Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 In Review

What an exciting year it has been!  As with every year, God has guided me through some awesome experiences, adventures, and through many tough times.  This year I was able to take a trip with my brother to Colorado, I was able to travel to South Korea to teach for 2 months, and I graduated from college!  It's crazy to think back over the year and to see how much happened over the past year.  God has revealed so much to me over this year about who I am, what I really want from my life, and what direction I will be going.  It's been a challenging, yet enriching time for me.
My family has seen a lot of changes.  My oldest sister and her husband just closed on a house that is about a mile from my parents, my other sister and her husband finished building there house about three months ago which is a mile down the road from my parents, the younger of my sisters is pregnant with her third child, my oldest sister had another boy, and my brother is engaged!  Wow, so exciting!  My dad is getting ready to expand the farm to double the herd size.  So you could say 2011 was an exciting year for my family!  All being guided and lead by God in the direction of serving and glorifying Him!  May He continue to bless my family in the year to come!

Friday, December 23, 2011

What's in a name? - El Shaddai

The God almighty and the all sufficient one!  Two definitions that pertain to God being our everything.  Within Him all exist and all is supplied.  In the King James bible, Shadday is used 48 times and is most used in the book of Job!  Throughout Job, the Almighty is referred too often as the God of justice and wrath.  Some of the characteristics that we often fail to talk about when discussing God. Interesting that the almighty would be described in this way, when we often fail to recognize these characteristics of God.     When we read Job, we look at the dedication and perseverance of Job, but we fail to think of the all sufficient one providing for Job, but see God taking everything from Job.  But God still provided for Job's essential needs and in Him everything was still found.  At times we must lose everything to remember where everything came from, and give El Shaddai the praise He deserves.  El Shaddai provides for our every need and holds everything within His hand.  God is sufficient enough for our everything!  May we satisfy the almighty and give our all to El Shaddai!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Gold Standard

There are a lot of standards set in our society.  Standards that employers set for us, standards that parents set for us, and standards that society in general sets for us.  But this standard falls short of the standard God has set for us.  We are to live for something greater!  We are to set our standards higher than anyone else's standards!  Why?  Because we serve someone who is greater than anything on this earth!  We are to separate ourselves from the world, to stand alone and be set apart.  The church has become so tolerant of things that are counter to the nature of God, that Christians often fail to set themselves apart.  This may be a result of not knowing the standard God has set for us, or it might be a result of us not being willing to fully die to ourselves and to give our entire life to Christ.  But if we desire to walk those streets of gold, then we must set ourselves apart.  We must be conscious of how our every decision will impact those around us, impact the level that others respect us, and impact those that we work with or will work with in the future.  May we be so jealous of God and giving Him the glory, that are standards are set higher.  Whatever the world sets as a standard, may we raise the bar.  May we set our sights on the Gold Standard, a Heavenly Standard!

Monday, December 5, 2011

What's in a name? - Yahweh (YHWH)

In my opinion, the most powerful name that exist for God!  The simple "I am" holds so much within itself.  A statement and name that holds everything within its grasp.  Everything that exist, everything that ever was or will ever be is His!  Wow, what an incredible thought to think of God as Yahweh!

It is used often in the Old Testament, being used 6,519 times.  It is the most used name for God in the Bible.  It is impossible to define this name by a simple reference to a specific verse, for it identifies so many aspects of God.

It is first used in Genesis, referring to Yahweh as a creator and designer.  This alone makes this name so powerful!  Everything that exist is from God and it shows a great imagination, a great design, and a level of order that no man can fully comprehend!  In Micah it talks about Yahweh coming down to earth and walking on the earth, which expresses a deep care and devotion for the things He created.  It shows a personal and active God in everything.  In Micah it also shows Yahweh as a righteous judge.  A God of justice allows us to have order and at the core, demonstrates Love.  In Proverbs it talks of Yahweh as a God of infinite wisdom.  A God who desires us to have the wisdom that He holds.  In Jeremiah it talks about Yahweh being a God of power, a God of control, and a God that is strong.  It shows an intercession on our behalf to watch out for us, to take care of us, and to protect us!

I really can't even scratch the surface of this name and this post may do more damage to this name rather than help since I'm so limiting in what I can say about it.  Everything is within the name Yahweh!  What a comfort to know that Yahweh will be by my side.  To know that Yahweh is big enough to create all that is and to be omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent and yet personal enough to come down to earth to show us the way!  It is awesome to see the God of Love and the God of Justice.  A righteous God who desires to draw us into the trinity.  May we forever praise Yahweh in all we do, for He is all that is!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What's in a name? - Jehovah Jireh

Can you imagine being asked to sacrifice your son?  What if the Lord asked you to do this?  I would think the Lord is crazy, but would I follow His command?  Well we all know the story of how Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac.  Abraham, although he struggled with this idea, followed the Lord's call and right before Abraham struck his son, an Angel of the Lord called out and stopped Abraham.  And after he is stopped, Abraham looks up and there is a ram caught in a bush.  Not a random happening, but something that God provided due to the faithfulness of Abraham.  So Abraham offers the ram as a sacrifice.  "So Abraham called the name of that place, "Jehovah Jireh (The Lord will provide).""  Genesis 22:14 (This is the only time this name appears in the Bible)

This may be the only time in the Bible that this name appears, but we see the presence of Jehovah Jireh all throughout the Bible.  Not only in the Bible, but everyday in our lives we see the work of Jehovah Jireh.  All to often we fail to recognize His provisions due to an expectation that we have placed in our lives.  We feel that we are owed the things we have and the blessings we have received, and fail to see them as what they are - BLESSINGS!  God is so good to us!  He provides for our every need and presents us with so much more than what we need.  He does provide and will pour blessings out in our lives, if only we trust.

It's so hard to trust though!  Sometimes the Lord's request make no sense at all and He ask too much of us.  So we then begin to think that maybe it's not the Lord or that we can get away with only doing part of what the Lord requires.  If this is the attitude then God can not fully provide everything He wants to provide to us.  We begin to hold back Jehovah Jireh because of our decision.  What, you don't think that God could ask something so crazy?  What's crazier than being asked to sacrifice your own son?  Nothing!  We will not be asked to do something this difficult because the grace of God and the sacrifice of His son covered our sins so that we don't have to make living sacrifices to the Lord.  But we are still required to be a living sacrifice and make sacrifices in our lives.  And sometimes these sacrifices will sound crazy and ask a lot of us, but don't we just burst at the seems thinking about what Jehovah Jireh will provide when we follow Him?

""Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness" - and he was called a friend of God."  James 2:23  Is this not what we want?  Don't we desire to be credited with righteousness, where we are an extension of the Trinity?  The incredible thing about the Holy Spirit is that when it dwells within us, we are then drawn into the Trinity.  Absolutely incredible!  And once we are drawn into the Trinity and willing to do whatever God ask, no matter how crazy, then we can fully see the work of Jehovah Jireh!

Monday, November 14, 2011

What's in a name? - Jehovah Nissi

A name that at first may seem to hold little significance at its first mention. Only found once in the Bible may lead one to believe that it is really not all that important. Once we take a closer look at the name, we begin to see the greatness of this name.

It means "The Lord our Banner". First impression? Maybe, "Oh cool, like go team go!" Ok, maybe a little cheesy, but really what's the significance.

When we look at the one and only passage where this if found, we can gain a context for this reference. So the Israelites are in a battle with the Amalekites and Joshua leads his army into battle. So get a picture of some epic battle, like in Braveheart. So Aaron rallies his men, and Moses, along with Aaron and Hur go to the top of a hill that overlooks the battle field. As long as Moses holds his hands in the air, he sees the Israelites winning the battle, but as soon as they are lowered, the Amalekites begin to gain ground. Let's think about this simple act of lifting our hands. It show's surrender, in this case to God, and it shows hands lifted high to give honor to something greater than ourselves. It's lifting up our burdens and cares to someone far greater than ourselves. But our arms grow weary and sometimes we need brothers and sisters around us to help us along the way.

With the help of Aaron and Hur, Moses held his hands in the air for the whole time of the battle, and seeing God win the battle for the Israelites. So Moses builds an alter in honor of what God did for them, and he called it Jehovah Nissi, The Lord our Banner.

Great story! But what's the significance? A banner is much more than a flag on a stick. It marked the battle ground and was often used to rally troops. It would be easy to get lost and separated from your men during battle, so a banner would be placed to help you find your fellow soldiers. Banners are often used to celebrate and to mark special occasions. A banner is used to create identity, to create a separation from others, but yet to unify one group. Think of the significance of a nations flag. It is honored and respected. The flag of the U.S. is unique and is the symbol of a country. It is something to be treated with reference and with a humbleness. It represents something greater than ourselves.

Yet I believe the greatest representation is not found in those things, but in the image of soldiers planting the flag after a victory. It is customary to plant one's flag in the battleground after a victory. My mind pictures the image at Iwo Jima, where the soldiers mark a long hard fought victory with the American flag. It is a sign of victory! Naming God our Banner states a reference, a devotion, and a commitment to Him. And with Him as our Banner, we know we will have victory. The Lord our Banner, simple, yet so powerful in knowing everything that this means to us. May we rally around the flag, pull together to fight, and stand before our King!  And above all, we can claim victory and plant the flag in every battle ground we find ourselves in!  For we do not fight for victory, but we fight from victory!

What's in a name? - Elohim

"In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth."

I chose to start with this name since it is the first name used for God. This name only appears in the Hebrew language and is the most used name for God in the Bible being used 2,570. The Jewish people use this name to refer to God as either the creator or the judge of the universe. El is translated meaning "Strong One". Many times this name is combined with other names of God to give a more descriptive meaning. When formed with other names it is spelled Elohei which translates "God of -".
This is the most revered name of God to the Jewish people and it is treated with absolute reverence.

This is written to build a simple base knowledge. This is the foundations of many names. I know this is a rather dull intro into the names and I really provided little insight, but pulled most of this off of research from the internet. In the names to come, much deeper research will be done. But it is important to understand this name first since many more names will build off of the name Elohim.

What's in a name?

I'm going to launch a new blog series on the names of God! I'm excited to start this new exploration into the names of God, because I think His names are important and they show us a part of who He is. Our names are important, for we take pride in our name and it in a way it defines who we are. It individuals us. In the same way, the names of God are important and they define who God is. I have never taken a lot of time to study His names, so this will be a huge learning experience for me and I hope you can gain something from my study as well. Please list any names of God that you love, desire to know more about, or have questions about and I will dive into that name!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Church as the Family

As I've studied who God is and His great design in our world, God has really convicted me of what the church should look like. God's design was perfect and His roles for us are perfect. The church is designed to look like the family. It is a family. So why do we look at the family structure in America, seeing how broken it is, and lead the church in the same direction? The loss of the father in the family has destroyed our society. The loss of the father has caused gender confusion, a lack of leadership, a lack of discipline and confused children, who have no idea what a loving father looks like. God's original design is perfect! His design for the church is perfect, yet we are molding the church into this new family structure. The man's role in the family is to lead and protect his family. Within the church, the man should be the leader! The man should lead his family spiritually, same as the church. Part of this downslide is due to the lack of initiative among men in the church. Another part of it is due to women stepping in too soon, not encouraging their brothers to step up.
When looking at men and women, one thing must be understood. If men know that a women will step up and fill the role, men will allow them to fill the role. But if a women encourages a brother to step up, it gives men a strength to fill the role God has set apart for men. Sometimes to us, the roles seem unfair and don't make sense, but God is perfect and the roles are perfect. Our society has turned words like submission into such a bad word, when God really designed that as a glorious thing. I think there were a lot of good things that came out of the women's rights movement, but I also think that this movement destroyed some of the roles that God designed and confused our generation. Men no longer know what their role is or their position in the family because women have begun to take it over. I believe that this has led to the lazy, bum mentality that society has given to men. We see it in almost every television show and movie, and now society believes that this is just how it is. Where is our righteous anger to uphold God's plan!?! Why have we fallen so far from a Biblical worldview!?! May we rediscover God's design and re-evaluate our views and standards to make sure they align with God! May we continually seek and desire to be like God!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Journey of a Bible

My Bible has been through thick and thin with me. It has seen me through many lows and has lead me to my highs. It was with me when I worked with children in Jamaica, it journeyed with me to Kenya to share the love of Christ, it was by my side as I worked with the people in Costa Rica, and it came with me to South Korea to teach the children here. It was with me when I spent my first summer on my own, giving me strength to stand up for my faith when those around me did not share the same faith. It took me through my teenage years and changed me through my college years. It infiltrated my heart with the wisdom of God. It journeyed with me on the most influential 4 months of my life and was the foundation of my change in Colorado. It has been with me in every state I have lived in. It has shown me who God is and who He desires me to be. It has challenged me to think deeper, given me joy when nothing else could, and has taught me how to care for those around me. Inside were many memories, many notes, and many tears.
My Bible will be dearly missed, but God is awesome and He has given me the knowledge that I will see my Bible again. It's funny, because from the time I lost it, I had this comfort and peace that God was going to bring it back to me. Either I will receive the Bible or I will meet the person who has been blessed by it, or both. It may not even be while I'm still here, but may be years down the road, but I believe that God is going to use this to just blow my mind about Himself! He is going to show up and display His divine intervention, and it will be glorious! I hope to meet this person so we can share with each other the journey this Bible has had! One thing is for sure, my Bible will have an awesome story to share!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Missions Exist Because Worship Doesn't!

On my run tonight, these words from Lecrae hit me. "Come on Christians! Missions exist because worship doesn't!" For so long I have felt like God has been calling me into overseas missions. But our failure to truly worship really is the reason missions exist. If we would be the hands and feet of Christ, and be so overwhelmed to be in His presence, there would be no need for missions. Worship is not something that happens on Sunday, but is a daily aspect of our life. It's a constant worship of God, using our strengths to glorify Him. Everything we do should bring honor and glory to God! EVERYTHING!! Not just parts of our life, but every aspect! What, do you think Paul was just joking when he said we should die to self? Do we believe the Bible? Do we believe that it is Truth? Do we believe John when he says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The Bible is Holy, it teaches us to be Holy, but we must follow what it says to be Holy! How can we say the Bible is Truth if we follow only certain parts of the Bible. Some people just skip certain parts of the Bible because it does not give them what they want to hear. They claim ignorance as a way to not follow the words of God. Church, worship requires dying to self! He must become greater, I must become less! Worship should be something that we can't stop ourselves from doing. We should be in Love with God to a point that we can't help but worship! We should be so filled with the Holy Spirit that it pours out of us! May our worship overtake our need for missions!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Great day! I seriously can't stop smiling! God has just filled my heart with such joy! This morning I woke up early, got into the classroom early and made a point to pray for the students, that the students could make the adjustment to me teaching. And what do you know, they did! It made my day to see the kids excited, to see them fighting over who could answer the questions, and to see their faces light up! It just took me acting weird, not a big stretch, in front of them! I left school more encouraged than what I have felt for a long time!

Then as I ran through the park I was just thinking of how great I'm blessed for the strength and ability that God has given me! I was thinking of next fall and thinking of how God has really blessed me with the athletic ability I have! Sure I'm no superstar, but boy am I blessed to be able to do the things I can. I got more weird looks from the Asians today then I have the whole rest of my time here! As I was running I was just laughing and smiling so big with my music on, and I'm sure people were thinking I was high! "He sure is running well for being so high on that pot!" I'm just imagining those old ladies who walk say that. But when we think of the little things, of everything we have been blessed with, how do we contain that joy! When I look back at my experiences, the things God has led me through, and the daily blessings I receive, I'm so overwhelmed with His love and mercy, that I can't contain it within myself, but it bubbles over!

And then tonight, hearing how God is working in other peoples lives, sharing in the joy of those around me, just makes me all the happier! I think of the friends God has surrounded me with. No matter what Satan tries to attack my friendships with, when they are rooted in the Love of Christ, they can't be destroyed, and that brings me such joy! Oh how Satan has tried to destroy certain friendships, and at times almost succeeded. But praise God for the persistence of friends, for them not quitting on me, for God was not finished with those friendships!

No matter what distance we travel, God will be there! And I must always remember, I do not fight for victory, but from victory! We have the victory and can't be defeated, as long as we stay rooted in who God is! Sometimes we fail to seek God, because we know if we seek HIm and try to know Him better, He will want us to rid ourselves of ALL our selfish habits, and some we can't let go of! But there is JOY and FREEDOM in letting them go! For it is then that we become fully alive!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First Day's of Teaching

It is so different, so, so different. It's not better or worse, just different. The classroom instruction is so different, the management is different, and the needs are different. It will take some time to get in the groove. It is so different using the textbook and I just have to get use to planning out of the textbook. I'm not familiar with it yet. Once I get familiar it will be easier to plan out the basic lesson and then I just have to find ways to make the learning more meaningful. Having 7 students makes behavior management so much easier, but now I have to plan in a different way. I have to try and do more interactive activities, more grouping since I have the chance. I'm sure this is a rare opportunity for me to get a class of this size, so I need to take advantage of this opportunity. It is going to be a lot fun, but I just have to learn what these students like. I understood my students at Allen by the time I left, but now I'm learning all over again. It will take a bit of time to understand how to tap into what they enjoy and to use that to enhance their learning. This is such a great experience and I believe it is opening up so many doors and giving me so many new connections. It is so great to follow God wherever He calls, making the most of every opportunity, and just falling more in Love with Him! I'm so thankful for the opportunities He has given me!

A Great Designer

Being at the Bodies Exhibit this past weekend made me again realize what a great God I serve. The complexity of the human body is absolutely incredible! So many muscles work together to make even our simplest motions. The hundreds of muscles in our bodies each serve their own purpose, but yet they work together for the whole. Looking at how muscles overlap and the strength of the little strands, it's incredible! Then looking at the blood vessels within the body. There are so many vessels that carry blood to every part of our body to keep it functioning. Looking at the tendons, especially the achilles heal, and seeing how small it is, yet it has such strength and does so much. We take these little things for granite. And then the whole body is driven by this ball of sponge! Looking at the human brain and when it is cut open, it just looks like skin, yet it holds all that information and does so much. I stared at the human brain just wondering how in the world the brain does all it does! It's insane! And to think that this came from nothing, from some random atom that mutated into life! hahaha Each one of us has the imprint of an intelligent designer and it is time that we take a grand appreciation for our bodies, for the little things, for being able to move, for being able to think, for being able to do anything we do, because we are a complex being! And we should show respect for God's masterpiece!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

South Korea Bucket List

1. DMZ tour – Cross into North Korea

2. Visit a Buddhist temple - Have always wanted to visit one
*Buddhist village, not really a temple, but lots of religious buildings

3. Eat Gaegogi - It's a delicacy that I have been told I must try
*Done and good!

4. Visit a farm - How could I not?
-Went out to the country and walked past fields, but did not visit a farm.

5. Eat octopus - Sounds nasty, but I have to try it
-Did not get around to this, and I must say, not the most disappointed.

6. Try every piece of food I’m offered - First experience, cow blood; next, I have no idea
*Did not turn down anything, and the only really nasty thing was anchovies.  Silkworm larva wasn't even that bad.

7. Run to Seoul Tower for the sunrise - Gorgeous run that makes you feel like your not in Seoul, and allows you to see the entire city. (It is huge!)
*Done and went in the Tower, which was awesome!

8. Attend a different church every Sunday - I love to worship in many settings
*Every Sunday I went.  I missed my last two Sundays, but I got a good experience of American churches in Korea.

9. Attend a church service in Korean - My favorite part of travel is being able to worship the same God, even if we do not speak the same language. I love how God transcends language and tears down barriers to bring us together!
-Sadly I did not.  Probably my biggest disappointment.

10. Attend a Korean wedding - I have connections!
-Lack of communication on wedding week prevented me.  I missed a few phone calls and missed out on the opportunity.

Monday, October 10, 2011

First Day!

Today was just observation for me, and what a difference! Wow, it was so quite in class today, almost too quite! I already know I'm going to have students collaborate and talk about things a lot, because it was silent all day! There was zero behavior issues and there is a behavior management system in place, though I doubt it will be used much. The students stay on task, they love to read, and they stay engaged. I get breaks as a teacher now!! Like an hour every day!! That feel foreign for sure. The school follows tightly to the curriculum, mostly because parents want the structure and the parents want their children to have homework for every subject. There are many more grades entered because parents want to see lots of grades so they can check on their children. It is such a shift going from 21 second grade students who are mostly below grade level, to 7 fourth grade students who are on or above grade level. My teaching is going to have to completely shift, since I will be able to group students, and I will be able to give each student much more individual focus.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

First Impressions

First impression? Seoul is huge!!! There are people everywhere, and traffic everywhere, and everywhere you turn there are people trying to sell you something. Right around where I live it's a little more low key, but you go two blocks and it begins the craziness. That has been a bit overwhelming, as we walked around all day today (Sunday) and I was so exhausted from all the people. (I thought maybe I had become an extrovert, but today made me realize again, how strong of an introvert I am) I didn't come in with very many expectations, except that the cost of living here would be super cheap. It's really not that cheap. Food cost about the same here, maybe a tad bit cheaper, but I have eaten out everyday, so it has exceeded my spending back home (except that I have only paid for 1 meal) I want to learn how to make Korean food, so I'm going to find some teachers at school tomorrow who can help me out. I had heard that Seoul is really Americanized, but I think I took that the wrong way. Not very many people speak English, everything is in Korean, although the important aspects like public transportation and maps have English translation. There are certain parts of the city where they have American restaurants and brands, but there are few areas. I was expecting a McDonalds on every corner (Not literally), but I don't even think I have seen a McDonalds. No one rides bikes here either, which is surprising, everything is public transportation. The public transit is very nice, comes right past where I live, and I can get anywhere in the city by it, but it is packed everywhere you go (standing room only, which is tight in and of itself). I think I may finally be adjusted to the time difference after today. It was my fault for waking up to watch the ND game at 5 in the morning (I missed the first half of the first quarter), but it was well worth it to watch the ND performance. Skype may be a bit more difficult of a task than what I had anticipated, but let me know when you can skype and I will go to bed early so I can wake up early to chat.
I love my house!! It is the coziest, homiest place I have ever stayed. It's small, but I love it! I'm excited for teaching, to go from 21 students to 7 students, I'm hoping management falls into place and that I can do some more active things with a smaller group. I am a bit nervous because of the grade level transition and the level of students that I will have. But I know I will do fine and that I will get adjusted to these students quickly. I only live like half a mile from the school, so that is awesome, cause I get to walk to school!!!

On a quick statistical note: In 2009 Korea had the 2nd highest suicide rate in the world. The pressure on young people to succeed in school is demanding, which is to be known as a big reason for the high rate. Social status is everything here. Several of the people I have met here have told me that the public schools really fail the students and thus the reason why most students have a private tutoring session for 6 hours every day after school. The demands this puts on children is too much for them. They really get no break from school, but study constantly. Everything is based on what University they can get into, and parents are really controlling of the education system,
Fathers are not really present in the home during the week. Everything is about building a relationship with your business partners, so men will go to work and then go out to eat with business clientele until late in the evening, leaving the parenting to the mom. This is a social norm, meaning not every house is like this, but the majority.
Drinking is huge here, everyone drinks, all the time! I have not been here long enough to witness this myself, but everyone has told me that many people are drunk all the time. They are not angry drunks, but it is just part of the culture to drink with everyone you are with. Very much a social type of drinking, but it is done all the time, meaning people are drunk often.
SAT day is like a national holiday. They shut down the airport, they tell cars not to honk during that part of the day, and they try to eliminate any type of noise. They put all kinds of pressure on students to perform. It is unhealthy for these students. In the short time I have been here, I have talked to many Koreans and Americans about education, and I already have a much greater appreciation for education in the U.S. We really are blessed!

If you have questions, please ask me and I will post about it, cause others may have similar questions.

I will write again soon!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hearing from God

Is it possible to literally hear from God? Does God really speak through us? Will God really guide us through dreams or visions?

Growing up, no one ever really discussed the spiritual gifts in depth. Sure, I heard them mentioned, but never explored how we see them, how we recognize them in our life's, or how they are used. For so long, the God I knew seemed like a distant God, who I could send request to, only praying to have them answered. Never thinking He would speak to me, but seeing Him as just a recipient of my request. WOW!!! I was missing out on the incredibleness of God!! Yes, He speaks to us!!!!!! Literally!!!!! Yes, He speaks to us through dreams and visions!!!! Yes, He is the same God yesterday, today, and tomorrow! God is not a distant God, but an intimate, personal God, who desires to hold us in His arms. He desires us to pursue Him with all that we are, more than we pursue anything else in our live. If we are failing to pursue Him more than something else in our life, we will feel discontent. Why? Because we are not living in Him and who He created us to be! We fail to see the jealousy of God! He is jealous! Jealous to have His glory made known, jealous to have our whole being, jealous to have His creation make His name made known! And we should find this exciting, to have a God who desires us so much that He will step down into the mess we have made and try to pull us out. Ultimately He has given us free choice to choose what we want, but He will pursue, and He desires you to pursue Him! In the end the choice is ours. But my God is the God He says He is! He does speak to us! We can hear directly from God, God does speak through those around us, God does speak to us through dreams and visions, and God does care! He wants to hold us tight! He wants to bless us, but we must be ready for these blessings! We must understand where these blessing come from!

We constantly ask God to reveal Himself to us, to show us who He really is, but we must be ready to know the characteristics of God. Sometimes we are not ready. It may be that we are still holding onto something, He may not have our full devotion, or maybe we are not listening! Maybe we don't have the trust or faith that we really believe that God is still intimate and still there to hold us tight. God could not reveal His gift in me until I took the time to fully understand what that gift was and how to use it. And it wasn't until this past Friday, September 23, that God made known to me the full extent of what this spiritual gift looks like. Why did it take so long? Because I did not take the time to know what this gift was and how it is used. I never sought out to know my spiritual gift. But now, I'm so overcome with Joy, knowing what I know! Finally understanding what this gift is and how God can use it! It is a process. I had to learn boldness, courage, and develop such an intimate relationship with my Savior that He could speak to me! My desire is that each and every one of you may know God in such an intimate way, that we are so filled with Joy and Love that it may not be contained within us, but explode, infecting those around us! There is such freedom in having this relationship with God! May God grant you Wisdom in your journey as you pursue Him with every ounce of your being!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


There are so many things that God does that I don't understand! Things I feel called to, only to feel hurt and to seem as if I failed. In the past year I have felt this way so many times. It's hard when there seems to be an easy answer, only to have God call you do to do what is difficult. To love, knowing that this may not be returned. To give, expecting nothing in return. To care, when you know only words of anger will come back.

At what point do you let go, do you move on? At what point do you allow others to learn from consequences? After pouring into Jaluan for two years, he has returned only anger now. It can be hard to hear rebuke from someone who I Love and pray for every night. It can be hard to allow God to work and leave them to the consequences of their actions. At some point, all we can do is pray. All I can do is pray that God brings healing. We can only bring people so far and at some point, the decision has to be theirs. This is so hard, to know what Freedom is and to know what is needed, only to have to watch them suffer.

One thing I know for certain though, God is Great! He listens to prayer and He answers prayer! Sometimes we don't think our prayer is effective because it's not answered in the way we expect or in an obvious way, but we have no idea what our prayers do! No matter what hurt we experience, no matter how much sorrow we feel, no matter how much we don't understand what God ask of us, we can pray and we should pray! There is True power in prayer! Never underestimate God! Pray!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Pain of Love

"Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone." - C.S. Lewis

Love is such a powerful thing. It helps breakdown barriers and bridge gaps, it allows us to encourage others and show others who Christ is, and it helps us feel valued. But this same thing causes so much pain. The more love we pour into a person, the greater the capacity for hurt. Sometimes the result of this hurt holds us back from pouring out our love again. Not wanting to experience that pain again. It is hard. It's hard to pour so much love out, to love unconditionally, and to not feel it being returned. It creates a cautiousness in us. It can hold us back in future friendships. It can keep us from allowing people to move past our exterior. It's hard to move past this hurt.

Jesus experienced this same hurt. He poured so much into His disciples. Loving them with a perfect love, and yet He experienced rejection and betrayal from them. He gave His everything to serve and yet those He loved, with His whole being, turned on Him.

So why Love? Because God first Loved us! Despite our rejection, our constant disrespect of His greatness, He continually Loves! This is so hard to do. It is so easy to be angry and to reject those who have hurt us to our core. But we must continue to Love. For true Love keeps no record of wrongs, but ask us to continually Love and pray for those who have hurt us. May we not so much seek our will, but God's will. May we not look out for our needs, so much as for the needs of others. May we bless those who persecute or hurt us, and not repay evil for evil. May our capacity for love not be diminished but may it continually grow.

"Even love unreturned has its rainbow." - James Matthew Barrie

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Longing

There is this longing in me for something more, for something greater. I feel unfulfilled, unsatisfied by where I am at. There is a burning passion inside me that I can't seem to target what it is for. Opportunities arise and there are many directions I can go in this life, but I don't know where to go or where I want to go. It's so confusing! I don't feel settled in any one thing. It's like one day I believe I should be going overseas, another day I feel called to urban ministry's in the US, and other days I feel called to Marion. It's a confusing twist, and many times I just want to do it all, take on the world. I have no idea where I'm going, where God is going to use my gifts and talents. I think part of it may be my lack of reliance on Him, feeling unsatisfied because part of me still wants my hearts desires, which are not always focused around God.
One thing I know for a fact is that I want to serve God, to serve His people, to serve the lost and hurting and to set the captives free. God has laid so many burdens on my heart. A burden for the fatherless, a burden for those who do not have a voice, a burden for those who are trapped in lies that they can't seem to break free from. I want people to see themselves for who God has created them to be. To see themselves as beautiful and strong. To know that God has equipped every person in this world with unique and awesome gifts that no one else has. And to see people experience the freedom that comes from knowing that there is a God who is there for you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A boxed God?

Where do we get off thinking that we know better than God? How come we are constantly trying to fit God into our box, into the person we want Him to be, and constantly fail to allow God to be God? How can we question what God does, expressing how God could possibly do this or that if He were a loving God?
One of the most powerful statements God makes in the Bible is stating "I am". Really, I am? What does that mean? It means God is all there is. God is everything. Within this statement, God is presenting His ultimate being. No matter what God does, He is perfect, what happens is part of His eternal plan.
So many things that God does throughout the Old Testament make me think, "This is not the God that I know. The God I know would not do that!" How arrogant of me! The pridefulness of putting an infinite God in a box! To think that I would know God better than He knows Himself, how ridiculous is that! We did not make God into our image, but we are made in the image of God. We are His, He is not ours. So many times we try to fit God into this person that we can deal with, that we understand, when the Truth is we will never fully understand God, and some of the actions He makes will not make sense to our human minds.
In the end, God is God and we are man. We try so hard to identify God through words, but God transcends words, He transcends our knowledge, and words are the only way that we can begin to identify His characteristics, but they are limiting. We must understand this fact, that words can't explain God, He is greater than any words. Let's not fall into this trap of holding God within our box. Let's allow God to be God!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just takes a little faith!

"If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed." Jesus turned and saw her, "Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.

As I read through Matthew 9 and 10 this continually pops up, "Your faith has healed you!" What!?!?! These people believed that Jesus could heal and that faith healed them. Jesus tells us to have the faith of a little child, not limiting ourselves by what we have seen happen, but believing and having faith that God really can do anything. These people were ordinary people, no scholars or prophets, but people who had the faith of a mustard seed. As we grow older we become so logical, thinking everything has to make sense and everything has it's routine. We think this is how life is, we fall into this routine where everything happens the same way every time, people get sick, go to the doctor and let them take care of it. So are we saying that God can no longer heal in the ways He used to? Or are we just showing a lack of faith? Why can't God still heal in this way? We should believe in the power of the Almighty. Even in the little things, God cares about us. He calls us to seek Him, to ask for things and He will grant them. God wants to display His power, His might, and His majesty. He wants to heal and set the prisoners free, but we fail to offer this freedom to those around us. We fail to make known the greatness of our Lord and Savior. WHY? Why are we so scared of what others might think. If our God is for us, than who can be against us! We love the apostles and we love the work they do. As we read through the New Testament we think, "Wow, now this guy was great!" We read their books and gain knowledge, but we fail to see their true purpose. To bring healing to the captives. We are in the same situation they were, holding the Truth that can set the prisoners free, but we fail to be bold and persistent like these men. We need this faith, faith that God can do anything, and that everyone should experience the freedom and peace that comes with knowing and trusting God. May we find this faith. The faith of a mustard seed!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

God owes me nothing!

Who are we to think that God owes us something? The past month has been difficult for me. This is not how this chapter in my life is supposed to end. I have experienced God's great Love and freedom, but I have felt so much pain and heartache. And I found myself coming before God saying, "I deserve better than this!" or "I'm owed this!" declaring that I have ownership of something. But we are not owed anything!!! We have no right to anything because it's all God's! And God owes us nothing, rather we owe God everything, but we so quickly forget this fact. I'm a sinner, with a debt towards God. He has granted me caretaker of so many of His wonderful things, and although I fail time and time again to honor Him with my everything, He still gives me more. As it says in Ecclesiastes, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Everything is a gift from God and it is beautiful in it's time. I struggle to let go of some of these gifts, claiming ownership of them and completely forgetting that it was a gift, not a right of mine, but something that God had blessed me with. Let us not forget the fact that God does not owe us anything.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Great One

Through all the pain and all the shame,
No matter what I have done,
I can call upon your name
And know that you will come.
Though many times I would forget you
And believe that my way was better,
You still remembered me and called me son.
O, your great love for me,
How perfect and pure,
No man can fathom it!

You are the greatest friend,
You are the perfect father,
You are the majestic creator,
You are the great physician,
You are the strongest fortress,
You are the alpha and omega,
You are Jehovah Jireh,
And I am yours!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Barney God? (Yes the big purple dinosaur!)

How do we see God? Do we see him as the big purple dinosaur singing, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won't you say you love me too."? God is love, but there is so much more to God. Many people view God as this big soft dinosaur who just loves and loves. Why? Because this is a secure, low-risk way to view God, it's the characteristic we want to see. But we can't push aside the other characteristics of God! No, we must view Him in His entirety. This means viewing God as the just God, the God who tells us to fear Him, and El Qanna, the jealous God! These characteristic are not safe at all, but quite dangerous. As C.S. Lewis says in The Chronicles of Narnia, "He is not a safe Lion, but He is good!" We all try to get this level of comfort, but God does not want us to be comfortable, because then we stop pursuing and reaching out for Him. We get stuck in a rut. And God calls us to know Him, He wants to reveal Himself to us. But like any relationship, we must really seek and spend time with Him to know Him, and we must seek and ask for wisdom and knowledge of who He is. Sure God is Love, but have you spent time knowing all of God, the jealous God, the just God, the God who calls on you to do BIG things?

Love without Respect?

How do we love when we as men don't feel respect? It's a difficult task, one that tears apart friendships and marriages. I read the book Love and Respect for my Marriage and Family class at FLI and it was extremely challenging and a little intimidating when looking ahead to marriage. How will I always show love to those I care about when I don't feel the love from them or, even more importantly for men, respect from them? Oh how I have failed several times this semester in this area. My instant response is to shut down and pull away from these people. I tell myself in my mind, "Hey, they aren't showing you respect, so why should you love them, obviously they don't care about you!" Oh the lies of Satan, so deceitful and dangerous, filling our minds with assumptions that are rarely true and tearing apart something beautiful. As soon as we buy into this assumption, this relationship goes into a crazy spinning downfall. Instead of responding instantly, we must pray! Pray for strength, courage, and wisdom that we may put away our selfishness and respond in love, even in the hardest of times. What does this do? It shows your true care for this person and is the beginning of getting back on the right track. Sure, there may be work to do, problems to work out, but it will keep you from falling into this crazy downfall. And men, don't shut down going silent, be the leader, step up and tell the other person, "I still love you no matter what, but that was hurtful. I have been feeling disrespected and I just want to know why." Be open and honest. Shutting down does not do any good, but may be the start of the cycle. Expressing your feelings and hurt shows care for the friendship and demonstrates your love, wanting to solve the issue. But men, also take a look at yourself. Have you been expressing love, or are you the start of the problem. It may take an apology from you to start things off, and if this is the case, don't hesitate. Men, we have become so passive to expressing ourselves, thinking that we should not have emotions but that somehow by being silent and acting like it is not affecting us is demonstrating strength. That is bull-crap!!! Men it is time to step up and be the leader, to be the one who steps forward when problems arise, taking initiative and thus demonstrating our strength. The world is hurting for men like this, for real men who know what it means to be a leader! And women, don't give up hope, but challenge the men around you to be the man you desire. Allow them to lead, force them to lead, and be active in their growth in development by giving them respect and thus in return receiving love! I love you all very much, and ask you all to challenge me in this area as well, because God is still working on me!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Presidential Review

I was informed today by a dear friend that today marks the 100th day since we left FLI. Upon her recommendation I will do a 100 day review of my life since Focus.

There is no single word that can even come close to describing the past 100 days. They have been filled with joy, bondage, freedom, pain, growth, molding, and purification. There are many more words I would like to put in here, but I could go forever. As you can tell, many of these words contradict each other, but isn't that reflective of life. Leaving FLI I was on top of the mountain and slowly have descended, climbed, and descended. Life is up and down, and for so long I feared the valleys, and allowed Satan to make me feel defeated in these times, but as Dr. Thomason would say, "Battles are fought in valleys." I have taken his words of wisdom to help me feel strong in the valley, and to remember that we are to "Consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds, because the testing of our faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (This brings me back to our running group, those early morning runs, quoting scripture and being vulnerable. I miss those days) This semester has been so incredible for me, due in large part to the wisdom of my professors last semester and also my wise roommate, AK.

The largest part of my growth is recognizing who I am, who God created me to be, and living in MY strengths and not in anyone else's strengths. It's been about daily dying to self and recognizing my real purpose on earth, which is to bring glory to El Qanna! Learning is a continual process, and God has shown me so much in the past 100 days. Most recently I have learned a little more about what it means to be a man, through a painful experience. My number two strength is harmony, and I hate conflict, I hate hurting others, and I hate the risk that God sometimes demands us to take. I learned that trusting God is many times not waiting around to the risk lessens and we can avoid conflict, but so many times trusting God is going into a moment of high risk and saying "God, I know this is going to be painful, I really don't want to do this, but I'm trusting You to give me the strength, and to be my shepherd!"

I have grown in the belief of myself. I have downgraded myself over the past year in my ability to teach. I have allowed myself to buy into these lies that I can not teach and that I do not possess what the stereotypical teacher possesses. Why yes this is true that I do not possess the skills that most teachers have, but I have my own strengths, maybe not the strength to be a great presenter and to present new material, but I have the strength to guide students to their own discovery, to make students believe in themselves, and the incredible ability to build strong bonds with any student quickly. I no longer define myself by others, but I know who I am, and I know the incredible man God has created me to be. Even now this brings tears to my eyes. I lived in the bondage of doubt for so long and it is so freeing to finally recognize who I am!

I have been so blessed over the past 100 days, and now Katelyn has sent my mind reeling trying to explain everything that has happened over this period. I have been put through the refiners fire this semester, and although extremely painful at times, I'm becoming purer and slowly becoming more like God. My desire? To be a man after God's own heart, to fully trust in Him (which is the most freeing thing ever), and to continually display the joy of all that God has done in me, never forgetting the blessings of God, and never losing the AWE for who He is! May all recognize the greatness of God, the splendor of being able to meet the creator in an intimate setting, and the incredibleness of being drawn into the Trinity with Him, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

FLI Alum - You have been such an encouragement to me and have taught me so much. I will never forget any of you and the journey I have shared with you. I truly was transformed by my time there, and each one of you had a part in that. Thanks for the journey!

I love all of you so much!!!!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Being a man!

What does it mean to be a man? This has been the question over the past three days. During my counseling session on Friday I was presented with a lot of deep questions about where I'm at and what I want from my future. The question that struck me the most in regards to where I'm at in my life was, "What does it mean to be a man in this situation?" I had no answer, several ideas, but no answer. I have grown so much in the past six months, learning what it means to be a leader in society, learning how to lead a family, learning how to be a husband, and most importantly learning how to be a man of God and seeking to be a man after God's own heart. But after several questions going deeper into the issue, I have seen how I have failed to be a man, how I have failed to step up and be the man I need to be. I have been striving so hard for this level of perfection, which is impossible because after all, I'm a man, fallen and in need of wisdom from above. I have become scared to be vulnerable and to make mistakes, because I feel that this somehow will make me less of a man. What a stupid lie! We will make mistakes and at points we have to make ourselves vulnerable and step-up and be a true man, being a leader, and not holding back.
Now, onto a different topic of manhood, Mr. Matthew Yoder turned sixteen yesterday, introduction into manhood. We had all the men of the church get together and share our wisdom with Matt on what it means to be a man and how to be the men God desires us to be. This generation has become so confused on what it really means to be a man, due in large part to the movies and shows that are on television. Watch almost any new television show and you will see how society has demasculinited men. It shows men as incompetent, to stupid to do anything. It shows men as lazy, allowing the women to do the work. It shows women running the household, running the family, but men, this is not how God created it. God created us to be leaders, to protect women, to make them feel beautiful, and to be a spiritual leader and warrior. Our society, and especially young boys, need to see what it means to be a man, and how this is to be lived out. Young boys have no idea what it truly means to be a man, they need an example to follow, and men it is our responsibility to display for them the true meaning of being a man.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Becoming like Christ?

How do we do this? David was a man after God's own heart. We are told to have the same attitude of Christ. We are to be followers of Jesus and live a life that seeks to honor God in everything we do. But how, as fallen man, do we become like Christ? It is an impossible task, but yet we are told to try. I have become frustrated many times over the past three weeks with this task. I get myself on this become like Christ mode where every little mistake I beat myself up over and constantly overthink every little thing I do, thinking that this particular aspect of my life is not Christlike. Many times these things are not necessarily wrong, it's just not using discernment in a certain situation.
So what are we to do? We can't expect ourselves to be perfect. One of the attacks of Satan is that we must be perfect. But we must remember we are to be like God, not be God. Of course we will fail, but it is important to learn from these failures, but not by dwelling on them. It's identify the lies that we are led to believe, and looking for the Truth that exist. We need to ask for the Holy Spirit to dwell within us everyday, that we may be an extension of Christ, serving our part in the body.
We each have received unique gifts and talents that we are to use to help further the kingdom of God. This brings us back around to community, fulfilling our role, not every role, but helping each other out by knowing our weaknesses and allowing others to fill those weaknesses. It's also about making sure that we have that intimate time with God every day. Isn't it incredible that the creator of all there is, the Alpha and Omega, has invited us into this direct communication with Him, that He would wrap His arms around us when we need it, despite our constant failures.
One of the most encouraging things for me over the past five days has been a little square of paper that a friend made that simply says "Jesus Loves Me=)" with the smiley face upright of course. Over the past days this has sunk in more than ever before. Jesus LOVES me, a sinner, a man struggling through this life, through these questions, struggling to have a heart after God's own heart, but this is what it is all about, the Love of Jesus. My prayer is that we all can truly recognize the grandeur of prayer and the Bible and that God would come down to us and directly communicate with us, having His hand in our lives, and that we may recognize the awesomeness of the words "Jesus Loves Me".

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fear of the Lord

Where has our fear of God gone? We hear a lot about grace and love and forgiveness of sins, but we rarely talk about God being just, about fearing God. Sure it is great to hear about the love God has for us, but what about the wrath of God and that being satisfied? What about El Qanna? How come we never discuss this? Sure God does show us grace and mercy, but God is a jealous God and He will have His Glory fulfilled.
Lately I have been reading through Numbers and Deuteronomy, and like many I wonder why God has the Israelites following all these laws and commands. God is calling the Israelites to be set apart from those around them. God in return shows Israel His favor. Why does He constantly do mighty and great works through the Israelites? To show His power and might, so that all may glorify Him. Did you read that, that they may Glorify HIm! God will make His power known. What else is discussed in these passages? Well God tells Moses that they should fear HIm and that through seeing His power and might firsthand, that they may fear the Lord.
So how are we seeing God's power and might in our lives? So many times we take for granite the things God does for us. But God is displaying His power all around us. Look at the order that is all around us. You think that just came to be? No, that is God's power and might, still at work in our world.
What is our live? We are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. This life is short. At any time we can pass on from this life. Does this not give you a sense of urgency to make sure we are right with God, to reach out to those around us that are being held captive by Satan, or to finally fear the Lord.
We call ourselves a Christian nation, displaying on our coins "In God We Trust", but we fail to truly fear God. Sure we do have some respect for God, trying to make sure God is on our side. Is this enought though? No, we must really fear the Lord, saying that we are nothing without Him. This requires totally dying to self, and allowing the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives, to guide us, give us discernemnt, and to grant us wisdom.
So my challenge to you all: take up this sense of urgency, come to know and serve El Qanna, and to truly fear the Lord!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


What does freedom mean? Well, to quote from Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary, it defines it as: A state of exemption from the power or control of another; liberty; exemption from slavery, servitude or confinement. So exemption from slavery or confinement. Not being controlled by another. Liberty! In a spiritual sense, it's breaking free of the confinement that Satan desires to trap us in. It's finding Truth!!! And in finding Truth we can expose the lies that so many believe. The lies hold many captive, and keep people drudging along with Satan holding a grip on the emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being of a person. When we are held in captivity it is not something we desire, but many times we fail to escape because the escape is painful, it's hard, and we are scared to fail and thus be placed back into bondage with more cruelty shown to us. But God has told us He will be with us, and though this does not keep us from experiencing pain, it does tell us that we will make it if we persevere.
Friends, this is a battle, a battle for the hearts of God's most beloved creation. It's a war and it is time to suit up with the armor of God. Our hearts should be breaking for the captives! In the past three months I have experienced such freedom from the lies that Satan had been holding me down with and I have never been filled with more joy!!! With true joy!! There is a level of urgency here. The longer people live in the lies the harder it is to break free. It's time to seek Truth and make known the lies, setting the captives free, so that those we Love can experience the same freedom that we have. Let's make Satan nervous. It's time to break free the chains!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What's to come?

Well, yet another year down, and another year of adventure. It truly has been a roller coaster year for me. I have been all over the board emotionally dealing with my degree, with my friends, and with my relationship with God. I went from being probably the furthest point I have ever been from God, to becoming the closest that I have ever been to God. In the past year I have learned so much from my mistakes and experiences. The Focus Leadership Institute has helped me learn from my experiences and has helped me see the uniqueness that God made me with. God has gifted me with some incredible strengths and has given me an incredible family and incredible friends who have been there for me through it all. I'm truly blessed to be where I'm at. In the past three months I have learned how to pursue God. I have learned the importance of recognizing my strengths and using those to serve God. I have continued to learn humility. I have seen how God really can use every experience to reveal something about himself.
God loves us. He hates to see us hurt and hates to see us ache. When we are hurting and don't understand the future, God is there with us, weeping. He wishes we could trust Him, because He knows our potential and our future and He hates to see us hurting because we fail to Trust. God does not make us fall into sin. As James says, "Nor does God tempt anyone, but each person is tempted when by his own evil desires he is dragged away and enticed." It's by our own evil desires that we fall from the Truth. But still God is there, wrapping His arms around us, whispering in our ears, "I love you!"
So often I pushed God away when He tries to come near. I refuse to allow anyone to come near to me. That selfish ambition creeps it's way in saying, "It's all about you!" Satan masquerades as an angel of light, tempting us with things that our human nature desires. And it is hard to resist. But James states, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you." God is calling us into a Holy communion with Him. He desires us and wants us to fellowship with Him. Search God, come near to Him. As it says in the book of James, "If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault. But when he ask, he must believe and not doubt." So seek out God in this new year, ask God for wisdom, but when you ask, believe what He tells you, even if it is hard. It's time to trust the Truth of God and to run into His open arms and hear his whisper, "I love you!"