Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Resource Ready!

Over the recent and long holiday weekend, my wife and I had the pleasure of going back to our home town in Pennsylvania to be with our families. It was a great trip! When we are home we typically go to my wife's family's home Church. After hearing a solid sermon from the lead pastor, I proceeded to get my second cup of coffee. The cafe area was packed with people and I did my best to break through the crowd to get my precious coffee. As I was preparing the mix, I was approached by a man who started asking me about the Manturity blog. He was friends with my wife's family and had heard about it. I believe he also leads small groups for men at their Church. I told him where to find it and to share some thoughts on some of the topics. Towards the end of the conversation, a lady (also getting coffee) overheard us talking and asked excitedly what the blog was about. I told her it was a blog for establishing spiritual maturity in today's man. After saying this she went on to tell me that her husband was currently leaving her and she was going to be left raising their boy on her own. She asked if me if I had any advice or could help her out in any way. Although I was frustrated for a moment that a man was leaving his wife, his boy and the Church; I had to press on quickly to see if I could offer this lady some resources that would be effective and influential. (Can this situation verify that my coffee addiction is ok :) ?

With my wife by my side, I was able to share with her some very fruitful information. I first told her to keep praying for her husband and for her marriage, and don't stop! I then told her about a couple books that she should read. The first was 'Raising a Modern Day Knight' by author Robert Lewis. To be honest, I have never read this book, but it is on my list (especially now that I am having a son). But I have read the reviews, watched the book trailer and have reviewed the author. The second book I mentioned that I have read a couple times is 'The Way of the Wild Heart' or the updated book 'Fathered by God' by author John Eldredge. Both are the same book, but 'Fathered by God' is in paperback and is slightly shorter. I told her that this book describes that path to manhood from Boyhood all the way to the Sage. You can read my review of it here. I told her that these books talk about how a Father should raise a son, but if the Father is not around then the mother must read it. The lady seemed satisfied with the information and I pray that she gets the books and reads them. My wife was also able to confirm what I was telling the lady and even described some of the information to her. I always share what I read and learn with my wife and I can see that she takes it all in. It was great to have her confirm the message and be by my side through this experience. Although the experience went well, I was not completely satisfied.

I went from there asking myself if I was Resource Ready. Am I prepared for what people are going to ask me? Have I done my homework so that I can properly provide answers to those in need or with questions? Do you feel like your resource ready? If you were a man regularly attending church and was approached with something like this or something similar, what would you do? What would you say? This is important! This is part of being a good Disciple! I know we won't always have all the answers, but are we preparing ourselves the best we can? This idea has been on my mind ever since I encountered this. This has affected me enough to start building a new 'resources' page for Manturity; a place that goes through the stages of a man's life and provides resources for people to use. Check it out here! This is just another example of how God speaks to us, but we have to be listening. I heard Him and I'm responding!

Are you Resource Ready?
Share your story if you have ever encountered 
anything like this situation.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I pray you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Be thankful to God for all He has done for you and will do. Be thankful for great family and friends. Be thankful for life. I am thankful to have some great followers on so many platforms, a wonderful family to visit, a beautiful wife, a new son coming soon and look forward to what God has planned. Have a great day!

Monday, November 19, 2012

MAN UP! -Book Review

MAN UP! BECOMING A GODLY MAN IN AN UNGODLY WORLD is a book I recently had the pleasure of reading. The book was written by author and speaker Jody Burkeen. The book starts out with a powerful testimony about the journey Jody had to go through to truly find God. It's a testimony of a man fighting false desires and continually going up against the strikes of the enemy. A testimony of truth and honesty. He fought many of the battles we men face each and everyday and he didn't sugar coat it. In Jody's own words he had to MAN UP and stop being a spiritual sissy!

The book is divided up into some powerful, faith packed chapters. He doesn't just point out the life of Christ, but he points out how we are to mold our life after Christ. This applies in so many areas and Jody nails them in this book. He doesn't stop there though. He takes each chapter and asks some hard and relevant questions. Questions that demand answers from every man! Here is a brief outline of the chapters.


As you can see these chapters go right to the heart of the man. The core. He takes each chapter and gives you great examples and explains how to apply them to your life. The questions at the end are the cherries on top. They bring the entire chapter together and ultimately into your personal life. Don't let these questions go unanswered; don't skip them and move on. Take ten minutes, grab and pen and paper and have a heart check. Pray and see where you stand with God on the issues brought up in each chapter. As Jody would say, Stop being a Spiritual Sissy and Man Up! 

The book doesn't end at the last chapter though. Jody does something great and asks you for more. As men, we all want more; but we have to make sure we want the right things. Well 30 days beyond the book chapters is the "more" we need. Develop your personal testimony, read the scriptures, keep a journal and PRAY! Sounds easy enough, right? There is also an Accountability Covenant near the back of the book. You'll have to read Chapter 6 to learn more about that. This by the way is my second favorite chapter, next to MAN UP AND BE A DISCIPLE. 

I encourage everyone to check out this book. It's a short, easy read that is packed with some powerful life changing material. Read the first part of the book here for free and click the picture below to pick yourself up a copy. Now MAN UP!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Priority Challenge!

A big part of spiritual maturity is consistency and consistency requires discipline. Recently I have run into some brothers in Christ that have been struggling. By struggling, I mean they just can't get their thoughts straight and are lacking discipline in their daily walk. The issues can stem from current situations, past struggles, or the daily events of their world getting in the way. At first, I didn't know how to approach this issue. What do they mean they don't have time to focus on God? How can they be so consistent in worldly things, but have no time or interest in the things from the Father? I prayed about it for awhile and thought back to the time I was struggling with my thoughts and so much more. Then I remembered my TOP TEN list. This was a list I developed over the course of a few months on my path to spiritual maturity. I made it because my priorities in life were not in order. To be honest, I probably could not have even named off ten items at the time. I was buried in a deep hole of depression and past struggle and I knew I needed a change.

This is not a post to make you comment or reflect on something. This is a post to challenge you! It comes down to a simple question that demands answers "What are your top ten priorities in life?" Simple right? I know you can probably think of a couple to get you started, but don't take the easy route with this one. Don't fake your answers. Don't fluff up your answers and write what should be your priorities; get real with yourself and be honest. These things are most likely what you think about most in the day. These are things that must be very important to you. Part of the challenge is that you have to write the answers down! Once you have your Top Ten list established, than come up with your "why" for each point. Why are these things important to you? Why do they take up so much time in your life? The beauty of this process is honesty. The list will show you who you are in the background and what the result is when people see or encounter you.

Once you have the list and you have your reasons. Share them with somebody. Tell the person about the list and just have them listen to you. No commentary. No strange looks. No opinions. This is a crucial part of the process. This part will make you formulate the ideas into words. You will most likely say more than what you wrote down. This could be the part of the process where you can finally understand why it's so important or you can realize how futile it really is. You'll find things of importance bundling up. Relationships? Goals? Struggles? After the process is through; you'll have learned quite a bit about yourself. You'll know where you need to make changes or you'll know what's right where it is suppose to be. Clarity. You'll see if your life is reflecting the life God intended for you or if you're living for yourself. 

List your Top Ten priorities in life.
Write down the details of why they are a priority.
Share them with someone.
Make necessary changes or Stay put. You'll know.

If you do the challenge. Come back and share your thoughts 
or just share your thoughts on the idea.

don't have time? Priorities...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Manly Spiritual Maturity

So what does manhood or being manly have to do with Spiritual Maturity? If you asked me a few years ago, I probably would have fought this idea saying that "I am a man already" or "I can be mature, even if I'm not being a good Christian". Of course, now, I would say I was very immature in general and spiritually. The hard fact is that I am much more mature now that I am truly following Christ and I make it a daily effort to do even better. So men, where does it start? When do you know you either are being a spiritually mature man or you need to start? Some guys might wait until they finally move out of the house. Some guys might think it's after they landed that first big job. Some think it's when you get married (I know for a fact that that is not true). Some men might wait until their wife drops an emotional bomb on them or even leaves them. Some men might wake up after this or just move on doing what they do. Where does it begin?

Definition? A follower of the doctrines of a teacher or a school of thought.

Let's be honest, we are all a disciple of something. We all come from different backgrounds, different teachers, different parents and different beliefs. We may have been taught how to be a man from our Father, a close mentor or just by what we have observed over the years. Some of us learned the discipline basics early in life. For me, it was taking out the trash weekly. It was mowing the lawn weekly. And it was listening to my fathers instruction as it was handed out. Your teachers at your school and college. Your boss and coworkers now. All of this has influenced you and shaped who you are now. But are you really being a man? Are you really spiritually mature? When you look up the word Disciple, you get a couple standard definitions and then you get the definition of a follower of Christ. Stop and think about the disciples of Christ. Whether you are a Christian or not, you have most likely heard the stories of Christ and his 12 disciples. These were the men that dropped everything for Jesus. Without going too deep with their stories, you can see how a disciple must make a change. He must acknowledge that their is a right and wrong way and make a choice. In the disciples cases, they chose to be Spiritually Mature and follow Jesus wherever he desired to go. Are you willing to even drop one thing?

Personally I grew up knowing about Christ, but that was as far as it went. I could talk the talk, shake the hands and play the part. My father is a great man, but he showed me no example of being a real follower of Christ. He taught me key values in life that took me far, but still life required more. Life hit me after I got married. This was the time when I was required to be more mature. I had a wife, a new job and thought life was mine for the taking. Read 'Why the Train Tracks' to hear how I finally began my path to Spiritual Maturity. Think about it, you're living for something already. But what is it? Following Christ, thirsting for spiritual maturity and being His disciple turned out to be the manliest thing I could have ever done. Confidence issues? Christ can change it. Marriage issues? Christ can change that too. Work issues? Yep, you guessed right, Christ can change that too. Depression? Fear? Failure? I could go on for awhile, but I think you get the idea.

Be a man. Be a disciple. Lead by following.
Have a question? Opinion? Story? Share below.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What is "Spiritual Maturity"?

Spiritual Maturity. Its part of the main theme for Manturity, but what does it really mean? My goal will be to take the next few posts and review spiritual maturity and what it takes to get there and stay there. 

Lately I have been using some avenues on Social Media to ask different ideas and opinions. The responses, although they were few, were great and to the point. The first response was from the author Jody Burkeen from MAN UP! Gods Way; he referenced the verses from 2 Peter 1:5-15. I never used these verses in reference to maturity before, but he sure gave me some things to think about. By the way, I am reading his book and it's pretty awesome. I hope to have a review coming out soon this month. Anyway, the verses go something like this:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

If you need to, read it again. (Maybe a couple times more for good understanding measures :). Whoa! I'll attempt to go over this in a short, but effective manner. Make EVERY effort to add to your Faith. I don't think I read "when it's convenient, add to your faith". Make EVERY effort to add to your knowledge! This is asking us to go beyond the Sunday sermon and really seek out who the Lord was and still is. Make EVERY effort to add to your self control! This isn't talking about controlling some of your self; it's talking about all of yourself. This includes but is not limited to your physical behavior and your emotions. This includes when you are with people and when you are alone. Your actions should be pleasing to Christ. Make EVERY effort to add to your Godliness, mutual affection and love. You should be seeking to know more about God daily. Seeking to experience his Love and Affection for us and how we can translate that into our actions with other people. In the end, these things will keep you "up to par" and productive in the sight of the Lord and others. They will not be easy to maintain daily, but they are worth every minute trying. Don't be blind in your actions or emotions, don't forget what Christ has done for you and continue to follow his path and mature.

I know you have thoughts Spiritual Maturity. 
Share a story. Share your opinion. Make an impact.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

An Honest Struggle

NOTE: Here at Manturity we aim to be spiritually mature and give all the glory to the Father. This post does not necessarily reflect any opinions of Manturity. I asked a friend and brother in Christ of mine to share his thoughts on issues pertaining to the upcoming election. It should be noted that he does not hold the Bible to be infallible or inerrant yet believes that all scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit and that every passage should be viewed through the lens of hermeneutics and exegesis.


With the election upon us, I was asked to take the opportunity to share my ideas and concerns about the election. I am also very interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas on the matters and issues. Being as I am a Christian man, I want to keep God at the forefront of my thoughts and opinions. With as much humility as possible, I have been blessed with a photographic memory and an IQ in the 95th percentile worldwide. Of course, with great gifts comes along weaknesses; I have no artistic or musical talent, and I find myself socially awkward because I interrupt people thinking I know what they are going to say next. On the other hand, I am able to understand viewpoints and opinions very well. I spend half of my time between watching FOX and CNN. I understand 94% of Americans hold diametrically opposite views on politics and the future - the fact is that we are all selfish. Take Mitt Romney's comment about the 47%: he was lambasted for telling the truth. Those people will never even listen to him because they are scared something will be taken away from them. But the opposite is true also: 47% of people will never give Obama a chance because he wants to take something from them in the form of increased energy prices and taxes and regulations.
Personally, I'm still undecided who to vote for. I'd prefer libertarian federalists, conservative statists, and liberal localists. I don't have an option to have my way. What do I do? What matters most? I won't give you any talking points... You've heard the lies from both sides a trillion times. Politics bring out the worst in men and women and I long for a day of being ruled by a divine personality who isn't subject to lies, distortion and greedy power needs (Jesus will come again soon we think… but even he doesn’t know the timing so how can we?) It's obvious that this election will set the stage for the next 20 years minimum - the time my kids will be growing up into adulthood. Speaking of my children, I will start off the main topics with long verses short term planning.
My strategy is to ask questions. Why? Jesus used questions and parables because they force people to think. Universal truths are timeless and not dependent on current social paradigms. If you start thinking about a topic and you honestly seek an answer from God, he is faithful to provide it in a way that is personally valuable to you. I'm not going to manipulate or coerce you into doing/voting either way. I don't intend to shock and awe but to get you thinking - like Jesus did.
NOTE: Main topics are highlighted for ease of use; feel free to read all or pick your points accordingly.

Clearly Jesus is the visible image of the invisible Father. The Father is not male or female. God creates personalities, he's the father of making and enjoying individuals - individuals concerned with righteous justice ministry (R type Christians) and social mercy ministry (D type Christians). Rest assured that God loves both Republicans and Democrats. Jesus performed both types of ministry! That's why he wants people to partner with him in prayer - he relates to us personally on the level of the mind he’s given us. For his joy in his creation. It's always about personal relationships and there is no doubt that better relationships must exist between democrats and republicans for the benefit of the country.
Do we plan 5 generations from now? 10? 20? Or do we only plan for 1 so that our direct kids have easier lives? Throughout history people have had wars and rumors of wars and it doesn't appear that a whole lot of long range planning has taken place. America did it through our beautiful and intelligent Constitution. The problem is that our Constitution isn't followed much at all today. But things change and Amendments have happened and Departments of this and that have been "Mandated" by either Congress or Judges. Could a new way be a better way for the good of the world and not just the good of America? Do we have a responsibility for world affairs or the affairs inside our borders only? Again, there are big differences in platforms in this argument between D and R.
In my opinion, Democrats are much better for further future planning and for the World. Republicans are much better for the here and now and for America. But what world do I want my kids to live in? I can't decide.
Republicans irritate me because they complain about some higher costs while sitting in oversized houses with financed expensive vehicles and many other 'things' they're afraid to lose for self worth reasons. Democrats irritate me because they complain that Republicans aren't willing to give up more of their money to give out more free things that were never allowed for in the Constitution for them to give away.
My mind works like this on some big, controversial issues:
Is there man-made climate change or are the fluctuations from the sun's 11 year natural sunspot and activity cycle? It's inconclusive. No doubt a zillion exhaust pipes aren't good for my lungs or nature though. Democrats will make life currently more difficult with higher gas prices (by design) and a big push for cleaner air which is a win for an outdoor enthusiast like me. Bottom line is that it is better for my kid’s future, the world's future and God's creation and that wins it for me on this issue.

Do humans have a natural right to procreate? What about adoptions and foster kids? Does God create people infertile just so they can help care for orphans? One of my daughters has Down syndrome and can't procreate. Women spend hundreds of thousands on in vitro fertilization instead of adopting an orphan. That doesn't make sense. Is abortion ok in certain circumstances? Never? Always? Why is China doing so well with their one child policy that they basically own our Country? Does it make sense (we need major social change in the poor community) to have poor women in America having 6 kids with 6 different dads? Why does America have exponentially higher birth defects and special needs each year? Is it because we don't abort as many children as other countries and bad genetic lines are degrading the gene pool? Genetics are real (how to reconcile it with God creating each person in the womb I don't know) - I've studied it closely to learn why my child has too many chromosomes. How do you talk about great and terrible genetics without offending people? Should the future involve eugenics? Clearly whatever America is doing right now is causing our children have higher and higher percentages of birth defects and autism. The whole topic puts Christians on edge but does God make deformities on purpose? Is a pro-life policy solely based on Psalm 139? Why would we ever want to "force" a woman to carry a stillborn or a person that will die upon arrival? It's such a hard subject to contemplate when real lives are involved. Clearly the physical process of abortion is disgusting and atrocious!!!! Clearly a "fetus" has their own DNA, fingertips but I guess the question that Democrats would have to explain is when is the Soul created to not classify it as murder? But if that is not the case and access to air is the reason (hence late term abortions suck brains out in the womb so the baby can't breathe) then can we freely kill CPR patients? Can anyone know...? What is mercy? Who is the mercy focused towards? Democrats focus on mercy ministry for the woman. Republicans focus on mercy ministry for the unborn baby. Who's right? Before modern medicine was invented with fancy NICU's, my daughter would have had almost zero chance to live. Is that God's abortion to ensure appropriate genetic survival? I think about this all the time… is the extreme rise in all of the diseases and special needs children because we're saving babies against God's plan? If so, is it a sin to do what he was already going to do through nature? Why would he create a child just to die? I'm 50/50 on the fence on this issue. I can see both sides and understand them personally.

Is war ever good? Have you read the Old Testament? It's gruesome and awful. Was God protecting a better strain of people; or a more faithful people? Clearly chosen because of Abraham, but it's inconclusive. Can people have genetic superior spirituality and can faithfulness be passed down? Why would he kill off whole civilizations otherwise? Maybe it’s because the Sons of God (Angels) came into the Daughters of Men and diverted the natural order? Well that's the best Christian argument I've heard for Noah's Flood. I'd still be mad at God even if I believed that story. How do black people, Asians, Scandinavians, etc come from 8 people? It's the age old "we believe in micro evolution but not macro evolution debate". I'm a local flood guy, by the way. But should we kill off those in our way? Are we justifying what happened to the Native American Indians? God wants the most faithful to slaughter everyone? That's evil. What about wars in order to protect the weak from tyrants? How do you know who you can trust? In Syria right now both sides are committing unspeakable acts. This is the exact reason why we've been stuck with tyrants in power even after we put them there (Saddam, Karzai, House of Saud). Republicans want preemptive strikes and say Democrats are weak for negotiating peacefully. WWJD? Clearly the Muslim world and Western world will never be culturally compatible, so why not live and let live. If they want to live a certain way (as evidenced by the elections of Islamist governments during the Arab Spring) then it's not the job of our Government to be fighting them. That's the job of the Church. I'm 50/50 on the fence on this issue to. We have to protect our borders from attack (R win), have a strong deterrence (Both), but negotiate if AT ALL possible (D except Obama because of secret kill list).
The Economy is clearly in the bag for Republicans. Democrats are funny thinking higher taxes with a middleman (the Government) and then subsidizing certain businesses is a way for economic growth. Obama has no clue about the economy. Romney has been successful at everything he's done. I do think the Government should invest in new ideas to spur new markets so I disagree with Romney about that -unless they offer tax advantages for successful ideas but that would be hard to quantify. Businesses will not want to come here for higher taxes and unions and stricter environmental regulations. They will not want to buy our stuff if we punish them through tariffs. Democrats don't get it at all on this. Republicans win this category by the biggest margin of all my categories.

Is healthcare a right? Why did Jesus wait four days for Lazarus? To specifically show divine power as a testament to faith in his message. Complete trust in the Father's love and certainty of Salvation. Does it make sense to spend hundreds of thousands on a terminal patient so they can have a few more months of misery? Shouldn't we point them to divine power and give them so hope or peace? That's the main fault of the Church: even Christian people aren't satisfied with salvation enough to not want to endure hell before heaven. We shouldn't be afraid of heaven enough to waste our children's inheritance on roughing out a chance of another couple months? Does it make sense to drive up our debt to keep someone brain dead alive on a respirator? God is merciful and just in his dealings with each person. On the other hand, I'm glad that people have access to care now. Yes prices will rise and appointment times will be longer but when I think of middle aged people who lose a job and can't get some condition covered again if COBRA runs out, that breaks my heart. I'm also mad at the Republicans for not doing ANYTHING during their time in power while my personal insurance prices rose way beyond my pay raises. However, it is very irritating that not one Republican voted for this Obama care Bill and it was done in a very shady way. Bottom line: I say leave it in place and modify it as necessary through amendments or the Courts so Edge Democrats.
I prefer to have the government continue maintaining Medicare and Medicaid. Both actually really help my daughter. Her whole life is better and ours is easier. I prefer the democrat plan slightly but don't see a reason why vouchers wouldn't work if done right.

Do unions make sense? Explain how that's different than organized extortion. There are so many laws to keep things fair: OSHA, Child labor laws, FMLA, etc. How can we keep making sense of the NEA's protection of bad teachers? I don't want to hear a teachers' union complain and lobby all the time for keeping the status quo. The American Education system is terrible. For all the money involved, the only reason why we are falling behind the whole world in education is because of our system. Having 5 deans and multiple principals all making twice as much as teachers is ludicrous. The local school boards need more power and the feds shouldn't say we all need to adhere to some dumb standard test. Teaching for tests never involves changing a child's life. Think of the best lessons you've ever learned. Teaching for test stores information in short term memory. No wonder teachers hate teaching. My mom and sister are teachers and they can't modify their own lesson plans. For me, Republicans have a big edge in this issue.

What is the role of our Government as it relates to LGBT issues? Are they citizens or not? Should Christians oppose it based off two scriptures and Sodom and Gomorrah in the bible? Or are we just freaked out by it because we just can't think like that. Have you ever wondered why some gay men are so feminine and some gay women are so masculine? My theory is that the rise in homosexuality is both a testosterone related issue/genetic related issue with improper hormone production and a social issue of too many single parents trying to raise the opposite sex child by themselves. A woman can't model proper manhood to a boy but perhaps if there was a mentor in his life he could see a decent example and vice versa. Should we force them into hormone therapy and counseling? How should Christians love them like Jesus would/does? He didn't turn away people from his ministry… his only requirement was that they be sincere in seeking him. What is the only requirement in the bible about salvation? Is it to "believe on Jesus and renounce your homosexuality"? I know it's a hard issue and I actually have a gay sister that I love very much. She said she's always felt that way… who am I to say you can repent of your genetics? I don't think the Government should make laws against the whole issue (with some pseudo similar Civil Union mandate to protect "Marriage") and I think that Government shouldn't be in the marriage business period. A marriage is a promise of two people together before God, not the government's certificate. I think the solution to the whole problem is to revise the tax code to treat everyone as an individual and let whoever wants marriage marry and let God decide whose promise he accepts. Also, with divorce rates so high even amongst Christians… there's no moral authority. Slight advantage Democrats but I don't want it shoved in my face so often by them.

Clearly America should completely alter our higher education system. Many kids go, take out huge loans and go get drunk everyday and study a major that doesn't benefit society whatsoever. I appreciate what Democrats have done with respect to Pell Grants and lower student loan interest percentages since my wife is currently in school studying Nursing. That is a smart idea to do. That solves a lot of problems at once. It helps allow poor folks to get out of the societal rut which propagates itself generation after general of illegitimate children, drug use, and prison sentences. The Government has to step in a give social welfare, housing, food stamps, cell phones, and childcare for them generation after unsuccessful generation. Education can give them a way out. Community Colleges should be subsidized more by state governments. If a person is smart enough to get in, then they are a useful member to society. We need to build the usefulness of Society to help our Country gain economically against other countries. Universities should be treated similarly but useless majors shouldn't be allowed. Alcohol and drug testing could be required of anyone receiving student aid. Advantage Democrats.

Those are the major issues that I see and that matter to me, my wife and our kids. It is a tough choice and I'm undecided still. I encourage you to pray honestly, to try not to vote selfishly, and to do as your soul dictates.

NOTE: We ask that you be mature and respectful in your review and replies. We look forward to some great discussion over these topics and know that everyone has their own opinions. As a precaution, all replies will be reviewed first before being posted. Thank you for reading and have a blessed day.
This has been a guest post by a great friend and brother in Christ, Ryan Evans.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Smooth Seas

Smooth Seas do not make Skillful Sailors. 
-African Proverb

I recently started working on a new project for my work. It was an old hospital, so you get to see all of the old rooms from the Psych ward, to the maternity area and so on. I found it interesting that the stairways had pictures of calm scenes and the walls along the steps were lined with quotes. Of all the quotes, this one stood out to me the most. I'm no sailor by any means, although I think my cousin is, but this quote really applies to all of us in more ways than we think. In a lot of cases in life, we learn the most through hardship. Not always, but a good portion. Sometimes we have to be taken down an unexpected path in order to realize something about ourselves. Something that has maybe always been there, but now plays a bigger part due to the 'rough seas' you just encountered. There are other times when we learn some life skills through calm events, but I'd go to say that it is not as often. Here are some areas where the rough seas have taught me some valuable lessons in life.

COLLEGE was not a smooth sea for me. I knew, in the back of my mind (way back there), that the college I chose was the right path for my life. The hardships included; being hours away from home, keeping my relationship with my girlfriend going (who is now my wife by the way), waking up at 6 am to start each day and keeping my grades up. This was not your typical college either; it was actually a trade school for guys only. I went for three long years and it seemed much longer than that. Every so often I would have to remind myself that it would be over soon and it would all be worth it. Deep down I was learning how to handle the rough seas and become my own man, on my own. At the end of the three years, I landed a great job that I would have never imagined and I married my longtime girlfriend a few months after that. I thought the seas would be smooth from then on and boy was I wrong.

MARRIAGE was a sea that I had never sailed before. For years I thought marriage would be the answer; I'd have the woman of my dreams and I would have a great job. We quickly found out how hard marriage was and also how selfish we were, and the storm waters were rising. As we walked out our life, it became more of a blame game marriage. Each month was new problem and a big fight. These calm seas were getting mighty rough, and quick. After a few years of struggling, I wanted out of my marriage. I thought I had got it all wrong and that going back to the single life would be the answer. Low and behold, we only had to look in the mirror to see who the problems were; it was us. It was shortly after this moment that Christ started to intervene in our marriage and started to show us what real marriage meant. Real marriage starts with Christ! It all starts with Him! As the clouds moved away and the waves calmed down, we both realized how wrong we had been for so very long. These were some rough times in our marriage, but it made us stronger and a better couple. We didn't give in like most couples are doing these days and we are better off for it. We have become some pretty skillful "sailors" in our marriage, but it took work to get there and it takes work to maintain. 

The point is that sometimes we have to go through hard times in life and learn from those hard times, before we can really appreciate what life is all about. I always have to refer back to Jesus and all the hard times he encountered during his time here. He was mocked, beat, betrayed, lied to and so much more. But he reigns victorious! He is there during those rough seas and he always will be. Don't forget it.

Share your story of how some rough seas turned your life around.