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Encouraged!

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

Acts 12:5

I read this as apart of my daily reading of scripture and was encouraged.  God hears the cry of our heart, He listens, and He acts.  I am so thankful to be filled with the JOY of the Spirit!  To know that I serve an active God who cares puts meaning to my life.  And on a side note…if you read on, Peter walks right out of prison.

My family has been through tough times, and Jack has been used as the focal point for many spiritual attacks.  Jack has had a dislocated wrist three times, burned his arm badly enough for a hospital stay, and last night face planted and cut the inside of his upper lip.  We were discouraged multiple times during this 4 month stretch.

BUT God(!), made His presence known.  Through email, phone calls, skype calls, scripture, and the presence of an awesome friend network in Poland, made HIS presence known!  God revealed to us how big HE is.  We had prayers coming in from every continent, every time zone, from everywhere.  God heard our prayers and He answered.

We only needed to visit the hospital once, we were able to minister to others in the hospital, God answered our Prayers of healing each time.  Twice doctors looked at Jack’s arm in shock to find the burn to look better than expected.  He even didn’t need additional specialized wraps after his exit from the hospital!  And even if He hadn’t answered with a Yes, we would still praise His name.  For God acts in ways that makes sense to Him.  God has authority in and over my family’s life.  I don’t know why we go through these hardships in life, but I know that I have never felt closer to HIM. 

Prayer is the communication between the DIVINE and the undeserving.

Prayer is real communion with our SAVIOR.

Prayer is a way to engage the Community of the Global Church.

Please do not take prayer for granted.  Engage the most high in intimate times of worship.  Pursue active communication with your Heavenly Father.

BE ENCOURAGED.

Chapter 12: Resistance

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 NIV

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay.

Acts 2:26, 27 NIV

 

The reality is, you encounter resistance when following God’s will. We talked about our call to Poland many times before today, but again I acknowledge and submit to the sovereign will of God. I am imperfect, yet used masterfully. Here is a raw account and testimonial of our struggles in life and Christ’s victory in the process as we follow Gods will for our life.

In the past month we established new friendships, have seen an increase of our church numbers, have dreamed big dreams, and sat in God’s presence with peace in our hearts.

 

Struggle: The life long balance of work, family, and ministry.
Victory: Christ is the balanced gravitational force holding each in their spot.

 

This was my family’s first Easter away from family in the states. This would normally have been difficult, but God has provided us with friends so close that they are now family. We ended up enjoying one of the most intimate Easter services I have ever had the privilege of being apart of. We had three of the most important words: friends, food, and fellowship. After an hour of testimonies, we worshiped and took communion together, enjoying Tony’s pursuit into Jesus.

The next weekend we enjoyed continued peace with our first meeting with the newly appointed Missionaries over Poland, Bob and Colleen Skinner, and also enjoyed the company of Jay and Teanna Sunberg. The previous three weeks we had been under some pretty heavy spiritual attack. My attitude has been short and snappy, laziness was settling a little, and I found myself overly defensive. I was at the moment of readiness to receive God’s presence.  For at our lowest, God is at His greatest.

In this intimate time of fellowship I opened up to the struggle of my heart and God spoke through my new found mentors. God’s peace is a beautiful thing. I am not an overly emotional guy, I can recall nearly every time in my life I have had a good cry, the ugly kind. God’s presence filled our time and remained throughout their visit.   I enjoy it when people are authentic enough and secure enough in their faith that they pray in the moment. I often sincerely offer future prayer, encouraging, and leaving it at that.  There is something more fulfilling to meet needs head on with in the moment prayer.

 

God prepares us for life and never gives us more than we can handle. After a weekend of enjoyable company, we looked forward to family bonding time with little agenda. At 7pm  on Friday April 12th, life happened. While talking to Loralie in the living room, Jack, ninja-like, snuck out of the kid’s room and walked to the kitchen counter. Now a week ago there seemed to be a limit to what could be reached, Jack broke that limit. He grabbed a freshly poured cup of tea, and pulled it onto himself.

I have been in the hospital for 60 hours, Michelle over 30, and God taught us much, like:
It is okay to cry in public, especially when our children have been hurt.
I pray selfishly more than not
I dislike hospitals because I can’t hide from pain and sufferings.
I have never felt more helpless in all my life and yet I felt God’s presence.
Having your child in pain out of your control, reminds us that God is still at work.

I started the weekend, and first night of less than 3 hours of sleep with no morning coffee, ready to go home. I thought about flying back to the states to fulfill treatment, leaving with my parents in June after their visit, and a variety of other choices to quickly exit the country (stopping only long enough to pick up my wife and kids). God revisited Ephesians 6, reminding me that at times in our life when we are following Gods path for us we should expect retaliation from Satan.  This is why it is so important to read God’s word!

God comforted me in that hospital.  In my deepest darkest trouble, God was a guiding light.  In this, I hope you find hope. Even in the dark times of our lives we find God as our guiding light. He doesn’t show the end journey (to all), nor does He have a traffic mirror illuminating what’s around the corner, He chooses to light our feet. Whether to keep our heads focused on our immediate surroundings, or to slow our stride; the idea is to trust. It is about walking with Christ day in and day out. It is about intentional time with Christ, and being intentionally present as a light in this dark world.

We have survived this wave of trials, pressing on towards the goal of serving the Most High.  I ask that you keep my family and God’s ministry in your prayer.  Here is how you can pray for us more specifically:

  • Family’s Health
    • Jack’s burn to continue to heal quickly
    • Jack is teething…did I mention that? J
    • All to recover from our stay at the Hospital quickly
  • Ministry
    • For more volunteers to come to Poland, both to Poznan and Krakow
    • For God to bless our time with our staff before they head home this summer
    • For our local church to grow in number
    • For all the volunteers and missionaries on the field to be strengthened and protected during times of spiritual attack
  • Funding
    • For $8,000 to become fully funded and be able to complete our contract
    • For our current and future volunteer’s as they fundraise to travel to, and return to, Poland.
  • Future Guidance
    • Knowing our future direction, to return or the next step, to understand how better to prepare and how best to spend our time remaining

 

I pray that God would bless you richly.  You all have been a very important part of our lives.  Without your prayer and support, we would not be where we are today.  You have encouraged us, prayed for us, financially provided for us.  You are a vital piece of our foundation, and we are humbled.

We will continue to serve Poland till God’s direction and call to our next journey.  Our contract ends in November of 2013, but our financials will have us leaving end of July if we do not raise additional funds.  We know God as our provider and trust in Him.   Know that when we return, whenever that may be, our current plan is to re-fundraise and return to the field, wherever that may be!

Times of hardship, hope for the future

As you may know, this weekend has been absolutely horrible.  On Friday night Jack got 2nd Degree burns on much of his left arm.  Circling an inch below his wrist to just above his elbow, the burn was severe.  He also had burns on his hands that cleared up very quickly.  Please keep my family in your prayers.  I would never wish going through the stay at a hospital on anyone.  The pain to see your child going through an experience that is completely out of your control, is near unbearable.

My mother sent me this from her devotionals earlier this week:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. —James 1:2-3

It is hard to see the good in any situation when you are face first in it.  I have never cried so openly, prayed so earnestly, or been so troubled.  But, God is faithful.  Though this time has been troubling, God’s presence has not left us.  Though we may feel like running away, their is confirmation of our call in the midst of struggle.

Know that you are never alone, no matter how hard the trial.  We serve a big God who is our healer, protector, and provider.  As I stop to think about God’s provision for my life in the midst of misfortune, may you take the time to reflect on God’s presence in yours.

Love.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 10:34-35

 

During the time of the last supper, Jesus said these powerful words.  He has just washed the feet, broken bread, and reclined with those closest to Him.   I usually pass through these verses with little thought, but this morning it struck me differently.  Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, and He still preformed all these actions.  This is the difference of professing to be a follower of Christ is really all about; you choose to forgive your enemies, even before they have struck out at you. Jesus didn’t just eat with sinners; He served them.

Love.  It is a simple instruction, with intentional and serious implications.  Jesus loved Judas.  Just let that sink in.  Jesus LOVES Judas.  Even in the final moments of the last supper, Jesus reclined with Judas.  Jesus washed the feet of Judas.  Jesus served Judas.  Judas was still given control of the money!  I can only imagine that my remarks would not have been so subtle, my jab would have been more pointed, my approach more antagonistic and passive aggressive.  Yet, Jesus loves.

I think about this instruction to Love and its impact on my life, the lives of those around me, on those who are not considered friend, but enemy.  To love someone as Jesus loves, takes a change of perspective.  It is to acknowledge that your purpose in this world is above selfish ambition, equality according to this world’s standards wont cut it, grace is unfair, and the big picture has you playing a part, but it’s not leading role.  Love takes the focus off of you (me) and puts the focus on the other.

This concept of Love is why Jesus says in verse 35 that, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Love is so powerful, that when you fully embrace loving others, you will be understood to be a disciple of Christ.  Christ is Love.  To love others is to bring the presence of our living God and savior to this world.

What an awesome honor to be the hands and feet of Christ. 

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