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We Are Made For More

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 7.01.52 PMWelcome back to Dirt, Trucks and Faith…Seeing Jesus through the eyes of young men.

My next guest writer is Steve Wallace.

Sometimes I think about how it’s hard for us to let God have control.  We fail to see that when he’s in control all things work together for our good.  We seem to always get stuck on the little details that discourage us from what’s really important. Doubt is created and when we question ourselves on things that are so small, they pull us away from the center of Gods influence.  I put off getting baptized until this year. All together it was a series of events that led to my hold out. Josh my brother was baptized at a young age and I was ready to follow in his foot steps but the pastor that I wanted to baptize me fell ill with cancer and didn’t make it.  More opportunities came. My younger brother Noah was baptized and I would see my friends in school getting baptized. I saw that some, not all, were only doing so merely to please their parents. So time went on…1002450_10151456945756567_1684370869_n

Many things in life can lead you different ways. I wanted to have an “ah ha” moment. I wanted God to show me the way through a miraculous adventure where my faith would be solidified and I would come to my wit’s end so that the truth would be made crystal clear.

This is my story…..

Not all stories are the same. I have had some crazy adventures, near death experiences, I partied with rock stars, journeyed far and wide but the moment that I was chasing never came.

My faith would go in and out, I fell back and forth between chasing the life of pleasure and avoidance of all the pain. Luckily, I never strayed too far but I also never truly committed

I had a ski injury a few years back, I would like to say I was doing a big trick or dropping a cliff but that wasn’t the case. I was on the most dangerous place on the ski mountain, a cat track…Some how I thought it was a good idea to plant my ski pole in the snow and that lead to me I impaling myself on it. I didn’t do it intentionally; I just didn’t think things through. I went to a few doctors and finally I made it to a 4Physical Therapist in Walla Walla who helped get me back to full health. His name was Manford and he was a strong man.

To this day he had one of the strongest handshakes I can remember. Manford was fighting cancer during my rehabilitation and we had countless talks of life and God. After I left Walla Walla I heard that his cancer had come back harder than ever and he was on his deathbed.  I went to see him but when I got to this house there was a sign that said no visitors. I called his phone and his wife picked up, I asked if I could see Manford and she told me, “no”. I started to lose hope and then I heard a week voice with a strong purpose say, “Let him in!” Manford’s wife sighed and said, “You can come in for a few minutes”.  When I was inside I saw my friend’s body had withered but the strength had not left his hands. The fight was still in his eyes. We talked for a few moments but it was hard for him to speak. I will never forget the last thing he said to me. He said,

“Whatever you do. Make God numero uno. Number one! And everything will be fine”.

I thought about that a lot and I could feel a change coming. The change came when I was on a trip to Arizona to surprise my grandfather for his 79th birthday.  We had a few good talks about life and what the important things are. My Grandfather shared what thinks are the most important thing:

  1. A vertical relationship with god.
  2. Find a good wife
  3. Find something where you’ll never work a day in your life.

One of the days we were talking, baptism came up. He asked me a simple question that made all the 3sense in the world. He said, “Are you planning on getting baptized?” I said, “yeah I’m planning on it, just some things have come up and stuff”. He then replied, “Do you think I’d still be married to your grandma if I put her off the way you put Jesus off?”

To me it was as clear as a bell. My priority was way out of line.

I hadn’t been baptized and I really didn’t have a good reason why not. Sometimes you can know something to be true but never commit to it and it can pass you by.  For example, you can plan an entire vacation to Hawaii, know exactly what you’re going to do with a full and detailed itinerary but if you never buy the tickets to go you will never get there.

Same with God, he’s offered you a gift. A gift is something that isn’t deserved. It’s not a something you can buy it can only be received.  It’s yours if you want it.

I don’t think I ever thought I would go the other way and not believe in God. I’ve always believed very strongly and probably prayed more than a lot of people because I try some crazy stuff from time to time. But I never made it a priority and that was the biggest factor. Once I made it a priority things started to happen. I started having meetings with my pastor 2-3 times a week and soon I was being baptized.

41359_425075766566_5109188_nI have learned It’s easy for us think about all the problems in front of us. We should rest assured that God has our backs. Put your best foot forward and know that you are special. I like to spend time thinking about what Jesus went through to give us chance at salvation. That helps me see the bigger picture and appreciate what’s the most important choice we can ever make. Giving it all to God and accepting the gift he wants to give us.

WE WERE MADE FOR MORE!

-Steve Wallace.

Be sure to check out Steve’s site at Huroic Clothing Co.

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Obedience is a Two-Way Street

Originally Posted on the Whatever Girls

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

My children are now 21 and 23. We don’t have a whole lot of say about what they do but they still 1010340_10201155028385287_490074285_noften come to us for advice. When they were growing up and chose not to obey us, there were consequences for their disobedience. For the most part, they followed what we told them to do. However, there were times when they thought we were so mean because we would not let them do something. My daughter was so mad at me when she was about five years old that she put her hands on her hips and informed me that I could not play with her baby doll. Though the threat she made was scary, I held firm and followed through, not budging on what I had instructed.

My son told me to “shut up” when he was about three years old, and then threw a fit in his room when I moved him there for choosing to disobey me. Again I held firm, and he spent time in his room calming down. When he came out, he put his little arms around my neck and told me he was sorry. I hugged and kissed him and told him I loved him too.

I need to be honest. During this time, my husband and I were not always walking with God. When my son was in kindergarten, I began to feel that I needed God with me if I was going to do a decent job as a parent. After a very hard day with my son, I told him we would not go to the lake for my birthday. I had to follow through no matter how much it hurt me to stay home and not celebrate with my family. As the weekend slipped away and my family had cake without me, my heart felt the nudge of God. I knew I needed to go to church. During the church service the pastor said, “If you need to pray, the altar is open, so come forward and present your prayers to the Lord.” In a moment, I was there on my knees with water works flowing from my eyes.

As I asked God to show me how to be a better parent, I heard the sweet sound of my little boy’s voice. When I opened my eyes, there kneeling next to me was my son. His little hands were folded and he was asking God to show him how to be a better boy to his mom and help him mind. It was one of the most special moments of my life. There we knelt side by side, asking God to help us. I needed my son to mind me and he knew he needed to listen to both his parents. It was God that would help us do that.

Maybe I am going out on a limb here, but I would like to believe that all parents expect their children to obey them. I have never heard anyone say, “I am okay with my kids not doing what I tell them to do.” Today I want to step back a little and look at Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents” from the perspective of a child. If we, as parents, expect our children to obey us then what kind of message are we sending them when we choose to obey or not obey the commands of our Heavenly Father?

If it is pleasing to a parent when their child obeys them then how much more pleasing is it to God when we choose to obey Him? God gives us instructions, guidelines, rules, or whatever words you would like to call His commands, because He loves us. God is not a mean and domineering father. Just like we put rules in place to protect our children, God does the same for us. Our children learn by watching us. Are you setting a good example for your child in how you obey your Heavenly Father? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Do you pick and choose the commands you want to follow and ignore the ones you don’t like? “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) As a parent, would you be happy if your children picked only some of what you instructed them to do and then ignored the rest?

If you asked your children, “Do you see me as obedient to my Heavenly Father, God?” Would they answer “Yes” or tell you that you need to go to your room for a time-out and get it straight with Him?

That day when I knelt beside my son I began to see that not only do my children need to obey their father but I, too, need to obey my Heavenly Father. As parents, we need to lead by example.

 

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From Rags to Riches

Annie is a Broadway musical based on the popular Harold Gray comic strip, “Little Orphan Annie”. It is the story of a little orphan girl who is desperately looking for her parents. After running away to find them, she is brought back to the orphanage. Luckily for Annie, she finds herself in the right place at the right time and ends up in the home of billionaire, “Daddy” Warbucks, for Christmas. As the story unfolds, you see a bond forming between them. The little girl who sings, “It’s a hard knock life” captures the heart of “Daddy” Warbucks and he opens his home and his heart to her. The story of Annie is a rags-to-riches story but there isScreen Shot 2014-12-07 at 11.23.42 AM another rags-to-riches story that I want to consider today. It is not fiction; this is a real life rags-to-riches story.

It is a story that many of us can understand. Often we see ourselves only worthy of rags when God wants to pour His riches upon us. When I say riches, I don’t mean monetarily. I mean the riches of His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. God through His forgiveness wants to remove the rags of our past and clothe us in something new. When we repent of our sins and believe in our heart that Christ died for our sins, we are made new. Our rags are gone.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17(NIV) 

Seems simple, right? Confess, believe, throw out our rags, and move on to a life of riches in Christ. For many that is exactly what happens but some of us find ourselves putting our rags back on again, doubting that we are really forgiven. We believe there is no way God can actually forgive us. Some of us have heard countless times we are “useless” and “unworthy” and we think that’s what God sees when He looks at us.

God doesn’t dangle forgiveness in front of us like dangling a carrot in front of a horse. It is not something He puts just out of our reach and only offers to a few. It is freely given to all of us. When we don’t believe that we are truly forgiven, we continue to wear the rags of our past. It is like saying, “God, I don’t believe You are big enough.”

FullSizeRenderIn Christ, you can move from rags to riches, if you simply accept the forgiveness that He freely offers.

Isaiah 61:10 tells us, I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (NASB)

Read that again. He has clothed you in garments of salvation. He wrapped you in a robe of righteousness. You are compared to a bridegroom and a bride. What bridegroom is not looking his best on his wedding day and what bride is not glowing and radiant?

I heard an amazing woman of God, Jan Stahl, speak at our women’s retreat. She said, “Stop wearing the rags of this world when you are clothed in righteousness.” I love that. Jan was saying that we have been forgiven, redeemed, and made righteous in the eyes of God. We are new and yet we continue to pick up the hurt, sin, and shame of our old life and put it back on.

If you had your choice between crisp, clean, white socks and smelly, dirty socks that have walked through all manner of dirt, mud, and filth, you would choose the clean ones, right?  It is an easy choice when it’s about socks. But for some reason when it comes to receiving all that God has for us, we find ourselves reaching for the past, no matter how dirty it is.

Is it because our past is familiar to us and the world tells us it is what we deserve? God sees beyond our mistakes. He wants to pour out His riches upon us. He wants to clothe you in righteousness. God has given you a new wardrobe, so what are you waiting for? Throw out the rags and clothe yourself in the riches of His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Father, I pray that whoever reads this will understand that they are deeply loved by You and that Your forgiveness knows no bounds. I pray they will leave their rags behind forever and stop trying to put them back on because You want so much more for them. Lord, I pray that they will receive the new wardrobe of Your love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. May they believe with their whole heart that Your son, Jesus, is the only way to move from rags to riches. Amen.

Originally Posted on Living Better 50 Magazine. LB50ContributorSQ

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Check your burdens at the cross

Tonight was her Christmas party – an elegant ballroom party, it was a dream come true. The last two months at this job made her feel like her past was finally behind her. The dress and shoes she had borrowed fit her perfectly. However, as she slipped on her tattered winter coat, feelings of sadness and shame came over her.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 11.31.31 AMUpon arriving at the party, she noticed a coat check. What would they think when they saw her dirty coat? She turned away and rolled her coat over her arm. Inside out, no one would see the stains from her past life. The coat told the story of many wild nights partying and waking up in drug houses and hotel rooms that were rented by the hour. Past memories followed her to the food table.

Walking around the room, she carried the coat and balanced her plate of delicious looking hors d’oeuvres. Every few minutes she would try to shift her coat to the other arm without spilling her food.  It was a burden to carry her coat but it was nothing compared to the burden she carried in her heart. The mistakes of her past were so heavy but she just couldn’t let them go.

The guy from accounting was on his way over to her and she had nowhere to run and hide. He was probably going to ask her to church again. Like any church would want her, she thought. Besides, he was an accountant and he would have a heyday tallying up all her mistakes. He reached out and said, “Let me check that coat for you, it looks like a burden.”

As he took the coat from her, he noticed the stains. Here comes judgment, she thought. But instead he looked at her with the most amazing kindness and said, “This coat looks like it has known its share of heartache. It reminds me of my life before Christ. I dragged my shame around with me wherever I went. It kept me from enjoying life. One day I found myself wanting to end it all, but something pulled at my heart. Before I realized what I was doing, I walked into a church. I guess I wanted to see if God was real. I opened a Bible and I will never forget what I read. ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ It was at that moment I realized I could leave my burdens with Christ. Finally, I had found rest and peace.”

There was no judgment in his eyes. Instead, there was a joy that seemed so different from anything she had ever seen. He walked away with her coat and she stood there for a moment thinking about how good it felt to no longer be carrying it. With tear-filled eyes, she wondered if there was any truth in what he said. Could she find rest and peace too? Right there, in the middle the party, she said, “God, if you are real, can you give me rest? I am tired and I hurt so badly carrying all my mistakes. I want to live my life differently. Can you take my burdens and give me rest?” In that moment, she found peace that she had never felt before.

Today Christ wants to give you rest. If you are carrying burdens that are weighing you down, Christ is waiting to take them from you. He wants you to check your burdens at the cross and enjoy a life free of shame. You simply need to ask Him. He is not concerned about how you word it – it doesn’t have to be fancy. He is looking at your heart. You can hand Him whatever it is you are carrying around with you and He will take it no matter how ugly it may be.

I recently talked with a man who had just given his life to Christ and in our conversation I told him, “Whatever you gave to Christ, you have been forgiven for all of it. Do not go back and pick it up. It was checked at the cross and it no longer belongs to you.” The same is true for you when you check your burdens at the cross. They are no longer your burdens to carry. Please don’t wait another minute. A simple prayer is all it takes.

 

Originally posted at Living Better 50 magazineLB50ContributorSQ

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