Category Archives: peace

He Knows My Name

Closer to God

Have you ever watched toddlers and children at play? With all seriousness, they engage their imaginations and become anything their little minds can dream up!  Their minds are little sponges, absorbing information and experiences at an alarming rate.  In fact, by the age of five, their brains are pretty much ninety percent set!  That’s why it is so very important that we instill in these young minds, all that is vitally important; from the basics like what is hot to the touch to their spiritual foundation that God lives in Heaven and made the world and everything in it, that Jesus loves them, to instilling in them the awesome love from their parents.  And don’t underestimate the child’s capacity to understand; for even now, they are interpreting everything they see and hear; perhaps, even what is unseen.

As I look back on my own life, I definitely had a blessed childhood.  We didn’t have all the modern conveniences that most folks already took for granted by then, like running water and an indoor bathroom; if fact, the only running water was the Hocking River that meandered under the black bridge behind our house.   However, we did have clean clothes, good food on the table and there was always an overabundance of love to go around.  And what a playground!  We had the freedom to roam the hills in front of the house, explore the railroad tracks and river behind the house or walk down the dusty gravel road to pay our respects to the neighbors down the way; thus was the enchanted life, living on Robbins Road.

However, when I was around eight years old and in the second grade, my parents purchased a house on Dorr Run Road which was definitely an upgrade from our faded clapboard house, having both running water AND indoor facilities.  By then, it was only the three youngest children out of six that moved with our parents into the two bedroom house.  Dad built a partition in the largest bedroom to separate the “boys” from our sister; the only problem was that the new room was only about four foot wide and could only hold a set of bunk beds and one dresser!  Being the youngest, I had no choice but to take the lower bunk and privacy meant tucking a sheet under the top bunk mattress and draping it over the entrance to the lower bunk.  The one and a half lane road was definitely more populated than the old one with a sprinkling of houses on either side and made complete with a new cast of characters to get to know.

Once again, the area was full of exploration possibilities; from hills and creeks, to strip pits and slag piles, our local “playground” was a child’s dream and a mama’s nightmare.  This is where I learned how thick the creek ice should be to hold my body weight, discovered that baby copperheads could actually swim, that a sulfur creek can turn your underwear orange.  I learned that the much cleaner creek water was upstream from the little creek that spewed raw sewage, that if you wanted to slide down loose sandstone on your backside, you better make sure there weren’t objects sticking up out of the ground first.  This was also the place where I first sensed God’s presence…

I was about nine years old and on one of my “explorations”.  Mom didn’t really seem to care where we were or what we were doing outside as long as we came home for meals and before dark, which varied as Mother Nature changed out one season for the next.  I was climbing up a hill behind John Stufflebean’s property, walking through a stand of tall majestic old growth trees toward the top of a ridge.  It was late spring and the sun was streaming through the trees, illuminating the forest floor below.  As I stood there, absorbing the warmth that the sunrays provided on my face, I felt a presence; not the feeling you get when it seems as if someone is watching you.  No, it was an acute awareness that I was fully known and at the same time, totally loved, enveloped in a peaceful embrace.  There was no audible voice, no angel brushing up against me, no burning bush in front of me; just my soul reaffirming what it already knew.  God was in fact, the almighty Creator and I, his beloved creation.  It was virtually impossible to explain this then and even difficult now, but it happened.

It wasn’t long until the feeling passed and I went on with my life, knowing in my heart with certainty that God was real; He indeed did actually exist and loved me explicitly!  Until recently, I told no one about my experience; instead, I nestled that moment into the recesses of my mind, like a cherished treasure that needed to be protected.  Who would actually believe this tall tale from a nine year old anyway?!  So, life went on and I grew and became a young man who wasn’t necessarily bad but felt lost and knew there was something lacking in my life.  I knew from years of going to Sunday School and infrequently attending church services that I was indeed a sinner and needed to surrender my life to Jesus as my Savior in order to be made complete as God had intended.  I knew that God loved me but that just wasn’t enough; I had to be spiritually restored as his child through His gift of salvation, Jesus Christ.

So, on an evening in May, 1978, at the age of twenty, I attended a revival service with a friend of mine at my home church in Nelsonville Ohio; The First Church of the Nazarene on Adams St.  I don’t remember who spoke or much of anything else that evening except for the relentless tug by the Holy Spirit on my miserable convicted heart.  I went forward to the altar and prayed a pleading prayer of forgiveness; feeling a hand on my shoulder and uttering a supportive prayer was Max Pitts, a longtime member of the church.  I got up and went back to the pew where I had planted myself several moments before but something definitely had changed!  I felt the same but brand new; the colors seemed brighter, the sounds seemed crisper and I felt like laughing and crying at the same time.  After the service, I literally levitated to my car, the lightness of my heart carrying me up the hill.

Once I got home, I immediately told my mom what had happened; she had a pensive, if not, sad expression on her face as she tried to gently tell me that the life I had chosen was a hard one and there would be sacrifices.  I knew that mom was reflecting back on her own life and past, when she accepted Christ and subsequently faced the alienation of family and friends as a result; the constant struggles between her desire to be faithful to God and at the same time, enduring spiritual battles within her own home.  Mom eventually backed off her church responsibilities before I came into this world so I didn’t get to experience that side of mom.  I just know that peering back in hindsight, she was right; I did experience some rejection.  Some friends and family members didn’t know quite what to think of this new Steve or how to interact with me; some chose just not to interact at all anymore.  But I knew in my heart and soul that I was now what I was always meant to be; in a completely restored relationship with my Lord and my God.

Several years have passed and I’m still holding true to my faith in God and cherishing my relationship with Jesus.  It hasn’t been an easy road; there have been many temptations, bad attitudes and blatant sin that had to be dealt with all along this journey, but it has absolutely been worth the trials to experience the joy and peace that sustains me even now.  For the God that knew my name before I was a “sparkle in my father’s eye” as they say, is the same God that met me on the hilltop so many years ago and strengthens me yet today.  So my advice, as time and experience has taught me through the different seasons of my life; if your child comes to you some day with a story that seems farfetched or unbelievable, just listen intently to them, hold them close and pray for wisdom and discernment.  For you never know if/when they might encounter the Eternal in THEIR everyday; for He knows their name as well.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you. 

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24

Loyalty Binds Me

crown enhanced

This past fall and winter, an unfortunate series of circumstances occurred which resulted in a couple of necessary surgeries.  Without going into gruesome details, let’s just say the whole experience didn’t sit very well with me.

While recuperating in the weeks that followed, I started reading the Kingfountain series, which is a set of nine books written by Jeff Wheeler and which came highly recommended by a friend of mine.  The fictional series reflected a medieval time, complete with lords and ladies, good and evil, heroes and villains, and of course, kings and queens.  Well written and full of twists and turns, it was an easy task to devour one book after another.  But there was one common thread that bound the series; one united mindset that set the hero aside from all the others.  It was a profound thought, a vow turned lifestyle, an utterance and motto in which the hero and others like him wholeheartedly lived and yes, ultimately died declaring…”Loyalty Binds Me”.

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word “loyalty” as: implying a faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray.  One definition of the dictionary also describes the word “binds” as: to make a firm commitment for.  Together, these two words combine to form an impenetrable covenant.  Owen, the consummate hero in the series, takes this oath so seriously that he risks his own life to overthrow the evil king he serves under in order to ensure the rightful heir is secured as king of Ceredigion.

Back in the present day, the here and now, commonly called reality, we don’t hear so much about loyalty any more.  In fact, we seem to see a lot of just the opposite; a mindset of disloyalty or unfaithfulness has unfortunately become commonplace.  Whether one is disloyal to one’s job, spouse, church, friends, country or even God,  the attitude of being disloyal or unfaithful can turn a life, marriage, business and/or community completely up…side…down.  You could argue that your workplace does not support you, that your spouse doesn’t attempt to communicate or understand you, that if God really loved us, He wouldn’t allow bad things to happen to good people or any of the other situations just mentioned.  Once the seed of unfaithfulness and doubt is planted, it can and often times does yield a harvest full of heartache and regret.  For once you are familiar with unfaithfulness in one area of your life, it becomes easier to allow it to seep into ALL areas of your life.

We all, at times, question the validity of the difficult situations we face.  It is in those times, we want to rush forward and take matters into our own hands, making rash decisions as opposed to just hunkering down to pray and wait; wait for the solution to present itself, for the door of opportunity to open, for the green light to proceed to the next season in our life, to hear His still small voice inside saying, “trust in Me, believe in Me, I have this…let go, trust and obey”.

The poem reflected below describes the cement that loyalty creates, binding together the areas of your life that show the cracks and wear of the everyday life.  Simply stated, regardless of the challenging areas of your life—never give up!

 

 

Loyalty Binds Me

Always working behind the eight ball, wading through this day of stress

The stack of work never seems to lessen, my calendar’s a mess,

But I have to pause and thank the Lord that He gave this job to me

So I can use my God given abilities, to provide for my family.

You see loyalty binds me to the place I work with all its’ ups and downs

They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, I must be muscle bound,

But I’ll be faithful to my place of work until the time to move on has come

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, tempting as it is for some.

∞∞

Harsh words were used, doors were slammed, hurt feelings lying on the floor

Our relationship’s in shambles, I don’t know if I can take it anymore,

What has happened, where was the breakdown, how did we end up in such a mess?

My love for you has been waning but it’s both our faults I guess.

But loyalty binds me, my hope realigns me to know our love is true

Though difficulties come, I’m pressing on to faithfully see us through,

So let’s keep striving, not just surviving to build a solid marital core

I can’t wait, till we again embrace and say those words, I love you more.

∞∞

Here I am Lord, once again Lord, pleading deep inside

I haven’t heard your voice for so long it seems and my doubts begin to rise,

I know you are the great I AM, and I am one of the least of these

So forgive me for my impatience but please listen to my pleas.

I know I’ve caused a lot of pain in life by my own cursed hands

By not trusting in You and not waiting on you, building on sinking sands,

But I believe in You still and always will, I’m asking for a second chance

Please don’t give up on me, love and forgive me please, restore our great romance.

For loyalty binds me, your Love realigns me to the place where you want me to be

By faith I know, You are there even though at times I cannot hear you or see,

My hope is in you, my very salvation too, you are my provider of comfort and peace

Yeshua I pray, be my champion always, my Redeemer, my Savior, my Priest.

Yes, Your grace is what binds me, your mercy positions me to a place of perfect peace

Only Your love alone will lead me on until one day my last breath will cease,

Until that day comes, I must tarry on and be obedient to do my Father’s will

To push towards that prize, until I open my eyes and see your radiant face, oh what a thrill!

Jennifer’s Ashes

Today marks the end of the Thought of the Day.  One year ago today, I started to post these on my blog post. These “Thought of the Day” statements were created for my sister, Jennifer, to attempt to temporarily get her mind off of her daily struggle with stage four melanoma; I would call and leave them on her answering machine or text them to her.  I hope you have enjoyed reading these thoughts as I have felt these were God inspired and it was my privilege to be the presenter of God’s “thought provokers”.  Reflected below is a final tribute I wrote for my sister, Jennifer…may God richly bless your lives and may you truly appreciate every heartbeat of life…

 

Jennifers headstone 2

 

Jennifer’s Ashes

Gone are the happy go lucky days

Where days went on forever and forever we played,

When I had your back and you had mine

We were just siblings, but how our lives intertwined.

 

And now I’m just standing here, burying Jennifer’s ashes

Wishing I could somehow turn back time,

Back to when you were healthy and happy

Back to the days when laughter chimed.

 

You taught me to drive and I pulled you through hell

From the torture of Algebra, we worked through it well,

I must confess, I teased you too much

But you got me back with your screams and your pouts.

 

And now I’m just standing here, burying Jennifer’s ashes

Wishing I could be anywhere else,

My head knows you’re gone but my heart’s in denial

Time heals all wounds but I still have an aching pulse.

 

We both grew up and became adults

We both had families and bills and the lot,

And even though we didn’t see each other very often

We made up for it, on the phone or in person.

 

And now I’m just standing here, burying Jennifer’s ashes

Hating myself for the guilt I feel,

For I’m still alive being healthy and happy

And your life is over, a life gone too soon.

 

Standing here on your birthday, May 23rd

Barely listening to the Pastor, his words scarcely heard,

For my mind continues to wander and I kind of worry

That this date will be forever stamped with a bittersweet memory.

 

And now I’m just standing here, burying Jennifer’s ashes

I’d rather be celebrating with you still alive,

You often stated that your birthdate meant time for spring planting

But none of us knew just how your words would now be implied.

 

I know your soul rejoices for where you reside now

Among the angels and the Son of God,

Please be patient with me big little sister

As I try to cope with placing your remains beneath the sod.

 

And now I’m leaving behind Jennifer’s ashes

Moving ahead with the rest of my life,

Yearning for the day when I once again get to see her

Where the heavenly realms is flooded by God’s Holy light.

Jennifer 1958 2

Thought of the Day–4/11/18

Thought of the Day—Do you have a case of the wandering eye when it comes to other people’s lives?  Did you know that the time and energy spent on wishing you had someone else’s life could have been better spent on improving your own?  God gave you a unique set of people, geography, and circumstances to help make you who YOU should be, not someone else.  And even though there may be a few weeds to pull and perhaps a little grass seed to sow in the dry patches of life’s lawn, just remember; the only reason that grass looks greener on the other side is probably because it’s only artificial astro turf…

Thought of the Day–3/1/18

Thought of the Day—Like light shining through a crystal prism, dispersing a rainbow of colors throughout a room, so too are those who are obedient to God and offer hope and peace to this world…

Thought of the Day–2/13/18

Thought of the Day—The grass IS always greener on the other side of the fence until you find out it’s only Astroturf.  We need to accept our life as it is but hope that tomorrow God will bring improvement on the areas in which we are struggling.  We need to also pray that God will provide us with peace and contentment until the change actually comes.