Upcoming Podcasts

Ken has been swamped at work, having to put together a computer animated TV commercial. As for me, I am still selling insurance and trying to minister where ever I get to. Whether it is simple as praying with a co-worker over lunch, or identifying myself as a believer in the businesses that I am working in.

Today I was thinking about you. Those faithful few who have been checking out our podcasts and those that are checking us out for the first time.

Upcoming topics are as simple as:
1. Why do we even believe in God?
2. How do we experience God in our lives?
3. How do we grow in our relationship with God?
4. How do we share our relationship with God with our friends?

So expect though in the next few weeks.

Ken wanted to this week, but was hammered for time.

Take care this week. As Thanksgiving is coming, we have a lot of be thankful for. Remember to Thank God for all the ways that He blessed. May you have a great time with friends and family.

Rich

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That hole in the heart

It was interesting, about a year ago, I was checking out lists on Amazon, and there was this goofy list of “songs that always make me cry.” Just curious, I wanted to see what songs were listed. Then I came across this song that I had never heard of called, “Never Went To Church” by The Streets. The Streets is a English rapper. Not that I am really into rap, but wanted to give this a listen. He talks about how his dad died, and he is faced with an emptiness. That even though he was never brought up going to church, he knew that there was something that he was missing.

Interesting as well, I don’t know if any of you are fans of the show “Numb3rs”, but one of the lead characters is faced with his own emptiness in life that he can’t sort out on his own, and the last scene of the latest episode he walks into a synagogue to go to God to deal with that emptiness.

Pascal, the famous french philosopher, math expert, and theologian (Who the computer language Pascal was named after) said, “In every man, there is a God shaped vacuum.” Vacuum, void or hole, but you know the feeling.

C.S. Lewis wrote something similar. Paraphrased by me “Since I have tried everything, and nothing satsifies in this world, So I come to understand that I was made for somewhere else.” That somewhere else is heaven.

Pascal also wrote “Between heaven and hell, there is only life half-way, which is the fragilest thing in the world.”

Maybe you have experienced this half-way kind of life. It seems like something is missing. Nothing seems to be cracked up to what it is supposed to be. You finally arrive at the top of the heap, and the satisfaction that you thought would be there isn’t, and you are empty still.

Jesus promises something else. In John 10:10, which you have heard me quote before, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I (Jesus) have come that they might have life, and that abundantly.”

The abundant life is not about the most toys, but a full contentment in relationship that only comes from God, regardless of the situation you presently find yourself in. And it finds its ultimate fulfillment, in eternal life in Heaven in the presence of our savior.

Speaking of the presence of God, I was talking to a friend of mine, who has been realizing the presence of God in his life. God has been doing little things, drawing him to Himself. God does so many things to show us that He is there, and that He cares for us. Sometimes we just need to slow down and think about all the ways that He has blessed us, and thank Him for that.

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Sex, Sex, Sex

We live in a ridiculously sex charged culture.  Years ago I took a survey in a mall, where I was asked about a commercial I was shown for a razor blade.  The guy who used that brand of razor blade got the girl.  Trust me, I have been shaving my beard too long to think that there is something sexy about my morning ritual of shaving my face.  I told them that I thought that commercial was ridiculous.

But sex sells, right?  Sex is everyway.  It is all over the internet.  But it isn’t good. In fact there is a lot of sick crap out there.

Obviously God created sex, and it is brilliant when we use it as God created it in marriage.  And we as men try to find fulfillment in “cheap sex” from photos, videos, whatever, and it costs us.  We sometimes don’t realize it.

1. It costs us in our closeness in our relationship to God.  You know the guilt that you feel.  And you also know when you feel that small amount of purity we possess slipping away.

2. Attention that we should be paying to our wives, we are paying to someone else.  Again it could be anywhere.  It could be something as simple as a swimsuit calendar up on the wall at our auto mechanics, but each time we go to the shop, we have to peek to see if it is still there, or if he has added another. We run a deficit with our wives. If you rob your wife, aren’t robbing yourself? Or maybe the penalty is double or more when we are robbing our spouse.

We claimed as married men that we are going to honor, cherish and love our wives.  How are we doing at that?  God is also going to call us to account for how we acted toward our wives.

Interestingly in Ephesians, we are supposed to love our wives like Jesus loved the church.  Jesus sacrificed himself for us, who are part of the church.

Also in that same passage in Ephesians, it says that the man who loves his wife loves himself. 

Years ago I read a cover of a book and it stuck with me.  I even bought a copy, though I have never honestly gone all the way through it.  It is called “Do yourself a favor, love your wife.”  On the cover of the early edition there was a two lane road with three cars.

Two cars going one way, and other car was going the opposite. 

The two cars going the same direction has two occupants in each car, and they were sitting on opposite sides of front seat.

But the other car, and maybe this dates the book, obviously had a bench seat, and the occupants in the car were sitting right next to each other.

Are we giving our wives the attention that they deserve or are we giving the attention somewhere else because it is easier? 

Are we shorting ourselves in a number of ways?  Are we sinning against God with unbridled lust? 

Are we sinning against the woman of our lives?  If we made the effort to love our wives as God intended, with cherishing and honor, do you think that would have a positive impact on our daily lives?  We only have one life, so lets not screw it up.

One book/CD that I need to go through at least once a year is called, “Everyman’s Battle” by Stoeker and Arterburn.  It is about reclaiming our lives from this crazy lust infected world that we live in. Here is the link http://www.fredstoeker.com/book/everymansbattle.shtml It will give you hope, no matter where you are, or what you might be involved in now or in your past.

I have it on Audio book and have been listening to it the last couple of days on my drives with work. I am refocusing on my efforts on my relationship with God and my wife. I figured that it would be a great encouragement for you as well. I like that the title is “everyman’s battle.” Not “some men’s battle”. Us guys are red blooded males, and our eyes, minds and hormones can get us into a lot of compromises that we shouldn’t. To be the men that we are called to be by God, that takes a bit of discipline, to keep our eyes from wandering. But it is worth it. Check it out. Hey, if you want me to loan you my copy, of Everyman’s Battle, let me know. Or you could pick it up at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or just about any Christian book store.
God bless you gentleman. Have a great weekend. See ya at Church.

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My dear friend Stephen Shook

Part of this is a copy of what I posted on rctech.net.

Yesterday I called my friend Stephen, and I think that I first got his mom, and then his wife.  His wife was telling me that he is in a very bad way and is unable to talk.  It looks like it is down to the last days or hours.  But she did put me on speaker phone for him.  I was able to pray for him.  And at the end, his wife said that he was trying to mouth the word “Amen.”  I also wanted to tell him about an upcoming missions trip that I am going on this spring.  Again I got to share that with him on speaker phone and his wife said that he seemed animated and excited.  I did get to tell him that I loved him.

I will call the family tomorrow and find out what the news is.

I must have spent hours and hours with him chatting on the phone. Just an incredible brother in the faith. Always very positive in how he acted toward others.

I was thinking just how much I am going to miss those calls. If I miss him so much, how much more his wife and mom and family are going to miss him.

We talked a lot about death. It was something that was always right there in front of him. You know what, he wasn’t afraid of death, because he knew that Jesus was going to meet him on the other side. He wasn’t happy about having to leave his wife in death. But for months now he was trying to do what he could with the energy had to take care of her. Sorting out her hobby room. Teaching her about the life insurance, bills etc, and trying to make sure that he had all his ducks in a row.

He absolutely loved his wife. He would go on glowingly about what an awesome woman she is, and all the different things that she was involved in at church with teaching and worship team. They got to take a couple of great vacation togethers in the last couple years, knowing that their time together was short.

Man, the world is going to be a darker place with him passing on. Shookie was an encouragement to a lot of us. You know what else, he was REAL. It wasn’t all “Do as I say, not as I do.” Or “Live like a saint on Sunday, and live like a hellion the other 6 days out of the week.” He lived out everyday what he said.

Some people when they die, people only tell positive things about them, and really sweep under the carpet all the crud that everyone really knows went on in their life. There is nothing to sweep under the carpet here.

I remember when he was telling me a story about recently getting medicine switched and he was saying it was like getting “tourettes” where all this foul language came flowing out of his mouth, just uncontrollably. I didn’t hear him swear ever, but that was what he told me happened. And Shookie was so embarassed by that and asking God for forgiveness, because that is not the kind of person that he ever wanted to be.

Some of us might cuss up a storm or cuss out others and think nothing of it. But it bothered Stephen.

A lot of racers have been watching his life. They were in awe of how he handled himself and his life. It has been an amazing struggle and yet peaceful because of Christ.

I am so going to miss him.

I know with all confidence, to his friends and fellow racers who don’t know Jesus, or maybe need to come back to faith, if he inspired you at all, he would love for you to take a look into Jesus again. Because that it where he found his strength and hope. We talked about that a lot.

I love you Stephen. You have been such an incredible friend. You helped me get through all sorts of tough times in my life and ministry. Thank you.

Richard

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Awaiting a day in court

About four months ago I got a speeding ticket. Honestly I thought that I was still in a 45 zone when I got picked up doing 47 in a 35. I was probably only 150 feet passed the sign. Needless to say I was really bummed. I didn’t want to have to explain to my wife, how I was costing the family again with my own stupidity.

When I went to work, the people in the office were saying, “It is no big deal. If you have a good record, you’ll get an option of not having this ticket count and won’t have to pay the fine if you can go a whole year without another moving violation.” I figured that the very least with the letters that I got from the court that I would be able to at least be able to plea a lower penalty ONCE I GOT TO SHARE MY SIDE OF THE STORY.

So for weeks I had been stressing about what I was going to say in court. I didn’t see the signs as they were blocked by slow moving traffic. It is a 7% downhill grade in that section, and large trucks do block the signs from time to time.

So the day arrived. There I was in court. I was asked my name, I was asked if I pleaded guilty, (because even to get the hearing I did have to admit my guilt. And I was speeding even if completely unintentional). I gave my name and said “yes” to the question of guilty. The judge said, “You have an excellent record. Your fine is reduced from 154 to 125. Good day.”

That was it! It was over! It was the same reduction that I was offered before I even went to court. I DIDN’T GET TO SAY MY PIECE. What a rude awakening. I left feeling kind of stunned. What was the point of going downtown, taking time off of work, paying for parking, only to give my name and admit my guilt?

That got my thinking. I went back to the office, and told my boss about what happened. He asked, “Wasn’t there another person there to work out the deal for you? That is what happened for me. There was another guy who talked to me and then talked to the judge.”

“Nope, it was me, the judge and the clerk that recorded it.”

Obviously as believers in Christ, when judgment comes and we are standing before God, we do have an advocate for us. Jesus Christ will be in the middle. “My client pleads guilty, and I paid the penalty for him.” That is a great place to be.

What I thought would be shocking, is for those people who are thinking that because they were good people on their own, they are going to get to tell their story and get some kind of bargain. Thinking they are going to tell God, “I wasn’t as bad as so and so. I took care of my own. Look, somehow God it is your fault, because you didn’t make it that much more obvious to me. Maybe a few more signs for me, would have changed things.”

I don’t know how many people that I have talked to who won’t look at Christ, and what He did to pay the penalty for us on the Cross, and are banking on being able to plead their own case.

Without Christ, what can you plead but your name and guilt? Ignorance is no excuse. Especially in the US, I am not even sure if ignorance is truly possible. We have Bibles everywhere, Jesus shows up in country music songs, there is so much Christian radio and TV and a church on every other street corner. It is hard to miss Jesus if you are willing to look up, even the littlest. If you can’t plead Jesus when standing before the Father, it will be because you never wanted to take the time in this life to look into Him. What else can I say? Don’t bet on pleading your own case.

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Coolest Call — Another future podcast

I just got a call from one of my best friends. A guy named Alex Williams. I got to know him when I was frequenting www.christianoutdoorsman.com/forums.
Just an average joe, who loves to hunt turkeys, and make turkey calls. At some point he realized that God was calling him into the ministry. I encouraged him. Had him out to the church that I was serving at, to do a turkey calling seminar with matching gospel presentation. It was awesome and he ministered greatly to the local people there.
He was thinking about going to Bible school, and I supported him in that.
Today he gives me a call, and his pastor has just recommended him to be a Sr. Pastor at a small church in his state of Georgia. I say “Good for him”. Please keep Alex in your prayers. I look forward to the day when he can give his testimony on here. Has a great story, life has not been a piece of cake. He’s a solid guy with a great heart. Love his Georgian accent. Look forward to introducing him to more of my friends. I am sure that the podcast we do with him will be a favorite. I know that God is going to continue to bless his ministry.

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Finally figured out the lyrics — Man, what a powerful line!

Sorry there is no proper video for the Tree 63 song “Answer to the Question”.  I got the CD a couple of years ago and listened quite a bit.  Really focusing on some of the other songs on the CD.  I highly recommend the CD, and if we had an online store, would like to provide it.

Have you ever listened to a song, and got part of the lyrics wrong?  Well, I sure did recently.  I pulled out the CD and listened to it recently.  All night long I had the song stuck in my head.  “He is the answer to the question. . . He is only seventeen.”  That line is just dumb, so I knew that it couldn’t be right.  Tired of having it stuck in there wrong, I was determined to listen to it careful for once.

Chorus: “He is the answer to the question, He is cure for the infection.  He is . . . ALL HE SAYS HE IS!  He is ultimate reflection of holiness and true perfection.  He is . . ALL HE SAYS HE IS!”

Wow, what a concise way to describe Christ.  Who is he?  Is He this, or that?  Man, who does He say that He is.  Is there reason to believe that He is who He claimed to be?

With all that in mind, I started to go through one of my red letter Bibles where all the words of Jesus are written in red.  He says things with so much power and conviction.  With such beauty and backs up His words with miracles.

Years ago, Kelloggs cornflakes had an ad saying, “Try them again for the first time.”  Because people were skipping over cornflakes in the aisles for fancier cereals, that they forgot that cornflakes really are an OK cereal.  Sometimes I think that we can do that with the Bible, the gospels, claims of Jesus etc etc.  Sometimes it is just good to go back and taste it again, for the first time.  Really take a look at what Jesus was saying.  I would encourage you to take another look.  You know what, He is all He says He is.

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Upcoming Podcast

I have a good friend that I would like to be able to share with you.  His name is Stephen Shook.  I got to know him from the www.rctech.net forum, where we both have a passion for racing radio control cars.  We have a section on that forum called “RC Racers for Christ”.

Stephen served our country, serving in the Navy.  I believe that it was during that time that he was diagnosed with cancer, and has been battling it ever since.  He is married and in his early thirties.

I call and talk to him about twice a month on the phone.  And seen him go through highs and lows.  But one thing is clear, and that is his steadfast, and my I say say “contagious” faith.  He is an encouragement to his pastor and men’s ministry at his church.  He has also been an encouragement to me, though I don’t have a terminal disease like he does, I do have a chronic one (lupus) and we have level of understanding the comes from walking down that same path.

Interestingly enough, there are a lot of guys looking at his life.  There are factory sponsored racers who know who he is, and are watching to see how this man carries himself and conducts his life.  Some of them have commenting on watching to see how he does.

I look forward to the evening that we can record the podcast of the interview with him and put that up for you.  He and I talk about everything.  Life, the world, faith, stresses, our wives dealing with us, the hope of heaven and more.  I always enjoy talking with him, even when not everything is going very well.

I would appreciate your prayers for him.  Right now there is a tumor that has grown in one of his lungs and is only allowing him to breath with his other lung.  He has had this happen before and had chemo for it.  He plans to interview with us after he has two rounds of chemo treatment.  He is looking forward to being able to share with you as well.

So Stephen, if you are checking out the blog today, just wanted to let you know we are praying for you brother.  Godspeed.

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It’s about you.

This is not so much about us as it is about you.  We hope that writing about our struggles and faith, and podcasts on different issues will help encourage three groups of people:

1. Those looking into faith.  Maybe you have had a bad experience with someone who claimed to be a believer etc etc.  Fortunately there is more to Christ than what some people act like.  And we all know that some people are just jerks whether they try to be or not.  Let me be the first to apologize for your negative experience.  It shouldn’t have been that way.

2. Those who are coming back to faith.  Maybe you grew up in a Christian home, or had Christian Grandparents, or used to got to a youth group.  But somewhere along the way, you lost your way and know that now it is the time to come back.  You might not really be sure how to go about doing that.  Maybe you did things that you regret during the “lost” time.  There is a parable of the Lost Son, you maybe heard of it as the Prodigal son.  Like the father in that story that Jesus told, God is waiting with open arms for you to come home.  There is a celebration for those who come back.  It is good to be home.

3. Those struggling with life and faith.  Maybe you are at the end of your rope.  Maybe you are even passed the end of your rope.  It may seem like a no mans land.  You are not alone.  Some of us have been there as well.  In the podcasts we plan to do some interviews with guys who really struggled and yet God is seeing them through.  We will probably look at men from the Bible as well who went through the same kinds of garbage that we go through today.

I just want to take the time to thank you.  I was talking with a friend today, and he was saying “When are you going to update the site.  I need this.”  For all of you, who need this as much as we do, thanks for dropping by.  Ken and I sincerely hope that God uses this site to bless you.

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What is up with life?!

I don’t know about you, but a number of things have my life turned upside down.  I look at life, and think, “Man, this is not what I had planned at all.”

I am not in full time ministry like I used to be, and trained for.  My health is a shambles.  My wife has serious heart problem.  The economy has gone stupid.  The world seems in such upheaval.  Everything seems in such negative flux right now.

There are a lot of things that I am unsure of right now.  Politically, I think, “Man, are these the best people this nation has to offer?”  I never put a lot of faith in politics.

Obviously I can’t trust a lot of what I am seeing on News channels on TV.  There seems to be bias everywhere.  Advertisers want to tell you that their product is the best, number one etc etc.  Except they can’t all be the best, they can’t all be number one.

With all the uncertainty of our times, I do find security when I am reading my Bible.  It doesn’t change.  It has passed the test of time.  What it said would happen, has happened.  If anything, I do need to read more of the Word.  It gives me something more solid to hold onto than political flavor of the week, or the current thought or fad.

And it has a grip of me as well.  Sometimes with as crazy as the world is, I am wondering if I can still find right side up.  I don’t know about you, but a lot of my expectations have been dashed.  And some of that leaves me large areas of confusion.  But there are some things for certain though, that I do know down to the very core of my being.  Those areas have been tested, and have passed!

Sometimes church politics and what is does to people can be really destructive.  But I didn’t fall in love with building or an organization, or a board of people, I fell in love with a Savior.  When life hurts Christ is who I go back to.

Have you ever had a concussion?  I only had one.  And that was obviously a time for confusion for me.  It was first week of college, and I hit my head on the pavement after wrecking on a skateboard ramp.  I was totally dazed and confused.  Some of my friends took me to the emergency room.  I can kind of remember them saying “Your wife and kids are going to be OK!”  (I was single at the time with no kids).  They were just messing with an already confused me.  I had a CAT scan that I don’t remember, I signed hospital papers that I don’t remember signing, but it was obvious later that it was my real signature.  But my friends did tell me afterwards that what I kept saying at the hospital to the doctors and the nurses when I couldn’t answer their questions, “I am confused and I don’t know a lot of things, but one thing I do know, I love Jesus!”  My soul was laid bare, the very core of my hope made public.

Maybe part of that, I am back to today.  Work is not going as good as I like, life seems a lot harder than I expected.  My health and finances are not where I would like them to be, at the age that I am at right now.  I am dazed by all the stuff that I am bombarded with.  “I am confused and don’t know a lot of things, but one thing I do know, I love Jesus!”  I am going to hang on to Him, knowing that He is going to somehow pull me through this situation like He has done for me again and again in the past.

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