Posted in Advent, India, tagged Advent, Africa, Child Sponsorship, Christmas, Compassion, Compassion International, Cornerstone Chandler, Experiencing God, extraordinary things, Haiti, Harvest India, Hindu, Hope, India, lepers, prayer, Suresh Kumar, testimony, water wells on December 19, 2012 |
Leave a Comment »
Advent – Day 18
I spent the day at Starbucks today reading a book and a letter that I got from my Compassion child that I sponsor. I have been supporting him since my birthday of 2006 – it was my gift to myself. As I was writing Ladouceur (who is now 11), I was trying to put myself in his shoes in the country of Haiti and what his everyday life is like. This is when I appreciate all the countries I’ve been to and how I’ve seen with my own eyes what poverty-stricken countries go through. Not too long after that, my buddy Kory Kredit posted this video of an India trip I took with him and Cornerstone two years ago. Even though I love the ministry of Harvest India, that was a one time trip for me (unless He calls me back). But it was a trip that came at the perfect time of my life. I saw the power of God and the power of prayer in a country dominated by Hinduism. I was able to share my testimony to hundreds of lepers, dedicate a water well and saw scores of people come to Christ. Harvest India has made a difference in the Kingdom because of prayer. I needed a boost to my faith during that difficult time and I can now look back at that spiritual marker as a source of hope. God has always used my life for extraordinary things and I time and time again forget His faithfulness. I needed to see this video. Later today I got an amazing out-of-the-blue email that just blew me away, but yet not surprising because it is how God works. Watch where God is working and join Him there – Experiencing God. Try not to figure what He is doing and just take a step in faith. As I join in this new partnership, I look forward to sharing this awesome God story as it unfolds. God is working and He loves us enough to ask us to join Him.
2011 Team to India
Hundreds of Indians coming to Christ at a crusade
The leper colony I shared my testimony with
Praying for the people of India
Read Full Post »
Posted in Advent, tagged Advent, Christmas, Christmas songs, Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby, Holiday Music, Jesus Christ, O Holy Night, Silent Night on December 3, 2012 |
Leave a Comment »
I enjoy Christmas music. There are some songs I like, and there are some that are pretty bad. The ones I love the most are the ones that the lyrics reflect the coming of the Christ. “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night” are some of my favorites that really move me. Tonight we were singing songs and I took the time to reflect on the words. What a difference a year makes. God has me in another transition phase of my life. Yet this time, I am following His will. Henry Blackaby says in “Experiencing God” to watch where God is working and join Him there. Well, I’m doing that and I’m not trying to make sense of it – just being obedient. God is leading the way and now it’s clear where He wants me and I’m starting to get a glimpse of this wonderful path He has me on. I’m enjoying this season of Advent and the reminder of how God sent his son to redeem us and this world.
Read Full Post »
In Genesis 16, we see that Sarai gives a slave girl (Hagar) to Abram to bear him a child because she didn’t believe in God’s promise for herself to bear a child. After Hagar gets pregnant, Sarai begins to get jealous and Hagar flees her into the desert. She cries out to the Lord and Jesus appears before her:
And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.” Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” So that well was named El-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”).
El-Roi – the God who hears and sees. I once did a study of the names of God. For me, it helped me get a bigger and broader perspective of who He was. I know during many times of distress, God has come through for me and these names are a reminder of how He is always there for us. Experiencing God has a whole section devoted to the names of God. In fact, earlier this year I had a day that I was really hurting and just couldn’t get myself out of bed. In that moment, I got an email from Tom Blackaby telling me he was praying for me and my kids. Now he isn’t an angel, but at the time that email was a huge source of encouragement and enough for me to acknowledge that God was with me in that moment (Tom is a Pastor and the President of the Experiencing God network and had been following my blog). I now call him my friend.
So we can rest and know God is always with us and that he listens to our prayers and feels our pain. These different names are a reflection of how amazing He is.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
Read Full Post »
I have made a new friend recently through the Christian network. Dr. Tom Blackaby serves as the Director of International Ministries for Blackaby Ministries International. He also once served as senior pastor of North Sea Baptist Church in Stavanger, Norway and is also a writer and a musician. His father Henry Blackaby wrote an incredible book called Experiencing God. When I was in the middle of the Experiencing God study, Tom reached out to me when he heard my story and we offered to pray for each other. We have been corresponding via social media since. He is a wonderful man and father and I look forward to meeting him someday.
Read Full Post »
I have been doing this Experiencing God study for 4 weeks now. I started this study over a year ago and was pretty committed to it for a few weeks. Then life got hard and the devotions I did weren’t consistent. I would do a devotion maybe once a week. Today’s devotion is the last one I did before I quit doing Experiencing God altogether over a year ago. I remember that period of my life. Life was getting rough and I was taking hold of the reigns on my own. I quit trusting God was sovereign over my trials. As I look at today’s devotion, I was convicted by what it was about and what I probably struggled with back then - Loving God. My time with God is very intimate right now and I look forward to going through this whole study as it has enriched my life so much. It has revealed so much of my heart issues and how I view God. I am thankful He continues to initiate His love for me so I can respond in obedience and in love.
Your relationship with God right now reveals what you believe about Him. It is spiritually impossible for you to truly believe one way and practice another. If you really believe God is love, you will also accept the fact that His will is always best for you. By nature God is omniscient – all-knowing. He has all the knowledge – past, present, and future. Nothing is outside His knowledge. Whenever God expresses Himself to you, therefore, His directions are always trustworthy.
If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem.
(Big Ouch on this one. Very convicting…)
Read Full Post »
Posted in Adoption/Foster Care, Missional Community, Small group, tagged CCEF, Community, Cornerstone, cosmos, Experiencing God, glory, God, Gospel, growth, Missio Dei on January 29, 2012 |
Leave a Comment »
I only know a few people in this Experiencing God small group (I would hardly call 25 people small..) that I am in. But tonight I shared my testimony with them so they could get to know me. A lot of them go to Cornerstone and to meet someone who had Pastor Linn as a youth Pastor and then to also meet someone who was a part of the beginning days of the church was interesting to them. They of course had lots of questions for me. For me, it was a time of reflection of my roller coaster life. Not that it has been bad, but I can see where God has always been present and how he has always been calling me back to him all throughout my life.
This week’s study has been focused on joining God where he is working and to be a servant for him. For me, I have always interpreted that as a service project or an event, etc. I have had so many opportunities that have come my way lately that I could easily jump on board with. I have been very careful about not keeping myself too busy or ignore where I am at in life. So I just commit to pray about each opportunity and to make sure it is part of Gods plan. Other than be father to my kids, God keeps telling me to be still. He doesn’t mean to just sit and do nothing, but to really take the time and build my relationship with him. I know it is because he is molding me for something bigger and better in my life. I have experienced things the past six years that only I can attribute to God, but I truly feel he has something even bigger than my puny brain can ever come up with. My relationship with the Lord is so rich right now, I can’t ever imagine walking away from it.
God has taught me so much about his sovereignty and the power of prayer. I always find myself in situations where I want to control my environment. But I am in a place right now that I know praying is more than enough for God to do his work and I don’t have to anything more. It takes the power out of my hands and teaches me to trust God. Last year, I left my last church looking for community to apply the gospel to my life. At that church, my life was mainly about me and my accomplishments (not to say there wasn’t good things.. but this was my idolatry issue there). There are a lot of people who like to pat themselves on the back there and I got caught up with that. I have learned the importance of community at my current church and I now have that and it has become a big part of my life. But now God is teaching me another part of the gospel – the cosmic part of it. This is the part where we look at all creation and trust God is in charge and that he is at work. This is huge because we all want to do things our way because our faith and trust in God is weak. This is where in my Experiencing God study that I feel God is wanting me to look at and join with him.
At church today they nominated Mark Durban to be a deacon. You know, Mark has stuck to me like glue these past few months. I have had many great mentors (I can’t tell you how important having older wiser people in your life is for growth. You will never get that from younger people or people your age), but Mark seeks me out each week to see how I am doing. My last counselor was great and he helped me with a lot of things. But what I have learned is counseling is a process that process needs to keep going, even when things are great. Mark has been counseling me each week for the past few months with the material from CCEF. This stuff is so rich with the gospel and is truly material for life long change. I have taken some courses myself, but to have is applied has been amazing. I’m not going to lie to you, I fought God long and hard my first month of counseling. Our tendency is to finger-point, blame everyone for our problems and simply to avoid them all together (I hate it when I fall into this trap). It is such an exhausting way to live and one will simply carry those burdens their whole life and look to quick fixes to get by. True change doesn’t even begin until you have a desire to change first and that you are willing only to look at yourself and your own heart issues and not anyone elses. We spent a lot of time re-visiting my childhood and I did not like seeing myself as that scared little boy in the corner watching my parents fight and my father abusing me. Or being picked on in school or going through divorce. But after a few weeks, I finally gave in and repented my crap to God and I have experienced so much freedom since. I quit blaming all these people and circumstances for who I am today and remembered who I was in Christ. Just learning about the gospel and my need for a Savior has so enriched my life. I have never had this much peace in my heart and I feel the changes going on in me will be life long changes. I am so thankful for Mark, my church, my MC and the scores of support from friends for their commitment to me and the changes God is doing.
So today the plan is to be still and allow God to mold me. I’m growing, learning and I love my life! I am so thankful I am choosing to go through the fire and trusting God as I face my problems and not side-step or hide from them. God has something huge in store and I want to be ready for it. And the glory part of it comes with how he used this broken guy who loves Jesus for his purposes.
Read Full Post »
I took my youngest son to Jr High orientation tonight and I realized that I have 6 more years till he is 18. The clock is dwindling down to when I will be an empty nester (even though I know my kids will probably live with me well into their 20′s – haha. Then I charge rent!). This didn’t make me sad, but it made me think how amazing God is and how powerful prayer is. The past 2 years have been such a difficult time for both my kids and I have praying that God would provide the help I need with my trials as a single dad. I have been listening to this podcast by Louie Giglio called “Unusual” and how God works in unusual ways. When he says unusual, he means out of the ordinary. He says that our lives should be about revelation and not information. Paul spent his whole life studying the Word of God, but it wasn’t till Christ’s revelation to him that his life was radically changed. Louie says we need to go through our trials even though they may be unusual (not the way we envisioned them) and not side-step them because it is through trusting God that his glory gets revealed and true growth and change happen in our lives.
I had dinner with my oldest son tonight. We had a fun night of talking about our Experiencing God study, girls, sports and his future. He has been doing so well. I love walking by his room and seeing him with his school books out and studying. He has really been working hard at school now that he has ditched the video games. He told me tonight he now wants to look into photography. I guess I am either rubbing off on him or he knows that all the girls take photo class. I know I’m one of few guys in my class at Chandler-Gilbert. But overall, I’m just enjoying the blessing of having peace in my home and seeing so much growth in all of us. The Experiencing God study has been huge in all this and I have been living my life day-by-day for Christ. I broke down and prayed that difficult night in the summer of ’10 for God to provide help for me as a single dad because my back was against the wall and things felt hopeless. Now I am seeing that prayer being answered and I’m trusting God’s unusual ways of doing things for his glory.
Read Full Post »
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
This comes from Day 1 of Experiencing God. Tonight was the first night of our small group (over 25 people – praise God!). I am excited to go through this workbook as I feel this study is perfect for this period of my life. Both my boys are doing the same study in their groups too. Last week I started reading Galatians to deepen my understanding of God’s Grace. I have been following along with Redemption church’s study guide and also been attending here and there to listen to the messages. My home church is studying the book of Hebrews for the year starting next week and we are going through the gospel of John in my men’s study group. I’m really excited to draw closer to God in my walk with these studies and to see what exciting things God has in store for me.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Small group, Spiritual Growth, tagged blessings, Courage, Courageous, Experiencing God, father, husband, Relationships, Small group, Spiritual Growth on January 18, 2012 |
Leave a Comment »
Tonight I watched the movie “Courageous“. Sometimes these faith-based films can be a little cheesy, but they carry a powerful message. “Fireproof” and “Soul Surfer” were great movies too. I have had several men tell me I should see this movie. It’s about four law enforcement officers going through some tough trials in their family. They end up putting their faith in God and he works through all them despite their shortcomings. It really hit me hard as a man because I carry the responsibility to be the leader of my family. I have failed in so many ways over the years in this. I’m thankful to God that he continues to stick with me and work in me to grow stronger in this area.
I have been praying a lot lately to be a better example to my family. I pray every morning for an opportunity to be a better man and husband to my wife. But for now, I can be an example to my kids. Both of my kids have really got involved with their discipleship groups. I am blessed that they both have good Godly men leading their groups. Cornerstone is doing this church-wide study of Experiencing God. I started this study awhile back and never finished it. A small group contacted me and asked me to join them in their study and I have decided to do so knowing my kids will be doing the study in their own group. I have been praying for an opportunity to step up and lead my own kids in devotions. So we are going to spend each week discussing what we are learning in our groups together. I loved sitting down with Ty tonight and helping him look up verses in his Bible for his homework. I have spent so much time trying to find the courage to be a Godly example to my kids and now he had blessed me with that. God is working in my family – He is so amazing!
Read Full Post »