DITW – Trust In You – May 3, 2018

Date: 3 May 2018 Comments:0

For today’s reading, I ended up picking a verse that I have heard many times and honestly couldn’t remember where it originated. I do remember my friend and ESL manager Richard Collins would add it to every prayer I ever heard him say. In the middle of seeing a tornado outbreak, watching my children growing up even though half of them are still in OK, dealing with the various phases of anxiety that I have been touched with, it’s nice to read some warm and comforting words from Abba who will always accept me despite my faults. I may not see what is happening yet, but the Lord of all creation sees it and that should be enough as his word states: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)

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DITW – The Purpose of Trials – May 2, 2018

Date: 2 May 2018 Comments:0

I have probably made you all crazy with my somewhat sad posts as of late and I’m sorry. I’m not trying to depress you, I’m just sharing what is in my heart. If it ever becomes too much, just skip my posts for a bit. 🙂 However, today I hope to bring some positive words from my reading. In all of the challenges that I have faced in the recent months, I see them as trials. For God’s word says that we will be refined through fire and testing (1 Peter 1:7) but what is the purpose of it all?

When Jesus had just finished his famous Last Supper speech about the blood and the wine, something most Christians can recite by memory (especially Baptists and Methodists), he also talked about being betrayed and how no disciple would ever be first if they did not serve their fellow man. Finally, at the end, he says these words: “You stayed with me in my time of trial. And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30, NLT).

So amidst all this suffering and challenges, I feel that I am continually learning to be strong in trials and leaning on God to give me the strength where mine runs out. As God’s word says, eventually this will become a blessing as I have stood by Jesus through my own trials and still depended on him. Remember to lift your hands to Heaven when you feel your strength has run out, because that’s where God’s strength in you begins.

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DITW – What’s Really Important? – April 27

Date: 27 Apr 2018 Comments:0

When I look around this new city I am in, I see a great amount of wealth and materialism. Half the houses in this area look like mini-mansions. As I drive my daughter to school in my beat up Honda Pilot, I am in line behind Range Rovers and Lexus SUVs. When I look at this, I can’t imagine what someone who doesn’t know about my family or my life must think of my crazy life. I’ve never been one to care too much about material things, I’ve always been more interested in experiences and life changes.

In fact, one of my friends came to visit my house once and said “Hmm… I thought you’d have a bigger TV” as they looked at my 48″ screen. Sure, I COULD spend money on that but it would not offer much in the way of future value beyond giving my kids yet another fancy distraction.

Upon reading my bible study for today, I am taken to a section of Proverbs that seems to explain this: “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.” (Proverbs 27:23-24, NLT).

Of course, I don’t have herds of animals… I only have one dog and he’s so old that he’s scarcely more than a rug I have to feed. But I do have a herd of children that, by the most insane set of circumstances, God has entrusted to my (albeit unworthy) hand. I focus on spending time with them and growing their hearts and minds. Our house could be destroyed tomorrow and it would be sad, but my kids would be happy because they still have their parents. That’s what we should focus on, not materials or riches.

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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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