Archive from June, 2012
Jun 30, 2012 - Our Story    1 Comment

This is Only a Test

We go through life knowing so little about the “why, when, and what” of things that happen in our lives, that it becomes human nature to be discouraged or feel lost when we enter tragedy. Wouldn’t it be great if when affliction entered our life we would hear from above “Relax, this is a test of your emergency faith system, it is only a test. If this were an actual emergency it would be followed by my instruction“. All too many times we plead out for understanding and try to find all sorts of ways to escape the situation, angry or frustrated as to why something happened, we demand an explanation. “Why did this happen to me?

I have heard so many verses of faith this week along with other sermons that speak to going through trials and suffering in your life. The first that speaks to my heart is from Romans 5:3-4 “ And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.” This verse speaks closely to Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be joy revealed in us.” To boil down the last two weeks of what God has spoke into my heart. If you have faith, that ALL good and perfect things come from above, that is all things come through Christ hands…then you must also find hope in your situation—no matter what it is—that this thing your going through is from Christ.

I’ve spoke to this on our blog before, that God is your heavenly Father, and that sometimes the Lord chastises us to teach us something, to reveal something greater in our lives, for which our current human understanding can’t compute. He is treating us as a Father, he disciplines us out of love.  Steven Furtick tweeted earlier this week “God sometimes employs human disappointment to shape a void He intends to fill with HIMSELF.” I have also heard many talks lately about how God allows troubles in our lives so we can draw nearer to him and find him. I have heard the saying many times “God, drove me to my knees” Hebrews 12:6-8 says “for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives.  Endure [suffering] as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?  But if you are without discipline-which all receive-then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” I heard a talk on prayer yesterday that said “if you haven’t gone through suffering” then you need to check your positioning with Christ. No where in the Bible does it state that our lives will be peachy-keen. It does state that God will walk with us through those trials. I have heard many say that they have “never felt closer to God” than these moments in their lives. He doesn’t allow bad things in our lives to discourage us, beat us down, and destroy us. He allows suffering to draw us close, so that we would find sufficient Grace in him, and to take us to a better place in our lives. I have spent 19+ months stumbling along the way to figure this out, but it is becoming clearer to me.

I smile this morning from ear to ear, because we found out last evening that we are #1 on the siblings list and #19 on the girls list. We have spent 19+ months enduring and suffering some of the hardest days of our lives. This doesn’t count the years of infertility treatments that prefaced our adoption and the months building up to getting on the official list. I can not declare that our journey is over, only God knows that in his perfect timing. What I can declare is that I feel in a much better place in my life because of the suffering I have endured. I have never felt closer to our Father, and I have drawn closer to him through this. It’s one of those things you see in the Bible like that takes sometimes to understand… 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” This verse is amazing.  I truly feel I wouldn’t change a step of the path that we have taken for this very reason above. Thank you to so many that have continued to pray for us and comfort us along the way. It has truly meant the world to know that we have so many on our side, and its been truly amazing to see the Power of Christ work over the last 3 years in his perfect timing.

Jun 16, 2012 - Other    1 Comment

Our Father Who Art In Heaven

Friday evening I attended a simulcast event at our church entitled, Men of Honor. It was sponsored by Lifeway, the team that produced the movie Courageous. It was attended by approximately 60 men in our fellowship, with over 100,000 viewing around the world who each took a step in faith to learn how God has instructed us to be better men. This includes better fathers, husbands, and leaders in a world today that is crumbling right before our eyes.

Today’s world is filled with free advice. Everyone has an opinion and is just waiting for an opportunity to share it. Our culture is looking for a fast fix, a quick tip, a 5-step plan, or a 30-minute meal. With an emphasis on level of ease and speed of delivery we don’t have time for a laborious process to accomplish our goals. It seems that the famous phrase, “slow and steady wins the race” is quickly becoming extinct in the minds of the masses. Naturally, I went into this simulcast hoping that there would be a formula for being a great man, some exciting new method that would be revealed, a checklist that would provide an outline for my family and my marriage. What was revealed in the two-hour event was something that is simple—yet difficult. Something that has been handed down for generations, but somewhere along the way has become lost in complacency of our world.

The men in the movie, Courageous, for those who have watched, offer a form of supernatural feeling that leaves you saying, “Wow, these are great men—but is it a movie or a documentary?“. Is it really possible to live your life in such a way that you could model after these men to instill such great values in your family as they did? What was interesting about the simulcast is that it involved these same men. The actors revealed their own special testimonies and life stories and their own current struggles and success at being “men of honor”. When listening to their message you quickly learn the method to their madness comes down to one simple thing—Jesus. They reveal that the two most important aspects of their success is daily prayer and daily time in God’s word. God has already revealed what it takes to be a great Father, he has given us a model through his son Jesus, and he has called each of us to model that relationship into our own.

Simple! Right? We’ll YES and NO. God has been sharing some pretty good advice with me lately, and the first is that Nobody Is Perfect. During the round-table discussion, the men revealed their life’s struggles. They worked to break down the exterior facade from the movie to reveal that they are just ordinary guys. God loves ordinary guys. You can look to Acts 4:13 NLT for an example:

The members of the council were amazed when 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.

It doesn’t take a perfect man to be a good father or husband, it takes a willing man to evaluate himself and see in what areas he could improve. This is being courageous. He has provided us the perfect example to strive for, knowing that we’ll never get there to a full 100%, but that we should live everyday to our fullest.

For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity – Proverbs 24:16

God has also revealed to me that It’s Okay to Be Weird. For many of you that know me—you may be thinking, he must have revealed that to you a long time ago—well HaHa, seriously hear me out. As mentioned above, our culture and our world is shifting away from God on a daily basis. The days that inspired our forefathers to in part “In God We Trust” on our very currency is quickly drying up and being put in a box. God is being stripped from our culture piece by piece and soon there will come a day when being a Christian will become more and more frowned upon and seen as Weird. It is time to ask ourselves a question about today’s culture that my father used to ask me “How’s that workin’ out for ya?” Is today’s culture something to strive for? When 46% of Americas marriages end in divorce and 43% of children live without their father. Is striving everyday to be the best father and husband that you can be becoming weird? If that’s the case—don’t you want to be weird?

The other item that God has been pushing me on is Daily Prayer and Daily Word. Going through the adoption journey can be a long process that sometimes leaves you feeling tired and lonely. If you’re not careful it can drive you away from God at times leaving you wonder, is God not listening to me? Doesn’t he hear my cry? What daily prayer and daily scripture has revealed to me over the past 19 months is that God is listening, he’s not only listening—he’s acting. He has a very special plan for Heidi and me and wants to reveal it. Through prayer and scripture that puzzle is beginning to take shape, but it requires daily attention. This part is a little more difficult than just stirring our emotions to accept past failures and striving to be weird. It requires real work, real time, real dedication and more than emotion, its physical action.

You may say—I don’t have time for that? Quick question—how long did it take you to read this post up until this point? 2 minutes? 5 minutes? I don’t mean to call you out—and trust me—I’m not perfect! I’ll be the first to admit that praying daily and reading daily is laborious. I slip up, I skip days, but I challenge myself to come back. When I do, I find it so rewarding. To counteract myself, I put things in place to help me each day. I have signed up for a daily email blast of scripture, do I open it each day? No. But I do more days than not. I have a prayer App on my iPod that nudges me gently each day to bow my head? Do I sometimes ignore it? Sure. But it helps to remind me on most days. I changed the first preset on my radio dial to a Chistian station, do I sometimes tune out? Of course, but it’s on my dial and I find myself more often coming back and tuning in. Most importantly, I have Heidi. We lean on each other so heavily these days to keep from falling down. We were blessed to be provided a devotional a few months ago that we work each evening at getting through before we go to bed. Are there nights that we’re both tired from the day and barely make it through the prayer? You bet. However the nights that the devotional really speaks to us and we have an amazing prayer time with God are the absolute best and give us new spark to stay faithful, continue to believe, and to strive to renew our hearts the next day.

You might also say—Well that sounds great, but I’m no good at prayer. I don’t know what to say. God has already prepared for that as well. If you grew up in church, you have heard the Lord’s Prayer a thousands times. Whether it’s trespassers or debtors, the Lord gave his ordinary men a simple prayer to use as a basis for their own personal prayers. If you have heard it or not watch below this simple, yet awesome video.

It’s a great starting place. I was convicted in complacency after watching this, and hope that it moves me to really thinking about it as I say it this Sunday.

I hope that you have made it this far, and I apologize for such a long post. I hope that this Father’s Day you will challenge yourself to renew the relationship with your Father. It is only then, that you can begin to become a better father to your children, a better husband to your wife, and a better friend and co-worker to those in your life. There is no simple plan, no quick fix, no checklist. It will take work, it will take labor, it will take courage. Along the way you slip up, this is where you will need to remember that nobody is perfect. You will meet opposition, and will need to remember that it’s okay to be weird. Finally, you will need encouragement and instruction, and this is where the most important part of daily prayer and daily word will come in to provide you the courage to press on.

I will continue to pray steadfast that God will grant me the opportunity soon to be the best father I can be. In the meantime I will strive to be the best husband, the best friend, and the best co-worker and will work to strengthen my relationship in Christ each day.

Happy Father’s Day & God Bless!

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. -Ephesians 6:4