DITW – Sacrifices – April 26

Date: 26 Apr 2018 Comments:0

Exactly one month ago today (almost to the hour), I packed up my truck and a UHaul Trailer, loaded Maddie and Adrian, and headed north to Kansas City. I cried as I drove away from my home, knowing that everything would be different. I mourned having to be separated from my wife and half of my children and to go live a place I did not know and to face challenges I did not even know. I told myself that the reason I was doing this was because I was stepping out in faith to follow what God has presented to me, even though I don’t know what that is.

Since I have come here, I have had my fair share of issues from nanny troubles to emotional roller coasters with my kids, missing my wife, trying new churches, etc. I often found myself asking “God… if you are doing this, then why has this been so hard? Why do I struggle so much if this was your path? Was it your path? Did I royally screw up here?”

Then, in the middle of my daily bible study… things like this come up when David has sinned against God and is asked to make an altar in a land owned by Araunah: “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. 23 I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice. But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.” (2 Samuel 24:22-24, NLT). The key point here is “I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing”

It’s true that Christians (thankfully) are free from having to make animal sacrifices but I think that we often live in a world full of such convenience that we forget how blessed we are. This trip to Kansas has cost me much… not so much financially as mentally and spiritually. But in the end, I know God has a greater plan for me and this plan requires me to sacrifice something to gain everything.

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Daily In the Word – March 9 – Forgetting God

Date: 9 Mar 2018 Comments:0

Today’s reading struck a very serious chord with me that I will explain later. But suffice to say, that it is easy to grow comfortable in life. When we are successful and we have a nice house, nice cars, all the things we want, we think how great we’re doing. It’s easy to see the world of material possessions that one has and say “Man, that person is doing great! Look how much they have!” Likewise, it is easy to look at someone who is homeless and say “Look at the person! They must have made a lot of mistakes. I’m glad that won’t be me!” But truth be told, you could swap places with either of these people at any time. The problem happens when we look at what we have and think as though it was our power that allowed it. The truth is that nothing happens without God blessing you. If we get so excited about our material blessings, it’s very easy to get comfortable. As a result, we will hear God telling us to do something new and different, and we’ll say “No… I’m happy here. I’m comfortable doing what I’m doing God… talk to me later.” Scripture shows us how bad of an idea that can be when we forget God: “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. ” (Deuteronomy 8:17-19, NIV). When you start to get too comfortable, don’t be surprised if God demands something of you. If you don’t follow, you may find that God has removed his blessings to teach you a lesson and that is not the place you want to be.

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Daily in the Word – March 8 – The Power We Hold

Date: 9 Mar 2018 Comments:0

A common theme in the modern entertainment industry is that of power versus powerless. You see millions of superheroes who start out as normal (often rather undesirable) people. Something crazy, magical, mythical, or tragic happens and then they get powers. Sometimes you see the villains in these shows rise up and use the power for bad while the good guys try to beat them. Sometimes this is manifested in a less notable way such as powerful medical dramas where a person has a wild illness or crazy odds and feels as though they will die but then the doctors and medical staff, by crazy odds, manage to save them. It all feeds into our desire to have power when we feel powerless. But if we are truly followers of Christ, we cannot even begin to imagine the power we have. We have the ability to request power from the creator of the entire universe, of everything that ever was and will be, to help us. The only downside is that we don’t always get what we want when we ask. However, the Scripture reminds us that in God, the power to do anything is found: “By me kings reign and rulers issue decrees that are just; by me princes govern, and nobles—all who rule on earth. I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity” (Proverbs 8:15-18, NIV). It is true that nothing that happens on earth happens without God allowing it to be so. When you recognize the power you hold, you should fear nothing. 

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Daily In The Word – March 7 – Why Servant Leadership isn’t new.

Date: 7 Mar 2018 Comments:0

I hear stories all the time about what makes someone a good leader and almost all of the stories tell you that it is someone who goes out of their way to help their team. While this is certainly a good sentiment, I wonder why every time someone says this is a good leadership trait it seems like ‘new information’ to the public. Anyone who has been a Christian for any amount of time knows that Jesus was loved because he served his fellow disciples and the people with everything he had.In today’s reading, Jesus was dealing with the question when his disciples asked him to make them great in the kingdom. He says: “So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Mark 10:42-45, NLT). It is for this reason that I feel called to give of myself in any way I can to serve my fellow man. I teach because God wants me to and has gifted me as such. I help maintain a huge crop of children from my home because God has enabled me to do so. But don’t be surprised if I am not wearing the ‘hip clothes’ or have the latest TV or computer or phone. I give of myself because that is what we are supposed to do. Anyone who wants to reap blessings must first give up themselves.

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Daily In the Word – March. 6 – Take Care of Your Land

Date: 6 Mar 2018 Comments:0

Here are some thoughts from today’s reading. Everyone who has read any biblical text likely remembers being told about how one’s body is a temple and we must protect our body. Just about a year ago, I realized that much like the temple in Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah, my temple was not being cared for as I should. I was very overweight and had lots of bad habits. I also did not take as good of care of myself as I should. Even though I thought about how I was trying to be healthy for my own sake, I didn’t think about my body being cared for so God could use it but the truth is, we only have one body and it is God’s temple. We have to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually because God walks beside us every day. The Old Testament tells us: “You must not defile the land where you live, for I live there myself. I am the Lord, who lives among the people of Israel.” (Numbers 35:34, NLT). The land you live may be your house, your family, your workplace, or simply your body (God’s temple). Take care of yourself because God takes care of you.

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Daily in the Word – March 5 – The Power to Be Weird

Date: 5 Mar 2018 Comments:0

I have not posted my readings in a while because I got far behind for many reasons. However, I am starting back to my schedule today. When we go through life, especially as Christians, we are going to face incredible odds at times. A Christian often does things that seem crazy, weird, or just plain different. That’s because we follow a God whose resources are infinite, a God whose power is eternal, and a God whose love is endless. It is by this power that Christians do (and usually succeed) these wild things. It’s how my wife and I have the power to manage a family of 7 kids without melting down every minute. It’s how I find the power to serve my fellow men as an ESL teacher and a friend to international people. It’s how the general craziness of my life somehow stays in this weird balance. My reading today talks about this: “John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.” Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9, 38-40, NLT). Furthermore, as life challenges us, Jesus says that we are doing exactly what is expected: “For everyone will be tested with fire. Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again?” (Mark 9:49-50a, NLT). So face those challenges head on my friends! Greater is he that is in us than he who is in this world.

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 19 – The Reward Is Worth The Wait

Date: 19 Feb 2018 Comments:0

I have spoken many times about how much we hate to wait and how I (as Paul says) am ‘the worst of these’. We are so used to instant gratification in modern society that the very concept of not seeing instantaneous results bothers us to no end. But why? Everyone has their own reasons but I think in my case, it’s because while I wait for something to happen, I worry about how it will happen and whether or not it will keep happening after it happens once. For example, if I wait for weeks to hear the results of some test, even if the results are good, I worry that it may not always be good. Or if I have a good thing that happens once and then I have to wait a long time before it happens again, I worry that it won’t happen or will happen in a different way. The truth is, God guides our lives in every detail and he has planned well for what we need. When the Israelites were learning the “Laws of Moses”, God introduced a year called “The Year of Jubilee” that occurs every 50 years (7 years time 7 years and it lasts for a year) where the people were not allowed to do any work for a whole year, they relieved debts and such. People were worried about how they would eat and God cleared that one up: “If you want to live securely in the land, follow my decrees and obey my regulations. Then the land will yield large crops, and you will eat your fill and live securely in it. But you might ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’ Be assured that I will send my blessing for you in the sixth year, so the land will produce a crop large enough for three years.” (Leviticus 25:18-21, NLT). So what does this have to do with your worry? Well… sometimes we may have to wait for a long time to see the results of God’s work (remember, time as we view it does not exist to God) but if we do it right, the results will be massively better than anything else we could ever want.

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Daily In the Word – Feb. 18 – Listen

Date: 19 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Catching up on the second lesson I missed this week. My verse selection was difficult this time because there were a few scriptures that resonated with me. I almost picked a different one but ultimately stuck with what I have. But before I explain what that is, I must give you the preface. There is a very popular song on the Christian radio station Air1 by the artist Micah Tyler called “Different” which talks about many different personality traits that we as Christians should follow to show that we are not like our non-Christian peers. He sings the song in a way that shows that he is singing about his own challenges just as much as he is singing to other believers. The opening line of the song says “I don’t wanna hear any more, teach me to listen. I don’t wanna see anymore, give me the vision.” These are two very human traits – ‘hearing’ where our brain receives the audio signals from elsewhere and we simply move through without thinking deeper; as well as ‘seeing’ – in which our eyes take in visual queues from the world around us and it does what it must to keep us safe but we rarely enjoy the beauty of that moment. As I listen to the terrifying things that have happened in Florida and all over the world, I see people who react in many ways – some are political, some are judgmental, and some try to ‘set the record straight’. I am a habitual ‘record straightener’ and am known for seeing random internet tabloid material such as “enter your pin backwards at the ATM to notify the police” (which does not work by the way) and then blasting out a link to snopes.com to show why that’s not true. In some cases, this is a good thing because people really don’t realize that much of what they read or see is not true (even if partially true). You might think that my verse of the day: “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” (Proverbs 18:13, NLT) is going to be used to directly support this but there’s more to it than that. Sometimes, ‘facts’ are more than just the bits of truth and logic connected to a story. Sometimes, the facts are the emotional reasons behind why someone does something or why something is more important than we might realize. So the next time you are about to spout off your response, listen to what is being said and think of why someone is saying it more than just whether it is right or wrong.

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 17 – Flooding Life With Negativity

Date: 19 Feb 2018 Comments:0

As I am making up my reading from the weekend, I have lots of things to think about. Some are bad and some are good. I look at the great potential each new day brings, I look at the wonderful gift that God gives me every day by giving me a breath in my lungs and a heartbeat. Yet, I can also think of all the bad things. I can think of the problems my children are causing. I can think of my frustrations with whatever is happening at my job. I can think of things like never feeling like we have enough money to stay out of the red. Each day, I have to make the decision about whether to focus on the good or the bad. I have honestly done both in my life, though spent more time focusing on the bad versus the good. However, I think the key is finding a balance. If you only focus on the good stuff going on and don’t try to think of the bad, you come off as the crazy person who is always happy and seems out of touch with life. Likewise, if you spend your entire life focusing on the negative, you become a poisonous person who destroys the happiness in their lives and the lives of others. Unfortunately, once we get started going one way, it’s very hard to go back. This is echoed in Proverbs: “If you repay good with evil, evil will never leave your house. Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:13-14, NLT). Once you start focusing on the negativity, you may find it hard to get back out. The more negative you get the more quarrels you may start. The moral of this story? Strike a balance but err on the side of positive. 

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Daily In The Word – Feb. 16 – Lack of Honey and Self-Control

Date: 16 Feb 2018 Comments:0

Happy Friday! I had a lot of trouble picking the topic to discuss from my reading as there was so much great stuff that appeared in my study today. I ultimately decided to discuss patience but in a way that is slightly different than you might expect. As I have said many times, I am not the most patient person, I will often find myself waving my hand as one of my children stops and starts what they are trying to say. I have learned to follow up with saying something like “Okay, now breathe, think about what you want to say and try again.” Unfortunately, I did not do this with my oldest daughter for many years and now she often finds it hard to talk to me because she’s afraid I will get tired of waiting on her to put her thoughts together. I wish with all I have that I would not have done this when she was just about to reach her teenage years because it is the time when she will need to speak to me the most but may not do so because she’s pre-loaded to expect me to cut her off. Part of my reading warns me about this: “Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24, NLT) and my lack of patience makes my words very unlike honey. Now, we return to patience. I have found that patience, is often an offshoot of self-control and I often felt that if I was impatient with something, it might happen sooner or I will be able to regain control of a situation faster. This, however, is rarely the case. I am learning, to exercise more self-control in my speech and deeds but I fear that it may be too little too late sometimes. Learning to control yourself and be patient with those around you is a key topic that came out of my reading today: “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall” (Proverbs 16:32-33, NLT). No matter how impatient I am and whether or not I see this as good or bad, it does not help me. I must learn to wait on God’s timing and plan so I don’t conquer the wrong city.

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