My friend died yesterday. What do I miss?

Grieving is an interesting 🤔 thing. Makes you ponder relationships after a person dies. There are unattended consequences every where. We choose one path with the hope things will get better. And they do partially, yet greater issues arise. Instead of sticking through the storm. We choose a different path hoping there are less struggles.

My friend and I would talk about life, mistakes that happen. Our reaction to world events. The outcomes of eternal decisions all based on misunderstandings.

He made mistakes, we all do. Forgiveness is for everyone. Although rough edges are present, my friend helped me realize we need to forgive ourselves for mistakes we made. We need to forgive others who wronged us. Don’t hang onto un-forgiveness or it will cause unattended harm. Your health can be impacted, relationships can be severed, or severely hurt. A lot of hurt can fester for years.

Leaning “not” on our own understanding is key to living life more peacefully. When we look at life through others eyes and how our actions can impact others, both today and tomorrow.

We are only given today. We don’t know what tomorrow brings. It could be a new job, new opportunity or a pandemic. Our world has experienced a lot of rapid change, and as human abilities to adjust quickly. Many struggle as our nature is to seek comfort and safety over danger. Some like the thrill but many go the opposite direction.

My friend would sit back, humbly share his position yet I sensed there was more to the story. Wisdom comes with experience, especially in failure.

Is partial failure also a partial victory? Don’t we learn more in those times? My friend and I would “banter” back and forth over talking points.

In the end, we enjoyed each other’s company even though at different seasons of life. Taking time to get to know someone is important. Trust, integrity, honesty and love for the person builds bridges.

What is another lesson I learned from my friend? Seek out those at different seasons of life. Seek others who are different than you but have similar goals about learning new things. It takes time, patience and persistence. The reward is both involved will receive benefits from the friendship.

I will miss my friend and our times on the porch chatting.

My friend died today

My friend went to Heaven today. God orchestrated our friendship about a year ago. He was “of modest means”. At first, he seemed a “bit rough around the edges”. He seemed “just another elderly man set in his ways” and was just grumpy.

It didn’t take too long on my volunteer delivery route my friend was the last stop of the day. Our conversations could be a five minute chat or a two hour theological discussion. More times than not they were long. My friend seemed to have a book, an article or experience covering the topic we were discussing.

God used my friend to help guide me in my walk with Christ introducing me to material about the apostle paul. I spent almost our entire friendship studying paul.

God had you right where he needed you. Your heart, was soft once we got to know each other. You looked out for others. That made a difference in your neighborhood. These families get prayer and to hear about Jesus because of your keen sense of wanting to help others in need.

My friend had stories. It was fun to hear them and he would get excited. Sometimes we would debate, lots of times there was “loving” sarcasm. “Sit down and shut up Steve” was a common statement.

This was said with lots of smiles and “love”. Most times I did, sometimes I would be “rebellious”. When my friend would get grumpy. I would state….if you…“keep being grumpy, I am going to come and give you a hug”…he almost always would calm down 🙂

How did I know my friend truly liked me? He was truly depressed not having a vehicle in his life. His words were. “Steve you get to pray today said with a somber voice”. I forgot what we prayed about but about 24 hours later. You called me with excitement the guy we asked if he had a car for sale the previous day sold THAT car to you. God made a miracle happen!

I told my friend I appreciated our relationship. I got the “ok” sign. I enjoyed when he would randomly call asking for prayer for others, never seemed to be for himself. God called him home today. His faith became sight.

Thank you my friend for allowing God to use your experience and gifts to help others, including me even when you didn’t think your efforts mattered.

Was my friend famous? No. Was my friend rich by earthly standards? No. Did my friend have a big house? No.

Did my friend care about others? Absolutely. Did he show love in his own way? Absolutely. Did he allow God to use him? Absolutely.

My friend, you are fully healed. No longer suffering. You will be missed by more than you realize. One day, we will see each other again. My friend died on earth today, BUT is fully alive in heaven. I will miss my friend. Friends make a difference, relationships are important too, things are not important. Ron your memory and testimony will live on!

Our theme verse…

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NASB1995

One faithful life by John Macarthur – Part 2

This section covers Paul first mission trip. Unlike mission trips in modern times, Paul was laying the ground work many times to go to unfriendly atmosphere to preach.

The section states Paul (Saul) and Barnabas completed the first trip. One of the first examples documented in Acts 13:42–52.

“But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.”

After reading scripture. I tried to imagine how my pastors (past and present) would have handled people disagreeing with him. Each of them would have relied on God. Paul and Barnabas were ran out of town according to Acts 13:50-51.

“So Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet and went to Iconium.”

There were people praising them as they left yet there was a section of Jews not happy what they were preaching. For me personally, Paul talks about his revelation was from Jesus, not men or other apostles

Paul’s conviction is impressive and Jesus selecting Paul to bring Gods kingdoms message to the masses makes sense. As Paul went from town to town preaching, bringing the good news.

I can only imagine his upbringing was relevant. When Jews were not accepting Jesus words and needed to relate to them through knowledge, all that training came back. That is my thought as I type this yet the revelation Jesus gave him was so powerful. Its impact is still felt to this day through the books in the Bible.

“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

Given today’s continued unrest and promotion of hateful atmosphere. I can see comparisons. When Paul was preaching, various times he wasn’t welcomed or forced to leave. Doing that kind of preaching is doing Gods work and to some degree our world needs that as well. There is such a revelation happening today around me and yet, many are unaware the impact of change going to happen.

False teachers were present in Pauls day as well. Some taught to gain eternal life the laws of Moses and circumcision needed. This goes against what Jesus did to free us from the law.

This first mission trip included a return trip to Jerusalem to meet other apostles. It would have been an interesting adventure to be able to witness these meetings.

I am humbled by this first part and enjoyed the content..

On to part 3..

One faithful life by John Macarthur – Part 1

A few months I asked God what he wanted me to study next? I praised him for many miracles, blessings, lessons among other things in my walk with Christ.

God made it clear through examples including prayer 🙏 and other people I interacted with on a regular basis to study Paul’s journey. I immediately identified with Paul’s passion to carry out his duties, with zeal.

I deliver food boxes each week and one of my regular guests is a mature Christian. Each week, we chat for awhile on various topics. He introduced me to John MacArthur. I was unfamiliar with John before this. My friend gave me a couple books. One was called The Gospel according to Paul. Click here. and “One Faithful Life”.

I read The Gospel according to Paul first. John’s writing style was definitely a step above. My initial thoughts his book seems a bit academic and theological. While not a typical writing style I prefer. I was attempting to be obedient to my perceived calling to study Paul.

After a couple weeks, I prayed and asked God. Am I supposed to finish this book? I was distracted by John’s frequent use of unfamiliar and “big” words I would need to lookup the meaning. This was distracting while reading and understanding what topic or concept being discussed.

Gods answer was with grace. “Steve” just keep reading and skim by words you are unfamiliar with. After this perceived answer to prayer. I was able to finish without issue.

After finishing “The Gospel according to Paul” written by John. I spent a few weeks studying a book by Louis Giglio called “not forsaken”. I will be teaching a class in the fall of 2020. If you follow my blog, there are 10 posts about my experiences in this book.

When I finished Louis’s book. I felt the call to return to another book my guest gave me. It is “the faithful one”. It was very clear I needed to read both books by John MacArthur regarding Paul.

Besides Jesus, Moses and probably King David. There isn’t another individual God uses in the Bible to bring his kingdom to the people.

I was surprised 😮 early on Paul was the perfect person Jesus could use to bring his ministry to Gentiles. The thought of a zealot, who knew the Old Testament and traditions of Jews was perfect. His passion was well documented to persecute Christ followers.

The format of the book is a chronological timeline of Paul. Part 1 reminded me how much deal Saul had to persecute Christians his day. The story of Stephen is well documented in Acts. Paul approved over the death.

From there is covers Sauls conversion, to Paul’s meeting of the original prophets. The style of the book is way different and mostly is like reading the Bible. There is some interjected statements unlike the other book I am reading. This is enjoyable and a refresher of covering The book of Acts.

One of the things on my mind as I read through Part 1. Life continues for the world after Jesus death. There was a certain disfunction yet workable society. Much like today, there is a lot of disfunction and the world continues. Depending on who is in power, is what agenda is pushed.

In part 1, it includes original apostles such as Paul, Phillip. In all, three is 32 small stories in Part 1 labeled from Pharisee to Pastor.

On to our Part 2…

“Not Forsaken” book by Louis Giglio chapter 10

Hey bud, you have any mushed-up peas, or something I can eat from a baby food jar?

Chapter 10 starts out with a good and thought provoking question. At first, I didn’t know where Louis was going. We have had nine amazing chapters then a concept talking about baby food.

What the heck???

God wants to participate in our lives. Even in the boring parts..

But if we simply stay at the level of the first blessing, then our lives stagnate. We miss out on the blessings of becoming spiritual adults and tapping into all the potential that is woven into us at the moment of spiritual birth.

God the father wants us to grow and Louis challenges us to grow in our walk, which takes risks. I have read dozens of books yet never blogged on each chapter. This post will stay around long after I have become obsessed with the next challenge God puts me on.

At the time of typing this. I am about a month from the class from starting. ( sept 2020) Our country is in uncertain times and who only knows what will happen. This class will be completely remote so that is challenging.

I want people to really grasp there is nothing more important than having your Heavenly Father involved in your life. The previous nine chapters spelled that out for me.

If you choose to stay semi-distracted and let the temporary chaos the world offers. You won’t fully realize the plans he has for you.

In some ways, I am still an immature Christian and can do better. I hope you take my statements not as lecturing as much as the past nine chapters has lit a fire 🔥. The creator who has infinite power, wisdom and is madly in love with you!

Louis does a great job for bringing all of this together.

Maybe we’re prone to lustful thoughts in our heads, or angry thoughts, or downcast thoughts. That’s our old self at work. To become spiritually mature, we have to soak our minds constantly in the truths of Scripture. First Peter 1:13 tells us to “prepare our minds for action” (esv). Psalm 101:3 encourages us to “set no worthless thing before [our] eyes”

Through the rest of the chapters I am reminded to continue to seek God in everything.

He won’t disappoint and based on the statement above. We need to take action to overcome our old habits. I know that statement hit home.

This process doesn’t happen instantly and is a slow, gradual process. I have had the pleasure to be used by God to help people along in their walk. God used people early in my walk to help guide, provide that reassurance I am going to be ok and continue to seek God.

As in a previous post. God the father as a little distant until recently when I learned all the poems I have written in the six books I wrote were “love letters directly from the father”. Not Jesus, not the Holy Spirit. Directly from the throne. Talk about a “wow” moment. Until I read this book and typed many thoughts out did that statement and I finally get it. My father in Heaven has the answer to everything. I just need to ask and involve him. Will you let him? I am certainly going to try?!

In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed my additional topics and observations about this book. It was yet another small step in my walk but I am going to adjust my devotions and prayers to seek him first.

Here is the theme verse from my latest book.

Seek – Lead more by example, less by opinion.”

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭nasb

God thank you for this blog series. I needed this and you were patient with me. I will try to involve you even more now that I realize my eyes needed to be opened even more!

Amen! 🙏

“Not Forsaken” book by Louis Giglio chapter 9

Ok deep breath Steve…last two chapters were amazing revealing our Heavenly Father. Scripture examples abound and make me smile more than ever.Am I excited. You darn sure I am!!

At the beginning of the chapter discusses about us becoming like our father.

At some point, wearing dress socks with tennis shoes like Dad used to doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea after all.

I laughed so hard and if anyone knows me. I might have posted a picture on the internet with white socks and sandals. Or maybe 100….

On a more serious note…becoming like our Heavenly Father is a journey. The enemy would like to convince we have failed if our transformation doesn’t happen overnight. That is a lie and an attempt to cause anxiety and stress.

“we’ve talked about already, you have two family trees. It also means you have two birth certificates. One is earthly, one heavenly. On one is the date and place you entered this world. On the other is the date and place you put your faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life.”

As that statement mentions. Once we declare a spiritual birth. God places his spirit within us and revival takes hold.

We have declared to everyone in the natural and spiritual realm God is our father and small battles happen now that you are resistance. We have the same power in us who raised Christ. With one whisper, the enemy has to flee. We need to lean on our father more than ever.

He will protect his children. A stern reminder sin passes down from generation to generation and when we decide to stop this behavior. The enemy has witnessed generation after generation.

“last phrase of Numbers 14:18, “He visits the iniquity of the fathers upon their children to the third and fourth generation.” The word visits in this verse has a simple and clear meaning—that the father’s sins have a way of showing up for a visit in the lives of their kids. Sometimes the visit comes a day later and at other times ten years down the road. But at some point, it’s likely there’s going to be a knock at the door, and Dad’s sin is going to be looking to stay for a while.”

I personally could identify with this statement and your decision to follow Christ example has consequences well beyond our generation. My own dad modeled Christ walk the last several years of his life. I reference his testimony often when I am writing or speaking to people.

My hope for my own family and generations to come use the words God have given me in their own walk! I never thought like that until now and this chapter has turn my eyes to the future.

We are free in our faith and encourages to leave our past behind. The chapter reminds again about our amazing father and traits about him. We are not our old selves and he wants us to leave our past behind. There is a persistent enemy who wants to keep us down.

When we find comfort in letting God lead, things turn out so much better. 15 years in my walk? I still have doubts, and catch myself trying to go at some challenge along. After a prompt or six from the Holy Spirit. I am reminded to pray and ask for guidance. Amazing 😉 how things work out.

I will finish with this blessing at the end of the chapter.

“You, my friend, are a uniquely designed, wonderfully created, dearly loved son—or daughter—of a perfect Father. And, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).”

When in doubt…read this statement out loud or say outloud John 3:16 or your favorite verse.

God bless…thank you so much for using Louis up until now…my perspective has changed to involve you and your amazing infinite wisdom in my daily walk.

On to chapter 10…

“Not Forsaken” book by Louis Giglio chapter 8

Chapter 8 continues to reveal amazing how much our father loves us and has our best interest in mind. His infinite love ❤️ is shown in scripture over and over.

I have read many of these passages in prior studies but none through the lens of our Heavenly Father.

Jesus states on Sermon in the mount:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7–8)”

That is a bold and loving statement. It is clear. You seek and all are welcome. No exceptions. All you have to do is seek and accept him. He loves us enough to let us even reject him…if we choose. That is one of the great mysteries about our God. He allows us to choose. Of course, he could make us and has the power to do yet does not.

The chapter continues scripture after scripture show how absolutely and abundantly God provides. When we ask, he does not short change in his response.

We need to be patient and open minded enough what we ask isn’t what our earthly desires want. Rather all gifts and answers to prayer bring glory to God and satisfaction to his follower.

This could be almost anything yet when looking through the lens of our Heavenly Father, our response is almost always drop to our knees in praise!

As I have been typing each review and what stuck out to me. I can’t help but remember by own earthly father. No matter what happened in my life my dad was there.

If I needed brakes on my 80s chevette ( true story and even one of the lugnuts broke off). He took time even though I am sure there was a million other things he could have been doing.

Chapter 7,8 for me personally has started to cement a similar approach to my Heavenly Father. I need to just ask and wait. He will answer just at the right moment, not any sooner. When I reflect back, this is always the case yet I doubt almost every time.

God made another bold statement when the “stone in front of Jesus tomb” was rolled away and Jesus walked out.

No where I know of in scripture says heavens reaction to this event. I am sure there was some major worship going on and groaning in the spiritual realm knowing not even death could hold Jesus down. Our father has spoken. There is a way back to me and eternal relationship is established again. My son is the way.

That gives me goose bumps and the picture my words paint are such a powerful statement. Our father went to these lengths for us to spend eternity with him. All come to me and I will be your father.

When our eyes are open with the new “revelation sight” we talked about earlier, we come to see this: God’s power is limitless and His arm is mighty to save. We’ve already highlighted this passage where Paul encourages us to see with new eyes, but it’s worth repeating:

We need new eyes and look differently when facing a challenge in life. God the father is there and no matter what happens, including death. Involve him in your walk is the lesson and habit I came away with. That…is some powerful words right there!”

“The psalmist encouraged us, speaking about the perfect Father, “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11 esv). Now, in Christ we have the promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5 esv).”

Gods words state I won’t forsake you. If you need scripture proof…there ya go!

There are other examples but this chapter affirms His love and many many scriptures to help prove it.

On to chapter 9…almost done

“Not Forsaken” book by Louis Giglio chapter 7

This chapter is summarized as GOD soooooooooo loves you. If you read no further in this post. You probably are thinking. Steve I know this! Share with something I didn’t know.

My heart is racing as I type this review. Remember when you were a kid and either on Christmas Eve or birthday eve when you knew the next day something special was going to happen.

A surprise present 🎁 and anticipation was amazing. Or as an adult you take a new job and the day before your first day, how nervous you probably are?

These are examples are meant to highlight this chapter gives example after example how much God loves you.

The more you seek and know your father. The more familiar you get with him and appreciate his bounding love!

“it’s important to see that everything we’ve received is wrapped up in a Someone. The blessing is not a thing. The blessing is a Person. God is the blessing—our perfect Father.

As this statement says. Our perfect father wants you to know that and his word want that.

There are a couple personal stories in the chapter as examples and while I won’t reveal them. ( see how I did that anticipation and if Louis or one of his staff reads this, I might help sell a few more books 🙂)

They build hope and help further cement positive feelings that weren’t there at the beginning of the book. I loved the upbeat and honest approach talked through out the chapter.

As much as I enjoy reading books. Chapter 7 is a turning point where I am 2/3 the way through the book. How much more will be covered that isn’t already been discussed.

I am the type of person as soon as I learn something meaningful. I want to put into action. How do I take such an exciting chapter and keep the fire 🔥 alive to further my walk?

As soon as I had this thought. One of the highlights was scripture:

“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. (Ps. 84:1–3)”

That makes me even more excited to take concepts and apply Gods written word. If that scripture doesn’t get your heart pumping faster and excited! Not sure what will.

After a few chapters, there are ideas and concepts that might reveal things in our life that might make us feel vulnerable. This chapter builds hope. You get an initial sense of Gods love like you might not had before.

Many things have been introduced to this point. For me, my perspective and appreciation for my Heavenly Father is growing leaps and bounds.

On to chapter 8…

“Not Forsaken” book by Louis Giglio chapter 6

After finishing chapter 5, my soul was on fire to be baptized in more “oneness” with my Heavenly Father. Louis asked tough questions and necessary to make us feel more vulnerable.

Topics such as forgiveness and our family tree is non-negotiable. Louis gracefully discusses these topics and shares some personal experiences from his life. I liked this part where he wants to have readers get to know him more personally.

This style is relatable as our Heavenly Father wants be in union with us. For me personally, forgiveness is a near and dear topic. I haven’t always been the best and when I first accepted Christ, the first two poems in my book 52 Pickup : these are the words I give you to share with everyone” were titled:

1) Anger

2) Bitterness.

I accepted Christ at age of 35. That gave me 17 years of adulthood and 15 years of marriage with a family to develop bad habits. Even years later, the power of forgiveness is something I am just starting to grasp. I could continue for a long while on this topic!

I will leave you with this question…

“So, I gently ask: Is your refusal to forgive your dad bringing you more peace or more hurt? Is it helping you move forward or is it always pulling you back into the past? Has unwillingness to forgive led you to the freedom you hoped it would, or is it unsettling to your heart?”

Louis highlights a couple of concepts new to me. He talks about “new family tree” when we accept Jesus. This new family tree has “spiritual DNA” unlike our earthly DNA.

I never thought about when accepting the Christ and the Holy Spirit enters your life. Your spirit becomes a bright light and a target for the enemy in the spiritual realm. Knowing we have to mature, the enemy tried to hold us back.

When I first became a Christian. I was on fire! That is an exciting time. When the newness wore off. Doubts and guilt started to crop up. The maturity process had started to take hold.

God wanted me to grow and rely on him more. I became a part of a new family with total love as the end result. Eternal love by our heavenly father is a concept we can not grasp. As I was typing this. I had a picture come to mind!

“Jesus standing in a robe with a big smile, arms open saying welcome to the family”

I am amazed after chapter 5 we could “take a turn” towards heavy topics with grace. Like our Heavenly Father, who has many traits we will never fully grasp and understand.

The enemy will use our shortcomings against us and try to distract from growing our relationship with God the father.

I want to end this summary. These posts are personal reflection and I appreciate Louis outline so far in the book.

We are not overwhelmed by any one topic and is gradually help us become more familiar with our Heavenly Father. I appreciate that and I know behind the scenes the Holy Spirit is help guide thoughts as the books was written..

On to chapter 7…