Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jesus Is My GPS!

Wow, I am blogging 2 days in a row! Doesn't happen often. :-) This has been a great Sunday. My pastor preached an excellent message on the mind this morning, and even got into why we need to be careful how we dress, so as to not cause other people problems, and how we need to be so careful not to let something creep in and destroy us in the end. It was great food for thought.

Kim M had a testimony that encouraged and challenged me to listen more to what God wants, and that He can actually show us what we need to do. I am glad she obeyed the urge to testify.

I guess what started the day off was Sunday School. The lesson was on holiness, and the assistant teacher taught, and did very well. One thing he said really stuck in my mind. He was talking about how GPS works, and that if they can tell us where to drive our car and when and where to turn, than surely God can do the same with us spiritually. I admit I about cracked up because I pictured a bumper sticker that would read "Jesus Is My GPS!" After I got over being amused at that, it really has made me think. How often do I let Jesus be my GPS? All too often, I just keep the GPS shut off thinking I can find my way easily enough, knowing that if I make a wrong turn, I can pull it out and find my way back. Pretty stupid, but I am guilty. How much better to keep our personal GPS going all the time, referring to it constantly, and maybe avoid making a wrong turn in the first place. Thing about wrong turns: most of the time you can turn around and get back on the route you should be on, but sometimes that wrong turn can get you more lost if you keep going, or it can take you into a dangerous part of town. Ditto for the spiritual. That one wrong turn can turn into several, and cause spiritual destruction and chaos.

I really feel I am doing the right thing by moving back to Ohio. My time here in Indiana has been good for me in many ways. Among the ones I can mention: It has made me realize how much I appreciate and love my family. I have made some friends here, and will miss them a lot, but I can always visit. I do feel my GPS is leading me in that direction. I still don't know where all the money is going to come from, and where I will live, and what I will do when I get there, but if I give God control and do what He says, it will work out.

If anyone decides to pass my GPS idea to a Christian company, I get in on the money! :-)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Comeback Kids (or the Big Take-down)

I had a great week this past week. My boss was on vacation, and though I like him, it was a better week without him. The co-manager was in charge, and he is more laid back, yet gets work out of everyone. He scheduled differerntly this week and next - hope it lasts. Normally, I work 8am-8:30 or 9pm Mondays (truck day). This past week, they sent everyone home at 6 that came at 8. Also, they run one main cashier on Mondays, which means I get used as back-up way too much in light of how much freight I get. This past week, they ran 2 cashiers, and I was hardly used at all for register. I got more done, and wasn't stressed as usual, and got home earlier. It was great!

Today will live in history as the great take-down. Steven, Kristin, Cindy, and I get together to play Rook every couple of weeks, and Kristin and I haven't been winning much. We have a running score of games won, and before today, it was 12 to 7. Well, today that changed. We played 10 total games with the regular team mates, and Cindy and Steven won 1. Kristin and I won 9. Yes, you read that right: we won 9 out of 10 games played, so now the grand total is 16 to 13, Kristin and I in the lead. I'm not sure what happened, but we smoked 'em! There was much weeping and groaning going on. I love to play Rook, even when I lose, but it was a refreshing change to win so many for a change. :-) The Matlock duo has gone down!

We didn't just play Rook. Steven cooked chicken breasts on the grill, and I made a chicken and rice dish that also has peas and carrots and soy sauce in it (very good!) and some veggies to eat on the side. The girls brought some cookies that were awesome. We finished it off with some pizza and chips and salsa later in the evening. I also had bought ice cream to go with the cookies, but forgot about it. :-( (More for us!)

In other news: Benjy, my middle nephew, has learned to ride his bike without training wheels. He is over a month shy of his 4th birthday - June 5. I thought that was pretty early, but found out his older brother, Josiah, did it even a little younger. I was trying to figure out what to buy him for his birthday - he likes camoflouge clothes, but my sister said he loves new clothes of any kind. Seems funny for a boy his age to like new clothes, but he does. His birthday is 10 days after mine (he was due on my birthday, but Pam goes about 10 days past with all her kids), and my youngest niece will turn 7 or 8 on the 3rd of June, and Allison will turn 11 on May 27th, one day after mine, so I will have to take presents home for 3 kids when I go back for my birthday. It falls on Memorial Day this year, so I am going to try to get that week-end off through Tuesday.

I read an awesome book this week: The Grand Scheme, by Kathy Herman. She writes Christian suspense/mystery. She also dealt with forgiveness and repentance in the book in a really good way. What stood out to me the most, even though it is fiction, is one of the main characters, an 8-year-old boy, was able to forgive faster than the adults. It brought to my mind about what Jesus said about children. If we could really be like kids in some ways, this whole Christian walk would be so much easier. Kids forgive easier: they may fight like cats and dogs, but they get over it fast, and are soon back to playing together. They trust easier. That is one where I need a lot of work in. They love easily. We can learn so much from them.

Kids are actually the main reason I am moving back to Ohio. I miss all of my family pretty badly, but it is the nieces and nephews I really miss the most. Thats the best part of going home. They all come running to give Uncle Mark a hug, (well, the youngest doesn't quite run to do it yet) and I know I am loved by 6 of the greatest, and cutest kids on the earth. The oldest, Stephanie, will be a teenager this fall, and it seems she misses me the most. I may never have kids of my own, but I want to live a life that they will see Jesus in, and hopefully help in some small way to help them want to live for God.

Until next time, this is the new Rook Champion signing off.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Booth Brothers and Trusting God 2

Well, last night was an awesome night of fun, and being ministered to. Kristin picked Steven and I up a little after 5. We pulled out on Rt 37 right behind Cindy, her parents, and grandmother - what are the odds? We got to the church shortly after 6 - the concert began at 7 - so we got pretty decent seats, though there were a lot of people there already.

I have several Booth Brothers' CDs, but seeing them in person was entirely different. Even the 2 people in our group who almost detest Southern Gospel and just went along for the fun of it, were impressed, and said the group isn't your typical Southern Gospel group and sound. Michael Booth is hilarious. He goofed of a lot, as did the other 2, but they had their serious moments also. I think the highlight song of the night was "Crucified With Christ", a Phillips, Craig, and Dean song, which in my opinion, the Booth Brothers do the best on.

The second half, after intermission, was more informal, and the guys sat on stools for most of it, even Jim Brady while he sang a solo. They did a focus on marriage and 2 of them sang a love song, Ronnie Booth from his solo CD, and Jim Brady from a new CD of classic love songs he and his wife just recorded.

Of the three, I like Jim's singing the best. I guess last night showcased his talent the most for me - the other 2 have solo CDs, so I was able to better pinpoint their voices on the groups' songs, but last night I was able to see him sing on some of the songs he solos on, and see and hear what an amazing singer he really is. I wish he would do a solo CD of his own. If anyone needs a birthday idea for me, I wouldn't mind the other CD he and his wife did, "Our Love Songs".

Ever been in a church service or something similar where you felt a lot of what was said was just for you? I had that experience last night. I will admit, as much of a Southern Gospel music fan I am, I usually view most of what the singers say, as canned, and most likely repeated every night, at every concert. OK, I am jaded and have a sick view of the world. :-)
Anyway, I don't know how often Michael Booth says some of the things he said last night, but it hit me right behind the eyes. I will admit I was fighting tears at one point.

They sang a song called "Trust His Heart". In essence, the song says because of who and what God is, no matter what is going on in your life, He has your best interests in His heart, and to trust His heart, even when you can't see His plan, or trace His hand. He gave a mini sermon that seemed to have my name written all over it. Statements like even when we don't feel like it, God cares and loves us, even when we don't feel like it, He is in control, etc. That no matter what mountain is in our way, whether we made mistakes and put it there, or it is something we didn't ask for, He is still in control, still loves us, and can get us through.

He also talked a lot about how important it is to get into the Bible, and that is the only way to really get to know God and His character better. I can't recap everything that was said, but sufficient to say, I went away with a lot to "chew on". And it made me realize that I have to try harder, no matter what, for I sure don't feel like God cares and will work things out in my life, but God isn't like us, He doesn't hold grudges, and always has a reason for how he works.

After the concert, we all went to Chili's to eat. Our waiter was cool, and dealt well with having a table of 9 people an hour before closing. He joked a lot with us, and did a great job with our service. We had a pretty hilraious time while there. The evening ended on an embarrasing moment for me. I'm not sure how it happened, but when we got up to leave, my feet got tangled with the chair, and down I went. Other than my leg and side hurting for a while, there were no serious injuries, except to my pride. :-)

Kristin was heading home to Chicago from there, so Cindy, Steven, and I rode back to Bloomington with Cindy's brother David and his wife. David is a doctor, but is by no stretch of the imagination a difnified and serious person - he is nuts, and we had a fun trip home. I am thankful I had the chance to go to the concert and hang out with them all - it was what I needed.

Trust His Heart:
Verse 1
All things work for our good though sometimes we don't see how they could. Struggles that break our hearts in two sometimes blinded to the truth. Our Father knows what best for us he ways are not our own. So when your pathway grows dim and you just don't see him remember your never alone.

God is to wise to be mistaken God is to good to be unkind. So when you don't understand when you don't his plan when you can't trace his hand trust his heart, trust his heart. (He alone is faithful and true he alone knows what is best for you).

Verse 2
He sees the master plan and he hold our future in his hand so don't live as those who have no hope for our hope is found in him. We see the presently clearly but he see the 1st and the last and like a tapestry he's weaving you and me to someday be just like him

Thursday, April 10, 2008

33 Hours, Amy Grant, and Trusting God

This week has been a bummer of a week so far. First, they changed the schedule around at work from what was originally posted, which messed me up for doing much this week in the evenings. It takes me 2 days to get my freight done: Monday and Tuesday. Then I start ordering for the next day on Wednesday and finish up on Thursday. Well, they had no cashier for Tuesday night, so I got to run register all evening while my freight just sat back there - it is suppsosed to be done Tuesday, but they make exceptions when it is convenient for them. I did manage to get the freight done yesterday, but only got about an hour done ordering, which means that I will need the whole night tonight to order, and if they call me to the register much, I will not get it done on time. I just love my job! I swear, if it were easier to find work, and I didn’t just have a few months left, I would sing "Take this job and shove it........."

I am really looking forward to Friday evening. One of my very favorite groups is the Booth Brothers. I have wanted to see them in person for quite some time, but they have never been close enough. Now they are. So in about 33 hours, I will be sitting waiting for the concert to begin. I can’t wait! Even a couple of friends who don’t like Southern Gospel much, like this group. I can’t understand non-Southern Gospel lovers. Did they miss out on the good taste gene or something?!

Speaking of music, I have found myself listening to someone I never thought I would enjoy: Amy Grant. I have some of her Christmas music, and a hymns project, and have a few other songs like El Shaddi, and suddenly realized I liked any song I ever heard her sing, so I got ahold of some more of her stuff, and am really liking her stuff.

Its sad though, how far she has come. I listened to a collection of her greatest inspirational songs, which is pretty much her earlier stuff, then her later stuff, which has good songs, but no spiritual substance. Her music videos are suggestive and sexually charged, and it makes me wonder where she went wrong. What turned an innocent young girl who sang some really good songs, into a pop star who divorced her husband and married her golfing buddy, claiming that nothing happened between them before her marriage ended. Maybe nothing did, but it looks bad. I watched an interview on DVD she did for her new greatest hits CD. Her reason she gave for changing music styles was that she felt she was doing the same thing over and over. Sad.

Is fame and wealth really worth it, if you sell out? I’d love to have more money. I could sure use it right now! But if a lot of money, and a career that makes you famous, takes you away from God, it cannot be worth it. Now I am not saying Amy Grant is not a Christian, but I remain firm in my belief that if a person is a genuine Christian, it will show. If they are a celebrity/singer, etc, it will show in the songs they sing, the things they act in, etc.Who knows what Amy Grant may have accomplished had she remained a Christian singer, and not moved to the pop genre.

There is a song on one of her older albums that I love. Pretty cool song: "Old Man’s Rubble". You can interpret the song to say what you want, I am sure, but for me, it convicts me that I am just sitting back, being depressed and worried, and not really living. I’m not sure how to get on top of things. I still pray, and all that, but inside there is a giant wall of mistrust and unbelief toward God. I wish I could believe that He would make a way for me to move back to Ohio with the funds I need, but I don’t. If I believed that, I would’t worry so much. I worry about my credit problems. What I am going to do in Ohio, where I will live, how will I afford living by myself, and the list goes on. In a way, I am living in an Old Man’s Rubble. It’s tough to get out of it though.

How do people get to the point of trusting God, even when they lose everything? I don’t come close to having the problems some of those people have had, and it boggles my mind. I can point to the place when I started having the most problems. Don’t get me wrong, it is always been an issue, trusting God, believing He really loves me. A few years ago, I hit a point where I was starting to have financial problems. I tried to find a part-time job to help, but had no luck. This one month, I knew if I paid my tithe, I wouldn’t be able to pay all of my bills, but I paid it anyway, and prayed that God would provide the rest of what I needed. It didn’t happen, and from that point on, my finance problems got worse, til now, I have terrible credit, and have collection agencies after my hide. But even worse, what faith I had has been severely damaged ever since.

Why didn’t God provide? I have no idea.I have heard and read so many stories where He did for so many people. Why not me? Had the money come in, would my faith have been stronger then, and now? Only He knows. I just know that living this Christian life has been rough when I’m not sure I matter to Him.

Well, I didn’t mean this post to go so negative. I do want to make it to Heaven, and if I have to go with money problems, and feeling like I am at the bottom of God’s like list, then so be it, as long as I make it there.

Pray for my friend, Kimmy. Her mom has cancer, and it is looking like she doesn’t have long.

Are you living in an old man’s rubble,Are you listening to the father of lies?Are you walking with unnecessary burdens,Are you trying to take them upon yourself?If you are, then you’re living in bondage,And you know that’s bad for your spiritual health.And are you trying to live by your emotions,Are you putting your faith in what you feel and see?Then you’re living just to satisfy your passions,And you better be careful ’cause you’re being deceived.Are you living in an old man’s rubble,Are you listening to the father of lies?If you are then you’re headed for trouble;If you listen too long you’ll eventually die.Are you living in an old man’s rubble,Are you listening to the father of lies?If you are then you’re headed for trouble;If you listen too long you’ll eventually die.Are you puzzled by the way that you’re behaving,Do you wonder why you do the things you do?And are you troubled by your lack of resistance,Do you feel that something’s got a hold on you?Well deep within you, there’s a spiritual battle;There’s a voice of the darkness and a voice of the light.And just by listening, you have made a decision,’Cause the voice you hear is gonna win the fight.Are you living in an old man’s rubble,Are you listening to the father of lies?If you are then you’re headed for trouble;If you listen too long you’ll eventually die.If you’re living as a new creation,If you’re listening to the Father of Light,Then you’re living in a mighty fortress,And you’re gonna be clothed in power and might.But are you living in an old man’s rubble,Are you listening to the father of lies?If you are then you’re headed for trouble;If you listen too long you’ll eventually die.If you’re living as a new creation,If you’re listening to the Father of Light,Then you’re living in a mighty fortress,And you’re gonna be clothed in power and might.But are you living in an old man’s rubble,Are you listening to the father of lies?If you are then you’re headed for trouble;If you listen too long you’ll eventually die.But if you’re living as a new creation,If you’re listening to the Father of Light,Then you’re living in a mighty fortress,And you’re gonna be clothed in power and might.