“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep'. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Monday’s Mission

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”; those are the only words in the song Monday’s Mission by John Tesh. Monday’s Mission, what could that possibly mean? To me, initially it was that Christ died on Friday and conquered death three days later, giving the world a new mission, Monday’s Mission. Today, it tells me about my new job starting on Monday, and what is my mission?

Tomorrow will be the last day I work where I do. I have been there about three months and have had the chance to testify, witness and share the gospel with so many people, the word blessing can’t even begin to describe it. Today though, you know this is the day I should have that spring fever, looking on to better horizons. I walked into the office and two co-workers were sitting there one of them making a crude joke to our secretary. OKAY! Not so crude, but it was “who invented marriage……women, haha” well I’m sure he was about to back it up with a list of points, but the Holy Spirit was preparing for and interjection. “GOD, God is where marriage came from, when He removed the rib from Adam, Adam said ‘this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’ after this is stated the Bible says ‘That a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife and they become one’.”

A few opinions were made, but someone much more powerful was giving someone undeserving the strength to spread the word. “What is so amazing about this verse, is that from the very beginning God created marriage, and specifically mentions that a man should leave his father and mother, when these two had no father or mother, from the very beginning it was assumed that the father and mother were still ONE, from the very beginning we see God’s creation of marriage and how divorce should be non-existent

Well, since I had a captive audience, I had the blessing to speak of other small things. Then was challenged with the “why does God let little children be murdered.” well, it was a long discussion, revealing that the dark prince of this world ‘Satan’ has dominion, though God is in control. But, we are gifted with free-will and have the opportunity to kill anyone, a moral obligation not to. Also, that God good He is the creator of love; everything bad in this world is from the devil, it is simply just sin.

Finally, this mini-sermon, focused on prayer and healing, blessings, promises, living eternally in heaven made perfect and new. My friends, what is so amazing about this is that though I have tried to share the Gospel with many before, I did it in baby steps, or allowed the listener to have control. This time though, the Holy Spirit gave me the right words to say, the correct attitude to approach it and perhaps the last time to share it with these two. I had other places to go, so I left with both of them speechless, and that is how our Wonderful God works, such a beautiful experience, the first of many to come. That is what excites me about Monday’s Mission, I am going to a new job, with more people, still in small group settings. Yesterday I was discouraged about the pay cut, but today I am ecstatic for the opportunity to share the Gospel with someone who needs it. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path” well, the lay-off has led my path to a new place, hopefully temporary, but long enough to ignite or re-ignite the flames in the hearts of everyone I come in contact with!

Some Years Are Diamonds!!

The first two years of marriage went by, so fast! I landed a decent paying job in Dallas, purchased a new Car, even purchased my first home. Almost one year if not to the date of Nathan being born, we were expecting again, the following June our son Preston would arrive. There were a lot of spiritual highs during this period, my new family attended church with our in-laws, Victory Tabernacle, a Pentecostal Church. The Holy Spirit worked with me greatly at this time, I had never been baptized when I was younger, so it was at this church that I finally made a public declaration of my faith. In this church I had an older lady tell me that I would have a wonderful ministry one day as she prayed over me. It was also in this place that God would speak to me, to my heart, to my mind, that well I had a responsibility in the ministry, some people refer to this as a calling. Me on the other hand, I said ‘Nope’ not this guy, here I am moving up in the world, doing good, acting right, isn’t that enough. Also, the ministry is so unrewarding, the pay is horrible, the hours are constant, your house always has to be clean, your children always have to behave well. God had the wrong man, this man was doing it his own way!
So after awhile, I started denying the holy-spirit at church, I would try to tune out the sermons. I would volunteer for overtime on Wednesdays so my presence would not be expected. I started drinking alcohol on a daily basis, started finding reasons to dislike the church. This would lead me back to doing drugs, not being an attentive father (our in-laws lived three doors down, so they did most of the child-watching). It was simple, wake-up, go to work for as long as possible, come home, smoke some pot, snort some coke, drink some beer. Why? Because that was proof that I was not supposed to be a minister! Well, let me tell you what it did prove, that our young marriage was on the rocks, we would seek out pleasures of the world instead of seeking out direction from our God. I came home a little early one day, was instructed to go to the local park to find……well to be crushed again, to realize my marriage had become a hoax, it was pointless, it was over! 3 1/2 years from the beginning to the end, for Christmas that year 1998, I got a divorce.
Well, you cannot be divorced and be in the ministry anyway, so I had won that fight, God would have to hire someone else. Honestly, I was a wreck, hated my friends, hated my ex-wife, hated my job, hated my life. I stopped doing drugs and just stuck to drinking or hanging out with friends at the bar, but mostly I would sit alone and drink patiently waiting for the alarm clock to scream at me again, to make it another day at work.
Now there are a million things that could have changed these problems, but there is only ONE that would have. That would be at almost any point me just giving 100% to God, that would have to wait. As the river carried my carcass along until I washed up on the shore of another failure, I would remain hollow and harden my heart that much more.

Okay, so of all the devious things I had done in my youth, one thing stayed pretty ingrained into my thinking; Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery! Oh, how many youth pastors did I hear talking about that, how many hell-fire sermons were barked at us during church camp. Keep yourself pure, that if you have sex before marriage, you become one with that person, and on and on and on. Well, they had me convinced, don’t think like that, so while most of my regular friends were trying ‘adult’ things, I would avoid the situations all together. For I had decided that if there was one thing I would preserve, it would be that sacred bond between a man and a woman, until I was in love, until I was married.
After having my face kicked in at 17, I kind of figured maybe mom and dad were correct about a few things. I would move back in, try to right some wrongs, get another job, you know start over. I finally got a driver’s license, purchased my first crappy car a 1977 Toyota Corolla, Mustard Yellow. $300, a complete brake overhaul and a rigged up headlight switch was all it needed, that and of course it had to be hot wired as there was no ignition switch. That car landed me a job working at an Kwik-Kar oil lube center, so life was improving. My parents then handed me down a 1987 Isuzu Trooper and I sold the Corolla to a co-worker. Anyway, the Isuzu was a nice ride for a drop-out, nice enough that when I met my first real girl-friend, she would be impressed with my ride and my style. I was impressed with her too a 15-year-old drop out, talk about a match made in heaven. Well, when heaven makes a match, people like me tend to strike it and watch it burn. It wasn’t long and that commandment that once meant so much, meant a little less and less each day, to which it would eventually be broken. Plus, when you’re 17 and in love with a 15-year-old, you don’t need to use protection, because you are safe in each others arms! A few days of morning sickness, a trip to planned parenthood and it was confirmed I was going to be a father-woohoo!!! Three months into that pregnancy the relationship took a hiatus, I was left crying in the rain as they say and well things in life just don’t always bring the happiness we expect. Maybe, I should have listened to those pesky youth ministers.
Austin, Texas is a wonderful town to clear your head for a month, especially when you are 17 and have the world figured out. I tried it, then returned home again, the Isuzu broke down and I ended up buying a motorcycle. The motorcycle was the path to get my girl and baby back. Late one evening I would be hit by a drunk driver on it, break my right foot and find the quality care that our local Hugely hospital has to provide. The ex-girl friend received the call, felt sorry for me, came to see me at my parents house. A little more pre-marital sex and the relationship was healed-Hallelujah! July of 1995 I was married, I was 18 years old, she was now 16, our son Nathan was born September 1st, but hey at least he wasn’t born out-of-wedlock!
This was honestly one of the toughest years of my life! Having a child at a young age, well you can see the miracle of birth, but there was no miracle in the rest of that time frame. I now had full understanding of what it was to have a heart that was crushed, and a co-dependency/insecurity issue large enough to go back to the source of that heartache! Regardless, I was now a man, in a mans world and I had a child in a world that demanded money, little of which I had. I also had a wife though, not a lot of 18 year-old men, get to run home to a 16-year-old wife everyday, but lucky me, lucky me!!!!
So many things happened in this time frame, it would take a month to explain them all. This was the big one though, the beginning of the story of my adulthood, the invocation to my life story, the warm-up before the race. I was about to see the world in ways that many others have seen it, but in ways that no one ever should. I was entering a rat race and I would spend the next decade surrounded by cats ready to devour me.
There were spiritual highs on the horizon, so don’t give up on me yet. Just hang in there until my next memory I’m sure it will be a great one. If not, just sit back and laugh it off, I can handle that too!

Birds of a feather, flock together as the saying goes. Well, this is especially true in youth, it is very, very easy to find like-minded, miserable friends in school. In reality, you tend to hang out with people two steps farther behind than yourself and enjoy jumping down to be an equivalent. Whether it be smoking, drinking, skipping school, it really doesn’t matter, because at 15 the world sucks and so does anyone else who would try to prove it otherwise. It was at this age that I began to really understand what a hypocrite was, how adults lie, people cheat, the majority of the world will take advantage of you and the things you desire will detest you. Within me, was this soft loving spirit (deep within), but I had swallowed that away on occasion someone new would come into my view, a cute girl at school, a smart girl at church, a person above average who got much respect. So from time to time, I would open up a little and try to express that I wasn’t such the bad kid, to show that I had a pleasant person on the inside a spirit of love within. I was weaker than the other kids my age, shorter, red-hair and maintained a pretty bad reputation. So, when these nice girls came into my life, they would usually laugh me out of their world faster than I could try to love myself into theirs. Then, on the days that I would just try to honestly do what was right, I would be punished for something I had done before…..Youth was a useless cycle.
Suicide was never a thought of mine, that was too simple, self-abuse and mutilation, well that was just pointless. So I remained in a spirit of hatred whenever I was shot down, I would just harden myself that much more. When another bully wanted to bully me, I would just bully someone else that much more. Talking down to anyone gave me a feeling of greatness over people, witty comments, disregard for humans emotions, they all became funny to me! Church had become a joke to me too, of course the preachers kids played the piano, of course the youth ministers kids were the most popular, of course the wealthiest kids would always decide what activities would be done. Church was not a reflection of any scripture I had read, the sermons were boring, the music uninteresting and the ridiculous amount of time my parents invested into the whole show, well that just made me even more angry. That heart I had surrendered to Jesus when I was 7, well He could have easily taken it back, because I no longer had it. I was no longer angry with the world, I was pissed off at it, from then on it would really just be my way.
I was suspended a few times, constantly in detention, in school suspension, Saturday school, expelled in 10th grade, then just dropped out the next year. There was in that time two people who were influential to me, adults who actually saw through me and loved me anyway. My shop teacher Mr. Fathergill, a WWII veteran, tough as nails, but sincere as anyone you would ever meet. Then this guy David from church, he was a re-covered alcoholic, with three daughters, I disrespected him plenty. Yet, Dave would on occasion throw me up against a wall, get in my face, he once even tracked me down after I had dropped out, drove me around and tried to get me to pray for forgiveness, I would just laugh. What would be the point?
I had a job, working at Pizza Hut, then after dropping out, picked up two other part-time jobs. It kept me busy enough to stay occupied and gave me enough money to buy weed and alcohol to enjoy on my days off. Hard work was never beneath me (thanks Grandpa), work life was way better than school life at least people respected you for your dedication and didn’t focus on ruining the day, instead everyone just wanted to get the job done, then go home. I moved out when I was 17, started trying heavier drugs, cocaine, meth, more beer, pot daily, huffing paint, just whatever to take the edge of life off for a bit. In one of those settings, I met someone more full of hatred than me, I was attacked, had my front tooth kicked out and a knife held up to me being asked why he shouldn’t just kill me, because I was a joke to him. Which reminds me of another attack the previous year, where I was attacked by another man, in a situation I really won’t discuss, I will just say I was still a child, I will forever have a hatred towards pedophiles and scars don’t go away like black eyes, front teeth can be replaced other things cannot.
Anyway, So this is kind of how my life was formed prior to becoming adult. The worst part of most of it is that once again at any time had I just followed the guidelines of the God who entered my young heart, a lot of these problems would have been avoided. I was just a teenage then, I knew it all anyway!

We Say Ya’All in Texas

Moving to Texas the summer I turned 12, well it was pretty rough. We went from living in a beautiful house in the mountains, into a run down farm house in Crowley. A nice school district, but with more of a stuck up environment. My dad received a job transfer only to be laid off almost immediately after moving. Life was difficult attending a school where students compared labels and lifestyles. Plus, I learned a few things about how bad the American education system is, when I was informed we were moving to Texas (1988), I cried because I thought we would have to sell our cars and ride with a horse and buggy. It doesn’t end there, my first week of school, when I would tell people I was from New Mexico, I was asked a half-dozen times, “So is this your first time in America?”. 

Anyway, this school really released my inner demons, I tended to hate everyone. I mastered my skill of disrespecting adults, fellow students, anyone with authority. In fact, I cannot recall one teacher that I offered respect to, I had became a jerk. Fighting within the home became intense, finances were rock bottom, my brother, sister and I had went from a six bedroom home, into a two-bedroom, where we all three would share one room, one bathroom and two space heaters. I didn’t understand what humbling was, instead I saw anger in everyone who had more, I had a distaste for anyone who seemed to have it all. Church wasn’t any better, all of those kids came from homes who there parents had jobs, nicer homes and what seemed to me, better lives.

My anger increased toward my  parents and all hell broke out between my siblings. I would happily walk out of church and roam around the neighborhood, mainly just to make my parents angry. As the year progressed so did my negative attitude, a depression began in me, it grew to the point to where my parents (with school recommendation) checked me into a mental hospital, where I would be diagnosed with Manic-Depression. I spent a few weeks there, my dad received a new job, we purchased a home in Burleson, the next town over and life carried on. In Burleson, I wasn’t so full of hate, instead I learned how to swallow my feelings, to start keeping things inside, because the outside world was undeserving of my feelings. The only thing I shared was my negative opinions and smart mouthed remarks to any authoritative figure. This attitude would remain with me before my next shift what I started high school, we will save that for another time.

The only thing that did keep me in focus on occasion was going to Church camp in the summers, I was always surrounded by youth who had shining attitudes, goals and hope. Church camps and seminars all seemed the same, no one judged you on your house, your clothes, your family situation, because in this setting you could hide it all. You could just feel like one of the happy kids for a week, and it might follow with me for a few weeks, then the anger would return, I’d swallow another bad day and move on through life, godless for the most part.

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“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep'. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

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