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Forgiveness


For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. —Matthew 6:14-15

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you. — Ephesians 4:32

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness. For the past few months it’s been coming up from time to time and each of those times I’ve given it a lot of thought. I’ve thought about the people who wronged me, about the people who I didn’t really think I needed to forgive, and people that may not realize they’ve done wrong.

Some of these people I have told directly that I forgive them. The scoutmaster, Donn, is one, and one of the other adult leaders from Troop #4 I forgave. When I forgave Donn, I visited the troop on scout Sunday and told him in person. The other adult leader I decided to send an e-mail too. In hindsight, the e-mail wasn’t the best idea (not only because I added too many words) but the leader made it clear that I should have done it in person.

In this age of connectivity where messages can be exchanged instantly, it adds a new layer of complexity and simplicity to forgiving people. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text messaging, etc, there are many different ways we can communicate with people we need to forgive. In most instances, I would say forgiving people in person is the best route. There are times when that isn’t possible, and in those cases we should use the options that are open to us.

The song “Forgiveness” by Matthew West speaks very clearly on the issue of forgiveness.

After listening to the lyrics, we can see that the biggest obstacle we have to forgiving people is ourselves. As humans, we naturally want to hold grudges and seek revenge against those who have wronged us. When we receive Christ and His forgiveness of our sins we become more prone to forgive people. However, because of our natural tendency against forgiving people we have a difficult time with this.

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free

There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed

By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

God wants us to be examples of His Glory on Earth. To do that we have to show forgiveness, grace, and mercy to people even when we don’t want to. God will always help us forgive people, we just have to be humble enough to ask.

What are your experiences with showing forgiveness to people? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

 

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Posted by on March 12, 2013 in Walking with God

 

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A Story of Faith


I found this story posted on Facebook to one of the groups I’m a part of and I wanted to share it with everyone.

A teenage girl about 17 had gone to visit some friends one evening and time passed quickly as each shared their various experiences of the past year. She ended up staying longer than planned, and had to walk home alone. She wasn’t afraid because it was a small town and she lived only a few blocks away.

As she walked along under the tall elm trees, Diane asked God to keep her safe from harm and danger. When she reached the alley, which was a short cut to her house, she decided to take it. However, halfway down the alley she noticed a man standing at the end as though he was waiting for her.
She became uneasy and began to pray, asking for God’s protection. Instantly a comforting feeling of quietness and security wrapped round her, she felt as though someone was walking with her.

When she reached the end of the alley, she walked right past the man and arrived home safely. The following day, she read in the newspaper that a young girl had been raped in the same alley just twenty minutes after she had been there. Feeling overwhelmed by this tragedy and the fact that it could have been her, she began to weep.

Thanking the Lord for her safety and to help this young woman, she decided to go to the police station. She felt she could recognize the man, so she told them her story. The police asked her if she would be willing to look at a lineup to see if she could identify him. She agreed and immediately pointed out the man she had seen in the alley the night before. When the man was told he had been identified, he immediately broke down and confessed.

The officer thanked Diane for her bravery and asked if there was anything they could do for her. She asked if they would ask the man one question. Diane was curious as to why he had not attacked her. When the policeman asked him, he answered, “Because she wasn’t alone. She had two tall men walking on either side of her.” Amazingly, whether you believe or not, you’re never alone.

Keep the faith!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”- Deuteronomy 31:6

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Walking with God

 

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Observations of a Failing Troop


When you find yourself on the outside of an organization you once devoted a large majority of time to, you often find that you can see things in a much different light.

In the fall of 1996 I joined the Boy Scouts of America as a young, 10-year-old Webelos scout. I joined 13 other boys  and started a journey that would make a significant difference on my life. Out of those other 13 boys, only myself and 1 other boy received his Eagle Scout award, the highest award in boy scouting.

After I turned 18 I continued with the scout troop and signed up as an adult volunteer. I spent the next 7 years helping to manage the troop and mentor to the boys in the troop. During this time, God showed me that He was going to make great things happen with the troop. I was thrilled about this! I watched the troop slowly dwindle from 60+ scouts to a meager 13. I was determined to see the troop return to its former glory and God was there to help things along.

For a few years things didn’t pick up much, however within the last two years I was actively involved with the troop, our numbers began to climb. We accepted a group of 7 boys from a local cub scout pack and then had 1-2 more scouts join shortly after them. Within the next year we started receiving interest from scouts looking to transfer into our troop from other local troops. Before I left, we had climbed from 13 boys to 25.

God was finally starting to turn things around and bring the troop where He wanted it. Unfortunately, around that same time I was falling away from God and needed to be pulled back into His fold. So He allowed me to be separated from the troop. After the initial shock wore off and I had learned to hear His voice once more, I started to watch the slow decline of the troop I dedicated so much of my life to.

Please note that these are my observations and opinions. None of these examples are intended to blame or put-down those involved.

I hope that by posting these observations that other scouters might recognize some similar patterns in their own troops and work to prevent what has happened to my troop. I will also point out that I believe that God has some say in the current state that my troop is in. He has shown me that there is still hope left for my troop, and that He still has plans for it.

This list is in no particular order.

  • Respect

One of the most important things that I have noticed while being in the scouting program, is that respect goes a long way. It is quite true that when you give respect, it is returned to you.

During my early years in the troop and for a couple of years as an adult, the scoutmaster–Mr. Clark–was a man who gave respect to everyone and he in turn received respect from everyone. He was one of the best men to have ever served as scoutmaster of a boy scout troop and I am proud that he served as my scoutmaster. Mr. Clark knew the best way to lead a troop was by example. He let the youth leadership plan, manage, and operate the troop while letting the adults handle the behind-the-scenes work. Mr. Clark was willing to let a scout fail so that he could help them learn.

One of his famous lines is this:

“Every boy who goes through scouting leaves with more than he came with.”

When Mr. Clark stepped down as the scoutmaster of the troop, it was uncertain how things would progress. The troop committee and other adult leaders decided upon a new scoutmaster. He had previous experience as the cubmaster of a cub scout pack and was thought to be the best candidate. I will admit that I hoped the position would have been awarded to me, however that was not in the cards.

Donn started out with his head in the right place. The transition from one scoutmaster to another was practically seamless, however at the same time strife began to trickle up through the scout ranks.

Unfortunately, there were many scouts who were not happy with the new scoutmaster. I know at least two scouts quit the scouting program because Donn became the scoutmaster. When I asked them why they decided to leave the program, they both told me that they didn’t have any respect for Donn because he didn’t show any respect to them.

I did my best to patch holes that were made and overall the troop ran smoothly. Aside from a few rough spots, the boys still enjoyed the program as a whole and would vent their frustrations to me. I always did my best to show respect toward each boy and always lent an ear to what they had to say.

Respect is the key to a strong mentoring relationship with scouts and is fundamental to the operation of a successful boy scout troop. When the scoutmaster has the respect of his scouts, the troop will thrive and grow exponentially.

  • Women

This topic may be touchy for some readers, however I do not believe that women should have any involvement on a troop level. I do not mind if women are involved on a committee, district, or council level but they do not have any place with a boy scout troop.

The boy scout program was designed as a place for boys to come together and have a safe place to be mentored by men. When boys reach a certain point, they begin to separate from their mothers and learn to stand on their own. Sir Robert Baden-Powell realized this as did the founders of the Boy Scouts of America. They need positive male role models to help them become men of character.

One of the first problems I have noticed with mothers who insist on being involved with a boy scout troop is this: their children cannot separate from them and learn to handle things on their own.

In my former troop, the scoutmaster was allowing one of the mothers to become significantly more active in the troop. Her children would constantly attempt to undermine the youth leadership and when they didn’t get their way, they ran to their mother for support. They have yet to learn the simple lesson that they will sometimes have to listen to leaders they don’t agree with. Unfortunately I fear that these boys never will learn that lesson.

Another problem with women being involved is that the rules fundamentally change for everyone in the troop. No longer can the troop simply select a campsite and camp. They have other requirements to keep in mind. The women have to have their own area for sleeping (their own room in a cabin, or they have to be x-amount of feet from the troop if tent camping). They have to have separate bathroom facilities (requiring a campsite with male/female lavatories or a campsite that can accommodate this requirement).

This next problem will likely be varied and not apply to a majority of women involved in the scouting program. Unfortunately this does happen and I watched it happen with my former troop.

The woman that was able to work her way into the adult leadership had a very poor choice in wardrobe. Oftentimes when she was in her scout uniform, she would leave the top buttons undone to allow some cleavage to show. Whether this was intended for the adults, boys, or both I do not know, however I do know that it was highly inappropriate and was a distraction to the entire troop. Thankfully, one of the scouts was brave enough to mention that to her and for a few weeks she did button the top buttons of her uniform.

After a while though, she was back to her former ways when in uniform and was even more poorly dressed when out of uniform. This woman is highly manipulative and I watched as she slowly worked the adult leaders to her side.

From the reports I hear out of the troop, she has not changed and is simply continuing to make advances to take control of the troop. In my personal opinion and from what I have observed of her, she is strikingly similar to the serpent from the book of Genesis:

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.”  –Genesis 3:1a

Overall, the boy scout program is designed for boys to have positive male role models to teach them leadership and character. The scoutmaster and other adults I grew up with did just that. They used teachable moments and taught me more than scouting itself.

  • Discipline

I can remember an incident on one campout where some scouts decided that they were going to have a spitting contest one night after everyone had gone to bed.

The chair these scouts happened to spit over was the scoutmaster’s chair. This was poor judgement on their part (they were 13 at the time) but I do believe that the punishment dished out to them wasn’t fully appropriate.

They were told that they had to wash the chair (which I agree with) and then they were told to write about what they did and why it was wrong in addition to having individual conferences with the scoutmaster about it. This latter part of the punishment wasn’t taken well by them and I will say that it was a bit over the top.

Cleaning up the mess they made is one thing. Maybe also have them clean all the dishes and pick up all the garbage. Writing about what they did and then conferencing about it was going too far. They already know that they were wrong, it’s not necessary to drive the point home three times.

By the time boys are scout-age, they know right from wrong. When they are caught, they don’t need reminded time and time again that they were wrong. This simply destroys their morale and self-esteem.

I have found that it is best to reflect on what they did wrong, decide upon an appropriate punishment, and then ensure the punishment is carried out. Nothing more needs said about the incident, it is now water under the bridge.

  • Managing Youth

In any boy scout troop, the key to leading young men and molding them is to men of character is to always show that you’re there for them. One of the most important ways that young men learn is to fail.

“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” — Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins, 2005

The pinnacle of the scouting movement is that the boys should be allowed to lead with adult guidance and supervision. Never should an adult micromanage the boy scout troop.

There is a fine line between micromanaging and guiding. When you guide boys along, you explain your opinion and why you think something will or will not work. You then leave it up to the senior patrol leader to make the final decision and then handle any kind of rewards or consequences.

Micromanaging a boy scout troop is when you give the illusion of an option when you already have planned what is going to happen. I watched this time and time again when a scoutmaster would provide the senior patrol leader a task and then when the senior patrol leader made his decision, the scoutmaster would overrule him and change directions.

This does not teach a young man how to lead a boy scout troop, simply how to listen to a manager. Boy scouting is designed to make men out of the boys that enter its ranks by providing them with the kind of mentoring relationship that Sir Robert Baden-Powell saw that boys needed.

  • Managing Adults

In addition to letting the youth leadership learn how to lead a troop and become a good leader, the scoutmaster also has to make sure they communicate effectively with their adult leadership.

Each adult that is involved with a boy scout troop should have a specific responsibility (or responsibilities). This ensures that the adults  are active in the troop and also makes sure that the scoutmaster does not end up trying to juggle more than he can handle.

It’s also good for the scoutmaster to touch base with all the active adults and get their opinion on his leadership, the state of the troop, any issues with scouts or parents and the future of the troop. This creates an open atmosphere where the adults work together to provide the best possible program to the scouts involved.

  • Patience

It is important when working with youth to remain patient.

Oftentimes with teenagers, they like to have their own schedule. They like being able to choose when and where and what they do. This is one of the ways that young people learn to become adults and learn time management.

As a scoutmaster or youth worker, we have to understand this fact and give scouts the freedom to handle tasks in their own time.

Again, these are my own views on some of the many things I saw go wrong with my former troop. I hope that by posting this other scouters and youth workers might recognize some similarities and make the appropriate changes before things are too late.

The latest update I’ve heard regarding my former troop is that a handful of adult leaders are hoping to approach the scoutmaster and confront him regarding some concerns they have with how the troop is run. I don’t know anything more specific than that, but I can imagine they are similar to what I have listed here.

UPDATE 5/30/2012: Out of the 25 boys that I had the troop up to, only about 10 remain. These 10 show up to weekly meetings and between 6-7 attend monthly camping trips. The scoutmaster is still in charge, still being pulled along by the manipulative woman, and the troop is struggling to stay afloat.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Boy Scouts of America

 

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Emergency Telephone Numbers


I found this on a website my Grandma sent to me and thought I would share with everyone 🙂

Emergency Telephone Numbers

These are more effective than 911

When –

You are sad, phone John 14
You have sinned, phone Psalm 51
You are facing danger, phone Psalm 91
People have failed you, phone Psalm 27
It feels as though God is far from you, phone Psalm 139
Your faith needs stimulation, phone Hebrews 11
You are alone and scared, phone Psalm 23
You are worried, phone Matthew 8:19-34
You are hurt and critical, phone 1 Corinthians 13
You wonder about Christianity, phone 2 Corinthians 5:15-18
You feel like an outcast, phone Romans 8:31-39
You are seeking peace, phone Matthew 11:25-30
It feels as if the world is bigger than God, phone Psalm 90
You need Christ like insurance, phone Romans 8:1-30
You are leaving home for a trip , phone Psalm 121
You are praying for yourself, phone Psalm 87
You require courage for a task, phone Joshua 1
Inflation’s and investments are hogging your thoughts, phone Mark 10:17-31
You are depressive, phone Psalm 27
Your bank account is empty, phone Psalm 37
You lose faith in mankind, phone 1 Corinthians 13
It looks like people are unfriendly, phone John 15
You are losing hope, phone Psalm 126
You feel the world is small compared to you, phone Psalm 19
You want to carry fruit, phone John 15
Paul’s secret for happiness, phone Colossians 3:12-17
With big opportunity/ discovery, phone Isaiah 55
To get along with other people, phone Romans 12

ALTERNATE NUMBERS

For dealing with fear, call Psalm 47
For security, call Psalm 121:3
For assurance, call Mark 8:35
For reassurance, call Psalm 145:18

ALL THESE NUMBERS MAY BE PHONED DIRECTLY.
NO OPERATOR ASSISTANCE IS NECESSARY.
ALL LINES TO HEAVEN ARE AVAILABLE 24 HOURS A DAY.
FEED YOUR FAITH, AND DOUBT WILL STARVE TO DEATH


 
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Posted by on July 10, 2011 in Walking with God

 

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Two Traveling Angels


I received this e-mail from my grandma a while ago and after reading it again I wanted to share it with all of you.

This work is not mine and was simply sent to me.

 

Two Traveling Angels

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a
wealthy family.

The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the
mansion’s guest room.

Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement.

As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole
in the wall and repaired it.

When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied,
“Things aren’t always what they seem.”

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but
very hospitable farmer and his wife.

After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels
sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest.

When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and
his wife in tears.

Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in
the field.

The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how he could have let this happen.

The first man had everything, yet you helped him, she accused.

The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and
you let the cow die.

“Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied.

“When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was
gold stored in that hole in the wall.

“Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his
good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it.

“Then, last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death
came for his wife I gave him the cow instead.

“Things aren’t always what they seem.”

Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things  don’t turn out
the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that
every outcome is always to your advantage. You just might not know it
until some time later…

Some people
come into our lives
and quickly go.

Some people
become friends
and stay awhile…

leaving beautiful
footprints on our
hearts…

and we are never
quite the same
because we have
made a good friend!!

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow a mystery.
Today is a gift.
That’s why it’s called the present!

I think this is special…live and savor every
moment… This is not a dress rehearsal!

 

Right Now –

-somebody is thinking of you.
-somebody is caring about you.
-somebody misses you
-somebody wants to talk to you.
-somebody wants to be with you.
-somebody hopes you aren’t in trouble.
-somebody is thankful for the support you have provided.
-somebody wants to hold your hand.
-somebody hopes everything turns out all right.
-somebody wants you to be happy.
-somebody wants you to find him/her.
-somebody is celebrating your successes.
-somebody wants to give you a gift.
-somebody thinks that you ARE a gift.
-somebody loves you.
-somebody admires your strength.
-somebody is thinking of you and smiling.
-somebody wants to be your shoulder to cry on.

SOMEBODY NEEDS YOU TO SHARE THIS TO THEM

Never take away anyone’s hope.  That might be all they have.     AMEN

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2011 in Random, Walking with God

 

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God and Boy Scouts


Due to extenuating circumstances, I was required to take a leave of absence from the Boy Scout program about 7 months ago. At the time I was upset about the whole thing but as time passed, I learned that this was part of God‘s plan for me.

After accepting this truth, I found that it was much easier for me to accept my circumstances. A couple of months ago I found myself becoming bitter toward the scoutmaster of my former troop and the person who I believe is responsible for some of the negative opinions that were made against me. Knowing that I didn’t want to become hateful toward the scoutmaster or the other person, I began praying that God would teach me how to forgive them.

One of these nights I was listening to some worship music and heard God speaking to me. He took me through a short train of thought where I came to realize that His justice is perfect. I knew that night that God was working in my favor and would do what He needed to do.

The next blog post I plan on publishing is a list of observations that I’ve made about my former boy scout troop and the downward spiral it has taken over the last few months. One of the next blog posts I plan on publishing is a list of observations that I’ve made about my former  boy scout troop and the downward spiral it has taken over the last few months. With any luck, other scouters will see the post and make any changes to their own scout troops if they see similar patterns emerging.

Regardless of the fact that I stepped down from active leadership, God still has plans for my former scout troop just as He had plans when I was actively involved. He placed my brother in charge of the troop as the senior patrol leader; one more step toward stalling the inevitable. Unfortunately, there have been some new developments that cause me to believe that the troop has finally tapered out of its slow decent and is now in a nosedive.

Through it all, God remains faithful to those who trust in Him.

What are some ways that God has been faithful to you? Leave your story in the comments.

 

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Jesus Through the Bible


It’s amazing to think that Jesus shows up in the Bible in more places than the New Testament. Watch this video.

Where have you seen Jesus at work? Leave your story in the comments.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Walking with God

 

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