Watch That Last Step, it’s a doozie!

wylie_Help One of the things I struggle with is small compromises.  I have a trend, I start out strong, reading my Bible, praying and trying to do God’s will.  Then, slowly but surely, I start to drift away.  I get lax on my Bible reading, I forget to pray, I stop looking for God in my daily life.  Invariably this eventually leads to compromise.  Soon, I’m just going through the motions.  God seems as distant as the sun in the sky and just as unreachable.  This process takes time, a year, maybe two years, but never-the-less, it seems to be a constant cycle.  We all struggle.  We all take a step or two forward and a step or two back, but eventually I seem to take several steps back and like Wylie E. Coyote, I look down and nothings under me and it’s a long way to the bottom.

For years I have tried to figure out why I do this.  Why am I on this merry-go-round?  Well, I may have part of my answer.

I am reading a book by Charles Stanley called “LANDMINES In the Path of a Believer”.  I am on the chapter about the landmine of Compromise.  In it he lists and explains several reasons we compromise.  The one that hit home for me was the need for acceptance.  I thought I was over this.  But apparently I am not.  When I read it a light clicked on in my head.  The Holy Spirit spoke directly to my heart and basically said, “No, you’re not over this.  It’s still there behind your facade.  It waits to jump up when you aren’t looking.  I want it gone, I want you to KNOW that the only person that needs to accept you is Me.”  Granted it wasn’t in such concise words, but that was the gist of it. 

A little background.  I have a skewed sense of God.  I get it from the way my Dad was when I was a child.  This is NOT a rant against him.  I love and respect my Dad.  We have a great relationship and he is a great Dad and Grandfather to my kids. 

Before he became a Christ-Follower he was never there.  He worked 80+ hours a week (not an exaggeration) and when he was home he rarely spoke to us kids, at least that’s the way I remember it.  My Mom was who we talked with and who we asked permission to do things from.  Dad was there when Mom said, “Shawn needs a spanking.”  I don’t remember my Dad expressing love and pride in me very much.  Maybe he did, but I don’t remember it.  Not many hugs or “I love you”s.  He was a very unemotional man.  This is where I got my view of God.  God is our Father and our views of our earthly Dad’s cross over into our views of our heavenly Dad.  When I think of God, I picture an unemotional, distant, gone a lot, kind of God.  While this is completely the opposite of God it is hard to get my heart to accept it.  My mind get’s in the way. 

Top that off with not being in the “in crowd” in school for most of my life and you find a 34 year old man who has been a Christ-Follower for 29 of those years and still struggles with acceptance from God.  This in turn flows over into looking for acceptance from others.  This continues into seeking acceptance by trying to fit in with those at work.  So I struggle with swearing, I struggle with inappropriate jokes, I struggle to share my faith.  I struggle with standing up for my ideas and beliefs. 

All these small compromises eventually lead to bigger and bigger ones until I am standing in mid-air looking down and thinking, “This is gonna hurt!” 

So what’s the answer?  How do I change?  How do I get my heart to agree with my head on it’s view of God? 

Here is a quote from Charles Stanley’s book,

“Ask yourself, Do I want to be accepted by a group of people who could love me today and not tomorrow, or by an eternal, loving, heavenly Father, Who loves me with an everlasting love?”  The answer is simple, There is no greater acceptance than God’s acceptance.  Anything else is many times less than the best.  When you make a commitment to be the person He has designed you to be, you will face some challenges.  Rest assured, you won’t face a single one alone.”  Charles Stanley,  Landmines In the Path of the Believer

Which is all well and good, but it is also way easier typed than done.  It’s the doing part that gets me.  I have to make sure I am focusing on the small compromises.  Ensuring  I don’t start back down that road.  My main prayer my whole life has been that I would see God as He really is and not as I think He is.  I want to be able to have a close relationship with Him.  Reading and meditating on God’s Word has helped.  I am closer to seeing the true God than ever before, but I still have a long ways to go.

28 For the LORD loves the just
       and will not forsake his faithful ones.  (Psalm 37:28 NIV)


9 This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. 10 This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us. He sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins.  11 Dear friends, if God loved us that much we also should love each other. (1 John 4:9-11, New Century Version)


 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud.5 Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. 6 Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. 7 Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, New Century Version)


God loves me.  He also loves YOU!  Maybe that is the first time anyone has ever told you that.  Maybe it is the millionth time but this time it finally made sense.  The fact is that no matter whether I believe He loves me or not, He does.  He never stops.  He never leaves and He never ignores.  I have felt that love many times before and it is amazing.  Why do you think I want so badly not to fall backwards this time?  I have it now, I want it forever.  I want nothing to come between myself and God. 

Maybe you have never felt the love of God but right now you are reading this and you hear a faint whisper in your heart.  A simple longing to feel loved, cared for.  This small spark of hope burned just a little brighter when you read about my struggles, that you weren’t alone after all.  My friend, you are not.  There is a God out there that loves you, He loves you so much He sent His Son Jesus to die for you so that the love you crave can be yours.  So that the emptiness can be filled, not by temporary things, but permanently, once and for all. 

If that is you today and you are ready to grab the Love, the Acceptance, and the Assurance that God is with you, it is quite simple.  Notice I didn’t write that it is easy.  It is simple in the fact that all you need to do is accept it but it is not easy in the respect that you have to give up control of you.  You can’t be first anymore.  God has to be first.  Putting Him before “self” is hard, but it is so worth it. 

Now, I want you to understand that simply saying a prayer does not “save” you.  Saying the prayer below has no more power to save you than saying, “I want to be a fairy” will make you a fairy.  It is the intent and faith of your heart that saves you.  Only putting your faith and trust in Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins and believing that He was raised from the dead three days later and that He is the ONLY way to get a relationship with God, will save you.  The below prayer is just a way of putting all that into words and telling God that that is your decision.  There are no magical words to get into heaven.  You either believe and accept Jesus or you don’t. 

The biblical method of salvation is faith in Jesus Christ.  Going to church doesn’t save you, reading the Bible doesn’t save you, being christened doesn’t save you.  Salvation only comes by faith in Jesus.   John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life.” Salvation is gained by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), by receiving Jesus as Savior (John 1:12), and by fully trusting Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), not by reciting a prayer.

So what do you think?  Are you ready to find peace, joy and Love?  Simply believe what we read just a second ago and pray this prayer,

Jesus,

  I need you.  I need Love.  I need acceptance.  I don’t want to be empty anymore.  I accept your offer of forgiveness and I ask You to be in charge of my life.  I don’t want to be the boss anymore, I want to follow you.  Forgive me for my failures and my sins.  Help me to stop doing what I want and start doing what You want.  I want You as my Savior, I want You as my Lord.  Thank you for dying for my sins.  I believe you were raised from the dead and that you are alive in heaven right now.    In Jesus Name, Amen.

If it was your decision to believe, accept and pray then allow me to be the first to say,

“Welcome to the family!” 

“Welcome to love and forgiveness and acceptance like you have never known.  It won’t always be easy, sometimes it will be very hard.  But the struggle is worth it. 

Let me encourage you, if you made the decision to follow Jesus and accept His forgiveness, send me an email or leave a comment below with a good email address.  Not only do i want to send you another congratulations but I would also like to send you some info on what happens next.  Nothing big, I won’t spam you.  I don’t have a generic email I send out.  Here’s my email- reflectionsofamirror@gmail.com

Or if that freaks you out a little, find a church in your area and talk to the Pastor.  I don’t push one church over another but make sure it is a Christian Church. 

Another place you can go with a bigger presence is InTouch Ministries.  Or you can contact the folks at Billy Graham Ministries.   A great website to look at is www.crosswalk.com.  These ministries are very large and will help you take the next steps in your relationship with Jesus.  No matter what you decide though, find someone that can help you and show you where to go now.  If you just let it sit all those same feelings of emptiness and loneliness will come back.  Even though God hasn’t left you, it will feel that way.


Did you like this post?  Did you hate it?  Please share it with your friends and leave a comment below.  I would love to read your thoughts and opinions.

Bookmark and Share
Check out the Other Resources page for Bible Study Helps as well as media downloads, all free!

Questions?  Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know.  I will try to answer it the best I can.  No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

I’m not Einstein you know

Digg This

Sweet Dreams

Dreams.  We have all had them. Maybe you dreamt about being a fireman or a garbage truck driver. How about a follow-your-dreamsballerina or a doctor. My dream was to be a cartoon/comic book artist. Unfortunately I found out you had to have the ability to draw to do this. I could copy another drawing or comic picture but I could never draw my own, so I gave up. I went through the astronaut phase and the Superman phase. But then real life bulled it’s way in and all those dreams fell by the wayside. Car payments, rent payments, jobs and then family got in the way. There are personal dreams and God-given dreams.  I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive either.  If your heart longs to do something how can you say that it was not planted there by God?  Obviously if it is a dream that would compel you to disobey God then it didn’t come from Him, but otherwise, no one but you can decide if it is or is not God’s will.

My dream to co-pastor a church with my Dad was God-given. My wife and I prayed and prayed and finally we decided to go for it. We gave up just about everything and moved back home with my parents. We lived with them for almost two years. It started out with my wife and I an our two kids living with my Mom and Dad in a three bedroom house and then Amy became pregnant with our third so then there were 7 in the same house. It was tight and it was hard but we sacrificed for the dream. My parents bought a new house and moved out giving us the old one. Things were starting to look up. The church we were leading decided to go a different way and we decided to leave and start a new church. We didn’t want to split the current one as we felt that would be wrong. Well, the startup was a failure. The new church didn’t make it. We tried and we did not succeed. I lost my job and had to move up north to find work leaving my wife and kids with my folks and my Sister and Brother-in-law.

But I will tell you this, I would do it all over again. Why? Because I can say I tried. I took the plunge. I jumped. Even through all the problems and pitfalls I have come out the other side with a stronger marriage a renewed relationship with my parents and a best friend in my brother-in-law. We may have failed but we succeeded at the same time.

Yesterday we looked at the following verse;

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (New Living Translation)

Fighting the good fight, finishing the race encompasses following your dreams.  What is your dream?  What have you always wanted to do or be?  Did you succeed, did you fail?  Did you even try at all?  Even Jesus could not do everything He wanted to.  Seriously, don’t you think He wanted everyone to accept His free gift of salvation?  Failure is not a sin.  Failure is a part of life.  It is how we grow.  It pushes us to new and higher levels.  The failure of Jesus to reach everyone He talked to spurred Him to sacrifice His life to win those that He could.  In the garden when He was praying He asked God if their was another way.  God said no.  Jesus then has a decision, accept His fate or deny it.  Knowing that if He does not die untold billions would go to hell He accepts the torture to come.  And because of that sacrifice millions upon millions have attained eternal life in heaven. Mark 14:32-41 His failure became a sacrifice which ensured his success.

A friend of mine has also followed his dream, he has self published his first book and is currently working on the second. The authors name is Nathan Parks.  You can read about and order that book from this website.  ” The Nephelium: Book One in the Darkness Trilogy”   I put together some interview questions and he took time out of his schedule to answer them.

The following is that interview:

1. What is the name of the first book?

The first book is called The Nephelium – which is based upon a belief that demons and/or angels came down and had relationships with mortals and today there is a generations of half mortal/immortal beings that live among us.

2. What is it about?

The main path through the book is that we all come to a place in our lives that we must make a choice and that we must realize that that choice will never just affect us, but will most affect us and those around us, even generations. It deals with the struggle of humanity to find reason and purpose, and how to deal with understanding principles that others have instilled on you.

3.What genre would you classify this book in?

Wow, good question. I would put it in fantasy. Fantasy use to mean dragons and elves, but I believe it has expanded. This book takes the reader into the world of angels and demons, but shows how that true world is where we get our vampire mythology from. So, it is a mixture. I believe it has a lot for everyone within it.

4. Why did you choose to write this type of book?

I have always been drawn to books that are fantasy based, and also those that deal with the supernatural. I was raised in a strict religious environment. I was not allowed to read books that had any “demonic” or “magical” things inside. As a child I became the victim of a child molester. I needed that “escape”. The world of fantasy and the supernatural was there. I think people are drawn to this type of book because they live “every day” life. They want that chance to escape. As I write I want them to taste, feel, hear, smell and see everything! I don’t want them to just read it…I want them to experience it!

6. Why did you self-publish?

Well, there are a lot of reasons. (laughing) For one, the publishing industry is just like any other industry. If you are an aspiring singer it may take years for any of the “Big Boys” to catch on to you, and even then by the time they get done with you…you may not recognize you. They control you. (and understandably so…it is their money they are using to push you) Publishing is no different.
The big publishing houses have their “favorite” authors, and sadly enough I think to many of them have gotten to big! They have forgotten what it means to LOVE the art, and they have forgotten the fans that put them there. The publishing houses only know that these authors make them money.
When I first got close to finishing The Nephelium I started thinking about someone taking my manuscript and changing it around. I didn’t do this for money. I wrote from my soul; as I think most authors do; it made me sick thinking that someone could tell me how my dream was to go or end. I felt that if no one liked the book the way it was, OK; it wasn’t for them. I honestly was prepared that only those around me would “like” it.
My wife and I talked it over, and it was important for me to get this book out there, and I understood that with self-publishing I wouldn’t have the “big” markets, and that it would be a task to promote, but I just felt it was the right thing to do.
From there a whole larger vision began to emerge, but I know we will talk about that in a minute.

7. Any advice for people wanting to get a book published?

Buckle up! That is all I can say.  Have ever heard the statement, “If it was easy everyone would do it”? That statement is very true. Self-publishing is not for everyone, but at the same time getting published by a publishing house is not for everyone. Neither of them are easy, it all depends on how passionate you are about your dream. There is a poster I saw once about how many times President Lincoln “failed” at different things before becoming President. I keep that in my mind. What is your motivation? If you want to become rich and famous…this may not be for you, BUT I am NOT the one to tell you that! I will NEVER take someone’s dream from them.
Sounds funny, but the best advice I have found so far are the “Dummy” books. I have the “Self-Publishing for Dummies” and “How to Get Your Book Published for Dummies”.
I am going to start posting  information that I believe I have learned on my Facebook group that is for my book.

8. Does this count as ‘a dream come true’?

To start off with? No. Where I am today? Yes! What I mean by that is sometimes we have allowed people, situations, or even places or status, to steal our dreams. Many times our dreams are shoved so far down because of being told over and over it wont happen, or that is to hard, or “do you know how many other people have tried that?”. Because of this, many times we don’t even remember it was a dream.
When I was about six years old I “wrote” my first story about an Indian boy. I remember a lot of it even to this day. I was excited about it! I was going to be a writer. Then life happened. As I said before I was molested as a child, and then that changed me to where I started living behind masks. You can’t chase a dream if you are hiding.
Other things in life started happening, and I allowed words, people and situations to drive me deeper into hiding, and soon all I could think about was building the walls of protection around me, and my dreams vanished! Don’t get me wrong; I still wrote, but it was all apart of building my protection. My writings really were for me, and I was building my world through them.
It wasn’t until years later, a broken marriage and a broken spirit that I found my dream again. I started rekindling my faith, but it was MY FAITH, and not the faith that someone told me I had to have, and then the beautiful and stubborn spirit of my new wife shoved me back into the light of my dreams.
She found some of my writings and started pushing me to write more and get published. She was with me the first day I held the Fed-Ex package in my hand and I knew that inside it was the first edition of my novel. I was shaking!
I would have to say though that that dream has grown. The book series and my writings have become actually a tool to a larger dream. I have a dream and passion now to help others rekindle and rediscover their dream. So, yes, it is a dream come true, and also a dream builder.

9. What is your larger dream?

Do you have a few hours? You and I have known each other for years, Shawn, and in fact you were the first person that really encouraged me to write and prepared my spirit for my wife’s encouragement. You also know that I have a passion for people! I have a passion to see people reach the heights that they are capable of and I would say most people are not even scratching the bottom of that height. They are still in the taxi, in the parking lot of the adventure outfitters that is sitting at the bottom of the mountain of their dream!
My larger dream and passion is to use The Eternal Series and my passion for writing to propel others to their dreams! How? To give them the platform, the encouragement, and the push! I am still putting it all together, but my dream is to have artists who need a platform, to draw or paint or whatever the world of the Eternals. I want other writers to jump into the world of the Eternals, let me guide them, and then have them write about what they see, and who they meet. I want photographers to capture in their photography the essence of this, and then the fans to find their niche somewhere that will encourage them to capture their dream, and run with it!
I have an idea how I might get this to work, but not fully sure yet, and yet that in and of itself is the pursuit of a dream! I don’t know where this will take me, and I don’t know how long it will go, but I do know I will continue until it has run its course, and then I know that at that point there will be another dream to pursue!

10. What advice would you give folks about following their dream?

Get up! Get up! It starts with one foot forward. I have thought about this a lot, and I guess off the top of my head I could break it down like this.
1. Get up – I don’t know what has knocked you down or has chained you, but for every day that you allow it to keep you there…IT WINS! Why don’t you be the winner!
2. Believe – Believe in yourself, but if right now you can’t…find someone that will! Rotten creates rotten; stop hanging around rotten. I will believe in you! Find someone that will!
3. Readjust – let the dream be your target…define it…write it down, and you be the arrow. You may not get their directly, but never stop shooting for that target. Be flexible, but not quenchable. (Hey…I just came up with that. I like that)
4. Never stop – it sounds cheesy I know, but it is so true. Even today there are times I think, “Sheesh, do I really want to write? Do I really want to do this?” I catch myself and say, “Why are you about to return to your chains? You are free”.

11. Any last comments?

First, thank you, Shawn, for doing this, and I am excited about you pursuing your dreams in helping people also through your blog.
When it comes to dreams and making them happen I guess I could say this:

“Living is when you turn to the person who stole your dream and say, “You know, I think I can handle that better than you,” and you take it back.

Bookmark and Share

Whammies From God

punched   There are times in my life when someone will say something or I will read a sentence and it fells like God just whacks me in the side of the head. That happened the other day. I was reading something, I can’t remember what it was but, there was this short sentence in there that keeps coming back to me all the time. I can’t get it out of my head, which stinks because there is only so much room up there. Until I brain-dump the last episode of House the storage space is limited.

So here is the sentence. “You only truly believe what you do.” WHOA!!!!

Seriously, those 7 words blew me away, and still do. I hear people all the time, myself included, say “I believe the Bible 100%.”, or, “The Bible is the inspired Word of God and is completely true.” Let me say first off, I completely agree, I believe the Bible is 100% accurate, no mistakes, no contradictions. But at the same time, do I really?

I mean, I know the Bible says to love my enemies, to not repay evil with evil, but to repay it evil with good. I know the Bible says to love God first and foremost, above all else. I know the Bible says that the people who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus will go to hell. I know these things but I obviously don’t believe them, if I did my life would be spent loving my enemies, repaying evil with good and telling everyone I met that Jesus loves them and wants to give them life eternal in heaven. But a lot of times I don’t do any of those things.

So whats the deal? Why do I believe these things to be true but I don’t act on them? For me it comes down to choices. I either choose to do what’s right or choose to do wrong. And no choice is a choice to do wrong. Nobody sits on the bench in the game of life. When I make my choice, is it based off of what I see or is it based off what God can do through me.

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” James 1:22

Remember- You only believe what you do, God wants you to DO what you believe.