God’s Grace, not Greed!

I work one in one of the top five deadliest jobs in America, I was reminded of that just this month when I badly injured my left hand while at work.  I was lucky that I didn’t break my finger and only had to have it stitched up.  Being a garbage collector is a thankless job and a deadly one.  In addition to working with big machines that crush anything (and anyone) that gets in the way, there are the risks posed by hazardous materials and heavy traffic.  In June of 2000 a 30 year-old male sanitation assistant (the victim) was crushed by the hydraulically powered tailgate of a garbage truck while unloading garbage at a county landfill.   The County Sheriff, and ambulance personnel arrived at the scene within minutes but the county medical examiner pronounced the man dead at the scene.  A discarded fishing pole was found inside the garbage compartment of the truck, and it is possible that the victim was trying to retrieve this item immediately prior to getting caught.

Could it possibly be that we simply can’t believe
That this unconditional kind of love would be enough
To take a filthy wretch like this and wrap him up in righteousness?

Greed is defined as an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves.  We think we never have enough in life and want more and more.  More time, more money, more to eat, more love!  We can’t stop and we are always looking of more ways to make us look and feel good.  But the truth is, we are not good.  We deal with Body Image, Reckless living, Selfishness, Cancer, Doubts about life, Fears, Diabetes, Working too much, Failing health and past issues in our life.

No matter the hurt or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain, still the truth is
The cross has made, the cross has made you flawless

I was very lucky (if you want to call it luck) that I didn’t lose my finger.  The wound was very deep and the pain, oh the pain!  Three weeks later and my finger feels a lot better, but it still hurts sometimes. Even though the wound has healed up, there will be a scar to remind me that I’m not flawless! And just like the song Flawless by MercyMe, I just need to take a breath, smile and say.  Right here, right now that I’m OK; because the cross was enough.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”. ~ Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Their is more to life than what you own, what you drive or how you look. In the end, it’s not what you do that matters the most.  Don’t think getting just one more thing will make you better, Greed is deadly to the soul and will catch you to you before you know it.  The Cross has made you flawless no matter what issues you are facing in life.  It’s never too late to be introduce to grace, God’s grace.   Grace can wipe away to stains of your past and leave you flawless in God’s eyes!

Some of us have been bruised by abuse. Broken by disappointment. Weighed down by depression. We don’t think we’re worthy of God’s Grace, worth being flawless. But the Lord says of His people, “You are precious and honored in my sight” (Isaiah 43:4).

There is more to life, you are flawless in Christ.

Why Me Lord?

Music has always been very important to me.  As a young boy I love singing along to songs that was playing on the radio. One of the songs I remember the most was “Why Me” by Kris Kristofferson, something about that song stuck in my head and I would sing it to myself ever chance I could.  Most people wouldn’t call this a “Christian song”, “Why Me” was Kristofferson’s lone major country hit as a solo recording artist, reaching No. 1 of Billboard magazine‘s Hot Country Singles chart in July 1973. My faith journey to know the Lord didn’t start for me until later in my life.  Faith is defined as belief, confidence or trust in a person, object, religion, idea or view despite the absence of proof.  Most of my life I didn’t need the “proof” He (God) was with me and I was blindness to His love and kindness.

Try me, Lord, if you think there’s a way
I can try to repay all I’ve taken from you
Maybe Lord I can show someone else
What I’ve been through myself, on my way back to you

Kristofferson wrote Why Me during an emotionally low period of his life after having attended a religious service conducted by the Rev. Jimmie Rogers Snow. Like Kristofferson, I too went through a very emotionally low period in my life and in 2008 while spending a night in jail and facing prison time, I knew I needed Him!  It is that state of mind in which a poor sinner, conscious of his sin, flees from his guilty self to Christ his Saviour, and rolls over the burden of all his sins on Him. With a deep sense of sin and a distinct view of Christ and a consenting will, and with a loving heart, I turned over my trust to Christ that night.

Today, I live because of God’s good grace and look ever day to be able to “repay” all I have taken from life. I pray that someday I can help others who are facing some of the same problems I did and just, maybe I can show them what I went through and how I found my way back home.

God bless,

Kent.

Christian Stereotypes I Hate

There are people who have done these very things to me. I am not better than anyone else. I am a sinner but also a child of God. I have accepted Christ as Savior and follow His way but that does not mean I am like other people who just profess to “be christian”. I am a disciple of Jesus. That means something different. I would like to talk with anyone about it and get to know YOUR thoughts. Contact me. Let’s talk.

I hate when people assume certain things about me without getting to know who I am. You probably hate that too! Whenever people figure out I am a pastor at a Christian church, they tend to always assume the following:
 1. Cussing around me is a no-no. Really? I’m honored that you feel the need to change your attitude/language around me, but you don’t need to try and be on “good behavior” when we are together. Typically, I’m not offended by your language and its not like I have never heard it before. I would rather you just be yourself than trying to be someone else for me.
2. I don’t like the gays. I understand why you may have gotten this impression considering some of the ridiculous Christians out there. But, I love them. To be honest, I don’t know why so many of my Christian brothers and sisters elevate this specifically over everything else. When it comes down to it, I love homosexuals just as much as I love you. I wish Christians would fight as passionately against poverty and sex trafficking as they do homosexuality.
3. I don’t drink alcohol. Now you won’t catch me passed out on the floor drunk, but to assume that I don’t drink at all because of my faith is a bit of an overstatement. After all, the first miracle Jesus did was turn water into wine, He knows how to keep the party going.
4. I don’t like to have fun. This probably has a lot to do with rule #3. Because “I don’t drink” then it can be assumed that I don’t like to have fun. Quite the contrary, it just means I have learned to have fun without the need of over intoxicating myself.
5. I’m judging you because you act differently than me. If I have come to realize one thing it is that nobody is perfect. Don’t worry about trying to hide your flaws or your differences because I’m not judging you anyways. Those who judge will be judged and I don’t want any part of that.
6. I am ignorant or uneducated about beliefs other than my own. Actually, it is not “my way or the highway.” Obviously, I, like the rest of Christians, spend most of my time trying to understand my own faith, but to say that I have shut my eyes to everything else in the world is absurd. Don’t assume I have no clue of what exists outside of Christianity.
7. I think I’m better than you. Somehow, because I am Christian, you assume I believe I am better than you. I understand you might get this impression from some of those who wear the Christian name tag, but humility is one of Christianity’s greatest attributes. I don’t think I am better than you regardless of who you are or what you’ve done. We are all on our own journey and everyone’s look a little bit different.
8. I’m Republican. Laugh. Out. Loud. No comment.
9. I ignore science. You might be under the assumption that things like the “Big Bang” and natural selection kill my theory for religion, so I just ignore them altogether. The truth is, I love science and it doesn’t crumble my faith at all. I am just as interested as you are to see how God did it and have yet to come across something that totally shakes my faith to the core on whether or not there was a creator.
10. I’m a hypocrite. Unfortunately, you probably assume this for righteous reasons because you have seen it a lot. But, I want to break the stereotype and say what I mean and do what I say. Of course I fall short just like everyone else, but I am never preaching something that I’m not willing to do in my own life.
Granted, there are probably a lot of Christians out there who meet every single one of these, but don’t assume we are all the same!

Originally posted on www.brettshoemaker.me

After the laughter is gone, taking a stand against suicide!

2012-02-12 23.22.40Today we lost a great Actor-comedian, Robin Williams died this morning at 63. While his publicist wouldn’t confirm that his death was a suicide, a rep did issue this statement. “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss”.  Suicide touches all of us in some ways, maybe it’s well known Actor like Robin, or maybe a friends we know lost someone close to them.  It might be even closer than that, it might have touched someone in your family, a brother, sister, ant or uncle or other loved one.  I know because it’s touched my life, hearing from my step-brother about his brother taking his own life. Then I meet my girlfriend Angela and learned about how she lost her brother.

Suicide has touched my life too as I have lived with it most of my life.  YES, I have wanted to take my own life more than just once.  We have to talk about suicide and not pretend it will go away if we just look the other way.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report over 36,000 suicides annually. This translates to roughly four suicides per hour in this country, greater than the number of homicide or motor vehicle related fatalities. Suicide occurs in all parts of our society and in all regions, affecting people of all ages. No group is immune but there are some groups at greater risk. For instance, men are four times more likely than women to die of suicide and older men have been an often overlooked group with a particularly high suicide rate.

We need to talk about the warning signs and how suicide has touched our lives. We have to let our loved ones know it’s OK to openly talk about wanted to harm them and there is hope.  They don’t have to go this alone, all it takes is someone taking the time to listen to them.  That’s what I want when I get so depressed that I don’t see any hope.  Just a hand to help us past a moment in time when all we think all is lost.  Someone has to talk a stand and start showing people that feel depressed they are loved no matter what.

March 2011 a young lady take her own life by jumping off a bridge in Iowa City onto Interstate 80 early one morning, where she was hit by a semitrailer and killed. I know what it’s like to feel so overwhelmed that you just can’t see any hope for living. Yes, I have been to that point in my life where I wanted to end it all. I felt so alone, no hope for tomorrow but that was before I found the love of Jesus Christ and my local church. I didn’t know this young beautiful lady at all but her death touched me in a way that I can’t express! That night, I just keep saying, “she didn’t have to do this” and how sad I was for her family, friends, the driver of the semi and the first responder and Law enforcement officers.

As I was on my way to church the next Sunday morning, I felt God calling me to step up and talk to our congregation about what I was feeling. When we are feeling depressed, sad or what ever, we can’t go it alone and covering it up doesn’t help. I you think the person you care for knows how much you care for them, don’t just think they know! Tell them, show them everyday how much you love them no matter how bad they feel. If you’re dealing with depression and can talk about it, DO IT! Let’s not hide it any more, show others who are facing the same thing that they too are not alone and can come to you if they want too. Life is so wonderful, and Jesus died on the cross to give us new life and no matter what you have done or what your going through, his family of believers love you and you can trust them.  You’re not alone and if you think that ending your life is all you have left, please don’t! Let me know, I will do everything I can for you. You are loved more than you know and better days are ahead.

I know this is my calling to help others dealing with depression and showing them the love that Jesus Christ offers us. I am so thankful that the good Lord gave me new life and new hope so I can try to touch lives that are hurting. It’s OK to let people see who we really are, and we must talk about depression and suicide in our churches, youth groups, small groups, etc every chance we get.  I will takes a stand and talk to any group about my struggles with depression, greed and how it slowly started to control my life.  I am here today because Jesus saved my life, He came into my heart and changed who I was and while my life hasn’t been the easiest living now as a new Christian.  I know He loves me and when I feel like ending it all, I know it’s just a feeling that will pass and I can openly share my feelings because I’m not alone any more.

Blessing and love,

Kent.

Get into the boat.

God granting miracles

A religious man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A man comes by in a boat and says “get in, get in!” The religous man replies, ” no I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle.”

Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that he has faith in god and god will give him a miracle. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again cause “God will grant him a miracle.”

With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God. He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grand me a miracle and I have been let down.” St. Peter chuckles and responds, “I don’t know what you’re complaining about, we sent you three boats and a helicopter.”

This Joke got me to thinking about how sometimes we take all the good things God blesses our life with.  We pray for many things and we know what we want but yet when the blessings pass us by because only see what we want to.  God can bless us in many ways  with  things that look the same, maybe a  job, a home or someone to love us.  Our idea of what we want is not going to be the same as what God will offer us, it’s up to us to not over look it and jump in the boat when it comes our direction.