Which way? Left? Or, right? The uncharted future, be it the news of a dreaded disease, the crossroads of two desert highways, the loss of a long held and assumed reliable job, the assignment of a post near the heated battle, the loss of a loved one, or a broken trust in a relationship, leads us down paths of profound uncertainty. Answers—we need answers, but so often a satisfiable response cannot be found because it is not sought. Part of the problem may be shock, or fear. It could be because of self-reliance, or uncertainty of the road ahead, or possibly confusion about the way to go. In many cases it can even be a little bit of stubbornness and refusal to accept direction. There may be trust issues involved. In any case all have been at the crossroads of uncertain direction.
In the summer of 2011, I left a job that I loved dearly. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done in my life and it affected me in a very profound way. I loved the work, I loved the teens, and I loved the church, but it was not a good fit in a lot of ways. I was left extremely dejected and, honestly, very hurt.
The day after I left my job I loaded my family up and moved to Texas for the foreseeable future. I went to get away, to spend some time with family, and to spend some time in thought. My brother-in-law offered me some work in the oil fields and I took him up on the opportunity.
From a counselor’s perspective, there is nothing more pitiful than a one-sided relationship. Bonds that are made between individuals are too often stressed to the point of breaking. Examples of this are seen when a husband quits showing attention to his wife, or a wife falls out of love with her husband, and the one still interested in working through the problems seeks counsel. How frustrating it is for those whose job it is to referee and assist in recovery strategies when all they have to influence is one of the people in the troubled relationship. It is like trying to fly a jet with one wing, or move a boat through a stream only paddling on one side.
Sooner or later everyone will play the counselor when friends or family members have relationship troubles. What do you say to a person who is having problems with his boss, or her co-worker, or their best friends, or the team, or you name it?
There are a few men who truly inspire me in ministry. They are men that I look up to and aspire to be more like. They are men of principle. They are men that work hard for the Lord. To me, and many others, they are spiritual giants. Over the next few weeks, I want to share with you all some of the valuable lessons I have learned from these men. Who are these men?
Dale Jenkins. David Shannon. Terry Edwards. Earl Edwards. Howard Bybee. Jeff Jenkins. Scott Harp. Noel Whitlock. Neal Pollard. Dan Winkler. Mark Blackwelder. Jesse Robertson. Billy Smith. Matt Vega. Eric Lyons. Kyle Butt.
And so it begins.
Recently, I decided to do a little family project. I spent some time on the ancestry.com website researching my family history. After a few phone calls to family members, I found out a whole lot about my family. I found my grandfather's enlistment forms for World War II, my great grandmother's birth certificate, and my great-great grandfather's marriage license (all photocopies of course). It was intriguing to find such incredible pieces of my family history.
There are stories about the Edwards through the years. Supposedly, over 140 Edwards fought in the Civil War – 138 for the North and 2 for the South. We have ancestry that runs back to King Edward (thus the Edwards name) and also a notorious pirate. Honestly, I'm not sure which one of those is better. I also managed to find out that on my mother's side we are related to President Buchanan. Not even sure I knew that there was a President Buchanan.
Just west of London, England is the little village of Boxford. It is a small little community with thatch-roofed houses and quaint shops. Within it stands a little old house fixed near a very narrow waterway with a flow of water strong enough to power a waterwheel. For centuries the house had a mill grinding grain for the eating pleasures of the surrounding community. When visiting this old house in 1986, the waterwheel had long been removed, but the house was still being used as a dwelling. The roof of the old house was thick with thatching, and the gardens around the small waterway were abundant with blooms of flowers of many colors. Quite proudly, the woman told the group at her door of the fact that her old mill house had been standing for over a thousand years, and the mill was listed in William The Conqueror's Doomsday Book.
A little background is helpful at this stage. William The Conqueror was born in 1028 in the region of Normandy, France. When he was born, it would be many centuries later before the Allied Forces would fight one of the bloodiest battles in all of World War II on its sandy beaches and rocky cliffs. It was in 1066 when he and his forces sailed across the British Channel and conquered England in what has long since been referred to as the Norman Conquest.
The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Psalms 1
Have you ever received a letter that you prized simply because of who sent it? It may be that you have long held on to a letter from a relative who is now deceased, or maybe from someone who is famous in the public eye. Some years ago, I received a Christmas Card from the White House, and I refuse to believe it had anything to do with the fact that I sent money to help George Bush win the election. Suffice it to say, my address has not been sent any of those in several years.
Little girls love to play dress up, while little boys enjoy running their matchbox cars down imaginary tracks all over the house. We learn it early—this sense of obsession with things. We collect them, we store them, we display them, and we use them. Life is so closely connected to our things that it is very difficult to identify ourselves apart from them.
What we often perceive ourselves to be is tied to the things with which we surround ourselves. Take, for instance, a forty-five year old man who has just bought his first Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Maybe, he has never owned a bike such as this. But something drives him to reach out and acquire this new animal. Call it a mid-life crisis or what you may, but sometimes that one something is what is necessary to make a statement of how we feel about ourselves.
There are days where I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Now, some of you might think this to be a waste of time and I agree. There are some days where it is. Other days though, it is a great place to see how people are doing, catch up with old friends, and to encourage one another.
Each and every day I try to write something positive on Facebook. Sometimes it is a scripture from the Bible, and sometimes it is just my random thoughts. I am amazed how many people read these posts everyday! But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised in the end. With all of the bad that there is on Facebook and the Internet, providing a source of positivity is a good thing. So, I keep doing it.
However, I have learned one incredibly important lesson about social media and the online world. There are a thousand and one things to argue about with someone.