The Bus Stop is a series of true stories about my life, people I've worked with and events I've experienced. Of course the names have been changed. I hope these stories will brighten your day with a few laughs as well as give you encouragement. Hopefully you can avoid making some of the mistakes I've made and if you have already made them, then you can identify with me.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Angels of Mercy



Over the last few weeks I’ve been in rehab overcoming some speech and memory problems after surgery with some special help of my therapist Kasey. Naturally I have spent as much time observing others as well as spending some time on my personal recovery and making new friends.

The first thing I realized was many of the people here were in much worse shape than I was and this caused a brief moment of feeling guilty, but also I was filled with gratitude. I knew this could just as easily been me. I am awed by the complexity of people’s physiology how it can be so strong and yet so fragile and resilient.

The next thing I began to watch was the workers and everyone doing their part to make the whole system work. I see the people working and pushing to help their clients move forward and excel in all their endeavors. I see the pain in the patients, but I can also see the hopes in the workers knowing they can help if their clients push through the pain.

What draws these people to this kind of work? What is it inside them that gives them fulfillment and purpose in becoming “Angels of Mercy?” I’ve asked several different workers and it usually falls under the desire to just help people. It probably wouldn’t take too much time to discover there own hurts and pains in wanting to do more than just exist in this life. They want to make their own life counts for more than taking home a paycheck. I can’t help but hear the scripture, “but by love, serve one another.”

There are other Angels of Mercy that I haven’t mentioned yet such as my wife and all the added responsibilities that came on suddenly. She has taken exceptionally good care of me and my sons as well. Then I can’t help but think of those who may not have a loving and sacrificing spouse and once again I feel fortunate.

Then of course the other Angels are the many friends and relatives who have reached out in so many different ways. With the kindness of a message, phone call, visit, provided food and especially their prayers I feel so encouraged to get well.

Many years ago I heard that God shines His light through the holes in our heart and because of the holes in your hearts I’ve seen your light shine.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tribute to My Wife

Back in September of 1978 when I was attending college my second freshman year I met a young lady whose name was Karen Knight. She was a new freshman prospect for dating as all freshmen were. One evening while everyone was hanging out at the SUB I caught her making eyes at me. I learned several years later that she was actually looking at the guy behind me. She just had bad aim. I gradually worked my way over to her and asked her out, she agreed and we went out the next evening to church. Afterwards we were going to go eat somewhere and I asked her where she wanted to go. She said she thought a lot of the students were going to Pizza Hut. This was a problem because I had been dating a girl who worked at the Pizza Hut and we were thinking about breaking up, but we actually hadn’t made it official. I kept suggesting other places to go, but her mind was set on the Pizza Hut.

The only thing I had working in my favor was I knew my soon to be ex girlfriend wasn’t working that night. However, everyone there knew me. I tried to covertly enter the place without being noticed, but of course that didn’t work. Then to make a bad situation worse my soon to be ex girlfriend just happened to drive up. By this time I was practically under the table. At first I wasn’t sure if I had been discovered, but when she got back in her car leaving a black mark for a block and slinging gravel everywhere I soon realized my secret was out. The next step was all the explaining I had to do with Karen.

The old relationship was over of course and surprisingly Karen and I continued to date. After a couple of months I proposed to her and she accepted. Before this time I had never dated a girl for more than a month so I figured since after 2 months and she was still with me this must be the one.

The next summer on August 4, 1979 we were married. We had a wonderful wedding and many friends to attend. The wedding was at her home church out in the backwoods of East Texas that was difficult to find even with a map. Many of my friends that were getting married that summer had been singing to their brides in the wedding. I thought this was a cool idea so I would do the same thing. Stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. When you are already under tremendous stress and fear you should never turn the heat up by doing something stupid. I just knew I was going to pass out before it was over. I was shaking so bad I thought I was going to wear out my tux from the inside out.

After the wedding my groomsmen grabbed me and were trying to carry me off. This was when I learned I did not ever want to mess with Karen. She tore into them like a wildcat and they put me down. We made our escape while the groomsmen were tending their wounds. She actually brought blood on a couple of them.

We headed south and we stopped in Tyler at a pizza place to eat. You will never guess who was at this pizza place. You got it! It was the ex girlfriend. She didn’t live in Tyler or work there. She was a customer. I do not believe in coincidence. I believe there was a message in this from God to let go of the past.

A few years later we began to have children and Karen was a great mother. She worked so diligently with the boys. She read to them, held them and taught them so much. I believe all my boys were reading before they started school. Karen had made so many sacrifices for them over the years as well as many for me.

Over the years Karen has taught me several things…a work ethic, determination, diligence and love. She has stood by me when I was having a midlife crisis, depression and several times of unemployment. Many times I feel like she has given me so much and I have given her so little. Some times the only thing I think I have taught her is patience.

This last August we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary and I have to say I love her more today than when we first got married. We have had some rough times and even were near divorce a few years ago. Some people have asked us what we attribute the success of our relationship. For many years I've always told everyone that Karen and I had nothing at all in common. We had absolutely no similar interest which was true. The other day it dawned on me that we did have some things in common. It was our beliefs, convictions and values. The main thing was God’s grace working in us, but before we got married we made a commitment that no matter what we were never going to get divorced. We actually believed the words, “For better or for worse and till death do us part.” We also figured if we were going to stay together for the rest of our lives, then why not make it a good life.

As our life goes on I ask God daily to teach me how to love my wife more than I did the day before and He’s doing it.

The Temple

A few months ago I had the privilege to go to Baltimore, Maryland. While I was there I was able to see several of the local sights. One day we went to Annapolis for sight seeing and I learned that the Naval Academy is based in Annapolis. The friend I was with wanted me to see the Navy Chapel or Cathedral. When I walked through the doors it took my breath away because of its beauty. After a few minutes of wandering about I began to feel this cold stale feeling. I thought about this for a few minutes trying to understand the spirit of the situation. Then it dawned on me what was going on.

You see, there are many who believe that God dwells in these places of beauty and majesty. This is not true. These places have been created to give significance to religion and man, but not God. These amazing works of craftsmanship and beauty appeal to the emotions and to the eyes. Now here is the really amazing part. God could dwell in these monuments of beauty and craftsmanship, but He chose to dwell in us instead. We are His cathedrals and His temple. How humbling it is to know He chose you and me. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

There are many who make the reference that our body is a temple. This is a true statement taken from the previous scripture. However, many take this out of context and worship their own bodies. There are many health food nuts and exercise fanatics who attempt to take good care of their bodies, but they forget the real matters of importance. No matter how hard we try, our bodies are going to age and eventually die and turn to dust. So much for all that wheat germ and jogging.

The point is, when aging comes and the body fades away…what’s left? I hope you have more than just your body to get through life. Many have learned this the hard way. They got through the first part of their life on their looks, but when the looks were gone, so were they. I remember hearing an interview with Brad Pitt one evening. When the interviewer referred to him as a national sex symbol it seemed to irritate him. He said his mother had told him with attractiveness comes responsibility and looks may get you through the door, but they won’t keep you in the room. In other words, you better have talent behind the looks.

People are composed of a body, soul and spirit. The body of course is the physical part of us and the soul is the mind, will and emotions. Those who don’t have the body fall back on the soul and substitute education, career and personal success. The one which is most important is the spirit and it’s usually ignored. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be aware of our health and education is extremely important. It just doesn’t need to be the most important. The way we should think is just the opposite. The spirit, soul and body. So, what is the spirit? I’ll let you think about this one and answer it in my next letter. I think you’ll like it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Integrity

There are many of us who are able to maintain a balance of our emotions as long as things are going our way. However, when that balance is interrupted by bad news, unexpected attack or if we just don’t get our way is when our true character is revealed. A good friend of mine told me the other day she went out to eat with someone. Something was not right with person’s order and she went off on the waitress and the manager to the point of completely embarrassing and even humiliating her.

A few weeks ago I heard a lady give a great definition of integrity. She said, “Integrity is when our values control our emotions.” Think about that for a moment. Do our values and convictions mean enough to us to control our emotions when life doesn’t go our way? What are your values? I have seen people who have just received horrific news, but were still able to maintain control over their emotions. I’ve also seen those who have received unpleasant news and went ballistic. It’s really difficult dealing with people who live in emotional inconsistency. When they are feeling good they treat you well and when they are feeling bad they’re grouchy, snippy and difficult to be around. This person may be you. I want you to know that just because you are having a bad day does not give you the right to stomp on others. Grow up!

So what’s the difference between one who has integrity and one who hasn’t? Maturity. There are several factors that contribute to the lack of development in our growth. Naturally our background and those who modeled adulthood had an influence. Mistreatment and abuse definitely affect us. Eventually, we have to come to a point of accepting responsibility for ourselves and quit blaming others.

Many years ago a good name was revered as a must. Part of the reason for this is because towns were small and if you were to cheat someone or take part in a corrupt business deal, it would spread quickly and you could lose your livelihood fast. The other reason, people knew the value of a “Good Name.” A good name is more desirable than great riches. Proverbs 22:1 In present day it seems like for the most part this is a thing of the past. The value system now is based on, “Can I get away with it?”

Another definition of integrity is to choose to do the right thing even when no one is watching. Many of the physical problems, depression, sleep disorders, eating disorders and many other struggles we endure today are based on not having a clear conscience. We attempt to justify, minimize or flat out lie to ourselves hoping to feel better, but it just doesn’t work.

The name “Mensch” is a German and a Yiddish word. The Yiddish definition means, “A person of good character and integrity.” Even though I’ve failed to live up to this name many times throughout my life, I do desire and work towards living up to my name. More importantly I also carry the name “Christian.” This name means more to me because I represent Christ. My desire is to love others the way God loves me and carry His name with honor and integrity.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What's Important to You


This question is really broad and will have multiple answers. What I have learned is important to me greatly depends on the situation at the time. If you are traveling somewhere and you drank a 44oz. drink…in about an hour or so I know what’s going to be the most important thing to you. If you have gone three days without eating, I know what’s going to be important to you. If you are driving somewhere and you notice your gas tank is about empty and it is 50 miles to the next gas station, I know what’s really important to you.

It’s kind of sad that we have to be in a crisis situation before we realize what’s important to us. A husband and wife can be in an extreme intense argument concerning who’s supposed to take out the trash and get a phone call that their child was just hit by a car. Immediately the argument ceases and their thoughts are instantly drawn to the greater importance.

The quickest way to determine what is important to us is to have a crisis in our life. This quickly helps us to determine what really matters. On September 11, 2001 our country was attacked by terrorist. For a brief time everything in our country stopped to evaluate what was truly important to us. For the first time in over a century our home soil had been attacked. The skies were silent for about 3 days and since I worked at the airport during this time I definitely felt the eeriness of the quiet skies. For a brief time the churches were filled during this time of horror, but once comfort was found again many resumed their former lives and vacated the churches.

Adversity will always be a part of our lives and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. What we do have control over is how we deal with it and respond. We all have our personal adversities of loss, illness, fears and other problems. Except for 9/11, my generation has never felt the severity of national plight. We as Americans have become prideful and believe we are beyond the grasp of famine and destruction just as many other major empires in history thought before they fell.

The beauty of adversity is that it brings people together. I’ve always liked to watch disaster movies because it put everyone on the same playing field and brought them together. The CEO, doctor, mechanic, housewife and homeless guy were just people trying to survive together. I know we can’t sit around worrying about what might happen, but it may be prudent to stop occasionally and ponder the many things we should be grateful for and take nothing for granted.

There are many people at this very moment being diagnosed with cancer, getting a phone call that a loved one just died, discovering their child has a drug problem or just lost their job of 25 years. This may be you or someone you know. If this is you then allow others to comfort you and if this is someone you know, then comfort them. The Holy Spirit is referred to as, “The Comforter.” But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me. John 15:26 Allow God and His Holy Spirit to comfort you and use you to comfort others. Without Him, there is no hope!

Sometimes what I do to evaluate what is really important is I ask, in 200 years from now is this really going to matter? Take a moment a think about what is really important to you.



Monday, November 10, 2008

To Tell the Truth



Some of you may remember the old game show, “To Tell the Truth” that aired many years ago. It comes back every now and then under different names, but still the same show. The show consisted of the host and four celebrity contestants. Then they would bring out three people which one had an unusual occupation. One of the three people would be telling the truth while the other two tried to convince the contestants they were telling the truth.


If you were in a game show and had a chance of winning prizes or cash I could see that people would really want to know the truth. However, in real life I do not believe this is so. In fact, many times we don’t want to hear the truth. We want to hear what we want to hear. We’ve already made up our minds concerning what we plan to do or want to do and the only reason we seek counsel is to find someone to agree with our decision. I think it’s funny that we usually go to the person we know that will tell us what we want to hear.

Many years ago Karen and I went to a seminar in Dallas. There were over 10,000 attendees at the seminar. I remember the speaker asking a series of questions to the crowd and asking for a show of hands. On every question the group would be split about 50/50 on every answer. Have you noticed that last several presidential elections there has been a similar split as well. It doesn’t seem to matter how large the group is because I’ve seen the same thing in classroom situations as well. So why the 50/50 split? Does this mean that half the group is right and the other half is wrong? Not necessarily. There’s a good chance that both groups are right or both groups are wrong.

The reasons for the varying beliefs can be due to several things such as…background, personality, experiences, present state of mind, feelings or based on something they saw in a movie. Our basic nature is stingy and greedy except in one area. We are always willing to give free advice. I want to urge you to be careful in seeking advice or counsel. I even tell people to not take my word for it because I could be wrong and just because 9 out of 10 people say something is true doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.

In the movie Star Wars I don’t know how many times I heard, “Luke, trust your feelings.” This may be ok for a movie, but in real life this could be the most disastrous thing we could do. Our emotions and feelings are like the tide of the ocean constantly going in and out. We can’t trust something that unpredictable or unstable. Some say, “Follow your heart and it will never mislead you.” Wrong! The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

The other difficulty we have is to let our morality dictate our philosophy. Simply saying is that whatever sin difficulty we have in our life we will have a tendency to change our beliefs, convictions or the Bible to fit in line with our state of living. This might work for awhile, but it will eventually catch up with us.

I hear frequently that there are many roads that lead to heaven. Some may agree there is one God, but he may go by different names. Some argue to say Jesus is the Savior of this world is arrogance because Christians exclude other religions and of course it’s not politically correct. The sad thing is that there are some people who call themselves Christians who have bought into this ideology.

When we are seeking truth we will never find it in people, horoscopes or on the back of a cereal box. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

This is why God gave us His Word, the Bible. He knew that mankind’s thinking had been distorted by sin therefore our truth would always be tainted and varied. The Bible is not a book of rules and regulations, but a source for us to find direction and truth. The question is…Can we handle the truth?

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Vacuum Cleaner

Have you ever tried to vacuum your carpet without the vacuum being plugged in to the electricity? Of course not! To attempt to do so would not only be difficult but stupid. However, imagine for a moment all the dirt and crud your carpet accumulates over a week and then imagine running over that dirt back and forth without the vacuum being plugged in accomplishing absolutely nothing. What a waste of time and effort.

Even though this seems foolish, we are all guilty of this in our walk with God. We futilely try to clean up our lives without being plugged into the power we need to succeed. We don’t clean up anything, just rearrange it. I’ve heard this stuff all my life and I heard countless times about being plugged into the Power of God, but I didn’t understand it. So how does one get plugged in?

Well, the biggest problem is our own pride. We think we can handle everything on our own so we don’t see the need. Our next problem is fear. If I completely surrender to God, what’s going to happen to me? This was my situation for a greater part of my life. So what changed?

I learned when I had nothing left, I was face down in the dirt with no where else to turn and I didn’t care anymore what happened to me…Then I was in the perfect place to call out to God. When we have exhausted all our efforts to be the perfect Christians and let go, then we can let God. This is called purging. People like me who are stubborn and fearful want to try everything except the right thing. We’re not getting the answers to our questions because we’re not asking the right questions. I’ve always had to learn things the hard way.

So, are you still attempting to vacuum your carpet without being plugged in? I hope not, but if you are I hope that soon you realize where the power is located.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Ring



Several years ago my wife and I attended the Life Enrichment Boot Camp to help us with our marriage. The seminar made a major change in our lives, but it didn’t resolve all of our problems. We still had our up and down periods, but we continued the work through the problems and move ahead and continued to learn.

I had intended to buy Karen a 25th wedding anniversary ring on our 25th anniversary, but at the time I didn’t have enough money to make the purchase. I began to set money back here and there so by Valentine’s Day I had the money to buy the ring. The way I intended to present the ring to her was to set up a candle light dinner in the living room and prepare a meal for us and when she got home that evening I wanted to surprise her. I was excited about this and all the plans I had made until…

A few days before the event she had gotten upset with me. I don’t remember what for and it really isn’t important. The fact was…she was upset. She surprised me by coming by where I work on Valentine’s Day and left me a bag in the seat of my car. When I saw the bag I was somewhat intrigued, but that feeling left soon after I opened the bag. In the bag was a note and her wedding rings. The note said something to the effect that she was letting me go and I could do whatever I wanted.

Well of course this hurt and then the hurt turned to anger. At this time I had already purchased the ring and my first instinct was to blow the whole thing off and return the ring. I said, “Fine! If that’s the way she wants it!” However, something inside me said to go ahead with my plans. I really didn’t want to and I resisted at first, but eventually I went ahead with the plans.

The rest of the day was really difficult because I was still hurting and I was going against my nature. Somehow I still had the ability to follow through. That evening when Karen came home she saw the table set up in the living room, lights down, candle and soft music in the background. To say the least she showed no excitement or appreciation for my efforts. She put her things away and eventually came and sat down with me. We ate and had some casual conversation.

When we were through eating I first put her wedding rings back on her finger. Then I gave her the anniversary ring and explained that I had been planning on this for some time now. Somewhere around this time her heart melted right along with the candle.

Since that day I would say that our marriage has continued to grow and we have not had any major circumstances with each other since then. Of course we still have difficulties, but we work through them. I cannot help but wonder…What if I would have listened to my own anger and not listened to God. All I can say is that I am so grateful for God speaking to me and giving me the grace to complete the task because our life together keeps getting better and better.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Growing Up

When our boys were little my wife (Karen) was a stay at home mom, we both felt the importance of raising our own children. I usually had to work a lot of hours to make this possible and these were financially hard times for us both. We had to do without several things during this time. I remember Karen longing for the much needed adult conversation during these days and fortunately she found a few outlets. I do understand the day in and day out life trapped in seclusion with 3 boys under the age of 5.


There were many blessings and pleasures during these days, but there’s not a parent who hasn’t longed for their children to grow up so they could actually communicate with them. When the depth of conversation entails poopy diapers and “uh oh, I tink I boke it” it gets old real fast. We as parents can’t wait for them to grow up. We become all excited when they become teenagers thinking we can finally have more in depth adult conversations, but guess what…they don’t want to talk now.

I can’t help but think God must feel the same way with us. I know He wants to have deep, intimate conversations with His children and He’s excited about us growing up and maturing spiritually. I’m sure He gets tired of the immature prayers of give me, give me, give me. Then when we get to the point we’re finally able to converse, we get distracted with other desires we prefer. He gives us so many blessings…food, clothing and shelter as well as many of our desires. I believe God likes to see us enjoying His gifts as much as we enjoy watching our children enjoy their gifts. As much as we are proud of our child becoming the Playstation champion on the block, we do have greater hopes and dreams for them.

The Warrior

I know this is a long story and even though I had more to say I hope the point is clear.


Once upon a time there were twin brothers, Amar and Avidez that grew up together in a remote kingdom called Paz. Their father was the King of Paz. One of the advantages of living in Paz was that it was far from their enemies. The wars they fought were usually small and short lived due to the distance an army would have to travel to engage them. So why would anyone care to wage war against a kingdom that was so far away? It was because they possessed the greatest treasure of all kingdoms. The greatest difficulty and cause of their enemies defeat was due to the great distance. Armies could not carry enough provisions to sustain their strength therefore starvation and disease depleted the armies before they could engage in a formidable battle.

One day the evil King Diablo, the king of Presidio, devised a plan to defeat Paz. He knew that if he were to capture the Prince’s wives, then the King of Paz would send his army to him. Then the roles would be reversed and King Diablo would have the home field advantage as well as complete, healthy and whole troops.

The two princesses’ Orgulla and Terca decided to go horse back riding one day which was one of their great joys. Even though they knew they were not to go beyond the city walls, they decided to ride through the country side. Little did they know that King Diablo had already sent a small force to capture the women. Once the small force had captured the women, they sent a messenger informing the King of what they had done.

This act enraged the King and he called for his sons to discuss the matter. The natural reaction to this outrage was to call the troops to come together to retrieve the princesses. However, once things had calmed down and they began to reason the situation, they realized the obviousness of their predicament. Not only were other kingdoms a great distance from them, but they were a great distance to the other kingdoms. They knew by sending their army they would suffer the same plight of those who tried to conquer them. The other option was to ignore the matter and not to pursue a rescue. The men could just find new wives.

This didn’t set well with Amar at all because Orgulla was not just another woman. She was the love of his life and he refused to write her off due to of the over whelming circumstances and convenience. The King had decided the risk of sending an army was too great and would not sanction an attack. So Amar asked his brother if he would go with him alone to rescue their wives, but Avitar agreed with his father and cowardly refused to jeopardize his own life. He urged Amar to stay and for them to seek new women. Avitar said the kingdom was full of beautiful women to choose from, so why bother. So Amar set out alone.

The journey to Presidio was great, but Amar was determined to retrieve his beautiful bride. The journey was long and difficult, but the thought of having Orgulla in his arms again gave him strength and energy to continue. Amar was the greatest warrior in the land, but he knew the love of his wife was stronger than his skills.

Meanwhile, Orgulla and Terca were undergoing horrid treatment and abuse. Even though they still lived, there was little of them that resembled the women who were abducted. They had been beaten often and treated as common prisoners.

Amar could now see the kingdom of Presidio in the distance. His paced quicken the closer he approached. Not far from the city walls he rested for a time while he planned a strategy for the rescue. He could not rush the castle as if he was a one man army. He had to move slowly and covertly as he made his way to the dungeon. He slipped through corridors and past guards without them knowing of his presence. Finally he found the two captives and once he did his was anger was kindled greatly due to the brutality they had suffered. They were hardly recognizable. He even had difficulty distinguishing which one was his wife. As much as Amar wanted to embrace her and hold her tight he restrained himself because her injuries were severe.

He immediately began to free them, but his wife resisted and said, “Go away and save yourself”. Orgulla felt so hideous that she did not feel she was worth the rescue. She screamed, “I’m not the same woman, I’m nothing but a hideous creature. Make your way without me.” Amar ignored her plea and set them free. Terca ran ahead and left them behind.

Amar had to gently carry Orgulla through the castle because she was too weak to walk on her own. He gave her some water and some of her strength returned, but he still had to move slowly and help her along. Two guards spotted them trying to escape. Amar drew his sword and silenced them quickly. As they made their way out of the castle they came across guards but quickly defeated them before they could report the escape. Even though the escape was slow going they eventually were free and set for Paz.

The journey home was much slower. Even though Amar was grateful and excited to have Orgulla once again, Orgulla was in poor health and they had to make frequent stops for her to rest. Many times she insisted to return because of being ashamed of the way she looked. She stated she did not deserve Amar now because she was damaged. However, Amar’s love was great for Orgulla regardless of her present condition. He believed that in time her wounds would heal and she would once again become the beautiful princess she has always been and even if she didn’t this would not change his love for her.

When Amar and Orgulla walked through the city walls, crowds cheered for their return. There was a great celebration that week in Paz and all attended except for one. Avitar refused to show his face because of his guilt and shame. Terca was recaptured and eventually took her own life. Since Avitar did not come to her rescue, she could only assume she was not worth saving.

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Of course this is a story of analogy with parallel meanings, but you may have already made the relation. Maybe what you didn’t know was many of the names were Spanish words that I will translate first and then if you reread the story it may take on new meaning.

Amar – Love

Avitar – Greed, Lust

Paz – Peace

Diablo – Devil, Satan

Presidio – Prison

Orgulla – Pride

Terca – Stubborn

Many of us believe in order to love others they must return the affection. If not, then we are released of any commitment. Looking at this story specifically from a marital point of view you can see there is two sides of the relationship. Many times when we believe as long as life is going well and we are at peace due to our circumstances we begin to feel safe and invincible. Then when we least expect it something comes in and turns our life upside down. Within minutes we can go from elation to tragedy. This is the danger of putting our faith on onward circumstances. Many of us change our dispositions as frequently as the wind changes throughout the day in Texas. Satan is always waiting for us to relax and drop our guard. The moment we do, he is there.

This happened when Orgulla and Terca felt they were safe. They let their guards down and were captured. This can happen to us when life is going well and we decide to give God some time off because we think we can handle things ourselves. This is where pride and stubbornness can lead us and before you know it we become enslaved to whatever our prison may be.

Another situation that Amar had to face was when he found his wife is that he believed Orgulla would be ecstatic when she saw that her prince had come for her. Instead she turned her head in shame and was afraid to even look at him. Whether in this situation it is the man or the woman, guilt and shame will cause one to reject even the purest love. No matter how much love a person can give, it still has to be received and accepted by the one to which it’s directed. To give love is a choice and to receive love is a choice as well.

The main point of this story is true or real love. Genuine love is never based on what I can get for me or get in return. This is very difficult for us as humans to conceive as Americans because we have been taught to take care of number one. If a situation you’re in is not making you happy, then bail. Love in our society means as long as I am getting my way and you do everything to make me feel good, then I will continue to love you. The moment you stop, so do I.

Do not think I’m trying to slam you or judge you if you fall into this category because every human on this planet has done this at one time or another. Many live in this place of selfishness and even if we escape from here occasionally, we still return often for visits.

So what is true love? This is no secret! It has been specifically defined in 1 Corinthians 13 for over two thousand years. Genuine love is…

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

And this is just a few examples. Once you have incorporated these attributes into your heart and life, then you can legitimately say the words…I Love You!

The first and second commandment and the first step for Christians in the New Testament says, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

It’s so easy for many to say those three words, “I love you,” but love isn’t a noun or a feeling…it’s a verb which requires action and proof. As the old saying goes, “Words are cheap.” Also stated in 1 Corinthians 13 it says, that to do the actions without love is worthless and a waste of time. There is a balance of doing both.

I know many of you have seen the movie, “Knights Tale” starring Heath Ledger (William Thatcher/aka…Orich von Lichtenstein). Heath/William plays the underdog knight covertly participating in jousting tournaments. For him to compete is against the law because he is not of noble birth and these contest are for nobles only. William is smitten by a beautiful maiden. He begins to pursue her and through diligence finally conquers his prize. Throughout the movie many knights pass by her in the while she sits in the stands declaring they will win the tournament for her which she ignores their declarations.

Near the end of the movie she tells William if he truly loves her then he must prove it. He declares he will win this tournament in her name and honor. She tells him he cannot prove his love by doing something he desires more than her. So he asks her what he can do to prove his love for her. She said, “In order to prove your love you must lose the tournament.” Ouch! At first he resisted and called her a crazy woman, but he did as she requested and won her heart.

This is like men telling their wives, I will prove my love to you by having sex with you everyday or by watching TV and for women to tell their husbands they will prove their love to them by eating chocolate. The proof of love usually comes in the form of going against our natural and selfish desires. The proof of love exists in doing something for someone simply because we love them without any return or expectations. If not, then it is not love. I guess what I’m trying to do here is to define love.

I used to say I love people. This was a very broad and general statement to say the least. I really believed this to be true and as long as they reciprocated my love I would continue to love them, if they didn’t, I wrote them off. So I would like to encourage you to be honest with yourself. Do not beat yourself up if you find yourself lacking in this area. Just acknowledge this is an area you need improvement just like the rest of us.

The greatest love ever demonstrated in this universe was the day God decided to send His son Jesus to teach us the true meaning of love. Many believed Jesus was captured and crucified and this is not true. Jesus gave His live because He could have put a stop to the whole thing at any time He desired. Fortunately He was willing to do something He didn’t want to do to prove His love for us.

Breathe

A few years ago I was swimming around the bottom of a swimming pool. I was almost out of air so I headed for the surface. Right as I was about to reach the surface, something powerful grabbed me and pulled me back to the bottom. After struggling for a few seconds to free myself I knew the endeavor was futile. The force was just too powerful. Desperate for air but knowing there was no escape I knew that death was certain so I finally took the dreaded breath of water. To my amazement I was able to breathe under water and as I inhaled this refreshing life sustaining oxygen, the force holding me under dissipated instantly and then I woke up.

Wow! I thought to myself. What a dream! I have learned that when I have such specific and memorable dreams, God is trying to tell me something so I’d better listen. As I pondered the dream throughout the day God revealed the dream. For several weeks I had put myself under pressure trying to walk the line. What line you ask? Well, for the first time in my life I had truly seen and understood the true nature of God. I guess you could say I had seen His face and I didn’t want this experience to ever end. So I found myself desperately and legalistically trying to hold on tight by walking the line. Of course this is not healthy and was taking its toll on me. The stress was horrific. This was when God told me to relax and just “breathe” and He would take care of the rest.

Are you stressed out? What things are happening in your life that is smothering you? Is it divorce, depression, illness, unemployment or challenges with your children? I do not know what may be smothering you at this moment, but I know that holding your breathe and fighting is not the answer. Jesus wants us to breathe and let Him handle the tasks beyond our control. He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28 - 30

Facing the Pain

Over the last few years I have many friends who have had to face the horrors of cancer and other diseases. As many have said, in many ways the treatment is worse than the disease, at least in the beginning stages. For the most part they are functioning fine, but when they go for the treatment is when they really start struggling with illness. What if they ignored or denied the problem? They would die. I had one friend who said that her faith would save her and refused treatment. She was buried a couple of years ago. The fear of facing the pain I know is horrific, but to survive, it’s necessary.

Many of the people I’ve worked with over the years have faced physical pains and problems throughout their lives, but the ones they are most afraid to face were the emotional pains. Many times we believe we have dealt with our past simply because we chose to not think about the past. Maybe we have sanctimoniously said that we had given it to God and there’s no use bringing it up. In truth, we are really avoiding the pain. I know because I did this most of my life. However, I learned there is only one way to face a fear and that’s facing it head on.

Many of the problems we have in our lives today are because we have refused to face our pain and when we do, everyone becomes the recipient of our refusal. Marriages and families are destroyed, businesses are lost, jobs are lost and friends are lost because we refuse to face our pain. Years ago I had to go into that dark pit and face my greatest fears and to this day I have not regretted it for a moment.

I’ve had the privilege to help lead several people to their darkness, but also to help lead them out. I remember a young couple I had been observing during a seminar one week and I was amazed they were still married. The anger and venom that poured out of this tiny young woman was unbelievable. The hurt and pain she had been carrying for so long was finally being revealed. From the age of 5 – 15 her father had not only raped and molested her, but her sisters as well. He would lock up the bathroom, food pantry and refrigerator in the house and they didn’t eat or go to the bathroom unless they had sex with him. As this horrifying declaration spewed from her mouth with rage and tears I looked at her husband’s expression and it was obvious he had never heard this. All the anger and frustration he had for his wife immediately turned to compassion. It was so amazing that after she had faced her darkness and then moved on she was able to love again. When at the first of the week when the couple could hardly look at each other, now they were embraced and holding each other lovingly.

Another time I had been observing a man who was extremely angry. Everyone in the room avoided him because they could feel the heat radiating from him. During one of the exercises I walked up to his group when he was attempting to speak, but the anger he had was so great he couldn’t force any words out. I looked at him and asked who had hurt him so bad. Immediately the anger went to sobbing. This was a man had been severely physically abused by his father most of his childhood. Within a few days this man was able to smile again for the first time in years.

Who are these people? Are they the low-life degenerates that live in the dark alleys or the people we referred to as “Across the tracks?” No! They are the people you work with, people that sit next to you in church or maybe someone in your family. Maybe this person is you. Many of these people were professionals such as doctors, lawyers, dentist, engineers and accountants. They were from all walks of life and if there has been one great revelation that I have learned, it’s that somewhere, somehow we all have a hurt and pain to face.

Here is another man's story you may find interesting. If you were to be around this guy you would think he had it made. He was jolly and was always making a joke about something. He was musically talented as well as an engineer. When learning this man’s secret it silenced the room. He had 4 brothers and they were all quite talented. When they were young their father tried desperately to promote them in a singing career. They were beat out by another group, but had come so close to success. That evening while they slept their father set the house on fire to kill them all. Fortunately they escaped the flames, but not the broken hearts.

These stories have two purposes. One is to encourage you to face your pain, fight as a warrior, deal with it and move on. The second is before you become irritated and angered by the person next to you whether it be your spouse, friend or someone at work, stop a minute and ask…What might of happened to them? Whenever you come across someone who is angry, this is a sign they’ve been hurt. Anger is just a manifestation of hurt and maybe you could be the one to lead them in and out of the darkness.

Just Start Over

When I was little my sisters used to make a chocolate sugar candy or maybe it was some type of fudge. Whatever it was I liked it. A couple of weeks ago I made a chocolate cake with a homemade chocolate icing and I think it turned out ok. It didn’t stay around very long so it must have been good. I liked this particular icing because reminded me of the stuff my sisters used to make so I got this bright idea. Instead of putting it on a cake, why not just put it on a plate, wait until it hardens and eat it like candy.

Well, I thought I’d better make a double portion because a single portion may not last too long around here. After I took it off the stove and let it cool some I gave it a taste. It was a little bitter so I remembered salt sometimes takes the bitterness out of stuff so I gave it a try. It was taking too long to cool off so I put it in the fridge even though there really wasn’t room for it. It wasn’t leaning TOO much. Shortly after this Karen called and wanted to go to the movies. So I forgot about the project and I met her there.

Soon after we got home I thought I would check on the progress of the chocolate. It had progressed all right. It progressed all over many items in the fridge. Well, I spent the next 30 minutes cleaning that up and then left the chocolate on the counter to cure/dry or whatever it’s supposed to do.

The next morning I got up to check on the progress of the chocolate which has now become referred to as the challenge. To my disappointment it hadn’t crystallized or hardened, but was gooey. It was around this time when Karen said, “Why don’t you throw it away and start over. You’re just making a bigger mess.” In my determination I rejected her counsel and put the chocolate in the microwave and reheated it. Needless to say this challenge had got the best of me.

So why did I tell this stupid story. Over the years I have messed up so much in my life and done so much damage to myself. I spent many years attempting to correct, fix, change and maneuver myself into something better. There were too many knots in my rope and about the time I got one removed, two more would take its place. One day I realized there was too much damage to repair. I accepted I couldn’t change my past and undo the damage I had done. So I decided to throw all of that away and start over. Because of God’s grace He allows me to start over every day. As quoted in the movie “Anne of Green Gables” she said “tomorrow is a new day without any mistakes in it…yet.”

I actually learned this from a lady I met who had a horrible childhood. As I looked at her across the room at her, withdrawn and frightened, I wondered what horrors had she seen. I learned later that when she was about six or seven years old her dad prostituted her and her little sister to his friends. This was just one of the many tragedies she had experienced. She was the one who taught me this principle. I knew since there was no way she could ever deal with all of this damage in her life and her only hope was to Just Start Over.

I do not mean to over-simplify this. Starting over is not a matter of denying the past and moving on. Starting over means to deal with the past and start over every day for the rest of your life. The moment that we accept Jesus into our life we become new creatures. As said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Now our part is to start believing this truth. By the way, it may take awhile.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

IT


Did you get IT? Is IT real? Will IT last?

These are questions many Boot Camp graduates ponder as they transition from the safe, loving environment of Boot Camp into their day to day routines and challenges of everyday life.

What is IT anyway?

IT may be freedom from guilt & shame.

IT may be self acceptance.

IT may be openness & vulnerability.

IT may be a fresh start.

IT may be a relationship with God.

IT may be the ability to love yourself, others, & God.

IT may be forgiveness toward someone who has caused hurt & pain in your life.

IT may be increased self confidence.

IT may be a broadening of our vision, to see the hurts and struggles of others.

IT may be a lot of different things.

The beauty of Boot Camp lies in that there isn’t just one IT that all graduates must get. Rather each graduate gets the IT that is unique to him or her. Through the safe, loving environment and the variety of drills and games that trainees experience, God provides the perfect touch and the IT needed by each individual.

As a May 31, 2003 Boot Camp graduate, I pondered the above questions on Monday morning after Boot Camp.

Did I get IT? Yes, I did!! I got freedom from unforgiveness. I got acceptance from God.

I got a fresh start in my marriage. I got a renewed relationship with God. I got so much!

My answer to that question was a definite, “Yes, I got IT!”

Is IT real? Would IT last? I wanted IT to be real and I didn’t want to believe that I had only experienced an emotional high that would fade away in a matter of days. I wanted to know that I had truly experienced genuine and lasting changes within myself. Because much of my IT involved my relationship with God, I prayed these questions and fears to Him as I drove to work on Monday morning. Just as I pulled into my parking spot at work, God played my cradle song on the radio. I sat there in my car with eyes closed and experienced a special touch from God Himself. At that moment I knew that my IT was God--a very real, eternal God who knew me, loved me, and cared for me. He was real and He would last.

Now over five years later, He continues to love me and mold me and renew me. Are there days when I shut Him out? Yes, but then He uses people, music, and His Word to remind me of the choices I made during Boot Camp. Then I can choose to allow Him to renew my spirit once again. Another way of keeping IT alive and growing is through sharing the experience of Boot Camp with friends and relatives and by returning to Boot Camp as a Trainer. Witnessing God working in other people’s lives and yielding myself to Him as an instrument through which He works is an incredible reminder of what He did in my life during those four days in May. Just as the song, “Make Me an Instrument” expresses, I am reminded that “It is in giving, that I receive.” Karen Mensch

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Going Back to Egypt

In a fit of rage Cindy screamed, “Just leave me alone! I know what I’m doing and I know what’s best for me. If I die, then I die!” This scene was all too common and familiar with Cindy’s husband. Cindy had been in recovery for several years and was doing so well. Tony believed the worst was over and they could finally live a normal life. Cindy was a drug addict and an alcoholic. She had been clean and sober for 3 years then out of nowhere she fell back into the darkness and misery of this horrible existence. Tony cried out to God, “Why Lord, Why!” Things had been going so well and Cindy had actually seemed happy for the first time in her life. So, why now? What triggered the relapse? Did something horrible happen to cause her to give up and return? Not necessarily.

The problem with each of us is that we don’t have to have a tragic circumstance in our life to drive us to our desires. In fact, many times when nothing is going wrong we may create something to justify running to our dark desires. The power of sin is just that…Powerful! As Paul said in Romans 7, “That which I don’t want to do, I do and that which I want to do, I do just the opposite.” (paraphrased) Even though we know the misery, pain and guilt of our desires, we still return. Why? Because even though it’s miserable we have become comfortable with our misery. This is what we have always known and believed therefore this perpetuates the cycle. What we believe we are in our hearts is what we will become.

This is nothing new and has been going on for a long time. Let’s go back a few thousand years and look at the all familiar story about the Exodus of the Israelites led by Moses. These people had been in slavery for 400 years and were living a miserable existence. That had cried out to God for years to free them and He finally granted their request. These people had barely cleared the city limits before they started whining about going back and they continued to do this throughout the remainder of the trip. To Moses I’m sure it sounded like children whining, “Are we there yet?”

So this brings up the “Comfort Zone.” So how do we escape the twisted comfort of the comfort zone? Well, the first thing that needs to happen is we have to really want it. This desire to escape usually comes once we have hit rock bottom and until we have, it’s unlikely that we’re serious. So exactly what is the comfort zone?

I want you to imagine yourself standing in the middle of a circle. This circle extends about 4 feet from you in all directions. The circle symbolizes your comfort zone. Now I want you to see this concrete wall bordering the circle. The concrete wall symbolizes fear, but what will it take to break down the wall and remove the fear?

Well, before we go any further you may be asking, “Why is it so important to leave our comfort zone?” because the comfort zone is a counterfeit or replacement for your heart. The comfort zone is based on happiness not joy, lack of stress and problems not peace, infatuation and lust not love, religion not faith. The comfort zone my have the appearance of your heart, but it’s not real.

Fear is one of the greatest barriers to break through to escape the comfort zone. So how you do break through the fear? Well, as I’m writing I realize this would take a lengthy explanation that you probably don’t want to read. It’s also explained in the Passion Seminar.

Some say leave me alone. I’m just fine right where I am. I know because I’ve made that statement as well. I made that statement as I slipped slowly into serious depression. I made that statement as my relationship deteriorated with my wife as we headed for divorce. I’ve made several stupid statements. However, I now know the comfort zone is something I shun and avoid, but sometimes I find myself in retreat there. Once you have tasted the freedom from your comfort zone you will never want to return. Even if you find yourself in retreat there, you will always look for the way out again.

I began to refer to the comfort zone as Egypt. Even though we may be in slavery and misery, at least we know the rules and where we stand. What we forget is the promise land. The promise land in this reference was not referring to heaven, but abundant life. Do you have a life or are you just living? Do you want more or do you want to settle? I hope you choose life.

The Backdoor


After hours of arguing back and forth realizing they were no closer to a resolution than when this battle began Lilly screams out, “I WANT A DIVORCE!” Scott’s expression was definitely a vision of shock. This of course stirred the fires of anger even more, but Scott also realized if something wasn’t done soon, divorce could be imminent. They decided to consult a friend for counsel which was the only thing they could agree on for the moment. Time flew through the evening and into morning hours still no closer to a resolution and by 5:00am they went home stubbornly divided in their beliefs.

Shortly after this event between Lilly and Scott I received a phone call or I had called Lilly (I can’t remember which) and she began to tell me about the catastrophe that occurred with her husband. I quickly pointed out how stubborn they both were and also pointed out some humor in the situation. This released some of the frustration and tenseness that was radiating through the phone. She began to explain to me how he won’t even try to listen to what she was trying to say or understand this from her perspective. This is when I encouraged her to use the backdoor. Not understanding my meaning she says, “What’s the backdoor?”

I told her that all of us have a guard posted at our front door. This is the side of us that is generally exposed to others. The purpose of this guard is to protect us from being hurt, cheated, lied to and used. The greater the hurt in the past… the larger the guard. When one is angry, hysterical or afraid this guard becomes a giant and there is no way you are going to get through. No matter how hard you try, this door is blocked. However, the backdoor usually goes unprotected and can be entered, but you have to sneak in and approach slowly and carefully. Once you are through the door and have entered the house, you still have to make slow and non-threatening movements. The key is patience.

For those of you that didn’t catch the analogy I’ll try to explain. Using the backdoor simply means is to first let things cool off. Then you may want to talk about something you know you both agree on developing a camaraderie and trust. When the time is right, then start off with an apology for the argument, your attitude and something specific you said that was hurtful and demeaning. Wait for any response they might have and then attempt to explain your feelings, beliefs and why it was so important to you. Then give them a chance to explain their beliefs and why it was so important to them. Do not just discuss the issue, but the feelings behind the issue since this is probably what the argument was about any way.

The backdoor is not a trick to manipulate someone to get your way and if you do it will probably blow up in your face. The backdoor is a technique to resolve a problem whether it is a married couple, friends, children or a co-worker. The reason most people do not like to use this approach is because it requires patience, love, maturity and humility. Many would rather be right than resolve an issue.

Lilly was so amazed at this idea. She said that after a whole night of arguing and no resolution that only after 5 minutes of talking with me she finally felt relief. Lilly and Scott are still married and she has told me she continues to use this technique.

I want you to understand that my idea I offered her was not because I’m so intelligent or insightful. This was simply one of those situations where God simply chose to use me and nothing else. I know the person with whom they spoke and they are very talented and gifted in working with people. This story was not about the couple, about the person they talked with or about me, but about how God can use anyone He wants to accomplish what needs to be accomplished and when.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In Pursuit of a Dream

For several years I have been hoping to attain the dream I discovered back in the year of 2000. I had discovered the teaching on the personalities and was certain this was the dream of my life that I was to pursue. I felt a great calling in which I was supposed to conduct personality seminars. Of course I knew that when people realized what I was doing, crowds would flock to hear this life changing information. Over the years of discouragement and failure I began questioning if this was truly the dream I was to seek out. What I didn’t realize was this was only the beginning and I had much more to learn and I still do.

After failure and exasperation I decided that maybe this wasn’t the trail I was to follow. Certainly if this was the direction I was to go, God would have paved the way and doors would have flung open. Needless to say they didn’t and they haven’t. Several years later I attended something called the “Life Enrichment Boot Camp” and my eyes were opened to a world I had never imagined. It wasn’t long after this that I realized that teaching personalities was just the beginning and little did I know at this time much more was to come.

One day as I was lost in thought an idea rushed through my mind. I thought it would be interesting and convenient if someone were to create a variety of seminars along the general theme of personal growth. You know, like to have a buffet of classes to choose from. Little did I know at the time this was going to be me. Through a series of events in my life I was given the tools to write several seminars and I also discovered I had a talent for doing this.

Since June of 2000 the path has wound in many directions and has gone to many places I’d never imagined. The dream I initially had has not changed, but its purpose has been broadened and more defined. In the beginning I thought I was to teach personalities because I believed this to be my dream. Now I know my purpose and dream is to help others to discover and fulfill their dreams.

The Superman Story


As a child I was the biggest Superman fan. Those of you around my age probably remember the old black and white TV show that aired back in the early 1960’s starring George Reeves. I never missed a show! I just didn’t enjoy the show, but I was mesmerized and enthralled by this moment of imagination.

Immediately after the show was over I donned my cape, (bath towel) flew out the door and hit the neighborhood rescuing damsels in distress. (dogs and cats) You see, Superman was not just a show of entertainment for me, but a passion. I loved to fly and I so desperately wanted to be able to fly. I know I made my mother a nervous wreck with some of the stunts I pulled. One day I built an airplane out of bed slats. Needless to say bed slats do not create much lift. However, my philosophy was based on altitude and airspeed. The garage did not provide this since it wasn’t that high off the ground. Well, if at first you don’t succeed, find a higher jumping off point. The pinnacle of the house seemed to be the most logical answer until my mother caught me in the act and clipped my wings. It’s probably a good thing she did because if the pinnacle of the house didn’t work and if I had survived, the big church building around the corner was my next possibility for flight. Eventually I would have had success, but my flight might have meant a trip to heaven. I thought I would remedy this by getting my pilots license in my early 20’s. As much as I enjoyed it, it just wasn’t the same not to mention extremely expensive. As for the other characteristics of Superman…being invincible to pain and rescuing those suffering or in danger was a passionate desire I had as well.

A few years ago I was reading a book (I believe it was the “Dream Giver” by Bruce Wilkerson.) In the book it suggested that our dreams and purpose can be discovered by looking back into our childhood and remembering what our passion was at that time. The only thing that I could think of was I wanted to be Superman so I couldn’t see how this could apply to me. It wasn’t very likely I would develop super powers and start saving people. Now when I think of carrying people away from danger and such with my back problems and arthritis, I know I would be sued frequently due to dropping them a lot.

Then one day it occurred to me that I wasn’t to possess the physical characteristics of Superman but the principles. The principles of Superman were to reach out to those in pain or the hurting through encouragement and love. Not only could I do this, but I had already started. The super powers that I use are not abilities to fly and look through objects with my x-ray vision, but with the tools I’ve learned and developed through training, experience and study.

Now I ask that if you have not discovered your purpose or passion, then I would encourage you to look into your childhood and discover the desire that was given to you at an early age. This desire was a gift given to you from God, so don’t let it go to waste.