ICE CREAM ALERT!!!!

My wife and I are enjoying spumoni ice cream tonight!!!

BOO YA!!!!!!! (1 Chronicles 7:13)

Freedom from Gasoline

Let me begin today’s post by saying that the past three days have been rough, but I’ve had rougher. Aside from nearly ripping the gas attendant’s head off when he shorted me a nickel when giving back my change, I’ve remained rather chipper! My first day without coffee in who-knows-how-long, Friday, wasn’t pretty, as I found myself in a haze for much of the work day, unable to answer questions, forgetting my name in SEVERAL conversations, and getting into someone else’s car and driving three miles before realizing I don’t normally drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee, I drive a Ford Taurus (Also, who knew I DID NOT know how to hot wire a car? It’s still unclear how I pulled it off Friday.

Grand theft auto may or may not have happened on Friday, but one thing that’s certain is it’s been a downhill battle ever since. So far, so good.

Now, how about we talk about freedom from fear of economic trouble?

Since the oil catastrophe off the coast of Louisiana happened, everyone is concerned. About the families of the 11 workers who died, or the fact this has been declared an environmental disaster? Sure, that discussion is being had, too, “but what about the gas prices???”

As usual, I can’t say I’m not guilty of this. I know I have been involved in this conversation, and I’ve even started it a number of times. I’m not sure whether we talk about this because we are truly worried about it, or because it’s something to talk about, but words are cheap. If we are truly worried about it, we should do something, and if we aren’t worried about it, we should find something more uplifting or enjoyable to talk about. 

Plus, the weight of this is catastrophic, and certainly by the measure of economic loss, we must take note of how that will affect our nation’s well-being as a whole. But, the key here is to take ourselves outside of our situation and look at others’. 

When I hear the news I am hit with a multitude of emotions: feelings of grief for the citizens of Louisiana and nearby states, dissappointment in mankind for faulty work and our undying need for more and more, and sadness for the impending impact on wildlife. Those are all feelings that hit me, but the one that doesn’t rest well is the fear for my own pocketbook. “Great, this means gas will probably go back up to $4!”

As many in America, I may not feel I’m rich, but I most certainly am. While billions of people are dying from hunger across the world, I’m not that at all. In fact, whereas people are starving because they can’t buy or find food, I can buy and find food with great, great ease, but I choose not to eat because I don’t want to get fat.

How sad is that? If there is any economic recession due to this, Americans likely won’t be hurting within their budgets for lack of money for food, housing or electricity, but rather week-long vacations to exotic locations, payments for Cadillac Escalades, and tickets to see Bruce.

And if high gas prices really does put that sort of crunch into our budgets, maybe we should take a step back and wonder … are we too reliant on gas? Those that control gas in this country really have too much power.

 God has given me this blog after supplying freedom and insight into several areas of my life. We can experience freedom from this fear as well, as long as we take away the power it has on us. The more we depend on something, the more it has power over us. If gas prices suddenly shot up to $20 per gallon, I would have to quit my job tomorrow, and that scares me. It looks like I may need to consider other resources, too.

Freedom from Folgers

 This time, it’s real.

I’m quitting coffee. A few of you may be quick to point out that I stated this in a newspaper column two years ago, and within one and a half months had totally derailed and hit the carafe again.

Then it was one cup a day, then two, then three! Then four, then three, then two, then one (for a day!), and two and three and so on and so on. But, I have had coffee in my bloodstream every day ever since, with the exception of only a slim number of days.

OK, to be honest, I’m not necessarily quitting coffee, but I am fasting from it. Why? For starters, I don’t want to be chemically dependant upon anything, ever. That doesn’t stop at prescription drugs, that should also include caffeine. Instead of saying “I’m just not myself until I get my first cup of coffee”, I might as well just introduce myself as “My name is Matt, and my personality, ability and character are completely dependant on a warm, bitter black liquid. Nice hat!”

That’s the worldly side of it, but even that can attach itself to pride. “Nobody will ever say Matt Rennels needed coffee to succeed! NOBODY!!!!!!!!!”    <— See? Sure, but when we bury that pride, the truth still stands that I don’t want to be dependent on coffee, I want to be dependent on God.

Isaiah 40:28-29 – Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is an eternal God, the creator of the whole earth. He does not get tired or weary; there is no limit to his wisdom. He gives strength to those who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy.

DID YOU READ THAT!?!? Man! If we, as Christians, TRULY believed, there would be no need for Starbucks, they would close their doors tomorrow.  It states clearly that God gives strength to those who are tired. It doesn’t say Folgers, it says God.

Now, I’m not telling readers to go home tonight and slam their Mr. Coffee carafes against the wall or nothing, but I know for myself it was time to take a step away. I want total dependence upon the Lord, that’s really what I desire, but if I don’t start with something as fundamental as energy, then my dependence up Him will not go very far.

This will be a freedom. This is a dependence that much of our culture doesn’t even think twice about. Some friends and family may need to start considering interventions for loved ones. If you see ol’ Charlie at the espresso machine, knock that chai out of his hand and give him a full embrace, he needs your help.

Please, I’ll need your encouragement. And if I see  you out and about anytime soon and I’m a bit crabby, just remember that I’m not myself. Ooooooohhhh …

Not Much to Say Today …

Just taking it easy …

And how are you? How was your day? I guess I couldn’t honestly say I took it easy today, since I ran non-stop until I sat down to write this blog. So, instead of the above photo, let’s try one that suits me better:

… Minus the briefcase. But “suits” me! HAHAHAHAHAHA! That pun was spectacular.

More tomorrow.

How to Spend Your Time Wisely: Give it Away

Let’s see … today I spent 10 hours between work, lunch and commuting, 15 minutes exercising, 10 minutes on Facebook, three minutes on Yahoo news stories, 10 minutes cumulative taking my dog outside and standing nearby, eight minutes showering (I’m a guy!), 12 minutes going to the bathroom, 45 seconds staring at the computer screen before I wrote this, 20 minutes preparing food, 10 minutes eating, 15 minutes dressing, 45 minutes looking at shoes my wife is trying on & telling her I like them & watching her decide she doesn’t like them, 30 minutes repairing the blender our dog carried around like a trophy, one minute undressing, and not much, much more.

That’s life? That’s what we’re living for? Odd jobs and other things crammed into a gratuitous work week and into the cracks and crevices of manic busy-ness? I have problems with this. I often throw fits, just ask my wife. I mean, I do have issues with picking a plan for my time and sticking to it, carving out time for friendships, writing, playing music, and even plaing organizing and simplifying my life, but that’s normally when I forget what this life is about.

This life isn’t our own.

Matthew 10:39 – “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

I struggle with it, but this life isn’t. I was having the hardest time of late, because I just couldn’t spend my time the way I wanted, not the way Jesus wanted. When Jesus says “Go!”, I just need to go. FINALLY, that’s becoming a realization.

As a husband, it’s easy to fall into a cycle. The husband needs to provide for his family, so he must get a full-time job with benefits! The husband needs to please his wife, so he must do chores and give her favors! The husband must be a respectable head of the household, so he must become highly involved in community, church,and social events!

Therefore, the husband must be worn out and bitter, huh?

When we give our time not to our families, but to Jesus, He’ll give that time to the families, and, even more importantly, He’ll put joy in our hearts. How many times have you seen a hard working father who is at the end of his rope and stressed into oblivion? He may work harder than anyone you know, but he’s a fuse just waiting to go off, often not the most beloved father, even after all of his work.

Whenever that phone rings, if Jesus says answer it and give up your time, give it up, He’ll reward you with exactly what you are looking for – peace. Do it, and enjoy the reward.

I have been reading a blog, laneannmiller.blogspot.com, and it has truly inspired me. I never met this Hopkinsville woman and had never even heard her name until after she passed away five days ago, but Lane Ann Miller is having a great impact on me right now.

The 46-year old school teacher, wife, mother, and devoted daughter of Jesus spent the final six months of her life sharing with the public – people she knew well and people she never met – intimate details of her bout with stage 4 colon cancer. But she shared it with just delicacy and care, taking note of every detail along the journey, not just her imminent fate, something I believe most of us would be completely overwhelmed with. She had Bigger things in mind. 

Blogs are a slice of our culture today, people are able to share what’s on their heart with the masses whether they have a major publisher or not. And though there are millions of blogs and only a small percentage are actually read, Lane Ann’s blog has earned many followers from a grass-roots beginning back in October, when this small-town family from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, shared what had hit their hearts. Lane Ann and her husband shared several of the toughest questions they were facing, for all the world to see and ask alongside, and her husband is keeping readers up-to-date on how the family is coping with their loss.

Below are a few of the questions Lane Ann asked within her second blog entry, October 15, only days after she had learned of her illness:

  • “If I question how to spend my time in the next few weeks, does that mean I’m not trusting God?”
  • “If I have random thoughts on what/who I would want for a funeral, does that I mean I’m not looking forward to living on the rest of my life?”
  • “If I’m not all perky and positive with the standard ‘pat’ answers of how good God is, does that mean I’m not godly?”
  • “If I say I know God is going to heal me completely, is that me presuming God will do it?”
  • “If I say I know God CAN heal me…and if I completely trust God to do that…how do I know what HE wants to do? Or maybe better than that, does it even matter if I know what He wants to do?”

Lane Ann had bolstered this with her Faith in an all-powerful God, who held her in His arms every step of the way. She wrote: “I choose to endure whatever He decides for me in a way that makes someone see Jesus…”

Please, I invite you to read into this amazing blog. I have only just begun, and it already has started to reshape my heart. See what it can do for yours. The peace they have shown during this storm has been beyond inspiration, it’s proof that it can be done. No matter what the circumstance, we are capable of peace when we are walking with the Lord. Also, please offer your support to this family, they are just beginning to walk through this trial, they can use as much love as possible.

Forty Hours to Freedom

The days are long but the time is short. How does that happen?

I’ve been grinding away at the 40 hour work week for the  past 2 and a half months, and it’s amazing just how much time that actually leaves you. Well, 40 hours plus 5-6 hours for driving, so the 45-46 hour work week.

That leaves time for laundry, taking the dog to the dog park to watch other dogs bite and latch onto his neck, dishes, mowing the yard, reading the Bible, getting sun-dried tomatoes from the grocery store, picking mail up from the mailbox, and getting tacos from Jack-In-The-Box. AND that’s just about it.

It’s a crazy season in life. Is this how we were built to be? The jobs we have are feast or famine, or so it seems, where we are either bored out of our minds, checking Weather.com 5 or 6 times a day just for something to look at, or we are pound-our-fists-on-the-keyboard and heads-on-the-wall busy. We’re either drowsy or manic.

Were we built this way??? Perhaps not, but our society sure is, so that’s what we’re looking at. Perhaps we were designed to be confined to 40 hours of our week at a certain location (with five paid holidays, a handfull of personal days, and more!), and perhaps we can function within this, but maybe we can excel! And not only at the 40-hour work week, but all of life.

Spend your eight hours a day developing. Fight against mundane. And that exists within your mind.  Once you hear a voice saying “that’s not my job!” or “they don’t pay me enough for  this!”, do it without complaint, because you are then stretching yourself and learning new things. Our flesh does not want to develop, it is comfortable sitting in its own skin, but if you make things uncomfortable, interesting things start to happen. If you do this five days a week, you will likely develop into an all new person, the person you always wanted to be! 

It’s ironic, but if we do what we want to do we will become who we don’t want to be, but if we do what we don’t want to do, we become who we want to be.

I like my job, a lot, but it’s just a job. We also can’t put too much stock into that. The people who want their jobs to be much more than jobs are often the people who aren’t plugging enough into the other areas of their life, the spiritual, the friendships, marriage and family, and exercise. The people who expect their jobs to be the answer to their thirst are going to remain thirsty, because it doesn’t work like that. Those people will often end up paying thousands and thousands of dollars to go back to school, only to find they don’t care for that job much, either.

The 40 hour work week is a large time period, but it’s not a waste. There is a lot of development to be had, we just have to seek it out.