Friday, May 27, 2016

Strike My Words -

Long Time…. No blog.  Ever have a desperate urge to tell people how you feel and what you’re going through but life has thrown you a curve ball and you are in the midst of something that you have no control over and it has you questioning everything?   

Well I have.  The reason I haven’t written in so long is because I am on strike from my job as a lineman at a major telecommunications company.  I feel I can finally write about it because it has been announced that the company and the unions have come to a tentative deal and they expect the strike to be settled with us to return to work this week. 

First things first. Thank you God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit! I have been praying for a fair settlement and the reports are that is what we are getting.  Last night, I closed our recovery meeting in prayer and I included my requests for the strike to end. The very next day the report that a settlement is in the works has been released.  Thank you for answered prayer, Lord.  Also I would like to thank the Lord for the good men and women I work with who sacrificed and were faithful to each other as we all stood in solidarity for our dignity as workers.  

When you go on strike, the pressure starts. The regular routine is disrupted.  The company canceled my family’s health care on May 1st.  Savings had to be used to meet our needs that normally are covered by my pay check.  Your sense of purpose is called into question.  Supposed friends question the union’s motives and tactics.  You wonder if the company is going to try to break the union.  People I used to work with crossed the picket line a few weeks in.  A rumor was circulated that the company was going to send us a letter telling us to report to work in 5 days or be terminated. 

Our success was anything but guaranteed but I had faith from the very beginning that God would provide for me and I had nothing to fear. The way I saw it was that there was corporate greed on one side and working families asking for dignity on the other.  We were on the side of righteousness.  It was only a matter of time for things to follow God’s perfect will. 

These comments might cause some to scoff and say that I would have lost my faith if things had gone badly for the union; that my faith is only as good as my good fortune.  That’s not the case.

You see, I believe in God’s plan for my life, but the thing is, I don’t know specifically what that plan is.  So when the strike happened, although I honestly thought that it would be settled and we would go back to work, I also decided to be open to the possibility that God may have other plans and that I should look to be prepared for anything by remaining faithful and abiding in Christ. 

The strike made me question my future in general and whether or not God was calling me to do something else.  The first week I updated my resume.  Rethinking your career at soon to be 44 years old can be somewhat terrifying.  The number one consideration is my family.  I have a wife and kids to support and we are used to a certain lifestyle and although I might have vague dreams of working for the Lord, I didn’t find anything that would pay close to what I was making with the company.  I didn’t really feel pulled to anything either so I saved my resume but stopped the job searches.  

Go on strike can really mess with your head.  Your emotions are in constant flux.  You have anxiety about finances, anger at the company scabs, and listlessness caused by your normal routine being derailed.  So I had to find something to do that wouldn’t have me obsessing over the strike to the point where I would be contemplating sabotage or doing violence to scabs.  Nice Christian, right? 

 I also didn’t want to cause my wife and kids to worry about the strike or to disrupt their normal routines since I would be home a lot more. 

Three years ago had enrolled in Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master –Online School of Biblical Evangelism. The school entails witnessing requirements, audio teachings, and 101 online lessons.  Previously I had only managed to do about 40 of the online lessons so I decided that I would use my extra time because of the strike to get all 101 done. 

Much to my delight I also discovered the local library was nearby so I got a library card to feel legit and started frequenting the place to focus on my goal of completing the 101 lessons.  The library quickly became my beloved refuge, providing me with a place to go and my family with a sense of a normal routine restored. 

I’m happy to report that I have successfully completed all 101 lessons and only have a few audio teachings to listen to and I will have met all the requirements for “graduating”.  
All those lessons on evangelism really convicted me of the need to increase my evangelistic efforts to share the gospel.  So I have been distributing gospel tracts like crazy and went out last Monday with my mentor Bob Costello and his evangelism team to the streets of Hudson to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.  I have to be intentional in sharing the gospel more going forward because it really is what the Lord would have us do. 

I often share Matthew 13:45-46, where Jesus said 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”, to point out that we should be willing to give everything to be a part of the kingdom of God and that it is our honor to serve the one who paid for all our sin and who gives us eternal life. 

If you are not sure of your salvation or have never given yourself to Christ, I urge you to do so now by saying a simple prayer to make Christ your Lord and Savior. 

I pray that people see this blog and give themselves to Christ. 

In closing, I would say it is such a relief knowing that the strike is ending but I am so glad that I used the time I had to continue to prepare myself to serve the Lord more.
So even if I lost my job and had to struggle to find a way to live, I would continue to follow the one who saved me.  And even though I am going back to work soon, I will continue to prepare myself and to remain open to follow the plan that God has for me, as it is revealed to me from day to day. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Walking with God

“I love the idea that the Christian life is a walk. Sometimes I take a couple of steps forward, and sadly by my own foolishness, sometimes a step backward, but by God’s grace I’m making progress in knowing and loving and obeying and serving my Savior.” – From “Wisdom for Your Walk” by James MacDonald

I share MacDonald’s quote today because I often think of my relationship with Jesus as a journey or a walk where the path isn’t always smooth or straight.  Often my old habits or thought patterns have led me astray. I found myself caught up in the same confusion and darkness which amounted to trying to find meaning, happiness, or purpose in something other than God.  Be it material success, collecting and acquiring things, extreme experiences (sex, alcohol, drugs, travel, sport), or human relationships, anything you try, other than communion with Christ, will ultimately fail to satisfy.

Thank God, I woke up to this fundamental life changing truth in 2010.  Coming to Christ wasn’t an easy path for me. 

I had to not only see that I was lost 
(Yeah?... Well,  all my friends will be in Hell too! It's going to be a big party!)

but I also had to see that God would actually forgive me for ALL The wrong I had done (Really?) 

and that, when I accept Christ as my Savior, I would be forgiven for the sin I hadn't even done yet 
(Say What?)

and when God considered me, He would see the righteousness of Jesus Himself!   
(The only way I could be made righteous).  

When the truth was finally revealed to me, I was overjoyed at the peace and assurance of my salvation. Unfortunately my understanding wasn't the best,  so I was content to keep walking in my wild ways knowing that Jesus had my back.  I was filled with a love for Him and His word.  I flew through the four Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in my dusty Bible,

 (which I had received when I was confirmed into the Episcopal Church back in June 2001, before 911 and the death of my son in the spring of 2002 sent me on a journey of despair that had me renounce faith in Christianity and embrace the doctrine of suffering of Buddhism which I was fully entrenched in on the day I heard the Gospel and was saved.   – Wow!)

 , highlighting all the words Christ spoke.  I found a Church home in Rock Solid Church in Hudson and started serving as an usher then doing the audio visual work for the worship team. I even joined the Bible College.

However, my faith and my sinful lifestyle didn’t COEXIST so well.  As I kept making progress in my Christian walk, in knowing, loving, and serving Him, I wasn’t exactly obeying Him and I seemed to fall deeper into my alcoholism and sin.  Knowing I was forgiven but frustrated at my personal failures I had moments of great success and great failure.  Last year I went into the church’s recovery program and have left my addictions and failures of the past behind.  Since then I have had incredible experiences and insights into my life that have confirmed, beyond any doubts, the existence of the triune God, the exclusivity of Jesus to save, and the reality of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life. 

SO I am making great progress! However, I still often get caught up in my own foolishness or the things of the world and take a step off the path that God would have me walk.  The good news is that as Christians no matter how we mess up or fall down,  We can always get back on track knowing “…that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…“ (Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)).  

I encourage all who reads this to follow the path that leads to salvation, Jesus Christ. To those of you who know Christ, don't forget to keep walking and to invite others to join you.