By Doug Bell : “Elvis Banners” my childhood, & how I learned to pray the names of God

doug in sunday schoolI can remember many things about the church I grew up in as a boy. The smell of old books, the sound of the older people talking, learning from a felt board about Bible stories and so on. Of course there were many times, as a young child, I didn’t get what all was going on around me; so I remember laying over in my Moma’s lap where she would rub my arms while the preacher preached. She didn’t realize it but I was busy, very busy. For example one Sunday I might count the lights, or the stained pine planks that made up our sanctuary’s ceiling. Very busy, very important things were going on there as I fought sleep.

Something else that remains crisp in my memory were the banners that hung around the sanctuary that listed the names of God. They were white fabric with big blue letters outlined in shiny blue sequins. This could have caught my eye due to me being a HUGE Elvis fan. Who can forget the Vegas years and the jump suits? Nevertheless, I learned the names of God and what those names meant by counting and staring at these banners. Now, hear me out. There is but ONE God. He has many names and those names describe His character.

Many years later I learned to include these names in my prayer life, much like Jesus did. “Hallowed be thy name” Jesus taught the disciples to pray in this manner. I want to share this with you, so that you too might include worshiping the names of God in your prayer lives. Below is a list of 8 names of God, there meaning and there benefit.

For example: When you pray you might take the first name “Jehovah Tsidkenu” and say something like this… “Lord, thank you for being my righteousness, it is because of you that I am forgiven of all sin and that sin does not keep me from loving and being loved by you.” Amen.

Try this out as you open up your prayer life to becoming an exciting time rather than a responsibility of discipline. The Bible suggests this, “The name of the Lord is like a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10. Give it a try now and make this a part of your everyday prayer life. Enjoy!


Worship the name of God, corresponding with the benefits in the new covenant, and make your faith declarations:

Jehovah Tsidkenu – Meaning: Our Righteousness – Benefit: I am forgiven of all sin.
Jehovah M’Kaddesh – Meaning: Our Sanctifier – Benefit: I am set apart for ministry.
Jehovah Rapha – Meaning: Our Healer – Benefit: I have health and healing.
Jehovah Nissi – Meaning: Our Banner of Victory – Benefit: I am secure and victorious.
Jehovah Raah – Meaning: Our Shepherd – Benefit: I am led by the Holy Spirit
Jehovah Shalom – Meaning: Our Peace – Benefit: I have peace and sanctuary.
Jehovah Shammah – Meaning: The Lord is There – Benefit: I have God’s presence and power.
Jehovah Jireh – Meaning: Our Provider – Benefit: I have success and provision

“PRAY” part I, scriptures

I Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

2 Chronicles 7:13-14
13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Matt 6:9-13
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b

Romans 8:15 NLT
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.[a] Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
Proverbs 18:10 The Message
God’s name is a place of protection— the righteous can run there and be safe.

Luke 12:31Living Bible (TLB)
31 He will always give you all you need from day to day if you will make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.

Psalm 121:1-2Living Bible (TLB)
121 Shall I look to the mountain gods for help? 2 No! My help is from Jehovah who made the mountains! And the heavens too!

1 John 1:9New International Version (NIV)
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Ephesians 6:12New International Version (NIV)
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Jeremiah 32:17
17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

Rev 5:13
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”

Matchbox Cars and Rollie-Pollies (being happy with who you are) by Doug Bell

carwashHappiness. Webster’s dictionary defines happiness as contentment, or a pleasurable or satisfying experience. We all want it, we all look for it, yet at times it seems to be as elusive as Big Foot sun bathing in a pot of gold near the end of a rainbow. The promise of happiness can be found everywhere. Look no further than the latest gadget that will change you life forever. Who can deny ‘the clapper’ was what we’d all been waiting for? How else could we go on, night after night getting in the bed forgetting to cut the lamp off next to us, without the ability to clap and turn it off or on again?

We are promised that happiness comes with a new phone, a new car or a new marriage only to find the new always wears off and with it seems to go little pieces of happiness. I want to share with you a happy time in my life, before I thought you had to seek happiness and I was convinced happiness sought me. A time, so it seemed, happiness was waiting on my waking every morning.

The trees grew tall on the west side of the long, almost shot gun house,  I grew up in. This kept the grass from ever growing and the dirt was prime. Prime real-estate for a little boy with matchbox cars, and I was that little boy. I had the general lee, the A-Team van and a matchbox car wash to clean them at the end of every ‘epic’ day. I had dirt roads and farmed rollie-pollies much like you would cattle. Hours on end from the aggravation of the morning dew till the warm buzzing of the street light at night. If you needed me that’s where you’d find me, playing in the dirt.

I was also blessed to have a wooded ‘forrest’ across the road from my house, though I lived close enough to the town square to read the courthouse clock, when it worked. One day as I blazed trails through this great wilderness I found myself a grocery cart! To you that may seem like a small thing, to me it seemed like I had struck Sutter’s gold! Oh the possibilities and boy did I come up with one. A neighborhood friend and I, sprayed that baby black, put a cardboard box on top, cut out windows with red curtains, making this former grocery hauler into a LIMOUSINE.

Taking turns, one of us would push while the other pretended to be some one important, and completely feeling the part. Both pushing and riding made me happy. On one hand I was serving a very important person and helping them get to where they needed to be, and from the inside I’m sure I was that important person, probably President Ronald Reagan. While I was really neither of those, the happiness wasn’t found in being them, the happiness I found was in being me. No person alive was any happier riding in their stretch Cadillac than I was riding in a cardboard box sitting on top of a grocery cart.

See happiness isn’t the result of getting something you want, happiness comes from making the most of what you already have. I think Webster called it ‘contentment.” It brought me great pleasure to be the one who served the important people as well as my turn to pretend I was the important one. We all need to experience both serving and feeling important in this life.  In reality, you are important, even if you don’t feel that way.  Look, happiness is not that elusive if you know where to look.  Happiness doesn’t come from the outside, it comes from within.

Today think of the times you have been really happy, rediscover the satisfaction of simplicity, serving others and imagination. Really life is about perspective, yes it could always be better, but more than likely it could also always be worse. I’ll never forget a truth I learned about perspective from a book called The Noticer : If in your sack lunch you discover a can of sardines and a can of potted meat, you can either look at it like your eating sardines and potted meat from a can, or like you’re feasting on a surf and turf at a picnic.

By the way, if you are ever in Holly Springs MS, drive through the brick and iron gates down a little road called Johnson Park to street number 244, there you will find the house I grew up in, and if you ask I bet the new home owners will show you.. “LIMO ROAD” the sign I painted in yellow, on the house, thirty something years ago.

“Clapping off” till next time. Have a great day!

Grey Hair, Dark Hair and No Hair, by Doug Bell

final pic hairI am a bald male.  This has been true for many years, but until this morning I didn’t realize what all that entailed. As I walked into a local establishment, a purveyor of fine coffee, I saw many distinguished looking men and women scattered about.  All were nicely dressed, seemed to be talking about important things and looked intelligent.  Ok, what does this have to do with my bald head?  Well, they all had one distinguishing trait, not only did they have hair, it was ‘salt and peppered’ hair.

What occurred to me next was, I’ll never have ‘salt and peppered’ hair.  No one will ever look at me and think, “he’s nicely dressed, seems to be talking about important things, and looks intelligent based on his hair.”  That, in and of itself, is no big deal and I won’t lose any sleep over this tonight, but what it did was caused me to think… Why do we assume someone is intelligent and has wisdom based on their ‘look’?

I’m glad you asked, ok I asked, but i’ll answer us just the same.  It’s the salt, in the peppered hair, that causes us to take notice.  You know the ‘grey’ that so many spend their life trying to avoid and life makes every effort to give it to you anyways. Grey hair is a sign, an indicator of many things. To the ‘greying’ its a sign of aging and departure from youth.  To those with discerning eyes, it’s an indicator that this person has been through some things and has learned the right or maybe the wrong ways to approach life.

Here’s where it all gets messy.  Aging people carry something that youth need, it’s called wisdom.  Wisdom that only comes from experiences in life, and can’t be found in a book or bestowed by a university. Young people also carry something the aging envy, and that is youth.  Rather than combining our efforts and cohabiting we often see the ‘bitter’ aging against the ‘rebellious’ youth and vice versa.  It’s a cycle that visits each generation, look at your own lives and you will find this to be true to some extent.

The ‘rock’n & roller’ of the 70’s listening to Starland Vocal Band’s “afternoon delight’ is now the grandparent of the teen bumping Miley’s “wrecking ball.”  Ok, here’s my point, lets sum this up.  To some extent, this will always be the case, and I’m not sure we could or should try to change this.  I am proposing however that we learn from one another and rather than being bitter or rebellious, appreciate each other.  Fact is, all of us were young, and if we are lucky all of us will age.  This being the case, let’s help one another and in doing so we both might learn something.

Oh yeah.. and what makes me the authority on this subject?  Well, I’m bald, so i’m the obvious neutral party between the dark and the grey.

“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”        Psalm 71:18

“Enjoy Your Time” a life thought, by Doug Bell


I recently walked out of the home I grew up in for what could be the last time. After a lifetime of, up until now, walking out that door without hesitation.  Taking for granted the “open door policy” I had always enjoyed in my home, now I realized there would be new keys to new locks, new families, new memories and none would be mine.  I found myself whirling around as if to steal a glimpse of the “me” who used to live there with the “those” who made it my home.  For a frozen moment I could sense the fear and wonder of the pressure cooker on our stove.  I could smell the cedar tree my dad and I had hurriedly taken from the side of some country back road.  My ears were tuned in for that split second, to hear the voice of my Moma calling “Doug.”

These are all gone now.  The pressure cooker is packed away, the cedar tree has long since been removed and the voice that calmed storms in my young life is recorded, but no longer producing new material.  What remains?  The memories. They come to mind at the most inconvenient times for tears but also come when a smile has too long been absent.

We are born thinking in terms of forever, only our “forevers” are much to narrow.  We see life as having always been a certain way and therefore it will continue to always be such a way.  Forever is an eternal state, meaning there was and there will be an immeasurable time span on each side of our little lives.  There is nothing new under the sun and everyone goes through the ups and downs of existing.  Often in our small-mindedness we consider our “good times” to be the best ever and our “bad times” to be the worst ever, and no one else can understand either or both.

Let me put it this way.  You are not alone.  I hope that statement is as comforting to you who read this as it was to me when I wrote it.  We are people.  We experience life, both good and bad. While I can never feel your reaction to it, I have had many of the same circumstances that force me to have reactionary feelings also.  Let’s share togetherness and laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep.  Let’s comfort them who mourn and celebrate with those who are excited.  Let’s remember the past, yes, but let’s heal and learn toward our future.

The memories of my wonderful life, I will always have, and I now make new ones daily.  The roles are the same, just with new characters playing the parts.  The little “booger bear” as my Daddy used to call me, is now the Daddy and I have two little “booger bears” of my own.  And one day if God blesses me, I’ll be the “Papa” my grandkids will remember as the greatest ever, complete with a “world’s greatest papa” shirt or tie.  It’s true also that one day, they will lay this Daddy and Papa down to rest and I’ll want my family to continue the line of life.  But today is NOT that day, at least not as of 11:05am, “ha” “ha.”

So I will remember, but I will not live in the past.  I will heal.  Yes I still hurt, I’m two years removed from losing my Daddy and five months removed from losing my Moma.  I find healing though, as I become for others what I once had, in them.  Understand?  Life is not a circle, it’s a straight line.  We won’t come back around but we can move forward.  We must move forward. Moving forward is not a choice we are given, but how we move forward is.

Ya see… there is a pressure cooker on my stove. There’s a beautiful tree my boys stare at with wonder. When Paxton and Cooper come in the door, they are not wondering if the locks or the family inside will change.  They hear their Moma’s and my voice, it calms the storms of their lives.  And one day, yes it won’t be long really, they will whirl around to catch a glimpse of us, “tune in” t0 hear our voice, and likely tears will be spilled… But because of Jesus, because of God’s Son, they will smile and raise their families much like they were raised, knowing their mom and dad are waiting for them, hoping for them and speaking to God on their behalf’s.

I wrote this for you who are in ‘our stage’ of this life, where holidays can be tough, shoot just ordinary Thursdays can be tough.  I want you to know there is power in prayer. There is power in His Word.  There is power in together.  I am proof of all of this.  My pain is very minimal my healing has been swift.  No, I will not apologize for this, I know it has been the hand of God.  I also know since He did this for me He can and He will do this for you.

Let me go for now with this…… “ENJOY YOUR TIME” she said, as I sat there at Starbucks.  Three simple words, this person had no idea, they changed my life.

Merry Christmas 2013,


“Born Into Privilege” a healthy dose of perspective, By Doug Bell

ImageIt’s just an exit ramp to most people.  There’s few things there that are noticed outside of it’s city limits.  Fox News’ Shepherd Smith might well be the most recognizable face in it’s storied history, so far.  For many years the food choices ranged from SONIC drive-in to… well come to think of it, initially there was only the SONIC drive-in.  A place where you were easily recognized by the shape of your head lights as you cruised the route around the square to the south end gas station.  This place I speak of is Holly Springs MS, my hometown.

I grew up there in the 1980’s and early 1990’s before cell phones or the internet.  We, at least at my house, didn’t have cable television, a microwave nor an ice maker. Who remembers ice trays?  Some reading this might remember not even having electricity… well this is the new reality of “the good old days.”  I promise not to try and compare mine to yours.  There were many a times I found myself on the porch holding the front door open with my foot while turning the TV antenna with one hand and balancing myself on the banister with my other.  Even now I can hear my PAPA saying.. “whoaaaa stop right there, I can see Jerry Lawler clearly.”  And everyone in town had the ‘old’ cabinet TV, now doubling as a piece of furniture, holding up the old ‘new’ tv.

All of us have our own stories and our own home towns that hold special places in our hearts.  We all complain about what each of them lack and how corrupt they are but truth be told it’s home and home is where our heart is.  After high school, I moved off to Dallas Texas for college.  Excited as I was for the big city and all it had to offer, after arriving there all I could think about was the ache in my heart for a town that had just recently opened it’s first McDonald’s.  On that note, the day McDonald’s opened in our town, it shut down the highway both directions including the exit ramp of HWY 78.

You can change where you end up in life but you can not change where you come from.  And this location alone has a great deal to do with the make up of who you are, physically, socially and religiously.  All of these present different opportunities and challenges.  You’ve heard some people’s lives defined as misfortunate and others as privileged.  I guess that is a matter of perspective.  I could type a story that would make most grown men cry at the hardships I was born into.  There were times of great difficulty, but couldn’t we all say that?  Andy Andrews wrote, “you can sit down to a paper bag lunch and eat sardines and vienna sausage in the sand or you can sit down with the same paper bag lunch and eat surf and turf on the beach.”  It truly is a matter of perspective.

My family didn’t have much money.  Our roof leaked every time it rained until our church replaced it.  My family many times depended on government assisted food programs to eat.  I was educated in what some call, even those reading this blog, a substandard public school they would have never let their own children go to.  I remember the looks I got and still do to this day, when I tell them where I come from.  I was born to two good hearted people who struggled with alcohol and drug abuse.  They could not care for me and at three months old they did the best they could by giving me up.  There are other things I could type to paint a picture of hardship, but most are inappropriate and irrelevant.

See what none of that story tells is this, my family was privileged.  I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth.  My Papa worked hard at the local Wurlitzer piano plant to care for a new child he had not counted on.  He bought me chocolate milk and sausage biscuits EVERYDAY.  My Moma made our home beautiful with her smile, her song, her gorgeous flowers and her ability to make the world right when everything seemed so wrong.  I had the latest Nike’s, game stations, bikes and everything I could want because I was born in a nation that makes a privileged life within reach of anyone who will reach.  I am embarrassed by the wealth my family has amassed. I was born into a predominately Christian society and raised on the truth of God’s Word and many would say, well if you were born in India maybe you would think differently about the deity you call God.  Maybe.  But I wasn’t, like I said, I was born privileged.  I didn’t have to search through religiosity to discover that there is only one God and I don’t have to measure up or work up a ladder… He, Jesus brought himself low to reach me.  See my God reached for me not the other way around.  Again I was born with a silver spoon, I have no excuses.

I have so much more to write on my blessed life and I will certainly do so later.  Today I want you to focus on the things around you.  Sure you can paint a sad picture of a life lived as a victim of your surroundings, that’s easy.  Ordinary people paint that picture everyday looking for pity and hand outs.  Maybe you are not ordinary, maybe you are extraordinary.   Is it possible to paint with the very same brush, you’ve been dealt, on the familiar canvas of your circumstances a beautiful picture of a life that is flourishing?  Not in spite of but due in part to, where you came from.

“The Daily Pageant of Life” by Doug Bell

old schoolToday has been a day of reflection, in addition to everything else on my normal daily agenda.  I don’t think most of us schedule these days, they just happen.  You’re moving  along quite nicely, with business as usual, and from out of no where comes emotion, reflection and memories to be entertained in your mind.  The longer I live the more I am convinced there is nothing new under the sun, just replays of yesterdays lives dressed in todays fashions.

For most in our community, today or within the last week or so, school has begun it’s fall session.  I’m a father of two boys, Paxton who is 7 and Cooper who is 5, both were excitedly anticipating the next step in becoming “big boys.”  This parade of pomp and circumstance has played out on every stage over countless generations.  In the first act we find young couples who formerly were child actors themselves now with children of their own.  The costumes may be different than the last, but are usually new and bought special for these first school days.  Everyone looks the part, now comes the big day.

The big day consists of numerous joyful fathers and mothers who’s prayers have been answered with school back in session.  Of course in this number of families are the perennial tear soaked parents, mourning the impending growth of their little kindergarteners.  If I saw 10 tear soaked, snot wiping parents, I bet I saw one hundred of them.  Ok, I had a moment, very briefly, where my eyes glistened.  This isn’t my first, first day and my boys made it easy.  Both walked confidently and proudly into the halls of education anticipating the path of learning that was spread before them. Like a banquet table of delicious dishes enticing them, their eyes were filled with delight. Ok, maybe I got carried away there…

Tonight as I cooked I caught myself doing what I had promised I’d never do.. that’s right I was asking all the same questions my Moma asked me EVERYDAY.  See I have been on the other end of this pageant as most of you have.  My Moma never drove a car, at least not in my lifetime, so we were blessed to be within ‘walking distance’ to everything.  Her definition of walking distance may not be the same as yours. Her’s stated, if you can get there before dark after leaving at a reasonable time the morning of, well, that’s walking distance.  So Everyday standing on the walk was my Moma, waiting, patiently, excitedly, reliably waiting.  I look back and those are some of the sweetest memories I’ll keep with me the rest of my life.

Back then though I just wanted to come home and relax.  You know from my ‘stressful’ 8am to 3pm ‘work’ day, with recess, snack, lunch, nap… thinking back on it, what was I so tired from?  Anyways, she and I would repeat the day’s events as if she had missed the first showing and was living for the reruns.  She hung on every word even as she pried it out of my mouth like pulling a sucker from the clutches of an angry toddler.  She had invested her life into me and now she wanted to make a withdrawal.  So there I was tonight asking, “what was for lunch, who’s your new friends, do you like your teacher, what did you do, who did you talk to, who did you sit with,” you know the same things I promised I wouldn’t ask.  Only now, I’m the parent that had waited all day just to see their faces, hear their voices and find out all about their day.  Maybe in some way it helps me to feel like I’m there and makes the separation easier.

I wonder if God feels that way?  I wonder if He waits through most of our days to hear what’s going on. I also wonder how often we go to bed with Him disappointed. It’s not like He doesn’t know.  But really it’s not like we don’t know what’s going on in the lives of our children, it’s basically the same thing as it was when we were their age.  It’s true you know, the more things change the more they stay the same.  My Moma knew my schedule, she knew what I ate, she packed it most days.  She knew who I talked to and if I liked my teacher.  What she was looking for was time to share with me and in part be there even when she could not.  God wants this from us.  Yes He knows everything you have been through today, but He wants to hear from you, share with you and be present where it may seem like He is absent.

This story could go on and on… I just wanted to share a little bit of what’s on my mind tonight.  So talk, ask the obvious questions that have the same ol’ answers, and be present in the lives of those around you.  Also remember to talk to your Father, your heavenly Father, He’s there now, just waiting, patiently, excitedly, reliably waiting. Tell Him about your day.  As we close the curtain on this moment in our lives, we will go take one more ride on the go kart, talk about the rabbit we are bound to see, look at each other and smile, come back home to their Moma who’s ready to talk, hug and instruct the nightly chores. We will give them their baths, have a ‘little snack’ as Coop calls it, send them off to their beds where we will pray over them as we have every night of their lives.  To some it may seem monotonous, boring even, but to us it’s a glimpse of heaven in the same world that many feel like they are living in hell.

Healing From Loss


Last we spoke I was 2 days into the grieving process after my Moma went to be with the Lord.  Today I am now 2 weeks in.  So I thought I would give you an update. The best I could describe my heart at the time was with the phrase “deep sadness.”  Today it seems like such a distant memory.  Something happened to me that day.  I grieved yes, I bled my heart through the keys of my mac. Yes I grieved and yes my heart was healed through that.  The best description of my feelings today would be, “supernaturally peaceful.”

I’m now days from my most recent tears, I can talk about her, laugh about her and remember her with nothing but wonderful feelings.  (as I typed that I’ll admit a moistening of my eyes.)  But no tears.  I am convinced the prayers of my family and friends supernaturally carried me.  I’ve had great dread for the day, the call, just the news that my Moma was no longer with us, for years.  Two weeks ago today that call came and you know what?  I survived it. Not only did I survive it, I embraced it and can even now celebrate it.

There are both natural and unnatural fears.  There are but two natural born, instinctive fears and those are loud noises and falling.  Every other fear we learn as we live, grow and experience things.  Death, in my opinion, has to fall somewhere in the middle of those two.  Maybe we feel death is like falling into a loud unavoidable reality.  I’ve always known fear to be something that describes that which is unknown.  Knowing this, when my Moma took her last breath on this Earth, I didn’t question what had happened. There was no fear to be found.  I knew her body had worn out but her spirit, the real her, was in the presence of the Lord.  There was no, “unknown” factor for me.  I knew she loved me, yes all of us, that too was no “unknown.”  I knew my Moma gave her life to make others lives better… yet again, there was no “unknown.”  The only unknown at this time is this,  when will I too take a similar path.  We all will you know?

It is difficult for some to understand how I “know” there is a God, how can I be sure, it’s the particular “god” I serve that is “The God.”  How can I trust a book written so long ago by mere mortal men to base my life and my believes upon.  Well, to be honest, much of it is TRUST and FAITH, but you’d be sadly mistaken if you think that is all I base it on.  Sure I have a book, The Bible, that I believe without apology is the Word of God.  But my faith is much deeper than a book printed with ink on tablets of paper.  I have met the author of this book.  He is living, He hears me and when He speaks I hear Him.  It has been said that, “The Bible is the only book in the world where the author is present every time it is read.”

My life is proof positive that myself nor you are accidental.  You can argue my doctrine, my theology and my beliefs but you can not argue with my story.  I may not be able to convince you or explain to you the mysteries of the universe but I can tell you every miracle in front of your eyes, at this very moment, is a direct response to order, yes, a plan.  You are not accidental, you were created by a creator with a purpose.

How can I trust a book printed with ink on tablets of paper speaks the truth about a man named Jesus?  Well guys thats easy… I’ve never seen Jesus but I’ve read about him and his great exploits.  I’ve also never seen Abraham Lincoln but I’ve read about him and his great exploits.  I have never once had a moment of ‘disbelief’ in the existence of our 16 President.  These are both matters of history.  There is no two paths of history, we have but one history and both Jesus and Abraham Lincoln existed in it.  The real question is this, “how do I know Jesus is who he claimed to be?”

C.S Lewis wrote:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

I will go to my grave one day, in body only, believing with my whole heart that I will be reunited with my family who have chosen to follow Christ.  I will proclaim that Jesus is Lord and Savior to all who will call on His name.  I must to remain earnest in my faith say too that, there will be many who will not call on his name and spend eternity in Hell.  My spirit has been healed in the physical death of my Moma, due to an indescribable force, a power, a healer, my God.  No amount of reading a book could have done this, no number of explanations could have done this.  You see when things happen we all look for explanations.  Well scientifically any number of people can explain the death of my Moma and not a single one of those explanations would give me peace.  No, peace comes from God, not explanations, and I have that peace.

The question must be asked… “what if I’m wrong?” well, I’ve lived a great life, loving and being loved in return.  The better question that should be asked is this, “what if I’m right.”

Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ 24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” 28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

The HEART Thinks


Dealing with grief can be a touchy subject especially in the midst of dealing with grief.  I am writing one day into the loss of my Moma.  Let me tell you where I am right now.  As I type this i’m sitting up in my bed.  I was trying to nap but every few minutes a new wave of emotion comes over me.  It makes me breath hard and tears stream down my face.  I miss my Moma already and my heart is not sure how to respond.  So I got up to write this.

My Moma, her name was Annie.  She was by birth my Grandmother and that is the last time you’ll see me refer to her as that.  At 52 years old after raising 5 of her own took me in at the age of 3 months.  I could write catalogs of books about her and what a special woman she was.  Even now as I write about her in past tense (insert: I’m having that quickened breathing and tears) i’m struggling with using the term “was.”

The description that comes to mind when thinking about my feelings right now is, deep sadness.  That heart ache that almost feels like my rib cage is crushing my lungs.  I take many deep breaths, sighs I guess and then I’m fine.  I can and do have normal feelings and it reminds me of the hope when the pain will be gone.  Deep sadness is something we will all experience in some form or another. So I write.

I’ve noticed during this grief i’m on hyper awareness of every word and action done by others.  There is something in me almost seeking out injustice and a wrong response to my lose.  I am well aware that my Moma and I are loved more than anyone could ever express.  My heart and my head tell me, “Doug you know better,” but something tries to offend me internally. I recognize and expose it as the Devil and move on to the next incident.

That leads me to this.  I don’t think it’s our response to situations that necessarily leads to victory, but it’s our repeated responses to them.  That can work in the positive and negative aspects.  Negatively it’s not the responses that you have made incorrectly, it’s the unwillingness to correct those behaviors.  As far as Positive, I know I have originally responded correctly to situations only to revisit them in my head and then act incorrectly.

We want to hurry through these stages of life.  I’m not so sure we ought to do that.  During these past few weeks God has spoken to me in life altering ways.  A verse I preached on several weeks ago echoes in my heart. Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart;Try me, and know my thoughts;”  God is working out things I’ve never wanted nor thought I suffered from, like pride, even writing that I so want to qualify it with the statement, “not that I’m prideful” and that tells me I am.  Even in these times of “deep sadness” God uses the pain, the confusion, the suffering to bring Himself glory and I want Him glorified too!

You and I will go through these times and they might be for the exact same reason, the loss of a loved one.  But if there were 100 people in the same boat they also might experience 100 different feelings.  So i’m not going to waste the cliché “I know how you feel.”  At some value I guess I do, but not being you puts me at a great disadvantage in saying that.  No one knows how I feel, (insert breathless tears) I was raised by a Moma who chose me.  She didn’t have to have me, I wasn’t forced on her by God, this woman at 52 said I want him.  And for 37 years showed that she loved me and never once made me feel like, she felt, she had made a mistake.

My 7 year old Paxton just walked in to my room. He see’s my face and knows.  He brought me comfort in walking up to me and just hugging me.  He didn’t even say a word other than, “your welcome,” when I said, “thanks.”  I keep worrying if my grammar or punctuation is right as I type this.  Please know this is not a term paper but my heart and I’m not sure if it knows either grammar or punctuation.

Here is what is real, my pain.  Here is what is fact, God’s love.  Here is what I feel, God’s love in the midst of my real pain.  What is it that has you in deep sadness?  I can tell you from my deep sadness of the past, it does get better.  I can tell you that it does so because I decided to allow it to.  You can hold the pain in, deny the reality of it, act like your ok and hurt forever.  Or you can express your hurt, deal with your pain, and act like you feel.  I want to heal, so I write.

Tomorrow I will stand before my family and friends like I have done countless times before.  Speaking over the life someone who has gone on wondering how can anyone with words ever adequately sum up a life, especially one well lived.  This time will be different, this is MY MOMA.  The lady I looked up to though she stood a full two feet shorter in stature.  The lady who rocked me to sleep and calmed all my fears.  This time I will stand and speak directly to my biggest fear growing up, losing her and tell the enemy, Satan, you are defeated even in her death!

What’s your deep sadness?  Maybe you haven’t experienced it yet? Maybe you have.  Be prepared for it.  Don’t let it take you off guard.  Make a plan! Mine? ….. well I write.  The Lord is my Shepherd and ye though I walk through the shadow of death, I fear NO evil for thou art with me.  How do people cope without Christ.  He is not just a “make me feel better moral standard bearer” no,  He’s God, He’s real and He is love.  Love that never fails!  That strengthens me right now as I type this. His love never fails.  Not even in this test!  Not even in the next test!  I want to sing “I will survive” right now, but I wont.. that made me smile.

You know what else makes me smile.  You!  You who have text, emailed, your Inboxes and calls.  And on that note, to those who have called.  I appreciate it, I just can’t talk well yet through my tears.  The voicemails make me smile though.  We have food coming, we’ve had food brought.  I love food. : )

Tomorrow I will have many of you standing there, sitting there and just being there and it will help my heart more than you know.  (insert tears, but not the quick breath) I’m getting better see.  I really wrote all this for me to get it out of my head, I’m only sharing this with you in hopes that you can understand the deep sadness you may have been through, going through or will experience.  Waves upon waves of injected thoughts have come over me in the past few days and many more will be submitted to my mind to process.  Here’s what I will do.  I will take every thought captive.  I will not allow every thought to shape my response, neither now or later.

If you’ve read this far…. Well, bless you and thanks for listening.  To write any more would be to say more than is on my heart.  And remember this is not a term paper but a heart paper.

2 Corinthians 10:5

New International Version (NIV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

A Piece of My Heart, Unedited

ImageIs it what you expected?  That is the question I’ve found myself asking me lately. By “it” I mean life, life itself.  I want to go on record saying it’s everything I hoped it could be plus more and yet it’s different.  You see I’m in the same cycle I’ve heard so many others before me discuss.  For example, life really does pass much more quickly than you can imagine. One minute I was learning to read the next I was graduating.  My life changed yet again when I got married and certainly with the birth of my boys.  You and I if blessed by God we will live to see our parents are no longer there and we have become the  patriarchs of the family.  Even then only to discover that this too is brief and the cycle will continue in your mortality.

I’m not writing this from a place of vanity and or sadness. Oh no. Quite the opposite in fact. This life is amazing.  I drink in it’s rays of joy daily.  A kiss from my wife, the warmth of holding my sons and the comfort of holding my mom.  You see I live a blessed life.  I am amazed and humbled to be one who is living and walking in my dreams.  I hesitated to write that because I know many of you who read this may not be.  Make no mistake, I could write about the “less than perfect” circumstances I’ve found myself in but I would rather tell you the TRUTH. The truth is in everything, yes every part there is not one missing thing or place.. God has been in control and held me safely from being consumed.  Even to the point I feel embarrassed somewhat by my happiness when I know many of you deal with such heart ache.

The difference guys is not found in me.  I haven’t done anything to deserve what I have in reality there are areas I deserve to be punished not rewarded.  See it comes down to this really.  God is good, I am not.  Everyday is laced with obvious and not so obvious decisions that require my attention.  The decisions I make today will determine my place in tomorrow. A favorite quote of mine is this, “Wisdom is the ability to see into the future the consequences of your choices in the present.”  Lord give me wisdom.

A word of encouragement to you, don’t stop dreaming, believing and taking steps to see them fulfilled. It is at the moment we give up that we will cease to grow and ultimately cease to live.  I have a roll to play, its not the staring role it’s more of a supporting actor gig in this life.  God has called me to live in such a way I see His glory and I help others discover His glory too.  I know who God’s called me to be and it’s enough that I am one of God’s favorites, I don’t have to show the coat He’s made me.  I’m excited about the future, my life both here and my eternal home in heaven.  To be honest I’m becoming more excited about the latter.  That reality keeps me focused on things that matter and less focused on things that do not.

I will part with these questions I want you to consider and answer yourself.  First, Is the life i’m living making an eternal difference or does it just occupy my time?  Second, If God is real to me do the choices I make reflect that?  And finally, to borrow a line from Garth Brooks of all people, “if tomorrow never comes will she (they) know how much I loved her (them)?  We are created for one another, to love and be loved.  We only find contentment when we know who and who’s we are.  Some of you will realize this wonderful life, I hope you are one of those.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…”