My Own, Personal Revival

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We all need a good, swift kick in the butt sometimes.  Maybe that motivation to workout, to be healthy. That drive to be a better person/husband/father.  But honestly, sometimes there is no end game in sight, no prize at the end of the race that you’re actually shooting for.  Sometime you just need to revive the person you are because you’ve lost sight of him/her.

Life can be tough and challenging so much so that you can lose sight of who you are and who God wants you to be.  We can fill our life with things and tasks that will cover up and cloud the path that God set us on.  I’ve done it and so have you, but that can be a costly mistake if we let it linger too long.  Look, I get it.  We are busy people.  We have work, church, a social life and the kids have sports, school and their friends and sometimes it just hard to fit it all in, but the bottom line is that we make time for the things that are most important to us and the decisions that we make will affect our kids and how they prioritize.  I’ve seen this in my own home.

Being a salesman and social network enthusiast, I would be on my phone quite a bit.  So much so that my impressionable young son at the time wanted to see and do what daddy was doing.  I gave him the impression that my phone/electronics were important and therefore they became important to him, so much so that he would sneak out of his room at night to play the iPad or Kindle.  To this day he still struggles with wanting to play electronics and I will forever feel that I am directly responsible for that.  The same thing applies to all people.  If we show others that something is important to us they too will realize that that will take precedence over them or what ever I’m doing.  We just have to make sure that it’s the right things, not the wrong ones.

We need a revival.  I’m not talking about a gathering of folks under tents in a field somewhere (although nationally we need one), but I’m talking about our own, personal revival.  An awakening of sorts to find the person that we once were: driven, focused, purposeful.  Not only do we needs our own personal revival, but we also need re-purposing.

I own a small woodworking company and one of the neat things I do is use old wood that has been reclaimed, either from old barns, buildings or pallets.  That wood has been somewhere and has witnessed things, much like a person.  It had its own purpose for being where it was.  It has a story to tell.  We are the same way.  We have been places, seen things and people can benefit from hearing our stories, but we have to return to being that person again.

I personally have been distracted from being the person that I’m called to be by God.  In order for me to make a difference in someone I first have to make a difference in myself and this is why I need my own, personal revival.

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Why can’t I?

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I get so frustrated with myself sometimes. Believe it or not, within that frustration comes amazement too because I amaze myself at how dumb or irrational or idiotic I can be given certain situations.  Have you ever experienced this?  Did you ever think that you’d amaze yourself in the bad things? I sure didn’t.  I always thought that I would amaze myself at the things I could accomplish on the good side, never the bad.

I’ve tried and tried to analyze this so I could find a way to try to stop myself from doing this, but I’ve never been able to achieve it.  There is no manual, no instruction book with step by step guidelines on how to fix it. No DIY TV show or workshop at the Home Depot.  There is but only one way to stop it and that is to learn from the mistakes you’ve made.

Sounds simple, right? Not so fast….

Yeah, you’ve always heard to learn from your mistakes and to never repeat them, but no one ever really teaches you how to really learn from the mistakes.  How do you apply the lesson learned when most of the time you’re uncertain as to how you got there in the first place?  This is what most people, organizations, churches, parents etc don’t teach because there is no true guideline for that.

In my experience, I have learned that the end lesson is important and that is what most say to learn from, but to me its the journey that got you there that is more important to learn from and often the hardest to grasp. Being able to recognize those key happenings that set you on that path is more valuable to me than the end lesson, for if you can learn to prevent that you wouldn’t wind up in that pit in the end.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NIV) says: “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”

Those are important words to me. I take them as this: He made the good and he made the bad.  Lessons are to be learned from both, but our choices and decisions along the way affect our outcome.  If we work on the thoughts and choices that lead us then we therefore can affect the outcome and to me, that is how you learn from the mistakes.  You analyze how you got there to begin with.

I’m sure that sounds simple to some and not very prophetic, but it took me a long time to realize that.  That’s why I couldn’t ever really learn from my mistakes because I didn’t know where to start.  Now that I do, things are much easier to grasp and control, although I still have a lot to learn.

Five Reasons Why The Blood Moon Prophecy is Just Bad Math

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Folks, here is a pretty awesome take on the Blood Moon story. Read and be educated.

Sean Holloway

bloodmoon

There are some very fascinating astronomical things happening in our solar system that started today. Last night, the full moon entered the shadow of the earth and created a cool looking and unique appearance that is different from the typical appearance of the moon. While the color of the moon during this eclipse is not always the same, and depends on different factors, last night’s was the more expected red colored “blood moon.” A blood moon is when there is a lunar eclipse at the same time as a full moon in the lunar cycle. But there is something more unusual about this particular occurrence. It is the first of four consecutive similar lunar events. There will be four more blood moons in the next 18 months. This sequence is called a tetrad. These four eclipses will occur on April 15th, 2014 (today), Oct 8th, 2014, April 4th, 2015, and…

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Soon he’ll know I’m not Superman…

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Before Gavin arrived and while Mary was still working, Joey, Sophie and I had daddy days on Saturdays if Mary were working.  Usually those days started by me taking them to Bojangle’s (a breakfast, biscuit place) to have breakfast and at some point during the rest of the day we’d play superheroes.

Joey always loved to be Batman and Sophie typically took Captain America (those were the dress up costumes they have).  I’d usually be the Hulk because I was bigger than them and I had a green t-shirt. We’d romp around the house, inside and out, playing for an hour or two or at least until they got bored.  The last two times that we played Joey insisted that I change characters to Superman. When I asked him why he’d say, “Because you’re my hero. And you’re super.”  Kleenex, folks. I needed Kleenex to wipe away the tears, to which Joey replied, “Daddy, Superman doesn’t cry!”  He was right or at least that’s our impression of him.

Most parents might have taken the sudden change of character as nothing at all, but when my son looked at me and called me a hero and said that I was super, that stuck with me.  In his little eyes I was a hero.  Somewhere along the line I did something that stuck with him and in his eyes that made me a hero.  Your probably thinking, “He doesn’t really know what a hero is” or “His concept of a hero is skewed because there’s so much he doesn’t know” and you may be right, but for the time being I’m going by what he said and here’s why.  It wasn’t long after this he started saying things like “Daddy, you can do that” or “Daddy could do that easily.” My point is my son believes in me.  He believes that I’m some sort of great being that can do incredible things. He watches me pick up things that he can’t and he’s amazed.  That makes me the strongest person ever in his eyes.  He see’s me do things that others can’t. That makes me special in his eyes.  Here’s a secret: I’m nothing special.

My point in all of this is that somewhere, somehow I made a difference in my son’s life. No matter how insignificant I am to the world, I’m 10 times as significant in my sons eyes. He loves me. He trusts me. He believes in me and that means all the world to me. I want him to know that I’ll always be there for him, no matter what.

The flip side to all of this is that one day he’ll know that I’m not Superman.  I am going to fail him. Matter of fact, I’ve failed him already, but his loving and kind heart blocks the bad so he doesn’t see me that way. His innocent little heart and mind will one day know that I’m just a regular guy with all the faults and failures of anyone else.  I’m nothing special, but if I continue to show him my unconditional love for him one thing will never fail: I’ll always be there for him and that power can’t be taken away unless God takes me home.  That’s why it’s important that I take all of my power and knowledge and direct him to the One who truly is Super: Jesus.

Christ is the perfect embodiment of all things truly super. Provider, Healer, Sacrifice, Peace, Righteousness and Leader: these are the qualities that any parent or human being could ever hope for their children or themselves which is why if I do my job well, all of my children will one day know Christ.  I may not be super at all, but while my son see’s me that way I’m going to continue to be the best dad and parent that I can be.  Just call me Clark…

Amazing New Life

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1920440_10202899752592157_896633339_nIf you’ve been wondering where my posts have been lately, two weeks ago today my wife Mary and I welcomed our newest addition to the family Gavin James Brooks (pictured above). So all of my time has been focused there. Everything couldn’t have gone more perfect than they did.  On top of that he sleeps pretty soundly through the night (about 6 hours at a time).  His little features are quite similar to his older brother Joey having big hands, big feet and an almost identical looking baby face. He’s a beautiful little guy through the combination of Mary’s great genetics and a lot of prayer that he look like his momma on my behalf. As I was holding Gavin the other day, I began to reflect on the whole process of the pregnancy from start to finish.

From the time we knew that “G” (Gavin) was going to be joining us in February we were able to watch him grow without ever really “seeing” him, meaning watching Mary’s belly grow. At about 18-20 weeks we could feel him kick, punch and do Tae-Bo in the womb.  He was certainly an active baby and at times he’d wake Mary up from a dead sleep with his womb-antics.  As he progressively got older he seemed to respond to subtle pokes from us.  We’d poke at one side and he seemed to poke back.  We’d poke from another spot and he did the same.  It was pretty cool to know that you were essentially having a “poking war” with your unborn child.  Some say it’s just a neurological reaction or reflexes, but I like to think that he’s responding to our touch.  As the pregnancy carried on Mary began to experience major leg cramps, some so severe they’d almost render her crippled when trying to walk the next morning. All of these instances plus others led me to compare the total pregnancy or birth process to that of a person who’s gained salvation recently.

As we begin to understand that there is more to our lives than what we see, we go through a transformation just like an unborn child.  As God reveals Himself to us we start to realize things (kicking in the womb) and start to react to the world.   When the world “pokes” at us we begin to poke back with what’s right instead of conforming.  It’s a response to the touch of God.  Once He works a miracle in your heart you can’t help but be changed.  I’m sure that as we’ve grown there have been times that we might of possibly made God cringe at some of the decisions we’d make (leg cramps), but it’s an overall part of the process.  We all have to learn and sometimes it’s the hard way.  Luckily, we have the ultimate Potter molding and shaping us, mending our cracks and imperfections into beauty marks. He doesn’t rid us of those imperfections because it’s important to see them and learn from them.

As far as his name goes, most associate the name Gavin with the musician Gavin Degraw (yes that had something to do with me choosing that name) I actually chose it because it means “battle hawk.” It’s believed that this hawk, typically white, was used to indicate war during the crusades and other battles, some battles as early as the medieval times.  I hope and pray that as Mary and I raise Gavin that he becomes a strong, encouraging influence to those around him

The rest of childhood is understood as the next growing, maturing phase and I’ll write about that soon, but for now I’m going to bask in this wonder of amazing, new life that is my son Gavin with whom God has given Mary and I the awesome pleasure of raising. To God be the Glory.

The Secret of a Successful Church

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The keys of success

Chances are if you read my blog you attend a church or have some affiliation with a church. Whether you’re a pastor, deacon, elder, lay person or just an attendee we all have important roles in the overall picture that is God’s great plan.

God has given each individual a purpose, defined or undefined, that plays an important role in His great plan.  Some folks come to understand their purpose while others have carried theirs out and not even known it.  Either way, we’ll all play our designed role one way or another and there is no one role that is more important than the next in God’s eyes.

Now I know that some of you might have decided to stop reading after that last statement because you believe that I’m crazy or delusional.

“How can a pastor be as important as a volunteer usher?”

“How can a musician be as important as a nursery worker?”

Ask any pastor and if he’s honest (and let’s hope that he is) he’ll tell you the secret to success in church ministry: “You are only as good or successful as the volunteers that you have.”

Truer words have never been spoken.  I’ve seen it first hand.  I’ve witnessed it week in and week out at the church that I attend.  You truly are only as successful as the volunteers that you have.

In conversations that I’ve had with people throughout the years I often get asked “What can I do? I’m just a nobody.”  First off, you’re not a nobody. God designed you for a reason. There are plenty of ways that you can serve at churches and quite frankly all volunteer positions are the most important because you are the first people who visitors see.  The impression you give, the friendliness you invoke and the words that you speak are the first interaction that any visitor has with the church that you’re at.  From the parking teams to the greeters and from the nursery workers to the ushers the experience you give will make or break whether a visitor stays or goes.  I know you think I’m crazy, but it’s true.

I have a friend who visited a large and local church and his experience his wife and he had in the first 10 minutes was shocking.  He tried to find a seat in a full, roped off auditorium and couldn’t find one.  He then removed the ropes and tried to sit down, but was approached by a yelling usher not to sit there.  Experiences like that can determine whether someone stays or not.  What if my friend wasn’t saved like I know he is? What if that one gesture turned a lost person away from God forever?  Awful, I know. I almost don’t even want to think about it, but things happen like this all over, so believe me when I say that volunteers are important!

If you’ve been struggling trying to figure out what it is exactly that God wants you to do might I suggest just starting with the small things and being faithful through serving in whatever capacity that your local church needs.  And as you’re faithful in the small things God will see fit to bless you with larger responsibilities.

If you’re a member of a smaller church and you can’t seem to figure out how to reach more people effectively, might I suggest to start by looking into your volunteers and make sure everyone is serving in the right place.  Sometimes you have good people in the wrong spot and they could be used more effectively somewhere else.

Hopefully we all have the mindset that church isn’t a competition to see who has the most members, but it’s a way to expand the gift of salvation to the community and the world.  I promise you that if you sat down with your local pastors in the community they would tell exactly as I said earlier that volunteers are The Secret of a Successful Church.

Imperfection is Beautiful

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Imperfect

I was asked to write my thoughts on the following topic.  If you have a topic you’d like to hear my thoughts on you can email me at  la2ryan@yahoo.com and share your thoughts there

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Believe this or not I’m not perfect. I know, I know, that’s hard to comprehend and I apologize for letting you all down, but it’s true.  Matter of fact I am far from perfect, like far, far away from perfect.  I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I’m not proud of, nor would I want anyone to know the details of said events, but did you know that it’s those imperfections that shape you into who you are today?

Imperfections, in my eyes, are some of the most attractive things about people. I’ve had a saying that I created that I’ve used for years and I believe it to be quote profound: “To forget your past is to ignore who you were.” What I mean by that is that is that your past only shapes you, it doesn’t define you.

Everyone’s past is completely different.  Each of us have chosen the paths that we’ve traveled and even though we may have intended it to go one way, it probably wound up in another direction.  Some paths led to good things, others to bad things, but the great part is that it’s not where you’ve been, but where you end up that matters and we all have a say-so as to where we end up to a degree. Our choices ultimately direct our paths and we have to take ownership in that, but know that just because we have a history of imperfections doesn’t mean that God won’t use us.  As a matter of fact God uses those imperfections to His advantage.

Let take a look at some biblical leaders that God used who made some bad choices in their life.

1) Moses: Moses was a man who had a list of imperfections and bad choices yet God still chose Moses to lead His people out from under Pharaoh.  Without getting in to great detail here are just a couple of things that Moses dealt with.  Moses witnessed a man beating one of his brethren (person of same nationality) and decided to kill him and then bury him in the sand.  Not only that Moses made sure no one was looking when he did which suggests slight premeditation.  On top of that Moses admits that he was slow with his speech or inadequate.  Even knowing all of this, God still chose him and Moses was still willing.

2) Paul: Paul was a persecutor of Christians, not to mention his job was to kill those who were against his beliefs.  God spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus, a revelation so to speak, and blinded him for three days and eventually led him to Ananias and the rest is history.  The conversion of Paul found in Acts 9 is a huge deal as to show that God can change the “chief of sinners” to the “chief of missionaries.”

I know that I only listed a couple of examples, but I chose two of the largest figures for this reason: if you think the sin you’ve once committed can or is hindering you from being used by God, you’re wrong.  God has the power to use anyone in any way regardless of your past or future mistakes. All He asks is that you be willing to serve and He will use you and bless you in away that you never thought possible.  Always remember that imperfections only show that you’ve tried and been unsuccessful and in God’s eye’s imperfection is beautiful.