First Year Anniversary

First Year Anniversary

 

May 10th of last year, Mother’s day I was baptized.  Being baptized to me was just like getting married.  I felt the commitment, the love, the passion, but how would my life, my relationship with Jesus Christ will change?

As I got up May 10th 2009 partially to my alarm and partially to my fear of being discovered, I felt an excitement, a peace, a relationship I thought I would never have.

I knew I had to be up and out of my storage shed, where I had been staying for the last couple of months before people started entering and the manager showed up.

Like most mornings while sleeping in this shed, which I had made into a makeshift apartment, I went over to my bucket of water I renewed last night and take a relatively fresh towel and douse it and then proceed to ‘sponge bath’ myself.   I do not know why, but the face is the most important part, if my face feels clean, the rest of me feel even that much cleaner.

The choice of clothes narrowed since doing laundry is not a luxury; my last batch was hand washed in my bucket using leftover shampoo I happened to have.  From time to time, I did receive some money, either a loan from my friend or because I sold some of my belongings.  With some money I had, I bought a spray that contained bleach.  This spray, as with bleach changed the color of the clothes, thus I only used it on the inside of the clothes.  This spray was a great saver, it killed of course germs, like under the arm type stuff but also made the clothes smell fresh out of the laundry, and at least I thought and hoped.

I dressed in my best jeans, cleanest T-shirt and today even shouldered a button down shirt, for I was going to be baptized.  I Finish up by wetting my hair and brushing it straight back. Found the shoestring I extracted from my tennis shoe the night before and tied it around my right angle, over the pants so my jeans would not get caught in the spokes of my bicycle.

I also had to pack my bag carefully and make sure I did not miss anything. Returning to the storage shed during the day was not a smart maneuver.  It exposed how the storage shed was set up and indicated it has more than just objects in it.  I had to make sure I carried even a change of clothes in my bag, computer, books, power cords, food, or anything else I might need for the next 18 hours.

I looped the shoulder bag over around my back so it sat just about the middle, I mounted my faithful Mountain Bike and glided over the push password box and entered my code.  Slowly the gate would slide open and I would peddle my bike through and then make a sharp right to get to my first destination, Starbucks, without much notice.

To get out with as little notice as possible, I was usually heading to Starbucks around 6:30 AM and today, my baptism does not start until 9:00 AM, so I have a little time to myself.  Today, as most days, I start by reading the Bible, writing in my journal and responding to potential job offers.

Around 8:30 AM, I mount my bike again, which I hid around the corner by the trash bin at Starbucks, and throw my bag over my shoulder, but this time it does not sit right on my back, it hits the bike seat and causes it so swing right or left when I stand to mount the seat.  This causes two challenges; firstly, I am off balance and two it gets in the way of riding.  With effort, I try to swing it back to where it should be without causing me to swerve into something stationary or cause the swaying of the bag to throw my balance off enough to where I have to start over getting going again.

The ride to the church is uneventful.  As usual, I am the only bike on the road, an odd feeling in a town with sidewalks; young people and great weather one might think they would be filled with them.  I have my routine down.  I cross the street back towards Starbucks then ride behind the RaceTrac gas station, then dart back across the street in a free break in traffic and charge up the sidewalk.

Down to the Town Square, where the multitude of shops, restaurants and the movie theater are, then back across the street.  I will stay on this side of the street for the remaining part of the ride.  The sidewalks are partial here; I know I have to cross four thresholds of grass before I will arrive at the church driveway.

Some mornings everything goes very well across these tracks, but it depends on the path, speed and how much they water the night before to whether it is a clean crossing.  Today, even though my day to be baptized, one patch of grass has been watered and a bit sloppy lake like, so I get a spraying of water and mud all over me, but it’s not to think and appears to have the ability to dry without a mark.

The parking lot of the church is full, there are five services available, thus the parking lot is continually full until after the last service and people are always around.  I am somewhat self-conscious riding my bike to church, thus come to the exit and enter from the sidecars do not usually drive through.

I found a great spot for my bike, to hide it from being noticed, thus limited embarrassment and for protection from being possibly stolen.  In front of the church, there is about a 5′ white brick wall, it hides the AC units for this section of the church.  There is enough room between the wall and the A/C units to put my bike, so I gently slide it between the two.  I grab my bible from one of the compartments of my bag and place it gently next to the front wheel of my bike.

I head over to the sanctuary I am to be baptized.  In my pass over, I stop in the main lobby and grab a donut and a quick cup of coffee and then I run into Ed.  Ed is a member of the church, is part of a group called “Stephen’s Ministry”, and he has been there to counsel and listen to me and to help guide me for the last several months.  As I shake hands with him and embrace in a hug, he asks me, “Did you ride your bike?”   I smiled and said of course!

That was about a year ago.   Today, I went to church.  I work up to the same alarm I did a year ago, but I did not have to get up and leave because of the lurking possibility of being discovered, in fact, I ignored the alarm and continued to sleep a bit longer.  My bed is soft and my blanket and comforter soft and clean.  I have a selection of clean clothes to choose from, but wonderfully more is I get up and get into a warm shower and shave with ease.

I walk down the few stairs from my loft of a bedroom; admire the artwork of my younger children abound on the walls and the floor.  I open my front door of my warm, carpeted apartment and get into my 1995 excellent running and reasonably kept Lincoln Continental and drove to Church.

Today I still wonder how my life has been changed by my renewed relationship with Christ.  Even though a tremendous amount has changed, I still this question, I ask this question because I do not feel as though I can have a close enough relationship with Jesus Christ and never feel like I want to be content with the relationship I have.  Each day, I want to try harder to server Jesus Christ even more.

Even though, with all my honesty I could tell you I feel as close to Jesus Christ today as I did last year the day I was baptized, my life, my outlook, my faith, and love have all changed for the better.  Is my life easier, no, it has not if anything it has gotten harder? Harder because I have greater wisdom, faith, and love, I did not have before.  So why is my life harder, it is because I struggle with my own vision of my limitations and the ones God has for me.  And constantly, when I feel I am out of capacity, I continue to have more.  In addition, having more love, faith, forgiveness, argues against my personal self-logic of why I should extend myself anymore.  However, I realize, I am not extending anything, it has is God’s will and if God can do it and ask me to do it, then I can do it, but it does not always make it easy.

I guess it’s no different than a coach believing the student can do more than the student believes themselves they can do as well as the teacher knowing the why the student needs to learn the lesson.

I look forward to my next year.  I know I still have so many obstacles to overcome, I know I will feel like I did this last year, that I was making no progress, my relationship with God and Jesus Christ needs even more work, but in the end I can say I learned even more lessons and been able to extend my love, grace, faith, and forgiveness even more.

With All My Prayers and Blessings,

 

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Rhythm of Life

Rip-Roar Get High On Life

I believe life is to be lived, not worked, enjoyed, not agonized, loved, not hated.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 08, 2010

What is your Rhythm?

Rhythm of Life

How we pick our lives; the pace and what we do to me is no different than those of athletes.  Each athlete seems to find a sport, an event which fits there body, their personality.  And when they train, they train in a way which maximizes there potential.  Why is this observation of value; well to me picking what we do for our lives is just as important as an athlete picking the right sport and event?

But it seems like many, many of us don’t take this into consideration when we start our lives.  And this is reflected in the incredible increase in people stressing, needing drugs to sustain a pace, to calm themselves down, to wake themselves up.   And in all of this; it seems that there are some who are naturally able to constantly work at a high rate, yet there are many of us who are not designed to work at this incredibly high expected rate of work.

Think about it this way, if a sprinter spent his career trying to be a long distant runner, would they be as successful and would you guess it would be an incredible strain on them physically and mentally?  The same as a long distance runner trying to run the 100 meters, how would it affect them.  And if they could not be successful, would we call them failures?

My point is, I believe we each have a unique rhythm, a rhythm which brings harmony to our lives; but so many of us are trying to run our lives at someone else’s rhythm and pace, one our body, and mind cannot sustain, thus the gradual break down of our physical and mental soundness.

Have you found your rhythm?

Are you stuck in a dance you cannot get out of, does your health and mental soundness have to digress before you change?

Are we teaching or telling your children, how important it is to find a lifestyle which fits there personal rhythm?

 

Are you afraid of the Atheist?

Originally Published Monday, April 12, 2010  http://rip-roar.blogspot.com/2010/04/are-you-afraid-of-atheist.html

 

12:37 PM

There seems to be a building concern about the movement of atheism, an assault on us Christians lately.  I would say it has grown to a point of fear, a fear to the point where I am seeing Christians thinking we need to defend ourselves, strikeout, write nasty letters, feel like victimizing the person, or group trying to minimize Christianity.

I understand these feelings. Just last Sunday in Church I was shown a clip of a documentary demeaning religion and Christianity; it flared up in me without want, but I was mad at the person narrating the movie, I wanted to write him a letter, I angered he should have something horrible done to him AI felt.

The instant these feelings hit me, I stopped and wondered why, what do I have to worry about, who cares who believes him, is it really an assault on Christianity or Religion as a whole or me personally.  And even if it is, so what, is my desire to strike out because I am afraid he might be right because others will think I am wrong, will I not have justification for my belief?

Christianity has become defensive; the movie “Davinci Code” came out and Angles and Demons.  Christians were outraged and even the Churches ‘investigated the movies to see if there was anything offensive – but even if there was – so what, why are we so afraid.

Shouldn’t our faith be our faith?  And are we not already forewarned this would happen?

The best way to respond is to not acknowledge and not to justify but to stand strong in our faith.  We do not have to justify our faith, faith is not logical this is why we are called on it to have it and thus rewarded for it.

If you are afraid of Atheism it might be because you are afraid atheism might catch on and we will be outcasts, then what?  Again, we were forewarned of this and my prayer is you have had your faith tested and your character strengthened so when the time comes when our faith is put at the will of the guillotine, we use these moments to demonstrate our faith, not prove it.

Words don’t prove faith, it’s how we show it!

Ego = Potato Chips

Posted Originally May 20th, 2009 The Ego is Like a Bag of Potato Chips

When I was home, growing up, I was always hungry. Every once in a while, we would have a bag of potato chips sitting around. I would dive into them and continue eating them by the handful, my mom would notice the intensity I was eating them and would say “Leland, you can’t fill up on potato chips, eat something of substance.” I did not understand, I was hungry and I liked potato chips and they were right in front of me, more importantly, eating them was easier and tastier than fixing something “nutritious”

I attribute our ego similar to the bag of potato chips, it seems endless in what our ego can consume. And it is easier to satisfy the ego, then feed the soul. But, If only we would prepare or look for something which would satisfy the thirst for fulfillment in our soul, our need for the ego might lessen.

As we should fill our stomachs with good food, food which sustains us for the long term, we should also fill our souls with good food which sustains us for the long term.

In my observations, it seems as man pulls away from God, we try and fill the gap with the ego, a self-centered perspective.

Challenge yourself to move closer to God, to have a better relationship with Jesus Christ and see if those necessities derived of the ego, diminish.

he got up and went back . . .

This statement that Peter was stoned nearly to death and then dragged to the outskirts of the city and left him thinking he was dead and, and then the next statement is “he got up . . .”    Nothing about his wounds, nothing about healing, nothing about anger, forgiveness, just he got up and went back into the city.

This makes me think about me, about my problems, the way I have felt because I feel as though I have been stoned unjustly.  But, even though I did not die, I did not get right back up and go back into the city.  But I have now, how about you, are you like Peter?

 

Acts 14:19–20 (NIV)

19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

I answered the question wrong . . .

Last Sunday, our Pastor asked or was it last Wednesday asked if our lives have gotten worse since we became a Christian.  I eagerly raised my hand.  From a worldly perspective, my life has gotten worse.  I lost everything society values.  I lost my nice house, my family, when I say family, not just my wife and kids, but my dad, sister, and relatives, not by death, but by choice.  I also lost my job, money, car, retirement.  I could not find a job, been unemployed for a long period, been homeless for a period and basically lost my privileges as a father to my children.

So, yes,  my life has gotten worse, much worse.  I am living a life I NEVER even dreamed I would have.  The worst part is how my dad and sister and even one of my daughters have turned against me.  Treated as though I am something I have never been.

Yet, when I say my life has gotten worse, some things have gotten so much better and I believe they would never have improved if I had not and are not going through what I am.

Who I am in so much stronger than it ever was.  What I believe is so much stronger than ever before.  How I conduct myself is stronger – in general, my character is so much stronger.  I thank God for that because I was living a life of hell before all of this.  I was willing to live the life of hell to maintain my status in the world.

My relationship with Jesus Christ is so much richer, deeper and stronger.  Until I began my recent path, I believed in God, but was not baptized, did not read my Bible.  The only Bible I had was one given to me some 20 years earlier by a friend, who now is no longer a friend.

I am not living in the best of circumstances, but I tell you the truth, overall, I am happier because I am no longer living that life of lies, the life of hell.  It might have been impressive to others. You know, the big house, the pool in the backyard, the kids and their activities, the travel, the beautiful wife, the cars, but I hated it.

So, is my life worse, I don’t believe it is to Jesus.  I think Jesus would say, I am a much better, closer, trustworthy, faithful friend than I was before.  How can one say their life is worth when you sit at the feet of your Lord and Savior.  God Bless!