Monday, August 31, 2009

Marriage Monday: Myth 1-Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled

Hey gang!

Welcome to another week and part 2 of our latest Marriage Monday discussing Leslie Leyland Fields’ book “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling” And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt. Before I begin, I want you all to know about the new contest going on at One Man Revival Ministries Facebook Fan Page. We are giving away some CD’s highlighted by the newest project from KJ-52 coming out September 22, KJ-52, Five Two Television. Head over to the fan page to get all the details.

There is a show out that people keep telling me about, but that I never get to watch. It’s called Mythbusters. They do all kinds of stuff to destroy myths. Pastor Van recently was telling us recently about this episode that they put a water-skier behind a rowing team in a kayak and they actually got fast enough to pull the guy. I just think that’s incredible. For those of you that lived in the 80’s, you probably remember the show That’s Incredible, that had John Davidson, Fran Tarkenton and I think the female was Kathie Lee Gifford, but don’t quote me on that one.

Anyhow, over the next eight Mondays, we here at One Man Revival, with a huge assist from Leslie Leyland Fields, will destroy a few myths of our own when it comes to parenting children. We’ll study chapter by chapter of these myths. Today, we look at the first myth of parenting, Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled. This is Chapter 2 of the book.

I love how Leslie starts the chapter telling us that she got a letter from someone telling us that parenting was “blissful”. Next, she tells us how she imagined parenting BC, Before Children.

“In quiet hours, I imagined blissful days with my little ones, cherubic angels whose pudgy hands would reach into the chocolate chip cookie dough with mine, who would sit enthralled with my every story. We would make snowmen in the driveway, then drink hot chocolate with marshmallows that would stick to our chocolaty mustaches. We would make our own valentines by hand and take long hikes in the woods and mountains. All of this, amazingly, has happened. And so much more! My e-mail correspondent was right--parenting has moments of bliss and beauty, when children deliver great happiness and fulfillment to their parents’ lives.”

As a dad myself, I also had this feeling. I remember my oldest, Megan, coming into the world and holding her for the first time. I thought to myself, “She’s gonna be daddy’s little girl, always do what I say and always come to me for encouragement and words of wisdom. I’ll always be the apple of her eye.” At four, she already tries to tell me what to do almost as often as her mother and most of the time, she loves me more for being silly than being wise.

Leslie’s next paragraph begins with words that make me feel so much better. “But how many of us tell the whole truth--that these moments do not define our lives with our children? That weeks, months, and sometimes even years go by when happiness and fulfillment through parenting are hard to find?”

After reading that much of the paragraph, I thought of the days that I’m at home with them and they are yelling at each other, making each other cry by not sharing and being upset because they didn’t get macaroni and cheese. There are now three children in my household, two daughters, with a boy in between (4, 2, and 1).I think of my oldest not wanting to play with her siblings because she wants to play with dolls by herself. I think of the boy wanting to play with cars and not wanting to be dressed like a girl. And my baby looking sad because she sometimes can’t keep up with the older two running from room to room in our house. I think that these moments are easy compared to life moments that are to come.

The stories that Leslie tells next are of parents that are struggling with the role of parents. They don’t feel fulfilled at all. They feel challenged, homes are changed, careers outside the home are longed for and kids that become adults and are struggling to keep life together.

These thoughts lead into the question that a lot of us may be asking, “Does the Bible promise happiness through our children?” Leslie looks back in her earlier years thinking she would answer yes with some great scripture. Let me give you these.

“Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5)

“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap…. He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.” (Psalm 113:7,9)

Leslie asks if there might have been too much emphasis on those words. She even admits that she expected children to be like a reward, instead of testing.

I laughed as I had a thought. Don’t all of us feel like the grass is greener on the other side? When we are searching for a mate, aren’t married people more happy than us as single people? When we are married and in an apartment, isn’t a house so much better? When we are without children, wouldn’t having little ones running around make our lives better? There is always happiness on each side, but we become too closed minded to see it. I know I was. Maybe it was just me.

Leslie then tells the story of Manoah and his wife. This leads us to the birth of Samson. Samson, before he was born, was shown as a boy with such promise. An angel came to his parents and told them that he would be a Nazarite, set apart to God from birth and that he would begin deliverance of Israel from the Philistines. At that point, his parents had to imagine greatness. It would be for me if Megan’s dance and tumbling teacher came to me and told me that she would be the next Mary Lou Retton or Kerri Strug. I would beam with excitement. We all would. We wouldn’t think about all the hard work. We’d think about that Wheaties box that she’d be on the cover of in 2016 or 2020.

My last little story leads into Leslie’s discussion of the right here in America for “the pursuit of happiness.” She tells us that Christians often condemn the worldly chasing of the American Dream and tell us to pursue the treasures of heavenly, eternal rewards. As Christians, we think we would rather have the velvet rope section of heaven. As Leslie tells us, she and a lot of Christian women are pushed and urged toward seeing the needs of fulfillment be met by raising strong families. As a stay-at-home dad, I’ve even been told by one of my own pastors that raising my children should be priority one. In our moral fights, we try to give glowing perspectives of parenthood as the primary reason of the sanctity of life.

Leslie goes on to ask the next question. If children are not here for our happiness and fulfillment, then why are they here? What is their purpose? She begins with some of the negatives. Children cost a lot of money. This statistic floored me. “Web sites coolly calculate the cost of raising a child at anywhere between $150,000 and a million dollars EACH (my emphasis, not hers).” That high end of $3,000,000 terrifies me. My wife and I will make nowhere near that amount of money and that is probably true of most of you. If you are still childless, you might be sitting there going, “Hey, there are a lot of things I could do with that kind of money.”

But Leslie’s next point is the one I struggle with personally. Her words, “They undo us. They show us how little we’re made of. It often seems that they come only to break our hearts. And we let them. We invite it all. We admit perfect strangers through our doors and decide to love them wildly, without condition, for as long as we live.”

My children teach me life lessons and Bible lessons that only a holy God could dream up. They teach me that I have to think of others instead of myself. They teach me that I have to spend money wisely or have no place to live for any of us. They teach me that I have to slow down and enjoy the little moments because there just simply aren’t enough of them. They have taught my wife and I to get along better. True confession. In loving them, I love my wife more. When we are alone together just talking in bed at night, we now appreciate each others’ time more.

Leslie then gives reasons why we do this. The first reason is that we have children to learn to love as God does. Leslie says, “I wanted an intimate, lifelong, indissoluble relationship with others, the kind of life that simultaneously sucks you dry and sustains you.” These words are recognizable. So many nights, I sit and type articles for the website after a full day of the kids. I’m tired, but I’m energized by the heart they show each day. I’d also like to find a way to bottle their energy and sell it to all us tired parents. I’d make that $3 million and then some, and we’d all feel more pep in our step.

The second reason she gives is that we need to be taught how to love. She shares the story of a Christmas performance done at a school of children with disabilities. Even with mistakes, the love of the people to those children was great. As she whispered to a friend about the performance, she was given a greater word from her friend.

“Our worth is not based on our capacity, but on God’s purposes.”

I sat and thought about my own childhood with a clef pallet. I was fortunate not to have a hairlip, but the hole creates a vibration that causes a nervous laugh after I speak at times. I thought about how people making fun of it and the flip-side of people that encouraged me to be something special and how that second group of people inspired my life and how we need that. We also need that as parents. I have a friend named Jo who has struggled with people putting her child down and how hurtful it is as a parent to see our children take that. We need to be encouraging to both parents and children in this. These children with disabilities teach us not just to be better parents, but to be better friends.

Leslie finally gives us an answer to the question. “In all things, God works for the good of those that love him, who have been called according to his purpose‘(Romans 8:28). The value of our children is not just about God’s purposes for us as their parents. God is using our children to conform us to the image of his Son. Through our children, he instructs us, humbles us, and takes us to places of absolute dependence on him.”

The next section talks about the purpose of children. She relates the first words about Samson in life are that he has wandered to a town of Philistines, found a woman and returned home to demand his father get her for him. He wasn’t just being disrespectful, but he was breaking a law laid down by God not to marry foreign women. Surely, there was a respectable Israelite woman. Nope, not for him. Get me that Philistine woman. He later met another Philistine woman, named Delilah, and she schemed to find out his secret of strength. And she did.

She cut that beautiful hair and he was weakened. The Philistines gouged out his eyes and put him to work for them. He asked for one last bit of strength from God and it was granted as he pressed two pillars to collapse a building and kill a room full of Philistines, but ultimately himself as well. The end of the narrative tell us that with all this negative stuff heard that the good was that he led Israel for 20 years. God’s purposes were met.

Leslie’s words close this story. “Despite the tragedy here, I find the account filled with great hope for all parents. God did not promise Manoah and his wife joy through their son--though surely they experienced joy at times. But he did promise the deliverance of Israel through Samson, and God did just that. Not even Samson’s failures could prevent the accomplishment of God’s great purposes.”

As Manoah and his wife did, all of us have to lay down our desire of happiness and fulfillment for the purposes of God. Is that easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.

I want to use this quote of Leslie’s to close this discussion. “ I am awed that I get to be a part of something so vast and significant: the shaping of lives for the purposes of God.” All of us have a desire to change the world. I remember a ceremony of my friend Tom Zawacki’s commissioning back close to 15 years ago. I will remember how men prayed over him and his reaction when one man prophesied that his son, Thomas, would grow to do greater things than he has. It wasn’t braggart. It was just a smile. Fulfillment is the hope that the next generation learns from us enough to go through the trials that are placed upon them better than we have. It isn’t about being greater. It’s about having a fully blessed life.

I love you guys!

Friday, August 28, 2009

God Is Intentional Even When He Changes the Plan

Hey gang!

Before I begin, some simple housecleaning details that you need. I had announced that we would be beginning a new series on September 11 that would be a regular Friday series. That series has been cancelled due to some complications. That’s OK though. Today is a good day to give you the direction of this ministry for September and October.

Here’s what you will see in the weekly rundown with OMR over the next couple months. On Mondays, Marriage Monday will continue to discuss Leslie Leyland Fields’ book, Parenting is Your Highest Calling and 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt. This series will actually conclude on November 2. On Wednesdays, Wisdom Wednesday will be continuing the series on the book of Ecclesiastes. That will actually run through November 4.

Starting this Tuesday, and continuing every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday through the month of September (minus September 11), I will be teaching a series on finances. What will this entail? First, I will be sharing a few Bible stories on money. Between each story, I will package in days of websites to go see and information from some of those pages that will help people (including me) in the area of money. I’m not Dave Ramsey or any other financial wizard, but I think the information and stories on money will help people have a better tomorrow.

Then Starting Thursday, October 1, I am beginning a series that I’ve been talking about back to the goals for 2009 blog back in January. We will begin a series on spiritual disciplines. There are 75 different spiritual disciplines discussed in The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun . Will we look at all of them? I will honestly say that I’m not sure yet, but if we do, this series might just take us into 2010. I’ve been excited for this series since I received the book and I can’t tell you how much fun and how educational for all of us this series will be.

Sometimes things don’t work out, but God knew even before I did and he placed these other exciting studies in my heart to share with and grow with you. I’m so glad I have a God that is intentional. He knows the plan. He surprises me with letting me in on it. He does that for you too. This blog was the one and only blog that I had finished for the new series that wasn’t, but God used it to help me understand that he is in control and like Romans 8:28 says, he will work it for the good of those that love him in Christ Jesus. Thank you God for being my leader, my planner and my savior.

Even from the beginning, God was intentional. He took six days to create the earth and all that went into it. Genesis 1:1 tells us that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He didn’t take out his universe mixing bowl and give a smidge of this and a little bit of that. He didn’t give it the Emeril treatment and go, “Bam!” and it was done. He had a plan and he followed it to perfection.

On Day 1, he created light so that there would be a difference between the light of day and the darkness of night. On Day 2, he made the sky and the waters of the oceans and added dry land to be between the skies and the seas. Day 3, God added vegetation on the land and trees that could bear fruit for food. On Day 4, he added the sun and the moon. One to give great light during the day and the other to give a bit of light to darkness at night. On Day 5, God added in sea animals and birds and blessed them to increase. On Day 6, the Lord started with livestock and other land animals and then he saved his best work for last. Verse 26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So he did. There was an order that God wanted things to be done. He was intentional.

But it didn’t stop there. God always had a plan. There was Adam and Eve and they tended the Garden of Eden. The serpent came and convinced them to eat of the tree of life that gave humans the wisdom of what their choices meant, good and bad. While this would appear to be a nasty road bump to God’s plan, God knew this would happen. This didn’t cause God to go to Plan B. He continued on with Plan A.

People have the perception that God was so disgusted that he wanted to wipe everyone out. Wrong. He knew about a man named Noah. A man so faithful that he built an ark for 120 years even though there had never been rain before. It had to be hard for Noah to put up with the mockers, but he pressed on and finished that ark. Then he and his family got in and stayed in that boat as it rained, and rained, and rained some more. When he got out of the ark a whole year later, he and his family started over.

In time, God promised another man named Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham was an old man by our standards, but he had a son named Isaac and the generations began.

I won’t go through all the generations of people because many people hate reading lineages of the Bible. Why is that? Because we can’t pronounce all the names. My friend Tim Schmidt used to call the guys he couldn’t pronounce Bucky. Bucky was easier on the tongue. However, right before I began thinking about this piece, my friend Tyler brought up a story of one of his college professors. The professor always said the names. Why? Because if a name was important enough for God to include it in his Word, then it was important enough for him to try to say. That’s one of the neat things about God. He even planned our names. He took time enough to give each of us a name that was special to us. He was intentional with our names. I may have to ask God why he gave me Frankie instead of just Frank, but that’s another story for heaven.

God knew that Moses would lead the Israelites out of Egypt and he also knew that the Israelites would complain and begin to praise other gods. You may think this caught God by surprise if you are reading through Exodus, but it didn’t. God wanted to wipe out the Israelites, but he created Moses to be his friend, so that he wouldn’t. God did it for us too. You know that at least once in your life you wanted to lay the smack down on somebody and God sent that good friend to talk you out of it. God feels your pain.

He even knew that he would be rejected and that the Israelites would want to be like everyone else and want a king. He already had the plan. There was a man named Saul. He was from one of the smallest tribes of Israel. Saul had one little problem. He didn’t always listen very well. So God found another king that did listen better. His name was David. He wasn’t perfect, but when he didn’t listen, God loved him like a father. He let him mess up and then David was usually quick to repent. Yeah, God does that for us today too. Some of us are a little more “bull headed” than others to say I’m sorry.

But again, God wasn’t finished. During Isaiah’s time in life, Isaiah prophesied that God would go quiet for a few hundred years and talk to no one. He then told of a man that would begin to tell the coming of a savior. That man was John the Baptist. John told everyone that the Messiah was coming. Oh and he did. Jesus of Nazareth came. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and people still didn’t want to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They crucified him on a cross and buried him. Right about then you might think we need a Plan B. Wrong.

Jesus was buried, but he rose on the third day and ascended into heaven, to sit at the right hand of Father God. But before he left, he told the people that he would be back after he built mansions for everyone that was going to heaven. People are still waiting for this to happen, but God gave us one last book of intentionality to tell us how it would end. The book is called Revelation. So when you start seeing the things that Revelation talks about happening with more frequency, we were told to start looking to the Eastern sky and that he would be with us soon.

God has a plan. It has not changed. Just because he did not write our individual stories in the book doesn’t mean that we can’t be there too. If you’re a Christian today, begin reading your Bible more to find out all the particulars of God’s Plan A for you. If you’re not a Christian today, go to the top of the website and read how you can be. Follow your Plan A as well. God wants us. Every last one of us. He was intentional about his plan and he was intentional that you, yes you, be a part of that plan today.

I love you guys!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Exceeding Your Expectations Author Linda Olson Joins Us

We are thrilled to have Linda Olson, inspirational speaker, author, and leadership coach with us today. Please find a comfortable seat as you join our visit with Linda introducing her new book, Exceeding your Expectations.

LINDA: Thank you! I’m delighted to be with you and your readers today to share about a topic that is close to my heart and something we all need to hear in light of today’s economy.

Linda, you have a strong leadership background. You have served for more than thirty-five years both in Canada and the United States as Dean of Women, Marriage & Family Therapist, Women’s Ministry Director and a Creative Memories Director. Recently you founded a program called, Made for Something More. Share with us how that came about?

LINDA: I served as Women’s Ministry Director at three churches over a fourteen year period. As I was invited on full time staff to entrepreneur a women’s program with over 5,000 attendees, I knew this was more than a position, it was a calling. During that time I searched for resources to develop my leaders and came up empty-handed. It was at that time God laid on my heart to begin developing a program for Christian Women in Leadership. In the program, Made for Something More, I was developing a five-part series with books, teleseminars, DVD’s and other resources. When it came down to getting my first book published, God laid on my heart a sixth book, Exceeding your Expectations.

Why are you passionate about the message in this book?

LINDA: Like many people today, I didn’t have any dreams or expectations.
Growing up on the farm in mid-west Canada, life was more about surviving than it was thriving. It seemed the biggest expectation was to bring in a big enough crop or sell enough cattle to pay the bills and cover basic living expenses. I learned to survive rather than thrive.

When did that change for you?

LINDA: I entered Bible College as a shy, inhibited teenager seeking God’s direction for my life. It was there that I met students with dreams and aspirations. They were enjoying life and had a purpose. It triggered something in me that made me realize I was made for so much more. During those three years at a dormitory college my life blossomed.

So, how did that change things?

LINDA: I knew God had a special purpose for my life. I had gained confidence, self-esteem and many leadership skills. Big doors began to open. At 21 years of age I was invited to become Dean of Women at Trinity Western University on the west coast of Canada. It was the beginning of a 35-year leadership journey where God has exceeded my expectations beyond my wildest dreams.

We are all affected by our present economy in one way or another. Besides a job and enough money to hang on to our home what are people looking for and how can we help them?

LINDA: Besides the tangible things people are looking for encouragement, hope, peace, health, and security. When the woman at the well said to Jesus, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep”, she was looking to the well for practical answers. It’s the same thing we do when we look to our circumstances hoping for changes that will transform our life. The answers are not in the well nor are they in our circumstances. They are in the Almighty. We need to look to Him and trust Him to fulfill the many promises He has given us.

What was the turning point for the woman at the well?

LINDA: The turning point occurred when Jesus brought her face to face with her fear. He said, “Go call your husband and come back.” Jesus knew her struggle with relationships, so why would He ask her to call her husband? He needed to know if she was willing to confess her situation and take responsibility. She needed to face her fear and know she could move beyond it.

How can we learn to exceed our expectations?

LINDA: Before Jesus exceeded this woman’s expectation with living water she had to:
1. Recognize her need for change
2. Be willing to take responsibility for herself (take down emotional barriers)
3. Commit herself to Him (believe in Who He was and What He had to offer)
It isn’t any different for us. We need to be open to change (recognize our need for change), be willing to take responsibility and commit our day and our situation to Him (and leave it in His hands). When we do that He will exceed our expectations.

Where do we often fall short?

LINDA: It’s not in having an expectation we go wrong, but rather in hanging on to our expectations. We want something to happen at a particular time and we hang on like it is our right. The other area where we often fall short is NOT being willing to wait silently. If we are willing to submit our expectations to God every morning and wait on Him, He will far exceed them.
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my (personal responsibility) expectation (hope) is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense.” Psalm 62:5,6

What resources do you have available for us?

LINDA: There are several things available that you can find on my website which is
a. Coordinating Journal, Goliath Challenge – My gift to you.
b. My new book & DVD, Exceeding Your Expectations
c. Capturing your Vision – is a program where I will work
with a leadership team and teach them to Capture their vision, Explode
their influence and Bring $ back to their organization. As part of that
program I speak to their group equipping and empowering women to
recognize their value and their potential.
d. Teleseminar Series – for anyone who wants to go deeper. This series consists of 6 teleseminars as well as time for leaders to ask their personal questions.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wisdom Wednesday: Ecclesiastes 2: Pleasure, Wisdom, Folly and Work

Hey gang!

For those of you that missed last week’s Wisdom Wednesday, we are continuing our study on the book of Ecclesiastes. Today, a look at Chapter 2.

I love to go to Wal-Mart. Yes, it’s a secret sin that I am exposing. Why do I love it? I go to the electronics section and look at the big screens. Oh yeah, I am a believer in Tim Allen’s thesis of “More Power!” I have three regular televisions in my house. I have the 27” beauty that was the first set that my wife and I bought together when we moved into our first apartment. It was the biggest that fit in her entertainment center. We originally had to watch everything on my 20” television that I bought from Montgomery Ward with my first teaching paycheck in 1992. It still works well. The third television was bought when we moved into the house in 2006. It was 32” of big TV. It was on sale at Wal-Mart for $299 and I heard grief over that television for months because I bought it without permission.

But I stand there. I endure the Miley Cyrus ads to see sports in high definition. That’s the biggest reason I want the new television. I want 42” or bigger. Bigger, better, crisper picture. Oh yeah, my testosterone rises just thinking about it. Watching the Steelers win another Super Bowl or watching the Mountaineers or Illini play college basketball, that’s what I want to see. Sure, CSI would be in high def too. That might not be so good. Of course, Dora, Barney, Elmo, Oscar the Grouch and Telly would be too. The kids would love it, but me, not so much.

The pure pleasure of watching the games aren’t enough. At that point, I want to invite my friends here over to watch the games. I’ve always wanted excuses to have parties. Sure, it might not mean as much to watch the Saint Louis Cardinals in the World Series, but a Steelers Super Bowl beating up on Brett Farve might be nice.

Anyhow, that would be pleasure for me. To entertain with the big TV, friends in my life and sports on the set. I know that sounds slightly vain. That I’d invite all my friends over to watch a game that means nothing in our long term lives on a big television. The sad thing is that I’ve only had less than a dozen people in my house to have fun since I moved in three years ago. You buy a big house, fancy things and hope that you can attract people to come over and look.

It’s part of “The American Dream” saying that “Hey man. I have this house, two cars, three kids and all this stuff. Please, please come over.” Isn’t that what we really say.

That was Solomon’s problem as we begin Chapter 2 of Ecclesiastes. I want to laugh. I’ve built this great place. Come eat and drink with me and let’s have fun! He’s got riches. He’s got slaves. He’s got more sheep than you can shake a stick at. Heck, he even had singers. That would be cool. Come home and have your singers belt out a theme song as you come in the house. Maybe a little bit of “Movin’ on up!” “Hey. We’re movin’ on up! To the east side, to the deluxe apartment in the sky!” You get the idea. That would rock. At least for a few days.

Solomon then says in verses 10-11, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward of my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

He had it all, saw it all and lived it all. It was nice, but in the end, as Richard Marx once sang, “Don’t mean nothin’! Don’t mean nothin’ at all!”

Solomon then turned his attention to wisdom and folly. While he admitted that wisdom was better than folly in verse 13, smart or dumb, we’re all going to die. He says that even the wise man would not be long remembered and that like the fool, the wise man too must die (verse 16).

So with that analysis, he hated life in verse 17. Why? Because even his work was without God and it ate at him. It’s even worse in his mind to leave all the rewards behind to someone else and who knows if that person just might be a fool.

Verse 23 isn’t quite as despairing as Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 16 Tons. “16 Tons and what do you get, another day older and deeper in debt…St. Peter don’t ya call me cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store.” But Solomon asked and answered the question, what do you get for all this work, “All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest.” Have you ever tossed and turned thinking about work? Thinking about the bills that come because of life or work, or worse, both?

But there is hope children of God. Verses 24-26a say, “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness.” So it’s great to have dinner with people you love. God wants that. God wants us to love what we do. So when we please God, we get a big trifecta of goodness. We get wisdom, to help us get wiser. We get knowledge, to grow our heads a little smarter. Finally, we get happiness. The happiness of relationship with a God that loves me so much that he wants me to have the other two as well. And friends, oh yes, he wants me and you to have friends abundantly.

I love you guys!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Marriage Monday: Part 1 of New Book Study "Parenting Is Your Highest Calling"...

Welcome to another week here at One Man Revival and a new Monday of Marriage Monday. Being married comes with challenges, but having children make that challenge a little different. Today, and each Monday through the first Monday in November, we are going through a book I recently read.

The book is from author Leslie Leyland Fields and is called “Parenting is Your Highest Calling” and 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt. I have to admit, raising three children is probably my toughest job. I want to do better for my kids than I had as a child and sometimes that does leave me feeling like I am not measuring up. Also, when you have kids, everyone wants to tell you how to raise them. However, that advice comes in to raise kids in their image rather than God’s.

That’s a major reason that I think this book is so good and so appropriate for Marriage Mondays. I want to encourage you as parents, as well as encourage myself, through this study. Here are the nine myths that we are going to debunk.

1. Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled
2. Nurturing Your Children Is Natural and Instinctive
3. Parenting Is Your Highest Calling
4. Good Parenting Leads to Happy Children
5. If You Find Parenting Difficult, You Must Not Be Following the Right Plan
6. You Represent Jesus To Your Children
7. You Will Always Feel Unconditional Love For Your Children
8. Successful Parents Produce Godly Children
9. God Approves Of Only One Family Design

The first chapter of the book is Leslie telling some of her personal struggles with six children and a husband living in a fishing area of Kodiak, Alaska. I admit that knowing she was from Alaska enticed me to pick up the book, because of a feeling of kinship since my dad lived in Fairbanks many years ago. Alaska is a lovely place to see.

The first story she tells is of a good family meeting that she kids about rolling the cameras so that people can get the perfect insight of a Christian family. I laughed because I wish that it was that easy. The other major story that she shares with us is of the day she began writing the book. It was not a good day. In fact, she even tells about taking a walk and crying because she was feeling like she was failing in parenting. I think anyone who has been a parent or currently going through it understands that feeling.

I love her honesty about taking the matter to God. She asked Jehovah a great question and felt as dumb as I have once she began thinking about it. “God, how do you know what it’s like to be a parent?” I think we tend to forget that God has seen it all and experienced it all when he came to earth in the person of Jesus. Jesus was not a parent, but he was the Son of God. Throughout the Gospels, you see the father-son relationship.

Leslie doesn’t stop there. She shows that God not only possessed father qualities, but the qualities of a mother too. She uses scripture to drive this point home, Isaiah 66:13, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.” The end of the first chapter gives us something we need as parents; HOPE!

The following paragraph might have been my favorite so far. “The freedom God offers us is not like the world’s freedom, which often means escaping from family responsibilities. Instead, God’s truths call us back to our families with renewed commitment, love, and hope- hope that blooms from a whole pattern of thought, word and action revealed throughout the scriptures.”

Why is this paragraph so powerful to me? Glad you asked. For every time I have felt frustrated and overmatched and felt like running to a cave somewhere, when I look at God’s holy Word, I begin to understand what God expects of me. Is it always easy? No.

If you know me personally, you know that I am a very independent person. I like to do what I feel I need to do. When I got married almost seven years ago, my wife didn’t step on that freedom much because she liked her time as well. But when we had Megan, and then James, and then Maggie, more and more of the independent freedom that we had diminished. It’s not a bad thing, but it is change. As much as I’d like to say I’ve adjusted to it, there are still times I want to do what I want to do. Thankfully, I have a spouse that feels that need.

I do spend a lot of time with my children. I am very lucky in that regard. My wife works a job that is very hard mentally. I get to stay at home and be a part in raising them into happy, Christian children. Sometimes they don’t act either, happy or Christian. That’s hard for me. But others have shared with me that it is hard for them too.

So I hope this study helps us. We want our kids to be raised right, but I think this book will help take a little of the pressure off of us. All of us worry and feel guilty at times. I hope the freedom that I bring you with this study is a little less guilt and a whole lot more love.

I love you guys!

Postscript note: You can get personally inscribed copies of the book by emailing Leslie at Otherwise, you can pick up the book at your local Christian bookstore or online at Amazon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

KJ-52 Headlines a Great Evening in the Park in Mattoon (8/22/09)

Hey gang!

Prologue: This is from a concert in the park in Mattoon, IL. When I got there, I realized the event was for families to come to celebrate back to school. This event was done by several of the local Mattoon churches and they should be praised for their efforts to spread the gospel in this way to the public.
Also, an apology to Jenna Jackley and Good Morning Midnight. I talked to both and had thought I would see them to include them in this review. However, I did not realize the event started at 5:30pm and they had already performed.

On to the review.

Honestly, I have waited ever since the first time I saw the video “Do Your Thang” to go and see KJ-52 in concert. Saturday night was my opportunity.

I arrived at the park in Mattoon about 6:45 pm and saw that this was a carnival setting. I read somewhere that the show was $10 to go see, but got better news that there was in fact no cost to see the show.

Before the show started, or so I thought, I went over to the tables to buy some music and possibly a T-shirt for my collection. I visited with Good Morning Midnight and Jenna Jackley and everybody was cordial and fantastic. Finally, I got over to KJ-52’s table and noticed this shirt that looked like a Mountain Dew can. I had to have it. Wrong. In fact, there was not a single shirt larger than XL. If you look at me, you know I require at least DOUBLE X FAT GUY!

The lady that waited on me was as sweet as she could be. I did eventually buy two sets of bling and these crazy red glasses that I fell in love with. I wouldn’t recommend them for driving, but they are awesome. Thanks to Vanessa for being so nice.

After that, I strolled and worked my way to the front of the crowd. It wasn’t that hard. I found out that the show was between performers and had a nice chat with some teens from Mattoon. They asked me a serious question that I hope that I answered well.

The question was, “Why do people not get into Christian shows outside the church?” My reply sounded like something PV and I talked about a few months back. “In a public crowd like this, you don’t really know where most of the crowd is spiritually. If this were held in a church, you would think that many more people are Christian and more serious about it. That’s not always the case. You can’t say that people are or aren’t any more spiritual because they are sitting in their lawn chairs rather than standing and jamming in the front. Some personalities just aren’t built that way.”

I continued. “Tonight is an opportunity for you to find out though. Take a walk in the crowd and talk to others. That’s how you know. Some people aren’t here to be converted. Some are here just to listen and talk. That’s a drop in the spiritual bucket. Your drop may hit the bottom, but you may find yourself blessed and be the one that sends a person to overflowing and changing a life for Christ.” After that, one of the teens, a guy named Ryan, pulled me aside and we talked more in depth on reaching people. It was a great experience to see someone that wants to make a difference in his friends.

We headed back to the group and I Am Terrified hit the stage. They did a six-song set of heavy metal reminiscent of Metallica. The set was fantastic from the Gotee Records representatives and they really jammed. At one point, the bass guitarist had his strap snap and he had to play part of a song awkwardly and still carried it off. The last song was the most memorable for me. They did a song called Some Glad Morning. Let’s just say that I’ve never heard I’ll Fly Away in metal version. It rocked! It was something totally different, yet familiar enough that even some of the older crowd sang along. I highly recommend you find a copy of their self-titled EP if you are into harder Christian music. Absolutely fantastic is all I can say.

Once they moved their equipment off stage, DJ X and the drummer, I did not get his name, began to do a sound check. The music had an 80’s feel, so the crowd was into it. Then KJ took the stage. He rapped his way through the mike check and the crowd was electric by this point. I was impressed that Tweezy started with Do Your Thang. One of my favorite songs even more awesome in concert.

One of the highlights of the night was Stuck In the 80’s. If you love 80’s music, KJ-52 revisited songs by Michael Jackson (Thriller) and the Eurythmics (Sweet Dreams). He even took the show old school and did raps to Le Chic’s Freak Out and a little Saturday Night Fever dance of John Travolta.

He did three songs off the new CD coming out September 22nd including the new single, End of My Rope. I think he’s got a hit on his hands with Yeah, He Did That. This crowd was totally into the show with the new songs and FiveTweezy even took video footage to put on Twitter while he was doing the song.

He closed the show with To Whom It May Concern. He talked about how a letter connected people. This song was the follow-up to Dear Slim, a song letter to rapper Eminem. The original letter set off controversy, but showed a genuine concern for more than the man’s music. KJ-52 closed in prayer for the crowd to make dedications and renewal commitments to Christ. I saw a lot of hands go up, so the show was a success on another level as it made people think about their commitment to God. Hopefully, the result is a community of people more fired up to spreading the gospel.

After the show, KJ-52 hung out, signed autographs and took pictures. For me, this is where a lot of artists miss the follow through to be real with the crowd. I have never had more fun waiting to talk and take a picture with an artist than I did at this show. KJ-52 cut up with everyone that wanted to. He truly had fun with the fans. He had an energy that showed his fans that he wasn’t in a hurry and that he gave true love to his fans. I’m not saying others don’t, but I really respected the effort he gave to everyone.

KJ is a few years younger than I am (I’m 40, for first time readers), but he showed me the same fun and joy that he did with his base audience of teenagers. That also can be appreciated. We didn’t take a lot of time, just enough to get a picture, talk respect and to let him know that this is what I do (internet ministry). He thanked me and continued talking to fans.

I’ll close with the same thought that I had in my prologue. The churches in Mattoon that worked with this back to school in the park idea should be commended. They had a great show with artists that shared their beliefs of wanting to reach the people of the area. I truly wish I could’ve been there from the beginning of the evening just to share in the whole scene. I missed out on some cool games, some great food (from what I heard), and even more fellowship. The concert to this crowd was gravy and an ice cold Mountain Dew!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wisdom Wednesday: A Look at Ecclesiastes, Part 1

Hey gang!

It’s Wednesday and I decided that we’d take a look at another book Solomon wrote. Ecclesiastes is a book written at the end of his life and talks about the fact that even as wise as he was, he still needed God. When he walked without God, he struggled, just like all of us. I hope that this study of the book is enriching to you. Each week, we will take a chapter of the book and break down what Solomon is saying. Today is Chapter 1. Let’s begin.

Solomon begins by letting us know who is writing here. He calls himself the Teacher. As you might expect from someone with as much wisdom as Solomon, he probably was a very good teacher.

But he begins by telling us that everything is meaningless and begins a list of thoughts in verses 3-8 that tell us that he understands that in everything, things change. There is almost a depression type state telling us that men will not be remembered long term in history.

At verse 12, he begins talking about how wisdom is meaningless. Even in asking God for wisdom in 1 Kings 3, Solomon was a student. In verse 13, he tells us how much he studied and that it is burdensome to us to learn. He acknowledges in verse 16 that he has grown in wisdom more than anyone before him. This would also be true of anyone after him. He says in verse 17 that he studied understanding of wisdom and of madness and folly. He may sound like he studied the madness part a little too much.

Verse 18, he ends the chapter with a thought. “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”

Think about that. Does getting smarter set us up for more sorrow and grief? By obtaining knowledge, will it make us sad?

I thought about Genesis after Adam and Eve ate the apple. There was separation because they were able to understand good and evil. It made them able to see the world like God, but not as God saw the world.

So is it better to not have wisdom? Let me have your thoughts on Ecclesiastes Chapter 1.

I love you guys!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Men, We Should Sharpen One Another, Not Claw One Another

Hey gang!

I posed a question yesterday on the Facebook Fan Page to get reactions from men on why they don’t actively seek out other men for bonding and accountability in small groups. Surprisingly, the only answer I got was from a woman. But I have a few theories and I’ll discuss them here.

First, the biggest reason is time. Time is always ticking away as DC Talk once said. Men are spending more hours working, trying to go to their kids’ activities and getting the lawn mowed. This doesn’t give a lot of guys any go time. Let’s face it men, one of our biggest problems is that we have become too busy.

Second, men are taught to be leaders, not seekers. That may not be happening as much in this generation, but before this, it was always lead in the workplace, lead by example, lead at home and keep everyone in line. Yes, the numbers may be changing slightly, but not enough to make men comfortable to seek others.

The third reason was neatly tied in a bow by the female respondent as pride. I’m not so sure I buy into the package though, at least not entirely. Men usually don’t have a full blown pride problem with men, but rather when it comes to accountability there is a fear of looking weak. Men are told to be strong, even with the changes of the last 50 years. Strong and silent, suck it up. A lot of men are afraid to look like a pansy, especially to the brethren.

The final reason is one that I will probably receive all kinds of hate mail for, but it is honest. We watch women. Women are evil with each other. Women will get in groups and cutthroat the women on the outside. You go to the bathroom together to talk about what other women are doing in a restaurant. If we as men weren’t in love with you, we might have a hard time trusting you either. You’ll talk about what other women are wearing as if you are a judge on Project Runway. By the way, the show begins on Lifetime on Thursday at 10:00 eastern, 9:00 central. All in love and war.

There are a lot of excuses, but thankfully there are some answers. First, across the country there are many men’s groups of Promise Keepers. The phenomenon started 20 years ago by Colorado’s former football coach McCartney and it has been greatly successful. A lot of churches have men’s groups that don’t require you to be a member of the specific church leading the program.

If you’re a younger guy, I’ll give you another suggestion. Go to your leadership and ask them to give you a mentor to grow in Christ. If they don’t take the challenge themselves, leadership normally has a guy or two in mind to help you grow.

If you are lucky to have a Christian buddy or two, don’t forget the importance of accountability to grow that friendship. However, I will say don’t ask for accountability if you can’t handle the truth. Remember accountability partners are supposed to give it to you straight and if you are messing up with your wife, kids, friends, ministry, job, etc., they should tell you.

Finally men, let me leave you with one word of encouragement. This verse began a drive in me to find men that wanted to keep each other accountable. Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Do you want to be sharper in your walk? I know I do. Find a friend today and become more accountable.

I love you guys, but only in a high fivin’ manly way!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Marriage Monday: Don't Let the Fire Go Out!

Hey gang!

Time again for another week and starting us off is Marriage Monday. I found this nugget at the site under the marriage section. They highlight blogs that focus on marriage and this is a pretty good, short article. I hope it blesses your day.

by Dale Harcombe
There's a lot of truth in this quote by Zsa Zsa Gabor. 'Husbands are like fires- they go out if unattended.' I'd like to suggest we need to change it to read 'Marriages are like fires- they go out if unattended.

That seems to me to be part of the problem. People live their lives as though there marriage and their spouse are not important. Everything else - career, hobbies, friends, family, or being right seems to take precedence over the marriage. If you are both working at your marriage attending to the details to make it the best it can be, how can it help but be good?

Another important aspect of a good marriage is a memory. A short memory is needed when your spouse does something wrong or forgets to do something you asked them to. A short memory is needed when you have an argument, so you do not bring up previous arguments and things that have gone wrong.

But there will also be times when you will want a long memory. You will want to remember the good times, the times he or she surprised you with a special dinner, a special gift, and act of love, hold those close and treasure them.

Take time to reminisce about the good times but don't be content to leave it there. Go out and make more special memories to tide you over in the times when things aren't working so well. If we all stopped and thought more often about the positive aspects of our spouse and our marriages and thanked them for them rather than dwell on the negatives, I'm sure there would be less need to stray, less divorce. Choose to make sure your spouse feel they are the most important person in your life. Because that's exactly what they should be.

You might think that is naive but all I can tell you are the things we have found worked in our marriage.

Friday, August 14, 2009

GIG Blog Friday Coming 9/11, Why I Believe in Small Groups

Hey gang!

As I announced on Monday, I am starting a new series on Fridays starting on September 11 called GIG Blog Fridays. The blog on Fridays will contain some links for additional information on the topic and then a little slant that I’ll take from the upcoming message from one of our three pastors or any guest speaker. We, meaning myself and those involved in the Growing in God group leadership, are hoping this becomes a good tool for the leaders and people that are wanting to begin thinking about the following week to look at. So look forward to that starting four weeks from today.

Today, I want to share why I believe in small groups so much. These are some of the reasons that I believe that everybody should find a group to be in.

If you’ve read my story on how I came to Christ, this story takes up the following Wednesday after I gave my life to Christ. It was April 10, 1994, the first time I ever met Tom Zawacki, his wife Nadine and a room full of people at their tiny apartment in Bridgeport, WV. They have two great kids, whom are now great adults, Lisa and Tommy.

As I walked into their home for the first time, I will always remember that they hugged me. Why? First, I was not a hugger at the time. There were only two families that I was ever around that were huggy and I thought them a little weird from time to time. After a moment or two, I settled in a chair and began just hanging out with them, Rob Fancher and his girlfriend Karen, the Pisegnas, Scott and Angie Hamilton and several others.

They made me feel very relaxed. I’m normally fine around new people, but all the preconceived notions of drinking the “cool-aid” of weird cults started running through my mind. You know, Waco, Jim Jones and the like. So next, Tom broke out his guitar and did a great worship session of music. Honestly, I didn’t know any of the tunes, but thankfully Nadine gave me a cheat sheet with the words on it. Tom did a nice study and after it was over, he then told me and a few of the new people of his call to come to West Virginia from New York City.

As Tom finished his story, Nadine came out with food. Honestly, I can’t remember what it was that night, but what I can tell you is that it was usually chocolate and absolutely sweet and delicious. This is one of the best things about going to a small group. There is always food. Good food. There is something about food that opens people up to talk and share.

I had a good time and the thoughts of cultish behavior was gone by the end of the evening. I admit, I was still nervous about the hugging thing. The next day, I had a meeting with Pastor Sheldon Moore and he met me with a hug too. I don’t remember much of the introduction session we had about Faith Fellowship Church because I was thinking about how nice the hugging was and that it did give me a sense of belonging and family in the church. I remember walking outside and looking up at the sky and yelling to God, “It’s OK, It’s OK to hug here.” What I didn’t realize was that Associate Pastor Greg Lilley was walking in the parking lot. He must’ve thought I was a mental patient and probably put me on the list of people to keep an eye on during services.

Anyhow, I continued to go back to the Zawacki’s apartment and I even took my friend Alvin along with me. Later that summer, I brought Jason Nestor, a buddy of mine that I bowled with, I brought Brenda Hopkins, who has been my long time friend who had challenged my mind the previous year with the question of Christ. That’s the next great thing about small groups. You can bring friends along that you have made over the years and grow with them even more. While there was a large group at Tom’s, there was the smaller units that met at different times during the week to go to movies and hang out even more. We held each other accountable. Sometimes we did it well, sometimes not so well. That’s friendship. Sometimes we let our friends slip and we have to help pick them up.

Sometimes the group breaks up. Tom and Nadine moved on in ministry to Washington. I had moved on to working at the TV station during that shift and had gotten married and friendships faded because of time and life. I had been married two years to Karen, my first wife. She left me. What I didn’t know at the time was that she had been cheating on me for most of the time because of my shift and her desire to have a baby. When I found that out, I was devastated. I tried returning to Faith Fellowship. Most of the people that I had grown with were gone, again for various reasons, most due to life. I had told the pastorate and most of the people that my time there would be brief. How brief I did not know. My mom and I were moving to Florida as soon as we found a house, jobs and the money from our old house to pay for the new one. Things moved quicker than expected. The church was almost apathetic about me leaving. I’m not sure why, but it hurt.

That same night, I ran into Tom Palmer. Tom was one of my faithful friends from the small group and we talked at length what I was going through and the abandonment I felt by the church. He had been going somewhere else, a church named New Hope Foursquare Church in Fairmont. Over the next six weeks, the church, Tom and Pastor Roger Thrower took me under their wings. They knew I was leaving, but they also knew I needed to heal. They prayed with me, talked with me and celebrated with me as we sold the house and found the new one in Florida. They celebrated the fact that I had a home church before I had a job down there. I would be going to Bible Baptist Church, a church that had a sign in the front “An oasis in the desert.” Believe me, they were. So as I turned the millenium, I had gone from devastated and broken to new hope and found my oasis.

That’s probably the greatest thing about small groups. They may not stay together forever, but when the chips are down and the hard times are in front of you, those people never forget you. I can honestly tell you that I never would have made the early years without the love and support of Tom Zawacki’s group. Tom loved me like a father I had missed growing up. Nadine fed me well and loved on me like a big sister. People like Tom Palmer, Brenda and Alvin are still close to my heart today. I’m not saying the rest aren’t, but these were core people that not only helped me grow, but changed my life path.

Having pastors like Sheldon Moore and Greg Lilley encourage me to go to that small group showed that they had the vision that the words that God meant for us didn’t just have to come from their mouths and inside the four walls of the church. It is God’s people that make a church go and they were smart enough to embrace that leadership meant to grow other leaders.

That last paragraph tells you the major reason that I can’t say enough nice things about small groups. New leaders are born. Maybe they aren’t the pastors of the church of the future, but people that are grown to take The Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew before he ascended back into heaven and next to God’s right hand to the rest of the world.

When you begin in a small group, you never know where you might end up. God may move you into a new job, to a new life, or like me to a new ministry. If you would’ve asked me in 1994 if I would even think about preaching a word to people to pursue Christ and what that meant, I’m not sure what my response would have been. But what I do know is that in 2009, the small steps that the “Zawacki Christians” started me on brought me to who I am today.

I am always serious when I say that God has granted me the ability to be one man involved in this revival of people because it’s true. It can be true for you as well. If you’re in a church and they offer small groups, take advantage of them. If they don’t, ask your leadership about who might be interested in it. They may not know right away, but it will begin the process of them looking for someone to work with you. Why? The answer is simple. There are too many Christians content to sit one hour in church and the rest of the week in front of the TV. If your leadership senses you are hungry for the word of God and to grow, they will fall over themselves to make sure that happens.

For those of you at New Hope Church, where I go now in 2009, the Growth In God groups are now forming. Each Sunday starting August 16 until they are full, registration is taking place in the lobby near the welcome center. I absolutely plead with you to consider being a part. You will make friendships that will change your life.

I love you guys!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sandy Hancock, Author of Letting Go Joins Us to Talk About Her Book

Hey gang!

All of us are searching for a path to happiness. It's guaranteed in the United States as a part of the Constitution. But most of us struggle ever finding it.

Today, we have author Sandy Hancock with us and she discusses a lot of helpful secrets and guides to a happier life. Here's an interview with Sandy that will give you information on her book, Letting Go, Pathway to an Amazing Life, and a little background on how Sandy found her happiness.

Question: What inspired you to write Letting Go, Pathway to an Amazing Life?
Answer: I have had a personal relationship with God most of my life. I attended church, prayed daily, participated in church activities, etc. I knew Jesus offers joy and peace. Yet happiness in my life seemed to come and go. There had to be more to life. I heard others say you will have happiness if you have a relationship with God. I had a relationship with Him yet something was missing. Then I went through what I call a “wilderness experience”. This is a time of hardship in which there is nothing we can do to help ourselves.  We discover we must let go of our grip on anything in our life that we are seeking to find satisfaction from and embrace the life God called us to live. Experiencing a wilderness experience changed my focus and my life. What resulted is a strong desire to tell what I discovered to all who are on the same pursuit for happiness that I was on.
Question:  Letting Go, is an intriguing title. Why did you choose it?
Answer: We tend to hold onto the things we think will bring us contentment. In my life I held onto my dreams and desires. I believed they would provide me the happiness I sought. Yet everything I pursued failed to bring meaning to my life. It was not until I reached a point that I realized that my own pursuing was not working that I was able to let go and surrender all to God. It was at this point that my life changed. It was in letting go that I began to find true joy and peace in my life.
Question: How can reading your book have an impact on the reader’s life?
Answer: As you travel with me on my journey to find contentment, I share the secrets I discovered to have inner peace and true joy. I encourage the reader to let go of the obstacles in their life that hinders them from experiencing the abundant life Jesus wants all of us to have. Further, fundamental truths are revealed that guides the reader to a closer walk with God.
Question: How did you become a Christian?
Answer:  My parents made the decision to enroll me in a Christian school. My parents did not know God, but they knew the value of a good education. They felt a Christian school would give me a better education. It was at school that I learned who Jesus is and about the love of God. I value those days and the valuable lessons I learned. Those lessons were what would get me through many challenges in my future.
Question: You speak of joy and peace in your book. In what way did you find these?
Answer:  For most of my life, my eyes were focused on my life, my circumstances, my dreams and desires.  Once I let go of these and put my focus on drawing closer to the Lord and embracing His desires, my life began to have meaning. When I stopped placing confidence in myself to find happiness and started having God-confidence, He brought me an inner peace and joy that I had previously only had glimpses of. My circumstances did not change but how I felt inside did.

Question: Was there a pivotal point that changed your life?
Answer: My childhood held a lot of precious memories. It was during my childhood that I grew to have a special love for family. It was a place where you belong; a place you can count on, or so I thought.
During my junior high years my family started to come apart. Investments my dad made put a strain on his marriage with my mother. Finally my dad stopped coming home. My world was turned upside down. The family I knew and loved was gone. All I depended on was no more. What I was left with was my pursuit to have a loving family again. It became my life’s goal.
In my pursuit I would meet several men; a few that were good to me and many who were not. I ended up in some pretty awful circumstances at times. Yet I just hung on. I believed so deeply that if I could just meet that special one, I would be happy at last. Then one day I did or so I thought. That man became my husband. Then four days before Christmas he walked into our bedroom and said there was a U-Haul in the driveway and he was moving out. I could barely breathe. The pain was intense. This is what I had waited for all my life. This marriage was supposed to bring me happiness. And there were many times it did. But in the end I was left empty and alone.
For most of my life my focus was in finding Mr. Right. I believed once I did I would my life would be complete. When my husband walked out, I realized all my pursuing only left me broken and without hope. I saw following my own pursuits was futile. It was at this point that God was then able to show me a much deeper love than I had ever experienced and I was able to let go.
Question: How has your book been received from its readers?
Answer: Here are some excerpts of what others have said after reading my book.

“Phenomenal book! From her personal experience, Ms. Hancock gives inspired counsel on how to have a truly amazing life.  Her insight often goes against the modern cultural norm, and challenges popular notions by taking us back to basic concepts that have been known and have worked for millennia.  A must read, if you dare.  Warning!  Do not read this book if you’re happy and content with just miserably existing in this world.  You will be challenged.”

"This book has a great message to anyone who reads it. The author shares many of her life stories plus a great pathway to happiness. It is a true must have for any Christian reader. The book holds your interest from chapter to chapter." 
“As an avid reader of mostly non-religious books, I was pleasantly surprised how much liked this one.  I found "Letting Go" to flow smoothly between scripture and the stories of the author and others.  This is a REAL story, from a very REAL person who takes us on a journey through her trials & tribulations of looking for her "true love".  She would come to discover that the only "true love" can be found in Jesus Christ.  This is a terrific book about life and living it to its fullest. A very inspiring book to readers of any denomination and I recommend it highly." 

Question: Are you associated with any other organizations you would care to share with our readers?
I have partnered with Inspire Life Skills Training, Inc ( They inspire young adults who are aging-out of the foster care system to become independent. Half of the proceeds from the sale of this book is given to them.
Foster youth face enormous challenges in making a smooth transition to adulthood and building successful lives. These young people often leave the foster care system with few resources and very little support. Often they have suffered physically and emotionally from the lack of a stable and supportive family. As a result it is common for these youth to face homelessness, limited education, unemployment, incarceration, substance abuse and unwanted pregnancy.
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about your personal life?

Answer: I currently reside in Southern California. I am the Director of Amazing Life Ministries which gives me the opportunity to travel throughout the country and minister to people. I have two grown sons, David and Jeremiah. I love the outdoors. Some of the activities that I enjoy participating in is skiing, hiking, camping, bicycling, and scuba diving.

Question: How can our readers purchase your book?

Answer: It can be purchased directly from my website at Also it can be bought from several online bookstores.

Thank you for your time and May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.

Marriage Monday: Through the announcement and on to small groups we go

Hey gang!

It’s Monday and the start of another week. Do you ever get the fear of making announcements? I know I do. I talked about beginning a series on God’s will a few weeks back and the series had two quiet parts and then got pushed back. Why? Other things came up. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

However, Mondays and Wednesdays have remained the most popular days on the website on Blogger, along with very little activity on MySpace. The truth is that Marriage Mondays and Wisdom Wednesdays have been consistent because they have been themed and have been carried through rather well. If either of these days runs a little late, I get an email or two. For that, I thank you guys. I mean that. It shows me that you are anxious to read these nuggets of life.

The newest announcement to the website is coming today, here in this column in fact. The mission statement of One Man Revival has always had two parts. You didn’t realize OMR had a mission statement? Neither did a lot of people. The first part of the mission statement is that the blogs were to be of encouragement or discipleship base for Christians and Christian life. I think I’ve done very well with that one. The second mission statement is that I want this ministry to walk alongside the church to be a blessing to what God is doing on the local, national and international scene. Not so good on this one, but it’s not due to a lack of effort.

Thankfully, an opportunity to get known a little has come. One of my colleagues at my home church of New Hope here in Effingham joked with me the other day that my ministry, as good as it has been, is probably one of the best kept secrets in town. Well, thanks to an open door, that might not be the case for long.

Starting on Friday, September 11, (Yes, Patriot Day 2009) a new Friday column will be born. The new column will be called GIG Blog Friday. For those of you at New Hope, you probably know about these groups so this next little bit is an explanation for everyone else.

GIG (Growing in God) groups are New Hope’s small group settings across the area. They are groups of 6-12 people that get together and become better friends, accountability partners and learn about what God is giving them this week. Small groups aren’t a new concept. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.

So each Friday, I will be giving a preview of what will be talked about from the pulpit by my pastors Van Brooks, Tyler Sterchi and/or Bill Burry. I won’t be giving you their sermon though. What I will be giving is a different slant, some question ideas that I and some other fine people have come up with and some other resources that can be used in the GIG groups the following week. For those of you not in GIG. Don’t feel bad. This will be your home for a preview of the messages that are coming. Fun stuff.

A couple more announcements for some things going on here at OMR for you to look for, then I’ll talk about how this fits into Marriage Mondays.

First, for the rest of this month, the primary focus of One Man Revival’s Tuesday-Thursday-Friday blogs will be on small groups and community. Then in September, I do have a new series of blogs starting in those day slots that aren’t taken by our series. I’ll talk more about that on September 1. Two other important blog days to remember this month. First, tomorrow we will be joined by author Sandy Hancock, talking about her book Letting Go, Pathway to an Amazing Life. If you want to be happier and more blessed of God, join us for that. The other blog tour note is on Thursday, August 27. Linda A. Olson will be stopping by and talking about her new book, Exceeding Your Expectations, Learning the Ten Leadership Principles that Guarantee Results. For those of you wanting to tone up your skills in leadership, don’t miss this day.

Finally, so Frank, how do small groups tie into marriage? I’m glad you asked.

Here’s a video of what not to do with your small group.

OK, if you watched the video. I hope you can come back to earth. They weren’t THAT funny.

Anyhow, if you know me, you know that I am a big proponent of small groups. Throughout the rest of this month, I’ll share a few other stories of how small groups have influenced my life in Christianity, but I’ll start today with this one.

It was 2002. For over a year, I had been out of the singles’ ministry and had been exclusively hanging out with the teens in their ministry and helping out in any way I could. In March, I was asked by a friend of mine to consider coming back to the singles to help out teaching it. I had a large plate going, but after a month, I accepted the invitation. Within a few weeks, I had established myself as the teacher of the group that met on Fridays and this group was about 15-20 on a strong night. There were that many before I got there.

The activities of a singles group night composed of the following. Meeting at someone’s house or at the church gym and having food, fellowship, then about a 30 minute devotional done by me (well, that was the intended time frame) then more fellowship. The one thing about this small group was that everyone hung around and talked honestly about life. It was really the first group that I had been involved with that had done since the early years of my Christianity.

One night, this lady sat next to me and we talked about life for about two hours. People began to leave around 10:00pm and we agreed to talk next week as well. After about six weeks of these discussions at the end of fellowship time, she asked me out. Why? I had made a promise to God not to ask anyone out and be focused on leading. Three of our first five dates were either at a wedding or a reception of a wedding. The great part of our beginning date life was that we hung out with a large crowd. After a couple months of this, we spent most of the 4th of July weekend talking while driving back and forth to events and the beach.

A few weeks later, I asked that woman to marry me. Yes, it was my wife, Mindy. We were married a few months later, but a lot of the interest was stoked by being faithful and showing up at the small group. There are many of those friends that keep in contact with us today. The guy that brought me into the group was my best man.

The GIG groups at New Hope are couples oriented and there is one group that is ladies oriented, but small groups can be singles meeting together. There are a few extra rules I would probably put in though.

1. Become friends first. Before trying to matchmake in a singles’ group, be sure to make sure that there is a common bond. I talked recently about being equally yoked. These groups are excellent places to talk to others and find that equal yoke. Make sure your Christian goals are similar.

2. Don’t allow predatory behavior. That’s right folks. One danger of singles’ groups is that there are people there without a pure intention. These are to be singles’ groups, not dating circles.

3. Allow time for both people to enjoy their single hood and begin seeking God’s will for their own lives before trying to complicate things with dating. God has a purpose for each person. A season of singleness is not the end of the world. It may feel like it, but finding a love in and with God will prepare your heart for the person that will become your mate.

4. Finally, keep events in open, public places or in large numbers. I know people may laugh, but when I taught at other peoples’ homes, if I became the last guy and there were two girls left, it was time to go. God tells us not even to give the appearance of sin. This is possibly the hardest thing to do in singles ministries. Why? Because eventually no one wants to be single.

I shared my own story of a happy ending to tell you that there is hope. If two people can bond in a small group in the beginning of their relationship, how much more can you benefit from being a married couple in a small group. Not only do you find friends in other couples, you learn more about your own marriage and advice from other couples, good and bad. You learn the words of wisdom to keep and the words of wisdom that you chuck over in trash can as you leave.

Being a married couple does a couple things for you.

1. It strengthens your bond with other couples.
2. It strengthens your bond with each other. Not only are you getting words from God, but you are investing time in each other.

One of the beautiful I share with the Marriage Ministry leaders of our church often is that investing that time has been the biggest payday that I’ve received as a member of my church. Everything from the Sunday school classes to the ideas of date nights and encouragement from other couples has been nothing but blessing for my marriage.

So for you, finding a small group might be right for you. I know some of you may not have time or energy, but I will tell you that it is an investment worth making.

I love you guys!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Breathe! They Are Not Rejecting You

Hey gang!

Feeling a little down today, but still here to encourage you in your daily walk.

This past weekend, I had to do something I very seldom ever do. I had to delete a person’s post to one of my personal web sites. I didn’t do this in anger, even though what the person said didn’t exactly make my day. At first, the person told me that I was more or less living in a dream world of Christianity. I have people take shots at my faith all the time. It’s almost expected when you lead a ministry.

If you want a comparison of what it feels like to hear those kind of things, I’ll share a moment from a secular movie, Happy Gilmore. Happy begins playing well on the golf circuit and doing pretty well. Then, this mocker shows up and says things to Happy just to try to break his concentration as he is in his swing. These things do throw Happy off his game for a while, but eventually he is able to overcome it.

It upsets me that people do this, but I remember one thing. It is not them, but the influence of Satan on them. There are people that laugh at Dana Carvey’s Church Lady. “What makes them do that? Could it be, could it be, u-u-uum Satan?”, but the devil is very real and can influence good people as well. The second post was more of a curse fest and threatening of deletion. I beat the person to the punch. As Tony Rioli says, “He gone!”

The truth is that people try to break down God’s people trying to serve Him. It has always happened. It happened in the Garden of Eden with the serpent. It happened with Judas even while he was following Jesus. So we as Christians would be na├»ve to think that it won’t happen to us.

I’d like to share two stories today. The first is in the book of Exodus. Moses and the Israelites get to the foot of Mount Sinai and the people have an opportunity to meet with God personally. The people reject the idea. Not because they didn’t want to meet God, but because they were afraid. So they sent Moses to go alone. Moses did go and spent 40 days with him. He came back to find that the people of Israel had begun to worship a golden calf. If you read Friday’s edition, you remember that I said it was because the calf didn’t talk back and there was no reason to fear it. Moses was so discouraged by hearing this that he threw down the two scribal stones in frustration. Moses was thrown off his game.

The second story I’ll share is from the book of 1 Samuel. Samuel was a faithful serving priest of the Israelites, but he was also getting older. His sons were starting to work with him and let’s just say that the boys were not living up to daddy’s standards. This put a fear into the Israelites too. So they asked Samuel to place a king over them. On a personal level, the people were rejecting his sons as his helpers. They also wanted a man to be over them rather than God.

I’ll start in 1 Samuel 8:5.

“They (The Israelites) said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us such as all the other nations have.’”

Verse 6
“But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.”

I this is where Moses went wrong in the Exodus. Moses shot first and asked questions later. Samuel was upset, but he handed the ball to God and prayed for a proper answer.

Verses 7-9
“And the Lord told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you, Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

God responded like a great dad. Don’t worry kid (even though Samuel was old)! They’ve been like this all along. In fact, it doesn’t even surprise me.

The great part about taking time to pray before we speak in anger or even just being upset, is that God will do something for you. He will give you perspective. Not only will he give you time to regain a level head, he will often be straightforward about your response.

God doesn’t want people to take us off our game. One of my own personal sayings is that, “People are people.” They are going to live as they are. All of us have been given this sin nature that causes us to do and say things we shouldn’t, no matter where we are in our walk with God. But if we take a deep breath first, normally we can avoid paying comments back in kind.

Finally, when people criticize us in our faith, it is more often an envy wishing that they had the boldness that we do. I’m not saying that every person wants to be bold like a lion, but often it is because their own faith is more like the squeak of a mouse. So don’t let the squeaks take out your roar. You don’t want to be like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, “Oh what I would do for some courage.” Roar loudly when necessary and sometimes just to scare the devil into running in the opposite direction.

I love you guys!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Marriage Monday: Short, Sweet and All About Love!

1Co 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
1Co 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1Co 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
1Co 13:7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1Co 13:8 Love never fails.

Hey gang!

This morning, I am standing in the kitchen trying to think of what I was going to write about for Marriage Monday and my wife speaks up and says to me to remember “The Love Chapter” of 1 Corinthians. These were on our wedding invitations.

It is nice to know that my wife is thinking back to the day we got married and how important things like that were to her. But I began to ask myself, what does this relate to married couples that are in the trenches today.

Luckily, my wife had an answer. She began to tell me how often she remembered these verses when things our marriage went wrong. Not every day is a bed of roses. The kids get sick and start puking, one of us loses a job, money seems to find more ways out than ways in, the list goes on and on.

But she is right. Not just because we should remember scripture every time we are tempted or neck deep in the trials of life, but because she’s right about these verses. When we could feel anything but love, we have to remember the love that brought us together. We need to remember that God was with us when we took the vows of matrimony. He’s still here. We just need to call on Him to remind us of the four letter word that covers all. Love!

I love you guys too!