Running on Empty

It is staggering to think about , but it’s everywhere… The amount we ,  as a people  , consume on a daily basis. I’m not just relegating this to food ,although it certainly lends itself to that and Americas obesity issues – but just in general , we as a people can’t seem to find contentment until we are literally busting at the seams…and to our dismay – still unfulfilled.

My first reaction, like most would be , is disgust…this graduates to irritation and then the most common reaction – Apathy , the unwillingness to care…But with apathy also comes  silence , and in that silence I hear something else…however faint , I hear a cry for SOMETHING.. So my apathy changes to sympathy , and then to interest… This then graduates to caring and now I AM ALL IN..

So I listen harder…

In the feeding of our over active appetite to fill ourselves , we completely ignore that real problem – We just can’t seem to ever be really FULL – … But why ?… Why can’t we be filled by all this stuff? Why do we constantly crave and consume MORE and still wind up EMPTY?

Why?

…and THAT’S what I hear.. I silent cry of “why?”.. “Why do I have everything my heart desires and yet I am STILL so unhappy”..

Maybe , your heart is desiring the wrong things? Maybe , YOUR conscience is trying to tell you something that YOU don’t want to hear? Maybe , just maybe  … you KNOW what is right,but are not willing to do it because of what it will COST you????

Speaking from personal experience – NOTHING will cost you MORE in your life than SELFISHNESS.. I can’t think of ONE good thing that the sin of selfishness EVER brought me – not ONE thing…

Don’t allow another moment to be stolen from you – break the cycle…

Empty yourself of YOURSELF …and fill it with the ONLY thing that wont leave you EMPTY.. ,but still desiring MORE of it –
The LOVE of GOD..

Mathew 5:6 says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” …

Only in Christ will you ever be full…Only in Christ will you ever be satisfied… –  Because only in Christ can you be truly Justified  and Sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11)

The Lord beckons you all to come and be filled … won’t you?

If not , WHY NOT?

The invitation to study the bible is still open.. 😉

read Hebrews 13:1-19

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His name was James…

Last night , another chapter of my life came to a close as my father   passed away…

He never let us call him “Dad” or “Daddy”.. It was “Stoney” – a childhood nickname that  he acquired  that he insisted everyone call him by , even us… All of my friends thought it was awesome that we didn’t have to call our dad “dad” ,but not me.. I hated it.  As a dad myself  , I can’t imagine EVER being called anything else but “Daddy” by my kids – but I don’t hold that against him anymore. I know that he had many demons to contend with from his own past and the way he was brought up and this was simply a defense mechanism to keep up at a distance , to keep from getting too close to us…but he was my dad  , and I loved him anyway.

There aren’t very many lessons that he taught me…not alot of those “father /son” moments where he bestowed some wise life lesson or some good bit of fatherly advice..I think in part  , he was still trying to figure it out himself. My dad didn’t have the benefit of an incredible big brother and grandfather to help shape the heart of a young boy like I did..My dad had a more than turbulent relationship with both his parents and an older brother who was in “The Hell’s Angels” back in their heyday..No – my dad was still very much an afraid little boy for the majority of his life… but he was my dad , and I loved him anyway.

There  aren’t many great memories to cling to either .. Most of the time I was scared when he was home or when he had his friends over.. They were always loud dizzy acting and I didn’t understand why then – but there are a few memories that will always be standouts.. There were 2 camping trips that will always mean the  most to me. Both trips it was just he ,my brother and I. One was at a country pond owned by a family friend , the other was on the Flint River.. I have many ,vivid  details from both trips that will always stay with me. The country pond trip we cooked over the open fire . This may not seem to be a big deal , but it was my first time – and all we ate was JUNK!.. The Flint River trip I was a little older , and we put in at one point – floated down the river to a sand bar and camped , then finished the trip to exit point the next day. Along the way we swung from a rope tied to an extended tree branch over the river  – This topped open fire junk food eating by leaps and bounds and was monumental in my life .. I have even blogged about that event here… This trip was truly an ADVENTURE!…But what really made them so awesome was the fact that it was just him and us – no drunk or stoned buddies – just him and us. He actually gave us his time ..he talked to us about stuff… about life ,girls etc…

The memory that really sticks out , was when I was in the 6th grade.  The one thing my father truly impressed on me was a deep love and appreciation for music. From the earliest memories I have  , music was always on in the house , and my dad was always talking about the artist.. I amazed at how much he knew about these people. My dad was a guitar player and played often.. I can’t hear The Doors  or The Beach Boys and not think of him  as these were a few of the staples in his “arsenal”. At any rate , it was in me… BIG TIME and I  seen Motley Crue’s “Looks that Kill video and knew  then what I wanted to do… I had to have DRUMS…I had been trying to convince him for months to buy me a drum set. His answer was always “NO” – You don’t know how to play… But I did.. Not because I had ever sat behind a drum set in my life , but  because I had seen enough music videos and watched the drummers play , that I knew EXACTLY what to do..I had mimicked their movements  , emulated their patterns and played enough air drums to KNOW that I KNEW..and finally the day had come. We were at Music Mart in Smyrna. Music Mart might as well have been Disneyland for me…it was HUGE (long before your cookie cutter Guitar Centers)..and while my dad was looking at guitars , I bee -lined for the drum section where they had an incredible monster of a drum set  on display that from its looks ,had been tried more than a couple of times. This was my ONE SHOT to prove to my dad I had skills and was deserving of a set… “In the air tonight “by Phil Collins was blasting over the stores P.A system and when the time came in the song for the all famous Drum intro – I played right along as hard and as LOUD as I could… and I was good. So good that without realizing it, my eyes closed and I just fell into the groove of that song and played my heart out for the remaining minute and 30 seconds of that song… And when I opened my eyes  , I was surrounded. It seemed like the entire store was gathered around me , and right in the middle  , was my dad.  Fear came over me  .. I didn’t dawn on me that maybe I wasn’t supposed to play these drums and my desire to show my dad I could ,had maybe replaced common sense at that moment… Until he smiled at me.  He smiled the biggest smile I had ever seen him smile.. and I had done it. I had ,even for just a moment -gained his approval and he was proud of me… The whole store cheered for me and  so did he… It was a great day and needless to say for Christmas – I got my drums.

These …these are what I will remember. …Because he was my dad and I didn’t have to “love him anyway “during these times – I just loved him… and he loved us back.

His name was James “Stoney” Stonehart and he was my dad. He died  way too young… and I will miss him.

Through the Eyes of my Son…

J. Oswald Sander was quoted saying “Eyes that look are common… Eyes that see are rare.” … Rare indeed , except through the eyes of a 6 year old boy…

Since he was born, I have preached many sermons inspired by my son. His honesty and innocence have helped me to remember how to see the world that I have forgotten how to see and quite often , I am completely humbled by the most simple of gestures… This morning as my nephew Carlos came out for coffee , Kole threw  his arms around Carlos and said “I love you Carlos ,sometimes for NO REASON”…Once more , my son has been the teacher and I have been the student.. Do we really need a reason to love each other ?

1 John 4 :7-8 says” Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”…

There is no question – my son KNOWS God as he also KNOWS LOVEAnd I have been joyfully reminded of how we ALL should be  – once more through the eyes of my son…

Study the Bible with me , the invitation is ALWAYS open... 😉

Read 1 John 3:11-24

Breaking the Cycle in 2013…

If you know me , then you know by nature I am an optimist. I give strong diligence to always trying to find the best in every situation , and everyone. Admittedly – this has become extremely difficult in our current time and despite very good things that happened in my own life , 2012 was a hard year to see through positive eyes.  With a culture that has adopted a completely debased mindset and shoved God out of everything , its difficult for even me to fight the Monster within…but I do…and I press on – with much hope for the oncoming year.

The sense of renewal that comes with the passing of the old year and the anticipation of the new one to come is nothing short of exhilarating!  As humans we love the idea of beginning again ,fresh .. another opportunity to somehow ,this time – get it right… To truly change something about our lives for the better … to make a difference. All to often however  , this fades. It fades because the mistakes of last year and it’s consequences follow us , or because while change sounds good – it often requires too much work from us and so we fall back to our old comfortable habits … The truth is –  We allow history to repeat itself and then look to God as somewhere to place  blame .. There should be no need to remind anyone of this – but it was man and his CHOICE that brought sin into the world , not God .The consequence of sin is DEATH ,both physical and spiritual so everything around us now is in a state of decay . This makes renewal almost seem pointless , and yet every year – we vainly look with hopeful eyes to the promise of a new year and what it MAY bring…. but you see , that’s the point –  “The Year” in and of itself doesn’t bring anything… WE DO.

This perspective changes things , doesn’t it? The truth is – “the universe” doesn’t bring anything to you or me ,but rather we bring the universe to us. Bad things happen to good people because of choices made before our time . Our morality in America didn’t just begin to decline , its been going on for decades and every passing generation feels the effects a little stronger from the choices made by the previous  – This very principle goes back to The Garden with Adam and Eve and the CHOICE of sin that THEY made and that we STILL suffer the consequence for. In the 50’s ,morality in America was at an all time high and now just some 60 years later it is truly at rock bottom. We have exchanged EVERY truth with a LIE – just as Eve did with thee fruit from the forbidden tree. The enemy added one word to Gods command  ,and changed mankind forever. In Genesis 2 :16-17  God said ” If you eat of the fruit from the tree of knowledge  of Good and Evil , Surely  -you will die”… Satan simply added the word”Not” and changed it to “Surely you will NOT die”…. But DIE we did… and we still do.

With violence and sexual immorality glorified in today’s culture , I can only imagine what truths we are exchanging for lies that our children will have to face and ultimately suffer for . Drug use continues to become more and more prevalent as people look to escape the reality of this world we have created and in doing so creating more and more of consequences they are trying to numb themselves to. Evil men make evil choices and pure and innocent minds are corrupted , thus making even more soldiers of the enemy for future generations. Economies crash because of greed , fear and paranoia prevail and  inevitably – somewhere  the innocent are slain down for NO APPARENT REASON ….. and we , who have welcomed these evils from previous times , who have exchanged truth for lies , who have pushed God out of EVERYTHING scream out with arms outstretched begging to know “WHERE IS GOD”???

He is exactly where he was when we first betrayed him , and where he was while we still betray him.

More importantly – He is exactly where he was when we nailed HIS son to the cross…. and he still waits there for us to CHOOSE HIM.

The REAL question is – “Where are YOU???”

In the midst of the consequences of our sin , God had a plan.. and through this plan – regardless of what condition the world is in , we can have peace – TRUE PEACE .. we can have renewal – TRUE RENEWAL ..and we can have change – TRUE CHANGE..

There are only 2 agents for change that can be served , and we all serve one  o r the other…2013  can be different from 2012… or not…. The CHOICE is truly ours.

15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

If you are serious about change , as always – The invitation to Study the bible is ALWAYS open…   😉

Read  Romans 12:1-8