The Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I don’t’ know when this song first had an impact on me, it’s meaning has changed over time as I have heard it year after year. In the last few years, it has changed from a song of dispare to a song of great hope and joy! I love to hear it and in my church, the organist really makes it wonderful and uplifting!

In my own life, I have moved through this opinion of the world and mankind in it. I remember a time when I was not interested in the affairs of those around me. It was typical of me to avoid others and not care what happened to those around me. At one point I didn’t even care about my siblings. Over the course of several years, my life took me into hard times and an actual and spiritual all desert.

It took a a few small acts from friends and family to soften my heart. Then I was presented with a choice … the choice between dark and light. The choice between walking the path of faith of the path of rebellion.

I was attending church with a very dear friend of mine, a guy who was and is an example to me. During the sermon, the pastor spoke about making New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t remember most of his sermon, at the very end, he said; “If there is only. one resolution that you make this year, make it to become more like Christ.” It was in that moment a decision had to be make. I was acting like the Israelites and halting between 2 decisions. It took me 3 days to make a decision about what path I would take.

As this year comes to a close, the twentieth year since that day, I have reflected upon the path my life has taken. I have often reflected on the decision I made and all the good things that have come from that day. I am ever so grateful for my wife – Lauren, my 4 boys, the faith that has developed, my education, the experiences, the books, the friends, my home, and job. All the good things that have come into my life, have come from that day.

The relationships with my siblings and parents have improved, my friendships have grown and more friends have come into my life. My gratitude abounds and my desire to share that gratitude and abundance continues to grow the more abundance and blessing flow into my life!

My hope and desire for this New Year is that you will be able to see and experience the blessing and abundance that is there for each and every one of us!

iron wil

da Vinci, Mastery

One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” – Leonardo da Vinci

As this year comes to a close, it just felt like the right quote to close out 2016. We have to control our own selves to shape the world into the place we desire to live in. We have to shape our thoughts, desires, passions, and feelings to create our better selves! Start 2017 with a vision of what you want to become and work to master yourself and see that change develop!

Happy New Year!

iron wil

A Refiner’s Fire

Melting_crucibleLife brings with it many troubling and terrible things. There is pain, death, and accidents that deprive one of limbs and abilities. In fact, there is a statement that goes, “it is amazing what one can live through”. The human body, mind, and spirit are quite resilient and powerful and while God allows us to face the trials of mortality He has a specific purpose in mind. We can’t always see what He is doing while we live in the moment; however, if we walk by faith the path we have been given then when we come out on the other side we can see the miracle that has taken place.

Granted we can’t always see it right away and sometimes we can’t even begin to heal from what has happened. This year my heart has been bruised because 3 wonderful young adult friends of mine have been called home. These are kids that I taught in church or babysat for friends. In January, my friends Stephen Altorfer and Dallin Hilton died in a car accident on their way back to university. I’m just a friend and even now as I see these men as young boys in church my heart is filled with pain and sadness. I can’t even fathom the pain that their parents are bearing. I am tearing up just writing this post. Then a few weeks ago my friend Eliza Bailey died in a car accident, a beautiful young woman with a future of hope and promise. Again, I can’t imagine what her parents are going through. My heart aches for all 3 of these families and I have marveled at how they have handled this pain and loss. I am inspired by their faith and optimism; they know that families are forever and they will be reunited again.

As I contemplated what to write, these thoughts came to mind and then this scripture from Malachi Chapter 3 also came to the forefront of my thoughts. “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (1)

Yes, He will purify us and prepare us for His kingdom if we willing follow Him. Christ knows what we can endure and He knows that when we are at out most painful and horrific moments in life, that He will carry us through if we put all our love and trust in Him. (2) Faith in Christ is not for the faint of heart, the weak willed, it is a course that will be filled with trials and then great blessings and glorious vistas! Over the last 20 years, I have had my share of tribulation and I have reveled in the moments of wonder and glory! I know that there is a long life ahead (or rather I hope) and there will be many more things to come. I look forward to getting to know my God in my extremities, for that is how I will be prepared to return home to Him.

In those experiences, He will be purifying me and shaping me into the type of man He wants me to be. Here is synopsis of how a gold/silver smith knew the metal he was working with was ready.

“The best example I can think of to illustrate this principle is that of the work of a gold or silver smith. the gold smith heats the gold into liquid form until the impurities rise to the top and can be skimmed off. The gold is then allowed to cool and harden back into a solid state. The gold smith repeats this process of heating, removing impurities, and cooling until, after several cycles, the gold has been made free of all impurities. How does the gold smith know when the gold is pure? If when he looks at the liquid gold he can see his clear reflection in it, he knows the impurities are gone. there is nothing left that might obscure his image.

That is how it is with God and us. God uses the heat of trials to burn away the impurities in our lives, if we allow Him. Each time we submit to this process, and it is a process, God’s reflection in our lives becomes clearer and more radiant. As our impurities are removed, we better reflect His glorious image. But notice that times of purification happen when the gold or silver is heated to liquid form, when it is going through the fire and in a less stable state (for all you science buffs) – not when it is cooled and solid. We must come to the end of ourselves realizing that, like the hot liquid, we have no shape or strength and can do nothing in ourselves. It is the Lord that gives us form, after we have been purified. It is the refiners fire that removes the dross from the silver.” (3)

Lastly, I would like to close with this scripture: Alma 5:14 and 19 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?

iron wil

References

  1. Malachi 3:2-3
  2. Footprints, the poem
  3. “Through His Eyes”, By Francine L. Bouwense, page 110
  4. Alma Chapter 5: verses 14 and 19

My Greatest Fear …

IMG_2292… is failure. Whatever task I put my mind to, I have always been able to achieve. It might take time to figure out how to get to that goal or accomplish the task I have set for myself. I attribute this to my parents and the way I was raised. I was taught to never give up and keep my focus on the future to be created.

Two of my life experiences have helped frame this for me.

The first was in the winter of 1988 when I had a paper route. Back then, there was a small community newspaper that serviced the communities around Ft. Meade, MD. A friend was a paperboy and recommended me to the company to cover another neighborhood. This was a great idea since I eagerly looked for any type of work. I took the job with my parents approval and started delivering papers; we also worked 2 or 3 nights a week to get new subscriptions. I thought it was great, because we made a commission and a prize for the new subscriptions. I made it a goal for myself to become the top seller for new subscriptions, it didn’t take long and by the end of 2 months of work I had earned a commission of 400$! For a 13 year old this was awesome!

The second was in 11th grade, when my history class took a 3 day study on propaganda used by Germany in WWII. This caused me to be 3 days late on my term paper. I misunderstood the teacher and thought that I would always have 3 extra days to work on my assignment. Well, I found out after the second due date that I was wrong. I ended up with a cumulative C. I had held the highest A for the first 2 quarters. Another student laughed at me and told me that I would not be able to bring my grade up by the end of the year. I looked right at him and said I will have an A for this class by the end of the year. Oh, I worked for it extra credit and everything else to make sure that I got everything I could. By the end of that school year, I had the 3rd highest A. I was proud of my accomplishment and to prideful to be gracious, and I rubbed it in the other student’s face. Unfortunately, I didn’t get smart enough to ask forgiveness before it was to late.

These experiences helped to shape my sense and ability of accomplishment. I look back on these to events to give myself encouragement and to give me the strength to stick to my goals and see that I achieve them!

iron wil

This is Your Life

A few weeks ago I came across Michael Hyatt and his This is Your Life podcast., his co-host is Michele Cushatt. Michael and Michele deliver great content! I was a bit unsure about it at first. I found it because, I was looking for a new mentor to add to my repertoire for weekly listening and edification.

I listened to a podcast then downloaded everything that he had in the feed, over 80 podcasts! I hand picked some episodes up to season 3. I then listened to those one offs and moved on to Season 4. Three episodes are now saved in my podcast app, they are; Season 4 Episode 8: Goal Setting for Beginners, Season 7 Episode 7: 6 Strategies to become a Better Conversationalist, and Season 7 Episode 11: Ways to Build Trust with Your Tribe. There are many, many other good episodes and I really have been drinking in his thoughts and ideas! I have gained insight into how to do things better for this site and my FB page.

I have also picked up his free eBook “Shave 10 Hours Off your Workweek”, which I am looking forward to reading and I have put his book “Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want” in my audible wish list for my next read. If you are looking for a really great podcast to provide you with ideas on leadership, self-improvement, self-motivation, writing tips, platform management, and a host of other topics to improve your work life balance; I recommend that you subscribe to his podcast and use his experiences and stories to help you work through your own challenges! In the latest episode, Michael said he listens to Dan Sullivan and Joe Polish’s 10xTalk podcast. Get this one too! I started with The Power of Your Personal Story and this episode is off the hook!!

iron wil