Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 9: Forgiveness ~ 30 Days Closer To God


Forgiveness

That is a powerful word. It is a word that means that no matter what you have done, you are no longer held accountable to it.

If you lie, it is like it never was spoken.

If you steal, it is as if you never have taken it.

Forgiveness is the 'Mulligan' of the spiritual golf world.

You see as Christians, we are often all too caught up with the 'forgiveness of our sins' so that our spiritual accounting is clean with God. However, Forgiveness is much more powerful than that. We have to learn to forgive ourselves.

Although we try, we will never be perfect. We have to come to grips that God loves us for who we are and who we strive to be IN HIM. Give yourself some slack. No, you are not the perfect person. Yes, you have immoral thoughts. No, you might not have said the right thing at work to your coworker. You simply have to forgive yourself.

Forgiveness is not just for those who you are forgiving... The real power is for you that forgive.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 8: I will give you rest ~ 30 days closer to God

28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I needed this message today. I need to rely on Jesus as I am working through the pain of my sacroiliac joint. I do not like taking medicine. It is nothing religious about it simply I hate to depend on foreign chemicals in my body. Call it my manly man distrust of pharmaceuticals.

But today I say better living through chemistry.

Today is going to be a short message because I need a day of rest. I need to allow my body, my mind to be at rest. I must realize I cannot fix everything and my life will not always be perfect.

As a man learning to get closer to God, I simply need to rest. Not just to rest for my body but to rest for my soul and mind.

Day 7: Follow Me ~ 30 Days Closer To God

Follow Me

Those were the simple words I heard Yesterday morning. There are so many great stories of the Bible where Jesus asks his people to follow him.

What does that mean for the modern Christian?

In the biblical references, Jesus spoke to people to leave what they were doing and follow him. Many did exactly what he said, while some struggled such as the rich young ruler. In one instance, Jesus asked one to follow him, and the disciple replied that he needed to bury their loved one first. Does that mean Jesus didn't care?

No.

He wanted to convey the importance of receiving His teaching and learning from Him while He was still on this earth. Spiritually, this man would become alive in Christ and it is important to focus on the things of the kingdom versus the worldly things.

But what I think God wants of me is to stop being the pilot of my life. We do not know when Jesus will come again. Only the father knows. We should live in expectation that He is coming soon.

If Jesus was coming tomorrow what would you change? Honestly I think I have way to many thingsnthat I need to change before He comes.

It is sad really.

However I know that there's grace He has given me, and grace I have received. It really is a balance that we have to live in. If we become too dogmatic, we risk being prideful in our works. If we depend too much on His gratiousness, then we risk a quickly falling, backsliden path.

So the challenge is to lift everything to God. To follow Christ today hasn't lost it's purpose over the years howver the instrument of following comes not from Jesus, But the Holy Spirit who resides with you and communes with you. Since the Spirit lives inside you, you have a direct connection with the Eternal. All you have to do know is lift your needs, wants, desires and burdens up to God and HE WILL LISTEN.

It is important to Listen to the spirit and not to man. Listen to the Spirit in spite of the spiritual dogma of the church. The Bibles Heroes are not men who stood idly by and raising their hands in the pew. The men of God in the Bible stood up against their agreessors in acts of civil disobedience.

The stood in the face of death and allowed God to use their life for His purpose. Jesus turned the tables of the money changers in the temple. He raised a whip in righteous anger. A man of God trusts in the Lord. The more a man listens to God and not to man, the more great spiritual revivals we may see in our lifetime.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 6: Friends ~ 30 Days Closer To God


I was a little confused about the word that God gave me today in regards to 'Friends.'



I wondered how friends are viewed or are an impression on a man trying to get closer to God. As the picture above says... True friends are hard to come by.

So as a Man, I try to raise myself from the murk and mire only to realize that all I have to do is lift my prayers up to God to improve my station. In truth a man doesn't need many friends. He needs a few die hard, hard core, backs to the wall friends in this world.

The Bible talks about the importance of 'Iron sharpening Iron' as it speaks of brothers / friends lifting each other up and making each improve in the eyes of each other. Friends help each other to keep accountable, to carry each other's burden.

As I write this, I continue to hear 'What a friend we have in Jesus' ... 'everything to God in Prayer.'

Jesus as written in earlier blog posts has come before me and sacrificed so much for me. He awaits to represent me in Front of God the Father as a faithful servant. He has gone before me and has stood beside me. Christ is  my wonderful counselor and friend.

God revealed to me today the importance of friends, the right friends in my life. My friend calls me today. He is struggling with some personal issues. Most of my time is spent listening, but eventually as I share in his burden, we were able to lift each other up and encourage each other.

From this conversation we can point each other to grow in faith, to improve our relationships with our families and point each other to look to God for answers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 5: By His Stripes I am Healed ~ 30 Days Closer To God


By His Grace, We are Saved... By His Wounds We Are Healed.

The Punishment that was Our Peace, Being Crushed For our Sins....



No matter what I am going through, I am happy that I didn't have to endure the excruciating pain Jesus experienced upon the cross. That partly is one of the reasons I don't like the cross as a representation of Christianity. The cross represents an execution device. It represents pain and anguish. It doesn't represent the triumph of being raised from the dead.

I awoke this morning still in pain. As I prayed, I asked the Lord for the words he would give me to meditate upon and experience so that I can learn more about being closer to him. He gave me the following:

By His Wounds You Are Healed

That is such a powerful message and something that is so simple. Jesus went through pain, anguish and death. Our pain He knows. Our burdens he has shared. Yet He still loved me despite me being such a terrible creature.

The message of we are healed is something of a promise. We can be healed by God. No, I didn't get a miraculous healing over night, I am still in pain. I know that God hears my anguish, and he is concerned about my pains. I know that I need to lift these up to him so that I can trust Him to heal me and make me better. It is a process much like I have experienced the last couple of days as God taught me more about patience and peace.

Since I can do nothing other than lift my pains to him and trust him, there isn't any reason to get down or depressed. This is a struggle, this is teaching me patience and to be at peace with myself.

His pain and suffering paved the way to recovery for the Christian Soul. His life and trials were for Christians to understand and realize that while He was a man, He suffered. We know that he suffered on our behalf. It was Him who could have changed his mind, turned the other way and escaped the wrath he suffered....

But he didn't...

He knew that his pain and suffering will only last for so long and that he would be in paradise. He knew that His sacrifice would enable me and everyone to have a direct path to God. He felt the wrath or OUR sins as they scored and tore his body. His blood was split as an offering so that I can have the assurance of heaven.

His death meant that when I died, I have conquered death too. When I pass on, I can and will be in heaven. Death's grip is but a pinch on the road to eternity.

By His Wounds....

My heart is healed knowing that the world may reject me but He loved me enough to die for me.

My mind is healed knowing that while I am not perfect, His wounds enabled the Holy Spirit to teach me.

My body is healed knowing however imperfect, He will make me perfect in eternity.

My spirit is healed knowing that I was empty, yet He fills me and gives me Peace.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 4: Patience ~ 30 Days Closer To God





How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. Now that is an example of Patience!


Patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties


Of course when I hear the word patience, I think of the 90's band Guns and Roses






So, Patience was the word I received from the Lord today in my journey towards learning more about him and becoming a true man of God. Boy did this day S-U-C-K!


Today was the toughest day I have had in a long time. My back which normally would heal by this time continues to bother me. It literally takes me about five minutes of walking around to be able to walk straight up. Then every time I sit, pain shoots up my spine. 


I started to worry. It caused me a lot of pain. I was afraid to move, to even get up and go to the bathroom. I have tried Ibuprofen, Aleve and even Tylenol. All of which didn't do anything for me. It wouldn't even dull the pain. 


My patience was worn thin. I wanted the pain to go away. I didn't want people to see me limp around. I don't like to appear weak. I don't have patience.


I am frustrated because I wanted to go to class at Meng's Martial Arts where I am study Ving Tsun. Because of the injury, I decided to stay back and not participate. Instead I took myself to the Urgent Care where a doctor confirmed that I have a pulled muscle in my back and urged me to take it easy and gave me a prescription for something that will help with the pain for a few days.


But what is patience? Enduring during difficult circumstances. God knew that today would be tough for me. I need to practice calm assurance in knowing that He will take care of me no matter the pains or the stress I may have.


I know that I have a long road ahead of me to totally understand and comprehend patience. However today was a great view of how to handle it. When the pain comes, when the stress is overwhelming, lift it to God. He knows what is best.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 3 : Peace ~ 30 Days Closer To God





Peace.....

Inner Peace?

World Peace?

Give Peace a Chance?

What did God want me to discover today about Peace?

Of all days, I have not been at peace with just about anything. I have been irritable, angry, frustrated, and in pain. My back did not get better. Instead it got worse. It has progressed to a real 'thorn in my side.' It takes a minute for me to get up from a chair.

When I walk, I cannot stand straight up immediately. My bones and sinews need to warm up so that my back will finally allow the last of the vertebrae to move and thus allow my back to be in proper walking condition. I know what it feels like to walk like an old man.

This pain has caused my body to ache, and thus my attitude just stinks. Several times today without thinking, I dropped the F-bomb which is something I am not keen on doing.  :Maybe Peace isn't peace at all. Maybe Peace is a step towards war. The only way to have peace is to irradiate those who annoy you so that you finally can be at peace. Or at least everybody will fear you. But knowing my love of God, those ideas just don't line up.

Sure, Sure... he wiped out the whole world with a flood....

Sure, Sure... he wiped out whole civilizations who stood against his chosen people...

But is that really what God wants? No. God being perfect, and without sin cannot coexist with sin. The world during the flood was full of sin. Fallen angels were mixing with humans and having children. The world had lost it's focus of the one true God. With it, he wiped out the world to ensure that all that he had promised would come to fruition.

The nations that were annihilated in the old testament worshiped false Gods. They performed heinous acts against nature and morality. Child sacrifice, and other evil were part of the worship to their Gods. God's people could not coexist in a land filled with those who were polluted. He couldn't further the seed of Abraham in a land that would not harvest a Godly people. Even after winning the promised land, God's people fell short.

God wants us to be at peace. Peace means to operate harmoniously without violence or conflict. We sing songs in church such as 'Peace Be Still' which remind us that we need to bring our nature, and our faith under a flag of Peace.

I believe what God has shown me today is that I need to be at Peace with myself. Ever since I can remember, I have had some battle with being overweight. I have hated myself fore more than twenty five years because I didn't quite fit the mold of my peers. I was bigger, heavier, and simply built different than those around me. In High School and College, I didn't fit the mold of the sexy man the girls wanted. Most wanted the scrawny emo type guy who was in touch with his feelings. Me, I played football but dressed like Silent Bob well before Jay and Silent Bob were popular. Yes, I wore  trench coat and wore a baseball cap backwards at school. That was simply me.

No only if I could make the money Kevin Smith makes....

Honestly, it is tough being able to be 'At Peace' (imagine quote fingers here) because I have so many things I HATE about myself, my circumstances and world I live in. So, how.... HOW am I to be at peace?


Interesting enough, God led me to Alcholics Anonymous... Let's look at the Serenity Prayer"


Serenity Prayer
GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,  Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Living ONE DAY AT A TIME; Enjoying one moment at a time;  Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.  Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;  That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.




You see, the answer to living in peace isn't something that you just OBTAIN. It is something you strive towards. You can have Peace by accepting things that you cannot change. This means for me, that the things in my life that I have struggled with are simply there. If I cannot change them, there is no sense in fretting over them. Also having courage to change the things in my life that I know I can obtain will give me inner peace. Both are actions that don't happen over night. It isn't some hippy-drippy statement. It is an action.

Enjoy one moment at a time. That is powerful. Take each opportunity to find joy. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow for we do not know what tomorrow brings. We can only enjoy the present, we can only deal with today. So instead of the worries and the frets, take time today to enjoy the experiences.

You know the next sentence talks about hardship as the pathway to peace. Interesting enough my back pain has taught me that I know that hardships come. That they teach me what is important and to focus on things that make me better. Tonight, I braved the jacuzzi. My fears of people laughing at me, small children running and crying or PETA throwing paint on me where all for not. I was the only one who was relaxing in the jacuzzi by the pool. It did wonders for my back and I feel ten times better already.

The final couple of sentences addresses the rest of what encompasses my everyday concerns. This world is bad, I have to accept it. I have to find my peace in the things that bring me joy today. Let God handle and fix the rest. It won't happen with me fretting about it and every time I try to fix it.... I make it worse. Trust God, he can handle it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 2 : Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh ~ 30 Days Closer to God






Day 2 ~ Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh and the other gifts I have given to you

Today has been an interesting study so far. I say so far as this is going to be an earlier post than the end of the day posts I would normally like to share because of having to travel this afternoon. However, this morning has given me plenty of opportunities to learn what God meant about these words he shared with me this morning.

Morning: OUCH!

I awoke this morning with my back in ever increasing pain. I must have pushed myself too hard yesterday. More than likely I leaned and turned the wrong way and thus causing me much more pain this morning. It was a great day yesterday. Kung Fu was fun and God did a great work in me yesterday learning about selfishness.

So this morning as I prayed before my feet hit the floor, God put the image of a gold coin in my head followed by the words of "Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh and other gifts I have given to you."

Wow... another day of not having to deal with my many OTHER flaws. I simply have to deal with.... uhm..... a strange stream of words that were a bit of a mystery to me. Time to get out the Bible, and do some wikipedia searching to learn a little more about what God is trying to reveal to me.

Gold - A precious metal,  A gift that we see presented to others as the 'ultimate gift' to share other than diamonds for a bride.

Frankincense - a incense is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra

Myrrh - is the dried oleo gum resin of a number of Commiphora species of trees. Like frankincense, it is produced by the tree as a reaction to a purposeful wound through the bark and into the sapwood.

OK Jeff, so what does that mean to you and what God wants you to learn?

Good question and I think I have the answer God wanted me to learn. So sit back and read as I try to explain what God wants and how these gifts are the perfect example of a life devoted to him.

These three gifts are the perfect picture of Jesus and what he has done for me even before he performed those acts. The Magi, were men who followed the teachings of Zoroaster. Interesting enough a religion or faith that believed in a single God, and believed that God to be perfect, without evil. The world is in chaos and evil is all around us. They believed in a Savior who would come down and save the world and cast out the evil one and the dead would rise.

Gold was often a gift presented to those of Royalty. A picture of the Magi accepting Jesus royal nature. The gift of Frankincense was a symbol of priesthood, and Myrrh symbolizes suffering.

It fortold the life of Jesus. The gifts are also a picture for me as a Christian. Jesus is the Son of God. My Savior. I am the adopted child of my God. I am a child of the King. The gold is my promise from God that I am a part of his kingdom. I have the promise of sanctification. I have the assurance that I will be in the kingdom when I pass away.

Frankincense represents a delivery of my prayers to heaven. Many burned this incense to insure that God would hear our prayers. Frankincense, has a wonderful aroma. A perfume could be made with it. But we will take the original taught use of burning it as incense. Without Jesus death on the cross, I would not have my prayers heard by my God. I would still have to offer some sacrifice in hopes that it was pleasing to him and that he would hear our prayers. Now that Jesus has come, I have the blessed assurance (I use this several times in this post) that God does hear my prayers as a promise. I might not get the answers I am looking for, but I am sure that my prayers are heard by my Lord.

Myrrh is definitely interesting. It has healing properties. It was used to heal cuts and aid in improving health. Interesting enough that the Egyptians used myrrh in the process of mummification. It heals and preserves the body. I believe that myrrh's significance is representative that I can come to Jesus cut up, bleeding, almost dead and I can be healed by him. The holy spirit is myrrh. The Holy Spirit can mend my broken spirit. The Spirit can mend my sinner's heart. The Holy Spirit can preserve me and keep me while I wait for my own demise or that Jesus comes for me. I am preserved and held true by my faith in Jesus and that my heart is being healed by the Spirits hands.

On top of these gifts, God specifically spoke about the  'other' gifts he as given us. I think he is speaking about Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, and Self control. Those are the gifts of the spirit. Those are how the spirit mends me and heals me. Those gifts will be seen as an outward appearance of the work done within.

But there are other gifts. They talk about the 'Talents,' gold or something of monetary value presented to us. We as the story goes can either invest them with a ten fold return, be reserved with a five fold return, or bury them in the sand so that we keep these Talents to ourselves. It was something that I have noticed that God intends that our talents/gifts are to be shared and invested in others. We have to give these talents away so that they in turn can return in ten times of promise. However doubt causes us problems. With doubt, we can never really have a full return on our investment. Doubt shouldn't have a place. Finally, we can bury our heads and not share our talents/faith/gifts with others. We can simply be a pew sitter and await Jesus's return. No investment, No return. Sure you have the promise of salvation, but little else.

These are some tough things to think about. It is interesting to see how God wants me to get a full portion of his gifts and to live a life dedicated to him.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 1 : Selfishness ~ 30 Days Closer to God

Day 1: Selfishness

I awoke from an already forgotten dream to start my journey of learning how to live closer to God. My desire is that after thirty days I will consider myself a true man of God. 

This morning was no different from any other. I didn't wake up with some angelic light. I didn't hear bells chiming or the angels singing. You know, to begin my first day I should at least have heard Gregorian Chants. No luck there.

My eyes opened to a dog licking her rear end on my bed followed by the screams of children fighting over something unknown or unimportant. Ah yes, Father of four check. It was at that moment I prayed. It was something simple and along the lines of 'Dear God, I have started this journey you have called me to, what is it that you want me to work on. What is it that I need to learn about myself so that I can make a step toward my goal of being a true 'Man of God.'

Interesting enough, he answered.

To those skeptics who are scratching their heads, let me explain how this works. 

1. I pray to my Lord and Savior in expectation of an answer. I speak with him as he was my best friend and sitting there next to me. I don't spend a lot of energy with the thee's and thou's as it doesn't feel real to me.
2. I listen. Yep that is it. I shut up and wait for an answer. What is interesting is that the answer pops in your head as if somebody spoke it and you actually heard it. Kind of like an 'inaudible audible' that simply makes sense.

Wow, Selfishness.... Me? Really?

I mean, I know people who are a lot more 'self-absorbed' and selfish that I. Here I thought God would have said something like smoking, lust-fullness, being over-weight, or maybe that my prayer life just sucks. Obviously in beginning this journey, I was simply going to stop and listen. Follow as He lead. So, now selfishness.... let the day begin.

It didn't take more than one cup of coffee for God to start teaching me that I need to work on selfishness. This morning is Kung Fu morning. I teach both a kids class and an adult class.  My morning is pretty busy. After breakfast and a quick cup of coffee, I dashed off to the bedroom to get in my uniform and clean up for class. Jen needed to run to CVS for a few items and would be back before class would start.

So the time was fifteen minutes till class starts and I hear that sound that I really didn't want to hear. 

"I am poopie."

Normally that sound is only to represent that Tayla our youngest at the age of two needs to go and use the potty. It is only when she is really expressive in saying "PEEEOOOOOPIE" that I know that I have a literal mess on my hands. My oldest daughter got Tayla to her potty and helped her use it only to find that she was literally covered all over and down her legs with the foul smelling poo.

"Why did Jen have to leave NOW to go to CVS. Doesn't she know that I have to get ready for class and students are coming?"

Yep. I said it. 

And I am Selfish.......

Here I am a master of Kung Fu, and a man of importance. Why do I have to belittle myself with such things. God was showing me just how much of a SELFISH punk I can be. My pour daughter is covered in filth and needs my help and I am mad because I have to deal with it.

Thank God for poo.

I had to rush to get her cleaned up, and because she was covered with the foul stuff, I had to take her and dump her in the bath. I cleaned her up and got her dressed. All within minutes of my students arriving for class.

I am sure skeptics would say that God didn't make my daughter poo to teach me a lesson. However I believe that God used the situation to teach me something about myself. My daughter is my own. She is my responsibility. It is not just that my wife does the raising of our children. It is my responsibility to. I need to remember that I am a Dad. A Dad takes care of his children.

God my Father in Heaven is a Dad too. He is our Heavenly Father because once we take on Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we get adopted to the family. No matter what POO we get covered with, He is there to clean us up. He is there to love us. I am a child in my Father's arms. Either covered with filth or bright and shiny like a precious gem, God loves us all the same.

More importantly, if God loves me. If he is willing to adopt me no matter my past or what I have done, he is willing to love me and accept me whatever the situation. I don't have to be perfect and clean. I can come to him covered in Poo into his welcoming arms.

God, you are too much!

God went ahead and showed me how I am selfish in other situations of this day. From wanting to watch something on TV that wasn't appropriate for my children to see, to helping a friend hand cabinets. 

My childhood friend recently moved back. He has a wonderful wife and kid and he has a hurt back. I have watched him struggle as he has to sit back while he his wife does most of the renovation work on their home. Because of his injury he has been without work to boot. To a man who has been without work, who had to depend on his wife to help make ends meet, I totally understand the struggles he may be going through. This week, he called and asked if I can help him today to hang cabinets.

I agreed on the phone earlier this week. However this day, my back has been bothering me from traveling so much. I don't know what causes it but I get a pain in my back and it flares up to a point that sometimes I can barely walk or bend. Today was one of those days.

I had an easy excuse. I could blame my own back to cause me from helping him. However today, I was about to call and try to bail on my friend when God knocked on my conscious. He has this problem all the time. His wife cannot do it all by herself. Sure I can stay home and be well within my right, or I can go and help in a way that uniquely can bless my friend.

I was able to man up and go ahead and help my friend hang cabinets. The interesting thing God showed me was that I have a lot to learn. Yep, my friends wife who has been remodeling their home has laid down their laminate wood flooring, painted and hung a chair rail, followed by doing a pretty great job of crown molding her kitchen despite the unevenness of the walls. She did all that BY HERSELF.

She showed me how she hung the crown molding and how to make the proper cuts. Here I was trying to bless a friend and in turn, I get blessed by learning something new. Well, ultimately I was able to help them hang five cabinets before I had to hurry home to get ready for a dinner with friends.

Well, dinner was pretty non eventful and full of good conversations and family time. We had a great meal of fondue. While it wasn't on my diet, I enjoyed myself immensely. It is just great to spend time with friends and they are willing to have a family as large as my own into their home. My friend who had us over for dinner along with many of their other friends did so because they love to entertain. 

It is just another way I learned about how selfish I am. Sure, I like to hang out with people. However I normally don't like to have a lot of people over to my house. What is interesting to see is that we benefited and helped somebody else by being neighborly and visiting a friend in their home. They said that the reason they bought such a big home was for the purpose of entertaining guests. Opening their home to us and others is an unselfish act that blesses both the guests and the hosts. 

I need to learn to be more open. Thank You God for showing me how selfish I am and reveal to me ways to overcome them. I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring.



Friday, February 18, 2011

30 Days Closer to God

I am not Alone
I am a Man of God
Peace and Love He Sacrificed
So This Day I Am His

I am a Sinner
I have Lied, Stolen, Fornicated
So much so I am ashamed
I deserve death and shame

But He came for me
Wake up Son and believe
You are Sick, I Heal
For while yet you sin, I have forgiven
-Jeff Barnes



I am a sinner. 

I am not perfect. 

My life as a Christian is weak at best. I smoke, I swear, I have way to many lustful thoughts and I am so selfish that at times it has hurt my family. 
 
So let's be real. I need a closer, deeper, more meaningful life. I want a life not measured by you, our society, or even the Church. I want a life lived to it's fullest. At the end of this life I want to hear...'Well Done.'

So I am dedicating the next thirty days to find my purpose. I am going to model my life and put to question my daily activities under light of the Grace Jesus has given me. I am going to pray and be real with my God. I am going to hold my thoughts, and my actions accountable to him. This is pretty tough stuff but who said being a Christian is easy?

So each day I am going to blog here my actions, transgressions and what I believe God is revealing to me through prayer. I am going to tell you my faults as I fumble my way to the narrow path that will ultimately open the doors and answer the question I have been seeking.... How to be a man of God?

So, how did I get started on this crazy, wacky, spiritual journey?

So I had this dream the other day. I dreamed that I was totally free. Ah come on, you know that dream. It is the dream where nothing is bothering you. You are not feeling strange. You are not in some zombie horde nightmare killing dream and you don't have monsters lingering under your bed. It was that kind of dream where you just feel at peace. You feel that you have made some strange breakthrough.  Well, I awoke from this dream and heard that small voice saying to me...'Jeff, take thirty days to know Me?'

You here of stories about dreams where people find themselves in places of beauty and serenity. Simply basking in the wonders of what they see. Then somehow that environmental dream transforms them inside. Feeling as if they are connected to something Greater. It is the same feeling I get when I have to make a long drive to a client site and I come over a hill to see something absolutely breathtaking. 
Light beams as if shot from heaving illuminating the landscape amidst dark clouds. It is as if God is telling me 'Hey Jeff, I am still here.' I feel sometimes God is bragging in only the way he can, showing His creation the beauty only He can provide. Nothing on earth can come close. So with this dream, God revealed to me that I do have a greater purpose. I have a greater person I can be. I am sure my brother who is reading this is wondering if I am going to be some Bible Banging, crazed lunatic preaching 'Turn or Burn.' 

This journey isn't about spreading the Word. It is about me and my imperfections. How in His light he can make me perfect. With his refinement, he can remove the dross. In his hands, I go willingly. Well, more like kicking and screaming. I am being real here!

But I want to know my God and have the blessed assurance of Salvation!

God is real. He is imaginable, He is approachable, He is only what we can aspire to reach. Let me explain. Jesus the Son of God was the man I would most like to be. Not the western image of the frail man, with golden hair with beams of light pouring down on me whenever I pray. Jesus was the real deal. he didn't play Christian. He didn't fake it. He loved SINNERS.  He encouraged those to believe and call them blessed.  However Jesus didn't tolerate fakers. He couldn't stand those who used God to bring them position or importance. Jesus is the man God wants us all to be.

Through the image of Christ, we learned who the Father is. There is a great book written by Gayle Erwin that I encourage you all to read. It is called the Jesus style. It is simple yet absolutely brilliant. I have provided a link to the left here so that you can go and buy it. It really is that awesome.

Gayle Erwin says it best in this book and I cannot begin to summarize it. This work is just so good that all I can say is that this is something you should read once a year. I remember the first time reading it, I cried at parts as I realized how truly compassionate and loving God is.
But now is a time for a deeper walk of faith. A challenge for me to reach higher and understand God more intimately. To question myself and hold my actions and thoughts under a microscope.

This approach will allow me to see what God wants to keep in my life and what he needs me to finally get rid of. It is my hope that this process will bring me to a closer, more meaningful relationship with God.

On the other end I want to be a better man, a better husband and father. I want to be able to live a Christian life unashamed. I want a life of purpose and excitement. I want a life of calling. I want a life that when you see me you see Christ's work in me. I want my life to show you the Gospel and not just words.

In closing, my prayer for the beginning of this journey...

God give me the strength for this journey. I don't know why I have started this other than I feel you hand on this. You have brought my life and my need to be closer to you to greater attention. You have awakened me in the middle of the night so that somehow I would remember your words. In that night, and this night, I have decided to answer the call. Jesus forgive me of my weakness and doubt. Teach, mold me and engrave upon my heart what it takes to be a man of God so that I don't ever stray again. Lord I am a sinner as I begin this process and I will be a sinner throughout. Lord I pray for your Grace and forgiveness for I am simply a man, a sinner wanting to be closer to you.