Lamp post inspiration

It’s in the moments when we are least looking for it that inspiration most often appears. So at around 3:30 this morning, as I climbed out of a manhole feeling exhausted and just rough from wrestling with cables for four hours, I look up and see this. And just like that I was smiling again. #jesus #oneway #onlyinmanhattan #lamppostinspiration #nyc

People forget

Before I begin I just want to say that for a couple of reasons I was reluctant to write this. One reason is that I feel when ever someone does something for someone else it shouldn’t be glorified if it’s the right thing to do, but it’s what happened at the end is why I needed to say it.

All in all I’m a pretty simple man. I don’t wear flashy clothes (my wardrobe is pretty much cargo shorts and t-shirts year round), and I’ll sooner try and fix something that breaks before replacing it with something new. But every now and again I want, what I refer to as, a bourgeois coffee. You know what I’m talking about. Just about anything on the Starbucks menu, regardless if it’s cold or hot it’s covered with foam, whip cream, and caramel! Today was one of those days. So I put a little money to the side ($15) and figured I’d grab something in Penn Station this morning while waiting for my train. Weaving through the crowds at this seemingly perpetually filled station, I finally arrived at the Starbucks that I usually go to (there are 3 in Penn Station) for my indulgence in excess. But for some reason as I got to the door I stopped. I suddenly didn’t want the coffee. Within a minute of me standing there a man, probably not much older than me, walks up and in an almost whisper asks if I have any change. I reach into my pocket and pull out the five dollar bill and hand it to him. Appearing a little stunned, I can only assume he was literally expecting change…or nothing at all. We spoke for a moment, he said thank you I said God bless and he was off. A few minutes go by and I’m still debating in my head about going in, I mean I can still get the bourgeois coffee just no lemon cake (as you can see I’ve done this before) when an older man walks up to me. At initial glance, the clothes and facial tattoos made me expect a confrontation. Yes I was being judgmental, but sometimes it’s safer to air on the side of caution. Then in a soft spoken, almost apologetic manner he said that if I could give him just a moment he’d be out of my way, and then asked if I “had just 4 quarters”. I said ,”I’ll tell you what buddy I don’t have any change, but I’ll give you this” as I handed him a folded ten dollar bill. His look went from disappointment to confusion. After looking up and down at his hand a few times he whispered ,”you made a mistake it’s ten dollars”. I told him,”it’s not a mistake, it all I have left.” Then simply said, “God bless”.

The next few moments are why I’m writings this down. It was both heartbreaking and heart lifting at the same time.

As he reached out his hand to say thank you, without a thought I shook his hand a gave him the “guy hug”. He looked at me and said “who are you? This was great” motioning to the money ,” but you hugged me…most people wouldn’t hug me”. I said, “we’re all just people right? Sometimes people just forget.” He stood there for a moment not sure what to say so I told him to go outside and soak up this unusually nice January day and God bless. As I walked away, my train platform was announced, heading down the stairs to my train the scripture quote “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me” (Mathew25:40) was running through my head. And the reality is it wasn’t about the money. Although I’m sure they both appreciated it, it was the conversation. It was the simple human contact and being treated like everyone else. I think that’s what we forget sometimes. Let’s face it we all start the same, and we all will face the same judgment in the end, and even though everything that happens in between may be different, we are all the same in God’s eyes. As soon we can learn to see each other through His eyes and not the ones we’ve created the world will be a better place. Now that I think about it, that was one of the best bourgeois coffee I ever had.

As much as I want people to remember, I am almost uneasy telling this because the unfortunate reality is there are a lot of bad people who try to prey on the goodwill of others. My size (5’10 250lbs) allows me the ability to put myself out there with less fear of something bad occurring. With that I still tend to air on the side of caution, just learning to do that without being judgmental. Alas we’re all just works in progress. Thanks for stopping by. Remember to live the Faith. God bless.

More than Kris Kringle

As we are entering the second week of December, and are now almost 10 days into Advent, I feel the need to bring up a point that too many people seem to miss this time of year. Advent is just as much of a time to prepare ourselves for the returning of Christ as Lent. Between the over commercialization of the season, and the anticipation and act of exchanging gifts it’s real easy to “forget” or dismiss the importance of the holiday on a spiritual level. Forget the commercialization aspect for a moment and just see it from perspective of a birthday. How can you blame anyone from getting caught up in the festive idea of the birth of Jesus. Now add in the gifts and “birthday party” mentality, sprinkle in some eggnog and a few Christmas songs, top it off with a tree and Kris Kringle and as happy of a time as it seems the day has become paper thin. Now before you start to respond with “Scrooge” or “bah humbug” let me just say that, like Easter, Christmas Day is a joyful celebration. And for the record I love eggnog! But THIS time…Advent…is for remembering the trials that Mary and Joseph went through in months, days, and literally minutes before the birth of Christ, as well as our time to prepare ourselves for when Christ will return. Whether it’s the birth, the rising, or the second coming of Jesus it is an absolutely joyous moment for us and should be celebrated accordingly. But like those who came before us, we must be ready…we must be worthy…of this gift. And we must be willing to teach others about this. So as we all (myself included) find ourselves over indulging in eggnog and holiday treats, while humming the same three Christmas songs we’ve heard a dozen times today, as we slip further into financial debt please take some time every day to center yourself with prayer, and put into perspective the TRUE debt we owe and the joy we will not just feel but live when He returns.
God bless. Merry Christmas. #advent #christmas #christ #jesus #reasonfortheseason

Seeds and ships

Faith like a mustard seed (Mathew 17:20). I’ve read that verse so many times always just thinking that I understood it. But it wasn’t until recently that I actually did. As I know I’ve said in the past, I love music and it’s from a personal struggle mixed in with a For King and Country song that my understanding of this verse and how it applies  to me happened.  
                    
The struggle. 
      For as long as I can remember I’ve made it a point to live the Faith.  I’m not perfect, and I stumble as much as I stand, but my intention..my focus..was to always be trying to be the man that Christ wants.  I even end my letters reminding others to “live the Faith”. But for the past few months, I don’t know how to explain it except to say I was feeling like I was walking in molasses…spiritually. Although I was, and  still, praying ever day and reading the scripture daily, it wasn’t enough. Something was stopping or delaying me at times in physically acting out or living the Faith. I  couldn’t seem to stop allowing life, and all it’s chaos, to question my commitment to my own faith. And maybe it was all a battle that only was being fought in my head because anyone who knows me, associates me with my faith (which is something that I’ve always taken pride in). But my lack of action caused me to question the strength of my faith. Just to be clear, it wasn’t everyday that I was feeling this but even if it was  only for a moment it felt like the devil trying to get a foothold in me. 
The song

      A little over a year ago For King and Country released a new album. The album name and one of the songs is Burn the Ships. I’ve listened to the song so many times but it wasn’t until a few days ago that it truly hit me. Before I continue the quick back story on the song is that when the explorer Cortes arrived in Vera Cruz, Mexico he had his men “burn the ships”.  Basically making it an all or nothing situation. The point of the song is that we have to be the same way when it comes to Christ. 
 
     So about a week or so ago I was walking to Penn Station listening to Pandora when the song came on. And it was like one of the situations where you can listen to something a hundred times and it’s just words, but then one day you hear it. And just like that things start to seem clear. Like I said in the beginning of this letter, my faith is like a mustard seed.  Even when I’m at my weakest, it’s still unwavering, and as “small” as I may have thought it was at times, in my heart I know it’s strength is endless. At that moment I decided to “burn my ships” and not let my fears or self doubt dictate my belief. The feeling of peace that came over me when I decided to trust the depth of my faith was awesome. By putting myself “all in” I realized that my belief, no matter what size my brain made it seem, is so strong..so true that all things are possible and I can be  the man that Christ wants and I need to be. You see as long as you truly believe with all your heart, it doesn’t matter if your belief is the smallest of seeds or largest of plants it’s all the same and moving a mountain is child’s play. 

 Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”   -Mathew 17:20
Thanks for listening.  I pray we all remember to live the Faith.  God bless. 

Just a step away

     A few days ago I was sitting on the train when a young woman started arguing on her phone. Being forced into hearing one side of the conversation the only thing I could tell for sure was that whomever was on the other end was asking for forgiveness, and it was most likely a sibling from the “mom” references made.  But based on her responses like “why should I?” and “you’ve said sorry before” it was definitely a struggle for her to be merciful. As the train entered the station she said something that struck me, “I want to but, how many times do we have to go through this?” As I walked past her moving towards the train door I muttered “seventy times seven”.  Fully knowing she probably was so focused on her conversation she hadn’t heard me, and even if she had the odds on her knowing the meaning was even slimmer.  But as I walked onto my next train I started to thinkI about forgiveness. Not so much about forgiving others, but asking for forgiveness.  The truth is they are both intertwined in that to be forgiven by God you have to forgive others first.  Which, lets be real, isn’t always the easiest thing to do.  But it’s still the only way. 
     If it was as simple as just saying the words “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” then the act would be meaningless. At times, unfortunately, it is just meaningless words. But to truly work the words have to come from your heart. There have been times in my life where I was faced with the having to forgive. And sometimes they didn’t ask or want my forgiveness, but I gave it non the less.  It wasn’t easy, and it absolutely wasn’t right away, but after awhile I realized holding onto that anger was only hurting me.  But like I said, that day (and today) I was thinking about the person asking for forgiveness. 
     Just the act of asking for forgiveness can be a humbling task. Put yourself there for a moment. Being truly sorry for something, not sorry you got caught, not sorry of the ramifications, but truly sorry for something you did or said. To have to courage to ask for forgiveness knowing that you may not get it.  Maybe they won’t believe you, or maybe you don’t feel like you deserve it….that’s a real tough point there…it’s real easy to not feel like you deserve forgiveness. Here’s where lessons learned from Jesus show exactly how awesome our faith is. Throughout the New Testament Jesus shows us how love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. And let’s face it the only way giving or receiving mercy can genuinely happen is if it’s driven by love. Whether it’s the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) or the ultimate example as Jesus was hanging on the cross asking His Father to forgive (Luke 23:34), we see that it’s never too late, and the sin is never to great to ask for forgiveness if you truly want to be forgiven. So if anyone ever feels that they are too far gone, or not good enough to be forgiven, remember this from Luke 15:7….
7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

In the end remember that we are all always just one step away from forgiveness…sometimes it feels like an enormous step, but it’s just a step. Thanks for listening.  Remember to always live the faith.  God bless. 

#jesus #faithlikewater #love #faith #forgiveness
 

A whisper amongst the noise (part two)

I sometimes think there’s a bit of confusion about the HolyTrinity. I mean there’s no confusion about Jesus, there’s absolutely no confusion about God, but then there’s the Holy Spirit. Like God and Jesus, the Holy Spirit is, for lack of a better a person or entity. Maybe it’s the phrase “Spirit “or “ghost “that makes people view it as this non-substantial thing. Which in reality could not be further from the truth. The Holy Spirit has been here since creation…
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.<span class=”footnote” data-fn=”#fen-NLT-1a” data-link=”[a]” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”>[<span class=”footnote” data-fn=”#fen-NLT-1a” data-link=”[a]” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”>a<span class=”footnote” data-fn=”#fen-NLT-1a” data-link=”[a]” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”>] The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. -Genesis 1:1-2
It’s in the Gospel of John that we learn that not only was Jesus there as well…

“In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.”          -John 1:1-2

…but we also learn who the Holy Spirit is and how together they tie into God’s plan.  What’s important here, I feel, is in these instances we are being taught that the Holy Trinity or Godhead truly exists as three separate and yet one at the same time. I’ll pause for a moment because as I sit here writing this, having been reading and thinking about this for quite awhile, it’s still such an prodigious idea to wrap my brain around…..
     ….And we’re back! So before I get into who the Holy Spirit is(yes I said who), I need to clarify what Christ did/does for us first. To fully understand one you need to know the other. For the sake of this letter I’m only going to keep using the Gospel of John (hopefully you’ll take the time to read or reread it when I’m done), my own personal thoughts, and secular music.  Now as much as I love Christian music, when I hear something in secular music it blows me away. I don’t know if it’s the writer’s intention, divine intervention, or just my interpretation but hearing Gods message in something that, at face value, you’re not to expecting to is awesome. 
     So as I know I’ve mentioned in the past, I spend a bit of time on/in/under the water. Accordingly, so much of my faith is tied to the water.  To be able to see the grace, power, and face of God in the waves is absolutely one of my personal blessings. A while back I had written something comparing about how surfing, more specifically the few moments before and the instant the wave grabs you, to truly living our faith. The short version is that to when you surf, truly surf, it’s an all or nothing situation.  There are times when just paddling out is a battle, and people who don’t know look at you like you’re insane or mock you for putting yourself through it. Then once you’re there and you turn to catch the wave, if you don’t put everything into you’re not going to make it.  Then there’s the moment. Like a hand, you feel the wave grab your board…it’s at this moment, which lasts less than a second, you have to decide to trust…trust that when you pop up you and the wave will be one…and when it happens, whether it lasts a few moments or an eternity, there are no words to explain the way you feel.  And that feeling is what drives you to paddle back out again and again no matter how tired you are, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says, regardless of any fears.  That is how I describe my faith.  In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am<span class=”crossreference” data-link=”(H)” data-cr=”#cen-NIV-26675H” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px; caret-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0); -webkit-text-size-adjust: 100%”> the way<span class=”crossreference” data-link=”(I)” data-cr=”#cen-NIV-26675I” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px; caret-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0); -webkit-text-size-adjust: 100%”> and the truth<span class=”crossreference” data-link=”(J)” data-cr=”#cen-NIV-26675J” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px; caret-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0); -webkit-text-size-adjust: 100%”> and the life.<span class=”crossreference” data-link=”(K)” data-cr=”#cen-NIV-26675K” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px; caret-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0); -webkit-text-size-adjust: 100%”> No one comes to the Father except through me.” The way. That’s exactly what He does for us.  He provided us with the way. And regardless of how society or hierarchy (especially lately it seems) want to change the rules, there is only one WAY.
      Knowing what awaits us in heaven, coupled with the true peace I feel whenever I block out the noise of life and let myself hear His words and actually live the way He taught us (even if it’s just for moments at a time) is the reason that I strive everyday to be the man that God intended. 
     Here’s where it gets deep. In John 14:5-14 there’s a conversation between Jesus and the Apostles and they ask about when He leaves what will they do. Jesus tells them that He’s the way, but they will have to travel it. Awhile back I was listening to Chris Cornel’s “I am the highway” and I was struck by how familiar it sounded.  That’s when it hit me that if you listen to it from the perspective of Jesus saying these words to the Apostles it’s pretty awesome.  I’ll get into it completely another time, meanwhile if you have a moment, listen to it and see what you think.  But for the sake of today I’m just using the first line of the chorus. “I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway..” and just like that the Word of God, the very essence of our faith, is not only laid out for us but we’re told what to do.  Jesus was never the vehicle.  We are.  He’s the ocean, the wave, and to follow him we have to paddle out or travel that highway. He provides with the way, but we have to choose to follow it.  To follow Him.    
     No matter how we romanticize it, it’s a daunting task. Reality is when faced with the same information, the Apostles, who had spent years with Him seeing all He had done and even performing miracles themselves, were afraid and unsure what to do.  And that’s where the Holy Spirit steps in. In John, Jesus tells us that He will ask the Father to send another advocate, and that this person will not be seen by the world because they don’t believe, but instead He will live within us forever.  
Within us. 
So no matter what we come up against in life we have to remember that inside each and every one of us us this person, this being that has been here since the moment of creation.  Who’s only job is to love us, guide us, and help us, and the only requirement is to believe.  Maybe it’s just me but knowing that God has provided us (as always) with the ultimate one to punch in the form of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I find it difficult to let fear take hold of me.  
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Thank you for listening, and remember to always live the faith. God bless
#jesus #faithlikewater #holyspirit #godhead

Golden rule

19 We love each other because he loved us first  –John 4:19

     Every 9 weeks my work schedule shifts and I have to work a week of overnights and a week of 3-11’s. So with inconvenient train schedules combined with my desire to avoid the subway as the sniffles season begins, at the end of my shift I walk the 2.5 miles to Penn Station. I actually enjoy the walk, because as I zigzag through the streets I get to see people as they’re just starting their day as mine is ending. Something about the look on the faces.  Seeing them full of energy and anticipation of the coming day, it’s almost like a temporary boost for me after a long night.  But this morning, as I was walking half in a daze like I usually am after the first night, the sound of kids playing snapped me back into reality.  As I got closer to the school yard I could see a dozen or so kids playing a baseball like game, next to another large group trying to have conversations over the music they we’re playing.  Next was a group of five or six huddled around a phone laughing at some video, I actually found myself smiling thinking how nice it is to be so carefree. Then in the middle of the playground, sitting on the cold asphalt, I saw one kid.  His phone in one hand and his face in the other, it was heartbreaking. I mean there was at least 50 kids there and no one was talking to him.  I don’t know if it was the dad in me ,but it took everything not to start yelling to the other kids to include him…the reality that I’d look crazy and that kid probably would’ve been embarrassed kept me at bay.  So as I walked by I said a quick prayer and hoped that he had friends that were just running late.  

     As I continued on my trek, a feeling of helplessness came over me. And that’s when I started to think how it’s not just kids who can be that cruel, as adults we’re just as bad. Actually, we’re worse because not only do we do it, but WE KNOW BETTER.  Sometimes it’s not malicious, we just get so focused or dare I say distracted by what’s right on front of our face (yes I’m talking about cell phones) that we miss or ignore what’s going on around us.  
     So for the rest of my walk to the station I went out of my way to make eye contact and say hello to everyone…..EVERYONE.  The funny thing is just about smiled back and returned the greeting.  I know I felt better and I’d like to think they do too.  That’s when that little voice in my head repeated the phrase we all learned as kids…to treat others how we want to be treated. The Golden Rule.  And like most phrases we know it comes back to the Bible, Matthew 7:12…
12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you
     As upsetting as it was, I truly believe that a lesson was learned…or relearned today as I walked past that playground.  It’s up to us to take care of each other, to love one another the way that Christ loves us.  Being imperfect as we are it’s just easy to forget.  Well maybe it’s time for us all to remember.  

God bless