Faith – Be Adventurous

Dad’s Word:

The pieces will never line up perfectly. You won’t ever be “ready.” You may not have the financial ability to do something. It may never look like things are going to work out, but sometimes we’ve got to step out in faith anyway. According to Scripture, we are saved by “grace” (God’s gift) through “Faith” (our trust).

God’s Word:

Ephesians 2:8a – For by grace you have been saved through faith.

Dad’s Word:

There will always be a “faith” factor. God is gracious, but He doesn’t take all of the doubt away. The stars will never align perfectly for you to make the decision. Sometimes the “faith factor” will be large and other times it won’t be as big, but there is always an element of faith involved in every decision we make. Even choosing which cereal to put in your bowl requires faith that your choice hasn’t gone stale. Choosing your spouse is a bigger one. You will never know perfectly if he/she is the right choice ’cause there is always a “faith factor.” In those situations, we look at fruit in their lives; we look for evidence of Godly decision-making and a lifestyle that reflects the character of Christ. The evidence will never be enough, but it gives us a solid place to stand when we ultimately put our faith in Christ. (By the way, having a strong marraige is more about “being” the right person than about “finding” the right person. Check the “Marriage” section of this book.)

One classic example that illustrates faith is that of a car driving down a dark road. The headlights won’t show you the whole road, but they will show you enough to drive the next few feet. Faith works like that sometimes. When we have been faithful for the first few steps, God will reveal the next few steps to us. He has a good reason for doing it this way. You see, if He told us the end, we’d look for ways to get there on our own, but doing it this way, we become dependent upon Him; Our relationship with Him grows and we begin to trust Him even more through the process.

God’s Word:

Genesis 12:1 – Now the Lord said the Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

Dad’s Word:

Abram left everything he knew without knowing where he was going to end up. He only knew that God would be with him because God has said that He would show him where his land would be. This is faith – traveling to a place you do not know simply ’cause you trust and love the One who travels with you.

God’s Word:

Luke 16:10 – One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

Matthew 25:23 – His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.

Famous Words:

“Faith is jumping off the cliff and trusting that God will build more cliff.” – Dustan Thrift (friend, ex-student – not “famous” words)

“The steps of faith fall on the seeming void, but find the rock beneath.” – John Greenleaf Whittier

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the staircase.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“Faith is not something that goes against the evidence, it goes beyond it.” – Alister McGrath

“Reason can only get you to probability, but only commitment can get you to certainty.” – Tim Keller

“Faith is like radar that sees through the fog – the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.” – Corrie Ten Boom

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” – Oswald Chambers

(When he didn’t have a job.) I’m excited! God has us in His hands & I’m imagining what He’s planning on doing w/us…well, I’m a bit anxious too. Faith & Fear together. – Steve Corn (not-so famous words)

“Unbelief = putting circumstances between you and God. Faith = putting God between you and circumstances.” – Mark Batterson

“Where reason cannot wade, there faith may swim.” – Thomas Watson

“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” – Oswald Chambers

“We can pray for rain, but faith brings an umbrella.” – Unknown

Personal Story:

Before asking your mother to marry me (the greatest adventure of my life), I went to her parents to ask their permission; to get their blessing. I was working as a youth minister and didn’t have a college degree. I didn’t have much money and wasn’t sure how I would support her, but I knew that God was leading me to pursue her as my wife. Gigi and Papa were concerned about how I would support her. I remember telling them that I really didn’t know how it would all work out, but that I felt like if I listened to God as He led me to marry her, He would also lead us as we looked for a way to begin our family and relationship together. If I was faithful right now, I believed He’d be faithful to show us the future. If I was faithful in the first step, I knew I could trust Him with showing us the next step. Gigi and Papa gave me their blessing that night ’cause they recognized the very same thing – that God leads us one step at a time. We’ve got to have faith that He will lead us to the right place even though we may never know where that place actually is. Since that time God has taken us on an incredible journey with lots of ups and downs. We’ve had plenty of other opportunities to learn to trust Him. Each time, He has proven faithful.

Not Surprised

I am always surprised by the things God does. How He provides. How He speaks. How He. . . .

However, when I look back over my life, I see His consistency in all things. He is always faithful to provide. He is always speaking. He is always working, loving, guiding, intervening. . . He is always. . . He is God.

If I reflect on His character and our relationship, it’s not surprising at all that He would do these things. Why am I surprised?

Maybe my surprise reveals my lack of faith? Or maybe it reveals the greatness of God? He is beyond my imagination and comprehension.

I suspect it’s actually both.

Miranda – Draft Written in Nov 2009

I really believe that the most amazing woman in the world has married me. We’re coming up on 6 years of marriage and I’m more and more amazed by her each day. Let me tell you about the her most recent extravagant efforts: As many of you know, we’re going through a tough time right now. I need to find a way to support my family by January due to some financial troubles in our church. (They’re making all full-time positions part-time – due to finances, not performance.) Anyway, God had been making it clear to me that He wants me to begin moving in some different directions. I chose not to say anything to Miranda for a couple of reasons. 1. I have come to understand that women need to feel secure. Stability and consistency are highly valued among them. 2. All my contacts and my reputation is in youth ministry. I could probably get a youth ministry job relatively easily. 3. The timing was horrible – I just lost my job and it would not have been smart to tell her that I was planning on seeking another position the hard way.

Here’s what’s so amazing about her though: I came home from work one day about a month ago and she sat me down saying that she had been praying and God had revealed something to her. She went on to explain that she would be willing to let go, even lose our house and sacrifice/scale back on our living expenses in order to wait for the “right” position. She knew that God was leading me elsewhere and wanted to give me the freedom to chase the lion that she knew I was being called to.

Whew!!. . . For me, this was incredible! I was feeling tons of pressure to “provide” for her and the kids in the same ways that I had been doing so for the past few years and yet I also knew that this new calling would probably mean we’d have to make some sacrifices. I have the most amazing bride!!! One who seeks God and who is willing to follow Him even when it’s hard to make sense of the things He’s calling us to do. She not only came to those decisions, but also recognized that out of my love for our family, I was in an awkward position – wanting to provide and wanting to follow God. So she took care of it. Before my stress grew too large to handle – even before I came to the place where I needed to find a way to tell her what I was feeling, she alleviated the stress. She is good. I love her more today than any other day. I know we’re probably going to see some hard times ahead, but I wouldn’t want to go into these uncertain times with anyone else. I’m so blessed to be able to walk through this life with her by my side.

Moon Mission Cut Short

Well…it looks like my 6th grade Social Studies Moon Mission (see my previous post) will be cut short. A couple of weeks ago, the principal came to me and said that although she’d like to rehire me, the school district (BISD) would probably not allow it. The district must cut quite a few positions and everyone who is on a “limited term” contract (those of us who were hired mid-year) will lose their position in August. Without taking into account our teaching ability or our teaching team interactions, we will simply be replaced by other teachers who have been with the district longer.

I’m extremely disappointed. I don’t like the situation at all. I love my job, my coworkers, and my students. I feel like I really “fit” here that I’ve been able to make some great positive contributions during my short time at Rasco. I still hope BISD will be able to find a way to fund all the positions, but will also be watching other job openings carefully. Miranda and I have gone through this before, and we have learned to trust God. Ultimately, He is the only provider that we can truly count on and He has never let us down.

Please say a prayer for us as we board this roller coaster of uncertainty once again. . . Wait. . . There is no uncertainty in His hands, just an unknown path.

In the Master’s Name

“All this we ask in the Master’s name. AMEN.” is a phrase I heard over and over as a kid – every time my family would sit down to eat. Both my parents ended their prayers with this phrase each and every night. I’m not sure if it was passed down to them or if they created it themselves, but. . . Well, I’m glad they used it. There’s just something about the way it rolled off their lips. To this day, I listen for it when my mom prays.

I wonder if there will be phrases that will remind my kids of the faith that I carry and cling to?? What will those phrases be?? Will I pass along a legacy of prayer and faith like my parents did??

PS: I asked my mom where the phrase originated, and she isn’t sure either. We’ve heard my grandmother, (mom’s mom) use it too, so our best guess is that it came from her side of the family. I wonder how far back it goes? Did my great grandmother use that phrase too? (Mom keeps forgetting to ask my grandmother, so I’m going to post this without knowing where it originated.)

Where am I Going?

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. There will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” – Thomas Merton

“I Want You”

We’ve been in the car a lot lately. Kasen and Kesleigh are pretty good travelers, but on our way back from Ft Worth recently, Kasen had a little meltdown. He was tired of being in his car seat, and kept repeating, “I want you.” to Miranda and I. It’s a phrase that he says quite often when he wants us to hold him, but the number of times he repeated it that day in the car was overwhelming. Sometimes we can get away with just holding his foot, but he was having nothing of it that day. By the end, he was screaming “I want you!!!” over our explanations of why he had to stay in his car seat. He asked. He cried. He yelled. He squirmed. He mumbled. He kicked. Whatever it took – he was willing to try anything to be with us. Unfortunately, for his safety we couldn’t allow it.

Do I scream “I want you!” to God like that? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to be with Him? When I feel trapped, do I cry to Him at all? Or do I just squirm around trying to get myself out of the mess on my own? When I do cry out to Him, what if He remains silent ’cause He sees some sort of danger or purpose that I can’t see?

Risk in the Blood

I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a risk taker. I love adventure. I love the adrenaline of not knowing. I love exploring. I love whitewater rafting, snow skiing, scuba diving, etc. I love the top of the roller coaster where you’re about to experience something, but you’re not quite sure how it’s gonna turn out. It’s these moments, where I truly believe I’m exercising my faith the most.

When I first decided to leave home to start a youth ministry job…When I decided to try and raise $20,000 for a student mission trip…When I knelt down to ask Miranda to marry me…When I step into the unknown…I believe those are the moments where my faith is being stretched. And I also want my life to be an expression of my faith in Jesus Christ. Even in the most uncomfortable and insecure moments, I hope my life reflects the undercurrent of trust in Jesus that somehow (by His power and grace) courses through my veins. Because of Him, I enjoy risk. Even when I’m doubtful, I still feel more alive when I’m risking something. (That’s when I’ve got to walk more closely to Jesus.)

I have also always said that I want my kids to learn to take chances – not stupid risks of course. But I want them to know Jesus personally, and I know that the life He calls them to, is one of risk. If you read the Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30), it’s clear that Jesus Himself equates faithfulness with risk. I pray that my children will risk everything for the glory and name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I want to be an example to them. By the way, if Jesus motivates your risk, it’s no risk at all.

My in-laws, Mike and Patti Mathews, are a bit of a different story. I don’t really think of them as “risk-takers.” Mike plans everything. He actually puts “Brush my teeth” on a “to do” list. By making the list, he’s making sure that all his bases are covered. He’s “playing it safe” by trying to be prepared for everything. Mike and Patti have gone on vacation to the same beach for the last 20 years and Patti has never gotten wet above her knees. (Well, she probably has been rained on.) Patti talks about Kasen, our 2yr old, breaking his neck when he jumps off the couch. I don’t know the real answer to this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard that Mike and Patti had never been on a roller coaster in their lives. These are all examples of a “play-it-safe” sort of outlook on life.

Mike Snorkeling

But wait. . . Mike and Patti ARE RISK-TAKERS!!! We just got back from a Hawaiian vacation. In spite of their fear, Mike and Patti both got in the water during our snorkeling excursion. Although he had never been in water deeper than 5ft, Mike jumped into a cove where the water was close to 40ft deep. The terror in his eyes was evident, but he actually ended up loving it. And check this out…Mike and Patti both went ziplining through the treetops of Hawaii! I’ll never forget the sound of Patti’s voice as she stood 70ft in the air at the edge of the first line contemplating whether she could do it or not. They both faced their fears.

Patti Ziplining

They were scared for sure. But COURAGE is NOT the ABSENCE of FEAR! It’s ACTION IN SPITE of FEAR!!

As I look a little closer at their lives, I realize they’ve been risk-takers all along. They both gave their lives to Christ. That’s not a risk, but it certainly feels like one when you’re taking that first step into a new life. They both gave up a “safe” career in order to go to seminary. And my experiences in watching how Mike leads/disciples people, it’s clear that he encourages and lovingly pushes people to take more risks as they follow Jesus. Who knew??? Mike, the play-it-safe list maker, is also a risk taker!!

GOOD NEWS!! I want my children to be risk-takers and now I realize they’ve got “RISK in the BLOOD” from both sides of the family!!

(PS – Mike and Patti, I’m sorry for misjudging you.)

“Models of the Runway” Winner Interview with Kalyn Hemphill

Kalyn was the very first winner of “Models of the Runway” (the Project Runway spinoff) and was one of the students I served as a youth minister in Lake Jackson. Most people would never believe it, but Kalyn is actually a camper too – she’s the kind of girl who can sleep in a tent one night and then go to a formal affair the next. Both of her brothers have been very active in the youth programs too. Anyway, as a model in NYC and Models of the Runway winner, Kalyn has been given an incredible platform to share her faith. She allowed me the opportunity to ask her a few questions that I thought I’d share here:

Steve:
How does it feel to be the very first “Models of the Runway” winner and how has it opened up more opportunities for you?

Kalyn:
It’s amazing to be the winner of the first season of “Models of the Runway” and I feel so blessed to be in the position I am in. So many doors have opened and I just signed with Ford Models yesterday, so I am looking forward to the future with them! I am also working on producing my own web show called, “Scene Cuisine.”

Steve:
Wow! Tell me about Scene Cuisine.

Kalyn:
Scene Cuisine is a webisode series that I am producing and hosting that goes behind the scenes of parties and events thrown in the name of fashion. It explores the culinary and fashion elements as well as looking at the decorations and preparations necessary to make the occasion successful!

Steve:
Sounds like a pretty big undertaking. I’m sure your acting/modeling career is a real asset for the hosting role, but producing?? Do you have experience in that too?

Kalyn:
Yes, I’ve had some experience in hosting, but producing is a whole new undertaking. I always love a challenge though and am excited to learn about what goes on behind the camera as well.

Steve:
As someone who spends so much time in front of the camera, trying to figure out what they’re looking for, I’d bet that you’ve got some natural abilities behind it too. I’m excited to see what comes of Scene Cuisine.

I also wanted to ask you about your modeling career. How are you able to express your faith in Jesus in the modeling world?

Kalyn:
I like to think of myself as a missionary in a model’s body. I constantly am placed in situations on shoots, etc. with non-believers and I always try to shine His light wherever I go. I am also involved in “Models for Christ,” which is an amazing organization of Christians in the fashion industry. It is encouraging to see so many wanting to affect change in the fashion/entertainment world.

Steve:
What does “Models for Christ” do? You said they want to “affect change in the fashion/entertainment world.” How do they do that? When you get together with them, what does a “normal” meeting look like?

Kalyn:
Models for Christ is a “global community of professionals who are seeking to honor God as we navigate the unique challenges and opportunities within the fashion industry.” (modelsforchrist.com) We get together every Tuesday night for praise and worship, a short program/study, and prayer groups. Also we have dinners once a month with a guest speaker and those are so amazing. I was honored to be the interviewee last month!

Steve:
In the modeling world, have there been any particular situations where you felt like you were being asked to compromise your faith? How do you handle those situations?

Kalyn:
There have been a few situations where I had to turn down jobs because of my beliefs, but for the most part, my agency knows what boundaries I have and what I will/won’t do. For example, no nudity, no cigarettes, etc.

Steve:
Have you witnessed other models doing things that would compromise their integrity in order to move their careers forward?

Kalyn:
It’s amazing what some people will do to get to the top of the entertainment industry. I’ve seen girls basically give up their souls for such worldly things that will never truly satisfy. I wish that everyone could know the fullness of joy and satisfaction that comes with knowing Christ…

Steve:
How do you maintain your daily spiritual life and your connection with God? (Church? Bible Studies? Quiet Times? Accountability? Journaling? Worship Music? Prayer times?)

Kalyn:
I have found that it is very easy to get caught up in a very worldly mindset very quickly, especially in NYC, so I make it a priority to spend the first 30 minutes of my day praying and getting in the Word so that I can be prepared for the day. I also attend an amazing church with such a wonderful community of believers, and am involved with Models for Christ. Right now I am studying the book of Esther with a group of girls from Models for Christ!

Steve:
Esther is a great book to study. I love the way her family plays such a strong role in her faith walk. I know your family is important to you too. In the midst of all the scheduling involved in maintaining a modeling (and now hosting/producing) career, how do you stay connected to your family?

Kalyn with her brothers - Ryan and Jayce.

Kalyn:
My family is the most important thing to me and I try to call them every day, even on the busiest of days! Also, any excuse to go home I always jump at!

Steve:
I also want to give you an opportunity to tell us about your boyfriend Chris.

Kalyn:
My boyfriend Chris and I met in NYC, and I knew from the moment I first saw him that he was “the one.” We were in a small group together and the way he talked about God and his faith was so inspiring. His heart for service and love for people captured my heart, and still does 2.5 years later!

Steve:
How do you pursue a romantic relationship while trying to maintain your strong character and witness? I would think that in the modeling world people would see you together and make assumptions about you sleeping together, etc. How do you handle that stuff?

Kalyn & Chris

Kalyn:
We try to keep our relationship “God-centered” and have many friends who hold us accountable. We’ve made a commitment to each other and to God to wait until marriage and although it is challenging to deal with people’s opinions and assumptions, it is really only God’s point of view that counts at the end of the day.

Steve:
Of all the new opportunities that you have had as the “Models of the Runway” winner, which one has been your favorite and why?

Kalyn:
My favorite opportunity that has come out of Models of the Runway has been all the chances I have had to speak to youth groups, organizations, and even individuals. I just feel so blessed that God has given me a bit of a “platform” to speak about all the amazing things he has done in my life, and that hopefully I can encourage others with my story!

The Marie Claire Layout (Feb 2010)

Steve:
Some of our Lake Jackson friends are a bit star struck over you. Do you get star struck? If so, by who and what happened?

Kalyn:
Oh goodness! There’s really no need to be star-struck, haha! That’s very sweet though! I have never really been too phased by celebrities, although I do love to meet people I admire! I wish I had a good story!

Steve:
I know you’ve also been involved a bit with Charity: Water. Is that a charity that you see yourself being attached to or do you have another charity that really gets you excited? Any that you’d like to be involved with more?

Kalyn:
I think that Charity:Water is an amazing organization and I hope to get more involved in the years to come! I also support and am involved in Red Eye Inc, The Ronald McDonald House, and History Starts Now. The Autism Society of America is an amazing organization and I hope to get more involved with them. I feel passionate about raising autism awareness and helping families affected by autism.

Steve:
Ronald McDonald House was a huge blessing to Miranda and I last year when our daughter, Kesleigh was in the hospital. I’m glad to hear you’re involved with them. It’s so cool to see you using your platform to help people and to share the Good News of Jesus. The “youth minister” in me is sure proud of you. You’re a great example and role model as you seek to “model” the life of Christ.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Are there any final thoughts that you’d want to share with the world?

Kalyn:
I just want to share one of my favorite verses for all the readers: It offers me so much hope, peace and joy and God has really shown me the true meaning of this verse over the past few years. I hope that it encourages you as well!

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4


Here are a few other links to find out more about Kalyn:

www.kalynhemphill.com

Season 1 Finale Winner Interview

Kalyn writes for the Season 2 Models of the Runway Blog

Modelinia Blog about Charity: Water Event

According to Your Word

During a devotional time this morning, our Associate Pastor read 1 Kings 3:7-12 and something grabbed my attention that I’ve never noticed before. It was in verse 12. In the ESV it reads, “I now do according to your word.” The interesting thing is that in this portion of Scripture, God is speaking. God said to Solomon, “I now do according to your word.

What?!?!? We’re supposed to say that to God. He’s not supposed to follow us! He’s God right?? So why would He do “according to our word.” We’re just stupid, arrogant, prideful, selfish people. Of course you all know the answer. God is willing to say He’ll do “according to our word” when we have completely lined up with His will – when our desires are the same a His desires – when He has placed His words in our mouths – when our word is the same as His Word.

So here’s my question: Can God say to you, “I now do according to your word.”? Is your desire the same as His? Is your heart in line with His? If you could ask for anything in the world from God (like Solomon), would your request be a selfish one? or one that would honor God and be in line with His desires for the world?

Me? To be real honest, I’m not sure what my request would be. I believe that in moments like that God gives us strength to do the right things, but I also know that my first temptation would be to ask for a job and a way to support my family right now.

Prayer: Lord, I confess that I’m a selfish man – that I want things my way way too often. I confess that I’m fearful for the future of my family. I do trust You. But I’m also fearful. I know those things don’t really go together, but it’s truly where I am right now. There’s a real tension between my faith and my fear and the two of them are waging war within me. Lord, I’m weak and I know that in these moments, You are strong. So please Lord, take charge of this battle. My true desire is to be faithful, to honor You, to hold fast. My deep desire is to have my words, my desires, & my life in tune and in step with You – to put myself in a position where You can say, “I now do according to your word” to me. May it be so. AMEN.