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Principle Four

Moving Passed our Difficult Past

Honor and Respect for Our Veterans

(Repost/Updated Post, originally posted in April 2018.

I am of the belief that we owe a debt of respect and gratitude to those who choose to serve in the military, regardless of active duty, combat service or branch of service. Those that answer the call of duty to our nation are owed that much simply for having chosen to accept that responsibility and the risks associated with it. Most people agree with this as it relates to those wearing the uniform of our armed services, and those that have died in the service of our country.

What is not so clear for many is the same respect and appreciation for those that once served and no longer active in their service to our nation. Some people would suggest that they are not owed that same level of respect and appreciation however I would disagree. I believe that once a person accepts that responsibility and the risks associated with it, we owe them great respect and appreciation and that is to last the duration of our lives and not theirs.

There are people who question why I believe that we own veterans respect and appreciation for the entirety of their lives, and beyond. I think it’s like the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who gave his life so that we could live our lives free from the burden of sin. When someone’s sacrifice has eternal consequences the value of that sacrifice has to be the equivalent. Meaning that when someone is willing to lay down their life for someone else, especially someone else who may not even care or appreciate that act of sacrifice, the value of that sacrifice is compounded beyond the purely physical. And if the sacrifice, be it a fixed consequence or just a potential consequences is the end of that persons life, than the respect due in exchange for it must be of equal or greater value.

When a young person is willing to take on the risk of that duty, at the potential cost of their life, those of us on the receiving end of that sacrifice owe respect and appreciation to that person for the equal duration. This means that for as long as I am alive, living in this free country (although questionable as to what degree it is free and for how much longer), I will show respect to and appreciate those that have made that choice to accept that risk.

And to those that paid the price of that risk, loosing their lives as the cost of that sacrifice, I owe an even greater debt which to me carries over to their remaining family as they are tasked with suffering the consequences of that sacrifice for the entirety of their lives. Therefore I will owe them the respect and appreciation for that same duration. That respect and appreciation is undeniable and is to be defended to the same degree it was given.

For as long as I have breath in my lungs I will owe that gratitude and respect because as long as I have life, their sacrifice was paid for it. I think this is something that has not been taught well to the last few generations as is evidenced by the increasing lack of respect shown to our military by these younger generations. This travesty must be corrected now if we take this debt of respect seriously.

We need to begin teaching our children to understand the sacrifices made by those who have given their lives in service to our nation and help them to learn to show that respect to those who serve and those who have served.

Take the time this weekend to thank a Veteran!

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Unhealthy Lust

Unhealthy lust is a denial of God’s sovereignty and an elevation of our own flesh. We are denying God’s will for our purity and saying what we desire is more important than what God desires for us. When one says I can’t stop thinking about this, or can’t stop desiring this, they are choosing to accept that they control the action. The truth is we cannot deny our own flesh without the help of the Holy Spirit. We need His power to overcome our human sin urges, His wisdom to lead us in safe directions that prevent us from being vulnerable and we need His convictions to help us know what behavior and thinking is unhealthy.

We have the choice to choose what thoughts we allow ourselves to entertain and explore. When lost in lust, we allow our minds to pursue fantasy which feeds our lust for various sinful desires. Whether sinful relationships, power, or other sinful desires it is our decision to either continue that thought process towards the sin or to, as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬, take captive that sinful thought and make it obedient to Christ. (“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:5‬ ‭NIV) This means not allowing the sinful thoughts that enter our minds to be pursued. When we say we can’t, we are mistaking stoping those sinful thoughts from coming at us, with allowing ourselves to take the initial thought and explore and expand upon it.

An example would be when presented with a visual stimulation such as a an attractive woman with a low cut top on. Our minds immediately develop a thought based upon our fleshly sexual desires. The first thought is a reaction of our stimulated eyes sending the message to our brains that says, “that looks exciting”. We then have the choice to shut down that line of thinking or allow it to continue. Example in this case might be to begin to imagine touching the breast, or visually imagining what the woman looks like completely naked. The point being that we choose to take it further.

We can’t avoid completely the temptation that will come at us in this world. Even Jesus was tempted. The difference was He did not allow sin to take place. It is not sin to be tempted. It is what we do when tempted that determines the difference between sinful thoughts/actions and righteous thoughts/actions.

The enemy wants you to believe that you can’t stop or to convince you that because you are being tempted you have already sinned, that way he can convince you to take it even farther. I cannot tell you how many times I allowed myself to dig into a deeper hole of sin by choosing to take that next step because, “well, I’ve already sinned so I might as well enjoy it.” It was a choice. I don’t want to admit it is a choice because then I can’t blame it on something outside of my control.

It’s so much easier to believe that we are born this way, or have some defect, some illness that causes us to sin, than to admit that we are willfully choosing sin over obeying God’s commandments for our lives. A person choosing to pursue same sex relationships or otherwise promiscuous sex life, is no different that one choosing to live a life of greed, theft, etc. In all instances we are choosing to allow our temptations to be acted upon thus sinning. We want it to be someone else’s fault because then we deny responsibility for our actions. In the end we have the choice. We always have the choice.

There are those that would try to separate sexual sin from drug addictions etc but an alcoholic always has the choice to not take the sip, just as you have the choice to not allow that thought or sinful desire to be acted upon either mentally or physically. While it is true that chemical dependency is developed and the addiction to drugs or alcohol is then different from sexual addictions, they all begin with choices that we do control.

We try to convince ourselves that just thinking about sinful sexual desire is harmless and not actually committing sin. But it is far from harmless and as it says in ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” To look at someone lustfully is the same as having physically acted out the sinful act. It’s in our hearts where the sin starts not when we engage with another person.

Regardless of the bad choices we have all made there is hope and healing available to us if we choose to pursue it. No matter how far you’ve taken the path of sin and have fallen God can still redeem you and free you from those choices. It all starts with the choice to obey God and submit our lives to Him. We confess our sins, repent (walk away from) our sins and get the help we need to live a live free from our sinful past.

For anyone struggling with addictions and sexual sin, I urge you to find a Christian based 12 step program such as Celebrate Recovery and commit to the process of recovery and freedom from sin. Look for the link on my links page.

The Choice to Choose Hope

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The last several days these verses have been on my screen and in my face as God tries to speak to me through His Word. Sometimes maybe I have allowed the struggles of this life to drowned out the comfort of His Word. Hope, what a beautiful Hope it is that God gives us through His Word. If we can only train our ears to hear, our eyes to see and our hearts to receive it’s hope filled message.

The struggles in my life of late have been some of the toughest I’ve ever faced. The loss of our son and the grief associated is far greater than ever imagined. It’s left a hole in my heart that yearns for and sometimes screams for, a different life. Like the words of Jesus Himself, “Father if it is possible to take this cup from me,” I wish this burden was not mine to bare.

But yet it is, and God’s will and life’s circumstances have lead to this moment and I will face it regardless of what I wish or prefer. And that is life here on this earth. Pain and suffering will come. Loss and tragedy will cross our path at some point and we have little choice but to accept it and learn how to endure it, and endure it we must.

The choice we do have is the choice of how we respond to it. We can respond with anger, fear, regret, sorry, and so many other socially accepted emotions as the world expects us to react when faced with these kinds of events in our lives. But God has another plan, a better plan and a plan that the world can hardly comprehend or understand.

God gives us hope. And hope is what allows us to take our focus off of the pain and other emotions we experience when going through these difficult seasons of life. Hope is the beam of light that shoots through the darkest of nights and changes everything. Hope is the unstoppable force of love that can changes everything. Hope is the answer to life’s painful questions. Hope is God’s hand reaching through the heavens down to the deepest pit, waiting for us to only take hold of it to experience the amazing peace that is beyond comprehension to the world.

I choose to grab a hold of that hope. To take the path that leads through the pain rather than around it, knowing that God is with me though it, that God will carry me when my strength is gone and that God has a plan for all of this pain, a glorious plan that is far beyond my understanding or expectations. Exceedingly and abundantly beyond anything I can think or imagine. Is not that amazing?

He, the creators the heavens and the earth, loves me so much that He has a plan to use all the pain and sorry to bring about good and restore my broken heart and wounded spirit. He leads me through these seasons if I will take hold of it. He comforts me if I take hold of it. He gives me strength if I will receive it. He even speaks to me the comforting words of encouragement if I only listen.

I praise God for His Word and His Love. I soak up His love like a dry sponge soaks up water, ending the drought and spilling out the abundance. I rejoice knowing that God will use every ounce of pain for His Glory and through it will come great peace. That pease that surpasses all understanding, oh how I love to feel the softness of that peace. Thank you Jesus for your mercy and grace that surrounds me as I walk through the fires of life, protecting me, comforting me and leading me towards You.

My Son Came Home to Die Today

My Son came home to die today.

Forgotten dreams and hopes abandoned

My Son will live in eternity

His body is but dust

But his soul shall live forever

In clouds of doubt and fear

My thoughts wander aimlessly

Like a mist in the morning

It hangs like darkness

Pain remains

Our Son died today.

We watched as the cancer took him

His body is being consumed

Cancer like a rash spreading throughout his organs

Invading his body unwanted.

His face cries out in pain although he is silent.

The look in his eyes tells it all

He would soon be gone.

Our Son, gone but not forgotten

Pain oozes to the surface

As mundane tasks elude me

My focus gone

My will evaporated

My mind wanders

Random thoughts take over

My anger has returned

Why oh God, why?

I want the pain to end

But it only subsides

The tears can come

Although sometimes they get stuck

I try to force them

They lye under the surface

Waiting to explode

Why can’t I release them?

The days pass me by

I’m lost in a daze.

The cards and flowers

Still come

Reminding me of love

Yet I feel so little inside

My heart is broken

Will it ever really heal?

Today is June 29, 2018. Our son died on June 15, 2018 after and a little over 8 month battle with lung cancer. He died peacefully surrounded by his family and friends in his home in Lima Ohio. He left behind his fiancée Beth, daughter Sierra, son Hunter, daughter Ashlee, granddaughter Lyla, Mother Georgia and me. So many were touched by his life and love, including me.

While I can find peace knowing that God is good and that He loves me and has a plan, to bring good even from this pain. It makes it no less painful nor does it remove the hole in my heart from his loss.

The road ahead is filled with opportunity and God has a plan for all this pain. I will walk through this knowing that God will carry me when I have nothing left, He will guide me, and He will be there with me through it all.

Much of the above was written the day our son died except as noted above. I wish to dedicate this post to our son, Robert Lee Harmon!

Finding Rest Through God

I’m sitting here reading a plan about finding Rest for your Soul and struggling to find the balance between being still and allowing God to speak to me through His Word and not falling sleep as exhaustion plays a part in my everyday life these days.

The pressure of a somewhat overwhelming schedule for the day and pending deadlines seem so counter to reading about and seeking “rest for my soul” at the moment. And yet it is moments like this where there is no other way but to depend on God that I can sometimes find that rest that comes from surrendering completely. It’s the area where God works His best work. If I can learn to take that surrender step sooner, at the beginning, now that would lead to greater rest in my life.

The very next reading plan I open, this is what I read;

Jehovah Uzzi: The Lord My Strength

Are you out of gas today? Look to the Lord. And even if you’re not physically spent or feeling emotionally weary today, look to God. Trust in His power to “make it through the day” or ask for His strength to fill you and animate you so that you might have the power to live and speak for Him (Acts 1:8). Ask for strength to resist sin and make a difference in the lives of others. And thank God for His ability “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

Wow is not our God Great! These are the verses the plan included;

“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

Psalms 28:7 NLT

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.””

Acts of the Apostles 1:8 NLT

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

Ephesians 3:20 NLT

Then I go to my daily email from Christine Caine and this is today’s message;

Have Faith for Success!

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8, NKJV).  

This verse shows us the key to success, and it’s God’s Word. You see, God is your manufacturer. He designed you. He knows your capability. And He has given you incredible potential and power through the Holy Spirit to live a supernatural life.

But to activate the faith necessary to be the person He has called you to be, it’s so important to read His Word and listen to His voice.

• If you have heard all your life that you can make it, you are a winner and you are created by God for an awesome destiny, you’ll have the faith to believe it.

• But if all you’ve heard is that you’re useless, hopeless or not intelligent enough, chances are you’ll exercise your faith in the negative to believe that.

So take care what you listen to and focus on God’s Word. Remember, faith for success or failure comes by hearing!

I am so thankful that God loves me enough to speak to my needs on such a personal level. I pray this encourages someone else today too.

The Oath of Service (Respect for Veterans)

I am of the belief that we owe a debt of respect and gratitude to those who choose to serve in the military, regardless of active duty, combat service or branch of service. Those that answer the call of duty to our nation are owed that much simply for having chosen to accept that responsibility and the risks associated with it. Most people agree with this as it relates to those wearing the uniform of our armed services, and those that have died in the service of our country.

What is not so clear for many is the same respect and appreciation for those that once served and no longer active in their service to our nation. Some people would suggest that they are not owed that same level of respect and appreciation however I would disagree. I believe that once a person accepts that responsibility and the risks associated with it, we owe them great respect and appreciation and that is to last the duration of our lives and not theirs.

There are people who question why I believe that we own veterans respect and appreciation for the entirety of their lives, and beyond. I think it’s like the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who gave his life so that we could live ours free from the burden of sin. When someone’s sacrifice has eternal consequences the value of that sacrifice has to be the equivalent. Meaning that when someone is willing to lay down their life for someone else, especially someone else who may not even care or appreciate that act of sacrifice, the value of that sacrifice is compounded beyond the purely physical. And if the sacrifice, be it a fixed consequence or just a potential consequences is the end of that persons life, than the respect due in exchange for it must be of equal or greater value.

When a young person is willing to take on the risk of that duty, at the potential cost of their life, those of us on the receiving end of that sacrifice owe respect and appreciation to that person for the equal duration. This means that for as long as I am alive, living in this free country (although questionable as to what degree it is free and for how much longer), I will show respect to and appreciate those that have made that choice to accept that risk.

And to those that paid the price of that risk, loosing their lives as the cost of that sacrifice, I owe an even greater debt which to me carries over to their remaining family as they are tasked with suffering the consequences of that sacrifice for the entirety of their lives. Therefore I will owe them the respect and appreciation for that same duration. That respect and appreciation is undeniable and is to be defended to the same degree it was given.

For as long as I have breath in my lungs I will owe that gratitude and respect because as long as I have life, their sacrifice was paid for it. I think this is something that has not been taught well to the last few generations as is evidenced by the increasing lack of respect shown to our military by these younger generations. This travesty must be corrected now if we take this debt of respect seriously.

We need to begin teaching our children to understand the sacrifices made by those who have given their lives in service to our nation and help them to learn to show that respect to those who serve and those who have served.

This Memorial Day weekend as we remember and pay tribute to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice, let’s be sure to pray for the families that must endure the burden of the price paid for our freedoms.

Yoga Pants

A friend recently was confronted by the leadership at a local Recovery group. It seems that there were complaints from some (or one) of the attendees relating to his use of his phone and IPad during the recovery meetings and share time groups. The accusation was that they believe that this friend is spying on them, taking photos and reporting on them. Perhaps even keeping files on them. The leadership confronted my friend to ask him to not bring his phone or IPad with him to these meetings. Under the premise that this was in some way was an obstruction to the complaining persons Recovery.

My friend was shocked as he had previously been asked to sit in the back as someone had complained claiming that his screen was a distraction to them. He politely moved to the rear so as not to hinder this persons ability to experience the teaching session of the recovery program. Now this was happening. He chose to move away from attending that recovery group rather than defend himself to the leadership of this group.

I really was angry when I heard this because I too have used my phone during these meetings. The Celebrate Recovery Study Bible is included all the lessons as well as the Bible so it’s a great tool. Not to mention using your phone or tablet for note taking. But the bigger issue here is a reflection of something that has been happening in our society in general.

A participant complains and as leaders we all feel like we need to respond in some way that will appease the complainant’s requirements. But at what cost, the other person’s rights to participate in the way they prefer to participate? Does one person’s feelings matter more than another’s? I don’t believe that is what these leaders thought when they asked my friend to no longer use his phone or tablet. But that is exactly what they were reflecting by doing so.

I submit to you the following to prove my point.

Let’s say I struggle with a sexual addiction, porn addiction or any other form of lust. Today’s culture feels it is acceptable for women to wear these very tight form fitting yoga pants as pants, which frankly highlight either someone’s positive body shape or negative body shape. In either case these pants are very form fitting and I personally do not believe they are appropriate to wear to church or other public places, particularly if you are a Christian which should be a reflection of your character. To me it is no different that wearing a very low cut blouse, or other revealing inappropriate clothing.

In this example, when women wear these yoga pants to recovery meetings it is directly impacting those struggling with lust issues so let’s say I complain to the leadership, asking these women to not be permitted to attend the meetings if they choose to wear clothing such as yoga pants. Does leadership respond by telling these women to no longer wear these yoga pants? Or do they suggest that I seek additional help addressing the lust issue, as it will always be my responsibility for my recovery. It is unreasonable to think that everyone I come in contact with would change their ways to accommodate my struggles with lust.

Likewise, is it not the responsibility of those struggling with paranoia, guilt and shame, to work on their issues should they feel others are spying or reporting on them, verse expecting others to adjust their methods to accommodate their struggles?

The new normal seems to be to believe that we as a nation, a business, a recovery group, a Church or any organization for that matter are responsible to provide an environment that is free from offense. Or that we are somehow able to respond to every individual persons desire for their personal needs. More and more often the majority is being asked to alter their life, views, words or beliefs to accommodate the minority. The never ending quest to please people is a quest that simple cannot be fulfilled. We all have different views and perspectives, that will never change. The organization that seeks to accommodate everyone will never have consistency and never please everyone.

The harsh reality is that TMZ is probably not looking for footage of you in your recovery meeting in rural Pennsylvania. While it may feel like someone is spying on you, they probably are not. On the other hand, perhaps they are, but are we entitled to a world where we control others? While we, as Christians are called to Love one another, and not behave in a manner that would hurt someone else knowingly, we all must take responsibility for our own actions. When leadership seeks to do that for an individual, we rob them of the role they must play in overcoming the struggles they face.

The Ripple Effect of the fall of trusted media.

There once was a time when we all trusted the stories being reported by the media to be truthful. Sure we might have experienced some bias based upon the issue and source but you at least trusted that the events being reported where actually truthful. Today that has been found to not be so dependable as story after story and report after report are found to be fabricated or staged by the main stream media. Past news journalists would have never dreamed of staging fake events to create news, at least that is what we all want to believe. 

Now we find ourselves in a place where we are feed stories focused solely on agenda and the result has divided out nation, and much of what has divided us is fake news. Fake news is a great new buzz word but I’m not sure it really covers what is really going on. What we are seeing is really fabricated or created news. Maybe that should be the new buzz word, created news. Stories are created based upon our beliefs and no longer based on confirmed facts as media outlets seem solely focused on their agendas and care less about truth than they do about ratings. 

I think we’ve reached that place where one must base their belief on what they personally know and see with their own eyes because the truth has lost its value in the media marketplace. But at the end of the day, the truth is still the truth. We can all know truth by seeing it around us. For example when a person takes an inanimate object such as a gun and randomly kills a group of people based upon how they identify politically, than that action is both murder and is politically motivated. And anyone who celebrates or supports such actions has no moral understanding of the truth or right verse wrong. 

It’s really hard to imagine people in this country making statements of support for someone’s actions when those actions are murder. When we’ve reached the place where we can no longer find it acceptable to disagree and debate our differences but find it acceptable to take violent actions against one another we are animals. When we take actions based upon our primal instincts, without thought or consideration of right vs wrong, legal vs illegal, we are acting as the wild animals do and not as human beings capable of thought and understanding do. 

There are many people I know and love that I completely and passionately disagree with but at no point do I ever believe that taking some violent physical action towards them is acceptable. 

The politically correct minority of our society have been working hard to make the expression of words an offense to be punished by criminal justice which is in direct conflict with the freedom of speech rights designated and affirmed in our Bill of Rights. No matter how offended we are we have to allow others to verbally express their views. Some would say that words can hurt or harm us, and yes that is true there is great power in words. However we have the ability to respond to those words without taking physical action. That is where the line gets crossed. Physical action expressed must be filtered by the basis of right vs wrong and legal vs illegal. 

Speaking of the power of words, and being offended. As much as I am offended by these expressions of support for this murderer who shot and killed innocence people on a ball field, it does not justify me taking some physical action against them nor is it illegal. It is in my opinion a statement of their immoral views on the value of human life and a statement of their character. A sad indicator or how far from moral character this world and our country has drifted. 

I pray that our nation will turn to God and the foundation of moral truth found in the Bible. 

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