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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pray It Forward

Today, I’m gonna start #PrayingItForward. There are a lot of bad events happening not just around the world, but in our own back yards. It seems that Satan is having a field day with our peace. I think we underestimate the realpower behind prayer. It works, but only through faith. It works because God wants it to; simple as that.
It’s easy to pray for a friend or loved one you stay in constant contact with. But, what about standing in the gap for an acquaintance; what about praying for someone who was once, or maybe still is, an enemy? What about that friend you haven’t kicked it with in some years? What about that family member who laughs at your belief? These folks experience hard times and have bad days too. The difference is, when tragedy hits, they may not know who to turn to. We’re all just regular people trying to find our niche in life. We could all use God’s help.
With all the stupid challenges I see posted on Facebook (Fire, Winter, Ice Water?), I’m gonna start my own challenge. Here’s the deal folks: I challenge everyone to pick a friend, acquaintance or enemy (whatever the case may be) and lay down some prayer for that person. You don’t have to post your prayer; we’re not advertising here. I don’t advocate Pharisee-type behavior. But what I would ask is that after you’ve prayed for that someone, you send them this: “#PrayingItForward”. Only they will know. My hope is that they will, in turn, pray for someone else. Remember, the goal here is not really to stand in prayer for someone you’re warm and fuzzy with. Chances are, we do that anyway. No, the idea and the challenge is to stand in the gap for someone who you might not be too familiar with. Yeah, maybe you’re Facebook friends, Twitter pals, or say, “Hi” at the grocery store. But, besides that weak interaction, you know nothing of one another.That’s the guy or gal this is for; that person who is going through a rough patch.
I’m starting this off, so I get to break my own rule, on behalf of a brother who’s going through some rough times right now.
“Lord, today I stand in the gap for my brother Cle ‘Crushar’ Clark.
When we were kids, we didn’t always see eye to eye, but as grown men, I see him trying his best to do right by his family. Right now, Satan is trying his best to claim hisfamily, and to claim Cle’s peace of mind. Enter his heart, Lord. Grant him grace and mercy like only you can. Guide him through this difficult time in his life, and lead him into a better tomorrow.
Lord, help him to accept loss of life, even without understanding it. Help him to realize that you are in control of everything, at every moment, everyday. We never know when our time to meet you may come. I pray today, that the tragedy this brother faces might bring him closer to you, and that through him, his living family might see and come to know who you really are…and that you DO exist. In your name, I pray these things over my brother, Lord Jesus. Amen”
This was originally started as a Facebook post before walking out the door to work this morning. But, as I wrote this it, I realized, “this thing is bigger than Facebook. People are really hurting out there beyond my door. God calls us to pray for people and to spread His gospel anyway.” So I’m sharing this with everyone in hopes that this things actually goes viral.
Today, pray for someone who really needs God’s touch in their life. Pray for someone who could really use a miracle. Pray for someone who’s at the end of their line. While the apparent suicide of Robin Williams caught everyone off guard, I wonder would he still be here, if enough people had prayed for him? Make this happen today, tomorrow, all week, all month and for the rest of the year people. Let’s pray it forward.
#PrayItForward

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Bravery

Movies paint a picture of ultimate heroes charging death head on, with no fear. You grow up watching enough of those types of films, and you actually start to believe them; rather, you begin to believe their implied definition of bravery. Real life, however, is much different. Let me tell you what real bravery looks like.
Bravery: Its the little guy on the basketball court who knows the final play of the game comes down to his quick speed enabling him to evade every defender taller than him. His heart beats a mile a minute but, somehow, he knows he's gonna make the game winning layup.
Bravery: Its the woman who tells her male pig-of-a-boss, "Keep your hands off me," even though she has the fear that speaking out may cost her the very job she's worked so hard to obtain.
Bravery: Its the pipsqueak who decides today is the day, he'll stand up for his lunch money. His palms are sweaty, but he swings with a lightning speed he never knew his fists housed.
Bravery: The Christian who decides to defend Jesus, despite the raunchy, disrespectful, off-color humor of his long time pals. The threat of losing friendships is real, and terrifying. But not standing up for his beliefs is far worse.
Bravery: Its the alcoholic who finally says, "Enough's enough. I can't do this on my own. I need help."
Bravery: Is the devoted wife and loving mother who finally decides to pack up the kids and leave her abusive husband, to start a new life for her family, without him.
Bravery: Is the young girl who tells her selfish boyfriend, "I'm not ready for sex," despite his guilt-trip pleas for love.
Bravery: Standing alone in your decision, when everyone around tries to convince you of your impending failure. Yes, its a scary situation, and you might fall. But what if you don't fail, and actually succeed?
True bravery says, "Yes, I'm afraid; I'm even terrified. But...I'm going to do what's right, despite my fear."
Be brave

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Let The Tears Flow

Do you know how hard it is to pose like a tough guy 24/7? It can get downright exhausting trying to hold back tears, when bad things happen that are beyond our control. I know some of y’all out there are just too proud to let the tears flow in front of your crew or even your family. But all of that pinned up emotion only rots the Spirit within you.

Did you know that Jesus wept? The shortest verse of scripture in the New Testament, John 11:35, says so.  In fact, He wept a lot, because he experienced the same feelings and situations we go through today. Jesus was the hardest man to walk the earth, not because he was tough and held back his emotions. No, He was boss because he had the power to wipe out all of his enemies, all diseases, all suffering with a single thought, but chose not to. He chose to live the life of a man. He was “that guy” because he didn’t hide his emotions in times of difficulty.


The world teaches a man to buck up and quit that cryin’ in times of distress. But, in God’s kingdom, tears represent real heart. Real men cry, in times of tragedy, in reverence of God, even in times of great joy. So don’t let anyone tell you that you’re soft for crying. Sometimes, a real man’s just got to let the tears flow.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Choose Your Words Wisely

   When I first got saved, I struggled with my tongue. My vocabulary was fine. As a writer, big words and the dictionary were my close friends. But, I could bless a person in one second and curse their name in the next. “Hey, Brother Ted! May the Lord bless you and the family today.” Then, I could turn to my wife and say something like, “I hope he knows people are gonna laugh at those stupid-looking shoes he’s wearing.”

   The tongue is a dangerous thing. If we don’t watch what we say, every time we open our mouths, we could be in danger of condemning ourselves. James 3:10 (ESV) says, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so.” Do you know that Christian who praises the Lord in church, but swears like a sailor, on Saturday night? That’s a danger we should watch out for.


   The Lord wants us to use every part of our being to praise Him. This includes our speech. Yeah…we’re human. We will fail sometimes. But, we should not purposely use our tongues to speak evil into someone else’s life, or our own. In one of his songs, Lecrae says, “For me, learning not to curse, was like learning to write in cursive.” Its hard! But, as Christians, we have to learn to speak life, and put an end to speaking death. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Who Are You Following?

JOSHUA 24:15 (NIV) - “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua was making his position clear. Today, it might be translated in Ennis-vernacular to read this way: “Look, if following God seems wack to you, then follow your own God: money, power, sex, or the culture’s definition of what seems cool. But everyone under my roof will follow God.”

Every day, we have to face challenges. Some may seem like small decisions, but could really have terrible consequences. Other choices may seem as big as mountains, but really mean nothing in the plans of your life. Challenges show up in what we choose to pay attention to: a music video, an R-rated movie, the lyrics on the radio, our friends’ lifestyles. What or who we choose to follow dictates the course of our lives.


Joshua basically said, “Look, no matter what, I’m runnin’ with God. Whatever He says, is what I’ll do.” He chose God’s way over the ways of everything else going on in the world. And for that, God blessed him. Every day, we have to make a choice of who or what to follow. If I have to go through struggles, I’d rather have God guiding me through those struggles.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pigs Love the Mud

2 Peter 2:19-22 (ESV) – “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverbs says has happened to them: ‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.’”

Boy, that’s a mouthful of bitter-tasting truth right there. No one likes to think of themselves as dogs returning to their own puke, or pigs wallowing in the mud, but its true. I tried Christianity on, like it was an overcoat, 14 years ago. It seemed to be enough for me to simply give Jesus my conditional surrender.

“Okay Lord, I’m gonna go ahead and attempt to read your book now; cover to cover. Uh, if its all the same to you, I’d rather sit at home and watch a few T.V. preachers on Sunday, rather than waste my time in someone’s boring church. We can have some light conversation every night if you want to, but I’m gonna need you to keep a low key profile during the day. A lot of my friends might not understand our complicated relationship. I’m sure in time, I’ll give you more of me, but let’s just start this off slow.”

“Whatever you say, Ennis. We’ll try it your way, but remember: this was your plan.”
I can envision the Lord responding to my idiotic demands, in that loving tone. Its really no wonder that I quickly returned to my selfish ways and destructive patterns, a mere six months into my walk. Not only did I return to the mud, I made it my permanent residence. Everything I thought I’d left behind came back to me ten fold. I was seriously worse than before I’d come to Jesus.

It took me nine years, and a few devastating life changes to break down and honestly turn my life over to the Lord. The new experience of actually being saved was refreshing and uncomfortable at the same time. Oh, I truly gave my heart to God, but my flesh was determined to hang on to some of the dirt from my old life. For another five years, I tried my best to learn the intricate dance of being a dirty Christian. You see, I was all about learning the scriptures, going to church, getting involved with the congregation, and turning over my big sins to God. But, there were a few secret, little sins that I figured He wouldn’t mind me indulging from time to time.

“Hey, didn’t I just throw that up a minute ago? It still looks pretty tasty. One bite won’t kill me.”

Insanity can be defined as doing the exact same thing, but expecting differing results. I actually could not figure out how so many of my christian friends were growing in the Lord, receiving blessings, being delivered from bondage and struggles, when I was consistently by their side, performing the same acts. Then one day, it hit me. The key just appeared. That was it. I was performing! I couldn’t grow in the Lord until I’d made a conscious decision to give the Lord everything, including my secret sins, which of course He knew about anyway. The only person I was really fooling, was myself.

Pigs love the mud. What might seem grimy and disgusting to the human eye, is actually heaven to them. We don’t get it, because we know what’s in the mud: disease, parasites, grime, filth. But the pig can’t see nor understand the danger. As soon as she’s free from the barn, she runs straight for that cool and refreshing filth. Often times, she’ll immerse herself deeper into the slop, than she had been before her bath. You can see it can’t you? Right now, your mind’s forming a mental picture. At some point, the farmer simply leaves the animal to her filth.
There’s the connection. That’s what we do as christian’s who continue to struggle over the same obstacles. That’s how we find ourselves going back to the bottle, or looking for the next sexual fix. That’s what it looks like to continue tripping over the same spending addictions. The pig doesn’t understand why it eventually gets sick. The dog doesn’t know why it needs to go out into the backyard and eat grass, after dealing with two days of lethargy. As born sinners, we honestly can’t understand why we continue our destructive behavior, unless we submit completely to God. Devoid of Him, we’ll always run back to our own vomit or our own mire; never discovering a way to be free of it.

The good news is this. When we submit to God fully, and I do mean fully, He shows us the error of our ways. Our ways are not His ways, you see. So, from our perspective, what looks enticing could eventually kill us. We need God’s direction to keep us from the mud. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Generations and Legacy

Jordynn skipped school yesterday; victimized by "Pink Eye". So, I stayed home from work. It was a beautiful Spring day, so we spent time doing odd jobs around the house and eventually going out to enjoy the weather. We're in the backyard swinging our bats around (we both play softball), when I come up with some impromptu declaration for my bat.

"This is my sword; the sword of the Spirit! With it, I shall vanquish the fiery darts of the enemy that may attack, in the shape of softballs. I will not waver in my defense of the gospel. I am a soldier on the team of the Lord!"

It was pretty lame, but it went something pretty close to that.

"That was pretty good, daddy," she says.

"Yeah, I'm a writer, ya know. Sometimes I can't turn it off."

"I want to be a writer,one day, too."

"You will be, honey. You've already got the bug."

Right then and there, truth hit me. She really will become a writer; better than I could ever hope to be. All this time, I've been chasing my dreams and aspirations of making something happen with my own talents. It never occurred to me that just maybe, I haven't been doing it for my own success story, but to prepare my daughter for hers. In that one moment, I saw a glimpse of who she might become someday.

In the Old Testament times of King David, he wanted desperately to build the Temple in honor of the Lord. But God made it clear to him:

"Look dude, I appreciate what you're trying to do here. But the fact is, I'm not giving you permission to build this thing for me. You've simply got too much blood on your hands. Instead, it'll be your son who builds the temple for me."

David was like, "but...but...Lord,"

"Nuh, uh, uh; no 'buts'. I love you, but I said, 'no'. It will be your son."

"Doh! Fine. Okay. I understand, Lord. Your will be done. I'll make sure I leave my son everything he needs to build your house."

So, when I put things into that perspective, I realize what an honor it will be to see my daughter go to college for journalism. Some people say its a dead art, but I beg to differ. I see her graduating, and becoming a famous author who writes fiction in honor of the Lord, whom she already has a heart for. I see my daughter doing all the things I wanted to become. I see my legacy coming to life through her.

Now don't misunderstand me. I'm not interested in living vicariously through my child. I'm interested in seeing her use whatever talents the Lord blesses her with, to do His will. That's what I want for all of my children.That's my legacy. If I die tomorrow, I want my children to remember how much I loved the Lord, and I want them to go on in the faith, becoming even more effective Christians than I could have ever become.

Proverbs 18:16 says, "A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before the great." God gave me this gift (of writing) to use. I thought he gave it to me to spread the gospel far and wide, myself. But what if he actually gave it to me to do that as a secondary purpose? What if the main purpose was to be a guide post for my children? Maybe it will be to them to spread the gospel far and wide. If that's the case, I want to do a great job, so that when I die, I am brought before the great: the Lord Himself. I want to hear those famous words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Come on in, Enn."


Thursday, May 8, 2014

God Over Money

“Anyone who tells you money is the root of all evil, is a jealous punk who can’t keep any. The dollar should be the first thing you’re thinking about, when you wake in the morning. If it’s not, you might as well be in the grave, because you aren’t really living unless you’re chasing paper.” 

That’s the lie, many of us grow up believing. Money is power; power brings happiness. But here’s my question: if that’s real, then why are there so many unhappy filthy-rich people in the world? Suicide is rampant among the rich and so called powerful. That’s fact. Now listen to truth.

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” That’s the Apostle Paul speaking in Hebrews 13:5 (ESV), about the Lord Jesus. See, Jesus knew exactly how money would affect us. He knew its condemning power over our lives. He warned us to be happy with our own stuff and to trust in Him to supply for our needs. Its dangerous to have an eye for someone else’s junk; even more dangerous to covet money in order to get that stuff.


Coveting money puts God beneath a man-made idol. How can we expect Him to provide for our needs, when we’re too busy believing in Washington, Franklin and Hamilton?  Trust in God first, and count on Him to take care of your needs. Don't follow the world's definition of fame and fortune, only to lose your soul, at the end of life. After all, we can’t take things with us, in the end. No one ever saw a safe travelling behind a hearse, on the way to the graveyard. 

Eight Rounds

1 Timothy 6:12 (ESV) - “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

The Christian walk isn’t easy. We don’t get breaks in the action, or “time-outs”. No sir, the walk is never-ending because Satan doesn’t sleep. He’s up, working toward our downfall 24-7. From the time we proclaim Jesus as Lord, the fight of the faith begins.

Because we’re surrounded by sin, it can be easy to fall back into destructive patterns we turned away from, at one time. Its almost pleasing to go back to our familiar ways, no matter how bad they were. That’s what Paul was warning Timothy about, in the scripture. He was telling him to keep fighting for Jesus; keep fighting for your new life; remember the pledge you took in front of witnesses whether they be church folk or angels in your room.


Personally, I like to think of my own fight of the faith as a boxing match, with each day broken down into eight rounds. As long as I’m breathing, the match never ends. I’ll always have to do battle against Satan. But God is in my corner, and with Him coaching me, I’ll never be defeated by the enemy. That’s the attitude we Christians have to keep. We can never stop fighting the good fight of faith.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tenacity

Tenacious: stubborn, persistent or obstinate.

I wrote a song incorporating lyrics that flow like this:

"But there's power in the word, 'cause the word's alive.
 I can't quit; I can't faint; I will survive!"

(See that music box to the right? Click on 'Eight Rounds' for more. Better yet, buy the whole EP.)

Once upon a time, I was convinced I lacked anything to offer God toward advancing His kingdom. Isn't that just like the devil to plant wrong thinking into our minds? I mean, I actually believed that I was some sort of exception to the rule. You see friend, we all are given some talents to be used for the glorification of our LORD. 

If you don't really believe in the whole "God Thing", then what I just said probably sounds akin to some form of slavery. Okay; I'll bite. If that's how you want to look at it, then be my guess. I'm a slave to the one true God. The creator of all things, is my Lord and master. I am a servant of Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God.

Tonight, I claim that fact with a boldness I didn't always have, and an awareness of the talents given to me for the purpose of spreading the good news of the gospel. It took me quite awhile to latch on to my gifts, and even longer to accept their purpose in my life. I wasn't given anything to make myself rich and famous. No sir. I was given only what God wanted me to use for His glory.

Now, on the surface, I realize that may sound like a pretty bold (darn near cocky) statement. I submit to you: it is. I know my God. And what's more, I know who I am in Him. Those two facts together give me a resolve to keep pressing forward in sharing the good news any way I can, unashamedly, unabashedly, unmoved by dropped friends, hard times or setbacks.

I know there are a million people in the world who can pen a tale with more captivating detail than me. I realize my vocal range and control would never land a multimillion dollar deal. I understand that for all my beat making abilities, there are tens of thousands of kids two generations behind me, who can do a better job in less time. I get that my piano playing skills might not move a crowd to tears. But when I put all of my mediocre talents together to glorify the Lord, there's a party happening in heaven, hallelujah! God's gonna get His praise and worship from me, no matter how many super producers can out produce my efforts. 

I've got tenacity, you see. Stick-to-it-tiveness is in my new blood. Even when nobody's responding to Facebook or Twitter posts, and no reviews are surfacing for the music, I know God hears and sees my obedience. After all, I'm doing it for Him, not for the world's attention. He's done so much for me, the least I can do is serve Him with the gifts He's given me. 

So here's the thing: don't walk around with the attitude, "I don't have anything to give, so why bother?" We all have something to give back to the one who breathed life into us. When you find your niche, don't give up on it. Keep going, even when the world around you remains silent to your efforts. Remember that God sees your obedience, and your treasures are being stored up in heaven.