Wednesday, March 31, 2010
God promised Noah that He would send a storm. People laughed at Noah for spending every day of his life building this giant boat. When the storm came, everyone died except for Noah, his family and a bunch of animals.
God promised Abraham he would have a child. This promise took so long to fulfill that even Abraham and Sarah doubted God. It must have been awkward to have a kid at the age of 100 but God kept His promise!
The three most important promises that God made have to do with Jesus. Even though the chosen ones had all kinds of prophecies revealing information about the Savior, they did not recognize Him when He came into to the world to save God's people. The promise of His birth came true.
The second promise was the promise Jesus made when He said He would be back on the third day. Even the Romans were afraid of this and they posted guards to make sure nothing would happen at the grave site. Nothing was going to get in the way of the Resurrection that we will be celebrating all over the world on Easter Sunday.
The third promise was the one Jesus made just before He went to Heaven. He promised the world that we would not be alone while He was away and that He would return for His people. While we are waiting for Jesus to return, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us find our place in God's creation.
The Bible is full of promises and not one person in this world has been able to find a promise that has been broken. God has a perfect track record. I trust Jesus 100% when He says He is coming back. I also trust the voice inside of me that encourages me to find my place in the puzzle.
Will you be ready to meet Him when He returns? Today is a great day to start getting ready...
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The first time I became a cave dweller was at the time of my parent's divorce. Never in my life did I pray harder then when I asked God to intervene and save my family. It was the silence that drove me crazy and filled my heart with anger. My heart became so hard that I promised I would never allow myself to become so vulnerable. I also promised myself that I would become so rich that I would never have to worry about anything in this world.
One day, a close friend asked me to be his best man at his wedding. I told him he was crazy to get married and that his life would end up shattered. He wanted to beat me up and he remained steadfast in his desire to get married. I admired his attitude and agreed to be his best man. When his marriage ended, it only strengthened my opposition to marriage and I refused to get close to anyone.
The demons inside of me convinced me that God was too busy to help me and that I was on my own. I stopped going to church. I hated everybody. When I found out that my doubles partner from high school was gay, I turned my back on him. It was so easy to find fault with everyone.
The first glimmer of hope in my life was the day I met my future wife. There was a sparkle in her stunning blue eyes that attracted me to her. I wanted to be with her every day. On Sunday, she went to church, so I went with her. My only prayer was to thank God for creating such an awesome person. She saw past the demons that were inside of me.
I was not even sure that my church would allow us to get married because my views were so messed up. Somehow, we were given the green light and our two hearts became one over twenty years ago.
We moved to California to start our new lives together. In a way, I was escaping some things from my past. The reality is that I just moved from one cave to another. This cave was just further away and there were still demons inside of me. Their names were Greed and Prejudice. I became a workaholic. My focus was on building a strong retirement portfolio. God was in my life but He was not the center of my life. There was something missing but my demons blocked my vision.
The day that I opened my Bible and asked God to show me who I am is the day I met Jesus as if He were in the flesh. He met me in my cave as I was reading Scripture and we talked. He called out my demons. He told me He died for me and for the world so that we could have hope.
As I read this story (Luke 8:26), I saw for the first time just how ugly my past was. This is what shook me up. Jesus was calling me out of the cave. He was knocking on the door and wanted to live inside my heart. In order to do this, I needed to let go of all the demons that were controlling me. It was time to become the person God created me to be.
In the story of the naked cave man, the people who witnessed the event asked Jesus to depart. The cave man wanted to go, just as I wanted to leave this world as a teenager. Jesus made it clear that there was work to do and the man was not allowed to leave with Jesus.
When I read the words from Luke, I knew that Jesus was talking with me directly. The man became a publisher just as I am now a publisher. When Jesus returned, there was a huge crowd waiting for Him. You, the reader of this blog are part of that crowd. We are connected and our job is to share our gifts with others so that we will all be together when Jesus returns.
My demons are all gone now. I am out of the cave and I live my life without fear because I know that God is truly number one in my life. I thank Him for sending Jesus to rescue me from the demons and I thank Him for allowing me to be connected to you in His great puzzle.
As each day passes, we get closer to the day when Jesus will return. It will be a glorious day when all of us are together to see Him in His resurrected body. Until that day comes, lets do our best every day to spread the Good News...
Monday, March 29, 2010
It was easy for me to live in a cave for so many years. I did not have to worry about being judged by other people and I could keep my crazy beliefs to myself. Due to the nature of my work, I learned to avoid answering questions on religion and politics. Some of you reading this blog may find that I am evasive when it comes to my own "label". This is deliberate. I may share my personal experiences here but I try to keep my own opinions out of the way so that the focus on this blog can be on you. In reality, I am just the middle man, the publisher.
My life outside the cave is not an easy one and I know deep inside that it is not supposed to be easy. The day I let go of the rope and turned my life over to God, everything changed. As I look back at my life, I wish I would have listened to that voice inside of me sooner rather than later. Every day is filled with choices. You have been given the free will to choose which direction you want to go. If I had control of my life, I would travel on the road that did not require so many sacrifices but I understand that God has other ideas.
If you are not sure who you are or why you were created, why not just say a prayer to the Creator and ask Him to show you? Maybe your purpose is to lead others to the Creator? All of us are connected. Your choices and your actions will affect the people you are connected to. Don't worry about what others think about you, focus on who you are in God's eyes and what He wants you to do with your life. When you are faced with a fork in the road, ask the Creator to show you which way to go. If you choose to follow Him, make sure to also ask Him for the wisdom to handle what lies ahead, the strength to keep moving forward and the courage to fight against the evil forces that will try to stop you.
It also helps to pray for other people to help you on your journey. Life is like a chess game. The Evil One already knows that He is going to lose but that does not stop Him from trying to mess with your life. Surround yourself with people who can encourage you and support you. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the hidden traps that are on the chess board. Help the other pawns on the board reach their full potential and sacrifice everything for the benefit of the King. When the game is life is over, you will be rewarded with a new life that is everlasting. When the King greets you, He will recognize you because He will see a reflection of Himself in you; that is who you really are...
Sunday, March 28, 2010
My mixed doubles tennis partner told me about a recent hike she went on with her family and this inspired me to check out one of San Diego County’s best-kept secrets, the Devil's Punch Bowl. The hike begins by the water tower at the far-east end of the San Diego Country Estates. Although it is only 2.5 miles to the waterfall, there is a challenging one-mile descent at the beginning of the hike. You have to cross the creek three times; make sure to avoid taking the path that leads to Julian if you want to see this incredible 90-foot waterfall. There are lots of hikers on the trail, so be sure to ask directions.
I was really happy to go on this hike for the first time with my youngest son and plan to return often with the rest of my family and our dog, Lucky. If you live near San Diego and like to hike, make sure to check out this awesome place located in the Cleveland National Forest. I could not resist a swim in the water just below the waterfall and my son promises to swim with me on our next adventure. The water is cold but exhilarating.
If you decide to go on this hike, make sure to bring plenty of water and allow about an hour to hike to the waterfall and another hour to return. It is a great place to have a picnic. Don’t forget to bring your camera. If you are visiting the waterfall after heavy rains, make sure to wear shorts or a swim suit. You need to cross the creek three times and it can get knee deep. Water shoes are great so you can keep your hiking boots dry.
In today's hectic world, it is important to take a break. Even the Creator of the universe took a day off. Why not spend today in nature?
Directions to the Devil's Punch Bowl from Interstate 15 at the Scripps Poway Parkway Exit:
1: Take the Scripps Poway Parkway Exit East From I15 ~ 8-10 miles
2: Turn LEFT onto CA-67. 6.1 miles (9.9 km)
3: Turn RIGHT onto DYE RD. 1.8 miles (2.9 km) - first traffic light entering Ramona
4: Turn LEFT onto RAMONA ST. 0.4 miles (0.7 km)...street changes names as you go left
5: Turn RIGHT onto WARNOCK DR. 0.8 miles (1.2 km)...street changes names again as you go right
6: Turn RIGHT onto SAN VICENTE RD. 4.8 miles (7.8 km) - turn at traffic light
7: Turn LEFT onto RAMONA OAKS RD. 2.8 miles (4.5 km)
8: Turn RIGHT onto CATHEDRAL WAY. 0.2 miles (0.3 km)
9: Turn RIGHT onto THORNBUSH RD. Park near the water tower and take your valuables with you. Please show respect for the neighbors who live at the entrance to the hike and avoid littering. Let's keep this area clean and be sure to stay on the trails so that the environment is not damaged. Thanks.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
They replied, "Certainly, O king."
25 He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." Daniel 3:24-25
The three men in the title of today's post were cast into the the fire after refusing to bow down to a false god. King Nebuchadnezzar had ordered all of his people to worship a giant idol he made out of gold and Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego declined.
The king became furious and ordered the furnace to be heated seven times the normal temperature. It was so hot that the people who threw these men into the fire were consumed by the flames.
As the king was walking away, he heard the men singing God's praises while they were in the middle of the flames. He was astonished as he looked inside and saw the three men still alive. There was a fourth person who was also with the men and the king described Him as like the Son of God.
The king called the three out of the fire and they showed no signs of being burned. Their clothes were intact. When the king saw this, he decreed that anyone caught speaking out against the God of the Hebrews would be cut into pieces. Then he promoted the three men who survived the flames.
You can check out the full story in the third chapter of Daniel in the Old Testament. These three men were regular people who remained obedient to God even when faced with death. They had obeyed God in small things prior to facing the biggest challenge of their lives. They knew that God was capable of rescuing them from the king and from the flames. They also knew that they must obey even if God did not rescue them.
I can think of many times in my life when I have encountered situations that required standing up for God. It was easier to live in a cave. Now that I am out of the cave, I see the evil that is gaining strength in our world. For example, if you are an opponent of abortion, you are not called "pro-life", you are called "anti-abortion". If you are for marriage between a man and a woman, you are labeled as against equal rights. If you favor prayer, then you are not "politically correct".
The biggest lesson I have learned from Jesus is to love everyone and not to judge. I no longer have any prejudice inside of me,however, if I am ever asked to disobey God, I will follow the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, even if it is not popular.
Remember this, if you find yourself in the fire, Jesus is there with you, even if you cannot see Him.
Friday, March 26, 2010
The aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz and her battle group returns home today after a one year deployment. It is a joyful day for the crew of more than 5,600 and for families that have been missing their spouses and parents.
There will be many celebrations as this great city welcomes home the brave warriors who sacrifice so much to defend our freedom. I will never forget the night I spent on the USS Midway with my youngest son and a group of scouts. These sailors are to be commended for all they do for our country.
If you see someone wearing a military uniform, take a moment to say thank you for serving our country. These people and their families have done so much so that we can have a better life.
To all the men and women who are serving our country, "THANK YOU!"
Thursday, March 25, 2010
As you spend time with the other passengers and as you gain experience "flying", you begin to discover the unique gifts you possess. Other people also see your gifts, sometimes before you see these talents within you.
Once you recognize your special qualities, you will find joy doing what you have been created to do. Be aware that the Evil One also recognizes your gifts and He will do everything in His power to distract you, confuse you and make you so busy that you will not have time to reach your full potential.
The other passengers you are traveling with are important. Ask some of them to become your accountability partners. Promise each other that you will stay focused on your roles. Avoid tasks that cause you to lose your focus.
Take time to listen to the voice that is inside of you. That voice will guide you in times when you feel lost and when the plane ride is bumpy. There is no other person on this planet that is qualified to fill the place in the puzzle that has been created just for you. The puzzle will not be complete without you. Become unstoppable. You have a long journey ahead of you and your destination is out of this world.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
There was some turbulence in the air and the lady behind us also had a fear of flying. This lady kept yelling, "we're going to crash!" The flight attendant offered some kind words to my wife and to the hysterical woman behind us. There was such a look of relief when the plane landed. Twenty plus years later, my wife has overcome her fear of flying although she will never choose a window seat.
Becoming a Christian is similar to facing a fear of the unknown. Imagine yourself being dropped off at an airport. You have never been on a plane before and you don't even have a ticket. When you walk into the airport, there are people everywhere. They all look like they know what they are doing but you are lost. There are the big signs displaying departures and arrivals but that doesn't help you much.
A stranger senses that you are lost and offers help. You are pointed to a ticket counter and talk to someone behind the counter. Your name is not in their records so you repeat the process several times.
Finally, you find the right airlines and your name is discovered. The lady behind the counter tells you that your ticket has already been paid for. You are handed a boarding pass and told to go through the X-Ray machine. In order to board the plane, everyone must go through the process. Some are not able to fly because they fail the screening process or they do not have the ticket.
Once you board the plane, you find yourself surrounded by strangers. As a new Christian, you don't even know where the plane is going or how long you will be flying. The first ride is very bumpy and you are afraid. You reach out your hand to the stranger next to you as the plane enters an air pocket. She comforts you as you begin to breathe erratically.
Eventually the plane lands and you thank the stranger next to you for her help. After you become experienced, you begin to travel to international destinations. Gradually, your fear of flying disappears and you find yourself enjoying the window seat.
On your first international flight, a first-time flier sits next to you. You remember your first flight so you offer some conversation to put this person at ease. During the flight, you share passports. The newcomer is still trying to figure where the plane is going and how the travel process works.
You explain that you have been traveling for many years and you never really know where you are headed. You show your passport that is marked "hands". The stranger next to you has a label in his passport that is marked "feet". The stranger does not understand the meaning of this and you explain, "inside each passport is a label. Some are hands, some are feet, others are eyes and ears. As Christians, each person has a job. We are to be the hands, feet, etc. of Jesus until He returns."
I will never forget that first plane ride I took with my wife and I will never forget all the "hands and feet" I have met since I let Jesus be in charge of my life. Some of the flights have been scary but I know He is always in the plane with me. I see Him in the hands and feet that are all around me.
Are you ready to let God be your travel agent? Jesus has already paid the price for your ticket. He will let you fly with Him even though He can see everything you've done wrong or failed to do right each time you go through the X-Ray machine. His death on the Cross allowed the security gate to open. When you pass through security, only God knows where you will be traveling. The ride will be bumpy and you will receive many frequent flier miles that you can use for your final one way flight to paradise when it is time to retire your wings.
Afraid to fly? Don't worry, the person next to you will hold your hand and you will never be alone. Don't forget to look at your passport. Each stamp reveals what your job is and your passport is a one-of-a-kind. Your flight is about to depart...If you are afraid to fly, here are some comforting words to say while you are boarding...
The Lord's Prayer (23rd Psalm)
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot ; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. -Revelation 3:15-16
Here are some modern synonyms of the word "lukewarm": lacking ardor, enthusiasm or conviction; moderate; mild; unemotional; halfhearted; hesitant; indecisive; irresolute; uncertain; uncommitted; unresponsive; indifferent; impassive; languid; phlegmatic; apathetic; nonchalant; lackadaisical. Do these words remind you of our country's position regarding God's place in our society?
Blanca Gonzalez, staff writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, reported the story below:
Poway Unified School District administrators told Brad Johnson to take down banners in his classroom, and they have become the center of an ongoing legal battle.
For Johnson, the most inspiring words he has posted in his room appear on simple red, white and blue banners that refer to God. Phrases include “In God We Trust” and “God Bless America.” Another sign reads “All Men Are Created Equal They Are Endowed By Their CREATOR.”
The banners first went up in his classrooms around 1990. Then in 2007, Poway Unified School District administrators told Johnson to take them down, and they became the center of a legal battle that continues to this day.
“I was rather baffled,” Johnson said he remembered thinking when told to remove the banners. “Nobody had ever complained. I’ve had 150 children a year go through my classroom,” he said, estimating that about 4,000 students and their parents have been in his classroom over the years.
“They’re just up there (on the wall). I don’t talk about them,” he said. “These are patriotic sayings that are inspiring to me.”
Johnson, who has been with the Poway district for 33 years, didn’t see anything wrong with the banners, and he sued Poway Unified over his right to display them. In a ruling late last month, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez said Johnson has the right to display his banners, and on March 1, they went back up. The district is appealing the decision.
As long as there are people like Brad Johnson in our world, there is hope that we will avoid the consequences of becoming lukewarm. How about you? Are you hot, cold or lukewarm?
Monday, March 22, 2010
When the religious leaders felt threatened by Jesus, they did everything in their power to trap him with situations or questions that did not have any right answers. I thought about this while I was in Church yesterday. The reading was about the prostitute who had been caught in the act and was about to be stoned to death. The elders asked Jesus what they should do, follow the law and stone her or set the sinner free? Jesus knew that these men did not care about the situation, they only wanted to set a trap.
As I was listening to the Scripture reading, I had a few questions too. For example, "Where was the guy? Why was he allowed to go unpunished? " Jesus knew that these men were trying to build a case against Him because He was the ultimate threat to their power. Jesus could see into their very souls. He told them, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone." The elders were the first ones to drop their stones and the rest disappeared. The only one left was Jesus. He was the only one without sin. His actions showed all of us that the best thing to do is to forgive.
Jesus told the woman she was free to go and He told her to stop messing around. Her life was changed and she followed Jesus for the rest of her life. The people that connected with Jesus were some of the most despicable people of their time. Even today, Jesus has a way of finding these outcasts and changing their hearts.
The biggest lesson I have learned from Jesus is to let go of my stones and to stop judging other people. Life is full of traps and people who want to trick you. Give these people an answer that lets them know your wisdom is not of this world. It may be the answer they have been searching for all their lives. Point them to Jesus. When we follow Jesus, we will never be stuck in the trap.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Today is a good day for all of us to count our blessings. There are so many things going on that are difficult to deal with and out of our control. Focus on the things that are good in your life and be thankful. If the season of Winter was not good for you, rejoice that it is now officially over. Spring is in the air. Have a great day.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Sin is defined as separation from God. Each of us have been given the free will to choose to be with God or to turn from Him. Many of the consequences of sin can be traced to sin. One of the saddest days in U.S. history is the day our very own Supreme Court decided that our children could no longer pray to God in public school. God no longer has a place in our constitution, our public buildings, and in our government. We even eliminated God in a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt when the phrase, "so help me God" was purged from a Word War II plaque.
Madalyn Murray O’Hair is the woman who filed the law suit to eliminate school prayer. When she convinced the Supreme Court to eliminate prayer from public school, not a single christian group filed a brief in opposition. Because she alleged that astronauts were government employees, she attempted to outlaw prayer in space (see yesterday's post).
O'Hair's attacks against God were relentless. As hard as she worked to keep God out of her family, one of her sons, William J. Murray, discovered Jesus. It is the same son that was the subject of school prayer in the lawsuit. He became a christian on mother's day and his mother disowned him.
One day, Madalyn O'Hair and her entire family, with the exception of the son who was disowned, disappeared. $500,000 was also unaccounted for. There were many suspects, as O'Hair employed unrepentant criminals in her American Atheists organization.
It took 3 and 1/2 years to finally discover the mutilated bodies of Madalyn and her family. The only living descendant is William who is now the chairman for the religious freedom coalition. Here is what he had to say about his mother:
"When I was a young boy of ten or eleven years old she would come home and brag about spending the day in X-rated movie theaters in downtown Baltimore.... My mother’s whole life circulated around such things... It was love of power over people that finally caused not only her death, but the deaths of my brother and my daughter... My mother was an evil person... Not for removing prayer from America's schools... No, she was just evil. She stole huge amounts of money. She misused the trust of people. She cheated children out of their parents' inheritance. She cheated on her taxes and even stole from her own organizations. She once printed up phony stock certificates on her own printing press to try to take over another atheist publishing company....Regardless of how evil and lawless my mother was she did not deserve to die in the manner she did."
Being separated from God causes spiritual blindness. We become like lost children. Even in the most evil families, God is searching for us and calling us. Jesus touched William J. Murray and led him out of the dark cave he was forced to live in by his own mother. Do not let God's absence from our country cause you despair. There is still time to turn to Him and repent and there is still hope for our country. There is still time to elect new leaders who can give us back our freedom to worship whether in a school, a public building, or even on the moon.
Friday, March 19, 2010
There was a lot of controversy about what Neil Armstrong said as he took that first step on the moon. He wanted to say, "that's one small step for a man", however, he left out the "a" and that changed the meaning of his famous quote. There was considerable debate about the transmission and Neil argued that the "a" was lost in the static.
Something else happened on the moon that NASA did not want the astronauts to share with the world. NASA was afraid that what Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong did would lead to another lawsuit so they asked these two men to turn off their radios as they ate they first meal on the moon. Forty years later, another giant leap for mankind is revealed:
The background to the story is that Aldrin was an elder at his Presbyterian Church in Texas during this period in his life, and knowing that he would soon be doing something unprecedented in human history, he felt he should mark the occasion somehow, and he asked his pastor to help him. And so the pastor consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine. And Buzz Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth's Orbit and on to the surface of the moon.
He and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement: "This is the LM pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way." He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion. Here is his own account of what happened:
"In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the scripture, 'I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.. Apart from me you can do nothing.'
I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O'Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. I ate the tiny host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility .. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements. And of course, it's interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on The moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the earth and the moon - and who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the "Love that moves the Sun and Other stars."
What these two men did while their radios were turned off is one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind. Please share this story with your friends and don't forget to share Jesus, even if the world prefers you to keep your transmission silent.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Not all hangovers are alcohol related. Some hangovers come from watching our favorite team fall apart in a big game. Putting a family pet to sleep can cause a hangover that lingers for days and weeks.
An alcohol related hangover can be helped by drinking lots of water. The pain you are feeling is from the dehydration as the alcohol leaves the brain cells. All other hangovers can be eliminated through prayer and fellowship.
A true friend will be there for you when you are feeling down. I have found no better friend than Jesus. My tennis buddies, my Zoom partners and my church friends have also made a huge difference in my life.
We are not meant to live our lives in caves. We need support from people around us. If you are struggling with a hangover, go out and join a group and get involved in your community. Don't overlook the power of prayer. Jesus is always there, even on your worst hangover days.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The real shillelaghs are worth a fortune as they are handcrafted and each walking stick is unique. This particular one is priceless. My dad's patrons decided to play a joke on him and cut down this piece of driftwood to present to him as a gag gift. He cherished it and displayed it proudly in Mulligan's.
When I asked about the shillelagh, my dad convinced me that it was very special. I was so honored that he gave it to me to keep safe the day Mulligan's was shut down for good. I displayed it prominently in my house for many years and always showed it off to our guests. Many, especially the Irish visitors, were speechless when they gazed upon this heirloom.
When my dad returned for his final visit, I could not wait to give him back his shillelagh that I had been keeping safe for him. He yelled out, "what is this piece of s#@*!" I thought maybe the cancer was clouding his brain and told him it was his "world famous" shillelagh. Everything my dad did was world famous. His hamburgers, his chile, his green bagels that he served in his bar, even his walking stick that was nothing more than a piece of driftwood.
After my dad calmed down, he told me there was a real shillelagh and he gave that one to his sister, Peggy, for safe keeping. One of my brothers now keeps the real one. As for me, the world famous shillelagh that was once a part of Mulligan's will stay in our family until the end of time and I will always think of my dad, Patrick O'Mulligan (he always added the "O" on St. Patrick's Day), every time I look at his world famous walking stick.
To my Irish and non-Irish friends, my daughter, Nicole, who is seventeen today, and to my Zoom partners who are celebrating our fifth birthday today, I wish you a very special St. Patrick' Day. Here is an Irish quote to celebrate a day that St. Patrick made "world famous"...
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Since the beginning of time, God has chosen His team and developed His players. He drafts His players differently from the way teams are chosen whether on a playground or professional draft. Imagine what young David felt like when he was not even asked to be in the line up with his seven older and stronger brothers. God had announced that a new leader would be chosen from David's family but David was told not to bother to show up on draft day. He was tending sheep when he was called in to be the chosen one.
When God promised Abraham that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars, Abraham had trouble believing this, especially because his wife was at an advanced age. As time passed, Abraham's wife urged him to have a child with someone else to make sure there would be children. Sarah named her son Isaac which means "may God smile" in Hebrew. Sarah actually laughed when she learned she was going to have a child because she felt she was too old to conceive.
God picked Abraham to be the father of His team and He kept that promise even though Abraham did not become a dad until the age of 100. God also promised He would send a Savior to deliver His team. When Jesus came for the "chosen ones", they rejected Him. Thank God for setting up an expansion draft. When the chosen ones rejected Jesus, God opened up the roster to include the whole world.
There is a place on God's team for each and every one of us even if we were not part of the original all stars that God chose ahead of the rest of us. We were picked to be on His team even before we were born. If you don't feel you are worthy to be on the team, be careful. You may end up like young David. God seems to pick unlikely people that are overlooked in this world. Once you are picked, He will shape you for the job He has for you. There are plenty of roster spots open but not enough players. Are you ready to play on God's team?
Monday, March 15, 2010
Lucky is pictured on the right and he is getting ready for his first ocean swim. We brought our pets to this special place because we wanted to help them get over the loss of our beloved, Lady, and this was just what all of us needed.
Lucky's first master chose to let us adopt Lucky after visiting our home about eleven years ago. He saw how happy Lucky was to be free to run in our large back yard and play with our family. We saw this same joy when we removed his leash and let him run around with hundreds of other dogs yesterday.
Before Lucky joined us, he was an outside dog living in an unfenced backyard. He could not handle the sound of thunder and tried to escape every time we opened our front door. When we would finally find him, he would cry like a baby as we tried to bring him in the house. He destroyed most of our furniture before finally settling down. We named him Lucky because we thought he was lucky we did not return him after all the damage he caused.
There was a strange calmness at this beach. My youngest son told me this must be what Heaven looks like for dogs. It is such a happy place. It is like taking your kids to Disneyland for the first time.
The biggest lesson I have learned from my dogs is that they reflect behavior. If you are nervous, they are nervous. If you are relaxed, as most of the people at dog beach are, they are relaxed. It was a little scary at first to remove the leashes from our dogs and let them run free but I stood quietly just like all the other masters and let our dogs have the time of their lives.
When it was time to leave, Lucky climbed on top of the back seat and stared out the back window as we drove off. We will be back soon. Whether it is dog Heaven or people Heaven, all of us seek to be in harmony with each other and with the Creator. I am thankful we discovered a place on this planet where people and dogs from all walks of life can be at peace with one another. Yes, I will visit dog beach often until my Master calls me to be with Him in His Kingdom, a place where everyone is in harmony just like dog beach.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
A strange behavior has been discovered in young male elephants in Africa. It is not normal for an elephant to kill a rhino. When the older adult male elephants are "culled", that is killed for population control purposes, the younger males do not have an opportunity to mature properly. As a result, when they get into a conflict with a rhino, these young males will continue to attack the rhino, even after the rhino backs down.
When the older male is reintroduced into the herd, it demonstrates the correct behavior and the young males return to normal. Elephants have strong family relationships just like people do. When something is out of balance, it shows up in both the elephant population and the human population.
Society is now reaching unprecedented levels of households with missing fathers. Just like the young male elephants who lack "father figures", many families are growing up without a very important element.
The family unit is the closest reflection of our Creator that we have on earth. The Evil One knows that if he can divide the family, he can create chaos and further separate us from God. Broken families become the norm as new generations follow the broken family model that they grew up in. Broken churches also remain broken from one generation to the next.
Abraham Lincoln was quoting Scripture; Matthew 12:25 reads, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." Lincoln was using this quote in reference to slavery. Jesus was referring to a world that is separated from our Creator. We need an example just like the young male elephants need a role model.
The Evil One is going to keep doing everything in his power to keep the kingdom of God divided. As long as we go to separate houses of worship, we will be a house divided. The voice of the Evil One is strong in our world today. The voice of the Holy Spirit that is inside each of us is difficult to hear. Our hope for ending the fractures in God's people is to listen to that voice and overcome the division that exists in our families and in our churches. We need families to stay together so that the reflection of God can be seen without the division that is becoming the norm. There is hope for the male elephants who need role models and there is hope for mankind. Jesus promises that one day He will return and His house will no longer be divided.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
The hard part about the time change is adjusting to the "spring forward" in the morning. My body seems to get into a rhythm and it fights me when the alarm clock goes off one hour earlier. It is a small price to pay in order to enjoy a BBQ after work while the sun is still out.
This is a good time of year to do some spring cleaning and review our progress on the goals we set for this year and this decade. The first quarter of this year is almost over and there is plenty of time to make adjustments if we are not satisfied with the direction we are going. Maybe all we need is a small adjustment in our daily routine to get back on track. Spring is in the air at last.
Friday, March 12, 2010
For reasons that are out of my control, I have made promises that I have not been able to keep. These broken promises have hurt people that I love. If you are one of those people that is upset that I did not keep a promise, I am deeply sorry and I ask your forgiveness.
When we look up at the sky during this season of Winter, most of the time we have trouble seeing the sun or the blue sky. Everything is covered by the clouds. The clouds I am talking about are our doubts, our lack of faith and a voice that says "you are going to fail". The sun is still there but we cannot see it. The Son is there too, even though we cannot see Him. He has given us a gift, it is the tiny voice that we can barely hear. This voice says, "you are a child of God. Trust that the Son is out there listening to your prayers and watching over you. Follow my voice and trust that the clouds will one day disappear."
If you have found yourself in a situation where you have had to break a promise, ask that person to forgive you. Forgive others that did not live up to your expectations and remember to listen to that little voice inside you that will guide you on your journey. Sunny days are ahead.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
What happens when there are different points of view or misunderstandings? If you find yourself in a cave, not much, only silence. Living in the real world, we are going to have differences of opinion and even confrontation at times.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned in life is to view the world from another person's eyes. There are so many people around me that have come from very different worlds and cultures. I have never lived in a country that tortures people for their beliefs. I have never lost a family member because they told their government they were wrong. I never had to give up everything just to go to a new country where my family could be safe.
If we took the time to listen to other people who are different from us, we could learn so much. The truth is that most of us just want to be free to live without fear. We want to be understood. This can only happen when we choose to come out of our caves and communicate with others. Try listening to the people around you and you will become a strong communicator.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
There is a survivor show on the Discovery Channel called, "I Shouldn't Be Alive". A recent episode featured an athlete who fell 60 feet while on a training run with her dog in Moab, Utah. She broke her pelvis and could only crawl, one inch at a time. Her injuries were severe and she lost three pints of blood while fighting to stay alive.
This athlete knew that if she fell asleep in the freezing temperatures, she would never wake up. She started doing stomach crunches at a pace that would keep her awake through the night. She also had to be careful not to urinate since this would surely lead to hypothermia.
On the third day, evening was fast approaching and her body was on the edge of death. She had sent her dog away to get help and was all alone. She was discovered just in time. Even though the doctors thought she would never walk again, she made a full recovery and now runs at full speed.
As I watched this show with my family, I thought about all the times I have been on the edge of the cliff. Sometimes, when you take risks, you fall. I don't know what it feels like to plunge 60 feet and break bones, but I bet it is like starting a business in a bad economy. In order to survive, you must have a very strong will to fight every day. You must fix your eyes on your vision and hold on to the dream even when everyone else thinks you are going to die.
Live your life with passion and don't be afraid if you find yourself on the edge of the cliff. You may fall and you may even break a few bones; broken bones heal and success awaits those who dare to dream big dreams...
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Our bodies and our minds need rest in order to function properly. Putting God at the first position means setting aside time to pray. Prayer is quiet time. We slow down our breathing and meditate. When we are too busy burning the candle at both ends, we tend to burn ourselves out. Even God took a day off when He created the universe. Make sure you give yourself a day of rest once a week to recharge.
It is really easy to forget the proper order for your priorities. Arrange a family meeting and ask each member to rank their priorities and then review them together. If family is not above work, figure out how you can change that and still pay the bills. You will find a new sense of balance in your life when your priorities are in the right order. This is still a daily challenge for me but I find that my day is easier to handle when God is number 1, family is number 2 and work is number 3. Give it a try and see how this works in your life.
Monday, March 8, 2010
There are many steps that we go through when we grieve. There is no set time table for getting through all of the steps. I found the 7 Stages of Grief this morning and wanted to share this with anyone who may also be dealing with a loss, whether it may be a family member or pet.
I know that I still have a few stages to go through, but the final stage is what this blog is all about, acceptance and hope...
7 Stages of Grief...
1. SHOCK & DENIAL-
You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.
2. PAIN & GUILT-
As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.
You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.
3. ANGER & BARGAINING-
Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.
You may rail against fate, questioning "Why me?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I will never drink again if you just bring him back")
4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.
During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.
7 Stages of Grief...
5. THE UPWARD TURN-
As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.
6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.
7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-
During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.
7 stages of grief...You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Phil Collins has given the world some beautiful music. He injured his neck while on tour and that caused his hands to go numb. He had an operation for his neck injury and is hopeful that one day he will be able to play the drums and guitar again. There is only one other man, Paul McCartney, who has sold 100 million albums worldwide as a principal member of a band and 100 million albums as a solo artist. As I was waking up this morning, Phil's song, "Can't Stop Loving You", popped into my head.
I was thinking about the day I encountered Jesus while reading about Him in the Bible story about the naked man. What struck me is that Jesus is all-knowing. He knew that he would meet the naked crazy man when he and his followers got off the boat. He could have bypassed the man but he chose to meet him, help him and change his life forever.
The truth about Jesus is that He can't stop loving you. The Bible is filled with stories about people just like you and me that are not worthy to be loved the way Jesus loves us. Look at the people that were on the boat the day Jesus met the naked cave man. Peter would become the leader of the Church even though Jesus already knew that Peter would deny Him three times at the time Jesus needed him the most. Before Paul was invited into the boat, he was busy killing Christians. Matthew made his money by overtaxing his own people. Jesus just could not stop loving any of these people.
Today, the Captain of the ship is on a collision course for you. Can you hear Him calling your name? He wants you to sail away with Him and all of His followers. The boat is full of sinners, the kind of people that Jesus has a special heart for. The name of His boat is the U.S.S. Forgiven. Every passenger on board has been given a second chance no matter what they did before they got on the boat...
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Last night I had a dream that Americans were all holding hands in prayer around the perimeter of our country. Some people that were holding hands in Louisiana suddenly let go and stopped praying for our country. The moment that the prayer chain was broken, bad things started happening, beginning with the hurricane that struck the very spot where the prayer chain was first broken.
This dream jogged my memory about the days of Moses. When he encountered a fierce enemy, his job was to raise his hands to Heaven and pray. When his arms were up, his people had the upper hand. When he grew weary and lowered his arms, the enemy would gain strength. At one point, Moses was so tired that two people had to hold up his arms. The people knew that they could only claim victory when the people acknowledged who was in charge.
The good people of Louisiana are not responsible for what happened when the hurricane struck but my dream was a warning about the consequences we face for turning away from God and failing to keep Him number one in our lives.
Our school children are not allowed to raise their arms to God in prayer as Moses did when facing an enemy. In fact, prayer is not even allowed for Christians who want to arrive early to pray. We allow exceptions to Muslim children who ask to pray during school hours while we bar access to Jesus for Christian school children. What happened to our Constitution which states that all men are created equal? Do we not see our leaders lowering their arms? How many references to God are we going to remove from our money, our public buildings, and our schools before we realize that we will face serious consequences?
The bright note for us is that Hollywood is filling a void. Americans are looking for hope and we are spending millions of dollars to watch movies with themes of hope. Some argue that this is because Church attendance is down and we are searching for new places to find hope. Hollywood is only responding to our thirst for these types of movies because of the profit motive.
When my oldest son was in a seventh grade religious education class, his teacher asked, "Does anyone know what a prophet is?" My son quickly raised his hand and responded, "it is what is left over after you subtract expenses from revenue." Fewer children are learning about prophets and our Bibles are gathering dust on the shelves. Our politicians are quietly removing God from our lives.
My hope for our country is that we do not let prayer disappear. Lets show respect to people of all faiths without giving up our own rights. Lets remind our politicians that "Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." If they do not hear our voices, it may be time for another tea party. As long as we have prayer, we have hope.
Friday, March 5, 2010
When Jack M. Jones was a young boy, he was fascinated with flying saucers. He is an amateur astronomer who worked as an artist and dreamed about designing real flying saucers. The pictures you see here are from his invention named the Geobat. The military is now interested in turning his childhood dream into a reality and it appears that one day, we may be soaring through the air in flying saucers.
Jack's lack of education or training in this field did not stop him from pursuing his vision. He is teaming up with qualified people who believe in him to change the world. While Jack is working on air travel, another visionary, Grant Ryan, has invented a new way for us to travel by land. His invention is called the YikeBike. It is already on the market and it gives us a glimpse of what we can do when we use our imagination.
Jack and Grant are two inventors who will make our world better. They have been given a gift and they developed it. When we look inside ourselves, what do have to offer the world? We have been created for a purpose, to link together with others and share our talents. Take a look at these two videos of the Geobat and the YikeBike. Then imagine what idea you have that you can contribute to make our world better. If we work together we may end up doing the impossible, even traveling in flying saucers...
Thursday, March 4, 2010
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox were on the edge of elimination from the playoffs. They were one inning away from a 4-0 sweep in the American League Championship Series against baseball's biggest giant, the New York Yankees. Boston called on Dave Roberts to pinch run in the 9th inning. His team was down 4-3 and needed a run. Roberts stole second base and made it by a hair. He scored a run to tie the game and his team won in extra innings. They won three more games in a row to defeat the Yankees and then went on to win the world series.
Dave Roberts has always been a role model on and off the field. Base stealing was his specialty and he donated $500 to local high schools every time he stole a base. I really enjoyed watching Roberts when he played for the San Diego Padres. Roberts credits his success to Maurey Wills, the first baseball player to steal 100 bases in a single season in the big leagues. Wills mentored Dave Roberts and taught him not to be afraid, even when everyone in the ball park knows you are going to attempt a steal.
Dave is now getting the opportunity to teach others the art of base stealing in his new role as special assistant with the Padres. A group of young athletes including Tony Gwynn, Jr, will benefit from Dave's mentoring while Tony's hall of fame father, Tony Gwynn, Sr. coaches college players at San Diego State University.
The world needs mentors. I have been Blessed to have so many awesome mentors and coaches in my life. The best mentor of all times is Jesus. He taught regular people how to be better fisherman. He taught the world that it is better to forgive than to hold onto a grudge. When I take my kids to watch the Padres this year, I will point out the behind the scenes coaches like Dave Roberts who are responsible for making the players better, just like Jesus makes us all better people. Whether we find ourselves in the world series or at a critical moment in our lives, each of these mentors have one thing in common to say to us, "do not be afraid".
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
In college, I often waited until the last minute to start big projects. I remember one of my classmates laughing at me when he asked about a big paper that was due the following day. I told him I was getting ready to pick a topic and get started. He told me I would surely fail the class and walked out of the library. I stayed up all night and felt really good that everything came together. The same person who scoffed at me in the library was stunned when I got an A on my paper.
My worst procrastination moment was also on the last day a term paper was due. Since word processing had not been invented yet, and I was very slow at typing, I asked my mother to type a big paper for me. The only problem was that the paper had not been written yet and it was due the following day. I would write a few pages and then give them to her to type. Everything was going fine until the ribbon broke. The office supply store was closed so she would manually pull the ribbon after typing a few strokes. My mother went to sleep very late and I continued writing through the night. By the time she needed to go to work, the paper was still not done. I wrote the final pages and then drove to her work to have her finish with the typing.
As I reflect on all the times that I have procrastinated in my life, I thank God for inspiring me to make positive changes. This blog is one of the first "assignments" that I do at the beginning of the day. In a way, I am finally learning how to overcome laziness. When God gives you a job to do, He deserves that you give Him your best efforts. I still get a big laugh as I write this blog daily. I can't believe that God called on me, a person with limited typing skills and a great ability to procrastinate, to write daily and that people actually read this stuff. It proves to me that He calls the "Unqualified" and then teaches them to be "Qualified". I also realize that He is calling all of us to do something with the unique gifts He has given us. When we hear His voice, it is best not to answer at the last minute. Answer the call today and witness just how powerful God can work in you.
This thank you to my mother may be a little late, but I want to recognize her for always supporting me. Now that she is retired, she is planning on buying a computer and setting up an email account. She may be the last person in America to own a computer but she is a #1 mom and there will be a special place in Heaven for her. It will be a special joy for me when she is able to read these messages and I know I would not even be here without her love and prayers.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Some of you will cross the finish line ahead of me. The One who gave His life for you will be there to welcome you. This blog is all about the journey. It is about taking one step at a time and keeping our sights on what is ahead for us. It is about helping those who are struggling and encouraging them to keep walking.
If the world were coming to an end, I would prefer to remain at the back of the line to help those who have lost hope. Jesus will leave the other 99 to find the one who is lost. My job is to assist. Many of you reading this blog are part of the 99 who know that your path leads to Jesus. If you encounter the one that feels lost, please share this site and share Jesus. This blog is dedicated to the lost and the fallen. I volunteer to stay at the back of line and extend my hand to you.
If this blog helps just one person to find Jesus, then it is a success. Please come back often and share this site with others. There will be some special guests soon and this blog will continue to evolve. We are only at our first mile on the marathon of life...
Monday, March 1, 2010
All three of my sisters were born during the month of March. When my wife was pregnant with our daughter, I prayed for her to be born on St. Patrick's Day. Her doctor told us to forget about it, we could expect our new baby around the end of the month. At 8:00 pm on March 16th, my wife told me something was happening. I immediately told her it was too early and we still had four hours to go (not the best thing to say to a pregnant person). Our daughter arrived in the morning and I thanked God for answering my prayer.
When it was time to launch Zoom, we set March 17th as our target date. We needed to invent software and find customers in order for that to happen. We also needed to set up our distribution department in a very short period of time. We allowed one extra week in our time-line to test our software but the process was slow and we ended up with no safety net.
On the final night of typing ads, our computer screens kept going blank. It turned out that the final software code was still being invented as we typed ads on our deadline. In order for us to meet the printer deadline and have a magazine on St. Patrick's Day, the software had to work perfectly. When we pushed the "send button", the software worked and Zoom was born on March 17th, 2005.
Our first-born son carries the middle name, Patrick, and our youngest son looks more like my dad every day. As we get ready to celebrate all the March birthdays, I will raise a green beer to Heaven and give a special toast to my father. If he had been around a little bit longer on this planet, I am sure he would have discovered blog writing. One of his biggest passions in life was writing and I am glad I inherited that gift from him. Right now, I am visualizing my dad passing out green beer and green bagels to all the angels and saints and he is inspiring me to keep writing about what a great place Heaven is. It is a good thing the angels enjoy the green beer and bagels and my dad's jokes. I wouldn't want the bouncer, St. Michael, to have to cast them out. In Heaven and on earth, everyone is at least a little bit Irish during the month of March. May your March be filled with happiness as you welcome the season of Spring.