the second one, which happened to be the car my wife drives all the time. Why does this matter? Her car has a sign on the back that has a remembrance declaration on the back about our dearly departed daughter Kylie who went home to be with God a few years back.  It also proclaims the years she was here mentioned as well so as Joe went to drive the car into the stall to begin the test, I noticed him pause to read what was on the back window. When he was finished he came over and commented on Kylie and asked me what happened. As I spoke to him, I could tell he was impacted by her and how sad her story was so I took that moment to share a few things about her but also how we have moved on since we lost her. I told Joe flat-out where I draw my strength and even though our situation was and still is amazingly difficult, we still trust and believe in Jesus Christ. For the first time in a long time, I spoke to someone who was very open to hearing what I had to say which I have to say, gave me confidence. I gave Joe more information about my church and service times and we shook hands and said goodbye.

What I came away from this encounter was God didn’t need me to convert Joe, he needed me to simply talk with Joe. Joe was interested in how does one deals with a significant loss and I, well have experience in that area. I spoke from my heart and Joe knew this and he responded accordingly. It reminded me of the verse in 1 Peter 3:15 –
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

I do have a hope and it is strong within me…I hope it is strong within you as well. I leave you with this…anytime, anywhere God may call you to share your faith and your hope. In my case it was two men, standing in a smog station speaking about Him…Iron sharpening iron…

Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There has been a great deal written on the subject of time and how to manage it properly over the years. Growing up I heard “stop wasting time” and I need to be a “better steward of the time God gives me”. Later on in high school I remember hearing “You all are accountable to me for your time in this class” my teacher told us. I remember thinking he was taking this time thing a little to far…I’m accountable to him…really? But he was right, the time I spent studying for his class I was accountable to him and even more so when I failed a test. Then my “free time” dried up.

What I find ironic is when we make it to adulthood, we are encouraged with song titles like ”Time well wasted” and “Killing Time” which emphasize getting lost in the lack of managing our time. It’s like a switch was flipped and now I’m told forget about managing my time and just relax. So my question is, “Which direction should I go”?, Wasting time or time management? Well, as a responsible adult I think we need to find a spot somewhere in the middle as to how we control the time we are given. But, (and here is the “but” statement) the reality is we completely get caught up in the business of our lives and just forget about the “aah” moments with one another. I know you know what I mean when I refer to an aah moment. That split second of recognition when your little child sees his/hers Santa gifts on Christmas morning or maybe when you sneak up on them and surprise them with a ride on your shoulders or a good tickling. Those are AAh moments to me. Those simple moments in life I can take and be thankful for because nothing in this world can mean more to your child than meaningful time spent with them.

So you say, “great Kent, you have made me feel guilty, what is your point”? My point is very simple, as a father who has lost a child, my whole perspective on time and the moments of life we spend together has changed. Time lost cannot be regained not matter how hard you try. Unfortunately, I now understand the value of time and why moments with our children and family must be treasured because you don’t know when you may have all of it taken from you. One minute your life is great and next you find everything is swept away.

Ok, you say, I’m sorry for your loss but…that doesn’t apply to me. I’m a great parent and enjoy being a parent and spending time with my own children or my spouse. My question to you is Really? Have you actually made that connection in your brain where you said to yourself? “look at what I have in my life, this is awesome” Have you truly realized you should be thankful for what is right in front of you? I know I hadn’t. In fact, even though I had went through a scary time when my daughter was born with hospitalization and surgeries, I had since gone complacent and just took each day as it came never really grasping the actual moments and living them to the fullest…Thanking God for them. Appreciating them for what they were, valuable time.

It is strange to think we don’t take the time because we say we don’t have the time? I encourage you to take today and look at your wife and your kids and just say “thank you God for what you have given me”.

Simply put, appreciate the gifts you have been given. Appreciate the value of time…

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness… 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

These are Christs words to Paul as he wrestled with his “thorn in the flesh” which many scholars believe was bad eyesight. Even though Paul pleaded with God 3 times to remove this deficiency from him, God refused which is when we see Jesus make reference to the verse above…

 

I think we can say that the “weakness” Christ refers to here are the low points or the difficult times we experience along life’s path. I hope this isn’t a surprise to you but accepting Christ into your life doesn’t negate hardships. In fact, I believe we are presented with more challenges or “grace opportunities” as Christians simply because God wants us to learn to trust Him during the times we need him the most. I don’t know about you, but I have a tough time with trust sometimes. How do you handle adversity when its thrown your way? You see I am one of those people who have written about and believe that our Lords desire is to surround himself in heaven with people who understand and practice God’s power being made perfect in my weakness. In other words I believe, God, wants to hang out with the folks who stood toe to toe against Satan during life’s battle and said, “Is that all you got?” Frankly, I have to admit, so do I…

 

But back to business; if you recall, the first part of this same verse talks about Gods grace being sufficient; Sometimes I have struggled to understand what grace really was to me? Is it a “get out of jail free card?” Or is it just a friend helping me back up when I fall? Then I read recently an easier way to think of grace. Grace is truly the “presence of God” in our lives. Try substituting “presence of God” next time you read grace and you will see what I mean. Grace is God’s physical strength from heaven given to you and me when we call on Him. I like that a lot. When I call on him, you can bet I am wrestling with something and need His help. Isn’t it encouraging that in our weakest points ever, God’s strength is made perfect in us? He is there! We are NOT alone. His grace, or His presence, is there to see us through the difficult path.

 

I truly hope you can be encouraged by these words. Those verses have changed my own life forever.

 

I pray for God’s grace in your life, each and every day…

OK how about some fun facts for a minute. We are on the verge of the biggest game in sports this weekend, the Superbowl where the best team from each division square off on the largest stage in the world. The hype that is generated is always the biggest and commentators get to talk for hours about defense, offense and especially little tidbits that no one cares about because they have so much on air time to fill. By the way, on a side note, did you know that on Superbowl Sunday, inside Texas Stadium, there will be over 5000 lbs of hot dogs consumed by the attendees? I just had to throw that in there. But here is what I really didn’t know…According to the Wall Street Journal, during Football season, the average game length is around 174 minutes. Now this Sunday the length of time will be double that, or 360 minutes, or 6 hours which makes these facts I’m about to give you even more staggering. Because as you know, even though the broadcast is 6 hours long, the game is still (last time I checked) just 60 minutes total clock time…Now for the stats…Once the game starts we get to see the following:

  • 60 minutes of commercials (double, almost triple that for Superbowl Sunday)
  • 75 minutes of players huddling or milling around between snaps
  • 17 minutes of replays…and…
  • All told, just an actual 11 minutes of actual football.

Can you believe that? Just 11 minutes…So there you have it…and who says Americans waste time anyway? Enjoy the game wherever you are…

If not, then whats the point of being a Christian anyway? If we don’t act differently or have different morals than everyone else then why did Jesus come in the first place?

In 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, we learn from Paul that we are the temple and we must stay clean while we navigate through this very dirty world:

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

God requires us as followers of Jesus Christ to separate ourselves both morally and spiritually from sin or anything that is contrary to His ways. In other words, when your friends invite you to Las Vegas for the weekend for some fun and chaos and then tell you that no one will find out? You might want to reconsider that decision…don’t set yourself up for failure. Worst of all, don’t buy into the advertisements that say what happens there, stays there…It (whatever “it” might be), will be with you for the rest of your life…and YOU get to live with IT. The rest of your life for one night?…not a very good trade off…

Another quick relevant Bible story…

When Joshua took the Children of Israel into the Promised land, God gave him some very harsh and strict instructions, kill everyone you come into contact with…they all must die. Under no circumstances were they to allow any of them to live because they were heathen of the worst kind and God knew that if they yielded, the children of israel would assimilate into their cultures instead of “tuck them in” into their own. Read Deuteronomy 20:16-18 and see what God said…Why does this matter to you and me? Because are you really confident that you can spend time around temptation and NOT end up yielding to it? God knew completely that the Children of Israel would fail…and they did. They could not live next door to Las Vegas without becoming just like them, vulgar sinners and prostitutes… and I don’t want the same thing to happen to you…

Guys, I pray for you that you can indeed separate yourself from all the nasty stuff throws your direction and work each day by staying pure before Him. My best advice to you…Stay on your knees brother.