Thursday, May 28, 2015

When God says no

Have you ever had a big decision to make? If you have and if you are a Christian, than you know that lots of prayer is an essential.  You also know if the above two things are true that the Lord doesn't always give us this clear answer.You pray fervently that God would show you his will for your life and give you a clear yes or no, but when he does not, it is our job to be obedient to what has already been revealed about God's will for our lives through his Word. Knowing that we should seek first the Kingdom of God, we should take action. "Just Do Something," as Kevin Deyoung's great book on this topic states (a book I highly recommend if you have bid decisions to make!). All the while, we can trust that if we truly give our lives to God, he will establish our plans. (Proverbs 16:3)

Sometimes, however, God is gracious enough to give us a direct answer to our prayers, one that is unmistakably a yes or no. Praise the Lord for this! It is great to receive this confirmation, and our hearts should rejoice in it!

But what if the answer is no?

Hears where it gets hard. Sometimes you pray and pray about a decision, convince yourself that it is the Lord's will for your life. You take that step of faith towards that open door--only to have it shut in front of you. And it doesn't feel good--kind of like stubbing your spiritual toes, if you will allow me to stretch the metaphor. But hold on a second, isn't this the answer to prayer you wanted? Shouldn't we be amazed that God cares enough about us to give us a glimpse of the perfect plan for our lives? Who are we to set up this farce with God that "Lord, I really want to know your answer to this decision, but since I already know what is best for me, your decision has to be yes, okay?"

So how do we learn to rejoice when the answer is no? Simply, I believe, by holding to the promise of God that He really does have a perfect plan for us! When we truly believe this, we can thank God for the closed doors. Thank you, Lord, for saving me from another rabbit trail and guiding me in those good works you have planned for me! (Ephesians 2:10) I don't know how to say it any simpler: trust God, and you can rejoice in all things and under every circumstance (even trials!)! (Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, James 1:2)

Yes, this is on my mind because God did just answer no to one of the plans I had made. And yes, it didn't feel worthy of rejoicing in at first, but when I realized that God was gracious enough to give me this answer instead of letting me kick down a barred door, I found joy and thankfulness!

God is good, all the time.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Couple takeaways from the 10th annual Christian Heritage Homeschool Conference

Hello everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts on here recently. I have been really busy (and sick :0/)! My family and I had the privilege of attending the Christian Heritage Conference in Redmond this weekend, and it is always an amazing time of growth in our convictions and fellowship with like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ! I can't remember a time when I have taken more away from the conference than this time; it was that good! I have shared a few of my takeaways below, mostly because for me, writing my thoughts down helps me solidify them in my mind. ;0)
  First off, I have to break down my takeaways into two categories: My faith, and the practical "doing" of my faith. For my faith, it was great to hear Vodie Baucham's last key note that basically asked and answered the question, Where is God in suffering? His answer made sense. His answer was Biblical. And his answer really strengthened my faith. God is with us and hears us when we are going through hard times; how dare we think that just because our prayers our not answered right away and in the way we want that God is somehow distant? It is when we realize that God is in control and has a perfect plan for us and the world that we can find peace in suffering, knowing that our Lord is using the hard things in life to strengthen us in Him! It was also great to hear Mr. Baucham talk about what the Gospel really is and what it means to our lives as Christians in an earlier session. The Good News is relevant for far more than salvation; it is applicable (and indeed needed) for every day of our Christian lives! It is our hope!

For the practical "doing" of my faith, I was incredibly blessed and convicted by Daniel Craig's session "Do Something". I've really struggled with applying myself wholeheartedly to the little things in life. It's easy to get caught up in the lie that those "big" opportunities come out of nowhere and all you have to do is sort of sit back and wait around for them. In reality, it is only when we diligently apply ourselves to what God has put before us in the here and now--chores, work for the family, that low-paying job, school--that more opportunities will come. As a young man who is struggling to find out exactly what the Lord wants me to do with my life (and a young man that has had daydreams of that will just zamming him out of nowhere so it will be abundantly clear), the simple message “be faithful with the little things” was something I needed to hear. We are privileged to be ambassadors for Christ no matter where we go in life; let’s make the most of our calling!

A close second in this category was Curtis Browers session on practical advice for running any business. It helped me realize that I’ve let myself get away from my original commitment with my business to use it to serve and bless my customers. I’ve let myself lately become so task-oriented and, honestly, money oriented, that I really have not been blessing many of my customers. Mr. Browers shared how we need to apply the second greatest commandment—love your neighbor as yourself—just as much to our businesses as anything else, and that is so true! It’s part of our witness as Christians and our service to the Lord, and He will bless us for it.

Lastly, Mr. Champs session for young man on purity got right to the heart of the struggles we young men (and older men too) face to keep ourselves pure in a sex-obsessed world.  Radical steps are needed if we want to have victory in this area; young men, let’s take them!

As far as highlights go, it was a great privilege and honor to talk with Douglas Bond during one of the sessions. I love his writings, but I was even more impressed in meeting the man behind the stories. He caught me up on his recent projects (including a book on C. S. Lewis that sounds awesome and the progress of the film adaption of Duncan’s War!), and hey, he even signed the book I bought. ;0)

And of course, a main highlight was catching up with all you friends! It was great seeing you all again! For those of you blog followers who attended the conference, how did God use this conference to speak to you? What main things did you takeaway from the conference?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Greatest Story

Hi guys! This is just something I wrote late last night. You can give a sudden flash of inspiration the credit for my sleeplessness and everything written below.

Either that or a coughing fit. ;0)

The Greatest Story
What is a great story, I wonder? Are they not the ones that truly captivate us and move us, the stories that point to some bigger meaning that we long to discover? And where are these stories found? Are they found in the happy confines of average life--where nothing unexpected ever happens and the main characters live normal life all their days? No, surely not! To me, a great story is found in two little Hobbits leaving the comfort of the Shire far behind for Mount Doom. It's in a shipwreck and a deserted island or a land of perpetual ice and snow.

It's strange: the stories that truly mean something to me—and probably to a lot of people, come to think of it—are the ones filled with danger and dread. What is a story without woe, betrayal, and treachery?

But no, all that really doesn't make for a great story (unless you are a really, really messed up person I suppose). It's what comes out of the darkness that counts. In the great stories, betrayal is replaced by beauty, treachery by treasure, and woe by wonder.

But how does that happen? Isn’t it by the bravery and endurance of the main characters that darkness turns to light? Yes! Commitment and courage, friendship and faithfulness, Service and steadfastness--all are prerequisites of a main character in these epics. Samwise Gamgee, Robinson Crusoe's man Friday, and little Lucy Pevensie come to mind.

So what is a great story? To me, it's far from comfort and close to calamity. It's full of tension and even terror, but resolved in healing and happily ever after. Memorable characters burst from these stories and captivate us, and we only wish that they could exist outside the world of imagination and inspiration!

To take it one step further: what is the greatest story ever told? Is it found in the fictional worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia? Maybe, but what if even these great stories are only a shadow of the greatest story, the one that has been unfolding in our world since the beginning? 

What if it's found in the middle of the serene gift of a garden paradise, but then in the tragedy of a forbidden fruit and a fall?  What if it is in the mercy of the Maker and the suffering of a Savior? Surely, there is a story filled with betrayal and beauty, treachery and treasure, woe and wonder, and praise be for the mercy of the Maker, the end of this story is healing and happily ever after.

But what does that make us? What if . . . Imagine it! What if we are characters in this greatest story, this epic that outshines all others? Do we even dare to imagine that we could be a Samwise Gamgee or a Lucy Pevensie? When I consider who the Author is of this story, I dare to hope. Placing this hope in Him, I strive to be courageous and committed. I long to be found faithful as a friend and steadfast as a servant!

But no Samwise Gamgee is alone. There be warriors and weapons. There be fears and fortresses to conquer. There be a Lord and a Light to follow. So there is one more question I must ask:

Will you join me?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Boastful Pride of Life

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NASB)

Our men's group just studied this verse, and what really struck me was "the boastful pride of life". What does that mean? I believe it is taking pride in one's life accomplishments . . . and boasting about them. Which gets me thinking, how many times have I stepped outside of my Father's will and boasted about my life achievements?

One of the easiest places to do this is on social media. As I examine my past posts, if I am honest, there are many posts that I have shared in pride . . . all under the guise of keeping you all informed with what God's been doing in my life. It is humbling and convicting.

Social Media allows us to hide behind a shiny, white-washed version of ourselves, where sin is swept under the mat and our best foot is always put forward. How often do we post selfies because, "hey, we are looking good!" How often do we post videos or pictures of ourselves doing some crazy thing or another--all for laughs, right? Or are we secretly motivated by our deep desire to receive attention and admiration?

From the moment we are born, we are driven by our sinful nature to bring glory to ourselves. You see this even with toddlers, as they hold a crowd of onlookers captive by their cute little antics. Their little faces practically glow with three words: Look. At. Me. I don't think we ever outgrow this hunger for glory on our own. It is only when we surrender ourselves to the Lord's will that we truly find freedom from pride. It is through the Father's love that we find fulfillment and freedom from the constant pressure to prove how awesome we are. Instead, we can finally live the life we were created for: to prove how awesome God is.

So my challenge to all of you is to take a serious look at your Social Media pages. Can you honestly say that they are bringing glory to God . . . or do they more resemble a world that shouts those three little words: Look. At. Me?

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
(Mathew 5:16 NASB)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I'm alive!

Yes, it's true! I'm not dead, in case you were wondering--just "mostly dead" as Miracle Max would put it. ;0) Haha, life has been incredibly busy, but it has been good--except for this nagging cold I've been fighting for the last week, which has made my voice rather hoarse and close to unintelligible over the phone I'm sure--but I digress. I just have not had time to keep up this blog, so I thought I would patch together a quick post to catch up anyone who is interested with what has been going on with me in the last few weeks. ;0)

First of all, Hershey the Cub Cadet mower is sold! She sold a few days after I posted her on Craigslist, which was a big blessing!

Secondly, I got my new trailer!!! I outgrew my little 4x8 "wagon" really quickly, so this past offseason I have been on the hunt for a new trailer. I could not find something that would fit my needs off of Craigslist, so I eventually found a good deal on a new, custom made 6x12 cargo trailer at a dealership in Chehalis. After waiting for a few weeks for it to be built down in Texas, I was able to pick it up last Thursday!

It matches the trim on my truck quite nicely!

The inside. I put a couple coats of Deckover on the floor to protect it against any water my mowers might track in. I will post a picture soon of all the stuff I have done to customize the inside!

I am really looking forward to using my new mowers this season!

 My zero turn mower!

A 36" walk behind. It's an adventure mowing with this beast. ;0)

Kyle's Clipper has really been picking up steam. I am mowing all but a few of my lawns from last year this week (though I have been mowing some lawns since the middle of February!), and I have already (most likely) picked up 6 new lawns this mowing season! Praise the Lord for His blessings!

I am also officially a Limited Liability Corporation now. Oh the joy of being on the state's radar and paying taxes!

-_- Moving on . . .

I am still working part time with the tree service. The plan was to end work there the beginning of this month, but due to a delay with my replacement, my boss has really wanted me to stay on for a couple more weeks. I don't mind the extra work, but yeah, I've been super busy as a result. ;0) It's been a good job though. I've learned a lot!

Oh, and on top of all that, I am considering a 4 month missions trip this coming winter. I know, I am terrible with details! One of these days I will put together a more complete post on how the Lord has been leading my heart to pursue a missions internship, but suffice to say for now, I really feel led to consider if the Lord might have me serve cross-culturally!

So yes, please pray for me! Specifically that my head will somehow stay upon my shoulders during this busy season so that I can stay only "mostly dead". ;0)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

She's just as beautiful as the day I met her . . .

Last spring, I met this gal, and I knew instantly that I had found the one. We worked together all of last year, and she was the best ever, in my opinion! I spent many, many hours with her--in the wind and rain or in the bright sunshine, on the good days and the bad days. We made a great team! Those days I will always remember as some of the most awesome in my young life.

But alas! It did not last. This was my decision, I must admit. I have decided to move on. But as I look at her picture, I wonder if I made the right choice . . .

Because, you see, I realize that she is just as beautiful as the day I met her . . .

So, um, anybody want a mower?


(Yes, this was supposed to be a Valentine's Day joke being that I am not at all a fan of your typical "tragic romance", but I didn't get the chance to post it till today) ;0)

(and I should also mention in my defense that when you name something and then spend a whole summer riding around on it, you do naturally get kind of attached . . .) ;0)