Monday, July 8, 2024

My Faith Journey




                    “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling” -Phil. 2:12

Most parents are concerned about the spiritual growth of their kids. Though goals in academics and athletics top most wish lists, a teen’s moral and spiritual health remains an important priority for moms and dads as well.

But the spiritual area is tricky. Forcing teens to be “spiritual” sometimes creates the opposite effect. Most teens rebel against being forced into being “religious.” The key is creating an atmosphere for our kids to recognize their need for a loving God in their lives. But it comes at their pace and requires us to respect our kids and their choices.

I grew up in the church, attending a denominational church in Fort Worth. I understood my need for a Savior, but made the decision to follow the Lord my freshman year in high school. Through the wonderful ministry of Young Life, a ministry to high school teens, I grew in my faith through the high school and college years.

My sophomore year in high school, I was hungry to grow in my faith and wasn’t feeling plugged into our church. My Young life leader and friends were attending a local Bible church, which I had visited several times. Feeling nervous, I spoke to my mom and dad about attending that church. They said, “that would be fine” and off I went to search and grow and learn.

At the time I thought “no big deal” to attend another church. Now, looking back, it was a big deal. It meant my parents had to release me from the tradition of attending church together. They had to put my growth ahead of their desire.

For the record, I think it’s best for a family to all attend church together and for the entire family to be “fed” through that fellowship. But the youth program in my church was almost non-existent and I needed more. The point is that my parents were willing to let me go.

So, step back and take inventory of where you stand with your teen’s spiritual journey. If your teen is thriving and growing, that’s awesome. Pray for them and support them. If your teen is stagnant, that’s okay too. Again, pray for them, that their hearts will be soft and pliable. At the conclusion of most counseling sessions, I ask parents if I can pray for the family. I pray mostly for a soft and teachable heart for their teen. 

The soft heart is important for mom and dad too. When our hearts are soft and pliable, they are open and flexible to God’s work in the life of the family. Even if all the “ducks aren’t in order” (which is most of the time), it’s okay because we bow and submit to a loving God who is patient and at work in the lives of those we love.

It’s not our responsibility to produce change. We are not the Holy Spirit and we are not required to worry until those we love are at peace in their lives. All we can do is be faithful. We are simply called to love, pray and love again.

So, take a deep breath and take some time right now to pray for those God has put into your care. Pray that their hearts will yield to God’s love in their lives. Pray that they will grow and thrive in His care.

And pray that you will be at peace as well.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Journey on the Riviera

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” -Gal. 3:28

A few weeks ago, I wrote in my journal, “Jeanie and I are 36,000 feet up in the air right now! The outside temperature is 72 degrees below zero and we’re going 564 miles per hour! At the end of this journey, we will have traveled 5600 miles.”  


After a flight across the Atlantic, we started our trip in Barcelona, Girona, and the Costa Brava area in Spain. Jeanie + Europe + great leadership + great food + safety= one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. We went to Marseille and Nice in France and Monte Carlo, Monaco. We next toured Genoa, Cinque Terre and Portofino, then Florence and the Tuscan Countryside in Italy.  We finished the trip in Rome. Oh my- it was a wonderful trip with Jeanie.


It was such a blessing seeing the Riviera in Spain, France, Italy, and Monaco. We were on a tour with twenty other people, many of them personal friends and headed up by one of my best friends, Elizabeth Simmons. We’ve been friends since fourth grade! She and Mara did a wonderful job guiding us and leading us. They are with Collette and GoGo Travel. It would be safe to say that our trip exceeded our expectations.


We had a long flight but it was such a joy to get to explore this famous region of Europe. The trip was a perfect balance of sightseeing and travel and having time to soak in multiple cultures that make up Europe. We traveled in a nice touring bus all over the Riviera and stayed in wonderful hotels. And we ate, ate, and ate some more wonderful food! 


Unlike the United States, Europe is a tight, crowded collection of cultures, still figuring out how to live together. We journeyed through many countries and even though the cultures were different and unique, all were looking for peace, contentment, and safety. Of course, Americans are looking for the same. Most all world travelers agree that, though the languages and cultures are so different, deep down we’re all pretty much the same. 


The role of the church throughout the generations was apparent. In Barcelona we went to Sagrada Familia, we went to the Vatican in Rome, a monastery in France and checked out several other basilicas as we traveled. Again, the cultures all handle “religion” in different ways, but the true God is the same in Branson, Missouri as He is in Rome, Italy. By sending His Son Jesus to die on that cross that we might be able to connect with Him, Yahweh God made a way for us all to have a relationship with Him. 


Mankind has exercised his ability to take the simple and mess it up. That reality shows up in the church in Italy and the church in Missouri. The equation should be “God plus nothing” but we prefer “God plus something (fame, money, etc.). We figure, why not add something to the equation (just in case). God says “have no other gods”…but we’re stubborn. So the “health” of Europe (and North America) shows up in mankind’s attempt to “add” or “not to add” to God. Whether a simple Bible church in a small town or a huge, beautiful basilica in Europe, what’s most important is a personal relationship with God. That is what matters! 


Two weeks after we arrived, we made our way back to Dallas and eventually back to the the Ozarks. It is so good to be home, but so sweet to have experienced the Riviera and to have toured with twenty good friends. It’s good to call the USA home and good to know that the God of Europe is the God of America. May we all choose to stay living in Him, no matter where we live.


By Eric Joseph Staples ©


Friday, May 24, 2024

What's Around the Corner?

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” 

-Jer. 29:11


As always, when I express my thoughts on life, I’m truthfully borrowing the thoughts and wisdom of those who have gone before. I might think it’s my idea, but I probably read or heard it from someone else. Mostly, thanks, Mom and Dad, for all the wisdom you handed me. It’s all God’s wisdom, so here it goes. 


The older I get, the sweeter life is, with one exception: I tend to be too concerned about the future. As teenagers, the future looms ahead of us with a lot of uncertainty, but the logbook isn’t filled yet and life isn’t as worrisome. But the future is always ahead of us and the future is always unknown. The evil one sees it as an opportunity to disrupt our contentment but the Holy One sees it as an opportunity to increase our faith and trust in Him.


What does the Bible mean when it says that we shouldn't think or worry about the future? Since my days of youth, I seem to remember the phrase "Take no thought for tomorrow" or something like that. I just felt guilty when I worried about the ball game or whether my hair was cut just right. Does that mean we shouldn't plan ahead or save money for our retirement?


No, this is not what it means it all. In fact, the Bible urges us to be super careful in planning our lives and to save for the future. It says, “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps” (Proverbs 14:15). The difference is whether we do it on our own or include our awesome Lord in on the “planning.” If we leave Him out of the equation, we’re doing it on our own. 


Perhaps you are thinking of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Take therefore no thought for the tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34). But that is an older translation, and over the years our English language has changed; the phrase “take no thought” no longer means what it once did. Most modern translations of the Bible put it like this: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow” (NIV).


In other words, Jesus wasn’t telling us not to plan ahead. Instead, He was telling us not to worry about the things of this life and become preoccupied with them. We are to put Christ first instead of things and learn to trust God for our daily needs. We’re to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). In other words, grab that thought and bring it to the Lord. 


Is this really possible? Absolutely! When we come to Christ, we become His children, and we are never outside of His care. Once we understand how much He loves us, our worries will begin to fade. The Bible says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Are you learning to turn your worries over to Christ?


Here on planet Earth we’ll never totally conquer this feat. Our flesh will always want to shove it’s way to the front of the line. That’s why “captive” is such a good way to describe what we need to do with our thoughts. The beast is going to try to charge it’s way to the front, but we’re waiting with a leash to bring it to obedience. How awesome that God, via the Holy Spirit, grants us the wisdom and the strength to be “thought conquerors” and to be “more than conquerors” in trusting and waiting on our awesome God. 


May we all rest in the Lord and trust Him with our future. He has a wonderful plan and He’ll work it out in His timing. Our challenge is to trust Him, live in His strength and wait for His plan. 


By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS






Thursday, May 16, 2024

The Habit of Rising to the Occassion

 The Habit of Rising to the Occasion 

“That you may know what is the hope of His calling”— Ephesians 1:18

I step aside and let our friend, Oswald Chambers, share his awesome wisdom today. Soak in the words of God through our friend Oswald…

“Remember what you are saved for — that the Son of God might be manifested in your mortal flesh. Bend the whole energy of your powers to realize your election as a child of God; rise to the occasion every time.

You cannot do anything for your salvation, but you must do something to manifest it, you must work out what God has worked in. Are you working it out with your tongue, and your brain and your nerves? If you are still the same miserable crosspatch, set on your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you.

God is the Master Engineer, He allows the difficulties to come in order to see if you can vault over them properly — “By my God have I leaped over a wall.” God will never shield you from any of the requirements of a son or daughter of His. Peter says — “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh.

May God not find the whine in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings. We have to exercise ourselves in order that the Son of God may be manifested in our mortal flesh. God never has museums. The only aim of the life is that the Son of God may be manifested, and all dictation to God vanishes. Our Lord never dictated to His Father, and we are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. When we realise this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine to feed and nourish others.”


By Eric Joseph Staples ©


Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS




Monday, April 1, 2024

Helpful or Heartless Toward Others?

 Helpful or Heartless Toward Others?


This morning I was reading Oswald Chambers, in His devotional "My Utmost for His Highest,” and his message hit me hard. It always does! Please read below and I’ll finish with some powerful take-a-aways.

                                         Helpful or Heartless Toward Others?

                                            By Oswald Chambers April 1st


It is Christ…who also makes intercession for us….the Spirit…makes intercession for the saints… —Romans 8:34, 27

Do we need any more arguments than these to become intercessors– that Christ “always lives to make intercession” (Hebrews 7:25), and that the Holy Spirit “makes intercession for the saints?” Are we living in such a relationship with others that we do the work of intercession as a result of being the children of God who are taught by His Spirit? We should take a look at our current circumstances. Do crises which affect us or others in our home, business, country, or elsewhere, seem to be crushing in on us? Are we being pushed out of the presence of God and left with no time for worship? If so, we must put a stop to such distractions and get into such a living relationship with God that our relationship with others is maintained through the work of intercession, where God works His miracles.

Beware of getting ahead of God by your very desire to do His will. We run ahead of Him in a thousand and one activities, becoming so burdened with people and problems that we don’t worship God, and we fail to intercede. If a burden and its resulting pressure come upon us while we are not in an attitude of worship, it will only produce a hardness toward God and despair in our own souls. God continually introduces us to people in whom we have no interest, and unless we are worshiping God the natural tendency is to be heartless toward them. We give them a quick verse of Scripture, like jabbing them with a spear, or leave them with a hurried, uncaring word of counsel before we go. A heartless Christian must be a terrible grief to our Lord.

Are our lives in the proper place so that we may participate in the intercession of our Lord and the Holy Spirit? 


To those who have had no agony Jesus says, “I have nothing for you; stand on your own feet, square your own shoulders. I have come for the man who knows he has a bigger handful than he can cope with, who knows there are forces he cannot touch; I will do everything for him if he will let Me. Only let a man grant he needs it, and I will do it for him.”
The Shadow of an Agony


Wow, God’s truth is God’s truth and SO powerful when He chooses to put His thoughts into mankind’s words. "Are our lives in the proper place so that we may participate in the intercession of our Lord and the Holy Spirit? 

Wow #2. We’re challenged to discern whether our lives “are in the proper place.” When we are in the proper place, we pour out His love to the people around us. 

Whether we like them or not, we love through His love for us. We show our love by making intercession for them and supporting them. 

May we all be intercessors this week from a full cup, for all those we 



By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS



Friday, March 15, 2024

The Movie: "The Passion of Christ"

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” -John 3:16

There have been a lot of movies made but perhaps none as moving and intense as “The Passion of Christ.” The movie, about the life of Jesus Christ, has left its mark on everyone. I read these facts and observations about the movie: 


Mel Gibson, who was the brains and money behind the movie, warned actor Jim Caviezel that playing the character of Christ was going to be very difficult and that if he accepted, he most likely would be marginalized by Hollywood.

Caviezel asked for a day to think about it and his response to Mel, who was funding and directing the movie was, "I think we have to make it, even if it is difficult." And something else, my initials are J.C., and I am thirty-three years old. I didn't realize that until now.”

Mel responded with "You're really scaring me you know."

During filming, Jim Caviezel, who plays the part of Jesus lost forty-five pounds, he was struck by lightning, he was accidentally struck twice during the scourging scene leaving a deep fourteen-inch scar, he dislocated his shoulder when the cross was dropped into the hole with him on the cross. He then suffered pneumonia and hypothermia from being nearly naked with only a loin cloth on the cross for endless hours. The crucifixion scene alone took five weeks of the two months of shooting.

His body was so stressed and exhausted from playing the role that he had to undergo two open heart surgeries after the filming production. Jim explained, "I didn't want people to see me. I just wanted them to see Jesus because conversions will happen through that." Almost like a clairvoyant prediction many amazing things happened.

Pedro Sarubbi, who played Barabbas, felt that it was not Caviezel, who was looking at him, but Jesus Christ himself. As he played his role of Barabbas, he said of Caviezel, "His eyes had no hatred or resentment towards me, only mercy and love."

Luca Lionello, the artist who played Judas, was an avowed atheist before shooting began. He eventually converted and baptized his children. One of the main technicians working on the film was a Muslim converted to Christianity.

Some producers said they saw actors dressed in white they didn't recognize during one of the filming sessions, and when they reviewed the recordings, they realized they couldn't see them in the footage.

The Passion of the Christ is the highest grossing U.S. religious movie, as well as the highest R-rated film of all time, with $370.8 million! Worldwide, it grossed $611 million.

More importantly, it has reached hundreds of millions of people around the world. Mel Gibson paid thirty million dollars out of his own pocket for the production of the film because no studio would take on the project.

Today Jim Caviezel simply and boldly proclaims his faith in Christ. He says that the experience was a miracle for him as he represented Christ as an actor and he became a greater believer of Christ.


The Passion of Christ is not a fairy tale movie. It’s the more-than-true story of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s the story of God’s love and provision for us. We all have to respond to God’s amazing provision of life and eternal security. 


May we all submit ourselves to God through His Son Jesus Christ, no matter the costs.


By Eric Joseph Staples ©


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Love Poured Out but Filling Up

“…the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” -
Rom. 5:5

 Today is, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day! I love this day. It’s filled with candy, flowers and love. But I’m not exactly sure why it’s today? I’m sure its roots are the Roman God’s weird celebrations from thousands of years ago. But for us twenty first century people, I’m glad it’s a beautiful celebration of love. 


Celebrations of love are a good thing- or better said, CAN be a good thing. I guess it depends on the source and kind of love. Because, truth is, love is one of those slippery words that comes and goes. Today we love the Kansas City Chiefs, but next year, if they lose to the Raiders, we’ll think they stink. Today, if we win the lottery, we love our God who provides, but tomorrow, when we have five dollars in our checking account, we feel abandoned and alone. 


We so easily forget that God’s love, the true love, is sure and solid and strong. It isn’t dependent on circumstances (Phil. 4:11-13). When we come to know Christ, His love is “poured out within our hearts.” When we surrender our lives to Him, he grants us the Holy Spirit who supplies love over and over and over (and over). 


Ephesians 1:13 reminds us: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Though we are forever sealed with the “Holy Spirit of promise,” the maintenance of that “seal” is so important. Though the sealed love doesn’t require us to earn it over again (it’s forever sealed), the choice to live in it is ours. 


Regardless of the circumstances, God’s agape love is solid and sure. Again, that is the love that is “poured out within our hearts.” The challenge is the maintenance of that love within our hearts. Like someone said, “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?” There are so many sneaky ways that we replace that love with other things. First Thessalonians 5:19 reminds us “not to quench the Holy Spirit.” Though we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, we still can leave Him out of the picture. Though we have a comfy heavy coat to wear, we decide to go outside in a t-shirt. Guess what: in February, we get cold! Why wouldn’t we wear the coat? No great reason except that we want to be in control. Too often our pride rules and we make dumb decisions when we leave God out of the picture.


But when we leave the Holy Spirit alive and well and in control in our hearts, hope rules the day. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect around us but it does mean our heart is full inside of us- full of the Holy Spirit of promise. 


May we all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Whether we’re with our sweetheart or alone, may we all rest in the awesome love supplied by our awesome God. He made a way for us by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Now, through Christ, we have true fellowship with God. We can now experience and live in His love for us.


Enjoy the candy and don’t forget to smell the roses but enjoy the ultimate 

celebration of love in the presence of our awesome God who chose and chooses to love us all over again. 


As the love of God is poured out on us, may we pour out that love on those around us.


By Eric Joseph Staples ©


Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS