My Dad is Stronger Than Your Dad

muscle_main2How many times growing up have you heard or said the phrase “My Dad is stronger than your Dad?” Or maybe you have kids and still hear that phrase today. I just encountered something similar to that a few months back when I was awakened around 1am to all kinds of screaming and yelling. Now this is a common occurrence in county jail, but not to this extent. I usually tone it out and go back to sleep. But for some reason I stayed awake and listened to what was being said. Amidst all the swearing and death threats, the argument was “My gang is better than your gang.” I’ll save you the vulgar details, but it was basically an argument as to whose gang was more powerful and stronger. It was a pointless argument that resulted in a few fights the following day. I really wanted to jump up and say to them “Stop it! My Dad could take on your whole gang and win.” Of course, most wouldn’t get it, so I didn’t say anything, but it led to a great devotion idea.

How strong is our dad? Dad, being our Father in heaven. A great quote from a veggie tales song comes to my mind. “God is bigger than the boogie man, He’s bigger than Godzilla and monsters on TV.” Yes, God IS bigger than all things. There is nothing He cannot handle. There is nothing He cannot do. Just look at all the miracles He has done……miracles we have read about in the Bible and miracles we experience very day, such the sunrise and sunset, waking up every morning, breathing. If God wants something to happen, He can make it happen at the snap of His finger. Matthew 19:26 says, “With God, all things are possible.”

God will always test you. He will put you in situations where you must rely on Him to get you out of or through it. He wants you to make the big bold prayers so He can be challenged. God loves a challenge! He wants to prove to you that He can get you through anything. But you have to put your trust and faith in Him, knowing that He IS bigger than all. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING at all can beat our Father. He’s got our back at all times. So next time you’re in a situation where you’re thinking “this is impossible”, remember – God is bigger and stronger than everything. And next time you hear the phrase “My Dad is stronger than your Dad”, Yes, He is!

Scripture Reading: Psalm 121

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My Lifetime Goals – as of today 4.27.14

runningWelcome back! I know you were all anxiously waiting to see what kind of goals I have set for myself, so the much anticipated wait is finally here. Eric, I just know you were losing sleep over it!!

Being in prison, I do a lot of thinking. Being in “the hole” I do even more thinking. I was able to create a pretty decent list of goals (or bucket list) that I’ve wanted to do for some time now, and even new goals I just recently came up with. Some goals I even feel God is calling me towards. I consider myself a risk-taker, so some of my goals might cause you to shake your head and say, “yea, right.” But I’m also a person who has a passion and love for the Lord, so you might say, “I can see you doing that.” Yes, I do know that some of these things are far-fetched and could require some financial stability to achieve. But my God is a huge God. I put my trust and faith in Him more than ever now, and continue to give Him all the glory in all aspects of my life, whether good or bad. “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13. If it’s God will, He might just help me achieve some or all of these goals. I’m looking forward to checking off each one when they are completed!

Here is what I would like to accomplish in my life for the rest of my life (in no particular order)

• Run a marathon
• Compete in an iron-man triathlon
• Get married
• Raise a family
• Go on a mission trip to a 3rd world country
• Backpack through Europe
• Share my faith/testimony in front of 1,000 people
• Share my faith/testimony in front of 5,000 people
• Run a 6 minute mile at 40 yrs old
• Run a 6 minute mile at 50 yrs old
• Run a 6 minute mile at 60 yrs old
• Give a message at a church service
• Climb Mt. Denali (McKinley) in Alaska
• Run a Christian backpacking outfitter company
• Own a house on a body of water
• Go on a cruise
• Run a 5k at 70 yrs old
• Run a Christian retreat center
• Ride a horse (never have!)
• Bike up Mt. Evans CO (again)
• Go crab fishing in Alaska
• Go to the Olympics (only as a spectator)
• Golf at Pebble Beach
• Go skiing at Lake Tahoe NV
• Memorize over 1,000 verses and 25 chapters in the Bible
• Start a charity
• Bike the entire Katy Trail through MO and back
• Tithe at least 10% every week
• Go spelunking
• Lead worship at a church service
• Lead Christian groups on Adventure trips
• Bring the Word of God to a remote village
• Write a worship song
• Ride in a hot air balloon
• Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
• Scuba dive
• Stay in a hostel
• Go to a World Series baseball game
• Get a hole-in-one (not putt-putt)
• Meet the President of the United States
• Sleep overnight in a castle
• Start up a volunteer organization
• Kayak down a waterfall (size To Be Determined)
• Go deep sea fishing
• Go to a Super Bowl game
• Go on an African Safari
• Skydive
• Bungee jump
• Go on an ocean sailing trip
• Donate blood once a year
• Ride in a helicopter
• Write a book
• Live the I’m Third Life in everything I do (God first, others second, myself third)

My challenge for you is to create your personal bucket list; things that maybe you have wanted to do for some time and still want to accomplish. No matter what age you are, it’s never too late to achieve some of your goals, no matter how simple or hard they are. And remember to give God all the glory when conquering them. A final thought: “I press on toward THE GOAL to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:14.

That’s my final goal – Heaven! – and I can’t wait to get there!!!

Possible (or impossible) Goals?

GoalsHow many times in your life do you plan something and it never goes the way it’s supposed to go? I’m sure we can all think of something that we can relate to that happened this week or even today….. the car breaks down, an unexpected meeting comes up, kids get sick, etc.) Life seems to never go as we plan. Something seems to always get in the way. With the busyness in our schedules today, we almost need to expect the unexpected. But the unexpected is exactly what God has planned. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9. We can have a detailed hour by hour outline of our day (planning our course), but we also know that God intercedes and can toss a curve ball our way. He can put tests and challenges in front of our throughout the day or make our day go as smoothly as butter. We never know what one day will bring from the next. That’s why God says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Of course, God doesn’t want you to have any trouble during your day, week or month, but He does want you to follow His will and plan. I hope we all agree that His way is the best way. He does know what He is doing with your life and with mine. After all, He created this masterpiece called earth in six days and He created every hair and freckle on our body. So yeah, I’d say I trust Him with everything that happens in my life!!! So we live one day at a time, continuing to give God all the glory.

OK, so I got off on a tangent here. I wanted to talk about goals. Oops! What I wanted to say is that goals are very important to set in life. They give you something to strive for or achieve as we journey through our life. Call it your bucket list if you wish. Goals give you a sense of accomplishment if one is reached. But, like I said before, God knows what is best. He determines our steps according to His will. God’s goals for us are much bigger than our own. He orchestrates His goals for us despite our lesser goals and despite our mistakes. His goals may not be the same goals we have; they are bigger and better than what we could ever anticipate. Imagine God says to you, “I know you have goals and plans, which is awesome. But my goals for you will not even fit in your head. In fact, I can’t even tell you everything yet.” WOW! I’ve got some pretty far-fetched and wild goals, and God can do better than that????? Yes, He can!!!

Are your goals possible…..or impossible? No matter what kind of goals you set or what things you place on your bucket list, take pride in them. Even if they seem more like dreams than goals, if you put your heart and mind to it you never know what God has in store for you. Your goals may be reached and then some. Keep giving all the glory to God in helping you achieve these goals, and no matter what happens, your goals have already been reached. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will success.” Proverbs 16:3

FYI – Just to make you come back again, I’m not showing you my goals until next posting! See you then and God bless!

Journal Entries….cont’d

Portions of Craig’s journal which he began at a county detention center.

Entry #33. 5/29/2013. Day 69

“I’m worn” by 10th Avenue North brought chills to me tonight. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-METBrlP3xU Lord, I am worn and tired and pray this is all over soon. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer Matthew 21:22. I believe, Lord, I believe. Talked to Mom and Dad tonight. Short but good conversation. I miss them. Continue to be with me, protect me, and bless me, Lord.

Entry #34. 5/31/2013. Day 71

After our nightly prayer circle we were all fist pumping and patting people on the back, telling everyone to have a good night. And I gave the CO (Commanding Officer) a pat on the back and told him to have a good night. He turned and said, “If you do that again, I’ll give you an assault on an officer charge.” Please be with him, Lord. He needs a lot of prayer. This place is not for me, God. It’s so hard to work in these conditions. Help me, Lord. Another month has come and gone. June 1 tomorrow. Dylan doesn’t think God is with us in jail. I’m trying to explain it to him, but he is so stubborn and won’t listen. Help me, Lord. Give me the words to teach him. It’s so hard, Lord. I need help.

Entry #36. 6/1/2013. Day 72

June 1. I miss everything. Being in jail makes me realize the need I have for family, friends, work, church, driving, eating street food, playing sports. There is so much I miss and can’t wait to get out here. I think I took those things for granted and will cherish them all with all my heart when I get out.

Entry #41. 6/6/2013. Day 77

Had a headache most of the day today. Not an exciting day, but I guess no day is in jail. I miss the golf course. I need to write them a letter. I’m tired every day and just want to go home. God, give me the strength to get through each day. With You all things are possible. I know miracles will start happening. I believe in you, Lord.

Entry #46. 6/12/2013. Day 83

Got my haircut this morning. I feel like a new man, and a lot lighter and cooler now. It’s crazy how the smallest things in jail can make you have a good day. I need small things/miracles like that every day. I just need to stay positive to lift my mood and spirit. Help me, Lord, help me.

Entry #47. 6/13/2013. Day 84

Isaiah 43 says God has redeemed me! Enough said. Good Night!

This Is The Day!

golf“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

The spring, summer and fall of 2012 were some of the best times I’ve had in a long time. Not because of what I did or where I went, but because of where I worked. I was hired on as a maintenance worker at a public golf course. I have always enjoyed the game of golf. I’m not the greatest golfer by any means, but I absolutely love hitting a 2-inch ball to a target 400 yards away. What made it even better…..because I am a guy who loves the outdoors……was that the scenery was breathtaking, especially in the early morning of each day. I started work very early in the morning that year, making my rounds on the entire golf course, arriving at the elevated 2nd tee box in time to see the sun rising up over the lakes and fairways of Holes 6 and 7. There was usually a low fog hovering over the lakes, and if I was fortunate, I saw deer walking through the fairways. Those kinds of mornings blew my mind away. There was not a day that went by where I did not give God thanks and praise for all He has created. God didn’t create this earth for His pleasure, but for ours. He created it for our enjoyment and use, and He definitely created it because He loves us. All He wants in return is for us to love Him back and thank and praise Him for each day of life He has given us.

How many times have you driven to work with so much “stuff” on your mind that you forgot to take a few minutes to watch the sun rise, or the green grass blowing in the wind, or even watching the rain and snow fall? What better time to notice these things when you are stuck in traffic! Ha! Slow down and admire His creation (without running into the car in front of you!) How many times have you forgotten to praise and thank God for the scorching hot days of summer or the bitter cold winter mornings? Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

My mornings are a little different these days. I no longer work at the golf course. I am surrounded by concrete walls, steel doors, and barbed wire fences with men in orange or khaki arguing and getting into fights, shouting profanity. However, that should not stop me from praising my Lord and Savior each and every day. Even though I cannot see the breathtaking sunrises or the green grass where I am, I am still thankful to be alive and to be able to share the love of Christ on a daily basis with my words or actions. No, not every day is a good one for me in federal prison. But I can tell you this, every time I rejoice in the Lord and thank Him for another day, it makes that day so much better. Really.

Are you praising God every day? Are you thanking Him even when you are down in the dumps, sick, frustrated, or worried? Are you rejoicing no matter what your situation? Next time you’re driving about in your community or at home or in your work place or playing a good game of golf, slow down and look around. Take a few minutes to thank and praise God for the day He has created. No matter the circumstances, let us rejoice and be glad in it. It should happen in prison….it should happen everywhere.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 150

Prized Possession

radio_mainBefore going to bed on Monday, March 31, I prayed. Now I pray every night and countless times during the day, but my prayer this night was different. It was short and to the point. I basically told God that I’m tired and I can’t do this anymore. I’m at my wits end and need a miracle.

The next morning I got up, got fed through the trap door, went back to sleep, woke up a few hours later, finished doing my morning Bible reading and memorizing of Scriptures, said a quick prayer to start my day, then…..BOOM!!!! No, it wasn’t a bomb going off or a gun shot, but it was the trap door slamming open. Mysteriously, I heard no one rattle their keys and approach the door like when food is brought, but then the greatest thing happened! A hand appeared with a radio, shoving it through the slot. Just when I lost all hope that I would never get my radio brought to me from my personal property, it happened! This was a miracle – a much needed miracle to keep me going. I thanked God right away and immediately turned it on to 94.7 K-LOVE out of Jackson. For all of you that don’t know what K-LOVE is, it’s a Christian radio station that plays Christian music 24/7, uninterrupted. And it was just what I needed! One of the first songs I heard happened to be one of my favorite songs. It’s actually five songs in one by the band called Anthem Lights. The band compiled the top five songs that were nominated for this year’s K-LOVE fan awards and made it into one song. Every part of the song to me is so powerful and has such great impact, especially the last few lines of a Matt Maher song. Check it out!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sy-RlALmdVw

Most of you know this already, but I absolutely love music, especially Christian music. It’s something I have a huge passion for. I’m so at peace when I hear the encouraging words from God through music. That radio has become one of my most prized possessions during my incarceration, besides a Bible. I’ve been listening to it non-stop ever since it was brought to me. It has definitely put my mind back at ease, and has given me the mental strength to get through each day.

Think about it for a minute. What is your most prized possession that you have today? Is there something you cherish and take pride in more than anything else? Is there that one thing that you could never dream of being without or giving up? Some of you can probably come up with that one thing – no problem! For others it might take some time to think about. I know for me, living back on the streets a few years ago, I had many things that I couldn’t give up and not live without. If I was asked to eliminate everything except for that one item, it would be hard to do. One more question now: Would it hurt or upset you to get rid of that item?

Now look at what God did. He gave up His most prized possession – His Son Jesus. Romans 8:32 says “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all.” Consider the pain God endured watching His Son go through torture and His death. Would you be able to sacrifice one of your kids? Think of Abraham in Genesis 22. He was about to sacrifice his son Isaac because God told Him to. God finally stopped him but Abraham was obedient and willing. Oh, here’s a much simpler question: Would you be able to drop everything to follow Jesus? If God asked you right now to leave everything and come and follow Him, would and could you do it? Even if it meant leaving your phone behind!! “And everyone who has left house or brother or sister or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Matthew 19:29-30. It’s a tough question, I know. But would you be willing to leave everything, even your most prized possession to follow Him? I pray your answer is YES!

One more thing I forgot to say. Radio reception inside concrete cell walls is non-existence. I can faintly pick up one other country station. But for some reason, the Christian station comes in crystal clear 24 hours a day! God’s richest blessings to you all.

Where Is God?

I say:
Where are you, God, when I need You most?
Where are you, God, when I’ve lost my hope?
Where are you, God, when my faith is small?
Where are you, God, in the midst of it all?

Where are you, God, when I’ve lost my way?
Where are you, God, when I don’t know what to say?
Where are you, God, when I’m alone and scared?
Where are you, God, don’t you care?

God says:
I’m here for you through thick and thin.
I’ve never left you; here’s where I’ve been.

I was front and center at your birth
And so excited to have you start your work here on earth.
I’ve watched you grow from tot to teen,
Even saw an embarrassing moment when you plugged your nose with that bean

I was so proud of you when you took that stand
To accept me in your heart and to that I give a big hand.
I grinned when you became a college grad.
To say the least, I was one proud dad.

You continued to serve and teach about me every day.
But then temptation occurred and you lost your way.
I was right next to you when your faith was at a loss,
Even saw you turn to alcohol and hate your boss.

I saw you suffer through times of pain
But still you thought this lifestyle had much to gain.
I put my hand out for you day and night,
Hoping you’d come back to Me without a fight

You chose the world instead of Me,
But I love you so and forever this will be.
Your time locked up may be tough and long
But every step of the way, I’ll be along.

I’m happy to see your ways have turned.
You’re a witness and blessing to all; keep helping them learn.
Hold Me close to your heart and don’t let Me go
I promise I’ll get you through this, for this I know.

Your work for Me is not close to being done.
It’s starting now and when you leave these walls it’s just begun.
Your time locked up is just a bump in the road.
After I’ve tested you, you’ll come forth as gold.

The battle’s not yours, but Mine, and won!
I’m proud to be called your Father and prouder to call you son.
All things are possible with Me by your side.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

I say:
Thank you, God, your Word’s loud and clear.
I totally get that I have nothing to fear.
I can’t wait to see Your plan that’s in store.
I’ll trust you forever with my faith, growing more and more.
I love you, God, forever, that’s true
My sins are now forgiven, and I just want to say thank you.
Written by Craig Perino 3.21.14