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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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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