A Clogged Brain

I must admit that my mind has been clogged for some time. I have countless thoughts that distract me from what really matters. Then there is the struggle of thoughts that really matter keeping me from what I want to do. We often find that we must sacrifice what we want to do in order to do what we need to do.

Paul speaks a little bit about this wrestling match of flesh and spirit in Romans 7. Anyone who diligently tries to walk with Christ fights this. Paul frequently addresses the issue of proper focus in his epistles. In Colossians 3, he tells us to set our minds on things above. In Romans 12, he tells us that our minds must be renewed. I could list many more references.

I love what the songwriter wrote many years ago:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

It’s time for Jesus to clear our thinking!

Divorce and the “Part-Time Parent”

This is going to be one of those honest posts. Many of you know my story. I am divorced with 3 kids from my first marriage. They live 4 hours away, and I see them every other weekend along with holidays and most of the Summer.

This is a difficult time in the journey. They have lived apart from me for a little over 5 years now. Distance and lack of funds have prevented me from doing a lot of things I was once able to do. They are now 11, 13, and 15. Life is busy for them. FaceTime used to be a priority for them. I’m blessed to get a text or call once a week now. I will often call or text with no reply. It’s a difficult place to be for a dad who was very hands-on when the family unit was intact. I go insane now because their life is busy and my life is busy. I am remarried with 4 other children in the house, 2 of which my current wife and I had together. They are 2 years old and 10 months old. Those of you who are parents know the demands that accompany that age.

Several of those who read have been where I am. Maybe you are the dad who gets his kids every other weekend. Maybe you know how much it hurts to not have the prominent place you wish you had. You are not alone. Some of you do not have custody of the children for personal mistakes while others lost the battle.

As someone who ministers, I know the pain of divorce and separation from my children. I know what others who walk a similar path have been through. I know the emotions that go along with this. Because of that, I don’t look with judgment but compassion. My prayer is that, despite the havoc that divorce brings, children whose father or mother is not the primary custodial parent will know that they are still deeply loved and that God would give peace and understanding to those parents who, by necessity, have to see their children less frequently.

New Beginnings

I sit here typing as I look out the glass doors and see the sun. In Upstate South Carolina, it is a refreshing sight after lots of rain. I’m not complaining about the rain, but Karen Carpenter was accurate when she sang “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”

As I have shared before, the Winter months are difficult as seasonal depression hits me. But I look today and think about Spring. In a few short days, Spring will be here. I am already seeing signs of what was dead coming back to life. Yes, the pollen will hit me. I will probably have to pop a Benadryl here and there, but I am thankful to see signs of new life.

I also think about how appropriate it is that we celebrate the resurrection of Christ during the Spring. He was dead, but He conquered death and is STILL ALIVE! Because He lives, we can have life eternal. How awesome is that?!?

I know life is busy, but slow down to see the signs of new life around you. Slow down to take in the breeze. Slow down to view the flowers in bloom. Slow down to listen to the sounds of God’s creation. You will be glad you did.

Knowing that You Have Extended Forgiveness

Tonight, I received a call from a man who called me pastor for almost a year. This man has been a blog topic before and a major source of encouragement.

In the conversation, he mentioned a man in the church who despised me. This man would post derogatory remarks about me and the church on Facebook. Whenever he called me, he never called me “pastor” or by my real name. He always called me “young man”. His negativity drove me crazy then, but I know that he is that way. It is nothing personal.

My friend told me that this man is undergoing cancer treatments. No ill feelings arose. It saddened me to hear this news. I even prayed for his healing tonight. The past is over, and this man needs a touch from God.

You know you have forgiven someone when the name comes up in conversation and you don’t need to walk out of the room or zone out. When you wish that person the best despite what has been done, you have been set free.

If you are reading this and struggling with forgiveness, I do not condemn you. I ask that God will bring healing into your life so you can be set free to love the one who wronged you. Oh the joy you will have!

Stressed

Well, it has been a few weeks since my last post. I have had a lot on my mind and few words to use to describe it. To sum it up in one word, I’m “stressed”. You’ve been there too, I know. I’m not highlighting my stress to act like a victim, but my prayer is that we can find encouragement in the midst of our stress. God is able to do that, right? Absolutely!

As I have stated in previous posts, this year began in a difficult way. It was a personal struggle, but I am seeing the light (here is where I shout, “Glory!”). Along with that, general home issues, work, and a potential ministry opportunity have brought this stress I currently experience.

I know that my readers who have raised children will totally understand the dilemmas that accompany parenting. Parents disagree over how to discipline, parents have difficulty aligning schedules and getting on the same page in some areas, and a little one who doesn’t want to sleep adds sleep deprivation to the list of stress-inducing items. Then throw in finances, and you have one heck of a time. At least for younger adults who are approaching midlife.

Learning to navigate through the difficulties of life can be so hard. We can’t do it alone. In the midst of this, I have tried to surround myself with people who understand the stress and came through it just fine. The ones who can honestly say they understand and assure me I can cross this Red Sea and it will part.

In the midst of your stress, don’t beat yourself up. It’s counterproductive. Learn the lessons. Be open to whatever God may teach you. This too shall really pass. Your stress now will later be your delight. You will more than likely look back, laugh at yourself, and wonder why you allowed yourself to go through the stress.

11 personal sins that I choose to confess and renounce

This is extremely transparent, and I believe that most of us can identify. Thank you, John Eli!

John Eli

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Had this pastor lost his mind? Were my eyes and ears playing tricks on me? Had he really changed? “This this was great news,” I thought to myself, “but how about all the people that he previously hurt by his actions?” Would he apologize to them now that his stance changed? Or would he just pretend as if something never happened? What started off as excitement, on my part, soon turned into anger and bitterness. With each rewind, of my memories reel, I replayed the moments where I witnessed the public shaming of many loved ones, as they faced some of the darkest moments in life. “They deserve an apology!,” I thought to myself. “And furthermore, it needs to be a public one,” I demanded.

I shamelessly sat festering in this mindset for several days. However, in the midst of my childish meltdown, the

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The Power of Positive Thinking

Before you tune this out, I want you to take time to read this carefully. My conservative Christian friends may be thinking that I am going off into a feel-good, euphoric, and potentially unbiblical direction. On the surface, one could easily arrive to this conclusion. I understand why.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote a book by this title. It began a revolution of thought within some Christian circles that has become downright unrealistic. Other well-known pastors and religious personalities like Robert Schuller and Joel Osteen took this same approach to ministry. I want to take a balanced, biblical approach to this.

I want to begin with this verse. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” What is this verse saying? It is a command to meditate upon things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. These are positive things. Therefore, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is telling believers to meditate on positive things in contrast to evil or negative things. What is wrong with that? Nothing!!!

Let’s take a slightly different look at this. Joshua 1:8 says,
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Here is where the balance kicks in. If you think about it for a minute, not everything in the Bible is positive from the world’s perspective. From God’s perspective, the things in the Bible that are considered negative are used to get a positive result. The stories of disobedience are for our good to show us that disobedience yields bad consequences, but obedience yields positive results.

What is the takeaway from this? When we focus on God’s truth (positive thinking), there is power in that. When we focus on things contrary to the nature of God, we go down a path of destruction. Don’t feed the flesh! Feed your spirit, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit will abound in your life.

Stuck in Regret

Are you struggling to forgive yourself for things you did in the past? If so, you should read this. You just might get set free.

Harvesting Hope

In case you haven’t noticed by now, I tend to be stuck in the past at times. It’s difficult accepting failure. Right?

Falling down doesn’t feel good. Some times it’s a soft fall that you can laugh about, I actually enjoy those. But those falls that feel like miles down a rocky mountainside? Those leave us with wounds that take months and even years to heal, sprains that need time to fix.

I’m going to open up here and share that I’ve been really regretful about a lot of turns I made and paths I took. Although I tell my friends to let go and let God, I have not been able to let go of my past. Preaching it is easier than living it.

Sometimes I dwell on my own error. And I punish myself for it. I’m sure you can relate. Replaying those moments where you did wrong…

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God Blows My Mind

This year has been interesting, to say the least. I ended last year and entered this year with a slump into depression. That is not the way I would have chosen, but life happens.

It has been 5 years since life came crashing down. I must admit that, as positive as I have tried to be, I was not seeing as much light as I wanted to see at this stage of life. Then, God started something that I envisioned but greater.

I am glad to report that my zeal for ministry is coming back in a greater way than before. I am no longer trying to avoid the things that remind me of life before it crashed. I have picked up the things I once enjoyed and have found myself enjoying them afresh. It’s a wonderful feeling.

I cannot go into great detail about what is happening right now, but God is up to something great. If this materializes, it would kick me out of my comfort zone. In fact, I see it to be so big that I know only God could equip me. This assignment would take me to a greater level of dependence upon God. Don’t we all need that?

Some of you who are reading this are paralyzed by fear. You’re afraid of getting hurt again. You’re afraid of failure. You’re afraid of things that will probably never happen. You need to trust the God of the process. He is working all things together for your good…even the bad stuff.

As I am in this season of transition, I lay down my attempts to fill a void. I have attempted to conjure up all kinds of ideas without consulting the Lord. (I feel the stones coming because I know the rest of you don’t do that.)

I am reminded that seasons often last longer than we would like. They are often painful, but the end result can be beautiful.

Enough of these sketchy thoughts. I pray God uses them somehow in your life.

Screams from a Pastor

This blog is called “Honest Thoughts from a Pastor”, so I will give you some more honesty. People more frequently see the public part of a pastor’s work and assume that he has it made, but life behind the scenes can be crazy. Sometimes, I want to scream. So do you, so don’t lie! Last night was one of those nights.

As a father of a blended family, we have 4 kids who are in the house full-time. Each one is precious, but each one is also human. He or she tests our limits as parents and does things that elicit screams. Last night, it was as if even the babies conspired to all be a bit testy.

We all want to scream when kids are testing us, we are experiencing those marital disagreements, along with the overall challenges that life brings. How quickly do we take those screams to God? He invites us to cast ALL our cares upon Him. That includes the screams.

The next time you face the frustrations of daily life, just talk to God. You will be amazed at how your perspective will change.