Grace In The Tragedies Of Florida – Todd Stocker.com

My-Grace-is-SufficientTrue or False: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

False.

Ask the parents of the assassinated singer.

Ask the friend of a massacred party-goer.

Ask the dad of a two year old, pulled out of sight by a scaly seven foot reptile at Disney. 

Tragedy upon tragedy. 

This life is full of them.  You may be in one this moment.  You could be at the end of your proverbial rope.  You might be asking yourself if the struggle, the pain, the loneliness, or the guilt will ever pass or if its worth the hardship. 

The cry of the human heart to an almighty God is for relief — for peace.  God has given you more than you can handle. 

Yet — as macabre as it may seem — it may be exactly where God wants you.  Low.  Destitute.  Unable to withstand another breathe without first, breathing his.

When life carries you to places such as these, He whispers,

“My grace is sufficient for you because my power is made perfect in your weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9

Grace. 

It is the same grace the angel announces to Mary.  It is the same grace that describes Jesus.  It is the same grace that is given and not earned. 

It is at the lowest, when God brings you the highest.  He is all you need to get through this thing called ‘Life’.  He is your anchor, your foundation, your guide and your peace. 

God will give you more than you can handle because it is in your surrender that He gives you your victory.

Peace!

first name signature transparent small

[The book I’m writing this year is called “Anchored – Finding Stability In A World Adrift”.  If you’d like to receive free advanced chapters and be notified when its available, sign up below — I’ll send you a portion of the book’s proposal right away!]

Click to sign up:

hopeanchor

Grace: The Athletes Key To Greatness – Todd Stocker.com

grace-coachI was teaching 8th + 9th grade boys about the concept of Grace.  (I know — I’m one of the nutty ones).  Many of these guys are athletes and good ones at that.  Trying to find an analogy that would hit home, I harkened back to my days of sports.  Mr. Wesslin and Coach Hatch teaching me football and basketball basics caused me to sweat where I stood.  Hopefully, they didn’t notice.

“So guys.  When you mess up or don’t do a drill to your full potential, your coach points to the ground and barks, ‘Drop and give me …’” To which they all chanted “20!”  Why ’20’ I don’t know but they all knew the number and I felt their pain.

“So what if you messed up as before and your coach yelled the same command yet before you could react, he dropped to the ground and did the 20 pushups for you?”  They all smiled.  I’m not sure if it was out of relief or the visual of their authority down on the ground.  Either way, they got it.

And you should get it to for two reasons.

First, God has given you a coach who did your pushups for you.  (I know, that’s a lame way of speaking about Jesus but really, that’s what he did in concept).  Your mess-up, your lack of fulfilling what is required, your falling short of the goal requires a payment.  And it’s a payment that you can’t handle.

Second, because he has done that for you, you are free to live in that grace for yourself and for others.  Give yourself a break.  God did.  I mean, there is still consequences for wrong decisions and screwing up, but in terms of being kicked off the team — pushing the analogy — you have a starting position that won’t be taken away.  As you live in that Grace and extend that Grace to others, your life success level will skyrocket.  People will identify you, not as one who is gullible but as gifted.  People will want to do business with you because of the integrity that is the key by-product of Grace.

Our world needs strong, Grace-infused leaders and you are among that group.  Step into it.  Live it.  Be it.

Peace!

first name signature transparent small

Why Relationships Are My Candles – Todd Stocker.com

relationshipAs of yesterday, I’ve been on the globe a half century. Pardon my stroll, but over this chunk of my history, I’ve cycled through multiple educational systems and won a few accolades. I’ve held jobs from delivering pizza to restoring antiques to working as a flight attendant among others. I’ve circled the world, climbed mountains and snorkeled off the coasts of Hawaii and the Dominican Republic. I’ve written books, been on TV and even held my own radio show for a wonderful 3 months.

I’m not rich and I’m not poor. I don’t have “toys” but I’m certainly not bored. I’m healthy, can jog and can read a sign from a good distance away.

As I tally my life, I realize that these trophies on the shelves of my memory make me happy, but they don’t bring joy. What brings me joy — true joy — are the memories and the current interactions with people I love. Relationships trump accomplishments every moment of the day.  Friends are the candles on the birthday cake of life. [Tweet That].

God has graced me with a wife whom I don’t deserve, three kids who have achieved and are accomplishing their dreams, a close circle of guys with whom I can act like a 6th grade boy and a myriad of friends, coworkers and acquaintances who know me well enough to challenge, value and encourage me.

If the next 50 are even a sliver of the past 50, I can’t wait to get started.

“A good man measures his life not in the number of his years but in the quality of his friends.” [Tweet That].

Peace!

first name signature transparent small

Abortion That Pays – Todd Stocker.com

I’ve not commented on the video’s that have come out recently about Planned Parenthood and their abortion goals.  Mostly because there are plenty who already have and I’d be echoing the same voice.  Yet the most recent video released by the Center for Medical Progress is so horrifying that I can’t let it go. 

The ten minute clip shows medical personnel describing how they cut into the face of a baby to “procure” its brain – a highly sought after body part that brings in a lot of cash.  Other videos in the series show Planned Parenthood representatives describing what it takes to harvest organs from aborted babies.  The procedures are gruesome as just mentioned.  The casual conversations of those who negotiate the transactions are cruel.  

Baby’s heart still beating — it flinches at pain — it moves on its own.  

For those of you still reading, you need to know this isn’t a democratic, republican or libertarian issue.  It isn’t an institutionally religious issue either.  It’s a life issue and people from all political and religious parties are disgusted with this.  

I find it interesting that I have no emotion.  I’m not angry.  I’m not depressed.  I’m not even sad.  I’m past all of those.  I am deeply, deeply stunned — even numb.  Most others are.

My response?  I’m not going to shake a finger at anybody saying what they are doing is evil, even though God says it is.  I’m not going to take up a sign and make my cut in the concrete outside of a clinic.  I’m not going to post videos and pictures on my social media — save this one.  I believe these things make a point but not a difference.  Others do these.  If you’re one of them, have at it.  

I am going to do what I’ve always done — pray for Holy Spirit to change hearts.  I will pray for the decision making of the desperate teenage mom and speak words of truth and life into people who don’t know either.  I will love on them as much and wherever I can and live out the forgiveness and grace that is found in the loving arms of Jesus.  Maybe God will call me to do more but for now, I am simply stunned.  

Peace!

first name signature transparent small

The Video:  (Caution when watching)

Prager University video:  An unemotional explanation of Abortion.

I WANT A DIVORCE

Photo by K. Karnez

Photo by K. Karnez

I want a divorce.

I’ve been married to you for far too long. You control me.  You run my life and I have no freedom.  When I want to go one way you force me to go another. When I want something better, you pull me back down. When I want to help, give, support and love, you weave your way into the fabric of my generosity.

And so, I am leaving you behind.  I know you will chase me.  I know you will want to stay with me but I will have it no longer.  I am seeking to be made new, washed clean and given life.

You are known by many names and given to fits of darkness.  And so, Pride, I am divorcing you.  Self-centerdness, you are moving out.  Hopelessness, Depression and Grief, you and I are parting ways.  I have found a new love.  Someone that makes me come alive.  Someone that stitches Joy and Humility together to cover me in a blanket of Love.  Someone who gives me Freedom that comes from Heaven and opens up a vast new territory of Peace.

Her name is Grace.  Birthed from the heart of my Savior, Jesus.  Given as a gift unending.  Not earned, waged or demanded, but poured out to me despite of me.  A forever lover through whom I live forever.  Joy is mine.  Hope is mine.  Love is now mine.

Peace!

 signature

A Thank You to Facebook

100_0574_0200_200Facebook.  Good-to-do’s call it a time sucker and tramp.  Others call it a stalker’s paradise and a bullies playground.

Today, I take another tack.  Today, I am thankful for the online service of Facebook because Mark Z. has done something for our family that no other venue has done.  They recorded a piece of my daughters life that is now archived for simple access during our Makenzie Moments.  

Photos, news feeds, pokes, pictures and videos, all wrapped together in a package of digital memories of her short but well-lived life.   The access provides remembrances.  The files give laughter.  The data brings her back to life, if only for a short, emotional while.

facebook-logoSo to Facebook.  Today I salute you.  For holding the past and delivering it to our present.  And now, five years since Makenzie’s home going, we close down her Facebook account which, I guess, is another sign of our journey of grief and healing.

Peace! signaturesubscirbe.001

Pondering

maryponderingA quick Christmas Day tour of Facebook reveals “pondering.” The student who is glad to be home for the holidays. The mom who watches her kids as they open gifts. The dad who reflects on his gratefulness for his family. The pondering heart is a thankful heart because to ponder means to throw ideas together and weave them into a tapestry of meaning.

As the sun crept over the line that marks evening from morning, Mary pondered. She thought of the visit by the angel nine months before. She remembered the pain it caused to tell Joseph her fiancé that she was pregnant, out of wedlock. She rehearsed her journey to see Elizabeth and the flowing heart of love that poured out into praises to God. She thought through the last months of dodging the condemning looks of the townspeople and the long journey to Bethlehem. She received the shepherds’ message with joy and she pondered it all.

I wonder. Do you ponder this morning. Jesus birth, the angels, the manger scene, what Jesus did for you – do you ponder it. Busyness chokes deep thinking and selfishness squelches love.

In the aftermath of presents and parties, gatherings and give aways, I pray that you wake up a bit earlier tomorrow and simple take time to ponder.

“… and Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:19

Peace!

 signature

Ornaments

The Christmas tree. Tall and green and decorated as a fixture in our home during the Christmas season. Each year, I sit on our couch next to our tree and admire the decorations that are so carefully placed on its branches. I admire the creativity of the handmade ones.  You know the ones.  The ones made from clay or paper.  The ones that kids bring home from school made especially for you.

The ornaments on the tree each have their own stories. They tell of that first Christmas. They speak volumes about your own childhood or that one special year. And maybe, they remind us of someone we love who is not here.

Ultimately all of the ornaments tell our story. One families story. Of hope, of struggle, of peace and of love.

As you look at your tree this Christmas, my prayer is that the memories that flood your mind are ones of goodness and grace.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Peace!

 signature

We Just Eat Crumbs

IMG_0736Yesterday, our family ate dinner downstairs by the fireplace, which has been more the normal than the occasion in this blustery winter-time. I found myself watching my dog Jack, scramble for the few crumbs that drifted off our plates. His attention, however, was not on us, but was set on the floor at our feet. A crumb of bread here, a piece of cheese there and he pounced on each one.

Because I love this little guy, I would have been glad to give Him way more than the little crumbles, but he never looked up at me in relationship, only at the ground in want.

It occurred to me that often, I am that way. I am constantly scanning the ground around me, looking and waiting for the blessings that may dribble from the plate of God. I guess, most of society is that way too. Only wanting what God gives and not God himself. We desire the goodness of God but are not willing to simply look into His face and know Him first. I think that if we did, our desire for the crumbs would be blanketed by the outpouring of His riches.

Grace gives more than we can ask or deserve.

“Even the dogs eat the crumbs from the Masters table.”  Matthew 15:27

Peace!

 signature

What A Dumb Thing To Ask!

Inheritance“Good Teacher – what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Mark 10:17

What a dumb thing to ask!  “Doing” and “Inheriting” don’t fit together!  Think about it.  If you inherit something, is there anything you have to do to inherit it?  When I die, isn’t it up to me to assign my possessions to my kids?  Can you manipulate the system to be born into the family into which you are born?

That’s silly!

When this man came to Jesus and asked this question, I can imagine Jesus rolling his eyes.  You don’t DO ANYTHING to inherit eternal life.  It is offered to you as a free gift of God!  It is laid out in front of you like a red carpet of Grace onto which you step by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is an inheritance that you inherit, not earn.

So if you’re a believer, live with the inheritance in mind.  You are a child of the king!  You are an heir into the throne room of God!  You are saved by the Grace of Christ!

Do nothing – Inherit everything!

Go and live like that and stop being so silly!

Peace!

 signature

Boundaries and The Gay Marriage Debate

romans5_8.001.001I’m all for human rights.  Our Declaration of Independence helps spell out 3 basics – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  But what happens when our human rights intersect with God’s boundaries?  Someone or something has got to give.

Enter the gay-marriage debate.  One side says that all people should be allowed the “right” to marry.  The other says that marriage is a traditional institution not to be messed with.  One side clambers at the doors of “equality” while the other fights to keep the bastion of marriage in place.

So why is this such a huge issue for both camps.  I believe part of it has to do with an issue all of us – gay or straight – struggle with.  Here’s my analogy which will help get at that unexposed issue.  As a child, I wanted cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  However, my loving mom knew that such a diet wasn’t healthy, so she put a boundary around the menu.  Did she hate me?  No.  Did she want to infringe on my freedom?  No.  Did she want to diminish my human equality level?  No.  She simply knew what was healthy and outlined a boundary.

Humanity (that includes me) simply doesn’t like boundaries.

There are boundary markers on the floor, court and field of every sports area.  Why?  For one, so that the enjoyment of the game is experienced without a wide-open space that runs to oblivion.  For another, it also protects the players and spectators from injury.

God’s boundary for the human relationship called marriage is that it is rightly between a man and a women.  Why?  Is it because He hates gays and wants them to burn in Hell?   If you believe that then you don’t know God’s heart so the answer to that one is nope.  Is it then because He is some dictator that wants to squash happiness?  Again, nope.  He created everything including loving relationships for our enjoyment.  God’s boundary portends that Biblical marriage is the best way for humanity to experience a marriage relationship.  Love whomever you want.  There are joys and sorrows in it all.

Often, those who are for the Biblical boundaries God has established on marriage are accused of being homophobic – being afraid of the homosexual life-style.  We who are for Biblical marriage are not afraid of those who choose that life-style.  Our fear is directed at the declining foundational and moral strength of our country that once feared and loved God but seems to now love itself.  As an old civil war saying goes, “You punch out a brick and the wall eventually falls.”

I’m for people but not the choice of the gay life-style, running over toward marriage.
I’m for love but not love the floods it’s banks into hurtful freedoms.
I’m for marriage but not if it is outside of God’s boundaries.  Gay marriage breaks a healthy boundary that God has so clearly set up.

BUT HERE’S MY MAIN POINT (and hopefully, you’re still with me):  What is forgotten in this whole debate by both sides of the pink-red-equal-sign groups is that ALL OF US are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.  That’s what Good Friday and Easter are all about – God loving all of us enough to send Jesus so that humanity (and even our wayward country) can be saved.   Even when we sin and are advocates for our sin, God is still there with His hand from which we experience discipline but also His arm in which we receive love.

All of us are called to respond to all people in truth, grace and love.  So if you choose to enter the debate, be cautious.  For every finger you are pointing, remember there are three others pointing back.

Christ has died – Christ has risen – Christ will come again.

Peace!

 signature