Stop and Think

Today’s a new day! Truth really matters. Especially for those who claim to be Christians. As Christians we should strive to be the most honest people on earth. But unfortunately some don’t. As I scroll through social media, I sadly see Christians posting one untruth after another. Are these Christians not doing research on the articles before posting them as truth? Are they more concerned about getting likes than they are about truth? Are they more concerned about their own agenda than the gospel? I will let you answer those questions.

In this age of social media overload, everyone needs to be careful about what we post on social media. But as Christians, we have to be extra careful about what we post on social media and the conversations we engage in. As Christians, we need to be living lives of high character. Sadly that is not what I am seeing from so many followers of Jesus. No, I am seeing some Christians intentionally posting fake stories that have an agenda. They seem to want to disrupt and undermine truth because it does not line up with their agenda. This is especially concerning when those in ministry are the ones posting fake stories. It makes me wonder what they are teaching from the pulpit. As Christians, truth must always be our priority. Anything else is a slap in the face to Jesus. We cannot use the excuse we didn’t know the story was fake. No, we just didn’t do any research. Our post and conversations should be filled with love and truth. Even when the truth doesn’t fit our agenda. The truth should always trump our agenda. Our character should be more important than getting a lot of clicks.

When you see a story that catches your attention, please do the following before posting on your social media pages:

  1. Actually do some research. Is it true?
  2. If you find it’s not true, don’t post it. That should be easy.
  3. Even if you do your research and find out the story is true, is it worth posting? Will posting the story bring glory to God?
  4. When unsure if you should post a article on social media, just post a cute video of puppies. Everyone loves puppies.

I believe being careful about what we post is important for everyone, but this post was geared towards my brothers and sisters in Christ. Why? Because what Christians post on social media and share in conversation, either build people up or tear them down. The souls of people are in the balance. Please read that sentence again. As Christians we should be more concerned about people and less concerned about pushing an agenda. As believers we should be standing on the truth of Jesus. Without that truth, we are standing on shaky ground.

So the next time you want to post something on social media, remember it’s okay to post nothing and keep your integrity intact. ~OC

Dear Running,

Dear Running,

It is very painful to write these words to you. Running, we have been friends since I was a child. Back then, I loved running through the neighborhood. Not a care in the world. I did not get my drivers license until I was 18 years old because I thought I could just run everywhere. My friends had cars. Why did I need to drive? After high school, you and took a break. We reunited a few times in college, but nothing serious. Just a casual short run every once in awhile. After college you and I drifted apart. Life got busy and I abandoned you. Then in 2003, while having open-heart surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, God spoke to me through a vision and said it was time to reunite with you. Not only to start running again, but to start running marathons. I was under heavy anesthesia, so was this real? Yes indeed, it was real. Not only did God say to start running again, but to share the Gospel through running. Four months after surgery, I started running again. Oh, how nice to see you again old friend. It was like old times. We were back together. One year after my surgery, I completed my first marathon. Oh what a wonderful feeling and experience. As I ran, God gave me the chance to share his amazing love. You and I continued to complete one marathon after another. In 2007, we received a scare when I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s. My first question to the doctor was “Can I keep on running?” I was overjoyed when the doctor shared I could indeed keep on running. Oh, we had a fun time the next year and a half. In 2008, God blessed me with the opportunity to run a 1,000 miles in one year. We anticipated a wonderful and exciting year of running in 2009. It started off with me completing the Disney Marathon. But something just wasn’t right. Was Parkinson’s starting to come between me and running? We fought hard to stay together. But once again something just wasn’t right. In March of 2009, my body started to betray me. That month, Myasthenia Gravis joined Parkinson’s to wreck my body. They finally broke us up in mid 2009. For the next ten years, I would fight for my life and daydream about you friend. Funny thing about those ten plus years, God kept directing me to buy a new pair of running shoes each year. Was God planning a reunion? It sure didn’t look like it. My health continued to decline. Funeral arrangements were made. Goodbyes were shared. Then on November 3, 2019, a shell of a man walked into a tent revival and was completely healed by our amazing Savior. A month later, God reunited us. In 2020, after not running for over ten years, God blessed me with the opportunity to complete 1,000 miles in ten months. Oh what a feeling. But during 2020, a pandemic rolled in and changed the world. On Super Bowl Sunday 2021, I was introduced to this strange virus called Covid. Little did I know my life was going to be completely changed. Since that Super Bowl Sunday, my body has never been the same. I have tried on many occasions to run again. We had a little success, but there have been many moments of major disappointments.

So it’s with a broken heart, I say one final goodbye to an old friend. We have made some beautiful memories together. But the effects of Covid and some other health issues have made running difficult and not enjoyable. I always dreamed running would be part of my life until Jesus took me home. So on August 4, 2022, I announce my retirement from running. It has been a beautiful crazy journey. Thanks for the memories my friend.

Dear Friend

Dear Friend,

As I scrolled through your social media pages, I sense you are struggling. You seem tired. As I read your post, it appears you are being overwhelmed by the storms of life. I have experienced those moments.

So friend, I want you to know I am here for you. There have been times, I have watched other friends walk through storms from a distance because I was not sure what to say. I made their pain about me. I wish I had just showed up. Just listened.

As I have walked through my own storms, I realize how important it is to have friends walk with you. I am thankful for those who did not jump out of the boat when the seas got rough.

I am done letting fear keep me from staying close. I will not be perfect when I reach out to you. I may not always say the right thing. I am okay with that. The most important thing is, I will always be there for you. No judgment. No quick fixes. Just me standing in the gap.

Friend, you will get through whatever storm you are facing at this moment. It will not be easy. There will be some rough days. You might even feel like giving up. You might lose hope. When you lose hope, I will hope for you. We will get through this journey called life together. We will finish strong. ~OC

Hope Dealer

Hope Dealer:

I want to tell you about a Hope Dealer. A Difference Maker. His name is Ricky Aiken. My amazing godson.

I met Ricky when he was about 13 or 14 years old. He was a inner-city kid trying to find his way in life. I was a white guy from the suburbs trying to make a difference. A unlikely pair, but we just clicked. Fast forward a lot of years and Ricky has more than found his way and is making a major difference in his community. Ricky founded Inner City Innovators and is a leader of change in his community. I believe what Ricky is doing will go beyond West Palm Beach and Florida. Ricky is changing the culture of the inner-city. He is showing people that the inner-city is more than what they see on the news. Laura West Shoemaker and I are so proud of Ricky. We think of Ricky as our son. We are excited to see what he is going to do next. Ricky is truly a Difference Maker. A Hope Dealer. ~OC

Memories

Memories. They can make you smile, laugh and cry. Sometimes memories just make you sit back and reflect. That happened to me this morning, as I scrolled through my Facebook page and a memory from May 13, 2009 jumped out at me. It took me back. On this date in 2009, I went back to work after a month in the hospital and recovery at home. I did not realize at the time that life would never be the same.

As I went back to work that Wednesday morning, I thought things would go back to normal. Little did I realize that my life would never be normal again. Several days after going back to work, I would end up back in the hospital. This scene would play out many times over the next few months. I would work a few days and end up in the hospital for a few weeks. Finally after seeing this Groundhog Day moment several times (Google the movie Groundhog Day), my medical team shared it was time for me to retire and go on disability. Retire? Disability? I was only in my early 40’s. I was not real excited about this new normal. But this new normal was now part of my life. Little did I realize what a crazy beautiful journey God would allow me to experience.

As I have walked this new normal since 2009, I have become a full time Abolitionist, a Missionary and a published Author. I doubt any of my teachers or professors would have ever guessed I would write a book. During this new normal, my faith became so much stronger. My wife Laura and I have experienced so many amazing adventures. I definitely would not have chosen this new normal, but I would not change a thing. My new normal has become a beautiful gift. Thanks Facebook for the memory. ~OC

I Will Stand Up. I Will Fight.

As I watch the news and scroll through social media, I see a lot of pain and injustice in the world. At times it can seem overwhelming. How in the world can I make a difference? Can anybody relate? Even though I cannot do everything, I can do something.

So, I have decided I will continue to stand up and do something. I will Fight.

I will continue have real conversations with other people wanting to truly make a difference in this world. Not just talk about the issues, but take some real action. I will surround myself with others who want to fight. I will continue to get educated. I will continue to listen.  I will Fight. 

I will continue to take the time to see the pain of others. I will not pass them by with a “I’ll pray for you.” No, I will stop and pray for them in that moment. I will not allow people to walk through their own crazy beautiful journey alone. I will Fight. 

I will continue to fight for the victims of human trafficking. I will continue to bring awareness to this horrible crime. I will continue to listen and learn. I will never believe I am an expert. I will continue to speak out. I will fight. 

I will continue to fight for civil rights. When I see injustice I will speak up. I will continue to listen and learn. I will take a stand even when it’s not popular. I will fight. 

I will continue to share my story and faith. God has blessed me with a story to tell. A story I must tell. I will never be ashamed to proclaim Jesus as my Savior. I will continue to respect the faith of others. I will fight. 

I know some of the things I believe in and stand up for are not popular with everyone. That’s okay. I gave up trying to be popular a long time ago. I am more concerned about living a life that is pleasing to God. Living a life of service. I will continue to Fight. ~OC

God Is Bigger Than…..

As we walk through this crazy beautiful journey, remember God is bigger than…

Our Fears

Our Disappointments

Our Health Issues

Our Failures

Our Enemies

Our Relationships

Our Jobs

Our Social Media Pages

Our Successes

Our Churches

Our Standing In The World

Put The Stones Down

In this day and age, it is very easy to throw stones. All you have to do is scroll through social media for a few minutes and you will see all kinds of stones being thrown.

My prayer is that we will drop the stones from our hands and extend our open hands to those in need. To love on people instead of throwing stones at them. To throw some grace their way instead of stones.

Remember, the only one qualified to throw stones didn’t. Instead He gave His life on the cross for us. ~OC

Love Over Hate

Hate can be easy. Hating someone or something, means you don’t have to learn about what you hate. You don’t worry about finding the truth. Hating is an excuse not to deal with your feelings. Also hate is easy to find. Just turn on the news. Turn on your computer or phone. Go outside. Take a look at our so called political leaders. There is enough hate to go around. But I believe hate is also tiring. Lonely. Have you ever watched a racist on tv? They all look mad, tired and lonely. Why would anyone choose to hate? It definitely does not look healthy.

Love can be hard. It takes time. It takes the choice to actually listen to other opinions. Not to close down when someone challenges your beliefs. Love means you have to be willing to forgive others. Even when your right. Love means that sometimes people will take advantage of you. Your heart might get broken. More than once. Why would anyone choose love?

Even though love can be hard, it is always the right choice. Love brings out the best in people. Love allows strangers to speak up for each other. Love allows us to look past our differences. Love challenges us to be the best version of ourselves. Love forces us out of our comfort zones. People who choose love are full of life. Love doesn’t keep score.

I wish, when we opened up the newspaper or turned on the news, the first stories that greeted us would be full of love. When we scrolled down social media, we would smile/laugh more than we would cringe. That would be amazing. Not sure that’s going to happen anytime soon, but this blessed overcomer is always going to choose love. How about you? ~OC

A Choice

As I scrolled through social media this morning, I was overwhelmed by the choices people make when posting on their pages. It is amazing what people choose to put on their pages. Let’s review some of the post.

The first post I came across was from my friend John. Every Sunday morning, John does a Facebook Live from his bicycle ride. John’s live videos are always positive, challenging and encouraging. I look forward to them every Sunday. My friend could easily spend that time complaining about everything going on in the world. No, my friend John is the type of person who chooses to look at the positives in life. Now that doesn’t mean John goes through life with rose-colored glasses on. No, my friend is well aware of the negative things going on in our world. But he makes the choice to emphasize the positives. The wonderful possibilities life presents. I so appreciate John’s outlook on life.

I wish more people would choose to look at life like my friend John. Sadly, that is not the case. As I left John’s Facebook Live this morning, I scrolled down my social media pages to see so much hate. Now, I know the majority of my social media friends personally and know they do not hate people. But if I did not know them personally and I was just scrolling through their social media pages, I would probably have a different view. Some of the post I read this morning were trying to be funny, but they came across as hateful and mean-spirited. What is concerning about these post, is that these same people will complain about how negative the world has become. Hello, you cannot complain about all the hate if you’re adding to it.

My hope is that this blog post does not come across as judgemental. My hope is that this will encourage everyone to think before they post. I am guilty of not doing that sometimes. I am not telling people to only post about rainbows and unicorns. I believe social media is a great place to share ideas and concerns. But I do believe we should be wise in how we convey our ideas and concerns. ~OC

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