The other BIG News is that Kasen pooped in the potty today for the very first time. We rewarded him with a “Big Sucker” and he chose the Mickey Mouse Sucker. Here’s a pic of his poo poo (long pause) . . . . reward:
For those of you who are still reading and who want to know some of the deeper things going on with us, I thought I’d update you on a few things too:
1.) I have officially become unemployed. Sundays are strange. We have visited a few churches and will continue to do so until we find the place that’s right for us. Neither Miranda nor I has ever chosen a church to be involved in. We’ve always been chosen by the church and welcomed with more than open arms. Now, we’re not staff people. Now, we experience what everybody else in the world experiences when they walk into a church. There’s something kinda fun about it though too. It’s nice to be in a worship service without feeling like you had to be “on” or be weary of the neverending saga of politics which surround church staff people each week.
2.) I am currently in the midst of an alternative certification program for teachers. This week I passed the 4-8th Generalist content exam which makes me eligible to get a teaching job. I’m able to teach anything 4-8th grade. The exam was much more difficult than I had imagined, but I ended up scoring well. 282 out of 300 and the passing grade was only 240. I’m excited about the possibility of teaching. My favorite parts of youth ministry have always been the times with students and this way I’ll be able to be with them every day of the week. I’m also excited about having a schedule similar to my kids as they grow older and having Sundays off so that we can be involved wherever we’d like. We’re prayin’ that I can get a teaching job before the end of this school year – preferably close to home too.
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.
Stress is something we’ve all experienced: that feeling right before taking a test (especially if you haven’t studied) or the feelings you get when there are too many things to get done and not enough hours in the day. Maybe it’s the tension in the air when certain people are around. Stress causes us to behave differently, to not think clearly, and in some cases it can cause physical illness or even heart conditions. It can also lead to anxiety or depression. In our “normal” use of the word, stress is not a good thing.
Recently, I heard about a distinction that some are making. They describe two kinds of stress. The first and most commonly used understanding – “distress,” and the second is called “eustress.” Eustress is a positive form of stress – a “good” stress. You know this one too, but probably never considered it stress. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve got a good workout going and your adrenaline is rushing through your veins. It’s the feelings you get when you’re riding a roller coaster or that hopeful concern right before your wedding ceremony. These are all forms of stress too. They cause us to behave differently, to think differently, and can cause physical reactions too, but we place this stress in a different category – for that matter, we don’t even call it “stress,” but use words like excited, nervous, or apprehensive to describe it. Another interesting phenomenon is when both collide. This is seen before childbirth. The physical might be considered distress, while the emotional feelings are typically experienced as eustress.
Interestingly enough, the body cannot discern the difference between distress and eustress. Both are equally draining. It’s important to keep a healthy balance of down time to combat these effects.
Here’s why I went into all this: What if we could trick ourselves? What if we could look at our “distress” situations as “eustress?” Could we take threats and think of them in terms of challenging opportunities? These kinds of ideas really bring me back to the Scripture in Gen 50:20 where Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Can we follow Joseph’s example and see the distress of our lives as something that God can use? Opportunities for Him to show up? Situations where He can be glorified? Areas where we can learn to trust Him more?
Prayer: Lord, You know my stress. I don’t know what the future holds. I won’t have a job in a couple of months or any way to support my family. I feel stressed – distressed. Help me to think differently – to see things as You see them. Help me to understand that this stress is simply another way that You’re at work our lives. Help me to trust You with the situation. Help me to bring You glory and feel exhilarated and excited rather than anxious and depressed. I know You are close to me, but I still feel alone sometimes. Touch me. Comfort me. Allow me to walk in Your Shalom. AMEN.
I’ve been studying the book of Ruth lately and it’s been speaking to me in huge ways. Here’s one way:
Ruth 2:3 says “it just so happened” that Ruth was in Boaz’s field. What??
“It just so happened” that Ruth decided to go glean in the barley fields.
“It just so happened” that the young single poor foreign girl was in the rich single Godly man’s field.
“It just so happened” that he came to his field that day.
“It just so happened” that he noticed her.
“It just so happened” that he had already heard of her sacrifices and her character.
Hmm. . .”it just so happened?” Really?? It was all accident??? I’m not buying it. I think there was something else going on. The original Hebrew language does too. God was at work. His invisible hand of providence was working overtime.
Here’s another story about the time I got my first full-time youth ministry job in Tomball.
“It just so happened” that I was realizing music education wasn’t my calling and knew I needed to find another path.
“It just so happened” that the choir director at my church signed me up to go to Choir Camp.
“It just so happened” that the choir camp people lost my registration and offered to let me stay if I would work with the elementary kids.
“It just so happened” that I was placed in a cabin with some kids from Tomball.
“It just so happened” that I worked with another adult from Tomball. (Susan Bryant)
“It just so happened” that Tomball needed a youth minister.
“It just so happened” that the pastor called me during my prayer time where I was seeking God’s guidance.
I can look back on the situation and see that God made “it just so happen. . .”
After Miranda and I come through the other end of this crazy insecure “not-sure-where-our-ministry-is” time in our lives, I’m sure we’ll use that same phrase. “It just so happened” that . . . . . I’m just wondering which moments we’ll be referring to when we say it? I’m keeping my eyes focused and my ears attentive – looking for God.
These are scary times. These are moments where we get the opportunity to exercise our faith. These are exciting times. These are times when I’m grateful for a God who works behind the scenes so that it can “just so happen.”
PS – If you’re interested, I’ll upload the commentary that I’ve been putting together on the book of Ruth sometime soon. I’ve got one more chapter to go.
I know who moved my cheese. God did. 2 weeks ago today, my church decided to make all full-time positions “part-time.” The Administrative Board may very well have been the instrument He used, but God moved my cheese. I believe He has greater plans for Miranda and I. I believe He is leading us into an amazing future. Sometimes, it’s been tough. We’ve had our ups and downs over these past 2 weeks, but I believe God will use this whole thing to bless us eventually. We’ve just gotta keep moving so we can make it there. I’ve caught myself saying, we’re just between blessings right now. We’re not sure where we’ll end up, but we know who’s hands we’re in and we will choose to trust Him.
It seems to come up quite often, but I keep telling Miranda we’ve just gotta be mice right now. I asked her to read the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” so we could be on the same page here, but since many of you haven’t read it, I’ll explain. This is an awesome book that describes the best way to handle big changes. It’s a modern parable about a maze, some cheese, and 4 characters: Sniff and Scurry are mice and Hem & Haw are little people who all live inside the maze. Each day the four of them go to one section of the maze to find their cheese, but then one day they discover that it’s been moved. Hem and Haw wonder what happened and hang around for a while waiting for it to return. They argue a bit about it and blame all kinds of things. Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry just keep their noses to the ground and continue through the maze looking for more cheese. Sniff and Scurry are the first to find new cheese.
That’s why we’ve gotta be mice. There’s no point in complaining about our situation or blaming people or the economy or whatever. We could sit around and be upset or we could just go look for more cheese. It’s sort of like the quote from Shawshank Redemption – “Get busy living or get busy dying.” We will choose to live. We will choose to be mice and keep our noses to the ground. Besides, God is in control. He moved our cheese. We may not know where, but we do know that He knew what he was doing. He must want us somewhere else now. We will find out where soon enough – in His timing.
Please pray for us. We are searching through this maze and probably still have a few hurdles and pitfalls ahead of us. I even sang about this on a song I wrote for our Wedding Day – Just Wanna Be With You clip
We’re hanging on to this verse. Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I had my 40th birthday Friday and then Monday (yesterday) was told that my full-time ministry position would become part-time in January. They were clear that it was not performance related and this decision was also for all the other full-time programming people too. They said, “It’s the economy”. . . blah. . .blah. . . (After the original blow, I’m not sure I heard much more.) In the end, none of their reasoning (and by the way, I believe they have the best intentions) changes the situation my family is in. Bottom line: I would need to find another way to support my family by January.
So last night I couldn’t sleep. There were too many feelings, thoughts, prayers, and junk rolling around in my head. I just fiddled with the computer from about 3am ’til morning. Around 4am, Kasen (almost 2yrs) woke up and I heard him down the hall. He walked into our room to crawl into bed with Miranda and I. I wasn’t there. I was in the loving room “thinking.” I tracked him down and tried to put him back in his bed. He fought me on it and I was in no mood to fight back, so I brought him into the living room and laid down on the couch with him. He went back to sleep in my arms almost immediately. Then it happened. Was that a giggle? There it was again. Yep, it was a giggle. I can’t believe it. He’s giggling in his sleep.
My son was so comfortable in my arms that he could sleep deeply enough to giggle in his dreams.
Prayer: God, You are my Father. I know I’m safe in your arms. But I’m also feeling pretty vulnerable and insecure. Help me to trust in Your providential hands enough to sleep and giggle again. AMEN.
Our church has struggled through this rough economy. Every full-time programming staff position is being made “part-time” in January. They have been very intentional about communicating that this is not a “performance related” decision. Here’s a letter drafted by the SPRC chairman describing the circumstance: Clarification Letter Anyway, I have until January to find another way to support my family.
In spite of the title of this post, I’m NOT looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one in which I can bring Jesus glory and make a difference in the world. This might be another church position, a teaching position, or any number of endless possibilities.
Over the years in youth ministry, I have developed many skills and believe I can be an asset to almost any setting.
I have experience in:
Leading contemporary worship
Multimedia and film Production
I love dreaming, leading, casting vision, and chasing after God’s preferred future.
I’m not too proud. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. Miranda and I are confident in God’s hand of providence, but we will also need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Want to contact me?