Archives for category: Religion

I only post this video because he poses some questions that would benefit Christians. I was going to write a rebuttal to his video, but then I realized that he only means to goad people into an argument which cannot be ‘won.’ From his standpoint, the question may as well be “Can God create something so heavy that he cannot lift it?”

The way the author responds to his own questions makes me believe that any answer will be a “convoluted, rationalized excuse.”

I say this for the simple fact that a non-believer would see something as a coincidence, whereas a believer would see it as a message or part of the plan. There’s a tale of a boy who takes a bird to the wise man. He hides the bird behind his back and asks the wise man if it is alive or dead. “It is what you want it to be,” is the wise man’s response. The wise man knew that the boy would do what he wanted to make sure the wise man is wrong. And that’s what I think this man is doing with the video. He uses the questions as the bird, and will do his best to make sure that the answer is always wrong. Hence his “convoluted, rationalized excuse” statement.

Basically I find the questions interesting (not fascinating – that’s just pretentious) because they’re things that Christians don’t really address on any regular basis.  And personally, I think we as Christians should question our faith regularly.

There is a link under the video that takes you to a website that deals with faith. I’ve read through some of it, and all I can come away with is that the man misses the point of Christianity. The website is titled “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? <- The Most Important Question That We Can Ask About God.”

Now I’m not sure that’s the most important question we can ask about God, but I think it’s a fair question. Where the author gets it wrong is that he’s assuming that the best thing for an amputee is to grow back their limb(s). I find that selfish at best.

I know a man who survived an explosion of a roadside bomb. Four others died in that explosion. He lost his left hand, and was burned over the majority of his body. I’m pretty sure he wishes that it had never happened. I know I would. But since that day, he’s gone on tours doing motivational speeches and doing stand up comedy. He goes to burn units and rehab facilities and inspires not only disabled veterans, but families and others as well. The man inspires me, quite frankly. But if we were to take away that one event, that one moment in time that changed his life forever, then the lives of others would never be touched, and I would never have met this man.

Or, what about Candace Lightner, who lost her 13 year old daughter to a drunk driver? She used that experience to create Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD. An organization that has probably saved the lives of countless people simply by drawing awareness to the problem. I’m sure that Candace would love to have that moment back and keep her daughter safe – but look at the outcome? How many lives were saved because Candace’s daughter died? Yes, it’s a tragedy, but the inspiration that came of it was much greater than keeping her daughter alive.

The author goes on to ask 9 other questions. And while they’re important questions, the problem lies in the fact that all the ‘correct’ answers are selfish. To me, Christianity is about helping others while showing them the love of Christ. That’s it. Ask Jesus into your heart, live for Him, and ask for forgiveness, and your life will be fulfilling. I don’t mean that you’ll be rich, or your life will be easy, but that with the peace of Christ,  life will be more tolerable. The strength of God is found in our weakness. It’s a bit sobering, but also uplifting. To know that God will be there in our lowest moments is such a great feeling. It’s hard for a non-believer to understand. Sometimes it’s hard for Christians to understand. But it’s there, and I’ve been a part of it. I’ve witnessed the power of prayer. I’ve seen the strength of God in our weaknesses.

So watch the video, think about it, and see where it can help you in your faith. I’m open to questions and discussion – as long as my side is not dismissed as a “convoluted, rationalized excuse.”

 

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God Bless Dinner

I really hope everyone washed their hands first.

Well, it’s almost my birthday, and that means Thanksgiving will be here soon. For years, I enjoyed Thanksgiving because it not only meant that I got to see family that I hadn’t seen in sometime, but because it usually meant I’d get a few more presents.

Unlike people who have birthdays around Christmas, I didn’t get that “two for one” deal. Instead, I’d get presents on my birthday and then a few days later, I’d get more!!! This was especially awesome when I was a kid and the ‘norm’ in presents for me were Star Wars toys. Those were the days, my friend, and we thought they’d never end. But they did. Thankfully.

Birthday Cake?

What's worse than getting a 2-4-1 present? A 2-4-1 cake.

So here we are again, Thanksgiving is just over a week away and the weather is definitely feeling more like fall. The mornings are brisk, and the afternoons are just as nice as they could be. The trees here in the area that do lose leaves are doing that. Or they’re dead. I can never really tell. But I did notice a bunch of big brown leaves in the street last night when I returned from playing r’ball.

Growing up, we’d always alternate our Thanksgivings and Christmases. If we went to my mom’s family for Thanksgiving, we’d go to Christmas at my dad’s family. Then the next year, we’d switch. This is what I grew up with and that’s what I’d been used to.

The Holidays have really changed over the years, and especially for me. I think things are different with Christy too, but I’m not entirely certain what her holidays were like. My dad does Thanksgiving the Sunday prior to the actual Thanksgiving. My mom doesn’t have a place to do Thanksgiving. All my grandparents are gone, except my dad’s mom – and as stated before, we do that this Sunday. As for Christy’s family, we never see her dad, or her dad’s parents because they live in Florida. It’s not that we couldn’t drive out there, but it’s just a hard thing to do. And then there’s her mom and her mom’s mom. Christy’s mom lives here in San Marcos (as does mine), and Christy’s G’ma lives in Abilene (technically Merkel). And again, neither of them are very T’giving type places to do things.

Xbox

This is a representation of Brad and myself at some point in our lives.

I guess what I’m saying is that the family structure for both Christy and I have changed dramatically from what we were accustomed to when we were growing up. It’s not like it was for me, where we’d leave for my grandparents’ house and get to see my aunts, uncles, and cousins. My dad had two brothers, and they each had two kids, so we could have some really decent touch football games in the back yard. My mom had two brothers and a sister, and all my cousins would usually do something together.

But I only have one brother, who lives in Florida. They have two kids, but there’s almost 10 years between Kyle (the younger) and David (my oldest), so even though they’d have fun, it’s one of those things. Christy has two half brothers and a sister. The brother situation is a bit odd, because we don’t see Christy’s dad often (half-brother Mat) and Christy’s mom lives here (half-brother Brad). I guess what I’m saying is that we don’t go to Florida often, and we’re not really going to spend a holiday with Brad’s family. His dad and step mom are really cool, but it’d just be a bit awkward. Especially when Brad and I would spend the entire time playing Xbox.

This will be the fourth Thanksgiving we’ve had in our house since we bought it. Each year, we do it a little different. We’ve always had Christy’s mom over, and some years we get G’ma and McKinzey (our niece), as well as Brad and his family. But more often than not, we open our house to friends. In the past, it’s been people who work with either Christy or Reneé and aren’t able to get home for the holidays. Sometimes it’s someone who just doesn’t have family nearby and aren’t doing anything. We always invite people over, and we always have enough food, and we always end up having a good time in our little warm home.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Are you traveling to a family gathering? Are you staying home and hosting a gathering? Are you staying primarily with family, or are you including some friends who can’t make it home?

And if you’re in the San Marcos area and want to swing by – you’re more than welcome!

Family Gathering

These people have nothing to do with anything I've written above. They're French and at a table. That is all.

Chicken?

Almost had this for dinner.

Shortly after posting the last blog, I wandered to the cafeteria to see what was for dinner. BBQ chicken. Smelled great, but I wasn’t feeling chicken twice today.

They’re doing painting in the one section of the hospital where it’s just a dog leg trip around the corner to the cafeteria. So that meant I had to go through the “restricted area” to get to the cafeteria. Not a big deal, but the door to go back the same way locked when it shut. Great.

Walked around to the ER, where two security guards were. They asked me a question, and I told them I was going to the women’s center. The lady told me that she was working that area and would escort me. What was odd is that she had a tracheotomy. I didn’t understand at first why her voice was all raspy. Then I got it. She told me I could park out front – which I told her I had. I suppose she was under the assumption I just got there. Nope. Been here all day, thanks.

When I got back to the room, I got a text message from Christy. Doc had just broke her water and she was at 3 cm. So, since I didn’t get dinner at the cafeteria, I headed to Carl’s Jr. Which, I noted, I was the thinnest person in the place. Anyway, I ate, and went back to the hospital.

It was about an hour after I got back that the anesthesiologist showed up. Christy was happy. After the epidural, the nurse checked and Christy was at about 5. Now more waiting.

Reach

Yeah, I'm just putting these in here now.

Apparently, 8pm is about the time everyone checks facebook, because that’s when all the messages started flowing in. At some point, the baby bed started going off with a ding dong carnival sound. Then almost immediately afterwards, something else started beeping. And the phone got text messages. SHeeesh. Lots of noise!

It’s almost 9pm now. Grey’s Anatomy is wrapping up and Christy’s watching. I’m typing this up and waiting for the final stretch, which should be soon.

I hope.

I went to bed about 12:30a this morning. Mostly because I stayed up playing Halo: Reach. Hey, we had a good team and we were dropping opponents all over those maps. Big Team Battle, if you’re curious.

HaloReach

How can you sleep when there's so many kills to get?

I fell asleep almost immediately. Next thing I know, it’s 6:30a and it’s time to get the kids up and rolling. Christy got up and got ready to head over to the doctor’s office.

Quentin was especially grumpy this morning. He didn’t want his cereal. He didn’t want to get up. He didn’t want to get dressed. He didn’t want to go to Nana’s. He did, however, want to play Xbox. As much as I would have loved to sit next to him and make that happen, it just wasn’t the time.

Spider-Mug

The only way my mug could get cooler is if it spit webs.

David and Zada did well. I had to prod Zada a bit – she’s always a little slow to make it happen in the morning. She’s actually been a little groggy in the morning, not sure why. But by ten after seven, we were all ready to head out.

But I couldn’t find my coffee mug. CURSE YOU MISSING MUG.

We got to the school, David and Zada got out, and they were both excited because they knew they’d see their new sister this afternoon. David was talking about how he was going to tell his whole class. Zada told her class yesterday. Makes me feel good, because I wasn’t the only one who didn’t catch that it was supposed to be today. Apparently there is something to the miscommunication between men and women.  Hopefully we’ll be able send some pictures to school with them tomorrow. Pretty sure we won’t be sending Macy tomorrow.

Bom bom bada bom bom.

Quentin may one day dance as great as the Late King of Pop.

I dropped Quentin off at my mom’s, but he wasn’t too pleased about it. I’m not sure where he wanted to go, but it was not Nana’s at that point. He got out of the car and put his backpack on (diaper bag). Then he just froze. He stood there. I tried to pull his arm to get him to walk up the steps, but he wasn’t moving his feet. It was rather humorous, really. Think Michael Jackson in “Smooth Criminal.” Eventually I got him inside and I grabbed my mom’s keys to put the booster seats in her car. She’ll be picking up Deezo and Chickie this afternoon.

When I was getting Q’ball out of the car, I spotted it. My MUG!!! Sweet. Caffeine will be mine!!! Needless to say, I was pleased.

I pulled up to the hospital and headed to Christy’s room. She was already set up and ready to make things happen. The nurses hadn’t hooked up the IV and they were still doing the blood work. I was still sleepy, so I tried napping in the rocking chair. No go. Then the nurse pointed out that the arm of the couch slides out and makes a cool little bed. So I took a little nap. About 30 minutes worth. A little longer than I normally do, but refreshing.

Puzzle

This game is fun, especially when you're waiting on a baby.

Christy’s been hanging out, just watching TV. Waiting. I got some coffee, came back. Played on the iPod (which, by the way, the hospital’s verification thing doesn’t like Safari), went and got some more coffee and called my sister in law to give her the heads up. She said she wanted to call, but because she has a bad habit of calling as the baby is coming out, she’d wait until we called her.

When I got back into the room, Christy told me they started the Pitocin. That’s good, means we’re progressing. The nurse popped in to see if the doc had stopped in. He hadn’t. Apparently he’s performing a C-section right now. So, we waited.

chicken dinner

Almost exactly what I ate for lunch.

I looked up and realized that it was almost one o’clock. I realized that there was a chance that the cafeteria may close soon and I didn’t want to have to leave the hospital to grab a bite. Seems like last time I was here, I tried to get to the cafeteria but missed it. And I didn’t miss lunch. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies and a soda. MMMmmm good. I didn’t tell Christy, though. Didn’t seem right. They’ve given her broth, jello, and water. Yum.

No, no, NO!

I may forget to bring diapers, but I usually don't substitute fruit.

Just before 2p, my mom called. She was running out of diapers for Quentin. I thought I had enough, but who knows. Apparently she either changes a lot of diapers or she changes no diapers. There’s no rhyme or reason, apparently. I usually get about 3 or 4 a day, sometimes. But I’m not sure how many were in the bag. I do know that I had gotten some out to take with us but forgot to take them… oops.

Christy suggested I go get some and drop them off. So I headed to the house, picked up the ones I pulled out originally (still neatly stacked on the coffee table) and headed out. I pulled up to my mom’s, knocked on the door, and went in. Quentin was sacked out on the floor, as he normally does. I put the diapers on the table, grabbed a soda, and then helped my mom get him into the car. She was about to head out to pick up D and Z. I headed back to the hospital, and she off to the school.

snoozin

Despite the decor of the delivery room, the seating arrangements were no where near as comfy.

I came back and everything was the same. No doc, no baby. No nothing. The lights were out/dimmed, which made me want to take a nap. I did shut my eyes for a minute. Who knew waiting would be so tiring?

And for the next two hours, we just waited. Christy’s contractions were coming about every 3 minutes. No real change, and no doctor. It’s rather disappointing. I was hoping to have been celebrating by 5pm. Christy was really tired of being stuck in the bed.

It’s 5:30p right now – and there’s no baby…

I’ll post more later. Sorry no baby yet. 😦

I like helping people. There’s something inside of me that yearns to help people whenever I can. Even people who I don’t think deserve it – I help out to some degree. And I feel good about it. I have never regretted helping someone out. Even if it has put me at a disadvantage at the time, it usually comes back in multiples and is beneficial.

Sometimes people try to take advantage of this. And yes, I will help them to an extent – but a lot of times the help is, “What would you do if I wasn’t here?” (Thanks Steve Langevin!) Sometimes the best help you can give is self-worth and self-confidence. You know, “give a man a fish…”

The biggest problem I’ve ever faced is that people tend to mistake kindness for weakness, as if me being helpful is the same as me not having a spine. But I can usually solve this issue by showing the opposite. I can be helpful and unbending.

At the core of my being, my Christianity is that I believe in second chances, trusting others, being tolerant, and accepting people for who they are. All I can do as a servant of Christ is to show others what’s out there. All I can do is talk about God and Jesus. I can’t make them believe. I can’t make them convert. But I can be a friend and show them the wonderful things that happen when you put your faith in Jesus and let Him guide your life.

I don’t always make the right decisions, but if I ask for God’s help and listen, He tells me what to do. And yes, God talks to me. I think it’s different for everyone. I have a friend that got a message from God through someone who was but a chance encounter. I have gotten messages from God through the TV. I know it sounds odd, but it happened.

There was a point where I felt like I needed to give up comedy. I felt as though I was done with it. I prayed and asked for God’s guidance, and I got it. From various things on TV. One was from Desperate Housewives, another from Conan, and I can’t remember right now what the third one was -but the message from all three were ‘stand-up comedy.’ I took that to mean I should continue along this path.

I don’t know why I’m supposed to keep doing comedy. The only thing that I really can see is that I’m supposed to go into this thing and be the shining light. Comedy will always have the dark, dirty side, but I think I’ve inspired others to work on clean material. I know I’ve made an impression on a few people, so maybe I’ll continue to do that and help people see that Christianity isn’t that “Fire and Brimstone – You’re going to HELL!” that is so prevalent in our society. It’s about trusting in God when the odds are against you. It’s about doing the best you can and helping others when you’re not really in a position to help anyone – including yourself!

Maybe you’re not a Christian. Maybe you don’t believe in God. There’s nothing I can do or say to prove to you one way or the other. And truthfully, all I can do is relate my experiences. What those do for you is up to how you receive them. Sometimes a person isn’t ready to receive that message, but that message stays there, and will come back later when that person is ready. It’s sort of like that moment at the end of “The Sixth Sense,” where it’s revealed that Bruce Willis’ character was dead the whole time. What was perceived originally changes when new info is introduced.

Do me a favor – take a moment and look at your life. Maybe you’re really happy where you are. Maybe you’re battling depression for some unknown reason. Maybe things are fine, but you feel as though something is missing. Look around you – God is everywhere, and God loves you. God is love. God does not hate anyone. He does not hate “fags.” He doesn’t hate anyone. He loves us all and wants us to come to him and let him be the guide in our lives.

I think one of the biggest hurdles is that people think that God solves all the problems and when He doesn’t, they lose faith. That’s not how it works. You have to work at being a Christian. You have to have a dialog with God. You have to be willing to make those sacrifices He asks of you. I don’t think God makes people rich with money, but he makes them valuable as people.

At least that’s how I’ve seen it.

Sometimes I get asked, as a Christian, why God lets bad things happen to us. I can’t pretend to know the will of God, but based on some experiences in my life, I know that good always happens – especially after bad.

As an example, I usually relate the story of how I gave up just about everything – including the core of my being – to be in a relationship with someone. It ended horribly, but that experience taught me through the heartache that I can’t give up who I am to be with someone. I have to stay true to myself in order to make anything work. As a result, I’ve been married to my wife for 8 years. We are about to have our 4th kid, and the last 10 years have been some of the greatest moments in my life. And I have to thank that bad relationship for giving me all this goodness.

For the last year, I’ve been performing stand up comedy. I’ve met lots of people. Two of them have really been inspirations – not only to me, but to others as well.

Born with it
I first saw John Dittmar (warning – language) at an open mic. When I saw him, I thought to myself that I didn’t want to give sympathy laughs. In my mind, I didn’t think this kid would be funny, and I didn’t want to patronize him by giving soulless laughs just because he had Cerebral Palsy. As it turned out, I didn’t need to. He was hilarious and probably the best comic of the night.

He turns 21 soon, and I’ve gotten to be friends with him over this last year. He does a lot despite having this… this… thing. This past summer he taught at a sort of Tech Camp. He helped a bunch of 5th graders learn about math and computers and stuff. That’s not something a typical 20 year old guy would do. He tells me about this and it’s usually about how horrible those kids were – but I could hear in his voice how much he really enjoyed it.

He doesn’t know it, but he’s been an inspiration to me. And if he’s been an inspiration to me, there’s no telling who else has been positively affected by interacting with John. He’s genuine, and he tries to help out whenever he can. He gives. He gives of himself and he gives what he can. Sometimes it’s just a self-deprecating joke. Other times it’s offering his time or knowledge on something. I always look forward to spending time with him.

If John didn’t have cerebral palsy, I may never have met him. He probably wouldn’t have gotten into comedy. But most importantly, he probably wouldn’t have been as much of an inspiration to others. I know he’s touched my life, and I can only imagine the countless others that have been inspired by John and he has no clue!

Life Changer
I believe it was October when I first met Bobby Henline (warning – language). I didn’t know his story, but I definitely knew he wasn’t born a burn victim. Later on I found out that he was serving in Iraq when his Humvee hit an IED.

Over the last four years, Bobby’s life has been drastically changed (to say the least). Rather than wallowing in pity and grieving over what had happened (like I think I would do), he turned the tragedy into comedy. And that has been an inspiration to just about everyone who has met Bobby.  I know that he has inspired me to make the most of what I have.

Yes, Bobby’s last tour in Iraq really was a horrible thing, but there’s no way to measure how much good Bobby has been able to spread around the world. He regularly visits wounded soldiers, and recently did a comedy show called “Humor for Heroes” where the majority of the crowd were veterans.

Bobby could very well have let this turn him into a bitter, hateful man, but he chose to go a different route, and I know I’m better for having met the man.

If you get the chance to meet either of these guys, or would like to see their comedy – you should. I know Bobby is a regular at LOL in San Antonio, and John is doing what he can to perform while going to Texas State.

Life would definitely be better for both of them if things had turned out “normal,” but thanks to these events, I have come to know a couple of great guys. And I also know that these two guys have been able to inspire those around them. It would be easy to question God’s motives for both of these men’s lives, but in the end I feel the sacrifices made were worth what we’ve gained.

The summer before my eighth grade year, I gave my heart to Jesus. I won’t go into the details, but it was a defining moment for me. I’ve always grown up in the church, but it was that summer where my life changed.

Over time, things changed, and while I never stopped believing, I did stop acting. I grew away from God, and did my best to distance myself from “Christians.”

I put “Christians” in quotes because to me, they’re not really Christians. You know who I’m talking about – the guy that screams at you that you’re “Going to Hell” and that you need to change the “error of your ways.” When someone is quick to point out that you are living a lifestyle that will send you to hell, that’s not winning hearts. That’s making true Christians look like idiots.

Last November, I came to a point where I made a decision to realign myself with God. It’s the normal story – the footprints in the sand. Since that point, I’ve learned that it’s in our weakness where God is most powerful. That’s a pretty amazing statement, because none of us want to be weak. But it’s at that particular moment, when we reach out for help, is when we get it.

What I’ve noticed most is the way people treat me. In general, I haven’t gone around singing the praises of Jesus, but I have made certain lifestyle changes that are way more apparent than I’ve realized. People that I’m around behave better – mostly. For instance, a friend of mine was really cursing a lot, and he apologized for his behavior. I appreciated it, but told him it was fine. We all get to that point where we just need to vent, and sometimes dropping a profanity is just the way to make us feel better.

I’ve also used it as an opportunity. Another friend of mine mentioned that he was basically accosted by a “Christian” who was definitely not preaching love and tolerance. To me, that’s not Christianity. That’s being judgmental. And that’s not bringing people closer to God. It drives them away. It’s like trying to get people to hang out with you when you’re pointing a stick at them. And that stick has poop on it.

Who’s going to join your group if you are out there crapping on people? No one. I’m not going to join a Star Wars club who keeps telling me I’m stupid for liking or not liking Jar Jar Binks. I would, however, join a group that encouraged me to like Star Trek, despite my lack of knowledge of all things Star Trek.  (By the way – Star Wars and Star Trek are not diametrically opposed. It is possible to like both)

When I was in the Air Force, I was blessed to be given the opportunity to work with some real leaders. My supervisors were hands on, and they never asked their charges to do something they wouldn’t do or hadn’t done themselves. Even my flight officer was out there loading and unloading equipment during an exercise. (I told him I’d get it, and he said “It’s okay, I was prior enlisted!”) But what I took to be the rule, was only the exception. Other places I’d gone in the Air Force proved that it wasn’t so. It was more of a “do it because I said so.” Needless to say, those people weren’t on my list of ‘best supervisors.’

I took that example of leading by example (My shop chief once policed cigarette butts with us once,) in most aspects of my life. When I was managing at Starbucks, I did my best to not only do the managerial duties, but all the other stuff as well. It goes a long ways when your people see that you’re out there taking the trash out and cleaning the machines. Sometimes that does backfire, because few people would take out the trash… but I digress.

I try to do that with my religion. I know I’m not going to convert you or even gain compassion by telling you how wrong it is for you to do this or that. But if I can show you compassion and love and attribute it to Christianity, maybe you’ll think about it. “Maybe Christians aren’t bad. Maybe I’m just seeing the wrong ones.” I think this is more the case.

Take, for example, Westboro Baptist Church. These are the guys out there protesting soldier’s funerals and declaring to the world that “God hates fags” and “Thank God for dead soldiers.” Something is completely wrong here. God does not hate anyone, and he does not punish people. Sure, He does allow things to happen, but it’s much the same way that your parents would allow you to do things that could hurt you so that you’d learn. Think about it – what teaches you more? Having a bad thing happen? Or having a good thing happen? Chances are, you’ll remember getting shocked by an electric fence more than hearing your dad tell you not to touch it.

I use that example, because when I was a kid, my dad put up an electric fence. I was curious and he told me to touch it to see what it was like. Sounds odd, right? But he specified that I touch it only with the back of my hand. And I did. I learned a lot that day. First, what it feels like to get shocked by a fence. Second, that muscles contract and grabbing an electric fence might mean not letting go. Third, that despite my dad’s odd sense, I knew that he wanted to satisfy my curiosity without getting hurt. That lesson has stayed with me for a long time. Obviously, since I’m writing about it 25 years later.

What can you do when you’re faced with one of these “Christians?” I’m not completely sure. On one hand, I would inform them that they are not true Christians and that the message they are spreading is hate, not love. But that isn’t necessarily the best way to handle things, because it could just turn into some sort of shouting match with both people and on-lookers thinking worse of both of you.

Maybe the best way to deal with it is to ignore it and  move on. If it bothers you, talk to someone about it. Like me – talk to me about it. I’m not the greatest Christian in the world, and I am far far away from being Jesus-like. I’m just a man. Tell me about your experience. I’d love to get the chance to help put Christianity in a positive light for you.

The main thing that I want to do here is show you that the basis of Christianity is that it’s about love and tolerance. Jesus loved all people, and he tolerated people’s lifestyles. He talked to the prostitutes, the murderers, the ‘evil’ people. He talked to them because they were the ones that needed help. They were the ones who did not know about Jesus and God, and needed to make those changes. He didn’t chastise them and tell them they were going to Hell. He knew better. He comforted them and showed them what was right, and that Christianity was about love.

That’s all I want to do. I don’t want to tell you what you’re doing wrong. I want to show you love and tolerance through Jesus. I can’t make you follow Jesus or convince you to become a Christian, but I can show you the light and hope that you make that choice for yourself. That’s all I can do – show you the path.

When I was growing up, I began to see the ‘decay of society.’ My parents talked about how they could leave their doors unlocked and keys in the car. Apparently growing up in the ’50s and early ’60s really was like “Leave It To Beaver” and “Lassie”.

I wasn’t allowed to play in the front yard. I wasn’t allowed to talk to people I didn’t know. There’s an incident where my parents came home to an open door and I wasn’t there. They were scared witless until I came panting back in. If you want the story, I’ll give it to you later.

My point with this is that now we live in a society where we distrust people first, and then allow them more trust as we know them. That’s a good, safe thing to do, but when you begin a relationship with distrust, it’s hard to get trust into the situation. Someone has to compromise and put themselves into a position where they could potentially get hurt.

But what will it take to get us back to the point where we can trust people again? Truthfully, I’m not sure we’ll ever get to that point where we will, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

Something that I’ve tried to do recently is to help people when I can. Last week I told you about how I picked a guy up who was walking with jumper cables and it turned out to be a good thing. I also had an incident recently where I saw a guy get hit by a car (he didn’t really, but it looked that way) in Austin (it was late, on 7th and Red River.) I parked the car down the street, came back and the cops were there. I said something to the cops, because I was afraid it would get really out of hand – the guy was running down the middle of the street and turned in front of a car when the car started to pull out. As it turned out, everything was fine, the people knew each other, and I didn’t need to do what I did.

I felt like I needed to help out. Maybe if I hadn’t ran up the block to say something to the cops, bad things would have happened. But that could just be my wishful thinking.

I listen to KLove almost exclusively now. They call Mondays, “Make a Difference Mondays”, and they encourage people to call in and share their stories. Sometimes the stories are a bit cliché, but most of the time they really make you trust your fellow human. Heart warming… human interest stories… Whatever you call it, it still made a change in someone’s life and for even just that moment, the sun shone on them and the day got better.

I say all of this to ask a question:

What are you doing to make a difference?

Making a difference doesn’t have to be something major. It could be small. Even just smiling at someone can really make their day.

It’s really easy – look around you, there are hundreds of ways to help just in your daily life. Open the door for someone. Tell someone thank you. I’ve found that even saying Sir and Ma’am can really change things. A little respect goes a long way.

So as you make your way through the day today, and tomorrow, and the next day, keep an eye out for an opportunity to help someone. You never know, that little moment of kindness could turn out to really change your own life.

We have a 2007 Dodge Magnum. It’s been a really cool car. It hauls what we need to haul, but come the end of October, it won’t. We’ll have two adults and four kids to haul, and sweet as that ride is, the Magnum won’t haul that many people, no matter how tiny they may be. So for the last few months, we’ve been casually looking for a minivan. I say casually, because I think deep down neither Christy nor I really want a minivan.

I have considered getting one of those old conversion type vans, preferably a GMC or Chevy just because I dig the lines on those things better than the Econolines. Unfortunately for me, Christy says they give her bad memories from riding in a 15 passenger bus everywhere. I suppose even hand-painting some sort of Unicorn/Star Wars/A-Team mural on the side wouldn’t help. And I’m pretty sure she’d not enjoy the green shag carpet I’d toss up in that sucker. I think she would dig the fridge and the mirror ball, though. Maybe not…

So here’s the series of events as they unfolded.

Christy called me yesterday morning. There was a purchase on our debit card that was placed at 11:10a at a Goodwill in Austin. She asked me about it, and since we were at Academy in San Marcos at that time, it wasn’t us. She went ahead and cancelled my card and ordered a new one, which should be here in 7-10 days. No biggie, just a slight inconvenience.

Around 12:45p, Christy called me again. She had called Goodwill about it, and found out that there had been an error. On June 8th, Goodwill had an issue with processing card transactions. None of them had gone through. So today, they were able to process those transactions. From the accounting office in Austin – which is why it looked like someone made a $25 purchase in Austin with my card when we were clearly at Academy at that point. Again, no biggie. Our problems surely weren’t as big as the accountant guy taking calls all day long from people who were probably not as cool-headed as my wife. Someone pray for that guy!

Well, the AC wasn’t cooling properly today, so I thought I needed to change the filter. I’ve neglected it for a little bit, and I thought surely it would need some love. Well, I had to go get Christy’s card, because mine was deactivated. As I make it towards the highway, I see this guy crossing the street. He’s wearing a striped polo style shirt and some navy blue shorts. He was carrying jumper cables.

I stopped and asked if he needed a ride. He pointed at the gas station that was a few hundred feet away and said he needed a jump. I told him to hop in and I drove him up to his truck. We hooked up the cables, and it started right up. He was very thankful and handed me a card. Turns out, he’s a auto wholesaler and buys and sells cars all the time. He asked if we were ever looking for something, to give him a call. That’s when I piped in – Actually, we need a minivan! He said he could find one and he’d sell it to us for cost +$500. Sounds great to me, so I’ll be emailing him shortly when I get a better idea of what we’re looking for.

After we both drove off, I thanked God – because He always opens doors for us. He never gives us more than we can handle, and always gives us what we need.

Maybe this won’t work out. Maybe he won’t be able to find what we need, or maybe we won’t be able to work things out. But right now, I see nothing but God’s Glory. I’m sure some people would say that this was nothing more than coincidence, or that it was just a ‘right place, right time’ sort of deal. But from where I sit, it’s nothing short of God doing work.

Normally I don’t help too many people, especially people who are out on the streets (literally.) But for some reason I stopped – in the middle of the street – and had this complete stranger get in my car. And it turned out to be an open door.

I’d love to hear stories from you about how you normally don’t do something, but did, and it really opened up a door for you.