Archive for September, 2013

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Today is a sad day for me. One of my friends from work, whom I truly respect, announced to me recently that he has lung cancer…and his outlook isn’t good. He pulled me aside and shared this news with me personally and asked that I not tell anyone because he has requested privacy as he and his family battle this deadly disease. As a result, I will call my friend Joe to protect his anonymity for the reminder of this post.

I know that cancer has directly or indirectly affected just about everyone in this world. Cancer doesn’t show any favoritism whatsoever…it strikes whom it wants, when it wants without notice…and its effects are deadly.

As I sit here and ponder the why…why did Joe get cancer when he already has Type 1 Diabetes and suffers daily simply because of that ailment? Or why does he have to be the one out of all the bad people on this earth to suffer? Honestly, he is one of the good guys. I have this idea in my head whereby I have classified people over the years as I have seen the lengths these men have gone to save their families and I simply call them my heroes. I can name them off for you right now…why? Because when I happen to be feeling sorry for myself on any particular day, I think of my heroes and what they went through and that usually brings me back to earth.

Joe is my hero.

He grew up in a very tough neighborhood in New York City and he actually had mob ties early on in his life. He talks about these circumstances very carefully…never fully sharing anything other than he feels lucky to have survived his childhood and teenage years. What he did have however were very loving parents. He described them to me as always being there when he needed them and they provided him a shelter from all of the chaos that was outside their walls…and now as an adult, he appreciates them even more.

Joe got into graphics and it turns out, he had quite a talent in this area. In fact, not only was he an artist, but he also could run a business as well. As a result, he ended up with his own agency in New York working many hours but doing very well. Then one day his youngest son was diagnosed with a very rare immune deficiency disease and Joe’s life changed. He ended up losing everything he had trying to save his son…the good news is that after years of battling the disease, insurance companies etc. his son survived thankfully due to a very difficult bone marrow transplant from his older brother.

Fast-forward 10 years.

His youngest son, for many years has had to live inside the equivalent of a bubble due to this disease but over the last few years, things have improved. He even has fallen in love with one of his nurses…go figure.

However as the situation with his boys has improved, his own health is failing and although I understand the reality of cancer as mentioned above, I am still back to the why? Why Joe? Because as I’ve gotten to know Joe over the last few years, I’ve realized that I connected with him because he is good man at his core. Deep down inside, Joe has faith. In fact, his faith is what is getting him through this challenge right now…and frankly, Joe’s demeanor is one of positivity and grace. Joe is showing me, and all of his coworkers, why he is one of my heroes…If I ever find myself dying, I pray that I can handle things like Joe…pure dignity.

Guys…I know that God does NOT make mistakes because even now I can see the way that Joe is handling his own health problems he is an example to many people. I can also see where his behavior just might be the difference in someone else’s life…In other words, how Joe handles this adversity could affect another person…that is how truly admirable he is…but is that the reason why Joe was struck with this deadly disease?

Personally, I know this truth intimately because when I went through the death of my own daughter 9 years ago…and as I listened to people explaining to me what my daughter meant to them, I felt like I didn’t know her in that way and it changed me…which meant her death had an impact on people…but is that the reason why God took her? And…Is that the reason why my friend Joe is suffering right now in order that more people might come to know Him?

Think about this…I could be the “angry guy at God” right now but after 9 years…I have come to understand that is NOT who I am…

Why does God allow things like this to happen to good people? If I had the “God” answer, I would share it with you right now…however MY opinion is very simple…

I simply trust EVEN though I don’t understand the “why” of the situation. Joe is a close friend of mine and I am very worried that he isn’t long for this earth. I pray for him everyday and “trust” that God will heal him and will spare his life. However, if God chooses not to, it is HIS WILL and I simply trust Him that He does NOT make mistakes.

Guys…what else can you do? True..you can get angry, but anger has no end or purpose here because that kind of anger is from Satan and it will only destroy you and the ones you care about.

I repeat…being angry with God ultimately has NO value because NOTHING can come of it.

Ask any guy who has been angry towards God and he will tell you that he is NOT better off now BECAUSE he was angry. He will tell you he lost his wife and kids and wishes he would have listened to the person who told him to let go and TRUST God…

I know this is probably NOT the best answer you want to hear but this is where we are…God is NOT like you and me and therefore His ways do not match ours. Once we get that particular fact…then what I said above can make more sense.

I care a lot about Joe and pray that his outcome will be positive…but if it Gods will to take him home…Then Joe is in a better place and NO longer in pain and even though I will miss him…I’m ok with that…

Because I get to see him again…

I know this has been a much longer post than normal and for that I am sorry…but please listen to what I am saying to you…

Don’t get angry when you don’t understand what God is doing…

Just trust…

Until next time guys…

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As I have gotten older, I have come to like Grace a whole lot. I like to hear the word, I like to see it carried out, but most of all I like to receive it. Usually, when I receive grace it is because I need grace. If I forget to do something on time and I find out I have been extended more time…I like that wonderful feeling of relief…of grace…

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

I have read these verses many times before but I think right now maybe some of you may need a simple refresh…The verse above are Christ’s words to the Apostle Paul as he wrestled with his “thorn in the flesh” which many scholars believe was poor eyesight. Even though Paul pleaded with God 3 separate times to remove this “thorn” from him, God chose NOT to do so…which is when we see Paul make reference to the verse above…why would God choose to NOT answer Paul’s prayer?

GOD WANTED PAUL TO TRUST HIM…

The “weakness” referred to here are the low points or the difficult times we experience along the paths of our collective lives. I know 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 trusting. How do you handle adversity when it’s thrown your way? If you are like me, I am one of those people who have written about and believe that it is our Lords desire is to surround himself in heaven with people who understand and practice God’s power being made perfect in weakness (see verse above). In other words I believe that in eternity, God wants to hang out with the people who stood toe to toe against Satan during life’s battle and said, “Is that the best you can do?”…

And frankly, I have to admit, so do I…

But back to the beginning; if you recall, the first part of our verse talks about Gods grace being sufficient; sometimes I have struggled to understand what grace really means to me? Is it a “get out of jail free card?” or is it simply just a friend helping me get back up when I fall? Then I read recently an easier way to think of grace. Grace is simply the “presence of God” in our lives. So think of it this way, substitute the phrase “presence of God” for the word “grace” from now on and you will see what I mean. Grace is God’s physical strength from Heaven given to you, and to me, when we call on Him. I like that a lot. When I call on God you can bet I am wrestling with something and need His help. Isn’t it encouraging to understand and recognize that in our weakest points ever, God’s strength is made perfect in us? He is there! We are NOT alone…you are NOT alone. His grace, or His presence, is there to see us through our personal difficult path (whatever that is for you).

Brothers, I hope you can be encouraged by these words but even more important, consider extending some grace in someone’s direction that maybe needs it more than you do…

Until next time guys…

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There is a word the media is using today that is beginning to drive me crazy. It is a word that we all know and have used throughout our lifetimes but in the last few years it has come to be known as the mantra for everyone who chosen, as I call it,  a life of gray. The word I am referring to is tolerance, and if you aren’t tolerant, then you aren’t a good person…or at least, that is what we are being led to believe.

I actually had this conversation recently with a coworker who called me intolerant when I had the audacity to say, “that is wrong” about the subject we were discussing. As I queried him further, I realized that right and wrong were NOT definitive in his life…they were simply guidelines. In other words, if someone came along saying they believed in Zombies, rather than tell this person how ludicrous believing in Zombies really is, he simply says OK…if that’s what you believe then I am tolerant of that fact. I know this may come across as harsh, but I don’t believe in Zombies and in my life, there is a very clear black and white line in this world that equates to wrong and right…there is absolutely no gray involved.

As a Christian friend, if I share the truth with you as a brother about your life as I see it…about how you are moving away from God and going in the wrong direction, is that is an intolerant viewpoint? Because according to this “tolerance” way of thinking…that is not “being loving” towards you.

In my opinion, this “tolerance mentality” began with people only wanting to believe certain sections of the Bible rather than taking it as a whole.  We don’t like the part about judgment, or sin, and condemnation because some of it uses very strong language and frankly, it makes us uncomfortable…But we do like the part about love…only rather than the type of love Jesus refers to when He says “Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for another”, we change that version of love into what we believe about God…not that God is Love but rather, love is god and when that happens (and it is happening), we also change how we define love…love becomes more tolerance than real love.

We Christians need to be careful that our definition of love is not like above, but rather, full of the examples of Jesus and what He did for us.

Remember that God loves us and He welcomes us to Him JUST AS WE ARE but His love is so great for us that He can’t let us remain that way. The “way” I am referring to here is “being in sin” which God hates but yet He loves you and me…and as we begin to experience His amazing love, we begin to change inside. God’s love doesn’t just tolerate us…it changes us. We become something that we couldn’t be on our own…someone who recognizes right and wrong yet can love unconditionally.

Believe it or not, those two can coexist…and when they do…there is real change.

Remember guys, it is NOT that I’m intolerant, but rather I only want the best for you…and when I call something out to you…It’s because I want you in eternity…

Until next time guys…