Thursday, December 17, 2015

REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS (not what you think)





Linus is like the smartest little guy on the planet. While confusion and conflict rage, he brings the simple voice of hope to a land in desperate need. You Go Linus....good job. 

Let me share a fresh insight about what Christmas is really all about. 

Christmas is about the battle of our flesh. Our human flesh and selfish desires have been a source of strife and deadly pride, since human history began. The battle has raged on, do we serve ourselves, or do what is best for others. Do we love ourselves, what we know, like and prefer. Or, do we walk into a room where other people are and ask "how can I help'?

The competition in our hearts and the world around us tells us to "Become Someone"

The biblical scriptures, family and culture practices with a biblical and/or moral code says to
"Serve Someone"

 In college kids learn to "be something" or to "serve someone". Those who are humble enough to recognize their limitations, their need for others and the need to make others be more successful, are just the kind of place we all want to live and work. Why can't this be true in everyday life?

What if our children were taught to grow and learn so they could choose a path, career, family and ministry that actually did more than "make something of yourself". There is nothing wrong with that conventional wisdom, at face value. We would rather our kids make something of themselves than not. Being hopeless, homeless or forever dependent on parents or government is not the plan we have for them. However...

What if the goal is to do more than "make something of themselves"? What if our true purpose on this planet is to serve others, to live for their good, to use our skill and talent to bless others? What if our home, our schools, churches, community causes and cities became great places to raise a family, just because our kids grew up to make them better. 

One of my friends is a champion of "staying forth". His new book is called "staying is the new going". He shares a vision of a city where people focus on the value of staying instead of going. When our kids grow up, do they have a vision of staying for a long time and serving others. Or, do they have a vision for being great, famous, awesome and known all over (likes, followers, shares, pins, and posts)?

Young People

Please consider this challenge

Invest into yourself so that you grow to be a person who lives a life of compassion and service to those around you. 
SERVE SOMEBODY

Do this instead of falling victim to the trap of taking everything your parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, authors, professors, family and friends have given to you, and using simply on you. Don't fall victim to the idea you were born to simply 
BE SOMEBODY

Having great self esteem, believing in who God has made you to be, loving who God has made you to be, this is very important. Learning, growing, learning more....this is very good. The trick question of the heart is...who is it all for, me, or the people around me. 

I propose this, Jesus came to this earth as a baby in a manger with the single purpose, unto God, in submission to God, in line with his mandate and commission from God...
TO SERVE OTHERS 
not himself

This is our Christmas Gift

This is the Real Meaning of Christmas

GIVING, SERVING, LOVING OTHERS

TO BE SOMEBODY WHO SERVES SOMEBODY



MATTHEW 20:28
...the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many... 








Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Worst Mistakes: Self Defined Success



EGO? 

I'm pretty sure I like to be praised, don't we all? But I think there is more to it. I mean, I actually help people learn my love language, personality type, favorite food and Myers Briggs results so they can communicate praise to me in the most meaningful ways. I'm a guy, so no doubt my ego is involved but am I sick? Is this normal? (no need to answer, it's rhetorical)

SUCCESS? 

If my ego demands a daily fix, or maybe an hourly fix, if people around me are educated as to how they can best communicate praise to me, then what's the problem? Oh, wait, I haven't explained to them what success looks like in my world, so they don't know if I am truly awesome or not, thus being unsure about when to stroke my ego. What was I thinking? Let's educate further. Success, as it turns out, has lots to do with the career field or circle of friends I hang with. Football = Touchdowns, Basketball = Slam Dunk, Golf = Hole in One and Bowling = 300 game. Car guys = Sweet Rims. Rich Guys = Good Stock Deals. Makes sense right. Simple, easy to remember.

In my career field of non-profit and for-profit work we sometimes fail to make the definition of success that clear. As I have come to realize, I tend to enjoy this little margin from reality because it allows me to sort of make it up. 

DEFINITIONS? 

I can tell stories of lives changed, people influenced or even cite hard core data about attendance to an event I plan. These might be good definitions of success but truth is, not many people stop to ask further. Some might call this mechanism for defining success "warm fuzzies". Sort of like a middle school girls volleyball game where five times in a row the girls can hit the ball out of bounds or miss a simple pass, and five times in a row, they will high five each other and chant their "we are awesome" chant at center court. I want to say, but you missed the ball, again and again, why are you celebrating? The girls, as I have learned from my three daughters and wife, are encouraging one another and celebrating having fun together, which apparently is their real definition of success. I can respect that.

What challenges me are the days I don't feel successful. Days when people forget my love language or days when my teams seem to be more random oriented than results oriented. As long as warm fuzzy ego sensitive strokes come my way, I feel good about myself. But let someone try to bark out demands for clearly defined goals with fair and result oriented measures, then, wait a minute, I don't feel so good about myself anymore.

If the definition of success is objective, fair, funded, explained, trained, taught, caught, coached and expected, that takes the guessing game away, which seems to be the game me and those in my career fields are sometimes best at.

If my church has a certain number attending, check. If my home is a certain size, check. If my wife or kids dress a certain way, check. If my car has a certain name on it, check. If my kids attend a certain school or master a certain sport, check. These may not be truly valuable definitions of success, the kind to transform society or even pass values along through my home. But, they sure stroke my ego, especially if someone notices and speaks to me in my love language about them, boy my cup gets full.  

WILLING?

My cup being full may not be a bad thing. But, self-defining success can be bad for me, my family, my fitness, my finances and more. When I look in the mirror and see that 18 year old stud from High School, I am self-defining fitness and health success. Because the guy on the scale is actually 20 lbs over weight with climbing blood pressure. When my friends come over and comment my house is bigger than the one they own, I must be successful. At that moment I feel successful. But, maybe my mortgage negates how cool my house is. Or maybe the limitations I have financially created by the mortgage and maintenance of the home I think is so cool, actually creates a real lack luster result, when truly looking at success. If my kids obey while in public, right on check out number 5 at the grocery store and all the old ladies comment, I must be successful. But, if my kids secretly despise my late work hours, my fear based method of controlling their behavior or my lack of care for their souls, then what part of success have I missed?

Here is the thing. Am I even willing to think about the real definitions of success? At work we share "wins" each week at staff meeting. I like the idea on the surface, but after a while it seems we are just throwing out success stories to justify our paychecks. Do I have hard core, objective, strategic, life-giving, city-reaching, generation-impacting measures of success, or do the warm fuzzies do the job? If I put extra money in the offering plate where people see me give and still can't save for retirement or make a monthly budget, I guess the Lord is happy. If I wear basketball shoes, hike a trail from time to time, I must be successful at staying fit. Oh wait, don't look at the fast food bags on my car floorboard, all 7 of them. And what of marriage, ministry, school or social justice? Are their definitions that challenge me, or do I create a self-defined and somewhat fluid matrix of check points to manage my own "feelings" of success? I really like the idea of a mulligan for each category, I need some grace and mercy as well, and a little dab of "God will work it out" and "it will be what it is" to soften the blow. After all, I have an ego to think about.

So, I must be honest to ask, am I willing to struggle with better definitions? In parenting, for instance, am I willing to define success by the happiness of my children, or the pleasure my children bring to their creator. Do I look at the money they make, the people they know or the stages they stand on? Success requires a definition in order to become success, otherwise, we never know we have reached it. So what is it?

I may have a little bit of a problem with this issue of success. I guess my personal ego, the way others stroke my ego and the world I work in all lend toward the lack of fair and objective definitions for meaningful success. I must be careful that my spoken "wins" don't stop me from truly pursuing the actual "wins". Asking the hard questions may stop if my warm fuzzy quotient is met each day or each week. If my goal is to sell 100 shoes to be successful, then I should hold myself to that. If I have no goal and get paid to just be at work on the sales floor, then one great shoe selling story a week will get me all the warm fuzzy and public praise necessary to make me feel I am doing a great job. I mean, I'm a nice person, I mean well, I try hard, what else matters.

I hope I get lots of people to read this post, and follow me on twitter, I will be successful then!!


Billy.Ramsdell@Gmail.com

@BillyRamsdell

Friday, October 9, 2015

FRIDAY CHORES & BLOOD THREAD REDEPTION

I had to stop doing my chores and tasks today. I was distracted by a thought about redemption. That longing we have, deep inside, no matter how busy or successful we are, we feel there are things missing. I believe those moments are an internal cry for redemption. The desire to see things restored and made good. Good in a pure way, not in a "those Oreo cookies are good" kind of way. 
We long to see bad things become good, wrong things made right. Some say this is a desire for justice, and I agree we long to see justice, but truth is, justice is only part of it. To see a bad guy get what he deserves, still leaves us longing for more. That more is redemption. We long to see all of life restored to joy, happiness and peace. 
A friend of mine said one time "we all long for Eden". I think he was right, deep inside we long for the peace God once offered to the first man and woman. I guess I can't be too angry they messed it up for all of us, I would have done the same thing, probably worse. So, now, I wonder what to do with this feeling.
Today I heard the voice in my heart and head remind me there is a story, thousands of years old, that led to this moment in time, where I am doing my chores on a Friday morning. That story includes all the tragedy, drama and victory written in our history books and now lived out in real time through social media. The redemption we long for is part of that story.
Rape & theft are popular in the area of town where my church is located. Bullying, drugs, self abuse and neglect are popular in families near my home. School shootings are very popular and politics seem to just circle the issues with trillions of dollars in their wake. I'm not mad at anyone, I don't think. I'm just a father of five, a husband of twenty one years, a neighbor and friend, hoping to find a way to satisfy that longing for redemption, for all things to be set right. The context we live in is troubling, even frightening, yet I feel better, disconnected even, when I get a nice dinner at my favorite burger joint and watch some great prime time television. I mean, they are seeking redemption as well. And it seems, every week, they get one step closer to a resolution of the conflict, you know, where the main actors finally get together and share their true feelings. I mean, how long do we have to wait for Ross and Rachael to get together....my word. 
Still, we feel troubled, so much for prime time tv, maybe I should get my cable back on. Anyway, the redemption is in fact part of our story and I am reminded to see it, to hear it, to look for it. 
Over thousands of years now, our selfishness, hunger for power, desire for blood, war and possessions, had created conflict in our hearts, homes and nations. In the midst of it all, through the woven rope of our experiences, stretching form one generation to the next, there is a red thread woven in. It's always there, it always has been and always will be. Thousands, millions, actually, hundreds of millions have experienced the reality of finding the strength is the blood red thread of redemption that is woven into every day experiences. 
The voice in my head and heart reminded me today to look for that blood red thread of redemption. To acknowledge it has always been there, agree or disagree, and acknowledge that our hope cannot be in a Utopian world where all things are made right. Rather, it should be in a loving Savior who shed his blood on the cross to provide a redemptive option for my story. Wow, I guess the days and years are not really the issue. The evil in the world, creating pain and conflict, is not the issue. The issue is, do I see the way God has cared enough to weave this redemptive thread of reality into my context? Do I see it? Do I trust it? I sure need it. 
Back to chores - looking for the red.  

Billy.Ramsdell@Gmail.com

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

CHURCH LEADER "3 secrets to e4 simplicity"

I find that we are often our own worst enemy when it comes to fulfilling our ministry calling. Church leaders end up forgetting the reason we got into the business of God's Kingdom and God's people. The "stuff" of ministry begins to steal our attention and affections, slowly, like the frog in the kettle. 

The 3 secrets to "e4" simplicity are really not secrets. They are in plain view, yet hidden from most of us. Let me shine a light on them and encourage you to take courage. 

What is "e4"? The "e4" principle is found in Ephesians chapter 4, where we are taught in verse 12 that Jesus himself have given church leaders a clear and single mission of ....to "equip his people for works of service".... So, let the "e" remind you of Ephesians and the call to Equip. To equip, not to entertain or coddle, but to equip. 

Equip means to: "furnish or provide with" the ability and/or tools in order to fulfill a given assignment or purpose. The 3 secrets are found in the call to equip, so let me point them out. Again, they are in plain light, but sorely missing from most of our sermons. 

Secret One: His People
Secret Two: Works
Secret Three: Service

I have found that God's Word does a great job at explaining itself. When contemplating the true impact and importance of this call to ministry leaders, we find books, blogs, podcasts, sermons and more, all spending page after page trying to explain the call to equip. 

Let me suggest the true meaning of the "e4" calling is found in the actual verses. Verse 12 of Ephesians 4 tells us all we need to know. 

The secret to unlocking the secrets is this one understanding, that God himself saw fit to oversimplify the primary role of those ministry leaders mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, who are the primary gifts at work in the local church leadership, have many roles to play, but none more specific to the essence of church leadership as an equip-per. There are so many things asking for our time and attention, but none are more worthy than our role to equip. To equip implies several things. 

It implies a level of engagement with people, attention to the needs of people, a growing need for leaders around us. This growth minded approach demands we equip the saints to carry out the ministry instead of trying to do it all ourselves. Why is this so difficult? Why is there a leadership famine in most of our churches and cities? Why are leaders leaving the church by 1500 a month? I believe it is because we misjudge the simple call to equip. 

These 3 Secrets will rekindle your fire for the call of God to equip the people/saints/members/disciples for works of service. 

Secret One: His People
This truth is likely the single most important paradigm of Christian Ministry. Jesus is the head of the church. Jesus gives the five fold ministry as a gift to the church. Jesus alone redeems the church. Jesus alone reserves the right to know what Father God wants to say and do with His Church. We often bear the weight of ministry as if the people belong to us, and they don't, they just don't. The call of God belongs to us, but the Church belongs to HIM, and Him Alone. The pressure of the future of the Church upon Jesus. We are only stewards of the role he assigns us to and the station in life he calls us to. We have delegated authority and responsibility, not sovereign authority and responsibility. Jesus himself is sovereign, always has been, always will be. So, let's focus on being the faithful steward and let Jesus be the Lord. This will free us to focus on the equipping role, instead of master CEO of the Church organization, the fundraiser, the master teacher or the growth expert.  

Prayer: Maybe we should pray a prayer of release to Father God today. In prayer, give the sovereign burden for the success of the Church back to the true head of the Church, Jesus Christ, and embrace our delegated responsibility to train & equip 
HIS PEOPLE. 


Secret Two: His Works
For so long we have debated about being saved by works. I absolutely do not believe scripture supports a salvation by works. However, the scripture completely supports equipping for works. We are, indeed, saved by grace through faith, faith in Christ alone. We are saved by grace, through faith - TO WORKS.  Church leaders who take equipping seriously will know that we equip the followers of Christ to be and to do, not just to be. To reach others with the grace of God, means to fulfill the mission of God, through the works of God. The "doing" of the Kingdom of God never happens in the Church, in the streets, in our cities, until the people of God get out and up, to go and do the good works he has prepared for us. The parable of the talents teaches us the principle of stewardship and we must take this call to train & equip God's people to good works as our own mission. 

Prayer: Pray that God would burn a new fire in your heart for equipping the Church to do the works of God. Unless God's people are trained by God's leaders, Christ will not be known across the earth. Pray for God's fresh anointing to call people to His Work. 


Secret Three: His Service
When we take the role of Church leader, we respond to the call to equip His People, for His Work. This work, not be confused with many other kinds of work, are clearly and simply, works of "service".  This is the one place we seem to go terrible wrong as Church leaders. We assimilate members, we recruit volunteers and we inspire givers. We rarely focus on the simple and single task of training servants. If we focus on the training of His people, to do....and begin our list of expectations to do....to serving people, then we win, 100% of the time. If we build the organization, but don't train people for works of service, we train them to build our organization only. Serving others requires selfless living, sharing of time and energy, unity of vision and a teachable spirit. This is exactly what Jesus demonstrated and called His disciples to, as recorded in John 13, to serve on another. If we seek to change our cities, we must create city changers. City changers will be those who serve one another, as unto Christ and who develop a family and friend group who naturally work hard serving one another. Serving changes the atmosphere and culture to match that of heaven and this is a true secret to "e4" simplicity. 

Prayer: I suggest a fresh prayer of surrender to a lifestyle of service in God's Kingdom and to serve by training God's people to work hard at serving. Pray for the Church to have the heart of a servant and to love serving more than being served, for Jesus Himself did not even come to be served, but to serve the one who sent Him. Pray for supernatural power to be released as our Churches serve others, 
face to face, hand in hand. 

 
    Billy.Ramsdell@Gmail.com

Friday, September 18, 2015

-- explosive vision --





just my process --

          in this post i want to share a little about where i am right now, in regards to vision. this is less about my vision or my life and more about how each one of us may experience a new level of explosive vision, given the right circumstances. if something in this short post inspires you or challenges you, or if hope rises in your heart for a new season of explosive vision, i will feel i have obeyed my spirit to have shared it with you.

lately -- 

          i have been exploding with clarity about more things than I could have even prayed for in years past. i'm not sure why, actually, i just pray, listen, read, pray, listen, read and somewhere in that cyclone of circle-making, spirit-led processing i begin to see.

open eyes -- 

          i actually think it intensified recently when preparing to preach out of John 4:34-35 which reads, "My food, said Jesus, is the do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. ..... I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest."  i believe the call of Jesus to "open my eyes" and to look at what he is called to do and what he is calling me to do, which is go to the fields and to harvest those he has prepared for me to harvest, this calling shook me. it were as if he were slapping his hands together saying, hey, knucklehead, you are looking with your flesh and human senses. look where I am looking, care about what I care about and stop trying to get me sidetracked going to Sonic for a cheeseburger. 

focus --  

          maybe the fact that my focus has increased in the direction He says it should, means clarity about how to accomplish that commission becomes sharpened as a result. maybe the daily prayers of contrition that remind God i am not even sure what i am doing some days is the secret. maybe it is just a special season, for special work that i am just beginning to figure out, i'm not sure. but one thing I believe, focus on the harvest has gotten God's attention. 

explosive vision -- 

          if focus and clarity lead to anything, i might expect vision to result. if passion and zeal mix together with clarity, prayer, scripture, worship, brokenness and focus, which has been the cocktail of realities as of late, then i might expect a next level beyond vision, explosive vision. am i coming to the place where asking questions that are too hard to answer become my reality? am i truly about to move into a season where i attempt things i will likely fail at, say things i can only dream of fulfilling and trusting God for blessings i'm not sure i'm ready for? it has become beyond interesting to think about, it has become a little ridiculous and intense.     explosions usually are. 

what now -- 

          if i dare look beyond myself, if I dare believe beyond my faith, if i dare trust beyond my experiences, if i dare to close my eyes and leap into vision, explosive vision, what audacious things could i attempt, ask or expect....good question....and i sure look forward to learning the answers...

crazy - faith - mixed - with - explosive - vision = ???????????




Saturday, July 4, 2015

TEACHING vs. DISCIPLE-MAKING and COACHING

TEACHING vs. DISCIPLE-MAKING and COACHING

Simply put, many of us have practiced versions of "teaching" as part of our parenting, church work or job. I believe there is a great place in culture for teaching. Traditional teaching, however, involves much time "telling" and little time "learning".  Even our school systems suffer great loss because of this unfortunate practice. Movement toward hands-on, group projects, smaller class sizes and interactive lessons has helped. But, when most of us think and do what we call "teaching", we are usually following a lesson plan or outline, standing in front, talking it out. I love to teach this way, but also realize the lack of impact it actually has with most people. This is a problem. I want to share a possible solution. 

My suggestion is to leave the actual "teaching", in most of it's versions, to the experts and gifted and to rather focus on two other disciplines of leadership; Coaching and Disciple-Making. 

Coaching infers a certain expectation that the leader not only tells the student, but he also demonstrates, guides a training and conditioning process and holds the student accountable to performance. The Disciple-Making reference is mostly used in the church context. It is relationship based and life-on-life in nature. 

Today, for example, my family and I went on a hike. My wife was behind me. She was following in my footsteps as she watched the path I chose through a rough section of downhill trails. She was a follower, a disciple. When I turned around at one point to "tell" her how to do it, she was actually distracted and irritated by having to stop and listen to my words. My actions were more important than my words and she needed to see and follow my actions. This is the essence of disciple-making

The coach and disciple-maker should also teach. He should use words, stories, pictures, metaphors, examples and more. But he also includes key elements often missing in a teaching only environment. He includes relationships, mission, demonstration, practice, problem solving, praise and correction. He is actually training the student to lead and eventually, begin coaching his own students. This is the behavior of a disciple-maker who coaches and teaches his students.  

This is the process of multiplication most families, churches and businesses are missing. They may teach, but do they multiply through coaching and disciple-making?

Final Note: Jesus himself was a Rabbi, a teacher. He learned the holy scriptures and taught them. However, his 3+ years of public ministry was primarily spent doing life-on-life with a small group of men who dedicated themselves to being followers. They were called Disciples. Jesus did most of his teaching "on the job", in real life circumstances. He shared word pictures and object lessons often. He told stories, referred to history and got real personal with his students. He did more than pass along information in a clever or creative way. He did more than "tell". He coached, guided, walked alongside and even corrected those who followed his teaching. I think, if we could switch gears, and worry less about church programs, classrooms, curriculum, coarse work, workbooks and lessons, we could get back to disciple-making the way Jesus did. 


For more information on becoming a Coach or Disciple-Maker. Or for any other information about Leadership, Church, Parenting, Marriage, Family or Christianity, use the contact info below. 


Billy.Ramsdell@Gmail.com
Pikes Peak Christian Church
Design-Driven Church Growth

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

ELISABETH ELLIOT (1926 - 2015)



HONOR AND RESTLESSNESS                         

It is 3:40 am. The day has now passed and we move on. We move on to work, play, vacation, eat, drink, carry on with our lives. Truth is, in America at least, the blurry white noise of life rushes by us, swirls around us and sweeps us away at the sound of our alarms every day. All the while, people die, important people, life changing people, they pass on and we rarely stop to consider the value or impact of their life on earth. The tide of our self-imposed importance sweeps us away, out to see and back, with little time to sit on the shore and watch a sunrise, then a noonday, then a dusk and sunset, being still, listening and learning. We are restless

It is 3:43 am. The day has now passed and we move on. But, can we stop to consider the impact of this one lady, Elisabeth Elliot? We study Presidents, Rulers, Poets, Actors, Singers, Painters, Warriors, Religious Leaders and even Murderous Dictators from days past. But, this may be a name we have missed in our school textbooks. Elliot is synonymous with the modern missions movement, according to some. Others may not be aware. So, check this out for a minute. Slow down. Give Honor



It is 3:45 am. I first heard the name Elisabeth Elliot, and Jim Elliot, when I started going to church. My mentors, Greg and Pam Rogers, shared about them and passed books Elisabeth had written around to our teens. As a young man, who had a very messed up past, in regards to girls, I took an interest when I saw her book "Passion and Purity".  If I remember correctly, it tells a real and captivating story of how a young man and woman honored God, their mission and their love for each other, with all the drama and suspense needed to create an epic adventure. This being far greater than reality tv, tabloid romance or social media fame. This was real, risky, hard, loving and powerful. 

It is 3:51 am. This initial impact upon my life is why I'm still awake now. I struggle to settle down and sleep, knowing that the day of her passing is also passing. When I sleep this morning and wake up, this day that ends her life on earth will have ended and I will have moved on. My prayer is that I can cherish the life and story that is Elisabeth Elliot, learn from her, honor her, teach my kids and friends about her and that all of us would have what she would want us to have, Jesus as our Friend, God as our Father and the Least-of-These as our Mission. 

It is 4:00 am. I guess it is tomorrow no matter if I sleep or not. She has passed away and we now have the duty to honor her life and memory. I have not completely read every word from the linked content below, nor every book she has written. But, I trust, if you are learning about the Elisabeth I learned about, your life will be changed as well. 

www.elisabethelliot.org

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/june/died-elisabeth-elliot-missionary-author-gates-of-splendor.html

http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2013/october/elisabeth-elliot-pioneer-and-prayer-warrior.html


Saturday, April 11, 2015

PAST THE OBVIOUS



I find most of the best insights needed to be the best man I can be are PAST THE OBVIOUS. Beneath the white noise of radio, television, Facebook, twitter, billboards, web ads, friends and family who offer chatter every minute of every day. Beneath the books and magazines I read, even beneath the devotionals I read about God. Beneath the reading plans of the Bible and even beneath the sermons I listen to each week online and in church. Truth, relevant and necessary for my success lies PAST THE OBVIOUS

I don't think it is complicated, I think it is simple. My new friend Sam Silveous would challenge me to "think small" in many areas of life. And, I believe he is on to something. Small, in terms of focus and proximity, not small in terms of vision and destiny. There is something simple and small, lying just PAST THE OBVIOUS that I believe deserves investigation. 

I tell my kids they will go to bed at 9pm. They assume certain things, obvious things, about why I am sending them to bed. PAST THE OBVIOUS, if they were to ask, might be an early morning trip to the donut shop across the road before school. 

Moses was put into a basket and basically left for dead by his mother. Obviously God and his family were willing to let this little guy die, or at best, beg for food in obscurity the rest of his life. Or, PAST THE OBVIOUS his true destiny was to lead thousands of people to freedom and to challenge the most powerful leader in the world. 

The book of Proverbs teaches us about Wisdom. We hear it and read it often, even if we are not a church goer. Obviously, this is the book of Wisdom. When I read PAST THE OBVIOUS , however, I find a few other key concepts that, after further discovery, seem to be pillars of the faith I claim to hold true. And, it seems without them, my faith is somewhat empty, yet I hear little discussion on these topics. 

Fear of the Lord, Discretion, and Understanding are just a few. Why? Why do we miss the concepts, the truths that are PAST THE OBVIOUS? When Adam and Even fell into deception and their family fell into hate, rage, jealousy and murder, didn't that mean the end of the human race? Or, did God have a plan of redemption already in place? JUST PAST THE OBVIOUS

When sickness sets in, when parents divorce, when rape steals innocence, when careers fall apart, when corrupt leaders rise to power or when finances dry up completely. Obviously the world or God is trying to tell us something, right? Obviously, the news is right, it's a dog eat dog world, some are blessed and some are not. There are the "haves" and the "have nots". We are not as smart as we think, our kids are destined to be like us, our fate is sealed, we are broke, ugly, stupid, lonely, hopeless and frighted. Obviously, this is my lot in life. 

WHAT IF THIS IS NOT TRUE. WHAT IF WE LOOKED PAST THE OBVIOUS, PAST THE SURFACE, PAST THE NOISE, PAST THE LAYERS OF LYING AND DECEPTION, TO THE TRUTH ABOUT HIM, ABOUT THE CHURCH, ABOUT THE WORLD AND ABOUT US, NOT JUST US, AS A PEOPLE, BUT US, AS A PERSON. 

PAST THE OBVIOUS, we may find Moses destined to be a ruler, Mary destined to be the mother of the savior, Jesus, destined to rise after 3 days in the grave. What if PAST THE OBVIOUS, the living Church, 300k plus churches in America alone, are still the brightest, most life-giving families of human beings there is. What if over 1 billion people on planet earth, more even, are really out there, in small homes, hidden churches, obscure corners of the earth, serving the same God we do, worshiping the same God we are, reading the same Bible we read? What if right and wrong, war and peace, black and white, up and down, night and day, light and dark, rich and poor, tall and short, fat and small, evil and good are more than non controllable human experience? 

What if PAST THE OBVIOUS God has designed life, with all of the challenge and victory, confusion and clarity, all of it, to provide a path, a step by step, day by day, moment by moment plan to reach PAST THE OBVIOUS to where he speaks? 

What if there is a secret place where the Father of all Creation whispers in our ears, directly into our hearts, where the hurt, pain and doubt hide like a killer virus waiting to spread? What if we pushed past the obvious, what if we were more hungry for GOD TO SPEAK and GOD TO MOVE and GOD TO GET THE GLORY, than we were to see the next episode of our favorite show, or to hear the next song on the playlist? 

What if the truth we need to acquire the most powerful life we could imagine, was just PAST THE OBVIOUS?

PUSH PAST THE CROWD TO THE FRONT
PRAY LONGER THAN A MINUTE
READ MORE THAN JUST A CHAPTER
ASK FOR MORE THAN JUST ENOUGH
HUNGER FOR ALL AND NOT SOME
HOPE FOR GREAT INSTEAD OF SAFE
KILL SIN HABITS INSTEAD OF PETTING THEM
LEAVE ABUSIVE PEOPLE INSTEAD OF ENABLING
CRY HUGE TEARS INSTEAD OF HIDING THEM
DANCE FOR FREEDOM INSTEAD OF BEING BORED
TELL A FRIEND INSTEAD OF FEARING SHAME
LET IT ALL GO INSTEAD OF HOLDING ON

THERE IS MORE, 
MORE OF HIM, 
MORE TO US, 
MORE TO YOU

IT IS NOT HIDDEN, IT'S JUST BELOW THE SURFACE THE WORLD, THE DEVIL, AND DEAD RELIGION HAS COATED IT WITH. BITE THE APPLE OF LIFE AND BITE IT DEEP. LOOK INSIDE TO THE LIFE-GIVING, SEEDS OF TRUTH, ENCOURAGEMENT, DELIVERANCE, HOPE, WEALTH AND HEALING. 

RUN DON'T WALK
FAST AND PRAY
NEVER STOP SEEKING HIS FACE
ASSUME HE HAS MORE FOR YOU
RECEIVE FAVOR WITH GOD AND MAN
RESIST ARROGANCE AND PRIDE
BOW YOUR KNEES TO A HOLY GOD, AND WHILE YOU ARE THERE, DIG FOR TRUTH, ASK FOR A BLESSING, CALL HIS NAME, FOLLOW HIS LIGHT AND TRUST, NOW AND EVERY DAY YOU ARE ON THIS EARTH...

GOD HAS SO MUCH MORE....JUST PAST THE OBVIOUS


Billy Ramsdell
Saying YES To My Father

"Blessed are we when we HUNGER and THIRST for righteousness, for we WILL BE FILLED"  Matthew 5:6


Friday, April 3, 2015

MY APOLOGY TO THE AUTISM COMMUNITY

SHOCK & NEAR FURY - The mother just stood there, as she strangely looked at the 11 year old boy, while he screamed at her, yelled at her, pulled on her, pushed her in the chest, then slapped her in the face. She didn't grab him up by his arm and drag him to the car or smack him back, which is what I might have done to a decent sized 11 year old child who slapped me in the face. She, instead, picked him up in a bear hug, while he flailed, screamed, kicked and hit her in the head, literally. This parking lot brawl, though one sided, looked like a Jr. MMA battle. I was in Shock and Nearly in Fury on behalf of this mother, who clearly was out-manned.

I was seconds away from marching over there and saying to that little boy....with my deep manly, fatherly, I'm about to mess you up with this belt, voice.....

* Boy - (finger pointing right in his face, eyes fixed on his eyes, till he breaks and cries) What is wrong with you, why are you being so stupid, mean and disrespectful. If you were mine I would tar your behind, now, apologize to your mother and get your rear end in that car without making one word.

* Boy - (still pointing, but now, bent low as to get right in the little boys' face, eyes fixed from 3 inches away as to make him tremble till he wet his paints) - You are being retarded and wrong. You are a mean little boy who deserves to have your butt beat. If you don't march into that store, follow your mom without a single sound, I will take my belt off and beat you myself.

And, then there are 10 other approaches I imagines me taking with this bad little boy.

I did nothing, however. I just fumed from afar, murmuring really terrible things about this child. I actually despise children who are abusive, disobedient, disrespectful and mean. I guess I don't personally despise them, because I don't know them, I just cannot stand to see a generation of "bad kids" in action. I am old school and would have busted a move up on their behind......something I have not had to do with my own kids in a very long time....(I mean, give them time-out, and take their iPad away -- LAME)

APOLOGY - This is where I repent. After all these years, where I can still vividly remember my abhorrence of this child and his behavior, and my complete disappointment with the mother's reaction. I remember thinking she is a EPIC FAILURE and that the child is a complete DORK of a kid. I literally said things that spread curse and negativity. And, I'm sure every other adult in that parking lot did the same. I mean, don't we all make comments and jeer at "that" child in the Wal Mart checkout??  Of course we do.  But, Guess What......I WAS WRONG.

I am now pretty sure this was a child "on the spectrum", a child with severe Autism, and a mother who was at her wits end, but still willing to attempt a trip to the store. After all, like I heard this week from a mother of a child with Autism, sometimes you just get hungry and have to go to the store.

I am now pretty sure this family could have used help, rather than jeers, comments and curses.

I am now pretty sure my intimidations tactics, in an attempt to help the beaten mother, would have ended very, very badly for us all.

I am now pretty sure my understanding, even still, is elementary and completely out of touch with the actual situation going on in the parking lot that day.

I am now pretty sure, also, that I hate the man I was that day. I just do.

SO, TO EVERY FAMILY WHO IS BRAVE IN THE JOURNEY WITH AUTISM IN THEIR HOME AND CHILDREN -- I AM SORRY. I WAS A JERK. PLEASE FORGIVE ME!!!!




As I repent before God and my Autistic Families, I am on a journey to learn. To truly repent, I must turn in the opposite direction, from ignorance to information and engagement. Below is a link to Focus on the Family's website, where you can find a great broadcast, two of them actually, and some books to help you in your learning journey.

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/the-unexpected-joys-of-raising-an-autistic-child-pt1


Billy.Ramsdell@Gmail.com

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