Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Guest Blogger-Written by Mike Stanton

As a kid and into my teenage years I always wanted a 1965 Mustang. I would play
with Hotwheels and Mattel cars speeding them across the carpet in my bedroom.
During the summer my Dad and I would sip milkshakes from a local dinner in my
hometown that would have monthly car shows and I would always lead him back to
whatever 60’s Mustangs were there before I could even eat enough of those shakes
for the brain freeze to set in. I had a bad case of muscle car fever and it lasted
into my adult years.

My wife later became part of that dream and caught a bit of the bug as well. She too
liked the idea of cruising in an old Mustang on the weekends. I can’t remember the
exact year now, but a few years before she turned 30 I bought her a 1965 Arcadian
Blue Ford Mustang with a 289 V8 engine as a birthday gift. Like all men I had
gotten her exactly what she wanted. At the time we both had perfectly fine cars,
and her gift became my toy and over time my daily driver. I ditched the car I had and
drove that car everywhere with a bit of a pompous smile on my face. I did burnouts,
enjoyed the comments people shared about my car, and got a sense of
accomplishment for owning it.

Now, to be honest, I bought the car in an attempt to heal a deep wound in our
marriage. The previous birthday was marked by our 3rd miscarriage and our hardest
one to go through. As a couple we had prayed for years for a child, we had seen
images on the ultrasound screen and printouts turn into dreams for parenthood and
a family slip away time after time. That 3rd miscarriage, on my wife’s birthday, of all
days, was devastating. In some way, I thought this car, this thing, this object, would
heal us, our anger, our heart break.

I prayed for 5 years. I prayed on my hands and knees. I begged God for a child.
Any child. I pleaded for my wife to be a mother. I held my wife’s hand during
devastating news of another lost baby and lost dreams by doctors acting as if you
just came in for a band aid and moving on. For a time though, our life didn’t move on.
Time was simply counted, from miscarriage, to miscarriage. Is was a dark, lonely,
and painful part of my life. At times, I thought it would be the end of our marriage. I
prayed for 5 years to make the pain stop, and to be a father, and hold a child. To see
my wife be a mother.

Eventually God blessed us with Claire Elise. Elise, meaning gift from God. She is my
smart and kind daughter that loves to read and do science. So, our little family, all
smiles, would cruise around in a little blue old mustang.

18 months later, God blessed us with Audrey Grace. Grace, meaning favored by
God. She is my shy and sweet daughter, that loves math and gymnastics.

God answered all of my prayers! I had this amazing little family. What a gift!

My life was great. I had a beautiful wife, two healthy daughters, had won awards
in my career,a home, and of course that 65 Mustang sitting in the driveway. So…. I
was in my driveway. I was waxing, cleaning, polishing, vacuuming, and tweaking the
engine to that car all of the time. My right arm was twice as big as my left I spent so
much time and energy trying to wax that car until you could literally see your
reflection in it. So, like I said. I could go do burnouts, enjoy the comments people
shared about my car, and get a sense of accomplishment for owning it.

I wasn’t with my wife. I wasn’t with my daughters. No, I was with my car. I was
putting my time, energy, money, and care into that car.

Now remember this, Where you put your time tells others your priorities. Let me
repeat that for you so you can write it down. Where you put your time tells others
your priorities.

I was prioritizing that car more than my family. I prayed for the opportunity and
blessing of fatherhood for five years and simply let it slip away into the cracks of
those seats like loose change. I would spend hours cleaning the most minute details
and worried about the rain getting it wet and where to park my car. I was not with in
my home seeing my daughters learn about the world. I was not seeing them laugh
together. I was not seeing them try new foods for the first time. I was not reading
them books. I was not sitting beside them or holding them as I prayed for them to
seek out God in their life. No, I was spending my free time with a car.

I didn’t realize any of this at first though. My wife sitting next to me one summer day
with an infant and toddler in the back seat had to say to me, “Mike, hunny, I know
you love your car, but I don’t think we should we riding in it for the rest of the
summer. I don’t think it is good for me or the girls.” I looked up in the rear view
mirror, seeing these two little ones. A baby, and a toddler, pale faced, and sweating.
No, I didn’t realize I had my wife and daughters nestled into my little world. I drove
home with these words echoing in my ears. “Mike I know you love your car.” Just
playing over and over again, “Mike I know you love your car.” That is what I had told
her, when I put all my time into that car. I had shown my wife and daughters that my
car was my priority. Where you put your time tells others your priorities.

You see, I had conformed to the patterns of the world. Loving things…. more than
people. Romans 12: 2 says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve
what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Now, I don’t know about God’s will and Mustangs. I am pretty sure He appreciates
the beauty of Lee Iacocca’s 65 Mustang as much as I do. However, he does call us
not to conform to this world. I am not saying that owning certain type or brand of car
or any car for that matter is conforming to the world. But!  When we place a
priority on material things like cars we are conforming to the world. We should “love
people, and use things, because the opposite never works.” -Joshua Fields
Millburn @JFM

We are not called to assimilate to what others of the world do. We are called to be
closer to Christ. When we conform, we put up a barrier between our ourselves and
the relationships we seek. Relationships with our spouse, family, community, and

What barrier are you putting up between your family, your children, your spouse,
your relationship with God? Are you like me with a car or is it your phone, the
internet, social media likes, TV, work, your classroom, impressing your boss,
food, drink. I’ll say it again, truthfully I showed my family that I loved that car
through my actions more than the actions I shared with my wife and children.
Now, I could care less about a car compared to my family. I know all of you
do as well. None of us would rank possessions, job titles, opportunities above
our loved ones or even ourselves. However, we are not necessarily showing that.

I spent years begging and pleading God for a child. However, I conformed to the
pattern of the world, and failed to seek God…. to test and approve of owning that
particular car was part of God’s will for me. His perfect and pleasing will.

How do you know if it is God’s will though? Going back to Romans 12:2 Do not
conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your
mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good,
pleasing and perfect will. Are you and your mind being transformed by the world,
your greed, your drive, or by God? That transformation will guide us to His will.

Remember this,  We are perfectly useless as Christians if we transform to the the
world around us. So we transform our minds through prayer, study, and action to
help align our actions with God’s will.

God’s will is not for us to love things like I did and put your energy into material
things. Now, we all need material possessions and deserve some down time and
enjoyment in our lives. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t own a Mustang or any other
thing of the world. However, you need to put an approval process in your life to see
if your actions are aligning with God’s will for you personally. I did not put in a
approval process when I owned that Mustang. I failed to simply enjoy that car on a
basic level. I turned that need of a car into a necessity of my time and a priority in
my life.

We need to look and pray deeply for that approval process based on God’s will.
Let's look deeper into what God's will is. First, there is the sovereign will of God, that
always comes to pass, without fail. Second, there is the revealed will of God in the
Bible — do not steal, do not lie, do not kill, do not covet — and this will of God often
does not come to pass. And third, there is the path of wisdom and spontaneous
godliness — wisdom where we consciously apply the word of God with our renewed
minds to complex moral circumstances, and spontaneous godliness where we live
most of our lives without conscious reflection on the hundreds of things we say and
do all day.

That is were we often get stuck. This third place, the wisdom piece. Obviously, I
failed to apply wisdom.  Where do you need to apply wisdom in your life? We need
to apply wisdom to our choices before, during, and after we make them. A wiser
version of myself would have asked myself questions like, “Is this a good use of my
time?” “Is this a good use of my money?“Does this action positively impact my
family?” “Does this action negatively impact my morals?” “Would I be willing to share
this purchase/event/ action with others?” Or do I want to keep and hide this all to
myself? We need to look at all of these decisions more deeply and reflect on
whether or not they are putting up barriers between our prayer, study, and actions
with our family or do we need to put up barriers around certain purchases, tv shows,
apps on our phones, hours spent at work, time on social media, sites on the internet,
foods, drinks?

I sold that car, that Mustang, and got a little family car. I rarely wash it, could care
less if it gets stained, and enjoy it now for what it truly is. A car, nothing more,
nothing less. It doesn’t have a hold on me. But, other things from time to time will
grab that hold on me. So-Now, I continuously ask questions about my purchases,
my commitments, my hours at work, my apps on my phone, my internet browsing
history, my stuff from the world that I bring into my life. I pray about my actions each
morning and night. I ask God to let me see where I have been putting my time and
attention. I ask Him to reveal what I am putting too much time and attention in and
not enough. I pray that my actions, my decisions, what I bring into my life from the
world is part of His will for me as His Son.

God has helped me put barriers in place. My alarm goes off at work and I leave.
Right then, right there. I stop work, conversations, and leave. God revealed a lack of
one on one time with my wife. Every Wednesday I take my bag with me and follow
my students out the door and pass the buses to go on a date with my wife. So
successfully that my boss has asked me if it was my “date day” before asking me to
do things. He revealed an addiction I was having to checking emails and looking up
college football scores. So, I deleted GMAIL and CHROME from my phone. What
barriers do you need to put up in your life?

I leave you with this. You see we must stop allowing the world to put up barriers
between the ones we were called to lead and love and start putting up barriers to
the world so we can actually start leading and loving.

Guest Blogger-Written by Mike Stanton

No comments:

Post a Comment