Just Faith

Faith is a gift from God. Faith can move mountains, even the mountain of addiction. Ending a life of self abuse caused by addiction will happen when you trust God to lead the way over, around and even through the mountain. God's "Twelve Step Program" begins with one easy step-believe in Him.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Day that Marriage Died

In the beginning God’s hand held the brush that painted upon His canvas a beautiful creation called marriage. Since the foundation of this place we call earth God’s design for marriage was that of one man and one woman. In the time that Jesus Christ walked upon this earth He said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning , made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Today the Supreme Court of our land threw their caustic paint, derived from their words, upon the canvas of God. The corrosion of their collective thoughts brought death to the Creator’s design. These men of justice pounded at this sacred union until all of her breath was exhausted. Death came upon marriage in a way that is cruel and unjustified. May she forever rest in peace.

Some may say that marriage was already corroding due to an embarrassing divorce rate. And to you I would agree to a degree. The Bible has much to say concerning divorce. Even our Savior, Jesus Christ spoke on this matter; “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”  God made this provision for divorce because He knew that if sin (adultery) was to penetrate the bond of marriage that darkness would set in. And further sin would be born out of this first sin. Trust would be challenged. Retaliation would be considered. Hatred would be revealed in words that should never be spoken inside the circle of marriage.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” And from this union families would be born. Babies would come into this world with a mother and a father. Two women, united can never provide that which a father provides. Two men together can never provide that which a mother provides.
We look at the single parent families today and concern for the children is a natural response. We often witness the degradation of our children that are raised by one parent. Sadness prevails when we witness the efforts of one to try to accomplish a task that was designed for two. Two women together will always be absent of a fundamental need. Two men together will suffer likewise. Ultimately this suffering will be experienced unnecessarily by innocent children.

Those that today celebrate the high court’s decision may never understand the implications that will be born out of this travesty. Instead they will rush to stand in line to receive their own license to marry. And all the while they are still a small minority. Today the minority has ruled, and yet you are still a minority. A position made by your own choice. When you choice to go against the norm, to step away from what the majority considers moral, consequences will accompany your decision. Because you live in this once great nation you can make those choices. The needle of our moral compass should not be broken by a minority of citizens. Go the way you want to go but live with the consequence. The definition of marriage before today was that of one man and one woman, could you not honor our belief in the same way that we believed you have the right to choose?

Marriage died today. May she forever rest in peace.

God did not die today…nor will He ever.

I believe God looked down from the heavens today and saw the inhumanity of his creation in all its glory. There was a time when God would take vengeance on mankind for destroying His creation. But He doesn’t do that today.

No, today He looked down upon what was once a great nation, and through His tears He said,

“I love you still.”

I wonder who will wipe His tears?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Shadow of Faith

Below is an excerpt from "Shadow of Faith". I hope it raises your curiosity to a level where you will want more. I have included a link to the e-book at the bottom of this post. Please consider purchasing a copy and sharing this post with your friends. A review from you on Amazon will be icing on the cake! Thank you for reading my thoughts...
“You know I thought I saw an angel once. I was so frickin high that the angel began to change. You know like a Transformer. And then I thought it was God’s face I was seeing. It scared me, man. I was more scared than I had ever been in my life. I thought God was going to kill me right there in the alley. He was going to kill me because I was stealing and getting annihilated all the time. I was ate up man, God’s face was right there. I could have reached out and touched it, but I thought my hand would frickin burn off or something. I knew I was bent bad, somewhere inside my head I heard my own voice telling me that it ain’t real man, you’re just screwed up. But I was scared, seeing God’s face was freaky, man. I started crying like a little baby. And then I started to scream. I squeezed my eyes shut, screaming for the face of God to go away. When I opened my eyes again the face was gone. But in its place was the face of Trapper Jack. He was so close I could feel his hot breath on my cheeks. It smelled like butterscotch. I looked into his eyes and knew that he was coked up. I also knew that he was pissed. I owed him a lot of jack for some of the crap I had bought from him. But I had been hiding from him because I blew the profits on buying more shit for me. Man, I couldn’t help it, I need to be high, I needed to go numb. Trapper Jack stood up and I saw his foot heading right for my man parts. He kicked me hard over and over. I thought I was going to die again right there in the alley. I was crying again. Suddenly the kicking stopped. I looked up and Trapper Jack was gone. From out of the darkness appeared three of his boys. They picked up where Trapper left off. I didn’t know I could sober up that fast. I started counting the hits. I was hoping that by counting I wouldn’t feel them. It didn’t work. I blacked out. When I woke up I was in the County Hospital emergency room. That was cool…I knew they had drugs.”
I sat there looking at Michael. I didn’t know what to say.

Chelsea was crying.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Whose Battle Is This?

Whose Battle Is This?

I sit here today in the waiting room of the Cancer Care Center of South Texas, waiting for them to call my name. Today will be treatment number 10 of 12. The room is filled with people who are sick. People who are facing the same enemy I face. It is already twenty minutes past my appointed time to see the doctor before beginning the 3 day long treatment. I don’t blame the delay on the doctors or the staff. There was a time that I would have, but not anymore. I blame it on the enemy. I blame it on cancer.

So many are here today. Some of their faces I have come to know. But every week there are new faces. I hear their names being called yet I do not know them. I don’t know their story or their cancer. I just know they are in the same prison camp that I am in.

On the small table beside my chair are magazines. Some of them want to tell me about which movie star is rising, or perhaps has fallen. Other magazines have pictures of healthy food on the cover. I didn't see any sports magazines after traveling to the bottom of this mountain of periodicals.

I placed them back neatly; the cover of one small digest caught my eye. There was a picture of an attractive woman. Next to her, printed in over-sized Arial font were the words “My Battle with Cancer”. In the cover picture she looked very healthy…good for her. In contrast to the faces sitting in this room she looked very, very healthy. I didn't read her story; her picture was enough to know the familiar tale.

But her portrait and the title, “My Battle with Cancer” slowly began to form a picture in my own mind. I added to this cerebral canvas the faces of all the people who occupied this waiting room with me. As the image formed, comprised of swirling dark grays, brilliant whites, the borders tinged in amber, I saw red begin to appear. The red pixels ran together like children on a playground, forming the words—
Whose Battle is this?

My inner voice, the other Jim (also known as The Pragmatic One”) whispered—
“It is not yours.”

He was correct.

This battle with colon cancer began more than nine months ago with a call from my doctor confirming tests results. The battle began with his phone call. At that moment, when the trumpets blasted the apocalyptic battle cry, I was cuffed and became a prisoner of this battle. The chains would prevent me from fighting a battle that was being waged against my very soul.

What could I do? What did I do?

I obediently followed the doctors’ instructions. Instructions that included submitting my body to the surgeon’s knife, lying quietly as test after test probed my body, sitting for hours upon hours as the chemotherapy drugs raced through the veins of my inflicted body. And I prayed.

All of these actions were done from a prostrated, sitting or kneeling potion. Not the fighting stance of a warrior.

Whose Battle is this?

I have come to realize that this battle has been fought by you.

I have sat patiently as a prisoner of my captor…you have fought valiantly.

The” you” is plural.

My team of warriors is led by my daughter, Sara Rose and my son, Joseph Tyler. They have been by my side from the beginning. They have helped and supported me. They have endured with me the pain and moods that are a direct result of the chemo treatments. They have adjusted their own lives to deal with my loss of appetite caused by drugs and constant mouth sores. They have waited when I had not the strength to move. They have rejected the thought of a future without their Dad.

Included in this first but small platoon is my almost two year old grandson, Logan James. He doesn't understand the battle. He doesn't even know that one is raging. Yet he always seems to know when Grandpa needs a hug. He has also learned not to pull on the tubes that extrude from my chest. A young unknowing warrior.

The second platoon (2nd by numbers only) is the people that make up the “Hirtle Family”. My mother, my sisters, my brother, my son and his family, my daughters and their families, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, cousins…they have all stood by me, supported me, prayed with me, fought for me. They are mighty warriors.

A third platoon is comprised of many friends and fellow workers who, from even great distances, have offered support in every conceivable manner. Their words, written and verbally, have offered encouragement, sentiments, love and kindness. They have reached into their own pockets and helped financially for something they have no claim or stake in. They are magnificent champions.

And I cannot forget the medical staff. Although it seems at times that they are aiding the enemy in their efforts as they pump the cancer killing chemicals into my system, I know better. It is not only their professional efforts that fight this battle, but it is also the care and concern they show every week. It is their motivational words of encouragement that are seamlessly delivered each and every time I see them. They are on the front line, providing the weapons, spending hours upon hours by my side as I crumble away, putting the pieces back together. They are super soldiers.

Whose Battle is this?

It has been yours. And I can only say “Thank you. “

I wish it was over. I wish I could send the warriors home.

Two more treatments. Two more skirmishes. I still need you.

I learned a new word today—thrombocytopenia. Learned it, can’t say it.
It means my blood platelets are decreasing. Last week my white blood cell count was also decreasing. 
What does all this mean? I don’t know.

 I don’t care.

I don’t care because I know that God and warriors are on my side. You are the warrior.
I love you and I thank you.

See you on V-day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Time to set aside your fear...almost.

An open letter to all minorities.

It is time to end your paranoia and set aside your fears...almost.

With your indulgence I will begin with the "almost".

There is no doubt in my mind that there is today a splinter group of race-haters. These wretched bodies have been around for hundreds of years (sadly and with shame I acknowledge they were not always small in number), I am sadden to admit that they are still upright breathing today.

These race haters are nothing more than cowards. Individually they hide their distorted beliefs. Collectively they meet in small, smoked-filled, darkened rooms congratulating each other on their hatred towards you. They exchange lies and off-color jokes. They are cowards.

They do not gain strength to momentarily escape their cowardice until a happening like that which occurred this week in Baltimore. But even then they can only penetrate their weakling's overcoat under guise. They are their among you, pretending to be on your side by coaxing you into destroying your own neighborhood. They shout slurs at the "white man" will encouraging you to devastate the innocent victims that yesterday were a part of your community.

They are race haters. They are cowards. They are the true minority.

It is time to end your paranoia and to set aside your fears. You see my friend, the majority of the white race does not hold prejudices against you. We recognize our past and embrace our future because we have learned from men like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. We listened when women like Harriet Tubman and Lena Horne spoke aloud. We watched as Rosa Parks showed the world what courage truly looks like.

We do not hold prejudices against any minority, because of a common bond that weaves it way through our own belief structure...a belief in God. A God who created all, white, black, brown, red or yellow. God did so with love, without separation and without prejudice. We follow God in our everyday life, striving each moment to be more like Him.

We see you as a people. We are not and never should be a color-blind society. Your skin color is a part of who you are, just as my own skin color is part of me. It is your heritage. It is mine. If we put blinders on to color then we will forget the past and will be doomed to repeat it. God forbid!

We do not hate, because we love. We love because God loves.

I will end this letter with the words of Martin Luther King. Words that should ring out in Baltimore and across our nation tonight-

"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, Justice at it best is correcting everything that stands against love."

Cowards have no power. Cowards stand against love.

 Set aside your fears, end your paranoia.

You are us. We are you.

Praise God.

Monday, April 27, 2015

LGBT-It is non that simple.

I am compelled to take a brief respite from working on my novel and even dealing with the effects of going through chemotherapy. Admittedly the former is much easier than the latter.

The aspiration behind this brief respite is the attention that the LGBT community is getting and my own concerns about what all this will mean one day.

Very soon the Supreme Court of this great land we call home will perhaps change the very design of God.

The design I refer to is of course the marriage between one man and one woman. This was and is the design of the Creator, God.

Those that know me also know that I am a Bible believing, evangelical Christian. In the past, I guess recent past would be more accurate, I have been mostly silent on the subject of rights or equality for those who wear the tee-shirt of LGBT. And there has been a reason for my uncharacteristic silence.

I didn't know what to say.

Well, you know that is not completely true. I knew what I should say, but refrained from doing so out of compassion and love for the people I know that wear that tee-shirt. What I should say is grounded in my faith and complete belief in what God has taught us all through Scripture.

As it turns out...it is not that simple.

It would be simple for me to take this platform and quote scriptures that hide no truth about the perfect designs of God. I could quote scripture that tells us that God declares the lifestyle of homosexuality as sin. If I were to do so, I could add that all have sinned and fell short of the glory of God, but to continue is sin, with the knowledge that it is sin, is grounds to reconsider our faith and our relationship with Jesus Christ.

I could also move out of scripture and into the beginnings of this great nation. A nation whose founders recognized that marriage is of one man and one woman. Their recognition of this truth comes from their own belief in a Creator. Today, intertwined within all the scuttlebutt is still the strong belief that marriage is a sacred commitment between man and woman. Now you may read statistics that say differently, after all it is extremely easy to spin numbers into any court you would like, but you will find that a majority, greater than 50%, still believe that to redefine the essence of marriage is wrong.

I will pause here to ask you a question-

"Why do a great majority believe that polygamy is wrong. Wrong to the degree that laws of the land prohibit it?"

The polygamist stands under the same banner of freedom that you and I stand under. They are equal in every way that we are. They love, they live, they bleed, all in the same way we do.

And yet the majority ruled...marriage to more than one is wrong.

For that matter, why do we have laws that govern the legal age one can marry?

You see, it is not that simple.

For a moment I must return to the teachings of God.

Jesus Christ, our Savior, did not encounter a homosexual during His ministry; at least the Bible doesn't record such an incident. Nor did Jesus speak about homosexuality outside of the context of all sexually immoral behavior. But neither did He speak about rape, incest, child molestation or domestic abuse. And yet we find these deplorable and would never consider the perpetrator of such behavior as an equal with the same freedoms of noble seeking citizens.

But you see, Jesus is God. The same God that declared in the Old Testament that homosexuality is unlawful...a sin. When I hear people say that Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality, and that somehow negates this sin, they do not understand who Jesus was and is.

Not simple?

I don't know.

When I think of how Jesus would have behaved or reacted if He did cross paths with a homosexual, I can only imagine that He would have acted no differently than when He crossed paths with adulterers, thieves, betrayers...

It was always with love and truth.


"Follow me." 

Simple words written in red.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I can't

3:14 AM
I can’t sleep.
A night bird has taken up residence in a tree outside my bedroom window. The damn bird won’t shut up. She’s been there for a week. Every night it is the same…sing a song..sing a song…sing a song.
In the bathroom I looked in the mirror. My face is swollen again. My mouth hurts so badly from the sores.
I rinse my mouth with one of the five rinses I have been trying. None of them work for very long.
I can’t spit because my lips are too sore to have strength enough to push, so I just open my  mouth and let the rinse fall out.

I want to open my mouth, my body and just let the chemo drugs fall out.

Monday was treatment number 7 or 8, I can’t remember anymore.
It was the worse so far.
The mouth sores, the stomach pains. Cold sensitivity in my hands and on my lips. Neuralgia  in my feet that sends needles of pain with each morning step.
I can’t drink anything cold without pain. I want a ice cold Dr. Pepper more than anything I have wanted in a long time…but I can’t.

I can’t do so many things that I want.

I don’t know if I can go on.

I have asked God for some relief.
There has been none.
I don’t know why He is not listening.
I want to send the damn bird up to Heaven to wake God up!

But I won’t. I will continue to pray. I will finish the chemo-treatments. I will endure the suffering and hopefully beat the cancer.

It would be so easy to give up…but I can’t.

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Walk with Him

The story began with two words-“Follow me.” And they would. For more than three years they walked with him wherever he went. They were there to celebrate with him when someone said “I believe.” They were with him when those that wouldn't believe tried to kill him.

Day after day they listened to his teachings. They didn't always understand, but they always listened. They didn't know their lives were being changed with each step of their journey. They stood with the crowds when Jesus performed miracles never before seen. They stood close by his side when they were afraid to go on.

For more than three years they walked with him. Did the time go by too fast for them? Suddenly their time together was no longer measured in years or months…or even days. Known only to Him there were only hours left before his journey would end.

After three years, late one night they gathered together. The broke bread and supped with him. He knelt before them and gently washed the dirt away that had stained their feet as they walked with him.

Hours passed, night became early morning. He asked them for the last time to follow him. In a garden he wept to his Father…while they slept…no words of prayer leaving their exhausted minds.

In the dark shadows of the night the one who would betray him lead a band of soldiers to the garden.

A kiss of treachery

Swords drawn

He was taken

The ones who had walked with him—ran off into the night

They beat him about his face

They laid stripes upon his back

They beat him again and placed a crown of thorns upon his brow

One who had followed him, who had loved him with unmeasurable passion sat in the courtyard close enough to see the blood run down the face of his Lord…then denied him, once, twice, three times

Their eyes met…one filled with love…the other filled with shame…he ran into the night—away from the one he had walked with

The crowds screamed—“Crucify him”

On a hill called Calvary the pierced him, hung, arms spread wide, nailed to a tree

It began with two words—“Follow Me.”

On that Friday it ended with three words—“It is finished.”

Today is Good Friday. “Good” because of God.

Do you hear Him?

“Follow Me.”

Today is Good Friday…a good day to begin a walk with Him.