Sticks and Stones

Posted: January 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

the words we say mean somethingWe are taught as kids, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” And it makes sense, right? By repeating this mantra, mocking, jeering, and teasing are magically reduced to fairy dust and troll farts, never to harm you or another soul again.

The barrage of negative, condescending talk from others continues into our adult lives at work, home, and unfortunately even in the Church. And again “Sticks and Stones” runs through our minds, too childish to escape our lips.

But it’s a smokescreen. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What is said to us and about us means something.

We build walls to keep people at a distance, but still the words cut. What was meant to be spell of protection from insult and injury becomes a mask. Words used as weapons slip past our defenses and we force a smile.

But it’s a ruse. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What is said to us and about us means something.

And we too use those same harsh words at times. We relieve ourselves of responsibility by calling it sarcasm. Do you know what that word means? Is it something harsh, yet funny? No. The word means literally, “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt.”

But we’re “just saying,” right? Wrong. Why?

Because the words we say mean something. What we say to and about others, means something.

Is this a tongue lashing directed at you, my reader? Not intentionally. I wrote this for me, the guy who claims sarcasm as “just another service I offer free of charge.” It is for me when my wife Beth and I are exchanging words of disagreement or when I tease her in what I think is a playful manner. It’s for me when my kids disappoint me with their behavior (because God knows they couldn’t have learned it from me).

See, “In the beginning was the Word.” God didn’t wave a magic wand or splash enchanted dust to create the universe: He spoke. Maybe you are thinking, “But those were God’s words.” These are as well:

“The tongue has the power of life and death” Proverbs 18:21

“You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you;” Job 22:28

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4

So let’s be mindful of what we say, remembering that, “Sticks and stones may break their bones, but careless words may wound their spirit.”


By the Word of Our Testimony

Posted: March 4th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

By the Word of Our TestimonyA few weeks ago I gave a friend a ride to Rochester, which is about a three hour drive. No, acquaintance is more accurate, though I believe now we are friends.

See, there’s only a few things one can do when stuck in a car for a few hours with another individual. You can listen to the radio, talk, or sleep. If you know me at all my only option is to talk.

So talk we did.

It started with the small chit-chat, “How’s it going?” Blah. Blah. Blah. But before long we were sharing our history with each other.

My friend is a single guy, and I’m a fourteen-year marriage veteran with five kids (number six due in three months!). He started asking me how I liked marriage and family life. With each question he drew wisdom out of me like buckets of water from a well. I told an almost perfect stranger about past failures and victories few people know. Before long he was telling me his story and what God had done in his life to make him the man he is today.

It was powerful.

Do I think what I said will make a long-term difference in his life and how he someday treats his wife? I hope so. I hope he avoids some of the pitfalls I fell into and that he develops the type of relationship that love stories are written about. I may never know.

One thing I do know is that God accomplished something in us. This past Sunday Peter Hopper shared at our church about the power of our testimony. When we open our mouths to speak, not only is the other person strengthened but so are we. We are better men, better Christians today because of that talk. We shared our lives, our testimonies of how God has dealt kindly with us despite our transgressions and in doing so broke some of the lies of the devil in our lives–that we are alone and no one can understand our struggles or has overcome them.

And I know it can’t just be me. I believe there’s something deep inside us all that longs to be seen by others. To be known.

Sharing our story with others is part of that. Anyone can love the “good” us, the façade we put on display when we pretend that everything is OK and we are perfect (or at least better than “so and so”). One of love’s greatest powers is knowing the good and the bad about a person and still loving him despite his failures.

Answer that call deep inside you and share your story with someone today. Heck, share it here. Not only will it bring victory into your life, it will bring it to theirs as well.

Revelation 12:11 ” And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (ESV, emphasis added)


How Tall Will A Tree Grow?

Posted: December 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

At first glance, the question appears unanswerable. There are too many variables, right? A definite answer across the board seems elusive, but it can be answered.

Whether the tree’s a gargantuan redwood or a Lilliputian size dwarf willow, the answer is the same; a tree will grow as tall as it can.

You may be thinking, “What a cop-out, Mooney,” but hear me out.

Regardless of the breed, each seed has the potential to grow as tall and fruitful as its species will allow. Even if you compare specific species they still grow to different heights depending on a number of factors like soil, temperature, and precipitation.

If the tree is devoid of essential nutrients or exposed to harsh elements its growth will be stunted, but if given a healthy environment it’s free to grow to its fullest potential.

We’re like that.

Each one of us is different, with our own unique personalities and quirks. Each of us has a different level of talent and potential. In order to become what God has intended for us, we have to create an environment that fosters that growth. This includes praying and reading the Bible, not as a matter of obligation but with a desire to know God. It means excluding activities and relationships that aren’t beneficial to this relationship.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.  Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.


Hearers only?

Posted: October 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: It Hurts So Good, My Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I listen to a lot of teaching material and sermons at work. Many of these are from YouTube and the video plays in the background while I work (they are not a visible distraction). When I need to get up, I pause them, and I have noticed a trend.

Here are two screen captures that I took of recent YouTube teachings. One is a seminar by Jim Rohn, and incredible personal development guru. The other is a sermon at a church. Can you tell me which photo belongs to which teaching? (I blanked out their eyes for privacy)

If you couldn’t guess, the left picture is the sermon, the right is the seminar. There is a distinct difference in the two. In the sermon picture, the attendees are observing the teaching and committing it to mental memory.

The people attending the seminar are participating and writing down the information so they can go over it again later.

Given the different level of participation in the teachings, which group is more committed to the topic at hand?

Which would you say is the group simply hearing?

Which do you think are more likely act on the information they are receiving not just that day, but weeks, months, or years down the road?

Which are you?

 


aka “Fast Food” Jesus

Posted: July 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: aka My Jesus, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

What’s your favorite fast food fix? You know, your go to “heart-attack-in-a-sack.”

Mine is a double cheese burger value meal at McDonald’s. Unless it’s breakfast, then it’s a breakfast burrito meal with what they consider to be “hot” sauce. It’s crazy, but I love McDonald’s food.

Once in awhile.

To eat it everyday would not only get old, but be completely unhealthy (see the Super Size Me movie). Plus I always get the same thing, so after a few trips the the Golden Arches, I have to avoid it for a month or so in order to get the craving back.

Sometimes I treat Jesus like that, like a “Fast Food” Jesus.

I get a craving for Him because I love to talk with Him. To quote local Pastor Jeffrey Smith, “I love me some Jesus.”  In these moments I open the Bible to my favorite chapter (Psalm 27) for a minute or turn on Pandora to my favorite station (Skillet/Red/Bride). They’re my go-to spots that satisfy my appetite until I can get in some real quality time.

Now, is having a Fast Food Jesus a bad thing? Not in moderation.

While McDonald’s is food, and it can sustain you for quite some time (I ate it every day for about four years in my teens), it’s not what my body required to run properly. I need more than short bursts of Psalm 27 or turning on “Jesus Radio” while my talk radio is on commercial. In themselves, they aren’t enough to keep my spirit man healthy. There simply is not enough nutrition to be found through the window of a drive thru experience with Jesus.

Only having this type of experience with God can get you in a rut resulting in a mundane Christian life. Break out of the same old routines you have and try something new! There is so much of Jesus to experience and share. Comfortable is OK but new is adventure!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ” ~ Jesus of Nazareth

ANd yeah, you have to tell me what your favorite is. I wasn’t joking about that part.


Hand to the Plough by Sons of Korah

Posted: May 22nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Ever hear a song that’s so deep it haunts you? Enter “Hand to the Plough” by Sons of Korah. It hurts so good. If you don’t care to listen to this acoustic version from their living room, at least read the lyrics which I put in under the video. Oh, and you’ll have to buy the actual CD if you want the song as I can’t find it digitally anywhere. I guess the Outback is still catching up.

If it hits you like it hit me, please share it on facebook, we could all use a little more conviction.

 

Lyrics:

You say that you’re following Jesus
But I don’t think you know what it means ‘
cause all I can see is
you with your dreams saying,
“Jesus, won’t you come follow me?”

He gave you His life He gave you His Spirit
He gave so that you could give too
He said, “Follow me! There’s work to be done”
and “the workers have always been few.”

You say that you’re following Jesus
So follow and no looking back.

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are drowning outside.

You say that you’re following Jesus
But you’re giving me reason to doubt
You pray, “0 Lord bring in the
blind and the lost!”
But you never pray, “Lord send me out!”

The harvest is plenty
but the workers are few
And the reason could
be that the worker is you
So test all your dreams
Your goals and ambitions
Do you really believe that the gospel is true?

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are
drowning outside. (twice)

Imagine you’re a doctor
sent away to the war
Sent by the General to tend to the
poor wounded soldiers
in the battle out there
But all you ever did there
was treat your own wounds
care for your comforts
never leaving the room to go out
to the battle outside

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are drowning outside.

You say you’re alive
but I don’t see you living
you say you’re a servant
But I’ve never seen you serve.
O where are the faithful;
the Lord’s precious few?
O where are the workers?
Does anybody know?

Words and Music by Matthew Jacoby


A Light In The Darkness

Posted: December 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality, Writing | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

umm, yeah. Here’s a little ditty I wrote four years ago. Enjoy

I own a store called A Light in the Darkness. It’s a quaint little shop with thousands of different lamps, chandeliers, and the like. I also sell the bulbs for every model you could think of. Our shingle reads, “My light will free you from any darkness.”

When you walk through the aisles, every lamp is lit so you can see how brightly they shine and what type of light they cast. They scream, “Look how bright my light shines! I have what it takes to free you from darkness!”

The display lamps scoff at the others still in the package. They call them useless and tell them how dull and insignificant they are sitting boxed on the shelf. “See how much light I give off? And you just sit there doing nothing.”

All of the lights are in separate rows, so you can clearly see their labels and what each is good at. Sometimes you can hear them argue about who does their job better and why they’re so important.

It’s ironic how proud the lights on display are, because they are the ones that never leave the shop.

The lights that are still in the package, they are my greatest asset. They have the potential to be everything and more that the display lights are, but are content to remain where I put them. They wait for the day that I take them from the shelf and send them to be the light that frees someone from darkness.

And that is important, because I have a specific light for every need. And not everyone knows what type of light is needed for their particular circumstance. These customers are easy to spot as they wander around my store from aisle to aisle looking for the one that’s “just right.” I’ve had a few complaints that it’s hard to know which light to choose when they all say they are the best. So I help them and guide them to a shelf, giving them the light that’s just right for their need.

I wish the display lights could be used to help someone, but they are too busy trying to outshine the others and too afraid to leave the store. They fear that they might be unplugged and their lights cease shining. I try to tell them they will be plugged in again when they are ready to be used but their fear paralyzes them.

So I am surrounded mostly by display lights who give light to no one but themselves in a store that is already lit, while a handful wait patiently for me to send them.

So how can I help you today? Remember, my light will free you from any darkness.

 


Venom and Song Releases Today!!

Posted: June 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Storm Amazon.com With Us!

venom and song amazon blitz

Mark Your Calendars! Light the torches and gather the pitchforks!

Tuesday, June 22nd at 7pm, EST we will storm the Cybergates of Amazon.com and seek to propel Venom and Song to great heights on the Amazon Bestseller Chart!

Last year, we Blitzed for Curse of the Spider King, and the ranking went from 73,000th to 365th in one 24 hour period! And that thanks only to my generous readers, their friends and family.

This year, we are defining and actual time to shoot for. This will concentrate the effect of book purchases and hopefully launch Venom and Song into the top 100 or even better!

If you are planning to purchase Venom & Song anyway, would you please consider purchasing it from Amazon.com. It’s very important to have the purchases fall between 7-8pm on Tuesday, June 22nd. This maximizes the jump up on the Bestseller list.

Why do this?

Books that hit high on Amazon’s bestseller list get seen by a LOT more people. That exposure tends to generate LOTS more sales, which of course, starts a wonderful cycle. High purchases in the first week of release also tells Amazon that this is a book to push, so Amazon tends to include it in their eMailings, etc. And better still, the opening sales tells the publisher to plug in more marketing muscle to a book that is succeeding. So please consider joining us on June 22nd for the 2nd Annual Amazon BLITZ.

http://www.christopherhopper.com/2010/06/storm-amazon-com-with-us/trackback/


aka Rock Star Jesus

Posted: February 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: aka My Jesus, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

I am a head-banging rocker. I always have been, and will always be. I love guitar shredding licks and earth shattering solos. I’ve always dreamed of being able to play like the greats: Satriani, Johnson, Page, Van Halen, Lang, Sanatana. I’ve been to some awesome concerts, thrashed my head around, jumped up and down, waved my arms in the air, screamed until I was hoarse, sat in awe, and raved at how awesome the bands were.

Man I want to be like that! I want the skills, the money, and thousands of people screaming my name.  I want the recognition, and the ability to walk into a room and own it, with everyone centered on me, and my talent.

Then it reminds me of how I sometimes treat my Jesus, aka Rock Star Jesus.

I go to meet my Jesus at church. I listen to the preacher talk of a man who walked on the earth with amazing power to heal people’s bodies and souls. He had incredible wisdom and authority to speak into people’s lives and bring light into their darkness. Then I look at the cross, “Man I want to be like that!”

Just like at the concert, I leave, listen to my new CD, and life goes on just the same.

See, I don’t really want to be like my Rock Star Jesus, I just want what He has.
To really be like the rock star, it takes hours every day, for years, sometimes playing until the fingers bleed. While everyone else was out playing or doing whatever, the rock star was locked in his room running through scales and riffs, learning theory, and emulating his own rock stars. It takes work, hard work, to get to that level. It costs you your life.

And it is no different for me as a Christian. If I truly want to be like Christ, then I have to be like Him, and do what He did. I have to spend time with Him, study His life, techniques, and ways. Do it every day until His nature is my nature. It takes work, hard work to get to that level. It will cost me my life.

Then I am reminded of this little ditty from John 14:23-24:

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

I say I love him, but do I obey him? Do I spend time every day making my life a reflection of his?

- God, don’t let me be a Jesus groupie. I don’t want to spend my life chasing Him for just one glance, or just one touch, I want to be like Him. Help me to count the cost, and lay down my life to truly gain His.


aka Spare Tire Jesus

Posted: February 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: aka My Jesus, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »
This post is also appearing on my good friend and blood-brother Christopher Hopper’s blog.  Check out his site, buy his books and his music.  He’s awesome!
I am the king of flat tires.  No, make that the Joker, because the number of them I get is truly comical.  I have yet to rotate the tires on my Caravan as every few months, a tire is being replaced.  The circumstances are different, and the names are changed to protect the innocent, but each time I am forced to take my nemesis head on: The Spare Tire, aka. The Donut.

Regardless of the number of times I have subdued this beast, each time is an epic battle.  It seems simple enough, a half twist counter-clockwise, then crank the nut clockwise until you can get the tire out.  I am sure that every night, the engineer of the release mechanism under my van lets out a haughty laugh, admiring his brilliance.  It never works the first time.  It hardly works the fiftieth time.

After the beast has been unleashed, and properly mounted, there is still the matter of driving.  It’s embarrassing.  About the only thing it’s good for is, well, nothing.  It impedes my speed and handcuffs my handling.  The only thing on my mind is how fast can this be fixed, so I can put it back where it belongs; out of sight – out of mind.

It hurts to say, but sometimes this is how I treat my Jesus, as a “Spare Tire Jesus.”

My life is on cruise control, situation normal, and bam! Something goes wrong.  Uh-oh, life can’t go on like this.  I’m forced to get dirty now, to get on my knees and pray for help.  It should be easy to do.  Speaking with Jesus should be an every day event, not just a call I make when I need roadside assistance.

So I get my “Spare Tire Jesus” out, and install him in my life for a time.  And sometimes it’s embarrassing to put Him on display for the world to see. What if people were to know that Jesus was a part of my life? Not just that, “I’m saved,” but that I truly put my trust in Him, that He is as integral to my life as having a fourth tire.

My “Spare Tire Jesus” alters the way I drive my life.  He changes the direction I want to go, and how fast I can get there. This is a good thing.  Jesus is meant to be more than a pull in a certain direction that hampers me getting to my destination.  He is meant to be the navigator and driver.  If he holds the plan for my life, it only makes sense that He knows how to get there better than I.

Well, the situation clears, now what? With my van, I put a new tire on, and pray it doesn’t happen again anytime soon.  But this cannot be allowed to happen with my Jesus.  Instead of being my safety net in case of emergencies, He needs to be my life.  Those times when life gets a flat tire are generally the result of me not following Christ’s examples for living (Matthew 5-7) and are simply His way of saying, “Chris, you’re on the wrong path. It’s time to get it straight.”

Is Jesus your spare tire? Is He only for use in emergencies, hard to get out, and embarrassing to display as you live life?  I encourage you to get out of the drives seat, climb into the trunk, hand Jesus the keys, and say, “Where you lead, I will follow.” He will take you on unbelievable adventures, and there will be no need to worry about getting a flat tire when He takes the wheel.

This is the first in a series I am titling “aka My Jesus.” Check back for new installments!

- mooney