The People’s Shepherd-Invitation

Song -WAY MAKER- “you are way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, light in the darkness,  My god that is who you are”. What wonderful words these are reminding us we have salvation when we think there is nothing but darkness ahead. GOD made a promise when he gave his only son up on the cross for us. If we truly believe that he died on the cross for us then the promise is fulfilled and the light will once again shine to guide us out of the darkness. Amen! What a beautiful song. David/Pastor, you have a wonderful selection of music that touches the heart. Tears were flowing today.

       Today’s Message from our Shepherd.

Jesus was sitting there with the man who was gonna betray him and those who will let him down. Even though he knew what was to come  Jesus didn’t abandon his disciples. Jesus didn’t need a testimony from each of the men at the table he was breaking bread with as he already knew what was in each of their hearts.  Today we know we’re not perfect individuals, we/I fail him constantly and yet he still shares his love with us. This is a treasure from GOD, he sacrificed his son for us. We should be extremely thankful! 

            Today’s sermon: I’m Thankful

As it gets closer to Thanksgiving let’s put aside some time for things we should be thankful for. Everyday that goes by we let GOD know what we’re thankful for and we do this in prayer, in the way we live and in our actions towards others. Just as we thank GOD for the obvious we also lose sight of the things that are spiritually important to us and we should be thankful for as well. Here are some of the highlights. 

  1. We should be really THANKFUL for the invitation to be holy, what does this mean and how can I pursue this?
  2. GOD says “you be holy because I am holy.” Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you. This is the key to being holy. 
  3. Examples.                                                        A. GOD calls us. Come forth my children. B. We become the children of GOD. When we become children and come to GOD we are now listening to the father to teach us and guide us.                                                 C. The Holy Spirit leads us out of misguided thoughts and wasted parts of our lives. The Holy Spirit will lead us but we have to be willing to receive it and recognize it. Scripture tells us not to be filled/drunk with wine but instead be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

My interpretation of today’s sermon leads me down the road of my youth growing up without GOD or Jesus in my life. GOD says we are to come to him as children, he will teach us, he will guide us and if we lose our way he will do all that is needed to bring us back to him. GOD’s discipline is to help us grow not to discourage us. 

Ephesians 6:4, “And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord Himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice.”

As a child I had to work from morning to nightfall and in those days I didn’t know any better. I thought every child had to do this. When you didn’t meet the daily quota my stepfather was there to remind you of this with a few choice words. So having an earthly father to keep you safe and uplifted was not something that I had. Guidance was not offered just criticism. As a father today in 2019 I am careful of what words come out of my mouth, I wanted to be the bolt cutters that snapped the chain of this harmful attitude. 

Today’s take-a-way, 

Be the chain breaker, make a move and keep moving forward. Accept GOD’s invitation to be Holy and let his grace fill you with the Holy Spirit. When GOD said “be Holy because I am Holy”, your actions will be inherited by your children. No excuses here…..if your earthly father let you down then set your examples on your Heavenly Father. I was lucky…..as an adult I had two earthy leaders one in Celebrate Recovery and one in Church to guide me and 3 in heaven. You know them as The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Until next time we meet stay GODLY and drink a nice cold Pepsi. 

What’s Your Worth?

Have you ever considered your value? No I’m not talking about your bank account or how many cars and how big your house is. I’m talking about your love for your passion verses where you lay down this passion. 

Example: A young couple first falls in lust, and after a few short dates the mystique is gone and it was only lust. You gave it a shot but ultimately it was just that, a shot in the dark. Trust me when I say we can all relate. You don’t want to spend any more time on someone that will not appreciate you or love you although trying was the exciting and fun part. A few dates going to the movies eating popcorn, stretching out your arm (guys) acting like we’re yawning just to get an arm around her. Then if your lucky you get to go out on a meal date, maybe a juicy hamburger and a nice large cold condensation dripping Pepsi. It didn’t work out so you move on and one day voila!!!! You meet Mrs. or Mr. right. You know it feels right, you feel the stars have lined up just for you and you find out she/he loves Pepsi as well. Excitement, heart beating fast, passion, these are all feelings that tell you you’re in the right spot at the right time. Your worth is what you put into your passion and the place you lay out as your foundation. Let’s talk about your job, your hobbies, your friends, your GOD. 

As you go through life you will encounter struggles, this is a natural occurrence in which none of us will be able to escape, it’s a part of life. Your worth will not protect you from life’s struggles, habits or addictions. When we decide to open ourselves up to others be careful who and what you share. My pastor (M. Spivey) tells us confiding in the wrong people just creates gossip, confiding in the people who see your worth and has the ability to help will create a solution. Our self worth and self love should not be measured on the people who are around us telling us we’re doing a good job. In church we’re taught to put others in our thoughts, to help the needy, to assist the incapable, to serve others and to love our enemy. All true according to the Bible. Those red letters don’t lie. See there’s a balance in life that we have to live by and one ultimate end. In our jobs or in our volunteer work we are to set our foundation on Jesus’ love for others and ourselves with one goal in mind. Love and healing. So if you have someone working for you, volunteering for you or even coming over on the weekend to assist with a project. Show them that the foundation you are laying down is the same as what the workers, volunteers and friends are laying down. You should have same goal. Doing for others with love with no anticipation of a return. Our Pastor is wise and blunt. He says “if I forgot to say hi to you or didn’t hug you because I was with someone else or consoling someone else get over it, you don’t always need my hug”, very true and honest words. Today’s take-a-way, you be the one to hug the next person who needs it, you don’t have to be the one always seeking your self worth. Find it in your works, your heart and where you decide to lay down your foundation. And if you have folks working for you, teach them to be the ones to hug others And set the tone.

Follow or Lead?

Where are you headed asks the wife? To the Jeep store to pick up more Jeep parts says the husband.

Where are you headed when you graduate asks the high school teacher to the student? To college and I want to study chemical Engineering so I can improve the taste of coke so it’ll actually taste good! Says the student

There are many occasions where we’ll be asked this question and have you ever pondered, where you are headed? It’s not a trick question. See we’re taught as young kids to play follow the leader and sure that’s all fun and games during the childish years where we seem to be carefree. Following the leader allows us to learn and react to the person we’re portraying while having fun mimicking them, in a nutshell fun times! Easy game right just copy what others do. Time goes by we become young adults and now the advice shifts from playing follow the leader to being a leader not a follower. This is actually good advice as peer pressure starts to set in when people are exerimenting with drugs alcohol and sex. Watching others go through life while we sit on the sidelines tends to bring up regrets and feelings of being left out, if unchecked these feelings can get us in trouble. We are now growing slightly older and are now in the workforce. Whether you call it a job or a career we are still following the advice of being a leader not a follower. It starts to pay off, you work extra hours, volunteer to do the tasks no one else wants to do, you spend more time at work than at home so you can climb the company ladder. If it doesn’t describe your life that’s because it was mine. In grabbing the bull by the horns and chasing the almighty dollar I neglect my family at home, but keep in mind my brain was telling me it was necessary in order to provide what my family needed. GOD has put me in exactly the places he needed me to be to learn and grow. Here’s a part of me you may not know, I live the glass half empty life. Not because I’m negative but because I want to question and evaluate before I act upon my thoughts or feelings. This thinking led me into the church world where I now live in, Church and Celebrate Recovery has taught me how to meditate on my thoughts and the word of GOD leading me into smarter decision making. Now grown and a lot more mature I am back to the old advice of “Follow The Leader”. I am back full circle from where I started as a child. That is exactly how GOD wants us to be, when we come to him as a child we are now able to learn, listen, be scolded and protected by our Heavenly Father. So back to follow the leader, Jesus asked 12 men to be his apostles, can you put your brain in silent mode for a second and reflect what Matthew, John and Peter must have thought when Jesus (the leader) asked them to follow him. Wait!!!! What…..I’m supposed to drop everything and pick up my cross and follow you? Keep in mind how hard this decision must have been because back in those days the cross was not a symbol of holiness but a symbol of death and persecution. So picking up a cross would only lead to one ultimate destination. Death…..

Today I took the advice to become a follower not a leader. I know what must be rolling through your mind. “Be a leader not a follower, going backwards are you”? That depends on how you look at it. I’ve been a head strong leader for most of my adult life, this was accomplished without GOD so anger, hate and worries went along with my normal daily routine. Nothing to brag about. It was many years later that I found Jesus and it was a 36 year journey to get there. I’m 43 now with 44 right around corner, literally days away. It took a situation a few days ago to remind me where my position really is. I reiterate…..today I am a follower not a leader! I’ve stepped down from the hustle and bustle of life. When you immerse yourself as I did you lose track of the true path of following Jesus and becoming a disciple. GOD will remind you where you belong and if you’re not listening he will talk loudly and that’s what happened to me. It took a loud voice to remind me it’s time to follow and not lead, slow down and commit to the path laid out by Jesus. The business part of the path took my eyes off the ultimate goal. We spoke earlier about taking up our cross, a part of me died when I made this decision. I thought the old part of me was done dying and the newly restored self was awakened. Boy was I wrong! I still had learning to do and GOD wasn’t finished with me just yet. When we speak of our old self dying we don’t want to imagine Jesus as an undertaker we want to think of him as a gardener. Jesus the Gardner takes someone like me and strips off the outer appearance and lets me shine from the inside out. In reading Mrs Jennifer’s blog/daily bible verses we find this struggle as Jesus invites certain people into his circle to help gather folks and spread the word of the Lord. Jesus is met with conflict and people who want to shut him down for his work being performed in his father’s name. As a Jesus follower you stand back and wonder if this path is for me, it’s about to get muddy up in here. Do I abandon my thinking or do I stand my ground with Jesus as it’s about to get difficult in my life? Here’s where the decision to keep going forward and follow Jesus comes into play. See we can’t grow with Jesus/GOD by backtracking our way into a relationship with him. People will try and discourage you or life beats you up but ask yourself this question as I did. Do I continue living in anger without Jesus and his teachings or do I follow his path with my anger and remember all the teaching crammed into my head and bare fruit? I chose the latter. Sure I will show my emotions but living in GOD’s presence reminds me its ok not to be ok. These days I find myself on my knees more and more praying to GOD and asking him for guidance on my daily path. I will disappointment many along my path and many will question my actions but the answer will always lead to Jesus. 

Today’s take-a-way.

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Galatians 5:25 NLT

You can be down but not counted out. Following the leader does not make you less of a person. You can rest assured you will at one point or another feel defeated but being a follower of Jesus allows you not to dwell there. 

Thank you for letting me share.

If I were you!

“If I were you”

Has anyone said these words to you? I’m sure they have. They mean well. But the only problem with those words are that they are not true. I am Ralph and you are ____(fill in the blank) so to incorporate your life into mine will not always match. We may have the same interest or the same destination but the path taken will only be mine. Alone?…..no, we have people who will be there for us but GOD will take this path with you because he designed it. Trust, faith and will. Let’s talk about it.

Principles of the will of GOD

Timing- GOD designed our steps, we cannot out run him or out perform him. We won’t get there any faster if we rush it.

Trust – Leave all the consequences to him he never promised it to be easy but the puzzle pieces are there for a reason. He supplies all of our needs to make our walk in his will tolerable through tough times. Trust me there are times I question it. But the answer keeps coming back to him. His will has us taking one step at a time, why? Example when driving a car at night you can only see as far as the headlights let you see. Same thing with GOD, can you imagine knowing everything you’ll have to endure to reach the promised land? We may bail out too early if we knew all the good or bad obstacles. When we don’t follow his will it leads us to disobedience, it hardens our hearts. It allows us to be side tracked, we turn off our hearing and stop listening to him. It dulls our conscious. Working through Celebrate Recovery and being devoted to my church it allows me to deny doubt. Doubt grows easily. Life is hard enough without having doubt in our faith. When we rely on listening to doubt, it steps us out of his will, we now start the blame game. Not today……GOD is with us 24/7 so why doubt his will? If he is in our lives 24/7 why fight it? Use the energy that you would fight to propel yourself to the next level. My take-a-way today is don’t let someone say “If I were you”, GOD’s plan for you is not the same plan he has for them who says that. Your bills are paid by you, you sleep with your loved one at night, you kiss your kid on the forehead and tuck them in at night. The responsibility for you lies in your hands with GOD’s will. Don’t let decisions made for you be made by your will and by others. GOD will is today’s answer, tomorrow’s answer and was yesterday’s answer. So you make a mistake today? GOD still loves you. Ask for forgiveness from GOD and ask for guidance. He always listens and loves us. My pastor would be proud I take in what he preaches. Now can I walk the walk?

Warranty or Guarantee?

We’ve all been there, our vehicle starts to act up or maybe needs new tires so off we go to see our mechanic who has taken care of our needs in the past. We arrive at the shop and explain the situation then get an estimate and voila! Your vehicle is back in service and your mind is set back at ease. When you purchased the fix for you vehicle you researched the tire mileage guarantee and then asked what the warranty was on the same set of tires before purchasing. Does this sound like you? If it does raise your hand and give me a high five that was a smart purchase there. A warranty goes a long way in our brain, it sets us up for success. If for some odd reason the tire gives out the warranty is there to back it up. In this same way we invest our time in the bible and church and if we pay attention something comes out of it and filters into our minds and heart to set us at ease from the hustle of life and the aggravations of the stress that follows. See when we walk through rough paths in life who better than to take ourselves to than the one who created us……GOD! GOD formed us and knows how we work and what we need to be corrected when something isn’t right. He is the master mechanic and by reading the bible (his resume) he is more than qualified to handle the problems we are suffering from. GOD’s warranty doesn’t run out in a year or two, his warranty lets us know we are covered for life we just have to read the fine print and acknowledge the fact that there is a price to pay for this warranty. We’ll come back to this shortly. Ok so back to the tire purchase, let’s say my name is Sichael Mcpivey (made up name) and the tires I purchased come with a warranty that put me at ease, we’ve established that but now we need to discuss the guarantee. This is just as good as the warranty but goes a little further. The Guarantee here is that the tires purchased will take the road with good grip and the tires will last a long time and have very little to no defects in past purchases. GOD’s guarantee to us is free! The warranty is the safeguard and the guarantee is the promise of his protection to us. GOD carries a continuing guarantee for us that the interest and principle have already been paid in full. Nothing else is required by us according to 2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT, “FOR ALL OF GOD’S PROMISES HAVE BEEN FULFILLED IN CHRIST, OUR “AMEN” ASCENDS TO GOD FOR HIS GLORY”. It doesn’t matter how many times we have been put into the shop, the guarantee is extended for an indefinite amount of transactions. Tires, rotors, brakes, electrical or even the main computer brain, GOD has signed for the guarantee in your life. When a guarantee is given for a future transaction it is called a retrospective guarantee……. this is where the stress and the everyday life struggles come in to play. We are so concerned about what tomorrow holds we lose sight of what’s going on today and if we act upon that instinct the day and its wonderful memories will slip by you. Case in point the hurricane that is looming over Florida’s wonderful people. We work up a punch list (coined by David L) that we made to prepare for this storm and in doing so we try to predict the worse case scenario. Great idea…… preparing is a natural and practical instinct that we should have but the only issue is the stress that occurs due to the scared unknown outcome, finances, never have enough attitude we carry, running out of time all the time and the sequences of how we should accomplish these tasks makes us a little chaotic. Believe me its not on purpose. 2 Corinthians 5:5 NLT says, “GOD HIMSELF HAS PREPARED US FOR THIS, AND AS A GUARANTEE HE HAS GIVEN US HIS HOLY SPIRIT”. I trust GOD and thank him for the sacrifice he made for us but let’s be honest, our human emotions get in the way of his promise. That’s where the lifetime warranty kicks in. He loved me yesterday and will continue loving me tomorrow. Today’s Take-a-way? Today’s mistake doesn’t erase GOD’s promise to continue loving and protecting us. Our purchased has been paid in full.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the love you built me with, thank you for the love you continue showing me everyday no matter my defects. Give me the strength to continue following the path you laid out for me, Thank you for John 3:16 which will never be forgotten. We love you and give you all our victories,

Amen!

Pencil vs Pen

We don’t chose to be beaten down or hurt but it happens, it’s a part of life especially when our thinking gets us onto the wrong path. At any time we can back up and get back on track but this requires a decision that will in turn have a consequence. Let me give you another part of my life here. I’m an artist, always have been and always will be. Doodling or drawing has always given me peace, it takes me to another place where I have full control of what I can put on canvas and if I make a mistake all I have to do is turn the pencil upside down and commence to erase. Have you ever tried drawing with a pen? I have when i’m waiting on something or just want to doodle while relaxing. I can draw with anything that is close by just to keep my hands busy such as a highlighter, pen, marker or pencil. Only issue…. if you’re serious about drawing or designing then a pen just won’t do. An artist is not perfect so a mistake is bound to happen or a change might be needed or drawing may need tweaking. After several years of architectural drafting and design you learn many things and using the right tool is key. In this same way using a pencil while living our life is the correct tool. Do you have a disappointment that is bothering you or stuck with you and want to lose that feeling? Do you have a painful memory or history that you want to forget? Are you holding on to anger about something or someone? Past hurts will linger and fester until the pain is unbearable. Scars run deep making you feel less of a person and in some cases unwanted. what’s the answer? I’ll wait a few seconds while you answer this…………………………That’s correct…….GOD is the answer. See when we get hurt or hurt someone we are left with the memory that won’t go away so we hide it, we tell everyone at church when asked “how you doing today” that everything is fine but it’s not. We let that memory win and we build anger off of it, we build a foundation on shaky ground that builds other hurts and sin. We need faith and we need to give this hurt to GOD in order to move on with our lives. Unless we give this to GOD and lay it at his feet it will continue to bother us shoving us further back into the dark cave where it will be hard for someone to rescue us. That is why when we walk this world we need to do it with a pencil, GOD will guide us and let our past be erased from our mind and set us up for comfort. Get out of your denial and identify the issue. Next be forgiving, this is something easier said than done…..I know. I walked around with a PEN of unforgiveness where I wrote it down in ink and was not able to erase it. I hated my earthly fathers both paternal and stepfather. I wrote it down in ink with a PEN, I was angry and I wanted them to suffer just as much as I did. These words you just read are not godly, they were not put in my heart by GOD, they are words however from someone who was hurt and in turn wants to hurt back. Can we overcome this? Yes we can, we answered it a few minute ago by asking GOD to help us. That is why we let GOD use the PEN for our lives. When GOD sets our path it is written and can not be changed so in this case ink will work, infact ink is the preferred method and we should be thanking GOD he is using a PEN. We don’t have to be damaged goods so use a pencil when figuring this out and if you make an error GOD understands and will let us erase this mistake. You need to know HE still loves us no matter if your eraser has been used and worn. I think GOD is searching for the person with very little eraser left on their pencil. The eraser can be reset by your Pastor or your Celebrate Recovery Mentor/Sponsor through GOD. A side note, my Pastor is pretty smart and has also lived through a few erasing moments in life so he surely holds valuable healing advice with a side of humor when needed. I’ll share him if needed and he can be found at People’s church in Winterhaven, Florida especially during Sunday mornings at 10am service. Carl Barker is another healer from GOD and if your talking about leaving eraser residue all over the place well this guy has bought an eraser to put onto his pencil because he used his to the nub. Does this make him more spiritual…..no but a mistake can be turned into a teaching moment that he is willing to share every Monday night at People’s Church during our Celebrate Recovery lessons/Testimonies. As you read this blog I am going to give you another silent moment where the hurt that is bothering you can be turned over to GOD at this very moment, HE is listening right now, just repeat “GOD I want to forgive, I am trusting you for your forgiveness and I want to be healed”…………………………….. As I read the bible daily I am learning that GOD holds the PEN in our lives, HE wrote our lives before we were born so our book is written and wont be changed we just have to follow his will. We need to learn to only hold the pencil, the PEN will not work with the decisions our attitude brings forth when things don’t go our way. Will we totally forget our hurts? Maybe not but we have to trust in GOD and the pastors he put in our lives and as my Pastor reiterated this past Sunday “use the hurt”. Put the PEN down and pick up the pencil and start the healing process. Thank you for letting me share and I’d like to leave you with MARK 5:34 “AND HE SAID TO HER, DAUGHTER, YOUR FAITH HAS MADE YOU WELL. GO IN PEACE. YOUR SUFFERING IS OVER”

Celebrate Recovery – Testimony w/ James D.

Have you ever been told you were on your own and lay in your own mess you created or you should know better? The decisions you make will determine your outcome? If you have you’ve never heard it put like this before. James D is an overcomer, someone who had it all and later lost it all. What’s the outcome of this story you ask? Well join me today as we find out together what GOD did for James and where he’s at today. As a young boy from Massachusetts James grew up with alcoholic parents and friends who also drank, not a good start so far right? At a tender age James was introduced to alcohol which later became the norm in his daily surroundings which led into his next habit of marijuana. During this timeframe of his life James is now 16 years old and has racked up several charges of marijuana under his now growing resume for Satan. Let’s fast forward a few years and we see James struggling even more with addiction from drugs and alcohol. In this stage denial has crept in, trying to control the things you can’t and ignoring the things you need to change. Do you recognize this pattern, its the exact opposite of the Serenity Prayer. James has now fallen in love, has a girlfriend and a career that is wearing his body down. This is causing him to find relief at the end of the day in a bottle. Alcohol has taken over, it became a consolation in life that he looked forward to on a daily basis. With arguments at home and a demanding work schedule James drank his worries away. Drinking was a way to escape. Wait im drinking because i’m arguing with the wife about my alcoholism…. James couldn’t see the irony of that problem at the time. Funny how we have to use our peripheral vision because looking at it head on just won’t do. Denial is an ugly thing. you don’t want to hear what others are telling you and you seem to have the answers to all the questions nobody is asking. We’ve all been a James at one point of our lives haven’t we? We tell ourselves I don’t want to face my problems because they aren’t what I agreed to, it’s not where i’m supposed to be in life. Marriage counseling has entered the next phase of his life. Counseling is where the fix is supposed to happen but with James it doesn’t, honesty is not being adhered to! Denial or lack of willpower……. only James knows what carried him this far into the shadows. Again Satan is building a strong resume for James and he is on the path to filling out page number two of this resume. Rock bottom has to be around the corner, how much lower can I fall into the shadows? Well here is the answer, James has an accident while driving and hits a cyclist. Rock bottom next exit! Was GOD looking out for James, he wasn’t tested during the accident and no jail time came of it. James made a decision, it’s time to come clean to the wife and let her know i’ve been lying about my alcoholism, it’s not improving and I need help. Feeling honest James is now communicating with his wife and a deal is struct…..only drink when not working and on weekends. Can you say selfish….no i’m not being mean to James here but i’m sure the alcohol was speaking for James and tearing him further apart from his family and social life. Deals can’t be made with your sobriety or soul, it becomes a lose lose situation. Pop open a cold pepsi and let’s keep reading to see what James is up to. Since deals and promises are being made James tells his wife I need one beer to get to sleep, this one beer turned into two and so on. From there the drinking got worse, the smoking weed got worse and a new chapter enters his life………..Abandonment. James was overcome with drugs and alcohol that led him to walk away from his wife and son. Now out alone in the world James is using stronger drugs. Meth has been introduced into his lifestyle and moving from one house to another to have a place to crash is the goal here. Carrying the guilt of abandoning his wife and son is eating him alive leading to more drugs and more alcohol burning bridges along the way. Now fired from an 8 year career James cashes in his 401K which was used up on addiction (none of it for family or help) and cash is now running out again. Sensing a desperation James ups his resume and now adds selling meth to keep his addition fed and a few dollars in his pocket. Let’s build that resume some more says Satan. Stealing cars, breaking into houses are a few things that James felt he needed to do to keep his lifestyle going. A little twist here, James comes home one evening and found out a friend he had been letting stay at his house has robbed him of his belongings, everything he owned was gone. This seemed to be the theme of James’ testimony folks. James was on a spiral and losing everything he owned. This caused James to move in with his parents and that also was short lived as a knock on the door would change his life forever. Was it GOD saying James enough is enough? Was it his wife saying James I forgive you come home? None of the above, its was the cops and they had a warrant for James. All the running was finally over. James was now under arrest and guess what emotion followed…..happiness. GOD must have intervened and reset James’ heart to put him at peace. James is actually happy he is going to get the help he has always needed while in jail. Basically James gave his life to GOD, this was a long time coming but there needed to be a pause in his life where he can fully surrender one on one with GOD. James found himself on his knees fully surrendered asking GOD “what is my next move, i’m listening, speak to me oh LORD”. That night when he surrendered James had the best sleep he has had in a long time. GOD set his plan in motion for James who has now joined a faith based program, entered a “New Beginnings” Transition Center, started Celebrate Recovery……see GOD is now moving in his life, he waited until James ran out of steam to slow him down and get his attention. James’ love of music encouraged him further into the Celebrate Recovery program in which he started greeting people at the door and has become a small group leader. James has since undergone a knee surgery that caused him to lose a job but what he knows now is when GOD shuts a chapter in your life he is preparing you for the next. James is going strong in his faith and that has brought back the treasures in his life bringing him closer to his family who now has trust in him. GOD has given him back the relationship with his son, an awesome relationship with co-workers, great friendships developed in CR and he is proud to say that the friends made in CR are the most real friends he has ever had. James says there is a better way in life and thats through Jesus Christ. If you struggle in whatever life has decided to beat you down with don’t hesitate to get your recovery because the only thing you have to lose is the hurt. James is leading a Chemical Dependency group and he could not be a better spokesman and its through GOD’s timing that this happened. Romans 7:17 reads “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is in sin living in me”.

Question: James when you were at your lowest point who was there to help you up?

Answer: I had no one, the friends I thought I had were no where to be found.

Question: How long were you in jail because GOD must have taken his time to work on you?

Answer: Not long, I was only in jail for 4 months, GOD worked on me instantaneously. I was facing an 8 year sentence and GOD took me right out of that chapter and into the recovery, faith based program which got me out of jail. I completed a one year treatment center in a home away from my family.

Question: In the midst of your dark days did you think about the consequences of hurting your family not just your life?

Answer: Yes, I did think about where I came from and what I lost but at the time I really didn’t care or to even try to do better, I was hurt.

Question: Can you recall the moment that said “I’m Done”?

Answer: I went to Mom and Dad and said i’m on drugs and I need help but they were in denial and said “no you’re ok”. When I was arrested I should have been mad at the world but I was calm and relieved because I was at my surrendered point in life.

What an amazing testimony we just witnessed from one of GOD’s sheep grappled in turmoil only to be delivered by our Savior Jesus Christ. James was living in the shadows and the deeper he dove the more people cast him aside. GOD will never lose sight of you and James’ story is proof that if you don’t listen to what GOD is telling you He will let you run out of steam to catch you at your quietest moment so you can hear and understand him. James’ “awakening moment” came very quickly, but GOD was working on him for a long time making sure he was safe even when James could not see him. Satan lets you build a resume and will hold it in front of your face reminding you of how low you have come. Who will love you now right? Family doesn’t trust you, friends abandoned you, self hate and loathing sinks in, jobs lost……I can keep going but there is no need to because the focus here is restoration. Today’s take-a-way…..you will always be GOD’s child. We don’t need to come to GOD with a resume, our heart is what GOD wants restored so we can take what he has given us and give back, This Blog is titled Give and Takeaways, because Christ Takes away our sin and gives us back to the Lord. By reading and discussing in this blog (giving back) we learn from each others hurt and also take a way a lesson or scripture to help live life in Christ’s vision for us. I’d like to hear your moment of surrender where GOD had you run out of steam so he could have you all to himself and delivered restoration upon you. James, thank you for your honest testimony and what a wonderful way to give back with continuing your service in Celebrate Recovery.

Back to the Basics

Welcome back to “Back to the Basics” with John Burton. First of all don’t let these photos intimidate you that’s not the goal here. The “GOAL” showing you the dedication and end result of sticking with basic workout routines that will take you to the next level of your health/workout ethics. Let me introduce myself if you don’t know who I am. My name is Ralph I am 43 years old/young (depending on the day) and I have rekindled my workout life. Since I started blogging and introducing John’s basic exercise and food habits my interest grew and before you know it I was doing 10 push ups a day and let me say they were more push than up’s mostly down’s! From there I started eating a healthy breakfast, not so much lunch or dinner but again we’re starting from basic. That evolved to sit ups and then eating a healthy lunch. I have more energy now and have joined a gym along with my wife who is also making a change to eating better. Can we go cold turkey on junk food? of course not but this blog is not to make you quit eating your loved foods but taking you to the direction of the next right step (coined by Carl Barker aka cool guy). In short you have to start somewhere and it’s up to you to take it where you want. Weekly John will show us some of his goals and some of his struggles. I have started lifting weights and have seen some arm and chest gains, i’m excited! The gains are small at the moment but the word gain alone is a positive movement right? Today John shares with us one of his favorite scriptures reading out of HEBREWS 12:1 kjv. “wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us”. This passage describes the challenge we face in the race or fight to stay within our christian belief in this world that seems to offer a corrupt idea that can easily turn us. It asks us to put aside the nonsense that is using up our time and unload this dead weight holding us back and tiring us out. Commit to sticking to the idea that Christ is the way and the truth. Can we backslide? The answer is yes we can. Absolutely! Will Jesus still love me? absolutely, but we are to remove the sin holding us back to let Jesus know we are listening and give me the strength to keep me headed to your open arms. In reading this today you will think about the things in life you are struggling with whether it be financial, family struggles, staying afloat with stress, having to deal with gossip or just tired of being tired. Remember this scripture, unload! get in the word and reach out.

John: Lifting weights 3 to 4 times weekly is a sure way to burn fat and lose weight. Check your local gym for a few free training sessions with the staff to get familiar with the basic weight lifting movements and adding small increments of weight to your normal daily routine.

Ralph: I am a testament that starting at the basics of it all is confusing because there are so many things you want to do and don’t know where to start. This weekly guide including the older posts will explain and show you where to start and what to do. Remember you’re doing this for you not John or Ralph but you. You have to start somewhere so start with the basics and use push ups as your motivation and move up to the burpee when ready. In the same manner open the Good book and pick out a scripture daily to read or share here on this blog if you so wish. John, once again I want to thank you for sharing a part of your life with us today. Join us next week for more basic food and workout advice. Let us know what works for you and what questions or goals you’ve accomplished as well. Until next week relax, love yourself and let the lord guide you. drink Pepsi.

Peoples Shepherd (Slow Down)

This week our Shepherd continued his sermon on the theme of “Awakened Hearts”. Today’s message, Slow Down! From time to time GOD brings people to a crisis point in their lives to make a change. In today’s world people are scared to slow down, everyone’s in the rat race trying to compete with their own selves with trying to squeeze in work, home life, recreation, church, volunteering and working out. Where are you squeezing GOD in this full day/week/month? Part 2 of today’s message, “Be in His presence”. If we don’t make time to hear what GOD has to say he will intervene in his own way. Take a moment daily to hear what GOD is telling you. There is no direct question or answer here. GOD knows your heart where you are in life whether you have the bible open daily or you’re too busy and put everything in front of him.

Today’s worship Songs were right on target……”Raise A Hallelujah” and “Amen”, two powerful songs that put a lot of hands in the air today. Today I can see there was surrendering, there was praising, there was worshipping, there was the presence of the Holy Spirit in our company. I’m not saying there never is but today you can see it glowing throughout the congregation and the worship team. I’m on fire!!!!!!!! What song gets you motivated to praise Jesus? Now I’m surely convinced the Pastor has a special list of songs with my name on it and he gets them on the screen for me every Sunday.

Let’s get to our service for today. Sit back, open a bottle of your favorite Pepsi product and a snack, we’re going to need all the carbs you can take to accept today’s sermon on the continuation of “Awakened Hearts”. So far we’ve spoken about Abram, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and we now arrive on Jacob. As we’ve read in the bible Jacob has it in mind to get to the top of life by deceit. Yes he is an inspirational figure in the bible, in fact through his lineage a savior was delivered to us. Jacob starts out life stealing his twin brothers birthright, and is blessed by his father thinking he was actually blessing his older brother Esau. From there forward Esau has vowed to avenge this deceit and kill his brother Jacob. Jacob goes through life lying and being lied to as well… one speed bump after another. There is an unfinished business between these two brothers. Deep wounds have been created and as you know wounds like this are not easily healed and require a lot of attention or mediation. Pastor mentioned that Celebrate Recovery is a blessing for his church because the same hurts that were present thousands of years ago are still present today. With guidance from our Shepherd and WH CR co-founder Carl Barker healing is now a possibility. Wounds such as a stolen birthright and a stolen blessing from your dying father will surely need amends. One day while Jacob was in his tent he was visited by a stranger (guess who it was) who began to wrestle with him. What was the meaning of this Jacob must have thought! The fight went on all night for many hours until daylight was starting to break and the stranger decided to end the fight and touched Jacob on the hip. The bible tells us this stranger was no other than our Lord. Jacob’s hip was torqued and thrown out of socket and will never be the same. See GOD had to grab Jacob’s attention by all means necessary including wounding Jacob…..having Jacob slow down….installing a permanent speed bump if you will. No matter how much we do to fight GOD we will not win. GOD always wins! GOD doesn’t play by our rules, GOD is not unfair but he will grab your attention. We can wrestle and fight with GOD, all night if we have to but the end result will be done GOD’s way by force or by salvation. From this awakening moment Jacob was blessed in various ways, first GOD spoke with him and changed his name from Jacob to Israel making him the patriarch of the Israelites. Another blessing was his brother who had vengeance for him has been given a tender heart and the two brothers were united once again. What a wonderful thing that our GOD can do when we decide we will let him lead the way. Physically Jacob was wounded but Spiritually he was restored. 3rd part of Pastor’s message….”don’t waste the wound”. It’s GOD’s way of using it to restore your life, be changed because of it, never be the same, let your old ways die. Think about where you are today. Are you listening to GOD? What is He saying? If you’re not listening then how’s your life working out for you? Pastor’s last message which is a question. “Are you gonna keep fighting or are you gonna let GOD take control”? We have readers who are interested in hearing some of the awakening moments if they are not too private on how GOD grabbed your attention. I’ll tell you mine. I was sinking in anger and unforgiveness towards my earthly fathers. By listening to my heart (old heart) I was constantly broke filling my life with what I thought I needed to satisfy my empty Jesus shaped hole in my heart. I was buying new cars constantly, the latest and greatest shoes, jewelry and constant eating out just so I can prove to my earthly father who said I would amount to nothing because in his eyes I was not a good worker. I was a young boy what did he expect! It took me seeing my own son take a wrong turn in life and the ugliness that followed to ask GOD what went wrong. I started listening to GOD but by that time I was spiralling emotionally out of control. Today I am in the word daily and making time with GOD to see what he wants for me. I’m interested in your story. Tell it. Until we meet again with our Shepherd, have a blessed week and raise a hallelujah!

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