The Words Coming Out of My Mouth

Here is the second piece I wrote for our church’s Daring Faith campaign.  Feel free to comment and share!

Romans 10:17 – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

wp-1474424742028.jpgAre you like me? Are you a little concerned at times that sharing your faith in Christ might offend someone?  Has it kept you silent in those opportune moments when you have a person in front of you who needs to hear the truth of God’s Word?  Yeah.  Me too, and if we are honest, we all would admit to having those moments.  So how do we change it?

Growing up, I always viewed this verse as a mandate for me to share the Word of God with every unsaved person I meet in order to give them the opportunity to come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but is it possible there is more there than that? I think there might be.  I see Paul’s words here in Romans 10 as a challenge to us, just like I was taught, but I also see something that should make us all pause and think for a moment.

What if this verse is talking about my faith as a believer being the catalyst for someone to come to know Christ?

I sometimes feel that sharing my faith will fall on deaf ears or that I might offend, but when I am honest with myself, I think it is more like I am not always able to show a true belief in what I am saying.  I believe in Christ, and I trust Him for my salvation, but my faith in Him is not strong enough to compel someone to ask a question or engage in a conversation.  It’s not that an unsaved person is dependent on anything I bring to the table, but am I making a strong enough case for what Christ is doing in my life that it makes them want the same thing?

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The time I spend in God’s Word has a direct effect on how well I am able to speak to the spiritual needs and concerns of those I come in contact with.  My time in the Word provides insight to situations, points our deficiencies in my character I can address with God’s help, and knowledge to know just how to do those things as God provided His wisdom and the opportunities to use it.

That time in the Word develops my faith in the living God and it keeps Him in the front of my mind.  It gives me strength for the day, and excitement to share what He is doing.  It provides instant recall to His promises and His record of provision.  Having all of this at my fingertips as a result of my time hearing the Word allows me to provide a more compelling testimony to those who are searching.  We might not realize it, but they are always listening for real faith.

That is why I want to be Relentless in my growth as a believer.  I am not going to do it right all of the time, and I will have periods of time when it seems like nothing is happening at all, but I never want to settle.  The actions I take toward knowing Christ better and the experiences I share about how He is working in me are all opportunities for someone to hear that little thing that may draw them to know Christ as well.  It’s not me.  It is Christ using me.

  • Do you have opportunities to share God’s work in your life? Are you capitalizing on them?
  • Are you spending time in the Word on a regular basis?
  • Who can you start talking to about what God did for you this week?

Father, we have a hard time believing those we don’t know, and we have your Word to show us how to know you better.  Help us to take those moments in Your Word and treasure them.  Use them to build our faith as we listen to Your Spirit speaking into our hearts and give us the opportunity and excitement to share Your good news with those who need You.

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Why I believe the Incredible Hulk May Be a Type 2 Diabetic…

The Hulk In Me Nearly Got Out Today…maxresdefault

So, I have already shared with you the new journey I am on in regards to my health.  You can read more about my diabetes diagnosis here.  Starting down this road I have been forced to look at my life in a different way, and that has led to some new experiences I have had to deal with as well.

One of the first things I have had to face is my addiction to food.  It had such a control over me and my thoughts that I would sit and think about the food I would eat, how it would taste, and how much of it I could have.  Well, I am now thinking about food a lot, but in a better way.  What can I eat that will keep me healthy?  What foods are trying to control me that I need to learn to manage properly?  When can I allow myself to enjoy something and when should I turn it down?  All good changes.

I have also had to learn to deal with my emotions a little differently.  Food has always been something that helped me with my emotions, but now I do not have the ability to use that crutch the way I once did.  I am spending more time talking to God when I feel unstable, and He is speaking into me and my life, allowing me the strength necessary to handle how I feel in different circumstances.

Another area that I have experienced a couple challenges is when the desire for the old stuff is just overwhelming.  I had a night a couple of weeks ago where I would have done anything for a Coke and a Hershey bar.  Two things that I absolutely love, but will probably never indulge in at the same time again! My kind and compassionate wife was so good in how she listened to me and let me have my time to whine before I finally picked myself up and went and found a handful of nuts and berries to chew on.  She is so amazing!

I have had a couple episodes where I felt very weak and shaky and after a glucose test, I found I was finally in the normal range.  While I should not feel strange in the normal range, I had been running high for so long that normal felt weird!  There have been two “step downs” where that has happened.  The first time I hit 120 and the first time I hit 100.  I have not been under 100 to my knowledge – until today…

Cherry Festival is going on in Traverse City, just a short hop to the next county over.  I hate Cherry Festival and the crowds it brings, but it also brings the Blue Angels, and for that and that alone I am willing to enter the craziness that is Cherry Fest.  So, today after church we made our way down to the beach with about 100,000 of our closest friends and set up our beach chairs in the midst of the unwashed masses to await the show.

20150801_Seafair-Air-Show_3812_GW-620x414We brought our lunches and books and just enjoyed listening to the waves and the bickering that emanated from the family groups around us.  We soaked in the sun and splashed in the water from time to time and just enjoyed another day as a family of four.  The show was great and the jets were amazing as always.

After the show, we began the 40 minute trek to cover the 8 miles to get our son to work on time at the pizza and ice cream shop.  We had decided that we would get a pizza for supper before going back to the beach to wait out the remainder of the day before taking in some fireworks.  This is going to be a LOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG day!

As I walked up to the doors of the restaurant, the line to order was extended outside.  There was a polite sign on the door asking the clientele to please not leave the door open so the air conditioning inside could keep up.  So, I dutifully stood there in the hot sun waiting for the line to go down enough for me to enter the portal and enjoy the chilled atmosphere.

Standing there I observed a person cut into line by walking around the group standing there, opening the door and taking the first spot inside the door in the cool air.  I thought that was not nice, but I held my tongue and ground.  A few minutes later, I saw a couple of people do the exact same thing.  I began to feel a little edgy over that. Not mad, just uncomfortable.  Then a third interloper did the exact same thing and I calmly and purposely decided that if another person went through that door in a manner of “cutting” I would just step forward and knee cap them.  This was a firm and real decision with no exaggeration.  It seemed a rational response.

By God’s grace, the line moved us up and I was inside.  I thought that the cool air might settle me and all would soon be well as I was going to order a pizza and pizza is a balm to my soul.

The door opened behind me and a little old lady stepped in with her husband.  I was very aware of her presence as she actually pushed me forward in line.  I turned over my should to see her and as the door opened again I was blessed with a strong dose of her husband’s body odor.  I had new friends.

Over the next four minutes I stood there she prodded me forward three times and then told me that if I was not going to move up in the line she would be happy to move around me.  I turned back to her and said I was in line and would move in the line as the line moved.  I turned my back to her again and decided that if she pushed me one more time I was just going to turn around and smack her.  Again, it was not that I was terribly angry or anything.  I just felt that it was a reasonable response to her actions that I was going to follow through with.

God moved again through my wife and she showed up and we moved to another line where we could place our order for our supper.  I was now away from the little old lady and I felt fine as could be and was actually pleased I would not be forced to deal with her as I had thought would be necessary.

Tammi went out to the car to put some stuff away and I stepped forward to place my order for a pizza.  I was standing about 6 inches from the counter as most people would and was near the end of the process when a young boy started squirming his way in between me and the counter while I am again getting jostled from behind by the rest of his litter family while the parents of this menagerie looked on with complete indifference.  I moved to the side as soon as the debit transaction completed and was thinking that I was going to just start throwing people over the counter to clear some room when my wife walked up again to help me with the drinks.

We went over to a table and sat down.  I sat there for a minute or two and tried to get a handle on these weird and violent thoughts I was having.  I knew I was starting to feel hungry, but I did not “feel” angry.  In a very “matter of fact” way, I just felt that these people needed to be dealt with for the way they were behaving.  It was strange to have such violent thought without any real emotion.  So I began to wonder if this might be a glucose thing.

I excused myself to the car to get my kit and tested.  Sure enough. I was at 71.  A new low, and an actual low.  That explained it.  I went back in and told Tammi about it and once I knew what was going on for sure, I started to be able to sort it all out.  Food came a few minutes later, I ate, and not long after that I felt myself again.odeur-71

I joked with Tammi that it was like I was going to “hulk out” at these people and I wasn’t even really mad.  I decided at that point that the Incredible Hulk is a Type 2 diabetic dealing with low blood sugar.  He’s not really mad, he is just trying to get the world to manner up and give him some space.

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  This journey of a diabetic life is a learning experience.  There are things I know, and there are things I don’t, but I hope that anyone with diabetes reading this will see that if we keep a positive attitude, discipline ourselves on our diets, and pay close attention to not only what we are feeling, but why we are feeling it, we can control this.

There is a peace in this new life that comes directly from God’s promise to be with me and to give me strength for the battles I face.  As a believer this gives me confidence of victory and courage to keep fighting.  I say fighting, because this is a battle with my old habits and desires.  In order to be healthy I need to look at this as a war that needs to be won rather than something I can live with by taking a pill.

I want this aspect of my life to be handled Relentlessly.  I will not give up, and I will throw all I have at defeating it.  The best thing I have to use in this battle is my desire for God to be glorified in it.  I trust that He will give me the victory and I will give Him the glory.

Now that we are at the end of this story.  I need people to know that I realize low blood sugar is not funny and I need to take it seriously.  I do.  I really do.  The thing we also need to remember is that funny is funny and we need to laugh.  It is part of the attitude that gives us victory!

Be Relentless! Not violent!

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42 – What Happens Next?

Answer_to_Life“42 was found to be the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Unfortunately, it was not known exactly what the question was, so nobody is any the wiser.”

– ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’

Well, another year has come and gone, and I hope that I am a bit wiser for the last 365 days of spinning around the sun.  I know there are several people who would probably like to weigh in on that one, but they will have to do so in the comments below, and since that seems to be a fairly untrodden patch of dirt,  I feel pretty safe.

I have been trying to think of something witty to say for my 42nd birthday blog.  What type of topic would best fit such a year of significance?  Douglas Adams gave us the number 42 as the answer to everything, but as he said, if we don’t know exactly what the question is, 42 just falls kind flat.  So, that makes me ask, what has been the big question of my last 12 months?

“What happens next?”

Yep.  That has probably been the biggest question of the last year.  It has led us down roads that felt ominous, filled with worry and concern.  What is Tammi’s job going to be like?  What is my job going to be like?  What does school look like for the kids next year?  What is my Men’s Group going to look like?  What should I do about teaching? What should I be thinking about my future ministry opportunities?

Well, Tammi’s job smoothed out and things are going well.  I’ve seen a lot of change in my role at work and things have been getting steadily better there.  We are seeing the college situation for BOTH kids coming into focus.  I think the Men’s Group is in a state of change, but may very well be on the cusp of something amazing.  Teaching is still in the air, but future ministry opportunities are looking more and more interesting, even if they are on a slight pause at this time.

Monday I was reading in Joshua 1.  Joshua has just taken up the mantle of leadership for the nation of Israel, and is standing at the border of the Promised Land.  Moses is dead, and he is looking around at all these people who are looking at him expectantly.  I imagine the thought, “What happens next?” went through his mind.

I like to wonder if God saw these doubts in Joshua’s mind.  It makes sense that He did since He immediately came to Him to have a chat:

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. – Joshua 1:5-6

Imagine that. God Himself speaking to you and saying, “No man can beat you for the rest of your life. I am with you. Always. Get ready to be strong and show courage because I am going to use you to fulfill MY promise to these people!” Got any goosebumps yet? I do! God goes on to tell Joshua two more times to be strong and courageous; reinforcing His promise to Joshua and the people of Israel.

I would think that after that, Joshua had to be feeling a bit better. He had been reassured by God and had been given a promise of protection and victory! The next step was to address the people. He told them to prepare for battle. He reminded them of promises made by God to them, and of promises made by the people to God. Things are looking pretty good, and then the people answer him:

And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.” – Joshua 1:16-18

What a coincidence!  These people, who I do not believe heard God talking to Joshua, tell him the exact same thing that God did!  Why it almost makes you think that God might have used them to reinforce what He had just told Joshua!  That would probably be because that is exactly what He did!  God used this interaction with the men that he led to speak truth into Joshua at a time and in a place that he would know God was at work.

I have had a lot of these moments over the past year. “Coincidences” that just seem to come out of nowhere as someone tells me something “out of the blue” that I had just read that morning in the Bible.  I have had people walk up and make offers to do things that were direct answers to prayers that I had just prayed about that morning!  Some people would call it coincidence, luck, karma…  I call it God, and when it happens I find myself asking an old question in a new way – with expectancy!

“What happens next?”

I don’t know. I am on the cusp of a new year. I have never been closer to God than I am right now. My relationship with my wife and kids is better than ever. God has brought four men into my life that are the closest friends I have ever had. They speak truth into me and are often telling me in their own ways to be strong and courageous. I am looking at the future of what God is going to do with my life in regards to ministry, and I see His hand has been moving me toward a change for some time. Now I see it just over the horizon as I look at the opportunity to join in the work at Starwood Ranch and Overboard Ministries.

What happens next? I don’t really know, but I know that the Relentless Life I have been pursuing in my relationship with God has brought me here. It is taking me into new territories where I will need to trust Him not only for wisdom and strength, but for the courage to go the distance with Him.

This is going to be a big year for me. I’m going after it with my God, my family, and my friends. I’ll let you know what happened in 365 days!

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