DITW – Boldness Overcomes Foolishness – June 18, 2018

Date: 18 Jun 2018 Comments:0

In my career, I have found many folks that seem very bold and powerful in a group of their peers. They seem responsible and powerful and their comrades trust their words. However, as time goes by, if they are cross-examined by people with knowledge in their careers, it’s easy to see them shut down in the right situation. That is to say that we sometimes find power and boldness among our friends and peers but when we have no support, we must be able to defend our desires or decisions with true facts, not just a ‘cult of personality’. The same thing occurred to the priests of the Sanhedrin, those who were mostly responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus when they encountered Peter and John in Acts and I drew upon it for most of my reading today: “The members of the council were amazed whey they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13, NLT). This happened just after Peter healed the man at the Beautiful Gate as I referenced in my previous post. But when the Sanhedrin told Peter and John to ‘cease and desist.’ The men who had ‘been with Jesus’ were not afraid to shut them down. “But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20, NLT). In this case, the Sanhedrin were wise among their peers but when faced with the hard facts, their foolishness was overcome with the boldness of two apostles. How often in our lives, do we face challenges to our beliefs from those who are hostile to the Gospel and sometimes we let their jeers and aggression as a group make us afraid to speak what we truly believe. But those who deny that which is in Jesus, are foolish and will try to shut you down but you must be bold because the Scripture tells us to always support our truth with facts: “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” (Proverbs 18:13, NLT). We have a power that is often misunderstood and we can be ‘bullied’ out of standing up but that’s not what Peter did and we should learn to follow his lead because God’s boldness will stand against the foolishness of others.

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DITW – Power from Above – 6/17/18

Date: 18 Jun 2018 Comments:0

On Father’s Day, it is a day that brings mixed thoughts to people. For some, they have memories of an angry or distant father who could barely support the family. Some remember a father that could support their family but destroyed them mentally (and sometimes physically or emotionally). The stories about fathers who are good to their children are the ones that so few people talk about. In fact, as I listened to Air 1 while I got ready for church, the “Verse of the Day” came on and talked about how good our Heavenly Father is but then the speaker said something to the effect of: “So, even if you have a bad relationship with your father, like many do, your Heavenly Father is the best one of all.” This came, to me, as a sharp contrast when I remember the message about Mother’s Day only a month prior. It was about how mothers will always care for you and take care of you and that God appointed mothers to carry their children through life. The dichotomy of this spellbound me. How on earth can a father in this modern era even stand a chance of being a “good father” when even Christian media insults them on the very day they were supposed to be remembered? I have made my mistakes as a dad and I am not ashamed to admit it. I’m not proud of it, but at least I’m honest. Yet in all of these things, I still strive to do my best as a dad for my children and I hope I do a better job most of the time than the media leads on. Yet even among these things, I still find that the best way to accomplish that feat is to tap into the power of God from above. What I think happens to most men who are deemed ‘bad fathers’ is that they don’t draw from Heaven enough. If you ever need a reminder of just how powerful our God is, my reading for Father’s Day depicted it well in Nehemiah and in Acts. “You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of Heaven worship you.” (Nehemiah 9:6, NLT). That description alone, though it only describes one aspect  of God still shows you how perfect his order is in this world and has power beyond all measure. In the New Testament, when Peter had just healed the beggar at the Beautiful Gate, he took the opportunity to speak to the amazed onlookers. “Peter saw this opportunity and addressed the crowed. ‘People of Israel,’ he said, ‘what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power and godliness? For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the God of all our ancestors – who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him.” (Acts 3:12-13, NLT). The same God who Nehemiah recounts that literally keeps the entire world in motion and who is worshiped by the angels themselves, is the same God who Peter called upon to heal the beggar. If fathers prayed more and fought their battles on their knees, I think we’d see far less of these ‘bad father’ media depictions. So, I continue to strive to be a praying father and I hope that other fathers in this world do the same. Maybe someday we can change the negative media appearance of fathers into one worthy of the same positive messages as mothers.

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DITW – Praying Without Expecting – June 15, 2018

Date: 15 Jun 2018 Comments:0

I have talked about the power of prayer many times among my friends, small groups, children, etc. Yet, I still get frustrated when I don’t see things going my way, even though I don’t always pray over things like I should. It’s this bizarre dichotomy of knowing the awesome things that can happen with answered prayers but also with the prayers that don’t get answered seeming to let me down. Well, in my reading today, I got to look at the awesome prayer power of Nehemiah. I’d honestly forgotten the prayer he made but it basically shows that he went into the prayer knowing that God would answer… “O Lord, God of Heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people of Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.” (Nehemiah 1:5-7, NLT). The reality is that I think of all the bad things I have done recently, no matter how minor and feel like God won’t listen because I’m not admitting my sin. But no matter what we have done, God already knows so it’s sillyfor us to worry about that. “Even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from the Lord. How much more does he know the human heart!” (Proverbs 15:11, NLT). So, I need to remember, ask for that forgiveness and still ask my prayer because God is listening.

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DITW – Dealing with Criticism – June 13, 2018

Date: 13 Jun 2018 Comments:0

If I were to be honest, one of my biggest challenges when I was a young man was my inability to accept criticism, even if it was constructive. As I have grown older, I would like to think that I am doing better at this, though I don’t know if my friends or family would want to tell me nowadays given how I would lash out. However, it is wise to accept the council that trusted people give you as it helps you improve. In my professional career, I have focused considerable energy on team-focused work where I am but a part of a team of people who must all agree in order to succeed. Likewise, as I have learned new things, I have tried to accept the feedback from others without lashing out when it is offered. Not only are these good things to do as a person but they are also biblical. In my reading today, I found the readings from Proverbs most useful. Proverbs 13:18 says “If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.” (NLT). So the wisest sayings in the bible suggest that we learn to accept criticism even if we don’t like it. But what about if someone gives us tough words that hurt our feelings or make us angry in an attempt to help? It’s still wise to keep your tongue: “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” (Proverbs 13:3, NLT). So keep accepting criticism and make sure to be cool headed in how you respond to it if you want to succeed.

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DITW – We’re All Doubting Thomases Sometimes – June 12, 2018

Date: 12 Jun 2018 Comments:0

When life is going well, it’s easy for us to be happy and adjusted. However, when a true trouble comes our way, we tend to lose our nerve or break down quicker. I am not immune to this and would never claim to be. Yet, as a Christian, we must learn to trust that which cannot be seen because the Holy Spirit moves in ways that our eyes and perception can scarcely realize, at least at the time. We want to say that we believe in God at all times but is it really that easy? It wasn’t for Thomas! Today in my reading, I found myself agreeing with Thomas at times because I want to see that God is doing something and when I can’t see it, it drives me crazy. In John, we read about the famous ‘doubting Thomas’: “One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ but he replied: I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” (John 20:24-25, NLT). How many times do we do this? How many times do I do this? Say “God! I believe you love me unconditionally but I don’t trust you right now because I can’t see what you’re doing!” I am guilty of this more often than I can even count. I say I trust Him but keep wanting proof of his love. Of course, as the story goes, Jesus eventually does reveal himself to Thomas and he realizes how foolish he was to doubt it. One part that we often overlook though, is Jesus’s words about those who have never seen him in the flesh (namely every living person in the world today). “Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me!’ (John 20:29, NLT). The bottom line is that it’s not unusual to question God’s direction sometimes. What is important is that we don’t worry so much about the proof that we fail to see the power at work in our lives.

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DITW – Being Cruel will Never Be Kind – June 11, 2018

Date: 11 Jun 2018 Comments:0

Been a while, of course, since I posted some of my reading thoughts. I am working on being more disciplined. In fact, it is part of the reason that I am choosing to post this particular reading, because it makes me quite vulnerable. The truth is, I am not the best father some days. I am not the most positive father to my children sometimes. It’s most obvious with my teenage daughter since she’s been around me the longest of all our kids, she’s saying things and doing things as a teenager that are not very positive. When I finally dig through it, she often says something to the effect of “Where do you think I learned it from?” and my heartbeat freezes for a minute because she’s probably right in some of those instances. I am learning that children can sometimes be a mirror of your best (and worst) traits, even if they are not your biological children. I have to hold my chest and think about what kind of people I am eventually going to release into the world and the reality is painful sometimes. In my reading, I came across these words in Proverbs: “Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you. Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last.” (Proverbs: 11:17-18, NLT). So in the areas of my life where I am kind and teach kindness (I hope to be at least 30-45% of my life) it has some positive effect but when I am being cruel or uncaring towards my children (10% of the time depending on how you look at it), it is slowly eating away. I don’t want to produce evil people with riches, but to train my children in positive ways that will bring richness to the world around them. Unfortunately, I am not too good at this sometimes. But I have no choice but to do as much as possible to turn the tide. I may have 10-12 years with my youngest kids, but with my oldest I have 5-8 years and that’s scary. I hope my other father friends will keep this close to their heart as well,

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DITW – Fighting Alone – June 4, 2018

Date: 4 Jun 2018 Comments:0

It’s been some time since I posted about my readings, I’m trying to keep up with them but life happens. I just recently posted about how I am starting to see the blessings in my KC life since things are starting to settle down and the family is all together now. However, there was a time when I was not doing well at trying to maintain. I couldn’t see why something was happening nor could I see how I was going to overcome some of the giants in my path. I kept thinking.. ‘Wasn’t this easier for me to do before? If so, why is it harder now?’ The reality of it has been pushed back to my heart from this reading. These battles have been harder because I keep forgetting the power that I have in the Holy Spirit. The battles I face are not mine to fight alone. When Jesus was preparing to be crucified, he told his disciples this critical piece of information: “And I will ask the father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans – I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18, NLT). If you feel like your battles are too hard, ask yourself why you are fighting alone,

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State of My World

Date: 29 May 2018 Comments:0

For any of my readers that are not yet aware, I have made a major life change recently. As of March 2018, I took a job 5 hours north of my home in Oklahoma and uprooted the family. It was not an easy decision, but I felt that it was warranted. Simply put, we had grown so comfortable and complacent in our lives that things had grown stale. I was offered a job that would pay me a considerable amount more than what I made when I lived in Oklahoma with potential to earn a lot more. I took the two oldest children with me while my wife kept the other three and our exchange students so they could finish out the school year. This weekend was the first time that our family was officially reunified with no need to return (other than to visit friends) to Oklahoma. It was both a joy and a stress.

There is no doubt in my mind that God has placed me here to test my faith. If you followed the tone of my DITW posts, you would see how God has been building me and how I’ve been defecting as a human is wont to do to their king from time to time. I am still building new roots in this new place and learning to live life in a different way. We have found a good church that seems to be strong and supportive of our needs with solid spiritual underpinnings and a push to serve our fellow man. I’m not teaching ESL anywhere at the moment and although I plan on doing so eventually, now is not that time. I also completed teaching Spring B 2018 at Liberty and am taking a break there too.

So you ask… why? Why would you stop teaching since God has gifted you with this? Well, because my gifts are best suited for use when I am spiritually centered and that is not the place I am in right now. The first leg of this journey came to an end but the scars and the self realizations I had while on that journey have shown me that I still have a long way to go. I can see the light at the end of this tunnel, but it still seems that I have many miles to go before I get there. Furthermore, I found that when I was in the midst of teaching both professionally and as a mission, combined with the trials of every day work at my main job, caused me to be less connected and present with my family. I never intended it to be this way but that is what happened. Also, the cost of living versus income in my old job had flipped. I found that if I did not work both jobs, we simply could not support the lifestyle we had. Now, with the new income, I believe that we can finally live with my income once the financial costs of trying to maintain two residences subsides. So, why dedicate the time if I don’t need the money? That’s my approach.

What’s next? Ah! That is a question that I do not know how to answer. I will continue to maintain my blogs and post DITW and other things as I’m so inclined. I also will continue to devote many hours to unpacking and reassembling the life that we brought from Oklahoma. Suffice to say, 90% of my house is still in boxes and when I was teaching, being a single dad (figuratively speaking), working full time and trying to maintain life, I simply could not exert the energy to unpack it all. This weekend I was able to unpack many of my books and return them to the shelves in my new office and studio space in the basement. This is the first time I have actually unpacked my books since we moved from our smaller house in SW OKC to the bigger house in rural OKC. We simply didn’t have the dedicated office space to support it so I didn’t do it. Now, I have the space.

Even better, my wife will get to have an office space of her own (albeit, still shared with me) and a studio space for her to work on her art. This is ones of the selfish pleasures my otherwise 100% selfless wife enjoys. With being a SAHM, a small business owner, and the master coordinator in our house, she has had to put her desires to the side. Now, she sees the possibility of finally getting to have her own decompression space. I owe that to her. I just have to unpack it first.

So for now, as Stephen King’s book “The Gunslinger” states: “the world moves on”. I am trying to open myself to new and interesting ways that God can use me. Then, as Natasha Bedingfield’s popular song says “The rest is unwritten.” God bless!

DITW – Light and Wisdom Among Darkness – May 9, 2018

Date: 9 May 2018 Comments:0

With much joy and simple satisfaction, I got to watch my daugther perform with her school choir, her first show as a full teenager. Her awesome nanny helped her get her hair super straight and it was amazing to see how grown up she looked.

As I watched her and saw her joy in the singing of these tunes, I was awash with wondering what kind of person she will one day become. It quickly dawned on me that no matter what I do, no matter how much I strive to help her as a father, God will be the one who ultimately guides her steps. Some days her mouth drives me crazy and I can’t believe she would say what she says, other days, she performs music with a smile and grace in front of the stage even when her classmate faints (this was real).

Today I read my verses and I am brought to an insightful passage in Proverbs. “So don’t bother correcting mockers, they will only hate you. But correct the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous and they will learn even more.” (Proverbs 9:8-9, NLT). When my daughter becomes an adult and I can see the way God grows her, I pray that she will be wiser than her peers and that she will not continue to let people get under her skin. I have learned in life that it is never wise to fight fire with fire so I pray that I teach my daughter and all my children that as they go about their lives.

But can a blind man truly lead the blind? Probably not, but I carry a light in me that I try to show everywhere, the light of Christ. I hope Christ’s light will shine through to my children even though I may be a dirty lamp shade at times. “The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into this world.” (John 1:9, NLT).

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DITW – Lest We Forget – May 7, 2018

Date: 7 May 2018 Comments:0

Today brought a great positive in the midst of fear and worry. My wife and I are set to close on the sale of our house in Noble this week. Because our house appraised lower than we thought, we ended up having to bring over $2200 to closing out of our own pocket. Despite our attempts to keep things going, we just didn’t have the funds ready for that. It all hinged on us getting a specific deposit earlier than we expected but we were not sure if it would happen so we were both sweating bullets.

I looked today and found that the money is already there, a few days ahead of closing so we should be good. As this is all going on, I was doing my reading for today and it brought out a salient point… it’s easy for us to forget what God has done for us in the past when we face opposition in our lives. Yet, in those moments, we most need to lean on God to deliver just as he has before. In the situation that I just described, that is exactly what God did.

Forgetting what God has done is a common theme in the bible. Every time Israel starts to forget about God’s providence, something terrible happens and then the Israelites have to find their way back to God. The same thing happens with early followers of Jesus… think back to the road to Emmaus. The two men were downcast and sad because of Jesus’s passing and then Jesus appeared right there with them. They lament about the loss of Jesus (not realizing it is him) and then Jesus exclaims : “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26, NLT).

The prophets had this AMAZING ability to show God’s work and message because they never forgot what God did for them. For instance, one of my heroes of faith has always been Elijah. He didn’t forget how God brought fire from Heaven to beat the servants of Baal (1 Kings 18:38). Later on, when Elijah was being threatened by servants of the evil king Ahaziah to come down from a hill and he called down fire TWO times and burned up 50 men each time before they finally realized that he would do it a third time if they didn’t quit. (2 Kings 2: 9-13). Elijah never doubted that God would come through for him. If we could only remember all the times God “called fire from Heaven” for us (Whatever that might look like in our lives), we’d be less worried about these little fears that we run into.

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