True Role Models: Strength in Weakness

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It’s a Tuesday evening in March. I’m sitting in a dark hospital room watching one of the strongest men I know struggle. He was diagnosed with mouth cancer just a few months ago and the transition from how he was to how he is now is staggering. This once strong, supportive man who hasn’t ever complained about anything is leaning on me for help.

He’s the kind of guy that never needed anything from you except the occasional favor. Lift this and move that kind of thing. He controlled the room and every moment with grace and wisdom, in a good way. Always a delight to be around and a joy to carry a conversation with. He’s loved me with a firm confidence and advised me with wisdom beyond my years. But tonight, he needs me. The family needs me to do my part and help him in his greatest need.

When I was asked I didn’t hesitate. “Of course I can.” I would do anything for him, for them, for my family. He, they have done so much for me that I’m honored that they would even ask. I consider him my 2nd earthly father and count it a joy to be here although would find it odd.

As I sit here and just watch him rest I begin to think about the relationship of father and son, both heavenly and earthly. I think of how my father raised me to be strong, confident and honest man. I also think of the many times that I made him sad and upset by some of the foolish things I had done. I can honestly say that I learned more from my weaknesses than I did from strengths. It’s in weakness that your true character shines through. When you are at your lowest point in life how you act says a lot about you and who you truly are. My actions in my lowest times would trouble a lot of people, but through that I have been able to better shape who I am today. My character developed more from weakness than through the triumph. I see a lot of the same here in this hospital room. Other than the pain, this strong man hasn’t wavered in his character. He has been as joyful as he can be and as polite as he’s always been. Given the pain he’s experiencing anyone could understand any Freudian slip, but he hasn’t uttered the first word. Always yes sir, yes ma’am, thank you and please. Not once has he changed. That is true character. True genuine-ness. True strength.

In a world clamoring for leadership and genuine people, you don’t need to look to Hollywood, professional athletes, musicians or Capital Hill. Look no further than those who struggle with life and it’s many situations. Look to those who have triumphed through cancer and illness. Look to those who have lost someone and have made it through to the other side. Look to real people and real life situations and that’s where you’ll find the strongest role models that this world needs.

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Speaking Through You

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Our pastor Jonathan Howes of Graystone Church preached a fantastic sermon today in which he presented the how God speaks through us. As we strive to be more like Him we start to exude the characteristics of Christ thus becoming more Christ-like.

As Christians, this isn’t anything new and by that I mean this is something that we’ve all heard before, but we all know that it can be really hard to do consistently. As I listened to pastor Howes preach, God revealed to me something that I hadn’t quite thought of before regarding the Trinity and how we all as Christians have a connection to it in our lives. I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Everyone has a connection to the Trinity in their lives. There are parallels between the Father (God), the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit we can all relate to. Man, woman, parent and child alike. Here’s what I mean:

The Father: As a parent, God the Father represents the experience of life and all that is learned through it. From the hardest experience you’ve faced to simplest learned task, the Father is wisdom and knowledge obtained through having lived life. Much how the Creator pieces everything together and knows how everything works, the knowledge and understanding we as parents have from living our lives and having experienced so much, we now pass that on to our family helping them along their way. We are now the teacher.

The Son: From the moment Jesus was born until He died on the cross, He was involved in the path that the Father, God had laid out for Him. Every moment, every word and every situation was intentional not only for Jesus, the Son, but also for man to witness. That example was set out for us to absorb, to envelop our lives. We have all been a child. We have lived under the roof of a parental figure of some kind albeit parents, grandparents, foster parents etc. We’ve spent time listening, watching the examples of those before us gathering knowledge and learning from their leadership and their mistakes. We’ve processed the outcomes of their choices and have used all of that to help us form a path in conjunction with Gods plan for our life.

The Holy Spirit: Discernment. Taking all of the knowledge learned from your experiences and applying it to your everyday situations. That knowledge equates to the Holy Spirit in the sense that you comprehend right and wrong, good or bad. You’ve learned how to decipher what action to take through the Holy Spirit and your combined knowledge through your life experiences. This is and is how the Holy Spirit operates.

As you go through your day, through your week, look at life from this aspect. Seeing things from this point of view helps generate a greater appreciation for the Godly details in how God equips us and how He speaks through us on a daily basis.

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.

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

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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.