Never-ending

It has been quite some time since I have had the head space to be able to sit down and write. The number of things going on in my personal life right now is so overwhelming in so many good ways, but some discouraging moments. But they are just moments. I am praying and declaring in the name of Jesus, that they remain moments and not grow roots.

So where do I start?

Seriously… I have no idea where to start. This was always my struggle in writing papers for school. There is so much to say, but then I have to remember that you’re not in my mind while reading this. Oh yeah and it is super hard to portray emotion threw writing. I hope this helps you see not what God is doing in my mind, but in my heart and in my family over the past weeks.

Starting with our home and everything going on there is simply the most miraculous display of God’s invisible qualities (Romans 1:20) right in front of my eyes. Each time I go over to our home, I am struck with such aw and amazement at what God is doing. There are so many moments that I stand in the center of our home or mowing our lawn and I just stop and think, “I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve these things taking place at my home right now.” That thought in itself isn’t wrong. I deserve punishment because I am a sinner and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), not restoration and salvation. I know what I deserve. That is why every time I think about our home, I am extremely humbled and overwhelmed at what God is doing.

I will start off by saying that the next transition of events may feel like a jumbled mess. It’s because I have almost lost track of all that is being done because of the enormity of it all. God is BIG yall!

About 7 weeks ago we were notified that Samaritans Purse would be repairing our home and bringing it back to the condition it was in the beginning, so that we could move back into the house. That was seriously only the beginning of what follows.

About 2 days into the repairs on our home with Samaritans Purse, they looked at the addition that was made to the house in 1978 and it was irreparable. Their recommendation would be to call an engineering inspector out to look at it and advise my mortgage company on their feedback. I did just that. The engineer said, “This structure is not livable”. Well… ok. There goes 440 sqft. of the home we purchased. Those were my initial thoughts and it is tough watching. In these thoughts I remember what God convicted me of in the beginning, “Do this the right way. Whatever it takes, do it right.”, and I committed right then and there to do so. Tearing down this addition is the right thing to do. Wise counsel says so and it’s the right thing, so let’s do it. This is God’s provision.

Then about a week later, Samaritans Purse notifies us that they wouldn’t be working on our house until we had the go ahead to tear it down from my lender. During this time, I became anxious and I wanted the work to continue so bad! Then remembering a scripture that is implanted in my mind, in Philippians 4:6-7 “6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This is what I must do. I must pray about everything. Not just by myself but with my wife. So that is what we did.

I tell you what we had a hard time with this and it really drove us to spend quality time in prayer with one another. Each night before we went to bed, we would pray together about the things that we could and couldn’t control in our lives. The work at our house resumed the following week.

I know! Amazing right?

Then I get a call from a friend at Crosspoint and he works for a large electrical company and tells me that he wants to talk to me about our electrical at our home. In our conversation he asks, “Do you have anyone helping you do the wiring?”, to which I responded with, “Myself and friend who works for you guys were going to do it all.” He then followed back up with, “Well let me get the list of materials you need, we will order them, and then I will send a couple of guys out there to do the work.” I then I didn’t really know what to say but, “Thank you.”. I was not expecting that at all, but that is who God is. He provides in ways that we don’t ever think.

In no time the electricians come out to my home that following Monday and start doing their thing. Seriously don’t deserve this. These guys are awesome!

Then my wife and I had gotten counsel from multiple other home owners and construction supervisors to re-pipe our house if we can afford it while our walls are open. Gretchen and I had discussed and figured we would get quotes and figure out a affordable budget for this task. So, I met a plumber at our home and he gives me a proposal for $8500 to re-pipe our home. WHAT?! I haven’t personally ever spent that much on a CAR! A CAR. But I get it, because it’s a lot of work. I just wasn’t expecting that at all…
So while I was waiting for the plumber to give the paperwork, the Holy Spirit was nudging me (not physically moving me but bringing these people I hadn’t thought of previously) to call these three people. So, I did. I called person number one and they said, “Oh yeah. That is a fair price I would say.” Well that’s not necessarily what I was wanting to hear. Then I called person two and he said, “I can definitely do it for less and take good care of you.”. I got off the phone and thought “I don’t need to call person three. I got a lower price.”, but I called them anyways. When I did, he directed me to a local plumbing company and the owner said he would meet me at the house that next day to look over everything. So, we met up the next day and he said I would hear from him soon. The next day I called him to follow up with him (because I was anxious to know the cost) and he responded with something along the lines of “We would like to gift this to you and your family.” I haven’t been at loss for words like that in a LONG time. If you know me, I am not short on words. I believe my response was something like “Wait… what?”
He then continued to tell me that he and his wife had prayed about it and they knew that God was asking them to be obedient in doing this, and I didn’t have to say thank you. Knowing that he and his wife were being obedient was good enough. REALLY? Thank you, Jesus! I am terrible at saying thank you… I don’t know exactly why but I am.

I then sat in my truck and just wept. And wept.

I said out loud just me and Jesus, “HOW?!?!? God you never stop do you!?!?”. I know the answer to that question. He never stops.

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God provides all of our needs according to HIS riches in glory in Christ Jesus, not ours. God’s glory never ends, so neither will his provision.

The week I was worried about work not being done, work was being done in the spiritual realms where I cannot see. Gretchen and I have pursued Jesus regularly in scripture and through prayer, asking boldly in the name of Jesus and now we see the evidence of our prayer. Not what we expected or how we would’ve done it. It’s better.

Our home has been re-wired, is being re-piped, and rebuilt, at the complete provision of God.

If I wasn’t sensitive to what God was teaching me daily and how he was moving in my life, I don’t believe I would’ve called all three people. BUT, when we do HE grants us understanding that surpasses all understanding. Amen?

God works ALL the time, ALL day, EVERY day. You, me, I, we cannot stop it. He provides. PERIOD.

This is only the beginning of what God is doing in our journey walking with Jesus. I know that there is more. Not because I deserve it, but because is the ultimate provider. I believe just as he provided salvation through his Son Jesus Christ, he will continue to provide even the smallest need in our eyes.

One last thing: In the moments when you feel like God is not working, don’t believe that lie. Believe this truth. That God provides for you. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY. Whether we recognize it and are willing to recognize HIS provision pivots on whether or not we are able to recognize HIS invisible qualities and character. Do I know God? Not as well I want to, but I will one day.

My pursuit for Jesus through life continues.

Overwhelmed

In the middle of the day, a couple of days ago, I started to have a conversation with a friend of mine about our journey as a family throughout the rebuilding of our home. It brought me to a place that was extremely familiar because I had been here numerous times before, mainly in the past year. Overwhelmed.

However, it hasn’t all been overwhelmed with stress, hard decisions, or uncontrollable realities, but I have been overwhelmed with Jesus’ love for me. Not just me, but me, my wife, my daughter and every person that I come in contact with. Each time I remember that in these moments in my life, I have this weird contentment with where we are as a family. It wasn’t because I got lazy, my wife was happy, or anything, but strictly that God has granted me peace about the things I can’t control. It still doesn’t make one hundred percent sense to me even as I am writing this, but I have peace. An overwhelming peace that really does surpass all of my understanding of what is happening right now in my life. Philippians 4:4-7 says, “4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Have I been perfect in rejoicing in the Lord always? No. Have I had peace this whole time? No. Have a I been in prayer constantly? Not always. BUT, Jesus. Jesus has continued to show me his love for me through scripture that I read, through people in my life, and through the rare times that I am silent with nothing going on around me and I just think about all that he has already done. Those moments in my life has cause me to rejoice in The Lord, have peace about our situation, turn me to prayer making my needs know to God. There have been so many times where I have thought, “I wish this was as easy as praying and it being done”. Then I spend time in prayer, and I receive this overwhelming peace that really just allows me to rest in what God is already doing.

Time and time again, God is reminding me that this brick and mortar home of ours is not what’s important. I am ok with that right now. Tomorrow I will probably struggle with that truth. It’s these truth’s that are overwhelming to me. Not overwhelmingly frustrating, but overwhelmingly humbling. God continues to remind me “THIS HOME IS NOT MY FOCUS. These people around you are my focus. The people you come in contact with, that you can share my love with, that need me more than you need your house.” Just brings me to a place of gratefulness of what God is doing in our life as a family. Let me just list out a few of the things that God has done:

1) Got us out of our home safely and to our family during the storm. Alive.
2) Provided a place for us to stay during the remainder of the storm.
3) Provided financially through the generosity of those around us.
4) Provided a home for us to live in for the past 5 months with Ray, Christy, and Laney Ankrom.
5) Provided a vehicle for me.
6) 700+ people have come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior
7) Provided favor with Samaritans Purse to help fix our home.
8) Provided numerous opportunities for me to speak with my neighbors about Jesus.
9) He continues to sustain my marriage.
10) He has allowed this to be a connection point for me to continue to share what God is doing in me and our life as a family with my dad.

That is just a short list. Above all of these things, God has provided us with hope that doesn’t rest in the value of the things of this earth. Colossians 3:2 “2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” He has provided us with peace in Him that surpasses all understanding. For this, I am forever grateful and thankful.

There is no other name in my life, that deserves the honor, glory, and praise for where we are as a family and what is happening in my life. Jesus is GREATER! Period. To God be all of the glory, praise, and honor.

Old beginnings

Today was a good day for old beginnings. I know that might sound like an oxymoron but it truly is a day of old beginnings for me. 1) I have been lazy and frustrated for not getting up and going to the gym for the past 2 weeks straight and it was eating at me. 2) I had coffee with a friend who I haven’t talked to in a long time, and I need that time with him. He is encouraging and open minded to what it truly looks like to reach out in the name of the gospel and sees the church as something greater than a building or a campus of people. New beginnings take some time to start and they feel fresh, but continuing with something that you have been failing at is harder. At least it is for me, because it isn’t starting a new thing but continuing to pursue something that you already have experienced failure in.

I don’t know about you but I have had quite a bit of failure in my life and it can be discouraging. When I was speaking yesterday, I was teaching in a series for MOVE students called Base Camp. Learning the basics of life with Jesus and man has the teaching been some of the hardest messages I have ever written. Also trying to communicate the necessary info in less than 20 min each week, That is hard! I was good at that once, but you know me, I like to talk. However, talking a lot doesn’t mean you’re a good communicator, it just means you like to talk. Good communicators; communicate effectively, passionately, and are relatable when they speak. No one wants to here a ramble (which sounds a lot like my writing), they want to hear genuine wisdom and teaching from the heart, that is applicable. Tangent…. Sorry.

So as I was teaching from the platform in MOVE, God spoke to my heart as I was reading Romans 8:35-39. The part of it that says in verse 37, No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Just absolutely spoke to my insecurities and struggle of being captive by my own failure. As I was teaching God spoke right to my heart and said, “Son you are more than a conqueror. Exercising will prolong my ability to move you and prepare you to continue the good work you will be doing in the future. Don’t stay down. You’re telling them to get up and not be captive to failure; don’t let it hold you captive either.” One of my original thoughts was, “What a hypocrite.” But as I continued throughout the day and into this morning, God continued to affirm in me that I was being a hypocrite, because I recognized the change that needed to happen, was obedient and took action.

The more and more that I pursue Jesus through the Bible, the more and more I understand him and the purpose for my life. Do I understand all of it and does all if it make 100% sense to me? No. That’s ok with me. That’s where faith comes in. I am just grateful that Jesus has given me this opportunity, really these opportunities to be a tool for his good work. How mind-boggling creation and everything is, and that is what encourages me to dig in, want more, learn each and every day.

So at the end of this all, not only do I learn more and more about who Jesus is but I also learn more and more about how I, his servant, his child, can be an example to those around of what he wants for us. I am humbled each time God brings me to this place of discovery and makes me wonder about all of the things He is doing, and continues to make me want to dig.

I just hope that I communicate all of these things efficiently and effectively to the people that I am leading, so that they will see Jesus and dig in too. Failure is not my king. Failure is not our king. Failure will not hold me captive. I chose today and pray that God gives me the courage to continue to choose VICTORY over failure each and every day. Failures just lead us to place where we can succeed, so I will keep aiming high, failing big, and succeeding in victory with Jesus.

Unlikely

How is it likely that a kid that struggled all the way through school to write and read, would have the courage to write and post it publicly? It isn’t very likely.

Over the past year I have been wrestling with the idea that I should share what God is doing in my life through writing. It is not that I don’t want to share what God is doing in my life. If you have spent any bit of time with me, you know that I love to talk. There are 4 things that I love talking about: What God is doing in my life, my beautiful wife, my sweet Nora Rae, and the amazing group of students I have the honor to lead. So the plan is to share through writing, even though I am slightly terrified.

WARNING ENGLISH TEACHERS: I don’t necessarily worry if it is grammatically incorrect or whatever, I just write what is on my heart. All I know is I want to be obedient to Jesus. Period.

So as often as I can, I will be writing to share how God is working in my life, my marriage, my journey as parent of little girl, and as a student pastor. My prayer and hope is that these words would spark life change in the name of Jesus.