Friday, March 16, 2012

A Different View

There have been some incredible places where I have stood and thought, "This will probably be the last time I will ever see this place."  So my conclusion forced me to take in more of the experience at the time.  The reason does not matter, nor do the circumstances that brought me to that particular thought because I have almost always been correct.  Sometimes we as humans just know that our time is done in a particular place or moment due to a plethora of reasons.  

On March 16 God looked down at a Mother and incredible woman, Pam Deer, and let her know that it was time for a different view.  Many people live their lives wondering if they have done enough to ensure they would be remembered when the time came.  Part of Pam's legacy are her dreams, ambitions, and endeavors to bless those around her even after she moved on.  She knew that her selfless works paled in comparison to the love she gave to God, her family, and everyone she touched.  I have no doubt she rests in God's arms, and He now bares the weight of this world which once rested on her shoulders.  John 15 verses 12-13 says,   “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."  I truly believe this love was evident while she was with us, and it will resonate in all of our hearts.   Bri and I love you Pam, you will be missed! 


Monday, March 12, 2012

Whatever May Come

Lately I have gotten to the point where cynicism rules my thoughts and plays upon my actions.  I find it amazing how many junctures there are in a day in which we make the choice to go up, or go down.  to be more clear about it, choices in which we can ride negativity and it's many paths or follow that positive spark leading to even greater heights. 

Lately life has been giving me the opportunity to follow the lesser path, and I have run with it every chance I've been given.  So where does all of the world's negativity truly come from?  Is it the fact that everything and everyone is evil in one sense or another?  Maybe the answer to this question can be explained by making the statement that man is handed a bad deal in general and these harsh conditions create a negative atmosphere.  I personally like to run with the ideal that man is inherently evil, and all of the vices and self defeating ways of our kind are generated by our own selfish desires.  This is hard to swallow for most people seeing as how they most often dislike finding themselves as part of the problem and not the individual facilitating the cure. 

The "High road", what does that mean?   How can I bring myself above all of the negativity that I find everyday?  Although I know there are many who don't want to hear it, the answer is God!  It is extremely hard to let that roll off of my own lips only because my own ambitious desires and foul language have driven me away from the point of speaking about such a positive focal point in my life lately.  The question could be raised, "Well how is it that you can cuss one minute and run at the mouth with nothing good to say and then turn around to call yourself a Christian the next?"  The fact of the matter is that God himself knows we are prone to mistakes day in and day out.  This doesn't excuse the things we do so that we can be forgiven one minute just to turn around and recommit the same act without so much as a sigh. 

The fact that we are able to admit mistakes, errors, omissions and poor choices in our lives is what God is looking for.  The second part is to do something about it, and that something is asking forgiveness.  I often imagine myself in the perfect place in life with my "book of wrongs" clear and sitting in the sunshine to hit that moment when I come to Him and ask that all of my black marks be taken away.  The reality of the situation is that magical moment will almost always elude me, and why, because life is not perfect and God is.  The high road is not doing the right thing everyday.  It is definitely not found by traveling or residing in a picturesque landscape that belongs on a computer screen saver.  My positive attitude rests with God and His plan for my life.  I leave you with some words from Chuck Swindoll, an inspirational Christian minister and evangelist.  These words will speak to you if you let them, or fall on a hard heart if so desired. 

 “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church....a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.”
Charles R. Swindoll

Philippians 2:3-5

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Looking back at everything we experience in life the one unavoidable fact is that moments make up all the time we have on this Earth.  Moments provide us with memories that we remember for the rest of our lives, and those that we would just assume forget.  These places in time foster emotion, spark relationships and build character that define all of us.

Within these moments we make time for many things that serve our own interests, however, we tend to forget the one who gives us all we have.  God.........

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Being Heard

I had a thought the other day while pondering how God speaks to us.  I have spoken to many people out there who have been deeply moved in some way by God's voice in their life.  Some of us get an ominous feeling; others tend to have visions, dreams or intense thoughts of God speaking to them.  How incredible would it be to sit in a random place and have God just appear to you and chat it up?  It’s like a thousand times better than having the Schwan’s guy show up on your door step and tell you that anything on his truck is yours for free. It doesn't even compare though..... 
There are those Christians out there that grade their relationship and level of commitment by the “messages” or feelings they receive from God.  I know there have been several times when I have become dismayed because I did not experience some incredible moving feeling inside me.  I used to think that my relationship with God was poor because I didn't get that "special feeling."  It took a long time to figure out that God is here speaking to me even when I don’t get a physical or mental communique.  He speaks to me through the bible, His everlasting word. 
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
So do we need to wait for God to speak with us, or can we simply talk with Him whenever we feel the need?  The latter of these two concepts is the correct answer.  Prayer is such an under rated and underutilized tool these days.  Do you wait for the doctor to come to you when you are sick, or do you go to him/her?  When you needed money from your parents, did you expect them to come to you or did you go to them?  And when you wanted to go to that concert, did the band come perform at your house or did you have to go see them?  I know God is standing next to me because I feel the need to just get down on my knees and pray from time to time.  Moral of the story: God is in each of our lives though we can’t always hear Him, touch Him, or see Him.  All we need to do is speak and He will hear.

Psalm 32:1-11

 1 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
 3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.”  And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
 6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters
   will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle
   or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.
 11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Strong Silence

Mountains stand tall on the horizon ever moving and shifting as time marches on.  All kinds of weather come to bear on the surface while changes take place deep inside on a daily basis.  Some mountains find themselves alone in this world.  They stand alone as stone cold giants, fiery monsters, or small wonders that rise out of the land.  Some mountains run seemingly together as a part of ranges that span hundreds of miles.  Each mountain has it's own story, some short, some long, yet each is different than the next.

We are definitely not mountains, yet our lives share such similarities with these granite and earthen giants that sprinkle the canvas of our nation.   In life we will find ourselves with or without people surrounding us depending on many uncontrollable circumstances.  God offers us strength in the midst of loneliness, strength in when we feel alone in a crowd of many, and strength that will outlast anything this world can throw your way. 
Psalm 125

 1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
   which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
   so the LORD surrounds his people
   both now and forevermore.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A lesson on the River

Patience is certainly a virtue that I try to indulge in whenever I get the chance.  Take today for instance, fishing on the river for pink salmon and sturgeon.  Let's cover some facts first before I go any further with this story.  My wife will attest to the fact that the name Mike Cifu does not strike fear into any fish.  In fact, I get the feeling sometimes many of them are somehow laughing when I throw my hook in the water.  How the truth hurts!  Moving on, I did get myself a salmon on this occasion, however, the sturgeon were not biting.  Sturgeon fishing is definitely a waiting game.  It does not require multiple casts of the rod and reel, on the contrary, it calls for extreme patience and concentration.  At times I felt like a polar bear waiting for hours for that one seal who might poke it's head through the ice (water in this case).  I didn't end up catching any sturgeon, but I did catch a tan/sunburn.  We'll run with tan for right now........

I learned from my waiting game with the fish that it pays to just be still, and secondly, it pays off to have enough trust to be patient for something or someone.  In the same way God wants us to be still and patient with our lives. 
Psalm 37:7-9 Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

Does this mean that we can't be ambitious or "hit the ground running" when it comes to certain things in life?  No!  This all goes back to God's desire of free will for us; each human being making their own choices in life as they perceive forks in the road.  Don't be so busy that you miss God, miss His creation, and miss out on the incredible peace He wishes for all of us.  Today on the river when we knew that the time for fishing had drawn to a close, we sat in the boat and felt an inner peace and amazement as we looked toward the mountains extending skyward from the river and surrounding fields.  All I thought at that moment was, thank you!

Psalms 40
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. 5 Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I took a good look at the articles covering mainstream news websites over this past week.  Wow, negativity city!  If you didn't need medication for depression or anxiety before, you will after that experience.  Let's face the fact that bad news is not all over the media channels anymore just because it sells.  It's in your face because "bad" is everywhere you turn now a days.  Never fear though because there is a God up above who is here to save us from all of the issues that we get into.  God doesn't promise that everything will be sunshine and daisies everyday.  This life will always be hard in one way or another.   

There are no magic words to sugar coat this topic.  A lot of people out there are ready to throw out the anti-Christian slogans and reasoning because fear and doubt are two words that grip their lives.  God has never let me down even though I turned my back on Him more times than I can think of.  Then there is the "What about this guy" game that a lot of individuals love to play.  It usually goes something like this, "Well I saw so and so doing this or that, and I thought he was supposed to be a Christian?!  That's why I'll never buy into that stuff."  Everyone makes mistakes, and there will always be those out there that make more than others.  I guess you could throw my name in with that bunch sometimes.  It's what you do with that realization of wrong doing afterward that separates you from the rest of the pack.   Benny Hinn is a really good example of a Christian that started out with incredible intentions, but somewhere in the midst of his televangelism the straight and narrow road got blurry.  That's the incredible thing about God's grace; no matter how confused you are, no matter what you have done, no matter how convoluted life gets sometimes, He is always there to accept us as we are.  I was asked by a former pastor if I understood God's grace and had I accepted it?  I was pretty lost in the sauce!  I know now that God's grace to me is a gift of eternal life and salvation that I don't deserve.  People will always let you down 100% of the time, with percentages like that it's a good thing God cares for us just the same and more.

Righteousness Through Faith
Romans 3
 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.