Guest post

...now browsing by category

 

Zee’sSecondChance

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Thanks to the inspiration which came from this post, I decided to feature some stories of my readers writing about God giving them a second chance. They will be spread out over the next week or two. One of mine was here.  Daniel’s was here. Today’s writer holds a special place in my heart. Zee lives in Ukraine and we have established a long distance big brother/little sister relationship. My hope is to someday meet her (and her soon-to-be-husband, Sam). Here is Zee’s Second Chance.

I was 27 and I thought my life was on a down course.

I lived alone, my cat was dying from a stroke and cancer, the Church building where I’ve spent my entire childhood and teen years was moving to another place, and I was beginning to hate the job I used to love. While there were many good things in my life, I was depressed.

May 20, 2013 was the day when I thought that I don’t want to do anything else except sit and stare into the window. No one knew about it – I woke up in the morning, went to work, came home, made tea… and yet on the inside I was as good as dead because the day before I put my cat – a friend of 19 years – to sleep. I knew God has something for me because He kept me alive through all those years and yet I had no desire to discover what it was. Completely blank on the inside.

It changed on May 21.

A few years before, I registered at a local Christian dating website, InVictory. I personally knew a few couples who met there, but I did not believe this would work for me. Having nothing better to do, home alone, I logged in to check messages. Nothing. After looking through various profiles, I figured that I would close my account that week. Obviously, something was wrong with me because I haven’t dated in many years.

I logged to Facebook and saw that I have a friend request. “Weird, we don’t have any friends in common. He does look good though.” So I added some random Alexander Gimon to my friends and figured that possibly we have crossed our paths in the past. Only afterwards, I saw a short message from him.

“I saw you on InVictory.”

That fateful message and a friend request have changed my life. We started talking online, then we met in real life, and realized that we actually do have friends in common. Besides friends, we also had a lot of common interests – and mainly, common faith and thoughts about spiritual life.

Four months later, he proposed to me – and on May 2, 2014, we are getting married.

Besides this being the story of how I met my husband-to-be, it was a story of how God pretty much made me take the second chance.

And I am thankful.

I am thankful that God gave me enough wisdom to follow this chance.

I am thankful that God did not give up on me when I was about to give up on myself.

Thankful for the second chance itself to truly live a life.

The moral of the story?

Follow His lead. Enjoy every chance you get. 

Someone said, “We never really run out of second chances, but we do run out of time.” 

Let’s make sure we don’t waste the opportunities we have.

 I chose to highlight Zee’s post today (and this weekend) because she becomes “Mrs. Sam” tomorrow (Friday). I so wanted to get there to witness their wedding, but it wasn’t possible. “Lil sis: you know my heart for you and Sam is to have a life filled with love and all God has for you together.” Thanks Zee for sharing your story.

And while you are at it, why not wish Zee and Sam a Happy Wedding. You can also pray for Ukraine and its people.

Daniel’s Second Chance

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Thanks to the inspiration which came from this post, I decided to feature some stories of my readers writing about God giving them a second chance. They will be spread out over the next week or two. One of mine was here. Today’s writer is one who has quickly become a “favorite” of mine, especially due to his variety and his wit. But lurking deep in this young man are some deep stories. Here is one of them. Be prepared for a surprising story.

My online friend Bill asked me to write a post for his site on “a second chance God has given you”. My first thought was to quickly dismiss this request because my life hasn’t turned out the way that I would have liked in many respects. My biggest failure and regret occurred nearly ten years ago when my wife told me that she no longer wanted anything to do with me. One moment I was living a pretty contented existence, and the next, I was alone. Everything spun away from me so suddenly, that it sucked the life and the joy out of me. Not only did I lose my partner and my best friend, I felt like the divorce robbed me of my future. When Bill asked me to write a post glorifying God for giving me a second chance, I scoffed. My scorn was not directed toward Bill, but more toward God. Here I am some ten years after my life was torn apart, and I find myself alone. While time has a way of weathering the hard edges off strong emotions and negative memories, I still find myself deeply wounded, still stewing in bitterness, anger, and despair. Where is my second chance God? Where?

But I continued to chew on what Bill asked me. I am one who all too easily focuses on the negative when I have many positives still around me. In many ways I am plagued by myopia and forgetfulness regarding God’s blessings in my life. In 1997 before I was a Christ follower, I was diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer. My initial biopsy results indicated that it had spread into my lymph system. My prognosis for survival beyond a few years wasn’t good. The day after I found out about my cancer, I learned that I was going to be a dad. There was a chance that I might not even get to meet my little one.

Second chance? How about the fact that I am still alive some 17 years after I was sentenced to be another mortality statistic? How about the fact that I have a 16 year old daughter who thinks that I am the greatest dad in the world? How about the fact that I have come to know Jesus? Second chance indeed.

WOW! Did you have same reaction I did? What are your thoughts?

Daniel Carman posts at Return to Zero. From his blog; I am the father of a wonderful daughter and in my spare time I live out the exciting and secretive life of a research scientist. To read more of Daniel’s thoughts, please check out his blog. (He really is a research scientist).

Economy

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Sometimes I can get wordy. That is a kind way of saying I talk too much. 🙂 Instead of getting right to the point I go “’round Robin Hood’s barn” to make my point. As I have done this in the past I know I have lost people. They are trying to follow my reasoning and Poof! they are gone. By doing that I also devalue my own thoughts.

Dan Erickson has asked me to write a post for him titled “The Economy of Words.” It is posting over at his site today. I’d like to ask you to make your way over there to read it and comment. You can access Dan’s site here.

Here is a preview of my first few lines:

I have always been a man of words. I talk a lot. I have also loved to read. When growing up, a book could almost always be found in my hand. I can remember from the earliest times at Emerson Elementary School in West Mifflin, PA of going to the library and checking out books to read. I also loved sports so eventually my reading took on the “character” of reading any sports book I could get my hands on. After college graduation my reading habits changed. Other than reading what I needed for my profession, I began to love reading fantasy, mystery and history (especially those of the old West).  Read more here.

Thanks for taking the time to read.  I look forward to hearing from you. I’ll be crafting my own post to go live tonight at 8:00. (Bet you can’t wait).

Transition

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

It is true that I am back from vacation, but I ran out of “week” before I could get Jason’s post in.  So I asked him if he would help me out in my transition of returning from vacation and getting “my head back in the game” by writing a post about where he and his family are right now.  Jason lives in Juneau, Alaska for now but will soon be making a transition to Oklahoma.  Talk about night and day!!  Anyway…here’s Jason:

I appreciate Bill and his heart and wisdom. We may have never met in person, but he has demonstrated true friendship.  When Bill asked me if I wanted to write something, I said yes but then got stuck on what to write.   “Write what you know,” they say.

This is where I am.

I’ve heard it said before, “God never shuts a door without opening another, but that hallway is hell.” I certainly seem to be living in the hallway right now.

Not hell as in eternal damnation, of course, just hell in the sense of feeling overwhelmed, finding my place, and trying to get way too many things done at the same time.

God has initiated a cross-country move for me and my family. We’ll drive from Alaska to Oklahoma and in a lot of ways start over (more info here and here). Right now we’re packing up while still leading a church family.

 

That’s challenging, but soon we’ll face new challenges. New jobs, new school for the kids, new house, new culture in some ways. Really, the transition is just heating up.
We’re leaving the church congregation we helped relaunch just over four years ago and though we tried to plan and get everything settled, we are still without a permanent leader to replace us and they’ll be moving locations for a while.

Transition.

Once Jesus was questioned about why He did things so differently than the Pharisees or even John the Baptist. I have to admit I have been asking Jesus similar questions. Why can’t it just go on this way? Why does it have to change like this?

“Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” –Matthew 9:17
Sometimes Jesus just wants to do something new. Despite all our planning and attempted manipulation (insert your own less harsh word if you like), He wants new wine so He looks for people ready to get uncomfortable and go through the process.

Old wineskins already went through the process and don’t have the elasticity they need. God won’t pour new into those because He has no intention of destroying anyone. Wineskins obviously don’t have feelings as they stretch and pull, but you certainly do. It’s hard to embrace.

Maybe you’re in transition. Maybe it’s really uncomfortable and feels like hell. I’m not saying all that goes away by recognizing what God’s up to, but at least there’s hope.

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” –Revelation 21:5
Maybe, just maybe, you can join me in rejoicing in your transition.

What do you think? Are you experiencing the “new” and the uncomfortable that goes with it? What have you learned about transition?

Jason Stasyszen

EndlessImpact.com

(On Twitter)

Abundance

Monday, June 10th, 2013

I’m back from vacation (came back the 9th), but I had anticipated a little catching up to do.  So I scheduled a post  here to save me from having to get right back into blogging.  I also have scheduled a guest post for you as a carry-over from last week’s special guests. Kari is one of the newest blogs I found (thanks to Melanie Wilson).  She highlighted one of Kari’s posts; I followed the link; and have been following every since.  Kari’s information is at the end of her post.  Here’s Kari:

If all the people in the world were lined up according to material wealth, most Americans (probably everyone reading this blog), would be in the top 10%. (See where you rank!)

Almost 80% of Earth’s population lives on less than $10 a day while almost half the world – over 3 billion people – live on less than $2.50 a day.

When I consider how many people live in poverty and how easily I spend $2.50 or $10 without thinking, I realize the impact of material abundance on my life.

Along with my own habits, my culture seems to scream self-attained abundance too. We should have what we want, when we want it. Many times, I have found myself filling desires I didn’t know I had until I saw them on television or at the store.

Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 describes the impact of material abundance well.

“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes? The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.”

Sleep decreases as we worry about maintaining or increasing abundance. Focus on what matters decreases as we live with too much to do and not enough time to do it. Dissatisfaction increases with love of material abundance.

Matthew 6 provides a proper view of abundance, telling us not to worry about what we’ll eat, drink or wear (v 31), and to instead first seek God and His righteousness (v 33). Between those verses we discover why: God already knows what we need (even if we don’t). Focusing on Him means we not only receive what we need, but we also find truly satisfying abundance as well.

So what does abundance from God – abundance that truly satisfies – look like?

God wants us to live in abundance, but it’s not the abundance described in magazines and commercials. In fact, so much of what we think of when we describe abundance involves that which God tells us not to concern ourselves with at all.

Our own efforts to create abundance only result in worry, lack of sleep, and insatiable desires, leaving us loving that which leads to destruction (Psalm 52:7). Abundance from God not only meets our needs and makes us better, it “abundantly exceeds” anything we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

DISCUSSION: How do God’s intentions for abundance affect you?

Kari Scare is a freelance writer from Michigan. Her passions include reading books, magazines and blogs, pursuing a healthy lifestyle through exercise and diet, spending time with her two boys and her husband, and of course, writing. While these passions play a large part in defining who she is, they are guided and directed by her faith in Christ. Everything she does revolves around His will for her life. 

Kari blogs at Struggle to Victory, and her focus lies with showing that victory of any size or significance requires some amount of struggle. By being deliberate, intentional and curious, by pursuing simplicity and balance, and by striving to age gracefully, struggle will lead to victory.

OnBeingFed

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

I am on vacation this week. See here. My guest today is Dr. Melanie Wilson (but I don’t know if she likes having that “doctor” part publicized.  Melanie is one of my newer blogs I read.  We have been following each other for about two months.   She actually has two blogs.  You can read about Melanie and her blogs at the end of this post.  Here’s Melanie:

I’ve been a member of the same church for more than twenty years. I’ve been a rush-out-the-door-after-church pew sitter, a staff member, and everything in-between.

I have to be honest and admit that there have been many, many times when I haven’t been happy with my church. In fact, I’ve shed many tears of frustration and disappointment.

At these times of disillusionment, I’ve shared my feelings with Christian friends. The advice given by many of them has been to attend church where I can be fed. In other words, I should go to a church where I can hear the Word preached in a way that helps me grow spiritually.

That sounded so good to me! I wanted to learn the things of God and be inspired the way I was when I read great Christian books and heard sermons on the radio. Why should I be starving for spiritual food in my own church? I had the go-ahead to look for a new church home, didn’t I?

There was a problem with this philosophy other than my husband’s reluctance to change churches and my love for so many of the people I worshiped with: it wasn’t biblical.

Never had Jesus told His disciples to go where they could be fed. In fact, God Himself is named the source of our spiritual food (Deuteronomy 8:3). I didn’t need to go to church to feed on the Word. I could and did do that at home and everywhere I went, courtesy of mobile devices that delivered challenging teaching.

But the truth about God being the source of spiritual nourishment isn’t what bothered me most about my well-meaning friends’ advice. It was what Jesus told Peter: “Feed my sheep.” Not “Go and be fed,” but “feed others.”

If I were a brand-new Christian, I would need spiritual nourishment for sure. But I’m not. I’m a woman God has blessed with a great banquet of spiritual food over the years. I’ve been fed. My calling is to feed the sheep.

And so now I ask the Lord how best to provide spiritual nourishment to His people and I am at peace. There are no more tears of frustration, only gratitude that I am allowed to participate in the Lord’s banquet.

How about you? Do you feel it’s important to find a church where you can be fed? Or are you blessed to be feeding the sheep?

Dr. Melanie Wilson is a Christian psychologist turned homeschooling mother of six. She shares quick-to-read encouragement at The Inspired Day and sanity-saving ideas for Christians and homeschoolers at Psychowith6.

Don’tGiveUp!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

I am n vacation this week.  See here.  My guest today is Larry “the Deuce.”  He blogs at Deucology. Larry, like Floyd, works in the construction industry and I relish his “take” on things.  Here’s Larry:

It’s an honor to stand in for my good blogging friend, Bill, today.  I hope that I can live up to his lofty standards.

Last week I wrote a post over on my blog where I described the fact that I had developed a type of “laryngitis”.  This laryngitis was one where I had lost my blogging voice.  I could still, and did still, croak out my own required posting schedule each weak, but I could barely speak.  I had lost my mojo.

Somewhere, even after that post, I realized what two things were missing from my blog over the past few months.

Passion and Purpose.

I had lost both of these things in what I had been writing of late.

Your reaction?  It might be, so what?  The thing is that it might have happened to you.  Not necessarily in a blog.  You may not be a blogger.  That doesn’t mean you haven’t developed laryngitis in your life.  You may have lost both your passion and your purpose.

You may have lost your passion and purpose in any area of your life.  Your job?  Happens all the time.

Your marriage?  Unfortunately, much too often.

Your relationship with the Lord?  More often than you think, they disappear.

Somewhere along the way, it has probably happened to you.

The question is can you get it back?  Absolutely.

Don’t ask me how.  That isn’t the purpose of this post.  I only want you to keep trying.

If your job is a little fuzzy, keep going in.  Keep a good attitude.

Your marriage isn’t going the way you hoped it would?  Keep loving your spouse, even when you don’t want to.

Your relationship with the Lord has gone dark and you feel like your prayers are hitting the ceiling?  Keep praying and keep pursuing.

You’ve lost your voice in your blog?  Keep writing.  And writing.  And writing.  Until you get your mojo back.

Whatever it is that you used to be passionate and purposeful about, keep going after it.  Keep going until you regain that passion and purpose.

Like Jim Valvano once said, “Don’t give up.  Don’t ever give up.”

Have you ever lost your purpose and passion?  Did you get it back?  What did you do?

Born to be Wild

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

I am on vacation this week.  (See here)   I have asked some friends to guest post for me.  Floyd has become a special friend over the past two years or so that we have been following each other.  He blogs here.   His unique storytelling ability should not be missed.  Here’s Floyd.

I didn’t even realize it, but the song was more than just a catchy tune, it was an anthem. It represented freedom, excitement, and all the things a seven year old boy held dear in his unspoken dreams and aspirations. I heard the song again and contemplated the history I shared with the old tune. Right about that time, Bill shared a video here with the background song being the anthem of my youth.

Like most kids, I longed to live the dream I’d built around the perspective learned in that song. “Get your motor running…” When my time came I did indeed get my motor running, “Head out on the highway – lookin’ for adventure and whatever comes our way.”

Every time I took to the highway, or any street really, it was all about the adventure; the kind that comes from risking an undervalued life with an immortal attitude. The hard driving music and the lyrics that pumped adrenaline through my veins addicted me to the freedom the song was selling. Somehow I knew that I, like the writer of that song, was Born To Be Wild.

Fear and dread filled my mind, throat, and belly, while falling toward the water from forbidden heights. That same taste of poison bit at my tongue as I slid down the pavement, fighting to control thousands of pounds of muscle car. Butterflies produced the drug within as I graduated to the fight game while living out the anthem of reckless and wild.

Being reckless is just one aspect of human tendencies, and we all  fall under the category of “fallen.” We’re deceived by the enemy to believe we’re a little different, a little smarter, maybe stronger, a lot luckier. It is the lie of foolishness. We’re not born to be wild – animals are wild – we were Born To Be Wise. We’re called to protect others and ourselves – not throw our lives into a lottery jar of chance.

The scars from surgeries as well as the wisdom gained the hard way due to living that lie of “Born To Be Wild” remind me that we were born with the meekness to tackle fear as it manifests itself in different ways across our lives. Healthy reverence for the One who causes or allows all things, including our free will, is the beginning of wisdom and courage. Chasing after fear for some type of fulfillment is “chasing the wind.”

In the end it doesn’t bring about gratification – it brings about regret… with a good dose of pain for measure…

Did anyone else buy into a distorted world view sold by our society as a kid? 

Here is the video Floyd made reference to at the beginning.

Patience

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

I am on vacation this week.  See here.  My guest today is my “little sis.”  Well, actually I don’t have a sister…not a blood one anyway.  But if I was to have one, this young lady would be more than welcome to join my family.  Zee is a native of Ukraine and blogs here. I look forward to the day we will meet-here or in the air.  Here’s Zee.

A dear friend of mine once told me, “Never pray for patience.”

I looked up at him in surprise. “Why not?”

“Because it can only be learned by getting through trials.”

This conversation took place over seven years ago but since then I have learned the words of my friend were indeed wise.

Patience is one of the toughest virtues of all. And I am not simply talking about putting up with something, but waiting upon the right time to act. Waiting for an answer. Waiting for a sign of some sort. Waiting for something to happen.

Sometimes I wonder if hearing a “No” in response to a prayer is better than “Maybe.” Maybe can imply that a “Yes” is coming. At the same time, it might still bring a “No.” This uncertainty kills me. Yet, God is teaching me that all things come in their time. (Thankfully, He is a patient teacher who doesn’t get bothered with my constant nagging and asking “Are we there yet?” like the Donkey from Shrek.)

I can’t get a dialogue out of my head I have recently read in a book “Afloat” by Erin Healy.

“At least now you know you’re doing what you must do.”

“Is it enough?”

“Is it enough? That’s a question of a man who thinks waiting is the weaker activity. But patience requires the strength of Hercules.”

We are so used to acting. We want to do something, change things, move forward. It is what is expected from us by the society.

Yet sometimes we are called to “Be still and know that [God] is God.” (Psalm 46:10)

I live in a city populated by five million people. It is not as big as Moscow, Russia or New York, but it is big nonetheless. The hustle and bustle go on 24/7. Well, on Sunday mornings, as I walk to Church, the city is quiet because the majority is recovering after Friday night and Saturday. But still – cars are whizzing by on a highway in front of my apartment building, I can hear the elevator working in the middle of the night as people get back home from work or elsewhere. Trolleybusses are always full as well as all the other means of public transportation. It’s a constant GO GO GO. It is what is expected.

So when I read “Be still”… I look up and ask God, “But… there is so much to do!”

Yet it is in quietness I can hear Him and learn from Him. It is in stillness that I can glimpse His power instead of my weakness. It is counterintuitive, but, incredibly, it works.

Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee.

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

Psalm 46:8-11, MSG

Feel free to share your thoughts with Zee and the other readers.

As an aside: today (June 3rd) is my daughter Tami’s birthday.  Happy Birthday oldest daughter.  🙂

STOP!!

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

I am away on vacation this week. (See here) I called on some friends to help.  Each day a different blogger will share their thoughts with you.  Today’s guest is Jason who blogs here.  We have followed each other for close to four years.  He is also very passionate about Human Trafficking.  His site is here.    Here’s Jason:

Please, for the love of our Father in heaven, STOP TAKING JEREMIAH 29:11 OUT OF CONTEXT.

Stop printing it on T-shirts.

Stop putting it on coffee mugs.

And PLEASE stop quoting it to those of us whose lives are little more than a pile of rubble heaped on top of us.

Why?  Because that verse is not for us today.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

The “you” in the verse is not an individual “you.”  It’s a collective “you” as in the nation of Israel.  That verse is part of a passage where God is talking to the nation of Israel and is telling them that after 70 years of exile in Babylon He will restore them.  (See verse 10 if you don’t believe me.)

The promise was then…and now…ONLY for the nation of Israel.

Not for the teenager struggling to figure out what to do after high school.

Not for the woman whose husband just ran off with a flight attendant from Sweden named Inga.

Not for the guy who lost his job and can’t find a way to support his family.

It’s for none of them.

And every single time we quote that verse to someone completely out of the context in which GOD HIMSELF spoke the words, we’re not only doing a disservice to those we’re speaking to but we’re also being false teachers of the Word of God.

The church, especially in America, has become little more than a place to tickle the ears of those who attend Sunday mornings and then disappear until the following Sunday.  The idea of “joy” equates only to “happiness” and thus we try to put a Pollyanna spin on verses and situations to try and provide the “joy juice” that will make someone feel better in hard times.

I know that we want to comfort one another in times of hardship.  I’m someone who wants nothing more than for God to put me in a place to help someone in need.  But if I’m to be the hands and feet of Christ to those people, I can’t then choose not to be the mouth of Jesus as well.  We’re called to be Christ…the whole Christ…to those we minister to on this planet.  We’re to reflect him (as best we can, of course, being imperfect beings who need Him.)

We can’t reflect Him if we’re intentionally distorting Him.

Now, can we say the same God who promised Israel he would redeem them is still a God who loves to redeem those who are his people?  Sure.

Can we say that the same God who loved the nation of Israel then is the same God who loves us today?  Indeed.

Can we point to that verse as a time that God made a promise and then kept it showing that He does not have His word return void?  You know it.

But that’s not the same as telling your son/daughter/mother/father/husband/wife/neighbor/yoga instructor that God has a plan to prosper them.

And it’s time that we stepped up and stopped distorting the Word.

Feel free to share your comments with Jason and others.