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I'm a stay-at-home Dad suffering from Fibromyalgia. I homeschool my daughter and lead worship at my church. I'm also a gamer and a geek and proud of it.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

God's Place at God's Time

What a week it's been. My expectations for this trip were completely shattered.

It was a week full of hard work, and opportunities to minister, which was expected,  but what blew my mind was what God did during our down time, especially on our free day.

Before I talk about our free day, I have to backtrack a little to the day before. I had a bad fibro flare-up and had ended my day fighting back a pity party.

I kept asking God why I was even on this trip if my body was going to give up two days in.

After some prayer and a cool shower I began to feel a little better but the thought still nagged at the back of my mind.

Why was I on this trip?

So back to free day...

Dave, our youth leader, had painstakingly mapped out our schedule for the day having arranged a tour of a local estuary known for something called 'black water'(still not sure what that is) and would include a tour of some of the local birds. We would then head to El Yunque,  the local rain forest to swim in the waterfall pools followed by a trip to a local beach recommended by one of our interpreters.

Sounded great...right?

Wrong!

God had other plans.

As we were about to pull out for our free day, Dave got a call from Estaban,  the gentleman in charge of the estuary tour, who informed us that there was torrential rains and that the hiking trails were closed.

Ok, change of plans.

A smaller group from Georgia was just about to leave so we asked them if they would let us follow them to El Yunque, as our directions were from the estuary not the retreat center and they agreed.

After a few minor navigational errors we arrived at the rain forest and stopped at an amazing observation tower. The view was breath taking,  and I learned, by overhearing a couple ascending the stairs, the tower had 98 steps. I didn't know it yet but I would meet that couple later on that day.

We decided to head to the falls next. We agreed to follow our friends from Georgia to the trailhead for La Mina Falls and off we went.

Well, for some reason we missed the turn-off for the trailhead and end up at the upper end of the trail. We rolled with it and started down the trail, taking pictures as we went along.

A good way down the trail the same couple from the tower passed us stragglers at the end of our group. As we continued on I could see them in the distance and was horrified to see her slip on the path. Her ankle was turned in an unnatural direction.

Instinct took over as I ran back up the trail to find Dawn, she's a nurse practitioner who was with us on the trip. Having explained the situation we hurried back down the trail to find Keena,  as we would learn her name to be, lying on her back with her husband Tony elevating her leg.

Dawn immediately assessed her, doing all the things a first responder should do. 911 was called and I found myself talking with Keena doing my best to comfort her. I lost track of how many times I prayed over her as Dawn and Zaneta, another adult from our group tried to ease the pain in her leg.

We waited for two hours for the EMTs to arrive and finally get her to safety.

The one thing I remember was her thanking me, and thinking this is why I'm here.

I'm here to be his hands and feet.

I'm here to encourage and bring comfort to Keena.

I'm here to show God's glory to everyone who walk down that trail and saw our compassion and heard our prayers.

God is amazing. He truly orchestrated all this so we would be in the right place at just the right time.

If we had followed our original plan, we wouldn't had been at the rain forest, but would have been at the estuary. If we had stopped at the trailhead and hiked the other path to the falls we wouldn't had been where God wanted us to be.

God knew exactly what Keena needed and chose us to be his hands extended.

If that was the end of the story it would be enough.

But it wasn't.

We received an update from Tony on Keena's condition and she was doing well they were able to set her leg and they were both headed home to Texas. He thanked us again for all our help, but that's not the best part.

The best part...he said that Keena and he have grown closer to each other and God through this ordeal.

We don't always get to see the full extent of us following God's will, and even in this case, I'm certain there was even more lives impacted by our actions, but sometimes we get to see a little bit of the big picture.

And that...

Well, that just makes my heart sing.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mission Trip 2015

So I know I haven't posted in a while (it's hard for me to do during the school year), but as I type this I'm laying in a bunk in a dormitory in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

"Wait what?" You might ask, "how did you end up there?"

I've asked myself the same question many times over the last few months. It all started when my daughter decided that after our grand European vacation she was ready to tackle a missions trip to Puerto Rico. I of course being to great dad that I am asked her if she wanted me to come along as a chaperone.  She of course said yes.

Why did I ask that question? What was I thinking?

I was thinking that it wasn't about me. I will admit that part of my motivation was to help my daughter feel secure in her decision (she has come a long way in regards to getting out of her comfort zone but sometimes needs a little moral support) but it was also to be an example.

Again, it's not about me.

It's not about my comfort.

It's not about impressing my daughter (there are things I already excel at that I could use to stroke my ego.)

It's not about impressing my friends or family.

It's not about bringing myself glory.

It's ALL about God

Its ALL about HIS glory.

It's ALL about being HIS hands and feet.

So here I am in Ponce, way out of my comfort zone, my element, and my wheelhouse, but that okay, because it's not about me.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Attitude Check

     So, my wife and I decided we would start going to the gym on a regular basis starting this Monday. I went to bed the night before apprehensive but excited to get started getting in shape. Then morning came and the voices in my head screamed that there was no way they were letting my body out of bed.

     Mornings are quite frankly the bane of my existence. I have never been a morning person. (Waking up early for Saturday morning cartoons as a kid  doesn't count.) Every morning my alarm goes off at 7:14 am, at which point I hi t snooze repeatedly until 7:30 at which point I pray read a devotional and, most days, I fall back to sleep until at least 9:30. I then have to get up to homeschool but truth be told if I didn't have to get up I wouldn't.

     I know that sounds terribly lazy, but with FMS some days it takes all I got to escape the comfort of bed. With that said I actually dragged myself out of bed around 8 am and headed off to the gym with the wife. Victory!

     This whole thing got me thinking that often we struggle to worship God with our lives because life is just tough. We often equate worship with music, thinking that if I sing the worship songs I don't like or when I'm not in the mood, I have somehow given a sacrifice of praise, but it is so much more than that. Worship is more than a song, it's our service we give to God.

     Sometimes it is very hard to worship him, to serve him, especially when nothing seems to be going our way. When we are in pain, either physical or emotional, it is very difficult to move our focus off of ourselves and onto anyone else. Also sometimes we just feel drained, like we just couldn't do one more thing, but we feel the Spirit nudging us to volunteer for that special project or to fill-in in Sunday School when someone is sick.

     Dragging myself out of bed to head to the gym was a chore, but it was good for me. And guess what I'm going to go again tomorrow. I can't guarantee I won't complain about it, but I'm going to go, and eventually it will become a habit and the complaining will stop. The Bible tells us to do everything without grumbling and complaining and often I beat myself up over my poor attitude. My experience at the gym has help me to realize that even if I feel discourage that I'm not excused from serving my God. And even if I grumble and complain God still sees my willingness to worship him and to serve him. And just like going to the gym, eventually the grumbling and complaining will stop and I'll make it less of a chore and more of a habit to worship Him in all that I do.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Resonate

resonate: to produce or exhibit resonance

resonance: a sound or vibration produced in one object that is caused by the sound or vibration produced in another

There is an awesome song by Sonicflood called Resonate (listen to it here) that started me thinking about God and his glory. I have often heard it said that we are here to reflect God's glory. I find that analogy to be pretty effective in communicating multiple spiritual truths, i.e we have no glory of our own and it all comes from God. It really is a great analogy, but after hearing the above mentioned song I started to wonder if reflection falls a little short.

Let me back up a second and explain how I got there.

Again, we have always heard it said that we are to reflect God's glory, to reflect Christ and his mercy, to reflect God's love. And again, I think those are great analogies. For the longest time I was satisfied with reflection after all I don't want people to see me but to see Christ reflected in me. (How many of you have prayed similar prayers?) And again there is nothing wrong with that, or is there?

You see a while back someone recommended a great book called Music & Ministry: A Biblical Counterpoint by Calvin M. Johansson. While I admit that I don't completely agree with all of his points, there was one thing he spoke about that stood out to me, "Humble Exhaltedness."

What's that?

Simply put it is being humble with out being self-deprecating. It is recognizing our gifts and talents as given to us by God and not apologizing for using them and being good at using them. It's not feeling guilty for being a talented musician and/or singer simply because it makes others jealous.

And why is that?

God gave us those gifts, talents, skill, and shear mental acumen to bring him glory. It makes God happy when we use the gifts he gave us for the purpose he gave them to us. And, guess what, We can be happy about it with God too.

So, that being said, let's get back to the idea of reflection. When a mirror reflects something it shows you an image of that thing. The less imperfections in the mirror the more accurate the image that is reflected. So if we are to be mirrors so we can reflect God's image, i.e His glory, then we need to remove anything that could distort or distract from the image that is being reflected. On the surface this sounds reasonable, but there is one very huge problem with this.

The unspoken rule that goes along with this is that we must stifle our gifts and talents so they don't distract from the reflection. We are made to feel guilty for taking joy in using our God given gifts and made to feel guilty for being prideful and even more so for not realizing we were being prideful. So instead we either downplay our gifts and talents, or worse yet we hide them and never develop the God given gifts with which we have been born. In some ways this is even worse than pride as we are denying the very tools God has given us to give Him glory.

So what do we do?

We resonate.

I started this article with a definition of resonance, but how about an example.

If I strike a tuning fork it will produce a single note or frequency. If I hold that tuning fork close to the strings of a guitar, the string that is tuned to the same note will start to vibrate as well and produce the same note. It won't sound exactly like the tuning fork but it will be the same note. Take that same tuning fork over to a piano and the same thing will happen. Again it won't sound like the tuning fork, or even the guitar from earlier but it will be the same note. That in a nut shell is resonance.

Now think of God as the tuning fork and yourself as the guitar and I'll be the piano. when we resonate with God we will both make the same note but using our own unique sound. In music we call the unique sound an instrument or voice makes its timbre (pronounced tamber).

Just as each instrument has it's own timbre or unique sound, so to do we each have our own unique gifts and talent, our own timbre if you will. And when we allow our selves to resonate God's glory instead of reflecting it we will each reproduce God's glory in our own unique way. And we can rejoice in each other's gifts and talents as they combine, to take the music analogy a little farther, into a grand symphony composed of many different instruments each playing their own parts in order to show forth the infinite complexity of God's glory.

So my challenge to you? Stop reflecting and start resonating, and if you see someone resonating God's glory keep encouraging them and don't let them downplay the importance of the gifts God has given them.