Redeemed Child of God

ARTWORK - DG 2011-11 (1) VERSEYou know, one of the sweetest words in the Bible is redemption. It is so rich in connotation and meaning. It addresses who we are, who God is and how much He loves us. What else matters, right?

Here are a couple of definitions in case, you are not sure of it’s meaning in Biblical context:

Redeem: When a family member pays a price to buy someone or something back. In the New Testament, our brother Jesus redeems us from our sin, or sets us free, by his death on the cross.

Redemption: Redemption simply is reestablishment of Christ’s ownership of our lives. Redemption is a past, present, and future activity. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the penalty owed for our sin, breaking its power to condemn us now and forever.

I love the connections made to family and ownership as well as to the past, present and future. Jesus obviously is at the center of it all as He is the one that has paid the price to buy us back through His sacrifice on the cross. He is our kinsman redeemer for those of you who know Jewish customs and traditions.

You see, we have all chosen to walk away from God, sinned and in need of God’s forgiveness and redemption which together is salvation in Christ.

For reference checkout Isaiah 53:6: “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.” That pretty much sums it all up.

The great news though is that by repenting and turning back to God we are not only forgiven and redeemed but we are completely cleaned, restored and made new again. It does not stop their either as part of our redemption is that we are also born again into a new covenant with God base on Jesus’ righteousness and sealed forever by the Holy Spirit never separated from God our Heavenly Father again.

Now that’s a pretty sweet deal. :)

Christ is all I see

Scripture Picture (2)Ever wonder how to do the impossible? Ever wonder how to accomplish all God has set before you? Maybe for you (as it often is for me), it’s just making through the day that is the monumental task you cannot imagine accomplishing.

Whether it is the every day juggling of family, work and friendship priorities, a huge, ultra important project or test coming up or just getting out of bed to live the overcoming and abundant life God wants for you, the answer is the same.

You need to walk on water.

Now I’m not talking about walking on water in the conventional sense like Peter did in the Bible but rather rising above your circumstances and walking above the things of this world in a place of overcoming joy and matchless peace.

Oddly enough both are accomplished the same way. What enable Peter to do such an amazing thing? Faith and focus. He had faith in Jesus knowing that with Him all things are possible. He also, had a laser tight focus on the source of his faith: Jesus. When combined a miracle occurred.

A similar miracle can occur for each of us as we combine our faith in Christ with a tunnel vision focus on Him. Again, we may not actually be treading on waves of water but rather waves of the world.

Now most of us reading (or in my case writing), have faith in Jesus as our Savior and even Lord. However, most of us (including me), don’t have our eyes on Him daily much less truly focused on Jesus moment  by moment.

Trust me I know it’s hard in today’s world with every kind of advertisement blasting junk at us all day. And, oh the news. That’s a positive pick me up. The information age has become the age of information overload, too.  It’s like we have waves of negativity crashing all around us. But keeping our eyes, ears, mind and life focused on Jesus is what enables us to rise above all the junk. It’s essential to walking on water.

Remember what happens to Peter when he starts looking around and notices the wind and waves? He sinks like rock! Fortunately, Jesus is always there for us and He reaches out to rescue Peter. Isn’t that true of so many of us. We’ve let our eyes, ears, minds and lives wander to where they should not go and the only thing keeping us from drowning is the gracious hand of Jesus holding our heads above the waters of life.

Today let’s all start a new trend. Rather than putting our focus on the latest news, trending stories or top headlines, let’s put it where in belongs: on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. As the hymn says: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”. And then what happens: “The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”.

Here are a few verse to encourage you along the way.

Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.

Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Colossians 3:1-3 1Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

God’s love shines through a child’s eyes!

IMG_3945Although this year’s NTX Expo had some great God moments, my fondest memory isn’t from the outreach itself. In fact, it  was 3 days before when we were sharing with a local VBS missions group who was stuffing our goody bags.

About half way through the morning shifts of classes, a church member who I’d met the year before at the same church VBS approached me and told me about a young girl who she was caring for from overseas.

She said the girl was sent to the US by missionaries for the third time to have more surgeries to further correct her contracted limbs. I don’t remember the cause of her disability but she was born with both her arms and legs tightly contracted leaving her unable to use either. The woman told me the surgeries had helped but that the young girl still has many physical challenges including not being able to walk on her own.

The love and compassion she had for the little girl was very evident and it inspired me to see God’s care for “the least of these” through her actions. In turn, I was a bit surprised when she asked if she could bring the little girl to meet me. I thought, “Why me, I’m no doctor or surgeon”? I mean there is nothing I had to offer to help her physical challenges. I can’t even move my own legs or fingers.

Then the  woman explained that she thought if the young girl could meet me and see how God was using me for His Kingdom (yes, even me), she might be encouraged to know that God could use her, too.

Well, when she brought the little girl in the room, the love of Jesus in her eyes melted my heart. She was exuding the joy of the Lord and it ministered to me beyond what I could ever imaged her being blessed by meeting me. I was especially touched as I held out my hand to show her how my fingers did not work like her’s and she responded by reaching out and smiling.

You know, I may not see that little girl ever again this side of heaven but I know that God will use her in a mighty way on this earth. It may not be easy but with Jesus in her heart she will bless many folks much more that she did me that day.

25 Years of Love, Laughter and Living

Well, 25 years ago on June 8th, Leanne and I said “I do” and other than when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, it is the best decision I ever made. She has been a blessing and more importantly my best friend since day one. Even before we were married God used her to show me aspects of His love that I had never known and enrich my life with a forever friendship that was and still is beyond my highest hopes and beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

Now before you go, ok enough with the sappy sweet stuff, please know that our lives are not perfect and while we strive everyday for excellence in Christ, perfection will only come with Jesus in heaven. However, just as with our relationship with Jesus the grounding anchor of our marriage is the truth of real love that is a commitment and promise to always be there and together.

So to commemorate this wonderful milestone, I wanted to share a short poem I wrote with some of my artwork to hopefully encourage everyone reading in your journey of life.

ARTWORK - DG 2014-5 (3) PEOM

Also, for those of you who missed our celebration at set-up of the NTX Expo, I hope you enjoy the picture they took of us with our big cake. :)

IMG_8504

 

Scripture Artwork

Good Saturday morning friends and family! As a camp counselor I know used to say every morning as he knocked on our doors at 6am to wake us: “Great is the Lord and worthy to be praised!”

You know God is so good to us and yet we all still forget and take for granted His love, forgiveness,  protection, provision and presence in our lives everyday.

However, His mercies are new every morning so I hope and pray the below artwork I have designed and the scriptures with each will encourage you to remember the truth of God’s light and love, in Jesus precious name. Amen

ARTWORK - DG 2011-1 N5

ARTWORK - DG 2011-2 N8

ARTWORK - DG 2011-9 N13

Merry Christmas

What a glorious time of the year!

Peace on earth and goodwill towards men all because our Heavenly Father sent His only Son, Jesus to be our Savior. He came as a baby but eventually died on the cross to save us all from our sins. It is so humbling to think that God loves us that much but also, empowering to know that God loves us that much.

in this season of joy, it is our prayer that each of you not only knows that God loves you but that He died on the cross and rose from the dead, all so that we could all have fellowship with Him and spend eternity in the most wonderful place with Him which is heaven.

So enjoy this Christmas and celebrate Jesus’ birth with an extra wide smile because God loves you that much. :)

What is it all About?

ARTWORK - DG 2011-11 (1) VERSE

You know being in ministry, we see lots and lots of needs and hear lots and lots of ideas about what we should be doing to meet those needs. Unfortunately, we cannot meet all the needs that we encounter but we know who can: God. That’s why we try to keep Him front and center of all we do.

Why? Because life is all about God.

It’s about how he has created us, how He loves us and how he longs to bless us with good and have a relationship with us even though we all have chosen to go our own way and sin.

He desires this so much that he sent his only son, Jesus to die as payment for our sin so by each of us asking for Jesus to forgive and save us we are forgiven, justified and become His children sealed forever by His Holy Spirit. In turn, we now have the burden of all of our sin lifted, are righteous in God’s sight, cared for and protected by Him and able to fellowship and rest in Him.

This does not mean life will be trouble free and always easy but with God continually with you now life will be purposeful, fulfilling, safe and full of joy as you follow Him and are guided, comforted and strengthened by His presence.

Our hope at Access-Life is that everyone we encounter, serve or touch in some way will see the love of God in our lives and be encouraged and drawn closer to the Lord Jesus our savior, redeemer, shepherd and steady friend.

If you have a question about having a personal relationship with God our creator through His son Jesus feel free to call or e-mail us through the information on our website at http://www.access-life.org or visit http://www.gospel.com.

Our Story – Part Two

IMG_6923However, our story does not end there as God always has something bigger and better on the horizon for us as believers and little did I know fishing was only a small part of His plan for the coming season of our life. You see while consulting and working from home, Leanne and I also got involved in a local disability ministry (per some persistent prompting from a neighbor) and joined the board of the DFW Joni and Friends field office in 2005. Soon afterwards, we were invited to attend and help out at our 1st Family Retreat hosted by the area ministry. We were excited thinking we had so much experience and wisdom to share but as usual God turned things all around on us at camp and changed the direction of our lives.

Up to this point in my life I had rarely been around others with disabilities since leaving rehab in 1984. I had been mainstreamed through my education and job so much that the only time the topic of disability came up was when my colleagues would see someone else using a wheelchair and ask if I knew them as a joke (like we were all in a club). In turn, I was not sure what to expect at the Family Retreat. However, once we arrived the sense of God’s presence and unconditional love overwhelmed me to the point it felt like a small piece of heaven on earth.

DLG PORTRAIT (2)The real game changer though camp the last night of the camp at the talent show. This is the time when the campers and their families get to be the stars and given praise for not what they can or cannot due but because they are created in the image of the only most high God. About half way through the program two sisters, Leslie and Lauren came up to sing “I can only imagine” and although Lauren had a beautiful voice and sang like someone you’d hear singing a solo in church, all eyes in the chapel were focused on her sister Leslie. You see Leslie had severe cerebral palsy. She used an electric wheelchair like me because of her spasticity and contractures but was also virtually non verbal used a communication board. But the look on her face and in her eyes as she struggled past the limitations of her body to make movements and sounds to honor and worship Jesus ushered everyone in that building into the most powerful place of worship I have ever experienced.

Up to that time I had always known God had a purpose and plan for me. But what about others with more severe and profound disabilities? That night God hit home with me that yes, He does have a plan for everyone regardless of their abilities or disabilities. In fact, there are things He wants accomplished thru people with disabilities that He cannot do thru others.

Soon after this epiphany God began working in our hearts and minds as well as circumstances for us to going into full time ministry serving individuals and families affected by disability. In April of 2007 we went on staff with Joni and Friends in Florida and held several Family retreats of our own as well as church training conferences and other programming. Then in 2010 Leanne and I had the opportunity to start our own ministry, Access-Life.

2015-1.3 CFL ALEThrough this journey God has stretched us and shown us many things but the true purpose of disability ministry is of the most significant. It is not just a benevolence ministry but rather a two part holistic life intervention. First to share the hope, love and gospel of Jesus with individuals and families living with disability but secondly to make sure they know that God has a purpose and a plan for them and wants them fully integrated into the body of Christ!