I love watching God show up in ways you don’t anticipate!

This year has been a year of those unanticipated arrivals, but it shouldn’t have been.  This year my wife committed herself to praying for two major things in 2010.  Both of these prayers were answered.  Man, my wife is good!  One of these prayers I won’t share publically because it involves a close friend.  The other, I can proudly say, was our pregnancy and recent birth of Natalie Faith.

We had been trying for quite some time and due to medical complications (likely stemming from either one of us) it just wasn’t happening.  However, this was the year.  Phase 1 – complete!  Now we just had to figure out the delivery part.  We also anticipated a little more of an issue with her delivery because we had complications with the first pregnancy.  The days and weeks dragged on.  We couldn’t wait.  Finally, on December 1st, they delivered her at 37 weeks.  Our new, healthy daughter was about 2 lbs. heavier than they thought she could be.  Everyone is in good health.  Phase 2 – complete!

I attribute both of these answered prayers to God’s grace and my wife’s prayers.  It doesn’t stop there though.    Over the past few years I have been seeing multiple doctors trying to figure out the cause of my continual headaches.  While we haven’t found a solution quite yet we might be close (looking back, maybe that will be another answered prayer for 2010).  In the process, though, it has been fairly expensive.  As I look back, I am both humbled and blown away at God’s provision for us financially.  I don’t know where the money seems to come from but we have been well taken care of, much more than I would have ever expected.

In light of all of that, why do I get so frustrated at each new doctor’s appointment and each new bill?  Why do I get irritated when circumstances don’t turn out my way?  Why do I question so many things in moments of melancholy? In short, why can’t I trust God’s sovereignty emotionally even when I trust Him intellectually?

Some might say that I really don’t trust Him intellectually at all.  I would have to respectfully disagree with that because I really do believe God’s Word means what it says.  As I’ve thought about this, I think the issue is giving God control over my emotions.  I’m sure some of that will probably require an intellectual approach but much of it will likely be resting in who God is and not what I feel.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Maybe this is you!  If so, take heart because we are in this together.

However, some of you may be reading this and you struggle not only with the emotional but also with the intellectual.  To you I say keep searching out the truth from God’s Word and keep asking the hard questions.  God’s desire is to show himself to you.  God’s very nature is love (1 John 4:8) and he loves all men (John 3:16).  He demonstrated that by sending his own son to die so that we might be reconciled to him (Romans 5:8).  God’s word is true (Psalm 119:160) and he promises to supply every needed thing (Philippians 4:19) to those who call him friend (John 15:14).

If this is you, let me encourage you to look up those verses and consider their implications for your life.

During the Christmas season we celebrate how God, through Jesus Christ, showed up in an unexpected way answering the prayers that many had been praying for a long time.

My continued prayer for 2010 and beyond is that God will continue to show up unexpectedly, bringing honor and glory to himself.

Merry Christmas!

What is God’s grading scale?

This was a question asked recently by one of my teachers. What an intriguing question if you stop to think about it, especially if you’re a teacher like myself. Does God grade on the curve? Does He use a traditional grading scale? If so, what would it take to get an A or B? Maybe He grades using Pass/Fail.

How you choose to answer may depend on a variety of things but you can be sure of this:

God is infinitely loving and God is infinitely holy. He desires that all would come to know Him but He cannot tolerate sin in His presence.

How would you expect a teacher like that to grade?

Played hide-n-seek with my family tonight. It’s pretty fun trying to find hiding places in a small house with a 3-year old and two adults. I did get stuck in a small spot behind our rocking chair – not cool! Our daughter may stump us yet! She keeps getting quieter and quieter as she hides. Sort of frightening if you think about it!

As my wife and I were praying with our daughter before bed I was reminded that God doesn’t play hide-n-seek with us. In everything from creation to the revelation of His son, Jesus Christ, God is revealed. He even tells us to call on him in prayer and he will hear and answer us. And, on top of that, there is no place we can go to hide from him.

That’s pretty comforting if you’ll stop and let yourself think about it.

So stop and think about it…

1. Tennis, youth ministry, and teaching school should not be done at the same time. I absolutely love doing what I do but it is so draining! It also takes its toll on me and my family.

2. Certain kinds of plastics leach harmful chemicals. I guess I knew that but I haven’t started paying attention to that until recently.

3. Chlorine and flouride could also be dangerous to the body.

Disclaimer: there is a lot of information and “research” out there and I am not a scientist. I do not attest to the accuracy of these claims. It has given me something to think about though.

4. The Sermon on the Mount passage in Matthew 5-7 is an amazing passage! We started studying it this summer with our youth group (3-D) and it is powerful. At the heart is the “heart.”

5. Impatience shows a lack of humility. This one has been really difficult for me to learn. It first got my attention as I was listening to a message by C.J. Mahaney. Here is the main idea – I get impatient when things don’t go my way. Selfishness is when I want things my way. Impatience, therefore, is a form of selfishness. When I am being selfish I do not have a proper view of myself. When I have an improper view of myself I do not look at God properly either. In the end it shows that I lack humility and need to re-orient my focus back towards God. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).”

6. Life is short. A friend of ours, approximately the same age, is going through the final stages of cancer. It makes you reconsider a lot of things.

7. My thinking goes all over the place and that’s okay!