Friday, April 29, 2011

CJ and Levi



Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Nicki


Today you are 38. As birthday's come and go, often times we find ourselves trying to dismiss the idea of another year older. While that is custom for folks our age, I just want to say that I wish it was not so...You are just now beginning to blossom into the mature intelligent graceful woman God has called you to be...and I have never been more proud of you in my life of knowing you. I have seen you climb some very difficult hills and slide down some you have already crested.. but that is life I guess. You make me a very proud husband and father for the way you handle each day that is thrown at you. Tirelessly going to work and leaving your family behind despite your longing desire to stay home. You rarely complain and stay up all night and still you find time to be with your kids, bake some cakes and spend some time with me at lunch, the gym and the small errands we need to get done. You function on little to no sleep and for the most part keep a very cool and calm head. I am often inspired by the way you keep your self together all the while juggling all this..Let me also express how very proud I am of you for how well you have done with your weight loss and exercise training. You are relentless with the discipline you have displayed since Thanksgiving. I must say I am not really all that surprised at how well you have done but I am inspired to be sure. You reached a milestone just today reaching a weight you have not see in some years and I know that is fuel for continued hard work, sweat and toasted muscles.

I want you to know that I love you and cherish for who you are. I feel like the most privileged man on earth to be your husband and partner. I am so Thankful and grateful for God placing you in my life and nothing brings me more joy on this side of heaven than to be in your presence. You are my best friend and despite my many faults and misgivings, you stick by my side and you believe in me like no one ever has. I am blessed beyond measure and never want to take for granted the joy you have brought into my life thru your own person, our beautiful children and the soft spirit to which I see displayed often.

God Bless the broken road
that has led us both right here,
many days seemed like to much
but together we faced our fear

Smiles, laughter, accomplishments and joys
tear, sadness, disappointment and woes
both of which have shaped us profoundly
more than anyone really knows

Thru the various trials of life
we have been tossed around a bit
looking back on all those moments
has affirmed our perfect fit

By Gods own hands
You were made for me
I was once alone and in darkness
but now I am able to see

The endless wisdom of our maker
His hands have crafted just for me
A woman who captures the very essence
of what love was always meant to be

38 years ago this day
God brought you in this place
almost 20 years ago
He revealed your gorgeous face

You are my soul mate
One crafted ever so sweet
and Oh how His power reigns
the day He allowed us to meet

No words can ever express
my deepest and longing endeavor
that is to live my life
with you forever and ever !!

Happy Birthday my wonderful friend, partner, wife !!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lukewarm Faucet


Ok So I have been absent from this blog for a very long time, mainly because my motivation and has dwindled and my inspiration evaporated. I feel ashamed yet not, guilty but not really, convicted..not so much. See that is the whole problem and the very reason I am writing now. I have been so lukewarm over the last many months that any conviction I feel is quickly stamped out by my flesh and any desire or inspiration I have is dealt with swiftly by my natural carnal lazy self. I still ponder all types of thoughts regarding life, purpose, God, eternity, struggle, strife, evil, satan, salvation, spirit, self, surrender, etc. it's just these thoughts are not making it to paper and therefore being lost in the abyss that is my mind.

Here is what I have discovered and not at all something I am proud of..I am the Lukewarm Christian, going thru the motions because that is all I FEEL like doing, taking my life for granted, often being upset with God for my circumstances. Contentment..what is that. ? I used to long for contentment and feel like wherever I was that is where I was suppose to be but for the last few months (many months) I have become discontent and that has spawned an awful spiral in my life, my time with God, my time in the Word and Prayer. Intellectually I can see this taking place but in my heart there has been no resolve to stop it and get control of the tailspin. It is a very weird thing to know what is going on and care nothing about really changing it. It is frustrating and discouraging. It seems Satan has a foothold on me all the while me not really caring..thinking that someday I will just shake him off and things will return to normal.. Big Mistake. I have written blogs in the past about the power Satan has in this world and about what kind of adversary he is..yet in my own little world, I have seemed to reject this notion that "I" can wrestle with him and leave the match unscathed. That is exactly where Satan is most dangerous, when we feel he is not as powerful as he really is. This leads me to my point........

I have this faucet in my kitchen that I tried to repair some 10 months ago and for the most part I did fix it but just not the way it was suppose to be. See no matter how long I would wait after I turned the lever to the left for hot water it would never get really hot..in fact it would barely get warm..I would wait and think well it is just needs time to travel from the heater to the faucet, or it is just cold outside and this is as hot (warm) as it will get. Each day I would turn the faucet to the left hoping for hot water and all I ever got was LUKEWARM Water..So I decided a few days ago to swallow my pride and take this faucet back apart and see if something was damaged, not right or just simply wore out. So I gathered my tools and I commenced to taking this thing apart piece by piece. I shut the water off, I disconnected the water lines, I loosened the bolts and I dismantled this thing to the core of it..I discovered a small tiny piece inside the faucet that was adjustable that regulated how far the lever would turn to the to left and to the right and to my chagrin I saw that the piece could be adjusted to allow a much further turn to the left which should in theory allow the water to move from LUKEWARM to Hot. So I slowly and carefully made the adjustment and put it all back together.. Water lines connected and now the time for testing..I pushed the lever up and all the way to the left and .....YES the water was not only hot, it was scalding..I did it. I fixed it..So how does this relate to my walk with Christ. You see, no matter how many times I got out of bed and wanted to be on fire for God intellectually, I was barely LUKEWARM. Waiting for my circumstances to change so I could Love God again the way I knew I should. Just like the faucet, nothing changed and still Lukewarm. It was not until I took the faucet apart down to its core and rebuilt it did it have an affect. My life is much the same. God is my creator and he has been trying to take me apart and rebuild me the way He knows I need, but I have stiffed armed him not allowing that to take place. Some parts of me need serious adjustment and repair and if I would just allow God to make those necessary repairs and adjustments, I could finally move from LUKEWARM to ON FIRE. Instead I have allowed the weeds to choke out my faith, my fuel, my desires...Just exactly what the Bible says will happen when we stray from the Word and try to do things our way. I would say to myself, I wished things were different. That is saying God I really dont trust you.. I would say, I need something good to happen to me. That is saying God you are not really sovereign. I would get upset at my circumstances and get angry with God. That is really saying that God doesnt really care about his children and what is best for them. See I have a serious infection in my life and it is called Self. I am like the worse cancer to my spiritual life. I can infect myself so badly that spiritual death can be imminent. My lukewarm state of being is a very sick state. If we let this continue in our life and refuse to deal with it, we will suffer the consequences and life that can be full of Joy and Peace will slowly move to Discontent and Despair. God is at work in my life and while I am not enjoying the pain associated with the work He is doing, I must cling to the promise that He is Good and that He is going to complete this work in me that He started. I must hold tightly to the promise that our Hope in Him does not disappoint. I have been bought with a price, a price so expensive that it would be unjust for God to send that sacrifice for me and then just let me be to myself not caring about me, my circumstances, my struggles.

So I have come to a place of repair, I am broken and need to be adjusted and just the like the faucet, I will once again be what I am supposed to be and that is a Soldier for Christ, loving Him, living for Him, Spending time with Him and then Letting that spill out of me like the broken clay pot I am. The three D's are not of the Father: Doubt, Discouragement, Despair and I will add one D....Discontent. So, I will resolve to reunite with my Lord and surrender totally to His will and to get out of the way so He can work in and thru me for His Glory. It is then I will find Rest for my Soul, pleasures forever more and Joy unspeakable.

EB

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Levi Mac Bailey - How we Got here !!


On August 20th, 2010 at 5:54 my world has taken on a new phase..I should not say my world, because this is just as much of an impact on my wife and my girls as it is me..but since I am the one writing this out, lets stick with that.. Levi Mac Bailey entered the world..rather eventful I might add..Now that I have had a chance to digest all that has taken place in the last 24 hours, the emotional roller coaster, the up and downs, the zigs and the zags, the anxious moments and the like..I wanted to share some thoughts on what this all means to me.

I have had the gracious opportunity so far to be privileged to raise 3 beautiful girls during my course as Father..and honestly have enjoyed every second of it..My girls are a treasure, a gift from God for sure and they have helped shape me into the man I feel I am today..They have driven me to work very hard and understanding my role as a Father..I classify this as Priest, Prophet, Protector and Provider..To teach them about Christ, to look into the future and keep them from situations that might harm them, to protect them from dangerous and evil influences and to provide for their needs (love, affection, food, shelter, companionship,etc)..So I really hope that my words here proceeding this do not discount my genuine love for my girls..They are priceless in every sense of the word..but this blog is about Levi..


Levi is my first boy...and my only boy.. He has been a constant thought in my mind for many years but really never made it far past the idea..I believe if you ask any man and they were to be honest with you, they would love to have a boy..My son, my heritage will live on as long as our Lord desires..This means the Bailey name will carry on..and that as he grows up, he will represent the Bailey name..He will one day come to a fork in the road of life..He can choose to follow Christ and or he can choose to reject Christ..and that day will set a course that will leave an eternal imprint on his soul..So why do I mention this..? God has placed this young child in my life to be a guide, a model to show him the way to everlasting life.. It will be my responsibility to teach and instruct him in the ways of the Lord..


See, this child is a miracle in many ways..not just the general sense of a child being born, which is totally a miracle..but how he came to be...There was a day not to distant in the past where I was a lost and wayward man..I had no direction, confused and dismayed, arrogant and prideful..and that literally almost cost me my marriage and my family..and when I think back to how close I was, swells of emotion come flushing to the surface...Gratitude for what Christ did to my heart can never be properly defined by mere words but my heart knows and it feels it..See, in the moment of utter darkness, Christ raised me up out of a desolate pit, a miry clay and placed my feet on a new and secure foundation in Jesus Christ and he placed a new song in my mouth and a praise to God. He replaced my hardened heart with a new one..and if it were not for that moment in time where the old me was snuffed out and the new me raised up, I would not be here typing this message right now and would also not have the privilege of having a son and seeing him born and the opportunity to pour out into his life the same kind of love that Christ showed me..That mercy that was shown to me can never be properly accounted for..so I decided that day that my life would be a living sacrifice for God, that He would be my lover, my Lord, my counselor, my Leader...and He has poured out on me such blessing and grace that I truly wished everyone could experience this..Thru such pain and pride, he replaced with Love and Mercy..As God has been rebuilding me into the man He desires, each peace He replaces of me, more of the old me dies..and good riddance..So as I look at Levi laying in my arms, tears and emotion overwhelm me..because it is a stark reminder of where I was, how I got here, and where I could have been..and the only emotion that I can muster is complete brokenness..For now I can see the plan, at least parts of it anyway, and how God has orchestrated this change, or transformation of me..I can totally understand how God could not allow a son in my life in the past because the example I was would have been a terrible influence on him, my heritage, his family and his leadership abilities to lead his family..What was once lost on me is now clear as the bright blue sky..God was not ready to gift with me a son who I would have to mentor..He had to break the clay pot, and start over..My eyes, my ears, my heart are so different..I love my wife more than I ever have and want so much to live out all my earthly years with her..I want to protect my marriage fiercely and keep it healthy and thriving.. I want our role as parents to be one of stewardship where we keep our relationship in proper perspective, ahead of our children, so that we can properly attend to them without losing ourselves..I want our marriage to be an example for them to see, to desire after, to long for..and in the end my prayer is that their little lives are partnered with a Godly, loving person to which they can grow their families with..and pass on this Treasure of the Knowledge of God thru the face of Christ!!.



So my feelings today are of much much gratitude and awe..so thankful for that day that God gripped me, so that today could be a reality, and that my chance to mentor my son would begin.. He is now here weighing 8lbs 10oz and measuring 20.5"..He is so very precious..truly a gift from the Creator..Let us begin the race, enduring till the end, so that what we do is well pleasing to the one who redeemed us!! May He get all the glory and may His name be exalted, for He and He alone is the perfecter of the weak..

EB

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baby Levi !!





It is the day before Nicki is to be induced into Labor, so the day of our baby boy "Levi" is less than 24 hours away..I wanted to take this minute to capture some of the thoughts and emotions running thru my mind as well as to record this for the day when he can read this very blog..


As you all know this is not our first rodeo and while we are old hats at having children, I am still very anxious for his arrival.. I would not classify my feelings as nervous (although some would argue) and neither would I say I am at ease..because I am not.. My uneasiness is in the scope of my role as a father to a young baby boy who will some day turn out to be a man..and that responsibility is looming ever so closely.. I have been feeling these emotions with my daughters for quite some time now and they really have never subsided..but the very idea that this young boy will be responsible for leading his home spiritually and being accountable for that is a daunting task but one I am very eager to get started on..


There is a song out called " I want to be just like you" and the words are so perfect for Father Son..but there is one line that rips me to shreds and it goes like this " Help me be a Living Bible Lord, that my little Boy can read, I want to be just like you cause he wants to be like me"..Gosh that tears me up just thinking about..My actions, my life will be an example for him and that motivates me to lead by example and not so much by words..The Bible is very clear on the Father's role in the home with respect to many issues, including raising our offspring..but in less than 24 hours there will be another precious addition to this family, a true gift from El Shaddai, an eternal soul with paths yet unknown nor carved out..but with a lamp upon his feet to guide his way.. The lamp will be the light of our Lord Jesus Christ and with His help and encouragement, Grace and Mercy..I am confident He will be there for me and for our family to train young Levi up in the admonition of the Lord..





So as the specific hour looms and the anticipation grows..I am encouraged by the Holy Spirit and feel as ready as I will ever humanly be..In my weakness the Lord Jesus Christ is elevated..His surpassing power made real thru this clay pot..



Levi..You are a gift from my Lord and I am grateful to have the opportunity to raise you and love you..I pray that you will see in me what I see in my God...A love that is unconditional, sacrificing and eternal..You have always been in the back of mind but now you are about to be a reality..I cant wait to play ball, coach your teams, bandage your wounds, hug your neck and pat your back..You are my boy and I will be your DAD..I love you already and I cant barely contain the excitement..Have a safe travel down the birth canal and I will be waiting for you..






Your Dad..




Monday, June 28, 2010

F - A - M - I - L - Y


F A M I L Y - I wanted to write what this means to me..I believe Satan has attacked this institution for many many years and has now placed a full court press on disrupting and displacing the family, the importance of the family and the significance of the family..See I consider the family the fabric of the society..Good Strong families represent a Good Strong Healthy Society..If you can think of a Thick sheet of Bounty paper towel held in your hands with an object resting in the middle..The sheet has no trouble holding the object there firmly and securely..The family is like this paper towel..It holds our society together and secures it.. but what happens to the paper towel if it gets wet and then develops a tear..at that moment the object it was holding is in jeopardy of falling..just like our society is when the families began to get torn apart and attacked..It rips the fabric and soon, the families which once were the strength of our existence are now in dangerous peril and society as a whole is in very dangerous times..Families are more than just Husband and wife and kids..Families are the centerpiece, and hopefully those families are resting on a proper foundation..which is Jesus Christ..so as I pondered over this idea of the family and what it meant to me and to society at large, I began to see more clearly the attacks that have been perpetuated against the family, much of which goes unnoticed and is couched under the worldview of everyone deserves, or tolerance or you have a right.. The concept and idea of family is under intense fire from the evil one and he knows that if he can destroy the family, he can take down our society and the world as we know it..I refuse to allow him to destroy my family and I hope all those who are reading this will stand strong for their family and if each one (family) will do this, we can defend this institution and strengthen the fabric that holds this society together..


F - Family..Family to me is spouses, kids, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, grand kids, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews...together we have this bond that is distinct to us that separates us from others. There is a special love for one another..You can go years without seeing or talking to one of them and yet when you do see them, you feel just as much love for them as if you had talked yesterday..Barriers are not there like they are with strangers..When we hurt, we turn to family.....when we are excited, we cant wait to tell our family... when we achieve, we look to our family for recognition...When we are in trouble, we look to our family..Our family is where we turn in all aspects of life..They are the first to know, the first to embrace and are there when everyone else has something better to do or cares no more..


A - Adolescence - I am not sure why this is what comes to my mind but it is a stage we all go thru on our way to adulthood..It has a particular place in the family dynamics..It can strain the family, yet strengthen as well..As we pass thru this stage, we feel like we as individuals know all that needs to be known and families are restrictive and suffocating..and not needed...till we come out of this "funk" and see this stage was much like a butterfly in the cocoon..it was a stage that shaped us and made us into who we eventually become and on the other side of adolescence, do we really begin to see just how important our family actually is..How needed they really are...How significant of a role they will play in our lives


M - Maturity - this is almost the opposite of adolescence. Maturity is an evolving process in which we see the world..The more mature we become, the clearer we see this world for what is really is.. The ability to understand the importance of our family and our place in the family dynamics..Maturity is a sign of getting your wings if you were a butterfly..This maturity offers you freedom however with that freedom comes choices and consequences for those choices..Choose wrongly and life can fall off the tracks..Choose wisely and life can have meaning and purpose. Maturity also for me represents an understanding of roles..Parents in particular..Parents have responsibility of another human life and that responsibility takes maturity.. To grow up future parents and family members.. Parents who lack maturity are detrimental to the fabric because they shook their responsibility to raise the child properly and therefore the result can be devastating to the child and to the future of that child and how they view this world..Maturity is having the blinders of adolescence lifted so you can see what was once blind to us..This is extremely important in the overall fabric of the family and the strength of our society


I - Illness and Suffering - I know that when most think of illness, family is not what might come to mind..but if you give this term serious thought...it is all that does come to mind..When illness or suffering strikes an individual...who rallies around them..The Family..Who cares for them..The Family..Who stays bedside for hours on end, holding your hand..Your Family..Illness has a mysterious way of bonding a family together and strengthening it like nothing else can..Illness can settle old disagreements..Illness can lay to rest bitterness and anger..Illness can and often does grant us new perspective on life and what is really important..What you will hear from a family that has to endure such events is how it brought everyone closer..and you might hear phrases such as " Going thru this helped me to see how important my family is and how insignificant material things really are." Ask someone in a terminal situation who they want around them or what they want from life...and they will often tell you family..You will not hear them say, I just want to advance at work, or I just want to make a little more money..or I just want to work a few extra hours..It is almost always a desire to spend their last days with family doing whatever..but with family..So Illness in my eyes is a part of our life..some will get dealt some very bad hands and others not so much, but to believe life is not about illness and suffering has not lived very long.. I believe there is purpose in this and I have to believe that many times it has the power to restore what was once broken..or heal what was once wounded..THE FAMILY..so when illness or suffering strikes..know that all things happen for a reason and God has His sovereign hand in all things


L - Laughter - What would life be like with no laughter..When I reflect on my life and ponder those moments when laughter was abounding, it had something to do with my family. Raising kids, hanging with cousins, spending time with grandparents or grand kids..All of these have laughter associated with them..We cry with our family, we laugh with our family..Laughter is like a medicine that buffers the stress and pressures of life..The more you laugh the more joyful your life is and the less you allow life to press down on you..Yes I laugh with friends and sometimes complete strangers..but I get this big ol smile on my face as I think about the instances laughter has taken over and all those have something to do with someone in my family..whether it be my hilarious kids, or my off the cuff wife, or my in laws, or my cousins, or my nieces and nephews..The pain and wounds that life can open up in us can be mended with the laughter of those we love..If you are a parent and you hear your kids laughing..I mean laughing from the gut to where they can barely breathe..there are few greater moments in life that can replace those moments..a sense of joy spreads like chill bumps on a cold day..Just amazing..So laugh, be joyful...don't allow life to press you down where it steals your joy..Laugh and Love, Love and Laugh and share this with your family..


Y - Yo Yo - what do yo yo's do? They go up and down..Does that resemble life at all..? I would say absolutely..Family life is filled with hilltops and valleys, triumphs and tragedies..The one thing I also know is that yo yo doesn't stay up for very long and doesn't stay down for very long..and just like life..there are seasons we pass thru.. Who do you want by your side when you are on the hilltop..Your boss or your spouse..Your co worker or your kids.. Who do you want by your side in the lowest of the valleys..Your soul mate partner in life..or the next door neighbor..Your wise parents, or the stranger in the mall..We want those close to us to experience life with us..the good and the bad..Those close to us are those who are connected in a way no other person is..by the bond of being called FAMILY..



I felt like I needed to say this and put it in writing so I can refer back to it from time to time. I hope as you read this, you will have allowed your mind to drift in and out of your experiences with your family and hopefully you can see the importance of the family and its intertwining in our society..Stand firm for your family...It is your family that stands firm for you!!
EB

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Defines You??


I was watching a movie last night called "Batman Begins" and something that was said struck me in a surprising way..I am not the type that watches movies and can recall famous lines from them that are constantly repeated in society..in fact I forget most of what is said..however as I was watching this movie, I felt the Spirit say to me "remember these words, write them down"..and so I did..I grabbed a notebook and jotted down the words and as the film progressed, I found myself elaborating on those words..So what were they?


Rachel was speaking with Bruce Wayne and she tells him " it is not what is deep inside you..IT IS WHAT YOU DO THAT DEFINES YOU!"


Think about that for a second..It is what you do that defines you..!!!


In our Christian life, could this not be said of us as well. Just saying we are a Christian or that we love or serve Jesus Christ does not make that so..However what we do in our lives speaks volumes to what we "really" believe.


Evidence of what we believe is manifested in our actions and daily living..SO I ask this question..If some random stranger was to watch you for say a week or two..and be able to have private access to you and all aspects of your life...Could they determine who you are? Would they say you are a sold out and surrendered soul for Christ or would they have a very difficult time trying to differentiate you from anyone else..comparing you with other non believers..Can your daily life, or what you do, define you..


People often say that if they had access to our checkbook, they can tell a lot about us, who we serve and where our priorities are..I 100% believe that.. I believe the same can be said about what we do!! Take a 24 hr day and look at it with authenticity..What evidence would there be that you are a Christian..Would it be that you spend say 30 minutes or even an hour in the morning reading your bible and then say 20 minutes at night with your kids having a little devotional and maybe praying over all your meals.. and the other 22 hours doing what? Sleeping, carrying out your day living in the world with no other evidence of your Faith on display..This is my life..This is me..I am being convicted by the Holy Spirit to really analyze my priorities and my life as a whole.. I can not honestly say that I am living my life to the fullest for God..I am breaking off a portion for Him but is that what He asks of us? I don't think so..Last time I checked He asked for ALL of US..not part of us, not a portion, not leftovers..He has asked for the First Fruits, to Lay down our Life and Take up the Cross..DAILY..


I am sure this movie was no accident..We normally do not watch "boy" movies like Batman in a house with all girlie girls..but for some reason, we came across this movie and for some reason this line stood out to me and for some reason I sit here in this moment, in this point in my life writing about it.. I am not at all joyful about what I see in myself.. I want to be defined by the world that I live for Christ..I want to be defined by anyone who comes in contact with me that the most important thing in my existence is to bring honor and glory to the Risen King..and that is weighing on me this morning very heavily..as it should..I am grateful that God in His mysterious ways, leads me to crossroads like this..that He can use movies, circumstances or whatever He wishes to help move us toward Christlikeness..I am grateful that I did not miss this moment and let it blow right past me without ever giving it a second thought..that I was able, thru the Holy Spirit to, stop and realize how the course of my life is transpiring..and how ever so slightly we get off course and how destructive that can be. There is a great song that comes to my mind as I type this and it is called "Slow Fade".. That is exactly what happens..It is not some pivotal moment that redirects our focus or priorities..it is the ever so slight of the world pressing down on us crowding out the life we are called to live..so slowly that we never even notice..We are being deceived and have no idea it is happening..I guess that is why they call it deceived..


As I reflect on my life and how I got here...I am constantly reminded that when I leave things to myself, I totally mess them up and it is very easy for me to squeeze God from the picture of my life to where eventually there will be nothing left of Him in my life..So, it is what you do that defines you....and today I choose to stand on firm ground, in my Redeemer's hands and cry out to the world...and to myself.. LET GO OF THIS WORLD AND LIVE FOR GOD..MAKE NO PROVISION FOR YOURSELF BUT LET GOD SUSTAIN YOU!! HE IS FAITHFUL AND TRUE..as Revelations 19:11 says " Now I saw heaven opened and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, He judges"


Oh Lord, Thank you for being a God who is beyond my ability to fully understand..Thank you for fitfulness you are, that we as your children can rest on that faithfulness that you will do all that you said you would, that your are sufficient. Thank you for loving us with a love not understood by a carnal finite mind..Thank you for opening my eyes and my heart and humbling me so that I can see and feel the "slow fade" of my life.. I pray in Christ's name.. Amen

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Salvation Has Come !!


A day of Jubilee!! Praise from the roof tops!! My oldest daughter just accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior!!!! What a blessing today has been to me, to my life, to my family. I wanted to tell the story how today came to be so that I would never forget this moment , this day and how I felt.

I also want to make it clear that as a DAD, I have longed for this day, but honestly feel (felt) so unequipped to handle such a decision. What do I do? How do I know? What if I don't recognize the signs? What if I say the wrong things? What if I mess up such an important life altering event? But then....why not me? Why do I feel I need someone else (Pastor, etc) to be sure? I am the one who labors with her each and every day, training her in the admonition of the Lord, praying with her and for her... I mean, why not me? The Spirit came over me and said "now is the time, CJ is ready..she has been called to serve the One True God. I wanted to place this in here because I have to believe I am not the only Dad who has these questions but also feel like the reasons I had (have) such insecurities in this area is I have never seen this play out before and I have had NO experience with this in my childhood growing up..so it all seems so foreign to me yet so natural at the same time..My fear is in my humanity..in trying to put my words in where the Spirit wants His..To place my impressions on her where the Spirit wants His..and what I experienced was a Spirit led conversation without me much thinking about it when the actual time came..How good is our God.:)

So about a week ago, we (the girls and I) had this special moment one evening just before bed time as we read from Lilygrace's new purple Bible. This night was no ordinary night. As I talked about knowing God and being accepted into His Kingdom and How Big God was and powerful He is...that by His very voice, He can speak things into existence..No shovels, no armies, no tools..just His voice.. The more I talked, the more I could see CJ and Jaydin's face change..a true genuine concern came over them! They began to cry rather loudly and became very concerned about not going to Heaven..unlike anything I had ever experienced with them before..so I prayed fervently that night for the Lord to MOVE in their life, for the Lord to make it clear to them. I have to be honest, this was not the first time I prayed this for them, but this was the first time I prayed it with such a passion and earnest desire. CJ asked me " What if God doesn't call me?" and I explained to her that question would not even be asked if God was not working in your life preparing the way..So I wanted to intercede on her behalf and seek God out to give her the assurance she was desperately seeking. So each day after this night, I could see something was bothering CJ, but when I asked her what might be wrong, she would shake her head (as to signal nothing) and say "nothing"...but then a tear would slip out of her eye and roll down her cheek. I admit I was puzzled. I could not understand why CJ would not open up to me and tell me what was bothering her. I was careful not to press for fear of causing her to shut down further..but I truly began to worry she was hiding something so large she could barely contain it..She was not herself..Her eating patterns had changed, she all of sudden wanted to sleep with us (which is highly out of her character), her playtime seemed dull and drab and dis interesting..so it was clear, something was going on...AS the father of a young girl, all sorts of thoughts came to my mind..thoughts that frightened me and touched nerves I did not know existed..thinking someone has harmed my daughter and then finally Sunday, May 23, 2010 came! This morning in church, I noticed again more tears streaming down the cheeks of her precious face as we sang..and I had never seen her cry at church before so this again caused me concern and caused me to think..what is bothering her..maybe after church today I will try and talk to her again.. We went out to lunch at Ruby Tuesday's after church and all seemed very normal. We got home and her neighbor friends were playing outside in the sprinkler in bathing suits and that got them excited..CJ went outside and after about 10-15 minutes she came back in and sat beside me and we began to watch this movie on TV..Once again, I saw a tear slip out and roll down her face, so I asked her to to come sit on my lap and she immediately came to me.. I asked " Honey, can you please tell me what is bothering you?"...I was determined to not let "nothing" suffice..and so she finally began to open up..
She said " I have been having these visions and they are really scaring me"..I thought to myself "visions???" and I asked her to explain. She finally said "that something has happened to me and I don't know what you would do"...LIGHT BULB. It all began to make sense to me..I remembered in a conversation that night I spoke of earlier where I had told her that I did not know what I would do if something would happen to her and she had not accepted Christ and chose to delay that for fun in this world.. That was my subtle way of trying to express the urgency of the decision of living for Christ..that no tomorrow is guaranteed to us and so as soon you knew for sure, don't wait..She had been thinking non stop about this conversation and about being sure she was going to heaven..worried sick to the point of visions of not going to Heaven and not ever knowing Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. So we talked about 2 hours or so and I shared with her what I felt the Spirit wanted me to share..and then it dawned on me..This was it..!! Now is the time..She is ready and so I asked her "Do you want to pray and accept to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior and to receive full assurance of your place in Heaven..to be saved from your sinfulness...and she just lost it and broke down in a loud sobbing cry and the word YES came from her distraught little voice, intermingled with sniffs and snobs..
So we prayed right there in that moment to receive Christ and she repeated after me and hearing those words come from her mouth was truly an amazing experience..one I will never forget..How awesome is our God!! I shared with her all the wisdom God had given me in hopes that I could pass on some of what I have come to know..
Salvation has come!! Assurance in Heaven was finally hers! I could immediately see the peace of that decision and assurance come over her. So the journey begins!! She has been given new life and a new heart. My prayer for her is that she runs the race with endurance all the way to the end, placing all her hope and trust in Him who saved her...that she would surrender ALL of herself to Him and SERVE Him to Glorify Him!

NOTE: We had previously scheduled an appointment to meet with Pastor Clay (children's pastor at Parkwood) on June 1 at 3:45 to actually talk about this due to the way that night went I spoke about in the beginning..but it seems God was not willing to wait. I guess we will make known to Pastor Clay of her decision and make this known to the Church Body in a public profession and then seek to baptize her in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

A very special day in the Bailey family..:) :) :)

EB





























































Thursday, February 11, 2010

God in Loving Pursuit

I read this today and felt it needed to be repeated and distributed..Just awesome !!!!


God in Loving Pursuit


"You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?"(1)
C.S. Lewis, the most reluctant and dejected convert in all England, penned this now famous and oft-quoted account of his conversion. Unlike some who decided to follow Jesus with urgency and willingness of heart, Lewis came into the Kingdom of God kicking and screaming! While some of us resonate with Lewis’s dread of conversion, most of us, like the Prodigal Son, gladly pursued the path home.
Lewis’s reluctant conversion fascinates me, but I am even more moved by the glimpse into God's character his story affords. For Lewis reminds us of the love of God that relentlessly pursues even the reluctant prodigal who would turn and run in the opposite direction in order to avoid God’s gracious embrace. The God revealed in Lewis’s account is a God who pursues sinners. Indeed, even the reluctant convert is wooed, courted, and embraced by God’s love.
The apostle Paul often talked about the love of God for sinners. In what is perhaps the apex of his letter to the Romans, Paul writes: "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates God’s own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of the Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Romans 5:1-11).
Paul’s progressive description of our condition before God reveals the depths of God’s love. First, Paul notes that God’s love pursued us "while we were still helpless." Then, Paul states that God loved us “while we were yet sinners,” and finally, God loved us and reconciled us even "while we were enemies." Indeed, Paul insists on God's great love towards even the vilest offender through the life and death of Jesus. He doesn’t make this claim as one who stands removed from the vilest offender. Indeed, he identifies himself as one who found mercy as the foremost sinner of all: "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all."(2)
But Paul's recognition of God's grace didn't end with himself. As Paul grasped the depths of God’s reconciling love in his own life, it led him to proclaim that same reconciliation for others. To the Corinthian church he wrote, "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
In reflecting on the reconciling work of God in Christ, scholar Miroslav Volf draws a pointed application: "God does not abandon the godless to their evil but gives the divine self for them in order to receive them into divine communion through atonement, so also should we-whoever our enemies and whoever we may be."(3) As we reflect on our own standing before God, our own inclusion into God's gracious love, may we not be reluctant converts blind to the depths of our own reconciliation. Rather, may our common heritage as sinners move us to pursue others as God has pursued us.


Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I never knew you!!


The title of this message brings an immense emotional response to rise up within me..Matthew 7:21-23 speaks of this "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]"


The parable of the Sower speaks of what might cause us to fall into this category of people who will try to claim Christ as Lord but will instead be told "Depart from me I never knew you"..(chills again)


Matthew 13:22 "As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasure and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit."


The part that stands out in this verse is "the cares of the world"...Those are the thorn's that choke out our ability to bear fruit..The kind of fruit that Christ expects of those who love Him and desire to follow His commands..


I believe there are largely three areas that need to be addressed when looking at this topic..


1. Time - Where is your time spent. Do we get caught up in the cares of the world that we cant find time to intake the Word of God..? I believe our technology driven society is an ever increasing problem in the life of a believer..We are unable to devote time to hearing, reading, memorizing and meditating on God's word..because we are way to busy with cell phones, social networking sites, kids, errands, jobs, chores around the house, etc, etc, etc..This list is not at all exhaustive..but the point is clear..Technology has allowed us to do things more efficiently but has also kept us constantly in a state of stimuli that slowing down long enough to get quiet and alone and spend time with our Creator has become secondary..What could matter more? We find that time is an acceptable excuse in our society so when we reflect on our days, we say I was just so busy, I just did not have time to do _____________(you fill in the blank)..If we truly took an honest look at our days and allowed ourselves to be honest, we would find time is not at all the problem...Priorities are the culprit..Everyone has the same amount of time to work with..We are allowed to choose for the most part how to spend that time..and so we choose to place God on the back burner in lieu of missing that favorite ballgame, sitcom, exercise regimen., etc..This stings me at the core of who I am because I am painfully aware of this misaligned priority in my very own life..So I challenge you to take that excuse out of the Rolodex and realign your priorities to include making God first..Give Him time and spend time with Him and He will make your way straight..He will lengthen the days, He will provide avenues and ways for us to get done what needs to be done..but try as you may without Him and chaos will rule your life..


2. Heart - Where is our loyalty? Does our heart yearn to know God deeper and more intimately or is our heart caught up in our children, our spouses, our jobs, our extra curricular activities..From the heart is where the well spring of life flows..Wherever you heart goes, there you will be also..The cares of this world are all to often competing for our heart...and our flesh is determined to keep our heart from seeking God...but rather pleasing self.. Our heart is not ruled by emotions...as many would say..I submit to you that our Heart is ruled by what fills it..If we fill it with the cares of this world, we are left empty at the end of the day..but if we fill it with the immeasurable love of God and what His desires are for us, our loyalty is clear to those around us and our life will bear fruit and the thorn's will not have the chance to choke us out..We cultivate the field of our heart and constantly open it up to the overflowing grace that God desires to offer us and replace all the self reliance, self-centeredness that normally dwells there.. We must understand that we can not serve two masters..It is either US or GOD..It is NOT US and GOD or GOD and US..It is US OR God..So I ask you, where is your loyalty..


3. Energy - The last of the three areas I wanted to address.. So where to focus our energy..This is closely related to our time and our loyalty..If those two areas are out of whack, then this area has no choice but to be out of whack..We spend our energy on the things that matter most to us..We spend very little energy on things that have no effect on us or we think have no effect on us..If you want to get in shape..you must expend some of that energy to go to the gym, lace up the running shoes, stack on the weights..So when you expend that type of energy, you will find that you begin to gain more energy as a result..yes for the first few weeks, you will feel tired after working out but if you will stick with it you will find that exercise provides you with more in return than you ever spent...Your energy levels get higher and you begin to feed off the extra energy exercise provides you..SO why say all this..Because spending the necessary energy getting to KNOW God has the exact same effect on you..mentally, spiritually and I would also argue physically..Yes it is hard work and it requires an enormous amount of our energy to take in God's word and live out His commands for us..but just as exercise brings more energy, so will the investment we make in spending some of our energy on God.. Spending time in God's word will not return void..It will only increase your reserves, increase your desires and increase your loyalty to Him and that is a NET positive result for those around you in your inner circles but also for those who you come in contact with who no nothing or very little about God..God will provide you everything you need if you will earnestly seek him and devote your energy to Him each and every day..


This is what most Christians want from God...... " God please help me now so I can live my life my way". We don't want God to come in and rearrange our already comfortable schedules, to do lists and priorities because we like it how we have it..We just need You to help me do what I already do.....I say NO..When we call on our Creator , The Holy One, to come into our life, that means we lay our lives down and surrender to Him all that is His..Our Time, Our Heart and our Energy and when we do that, He, El Shaddai, will remake you in His image and begin to sanctify you for His good works and fruit will sprout from you like a tree planted by the waters as Jeremiah says in chapter 17 verse 8..and so when the Heat (the world) comes, it will have no effect and you will not cease yielding fruit for the One who called you to Himself.. The words "I never knew you" will be a distant memory. Your life will take on new meaning..


How is your current TIME, HEART (Loyalty) and ENERGY affecting your Intake, Digestion and Application of God's word..? You can fool me but God knows your intentions, your thoughts and your desires..


EB

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Authenticity" - The Key to Unlocking True LIFE


What does it really mean to be authentic.. Why is so difficult for us to let others see the "real you". I have been pondering this subject for a while now and ran across some teaching from the radio that inspired me to dig a little deeper into who I am..and does that match what people know me to be..


I know for many years of my life, this was an easy question to answer...I mean I was duplicitous..I lived a duel life..I had many secrets tucked away that no one knew about, and I projected the image I wanted everyone to have of me..As I think back on this season of life, I am horrified by the standard to which I lived..Heck there was no standard...I simply was a fake..A big ol "Pretender"..I was Ok with the idea of having everyone around me believe I was something I wasn't..and I became very skilled at hiding this other side of me..I was articulate enough to argue a position I did not live out or believe because I knew it sounded good..and more importantly it was what others wanted to hear..I was a master in the art of deflecting..turning any negative argument against me on to that person who was pointing the finger..and forcing them to look at themselves and not me..and that secured my hidden side from others..even those closest to me..


As I think about the kind of life this left me with, I found I was simply hiding my sin away from those who desired to shine the light on it and the better I got at deflecting and projecting, the more I believed my own lie..I lived by the adage that "what they don't know want hurt them"..Here is what Struck me..Who is THEY..? Who was I hiding it from..? or better yet..who was I NOT hiding it from..? Yes that would be God..as I reflect back on this time in my life, I can see how utterly blind I was and how shallow and cold of a man I had become..I was lacking authenticity.. I was trying to manipulate everyone including God Almighty..How foolish is that..but in those moments, I honestly believed I was getting away with it..and God allowed me to sink deeper into this pit until I reached bottom..and for those of you who know what bottom is...let me just say it brings shivers and chills to my entire body to think about the desolation and loneliness and anxiety and stress that enveloped my life..Just an awful state of being..and then as Psalms 40:1-4 states..(which is my life verse). God heard my cry's and pulled me out of the desolate pits, out of the miry clay and placed my feet up on a new secure foundation in Jesus Christ and he put a new song in my mouth a hymn and a praise to God..


See what God did was he broke me down and forced me to shed this double life, this duplicitous state of living and He allowed me to choose..It was either my way or His way..My way was killing me and His way offered me a way out..but that meant I had to slay myself and my sin and destroy my pride and self sufficiency and allow God to rule and reign and to be Authentic with Him.. His path for me was as clear as a bright blue sky...I had to stop pretending to be and BE..I was no longer allowed the option to tuck away sin..I had to root it all out and start anew..To get on solid footing with Him and that meant opening up myself in every area and allowing His Grace to replace my wickedness..I could no longer project who I was..What God did was he showed me just how sick and twisted I was and then He revealed His way..I was able to see how a life lived for God was what I had yearned for all along..What I saw was this open honest relationship with Christ where I could express my deepest fears and worries and challenges and He would take care of them for me..As long as I was Honest with Him..As long as I agreed not to pretend I had it all figured out and that I desperately needed Him..I cant begin to explain the transformation that took place in my life when I was truly authentic with Christ and that spilled out in my life to those who were close to me.. The humility God gave me to be who I was instead of who I pretended to be gave me a chance to know who God is..To experience a relationship so fulfilling and so sufficient I suddenly realized that I no longer needed to pretend...I know longer cared about what others thought of me..whether they approved or disapproved..I was much more concerned about what God thought of me and He kept telling me over and over..Son I love you..Cant you see.. I know what is best for you if you will just get out of the way and allow Me to have My way. I have plans for you and a work to perfect in you!! I want to be LORD of your life, not just your Savior..and all this time I blocked this with my phony life, my pretending, my lack of authenticity..God was so eager to reveal Himself to me but I had severed the lines of communication with my pride and sin that I was unwilling to let go of.. God opened my eyes to a whole new way and my Heart had been transplanted with a new one..just as He promised..I just don't see things as I once did and my heart is open to an overflowing conduit of grace and mercy being poured out by God..and my challenge now is to be as Authentic as I can..To share everything with Him, even all my struggles with the flesh..and realize He knows my struggles..He knows my weaknesses and He has an answer for ALL of it..He is the bread of life, to which we are to not just eat of but to feast on.. I am constantly checking my motives and my desires to be sure I am in line with God and His will for me.. The question to myself is this..Do those who know me or see me "know me"..Do they get to see and experience the real Eddie Bailey..Am I ok with exposing my weakness to others..am I OK with exposing my utter dependence on Jesus Christ..AM I afraid of what others might think.? My desire is to be and to live exactly what I am and who I am and to be genuine..My relationship with Christ has taught me many things over the last few years but most importantly, it has taught me that Christ is enough, His death was enough and He is sufficient for me and I don't need anything else but Him..and if that is true of my life then those around me who depend on me or need me will get everything they need from me because it is not me, But He who lives in me...


If you are not experiencing the true Joy and Peace that God can provide you with...Check to see if you may be pretending..projecting an image unlike who you really are..If you are missing something or have this huge void in your life..Maybe it is because you have yet been unwilling to slay yourself so God can reveal Himself to you in all His splendor..Get Authentic with God and leave no secret hidden...and an amazing thing will happen to you that mere words simply cant articulate..If a camera could watch you 24/7...in your darkest and deepest moments..would it be OK for the whole world to see? If one was able to read you mind, would you allow them repeat everything you thought..? If one could measure your heart, would you allow them to reveal what they found..? Just know that GOD can do all these and until you are willing to confess your true self to Him and stop pretending He doesn't know..You will never experience EL Shaddai..Why on earth would you cut yourself off from the giver of life..the one who knows you better than any..and who only desires the absolute very best for you..Open up your heart and soul and mind and let God clear the blockage so His Grace and Mercy can be experienced the way I can attest to..You will not be disappointed...There is nothing on this earth like it..


EB

Thursday, January 7, 2010

" To KNOW HIM "


From each sermon at church, my private study of Colossians, my preparation for leading the Spiritual Disciplines Class, my reading of "My Utmost for His Highest", to listening to pastors on the radio...ALL of them are pointing me to this one key concept - TO KNOW HIM.. Now I can understand how that doesn't sound either profound or unique..however might I suggest that very few of us actually comprehend this to the level to which we are capable..Let me explain a little further..
*Our pastor Jeff Long was preaching on the Trinity this past Sunday and made the comment that God the Father, Christ the Son and The Holy Spirit were full of JOY before we ever we created..and that He (God) did not create us to make Him more happy or feel better..So Why then? SO that we could know Him..
*Spiritual Discipline Study I am preparing for right now is about the different disciplines in which to become more Christ like..to attain godliness..Each of the disciplines such as Bible Intake, Prayer, Service, Fasting, etc are all for us to be able to Know God more..Not to earn God's favor or to be a better Christian..But to be more Christ like is to know Him
*My Utmost for His Highest" says on Feb 16th devotion "The inspiration of Spiritual Initiative" and he quotes Ephesians 5:14 " Arise from the dead"..We all have a number of visions and ideals when we are young, but sooner or later we find we have no power to make them real. We can not do the things we long to do and we are apt to settle down and count them as dead..and God has to come and say "Arise from the dead". When the inspiration of God does come, it comes with such miraculous power that we are able to arise from the dead and do the impossible thing. God does not give us overcoming life...He gives us life as we overcome..!!
* In my study of Colossians chapter 1 verse 11 says " strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with JOY". God will give you everything you need to deal with whatever you are facing..It is promised here and in other places throughout Scripture..2 Peter 1:2-4, John 10:10, Matt 11:28-30 are just a few

So after reading, hearing and meditating on all this recently revealed information... it became clear like the stars on a cool summer night..I felt the Holy Spirit move in me to bring it all home..To complete the particular work of wisdom that He desired for me to fully comprehend..and it culminates in this part of Scripture John 14:19-24...The indwelling of the Father and the Son..and there are two verses in particular that were just illuminated beyond all others for me..Verse 21 " The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him." . Don't miss this!!!!!!!!!..I also will love him and REVEAL MYSELF to Him...God wants for us to know Him and He desires to reveal Himself..but there is a key concept that many a Christian today totally miss.. The one who has My commands and KEEPS them..Folks this is not new but is certainly profound for our Western viewpoint of Christianity..We think it OK to attend Church, participate in bible study, tithe and maybe a some service...but intertwine that with an occasional trip to the club, an occasional gossip about a fellow brother or sister, a swipe at another church or past church, moving in with the girlfriend or boyfriend, committing adultery in the heart when we lust after another, etc etc etc..Now I am not saying we have to be perfect...in fact that has nothing to do with what I am getting at..What I am saying is this...GOD wants for us to surrender to Him..Totally and completely..Not 90%, or 95%..and when we do offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) then God will reveal Himself to you and Life will take on a totally new meaning...The desire to follow God begins to rule and reign in your heart so that any ungodliness in our lives convicts us to such a degree that it is ceased immediately....See what most of us do (including myself) is we merely nibble on what God has to offer..We are not willing to go all out for God for various reasons... Time, priority, embarrassment, whatever..and when we hold back on God. He cant allow Himself to be fully revealed...because we are not keeping His commands..What we are doing is age old in America..We say (and mainly to ourselves not to other people)..I am mostly good..I do way more good that right..and we find people to compare ourselves against to help make us feel better about the life we are living..when our only comparison should be against Jesus Christ..The only model we should follow..and when we truly see how we stack up against Christ, we begin to see our total depravity and need of His Grace and Mercy..If we compare ourselves against another person, we will find someone who we know we are better than and then we justify our behavior in that manner..losing our sense of depravity and our total dependence on Christ and the Mercy and Grace we absolutely need..and we carry on about life thinking none the more about truly KNOWING GOD..We would rather place God on this high mantel and call on Him and pray to Him..but truly Knowing Him is just for those really religious people if He can be truly known at all..
Then the other verse of that John 14:19-24 is verse 23..I love how The Message captures this verse..it says
"If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we'll move right into the neighborhood!". Can we imagine for a second what it would mean to have God in our neighborhood..What this is saying..to me at least is ....God will be as real to you as if he were your next door neighbor whom you wave at on a regular basis..He will no longer be this distant deity who only governs the cosmos..but rather a close friend, companion, confidant..Someone who can calm the most ferocious of storms and lift you up out of the most desolate pits..The actual Scripture reads(ESV) "23Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.".

Here is where the Spirit unlocked my understanding..This all comes with a catch..The catch is we must KEEP HIS WORD..We must abide in Him only. Not this world or not what this world says or deems acceptable..We have a very special book to filter everything through..and it is sufficient and capable of bringing clarity to any and all circumstances and situations..No one is afforded the "right" to step outside of Scripture to suit themselves...if you do, you will never know what it means to KNOW God..

We we all wonder why things don't go as we want or the peace that we are after is just not there or why the world is SO debased..Those who truly LOVE God will not compromise....They will abide in Him and they will experience a JOY so astonishing that nothing, and I mean NOTHING in this world can compare to..There will be no need to try and please the flesh any longer because it is so far from pleasing when compared to the TRUE JOY of Christ dwelling inside you..

One last point..You will not Fool God nor manipulate Him..You will not be able to just say I love Christ and want to follow Him and still act like the world and do things you know are against His commands..He will not be fooled into revealing himself..ONLY to those who keep His commands..and He will test your outward appearance..to see if what you say is what you truly believe..Gen 22..Abraham was asked to take His most precious of things to sacrifice before GOD..to see where Abraham's loyalty and Faith was truly placed..and Abraham believed so much that he took Issac up on the mountain and took his knife and stretched out his hand to slay his son...WHY? because He had total Faith in God and felt if he did kill his son, God would raise him from the dead..He placed nothing before God Almighty not even his own son.. What do we put before God..Our job, our kids, our freedom, our vices, our time, our spouses..NOTHING belongs ahead of GOD..He wants and desires to reveal Himself to us and for us to get to know the JOY and LOVE that is God himself ...for that is why He created us..Don't count on this world to provide joy and love..It cant..It never could..It never will..You will always come up wanting when placing your desires before God..Give God everything and watch what happens to your life..Unspeakable Joy, uncompromising Peace, Unending Love and forever a changed person..Don't believe me?..Then try it yourself..Please don't take my word for it..Give God your all and see what happens..God doesn't break promises..Get to Know Him personally and when God truly reveals Himself to you..There will be no doubt as evidenced by your life..It will change you from the inside out..If you are not experiencing this then you are holding back..If there is no fruit in your life, then you have yet to experience the God of the Bible...because when you come into direct contact with El Shaddai..He will forever change who you are, what your priorities are and what direction your life takes on..You will have no other desires except for those that bring Glory to Him..

EB

Thursday, November 12, 2009

When all of a Sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by Your Glory


I wanted to post some of the message I heard this morning from Chip Ingram on his daily radio show. I find his insight to be intellectually stimulating and certainly thought provoking and that causes me to think past the usual recesses of my mind and delve into areas I often neglect..Often times things that seem so simple can also be very profound..The idea that certain thoughts can trigger an avalanche of "light bulb" moments or those moments that cause you to say to yourself.."wow" that is big.. That is my reaction to today's message..not something that was truly brand new but delivered in such a way that all the circles came together..


Faith..What is genuine faith? How do we know? Most of say we have Faith but when faced with very difficult situations or problems we "project"...ie..we say to ourselves..OMG..how am I going to handle this..Oh no, I will be ___________. something along these lines..Now I am not saying everyone, but this is often true for me..I find myself worrying(worrying is anti Faith)..feeling anxiety over looming issues and simply getting out of sync with God because of earthly issues..jobs, money, illness, debt, deadlines, appointments,relationships, political issues, etc..this list is just to name a few..


I would submit that Genuine Faith does not project..Does not worry..feels no anxiety..Now as I write this I am saying to myself..Is it possible to work our way thru life and not worry, not feel anxiety and not project..but when you really think about this, and you ponder the possibility of being able, you are limiting a HOLY, ALL POWERFUL GOD..Who is capable of whatever He desires..Genuine Faith is a Belief in that which is NOT SEEN but to the degree that doubt has no room..Doubt is the enemy against faith and tries to crumble the Faith we have..


God allows "life" to happen as it does to strengthen us..To refine us..to mold us


1. What can I control? My attitude..My attitude is all I can really control and that means how I choose to view any given circumstance or situation, trial or triumph..


2. What do I do? Endure..God calls us to endure..Paul says to run the race as to win the prize..Endurance is built..You can run a marathon unless you train for it..Endurance for God requires training as well..Real life training..Tribulation produces perseverance, perseverance character, character hope and Hope does not disappoint..


3. What Hope do I have for tomorrow? If you cooperate wit God, He will take the worse part of life and use it for good, for His glory..but you must cooperate..That means when being refined by God's hand, you allow that process to be. You are not to try and circumvent the Sovereign Hand of God.. God is performing a work in us..with one goal in mind..To make us Christ Like..James 1:3-4 says "3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

See...God is perfecting you as you endure the trials of life, into a more perfect creation until the day He calls you home and completes that work into perfection..


4. How does it work? First, this forces a greater dependence on God to new levels..Second it slowly weens us from the world. It helps us to evaluate our priorities and values in life..slowly things that once mattered just do not matter anymore..If the stock market crashes, or the economy falls into a recession, or a job is lost..Your focus moves away from the earthly ideals and narrows itself on the eternal perspective.. Thirdly, trials allows us to witness 1st hand the power and grace of God. We experience Him more and begin to get closer and closer to Him because we can see and feel the saving Grace and His provision for our lives..If you can just imagine that time after time, God's faithfulness shines thru what that does to your Faith..How endurance is built up..by simply allowing God's provisions and sovereignty to play out..as He so wills..and lastly...adversities serve as testimonies to the unbelieving world..Our reactions and attitudes toward life circumstances depict our TRUST and FAITH in Christ..The most inspiring thing for me to see even as a believer is another believer enduring in Christ, Trusting in Christ amidst some of the most horrific situations one can imagine..ie..Cancer stricken bodies, loss of children suddenly and unexpectedly, loss of loved ones....When this is in plain view for me to see and experience, I say to myself..I want Faith like that..I want to Trust so explicitly that my life is constantly praising the Holy Sovereign Lord I claim to follow, no matter the storm, no matter the season..even unto my last breathe here in this world..


So..the meaning behind all this was to say..ENDURE..Let the Refiner refine..the Molder mold..be the clay in the Potter's hand..and allow the work in you that Christ has started to be perfected so that you "lack nothing." Faith in this process is the real deal..Genuine..


Eddie

(Chip Ingram)


How He Loves _ Dave Crowders Band

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, And I realise just how beautiful You are, And how great Your affections are for me. And oh, how He loves us so, Oh how He loves us, How He loves us all Yeah, He loves us, Oh! how He loves us, Oh! how He loves us, Oh! how He loves. We are His portion and He is our prize, Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes, If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss, And my heart turns violently inside of my chest, I don’t have time to maintain these regrets, When I think about, the way…

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pain - the sense we NEED !

A small article towards the back of a People magazine told the story of a little girl named Ashlyn.(1) She was described as an incredibly happy child, eager and energetic. According to her mother, Ashlyn has the best laugh in the world, and according to her kindergarten teacher, she fearlessly goes headfirst into everything. In many ways she is a typical, lovable five year-old. But Ashlyn is one of only 50 people in the world with a genetic condition that leaves her unable to feel pain. She can feel touch and be tickled, but she cannot sense pain or extreme temperatures.

Ashlyn's parents are used to being asked why such a condition is daunting news at all. Their reply is one racked with the sting of experience: Pain is there for a reason. When she was a toddler, they had to wrap her with athletic tape because of all the damage she was causing to limbs that knew no fear. She has knocked eight teeth out and dug a hole in her eye without shedding a tear. She once came in from outside proclaiming she couldn't get the dirt off her skin. But it wasn't dirt. Ashlyn was covered with hundreds of biting fire ants.

It is hard to read such a story without coming away with the difficult conclusion that pain is necessary. Imagine not knowing when you have scalded your mouth on a hot meal or bit your tongue so badly that it bled. Imagine your child reaching out for the flickering light of a candle and not having the pain of burned fingers to reinforce your scolding plea not to play with fire.

The great majority of our philosophical frustration about pain is aimed at asking why a loving God would allow it in the first place. And yet, the closing lines of Ashlyn's story were the words of a heartbroken parent: "I would give anything, absolutely anything, for Ashlyn to feel pain."(2) Pain is the body's signal for danger, however severe or slight. It is a navigating force through unknown corridors of life, without which we find ourselves numb to reality, robbed of caution, and disoriented to the world. "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pain," says C.S. Lewis.

There is no doubt something wonderful about the thought of pain removed and eyes wiped dry. We are rightly comforted by the image of heaven as the place where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. There is indeed much hope in the promise that there will one day "be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4). But perhaps there is also something wonderful about a God who gives us pain as a guide, an orienteer, a loud speaker.

There is a line uttered by the psalmist that has been comforting to my grandmother through many years. To God the psalmist confesses, "You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle" (Psalm 56:8, ESV). Tear-bottles were small urns of glass or pottery, created to collect the tears of mourners at the funeral of a loved one, and placed in the sepulchers at Rome and in Palestine where bodies were laid to rest. In some ancient tombs these bottles are found in great numbers, collecting tears that were shed with great meaning.

Perhaps equally comforting as knowing God will one day wipe away every tear from our eyes is the thought that God does not see our pain here as a pointless or empty occurrence. Just as our tears will be tended to in eternity, the psalmist reminds us that so our tears on earth do not go unnoticed. Our pain is not haphazardly viewed by the one who made tear ducts that spill over with grief and anguish. God has kept count of our sorrowful struggling; each tear is recorded as pain steeped with meaning. Like a parent grieving at a child's wound, God reaches out to you in—perhaps even through—your pain, speaking gently into your heightened sense of awareness. And with the Son who wept at the grave of Lazarus, God collects your tears in his bottle until the day when tears will be no more.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My 37th Birthday - A day of Reflection !!


37 Years ago today, God saw fit to bring me into this world and begin a journey with me that has seen the highest of mountain tops and the lowest of valley's.. I have managed to mess up more things than I ever thought possible growing up as a young boy, searching for identity and purpose in life..So today I wanted to reflect on my journey and how thru God's overflowing Grace in my life has allowed to me get here, right here where I am..


One thing is for sure in this life... I believe I have finally figured out after many years of pain and heartache, misdirection and wasted time...that my life is not my own and "if it is to be it is up to me" is the worse piece of advice or Mantra I could have ever subscribed to..I spent most of my adult life living under this principle and strive very hard trying to be the best I could be..being told "I" can make it happen..If I will just work hard and never give up..So while I was able to acquire possessions and money and all that money could afford me, I found myself spiraling out of control..losing my integrity, my waywardness and just being LOST..Mind you during all this time I was going to church...I was trying to be a good guy...doing right by those around me..UNTIL I slipped into darkness and found myself in the grasp of a mighty foe in Satan and he had deceived me into believing all this and ran my life right off the tracks..or as some would say from the south "ran this bus off in a dirt road." Satan had convinced me that "I" should have whatever I want.. "I" deserve the best..after all I worked hard for it..So slowly but ever so shrewdly I began to trade in all my thoughts of others and only think of myself..and did not really see the consequences of such decisions and beliefs till after the damage had been inflicted on those I cared about or claimed to love..There came a day in my life when I was all "I"cared about..I mean I would not blatantly say that but boy was it evident in my actions and decisions I was making..


I could have justified this by many tragic events in my childhood like so often many people do when live begins to derail..I was adopted at an early age, never have known my biological mother, lost my grandfather(father - man who raised me) at a very early age due to heart attack, had my house burn down with no insurance and was left with the clothes on my back with no where to live, moving from family member to family member for weeks until we could find somewhere to call home..Then my grandmother(my mom, the only mom I have ever known) had congestive heart failure and almost died while I was an early teen..then the unthinkable..a few years later..She had heart failure again and died in my arms on a Tuesday night...in June just before I was to go off to college that August..My life has been full of challenges and adversities and for whatever reason, God was slinging Grace everywhere, except I was unaware until now..looking back..I dont see these events as reason to live like I deserve anything..because I dont..What I deserve is eternal condemnation for my sin..for the wickedness of my heart...the "lostness" of my soul..


What I have now is Newness of Life in Christ..I am a new creation made in His image and no longer have to carry the baggage around of my past..Remember I said I was going to church..Well that was it..I was going like it was some to do list to check off in my week..I lived no differently from Sunday at 1pm to next Sunday an 8am..just played the role during that time at church and went right on back to my worldly proud life..NO MORE.. Christ suffered immensely for my life and died so I would not have to..He came an offered me a pardon and I have accepted this pardon and now live under His Lordship..surrendered to Him..About 3 years ago, God grabbed hold of me and squeezed...he crushed everything about the man I was and the man I had become so He could start over and remake me in His image..He absolutely brought me to my knees and stripped all my pride, all my possessions and all my worth...and in that day, He began something so wonderful in me that I cant hold it in..Some may read this and say, boy He is a religious nut or some Jesus freak..but you know what...I am..because I have experienced the hand of God in my life and it is no joke..This is not some experience that you have when you need God to bail you and you promise Him that if He bails you out you will never do such and such again..This was a radical life altering event for me..There are no words to accurately describe this..God was with me and rained down His mercy and grace and but for HIM and HIM alone, I would still be living in that "I", "me", "myself" mentality destroying all things around me including my precious family.. When you experience God in this way, there are no other paths to take..You must understand this..I was saved from myself and set Free in Christ..Each day since that event, I have grown to know my Lord in ways I never imagined. The more I know Him the more I love Him..The relationship is very personal and not contrived nor fake..It is genuine in every way and my life is "fullness of Joy" and "pleasures forevermore"...Is life still challenging and difficult..You betcha (as Sarah Palin would say).. Of course it is.. I still experience all the things any one else does because we all have to live in this temporary shell while we are here on earth...and this flesh is not favorable to God and tries very hard to defy God and rear its ugliness..so yes..Bills still come, accidents happen and mistakes are made...BUT..dont miss this..Hear me....I am anchored to the immutable(never changing) Rock, the omnipotent(all powerful), omniscience(all knowing) Lord of Lords..in whom I know trust with ALL things..not just parts of my life..but all of my life..He gets it all and in return He has promised to be there with and in His presence I have been promised fullness of Joy and pleasures forevermore (Pslams 16:11) and that is exactly what He has given me..Let me place a name with some of this..There is no greater Joy in my life, other than my relationship with Jesus, than my relationship with my Wife..God has blessed me with a wonderful marriage and a partner in life who is my very best friend..He has blessed me with a love for her that surpasses all understanding..and I adore her and cherish her and am grateful I am able to experience this life with her.... That is fullness of Joy..If you are struggling with your marriage..it doesnt have to be this way..TRUST ME..It was not this way 4 years ago but when you allow God to rule and reign in your marriage..HE is faithful to bless that union and will pour out His Love in ways you cant comprehend until you allow it to happen to yourself.. You must let go of trying to do it all yourself and focus on Christ and allow Him to move in your marriage..If there is any one thing I would want someone who is struggling with a marriage to know..it is this..It can be everything you ever dreamed it could be but only on God's terms, not your own..Remember Marriage is God's institution and He knows what is best for you because He brought you together..

Pleasures forevermore are three girls who I love with all my being..CJ, Jaydin and Lilygrace..There is no greater satisfaction, no more pleasurable feeling this world has to offer than the love of your kids as they express it..Hugs, kisses, letters, looks, winks, wishes..What an immensely deep feeling I derive from holding my girls, raising them, taking care of them, loving on them and being there for them..To have them out of the blue look your square in the eyes and say with utter genuineness " Daddy, I love you"...There are very few things that can equal such moments...God has blessed me with the stewardship of raising three girls and entrusted with me not one but three precious souls, whom have an eternal significance..not just a life here on earth but an eternal life..So when God brought them into this world, He basically said..Eddie, these are your responsibility..now go and live like you know me and show them the way, the way to everlasting life with me..Once that sinks in and the significance hits you, there is little time to react..I sense enormous responsibility as the spiritual leader of my home and realize my role as a father and the impact my life can and will have on them...but what a joy it is...


So my intentions where to lift my Lord up today as He has saw fit to get me here today..to be alive where I can still have an impact for Him in this world..All my praises go to Him, for He deserves all the Glory for who He is..Without Him and the grace He pours on my life, I would be lost and confused and causing collateral damage everywhere I went..But to God be the Glory forever and ever..I give thanks that my blind eyes have been opened and allowed to see..I give thanks that my deaf ears have been unplugged and allowed to hear...I give thanks my heart has been replaced with a new one and the old one has been destroyed..God is Faithful..God is Faithful..Dont take my word for it..See for yourself..because this is not unique to me...but is afforded to anyone who is willing to crucify the old self and believe in Christ and take up His cross daily and live for Him..This is real and life changing and will not return void..I am one of many millions of people who can attest to God's faithfulness..


My life verse: Psalms 40:1-4


"I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.

He has put a new song in my mouth - Praise to our God. Many will see it and fear and will trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust"


In reflection of my 37th Birthday..I say "Thank you Lord"
EB