Saturday, September 29, 2012

Reflections on my 24th home

Counting it up in my head, I have moved 23 times (tomorrow will be number 24), in 9 different states during the course of my 38 years of life.  That averages to roughly one move every 1.65 years, a new state every 4.22 years.  No, I am not a military brat either (although my dad was in the Navy, however, he got out before my first move). 

You would think that leaving things behind gets easier.  In a way it does and in a way it doesn't.  It never feels good to leave the familiar.  Things are always left behind and memories flood through your mind of times you have had in places you have lived. 

But in the same way, the exact same byproducts are a gift. 

Leaving the familiar prepares you to arrive at the new and breathtakingly fascinating.  The things that are left behind no longer entangle you (Hebrews 12:1).  Leaving furniture on the side of the road or watching your possessions carted away for nothing relieves me of the burden of constantly carrying extra weight around.  This can be a reminder that the sin that once pervaded every facet of my being is gone too!  The chains of sin have fallen off of me because Jesus Christ put them on Himself to pay for my transgressions.  And like Christian in John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress, when the burden comes off of my back, I find true freedom and joy. 

And with each new place I've lived has come a certain excitement to explore my new surroundings for treasures I have never seen.  Oh, but there IS a pearl of great price (Mt 13:46) I would sell everything to be near.  Psalm 27:4 says, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple."  His beauty will fulfill me for an eternity! 

C.S. Lewis once said, "If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."  All of my desires in this world are fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying.  But to be with Jesus, dwelling in His house, will keep me enthralled for an eternity.  There will be no such word as "wander", for there is nothing more satisfying to wander to. 

And the memories that flood through your mind, as beautiful as they may be, are but a shadow of the everlasting joy that awaits us.  As I get older, my memories fade and I don't remember the details as I desire to relive wonderful times in my mind.  But those fleeting moments of happiness in life point to a time when true joy will never cease.  I will not long for a better time, past or future.  Every moment with Jesus in heaven IS a better time!  1 Cor 2:9, "But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”.

Moving only reinforces God's Word that says this is not my home.  Philippians 3:20 says, "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ". 

So tomorrow as we again stick our lives in a truck and drive to another box to park at, I will rejoice that my temporary dwelling points me to my eternal home with my Savior. 

Now stop reading this and help me grab that couch, will ya?!!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quick thought on anonymous gifts

There is a special beauty of an anonymous gift that the giver(s) themselves are probably unaware of, and it is this.....

The receiver of the gift has no choice but to praise God alone for the gift!!!!

Thank you to my anonymous friend for pointing me to the Solas. 

Soli Deo Gloria

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Captain Neat-O Man must die!!!!

Captain Neat-O Man will never die!!! 

You wouldn't know it to look at the distinguished gentleman I am now, but a little over a decade ago, on a beautiful fall night, you could have wandered into the Trahern building at Austin Peay State University and found me dressed up as a superhero, tights and all (think Jack Black in Nacho Libre), as I acted in a one-act play called Captain Neat-O man.  I'll never live it down. 

While I was quite the thespian in college, also acting in Our Town and Noises Off, this was my starring role.  These were one-act plays written by budding playwrights at the university who needed actors to make the pages come to life.  And I was ready to pour my heart into that beautiful spotlight as it shined all over me.  [Side note to future thespians (especially the broke college ones)....When appearing in a high-energy, slapstick type of play, it is best not to sell your plasma shortly before the production.  I NEED your plasma!!!]

Well, despite my somewhat spasmodic and slightly wobbly performance, the play went off fine.  The only problem was there was less of an audience for it than my other plays.  And while I starred in Captain Neat-O Man, I enjoyed being in Our Town and Noises Off much more.  Turns out the spotlight wasn't as fulfilling as I thought it would be. 

Oftentimes, you may hear the phrase "there are no small parts, only small actors".  I found this to be very true.  It is the story that people come to see at the theatre (that's THEEEEE ATE ER to my southern friends), not actors.  People want to be momentarily detached from their own lives and swallowed up by the action on the stage.  And the actor's job is to help make the play an inviting place for an audience member's heart and mind to vacation for a couple of hours. 

For this to happen effectively, the story must be bigger than the actors.  And for that to happen, the actor's ego must die.  (Imagine a play where everyone who has a part tries to make theirs the biggest scene-stealer.  It would be a disaster!!!  You know, like every episode of Hee Haw EVER!!!) 

The death of the actor's ego is the life of the story.

In much the same way, I am watching God do this in my real, non-tights wearing, life.  But in this case, it is not so much the story that deserves the spotlight, as the Storyteller. 

This is the truth I'm seeing unfold right before my eyes.  This is the money phrase that echoes in my heart.......Moving down in the world helps me to worship God who raises me up in Christ.

You see, I've got a LOT of ego to kill.  I've got a lot of craving for the spotlight.  I love to hear the applause.  I love to soak in the adulation.  Tell me how good I am and I will listen to you for hours, baby!!!

Me, me, me, me.  But enough about me, what do YOU think of ME?  Whoooo Boy, I can listen to me all day long. 

It feeds old Jay and gives him strength.  But new creation, raised with Christ Jay is part of a different plot line than old Jay.  Old Jay lived to jump around in spandex and hear 200 people in the audience clap for him.  New Jay lives just for One (1 Cor 10:31).  In fact, from Him and through Him and to Him is new Jay's story line.  New Jay is consumed by the story that the Storyteller is telling about the most beautiful thing a person can even fathom, God Himself.

And new Jay wants everyone else to see the beauty of God.  But it's hard to focus one spotlight on 2 things.  Either it points at me or it points at Jesus.  And when it points at Jesus, I find myself STILL wanting to jump in it and get some praise for myself. 

So knowing this about me, God has shown me the rightness and goodness of moving down in the world.

This week, we are moving out of our $1000/month rental house on the river to a $575/month overgrown refrigerator of a mobile home in a trailer park out in the middle of nowhere.  To accomplish the task of squeezing 7 humans in a space the size of a couple of parking spots, we have been forced to sell much of our belongings.  Hearts have been broken as precious theology books, "Lost" DVD's, beloved microwave stands, and Elvis dolls have slipped through our fingers for the same amount of money as one would spend on a date at Taco Bell.  (And that's not to mention the near escape of a cherished scooter friend of a 5 year old girl as big sister stepped in at the last minute to stop grandma from exiling the Barbie scooter to the lands of the north.)

OK, why did I write the previous paragraph?  To evoke sympathy?  To receive compliments for my descriptive phraseology?  To get someone to buy me a house?  The answer is.....maybe!  See?  That's how easy it is to try to put the spotlight back on yourself.  Every moment is a battle to make less of me and more of God. 

But I digress, the point is that the Lord is graciously showing us the pull of the created on our hearts rather than the role of the created to point to the Creator. 

Romans 1:25 says, "they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!" 

You ever hear the old story of how African tribesmen catch monkeys?  Supposedly, they hollow out one end of a coconut ,just big enough for a monkey's hand to squeeze through, tie it to a string and put some peanuts inside of it.  When the monkey sticks its hand in, it grabs the peanuts but cannot pull its hand back out because it is now in the shape of a fist and is too big to slide back through the opening.  The natives then pull the monkey towards them and whacks it on the head for some nice Indiana Jones style Monkey Brain soup. 

But the ironic part of the story is that all the monkey has to do is let the peanuts go to escape.  It is too greedy and selfish to let go and dies in its pursuit of the peanuts. 

(Obvious Sermon Illustration Alert!!!)  This is the pull that created things have on us.  They become an end in themselves.  You see, I hurt when I have to move down in size and quality of my housing.  I hurt when things I previously treasured are picked away by the circling Garage Sale Buzzards.  I hurt when I go from being a distinguished preacher who is constantly in the limelight, to a nobody telemarketer who gets cussed out every third call. 

But my question is.....Is this pain wrong?  Maybe not. 

Not that stuff, or good jobs, or nice housing is wrong in and of itself.  But when it becomes pursued, pampered, and idolized (AHHHHHH, you thought I was going old school Southern Baptist preacher, 3-point alliteration on you, didn't you?  Admit it!!), it is used to serve you instead of letting it serve or cause praise to come to the One who gave it to you.

And maybe letting go of it (even with my claw marks on it as I fought to keep it) is God's way of reorienting me to His story.  Maybe he's taking me back to the times when I acted in plays where the beauty of the story, like Our Town, was more important than the fleeting applause for playing an idiot superhero who lived with his mom. 

So as I signed the contract to rent our overgrown sideways refrigerator, I felt something unexpected.  And upon talking to Michelle, she felt the same thing.  Relief! 

Relief from the burden of keeping up with a high rent when I don't make a lot of money. 
Relief from even the attempt to keep up with the Jones' (no offense Kayla).  Because we couldn't even if we tried.
Relief from the amount of stuff which we have constantly dragged with us from house to house. 

But most importantly, relief from placing ourselves in the spotlight. 

It gets hot under those lights you know.  And it greatly impairs your vision.  You can't see anything or anyone else in the crowd.  It's all about you and you know it.  And no one can live under the spotlight for too long without missing a line, tripping over a prop, or sweating profusely as people watch your every move. 

We weren't created to withstand this constant spotlight.  We mess up.  We fail.  We sin. 

But there is One who is made for the spotlight.  Jesus Christ, the Godman, lived a perfect, sinless life so that as we repent of our sins and place our absolute trust in Him, we can rest from the glare that was never intended for us.  My favorite verse says it best.  2 Cor 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 

In Him is better than in the spotlight any day of the week.  I am safer there.  I am covered there.  I am strengthened there.  I am saved there. 

In me without Him, my path will only lead to ruin.  Oh, but in Him there is peace with God.  And that is the story He wants me to tell. 

So he moves me down.  And as He does, He lifts my eyes up to the all satisfying crucified and resurrected Savior.  My Hero, My God, My King. 

As He lowers me and empties me of my pride, He raises me and fills me with His Spirit.  Instead of the disgusting muck of sin inside, I find pristine holiness and constant comfort from the Holy Spirit, my guarantee of a future inheritance which will dwarf my collection of Lost DVD's, Elvis dolls, and even theology books. 

He moves me down in house to raise me up in mansions.
He moves me down in pride to fill me up with awe.
He moves me down in resources to capture my attention as He alone provides my manna. 

Moving down is not bad, friends.  In fact, it is the way up.

You die to raise up.  Unless Jesus returns before your death, you will slowly recede back to the dust as your once strong and upright body becomes more and more crooked until it lays on its death bed.  Every day you get closer to the ground.  But those in Christ see it as getting closer to Him. 

John 12:24 says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

Dying to yourself is necessary to become born again.

Even the posture of prayer is a beautiful example of moving down and away from the spotlight so that God alone shines. 

Just think of going to a play and the spotlight guy puts his beam on the janitor in the corner while the play is going on.  You would be outraged!  Why?  Because you would be missing the story while you watch Bubba scraping gum off the floor.   

God is so good that He won't let me miss His story.  He won't let me focus on the janitor.  And for that, I praise Him!!!! 

God's play about Himself is real.  And it, too will detach you from your troubles.  But it will last far longer than a couple of hours.  It will enthrall you for an eternity.

Our family's hymn this month is the more satisfying story.  If you fully grasp what it means, it will leave you breathless.

"And can it be, that I should gain, an interest in the Savior's blood.  Died He for me, who caused His pain, for me, who Him to death pursued?  Amazing love!  How can it be, that Thou, my God shouldst die for me?"

Let that be what this post leaves ringing in your ears!  Whatever it takes to see Him and know Him is worth it!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I love my wife!!!

It is always good to pause to reflect on good things in your life.  So today I will remember the best thing (outside of my relationship with Jesus).  Today is my wife's birthday. 

As I have been married to my prize for 15 years now, I can honestly say that what I see in her is what 15 year old Jay couldn't even dream up in his best dreams as he sat in math class wondering what kind of woman he would end up with. 

Young Jay would probably have focused solely on beauty.  What I have is the beauty that calms when chaos surrounds, the beauty that shines when gloomy days overwhelm, and the beauty that radiates the love of Jesus Christ on everyone around her.  Deep and everlasting beauty, inside her soul and outside as she is clothed in righteousness. 

Young Jay would have wanted a trophy wife.  What I have is a trophy, but not for others to admire.  This trophy is for me to admire how good of a God must have given it to me.

Young Jay would have wanted a girl to rescue.  What I have is a woman who rescues me from myself on a daily basis.  Her strength, calm, and confidence in her God spills over onto me every day of my life. 

Young Jay would have wanted a girl to have fun with.  What I have is a woman who knows how to have fun, but who is even better at having joy. 

Young Jay would have wanted to never settle down.  What I have is a settling of my spirit bestowed on me through the means of a godly wife. 

Anxiousness has given way to peace. 
Vanity has given way to depth.
Selfishness has given way to sacrifice.
And I have given my heart to the Lord who has trusted it with my treasure box named Michelle. 

I love you, Michelle.  Happy birthday, My Chelle.  Your life has blessed, is blessing, and will continue to bless the Lord and those He blesses with your presence. 

God is perfect!

Yours forever,

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Christian Books for sale

To raise money to help us move, I am going to be selling a LOT of my books.  Almost all of them are in near perfect shape (I don't like to write in my books). 

Check out my shelfari above this post.  Each of these books is for sale.

If you see a book you would like, make me a fair offer ASAP (via email at richfam2u(at)gmail(dot)com).  Again, this is so that we can raise enough money to put down for a deposit on an apartment.

There will probably be more titles added later. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Countdown to Who Knows What?????

Well, the hits just keep on coming! 

I have lived under SO much stress lately that my right eyelid literally has constantly been twitching for a couple of weeks now.  Also, my left eyelid just started to twitch too.  My shoulders are like steel, hardened by tension and stress.  I am physically feeling the burdens on me moment by moment. 

And I know the cliches and platitudes that we offer to each other about laying our burdens at the feet of Christ, and they are definitely true.  And don't believe for a second that I haven't been.  When you live in a constant state of uncertainty, that is one thing a Christian definitely learns to do more of....pray. 

But I live here, right in the middle of it, like a tribesman in a tent surrounded by lions.  I might have confidence in my weapons, but you better believe my heart still races every second of the dark, cold night. 

And folks, my heart is racing today. 

A couple of days ago, I told Michelle that we needed to think about maybe adopting a more radical plan to get out of the mess we're in.  Basically, I suggested 2 options:
  1. For her and the kids to move in with her mom in Nashville for a couple of months while I continued to work my new job here so that I could save up enough money to rent a place.  You see, with a foreclosure on our records, we are almost certain to require first and last months rent, at least and it will take a while for me to earn that.
  2. To borrow her parents 5th wheel and try to find someone who will let us park on their land for a couple of months so we can save up some money to rent a place. 
The first option is bad because Michelle is pregnant and we will be away from each other almost all of the time.

The second option is bad because there are 6 of us and there are many details to attend to in a small amount of time (trying to sell off a bunch of stuff, storing the rest, getting a PO Box, etc). 

Now, onto today.  The owner of the house sent a representative by today telling us that he is planning on selling the house.  They even power washed it and were working on the yard and asked us to have it ready for a potential buyer to come and see it.  So now we definitely know that our time here is very short.  Something MUST open up. 

On my way to work today, my car died AGAIN!  It wouldn't start so I had to take our van to work.  This is the 3rd time in the past couple of months something has broken. 

We have a few hundred dollars to our name and the job I'm working at has only been part time this week during training.  It will be full time starting next week.  The first 2 weeks, I am getting paid $9/hr and then it goes up to $12/hr.  And that's all the income we have right now.  We might have some money from some past work show up but we are not holding our breath for it.  We own nothing of value to sell either. 

I am not sure we can even make it here anymore.  I am considering all of us moving in with my mother in law and crowding into her house.  But then I would lose the job I have and she lives about an hour away from Nashville (where most likely I would try to find work). 

If anyone in the world needs wisdom right now, it is me.  I absolutely have no idea what to do and the clock is now ticking. 

And let me say this.  This is NOT a plea for money.  I write to share my desperation for prayers on behalf of my family.  This will truly take a monsoon of grace.  But He is able.....He ALONE is able!!! 

If you have any advice, I would welcome it.  If you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I would welcome your prayers more. 

And if you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ, I would love to share my riches in Him with you. 


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Job update

Just a quick update for everyone who has been praying for us. 

I interviewed with Rick Perry of the Dave Ramsey group this past Wednesday.  It was a great opportunity to discuss positions in the organization and to meet many kind and energetic people. 

However, (and I could be wrong about this), I did not get the sense that he believed that I was the best fit for the position. 

While driving the 3 hour drive back home, a wrestling match took place.  I talked (whined) to the Lord about another missed opportunity.  My wife comforted me over the phone with wise words reminding me of the sovereignty of God.  And all the previous nervous and negative energy seemed to drain out of me, just leaving me a shell of a person driving home. 

In numbness, I watched the dotted lines on the road fly by.  And I turned on some music on my Ipod to hear others sing of their great love for Jesus.  At first, I seemed to be a specatator to the worship of the unseen faces coming out of my radio, but then I found myself not just wanting to, but HAVING to participate. 

And over the course of those couple of hours, I discovered that the Lord emptied me for a make room for Him!  So much of my vision has been clouded by so little of a man that it felt nice to be swallowed up by His massive presence and His message of forgiveness and love.

I know that God loves me and is doing just the right thing at just the right time. 

And thinking about things, it just seems to me that He won't let me shake the idea of serving Him in Poland.  Preparing us by taking everything away.  Preparing us by walking us through the desert.  Preparing us by emptying us of ourselves.  Preparing us by not allowing us to succeed in our pursuit of ANYTHING else which would keep us away.  Preparing us by renewing our minds so that we will be able to know what His will is-His good, pleasing, and perfect will. 

Maybe so, maybe not.  I do not know.  But, for now, I limp away from my wrestling match with God trusting that He is bigger, stronger, and wiser than I am.  And He is good.  Want proof?  Read God's very own words in the book of John. 

And just so you know, God did provide me with a job raising funds for Firemen over the phone.  I started the day after my Dave Ramsey interview.  It is monotonous and dry and not my favorite thing in the world, but so was the daily manna the Israelites received from God.  So I will keep eating whatever manna He sends me trying to be grateful that He sends me anything in spite of my sins against Him. 

One day at a time.  One bite at a time.  Grateful for the crumbs which will one day be a feast!

The story is not over. 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Brain Pickins

Well, tomorrow is the day for the big interview with Dave Ramsey at Financial Peace Plaza in Nashville. 

Ironically, today I received a completely separate email in my other email account from Dave Ramsey's people requesting a phone interview with another guy (I used my old application which had my less-used email on it) for the same position.  This is good news!  I believe this points to the fact that they were going to pull my resume anyway for an interview. 

Many of you do not know this, but a few years ago, I interviewed for a similar position with Dave Ramsey's Lampo Group.  I was living in Florida at the time and flew in just for the interview.  That is when I found out how great the company was to work for!  But, in God's providence, I did not receive a follow-up interview. 

I will be better prepared this time as a result of that experience. 

But I need some advice, especially from those of you who interview people at your jobs.  Already, I have received some great tips from Michelle's cousin and it was so good that I want to ask you for some more. 

  1. How should I dress?  The company has a casual dress with most of the employees and even Dave wearing jeans and flip flops.  However, this is an interview where I want to put my best foot forward.  How much is too much?  How little is too little?
  2. What are some questions I should anticipate from the HR guy (he was very easygoing last time) and the sales staff (they were very tough)? 
  3. What are some questions I can ask about the company?
  4. How much energy should I bring to the table, considering that I used such an unusual and somewhat pushy method to get the interview in the first place?
I will be leaving early tomorrow (Wednesday) morning for my 2pm interview.  So any responses before then would be of great benefit.  Thanks again for your prayers, support, and wisdom. 

In Christ,

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Special Night of Caving In!!!!

It has been many weeks that I have held out on knowing the gender of future baby Richardson.  But going to the ultrasound appointment was just too much for my frail resolve to withstand.  While I showed enough strength to look away while the gender was revealed, the pressure has caused me to crack. 

But I still NEED it to be a surprise!!!  It's very important that this occasion is marked in a memorable way. 

Now it just so happens that some friends of ours have invited us to go the Tennessee Smokies game tonight for free.  And also, Michelle's mom decided that she was going to come and visit tonight and stay for a few days to celebrate her birthday with us.  There's just enough tickets for everyone. 

All of these events coalescing caused my mind to think of some possibilities.  And it clicked. 

I called the Tennessee Smokies and asked them if they would be involved in revealing whether the baby is a boy or a girl. 

So tonight, in the top of the 9th inning, they are going to have our kids on the field popping pink and blue balloons with confetti shooting out of them.  The last balloon they pop will either have blue or pink confetti and we will all find out together at that moment whether we have a boy or a girl.

Cool, huh?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

We did it!!!!

Never in my history of looking for work (and I am quite experienced at this my friends) have I received such a fast response inviting me for an interview!!! 

Let me recap the day for you because, like it or not, you are invested in my life now.  I can share the sorrows, but Boy Oh Boy I can sure share the victories too! 

First, I want to admit something else to you.  The "Job Mob" was my main strategy to receive an interview with Dave Ramsey, but there was another part of my plan.  Providentially, I was scheduled to pick up my car today in Tullahoma (it broke down there last week).  That is quite a ways from me, but only another hour or so away from Brentwood, TN.  Why is that important?  Because that is where Financial Peace Plaza is located, the site of the Dave Ramsey show and the Lampo Group.

Knowing this, I wanted to attack this job search on one more front.....Dave Ramsey himself!!!  Last night, I stayed up late crafting a 1 page plea for a job interview.  In it, I told him about the "Job Mob" so that he would know that I possess the creativity needed for a job like this.  Being such a crucial part of my qualifications, I really needed you to come through for me, to show that I could do what I said I would do, namely flood the inbox of Rick Perry.  And you did!!!

Rick Perry (the main HR guy of the Lampo Group) called and left a voicemail within about an hour of us leaving the facility!!!  He was quite impressed with the sheer volume of emails.  He told me to call off the "Job Mob" and that he surrenders.  In his email, he quoted some specific phrases that I only wrote in my personal letter to Dave Ramsey, so the attack on that front succeeded as well! 

In short, he was overwhelmed with requests, by me, you, and apparently Mr. Ramsey himself to check me out for this position.  On the phone, he was quite jovial, chuckling a lot, and telling me how much they like to see that kind of enthusiasm and creativity. 

All I can say is thank you so much!  I will be calling Mr. Perry tomorrow to set up an interview and when the time comes, I will let you know when it is so that you can pray for me. 

That's how it works, folks.  My sorrow is your sorrow.  My joy is your joy.  One body, one Savior, one hope!  All praise goes to King Jesus who blessed me and you with our authentic fellowship over these past few days! 

Getting this position is still quite uncertain, but I know this for sure....God heard your prayers this day and answered with a resounding, "Yes!"  And we all benefitted from seeing Him work.

Let it not be mistaken in any way, God opened this door today.  But He uses means too.  Thank you for being His tools today. 

Now leave Mr. Perry alone, will ya?!!!!!! 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You've heard of Flash Mobs, welcome to the Job Mob

Over the past few days, I have shared quite a lot on my blog.  (As of this morning, I have taken down my last 2 posts so that I can now focus on moving forward.)  Those of you who have read it know that there have been many painful things happen to me as of late.  But "to everything there is a season" and I am now trying to put one foot in front of the other.  

Many of you have messaged me with such encouragement and support, but when someone you love is going through a trial it is natural to try to think of practical ways you can help.  Much of the time, there might not be anything you can do.  But I have thought of one thing, just ONE THING, which might help me out more than you know. 

As you can imagine, not having a job or any source of income only serves to magnify every other problem in life.  And it is a pressing need for me and my family.  So I need help finding work. 

Finding a job in today's market is extremely difficult for so many, and I am no exception.  It is hard to even get an interview because resumes are screened to such minute details, that only a select few ever get to the desk of the hiring manager.  I have not yet figured out the key to standing out, having my resume reviewed, and getting an interview.  So I am forced to try to be creative.

In all of the best sources of information for how to find work, I find that the most effective way to get an interview with a company is to know someone who can help you get in front of the one responsible for hiring.  I have moved so many times that coming into new places does not afford me much time to build up a network of contacts which can help me to branch out. 

So I am attempting to do something a little different.  I want to CARPETBOMB  my target with so many requests for an interview, that my name cannot help but to stand out.  I want the sheer amount of my references to come in such a short period of time so as to make the human resources manager take notice of me. 

I have a very specific target in mind.....Dave Ramsey. 

If you have not heard of him, Dave Ramsey is a Christian financial expert who has:
  • a top-rated radio show with millions of listeners every day.
  • many NY Times bestseller books
  • and an organization based in Nashville which employs hundreds of people
His company is annually voted one of the best to work for in the Nashville area.  And I am personally a fan of his ministry (having gone through Financial Peace University, attended a live event, and listening to his radio show via podcast), which is why I want to work for him, because I believe in his mission.

I have continually looked on his website ( to look for jobs which would be a good fit for me.  And I have found one......Sales Advisor for Hosting Simulcast of Events

This involves contacting churches and businesses to host a Simulcast of a Dave Ramsey event.  With my background working in churches, my belief in the product, and my passion to help people, I strongly believe that I would be a great fit. 

But I don't want to be another resume-screening casualty.  So Here's the plan and what I would ask you to do to help me:
  1. If you want to do something to help me, I want you to email the H.R. manager  (REMOVED FOR PRIVACY) a very brief note (no longer than one paragraph total), stating (in the body):
    1. Your name
    2. Your occupation (so that he knows these are serious references)
    3. Why you think I would be a good fit with Dave Ramsey.
    4. Personal qualities I possess which would be of benefit to Dave Ramsey.
  2. Most importantly, in the subject line of the email, I want you to write :
    1. "Why (REMOVED FOR PRIVACY) should get an interview"
  3. Since I want this to be impossible to avoid, I would ask that you do this tomorrow (Thursday, August 23rd) in order for him to receive these messages all in one day!
I am hoping that the sheer volume of emails with the repetition of my name will cause me to stand out and receive an interview. 

Folks, I really want to work!!!!  This is the first step I must take in beginning to put things back together and I am running out of time before we will have to move in with family. 

Admittedly, this is probably a long shot.  But I can't sit idly by anymore waiting on my phone to ring.  I want to use my creativity to the best of my ability to hopefully get out of the mess I'm in.   I just want a chance.  Would you help me get an interview?

Thanks for considering doing this. 

In Christ,

P.S.  Yes, (REMOVED FOR PRIVACY), is my first name.  I need you to put that so that they can match my name with my resume and application which I've previously submitted.

If you have any friends who know me and want to help, please let them know for me. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  But we are not.  He has nothing that needs improving, we do.  Because of that, I feel like so many of the things we do are somewhat drastic:  losing weight, trying to go to Poland, homeschooling, and on and on.  However, these changes are not born out of a desire necessarily to improve, rather they come from a recognition of the holiness of God, Christ living in me, and the distance my life shows between the two. 

Yes, I want to improve my life, but the irony is that I cannot.  As much as I pull, prod, and cajole, I just end up rearranging the mud.  I must realize that I am muddy first so that I finally look to a pure, outside source of cleanliness who is willing and able to do the necessary cleaning.  And another irony is that the alien source of purifying me (Jesus Christ and the atoning work of His blood and the righteous life He imputes to me through justification) lives within me because of His choice, not mine. 

That means that Jesus loves me based on His sovereign pleasure alone.  And what He loves, He doesn't leave unchanged. 

What ends up happening is war.  War within me.  I long to live and serve this amazing God who has done everything to present me spotless before Himself, yet I drift back towards that pile of mud. 

The yo-yo of my life and the constant changes that I have and will continue to undergo is that movement on the continuum between holiness and unholiness.  It's a process called sanctification.  Up and down I go, but comfort comes in looking back and seeing more up than down.  Not from my exertion, effort, and good work, but by the Holy Spirit in me. 

Paul even wrote about this in Romans 7:19, "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing."  He was fighting a bigger enemy than the Romans, the Pharisees, or even Emperor Nero who ended up killing him.  He was fighting his own flesh.  And I am fighting mine.  Yet not I, but Christ within me.  He fights and He wins!

Because you know what else Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

Paul wasn't the hero of his own story, Jesus is.  (Yes, I know I switched tenses in the previous sentence, but the point is that Jesus still is Paul's hero because He lives.)  He allowed Paul to swing up and down on the pendulum to demonstrate His power within Paul, to show that He is a mighty God who is able to preserve His children and keep them to the end. 

Jude 24-25 says, "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

Jesus Christ gets all the credit, all the accolades, all the glory! 

Yes, I'm on a yo-yo that sometimes produces drastic changes in my life, but the ride is not pointless.  It strengthens my faith in the String Holder.  And let's not forget that the crown of righteousness, which He earned, awaits.  For the past 2,000 years of sinless glory in heaven which he now lives, Paul most assuredly would tell us that all His earthly struggles and the sometimes painful process of sanctification (growing in Christlikeness) was worth it.

Let the Holy Spirit continue to tear down your strongholds and you can trust that He will fill you up with something far greater than you could ever imagine....Himself. 

The war rages on, yet the outcome is secure in Christ!

What does this look like for me, for now?  I war with my appetite every day to honor and bring glory to Christ.  I war with my desire for gossip and my tendency towards pride by trying to judge my motives for using Facebook and am staying off of it until I am better prepared to let Christ reign in me there.  I war with my total inability to provide for my family while watching God drop manna on me every day.  I war with my desire to remove myself from the front lines, by watching a pretend world on television where life happens to them and not me.  I war with my pride as I march somewhere with my kids to pass out gospel tracts because I don't want to seem like a crazy man and I don't want my children to see their dad get tracts slapped out of my hands, but Jesus compels me to proclaim the good news which I myself have received.  I war and I war and I war.  But no war lasts forever, my wounded and numb friends.  There is a consummation one way or another. 

At the end of it all, we will all see Jesus.  Every knee will bow before Him and every knee will confess that He is God.  Either you will bow as a defeated enemy, or you will bow as a grateful co-heir of His inheritance. 

I love Jesus Christ. 


Saturday, February 25, 2012

How water can help the unemployed

I have always loved gazing into water.  Back when I lived in San Diego, whenever I wanted a bigger sense of what life was all about, I would often head out to the beach just to watch the waves roll in and out.  What I drank in, as the horizon swallowed up the ocean or vice versa, was the sense that God is very big.  But even more important to me was the peace that I derived from watching the powerful and loud crashing waves rhythmically dancing with the shore line.  (Side note:  I guess that's why I didn't enjoy living in Florida because the ocean waves were so wimpy in comparison to those of the Pacific.) 

It's hard to imagine that something loud and powerful brought peace to my soul, even as I've encountered those same adjectives in other scenarios (traffic, screaming children, jackhammers, or all 3 at once).  But what I've discovered is that power IS peace. 

Not my power, mind you.  For after 38 years, it has become strikingly apparent that I have none of my own.  Ironically, my powerlessness still stuns me.  When jobs don't appear and when finances seem to choke the living daylights out of me, I kick against the goads until I'm left completely exhausted in every way.  And then I turn to the water to remember. 

There's a river that flows in my backyard.  Oh, how I praise God for that river.  No matter how bad my day has been, or no matter what turmoil my heart won't let go of, that river is unaffected.  It flows back and forth, to and fro, doing what God has called it to do.  And my God is that way too.  His perfect plans for me remain unaffected no matter how I perceive the daily chaos.  He doesn't worry, because He already has it all figured out.  His flow of grace never ends and His ability to deal with me and my problems is unquestionable.  He is power, and He is peace. 

And I see that in my river.  I think it's why the song "It is Well" gets to me so deeply.  "When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul."

The man that wrote that hymn penned those words as he was sailing over the spot where his daughters drowned in a shipwreck.  The same sea which submerged his precious girls, reminded Him of His precious Savior.  Oh, praise Jesus that He goes with us!

Folks, I am hurting so bad right now with so many things.  And I know that many of you, if not most of you, are hurting too.  And I know that many of you probably have much bigger problems than I do.  But though our pains might look different, our answer is the same.  Every problem, every tragedy, every hurt, every heartache, is meant to take you to the River of Life, the Living Water, Jesus Christ. 

And while the pain will remain, the balm will be applied and reapplied, and our Great Physician will tell us that the story is not over.  And He will point to the seal of the Holy Spirit over our hearts to remind us that we are indeed His.  And then He'll send us back to those same situations, same cancers, same lost jobs, same mean coworkers, same disrespectful children, and same crosses with different eyes to see with.  And what will we see?  We'll see Him in the fiery furnace with us, and we'll see the divine fire hose in His hands and we'll know that it's just a matter of time (His time) before He douses it forever. 

And then we are to share that Scriptural vision with others, not without sharing our pain, because people need to see that we are indeed powerless so that when God's power carries us, He gets the credit for being the amazing God that He is. 

Again, let me say that I hurt so bad today.  I couldn't sleep, I couldn't talk to my wife, I couldn't even think straight.  My needs are so, so many and I feel like I am drowning.  But God has used that river in my backyard tonight to remind me that His power is my peace and His peace is my power! 

Thank you for hearing my soul, friends.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Poland bound, me and YOU?

I will be leaving for Poland this Tuesday for 2 weeks.  The main purpose of this trip is to survey possible areas where the Lord might have our family to serve Him.  Also, I will be participating in a number of ministry opportunities (speaking at a Soup Kitchen, preaching in various churches, teaching in small group settings, food distribution, etc).  I am extremely grateful for the support I have received to help me and my son, Austin, to go on this exciting journey together. 

In addition, there is an opportunity to bless a local pastor (Henryk Podsiadly) who I will be working closely with.  I first met Henryk on my first mission trip to Poland where I saw his heart to serve the Lord by serving those in need.  He has been used by God to serve the poor by:  helping to start orphanages, distributing food to the poor, running various camps, and witnessing to people on the streets.  I would love to bless and affirm his ministry by bringing a financial gift to help him with his ministry.  If you would like to contribute towards the ministry of Pastor Henryk, you can make a check out to Basswood Church in Knoxville, TN.

Thanks again for your prayers and support.  I look forward to bringing back a full report upon my return.  In the meantime, if you should have any more questions, feel free to email me at our new email address:

Sent to be spent,
Jay Richardson