Monday, November 28, 2011

Tempus Fugit... time flies

It's been a busy couple of months for me. Lots of changes, challenges, and blessings.  From mundane to sublime:

After spending the most part of the past 2 years unemployed, I am now working.  It's contract, but full time, and it could turn into a permanent position.  I'm doing tech support for a company that makes practice management software for dental offices and there is lots of work to do.  The pay isn't great, but it's a good work environment and that counts for a lot.  It has been tough to get used to my new schedule, heck, even going to work every day takes some getting used to after so long on my own.  My wife works 7-4 and I work 9-6.  This makes for long days as she doesn't drive due to her epilepsy.  Almost a month in and we are getting used to it.  I am very blessed to have found this job and very thankful for it.

About the same time as I got the job my computer died.  I'm now reduced to using an old netbook that was donated to me with a broken screen.  Replaced the LCD and it works just fine, just old and slow.  On the positive side I will be able to afford a nice laptop to replace both my dead desktop and this very useful little netbook with in a few weeks.  I'm going with a high end laptop for a reason :)

Forgot to mention I ran my first marathon at the end of October too

A friend at church has been asking me to come to a men's discipleship group on Monday evenings.  I finally made it to one a few weeks ago.  What a blessing that turned out to be!  The young guy who did the music was incredible.  Great voice, good with guitar, and a love for Christ that just showed through everything he did.  The group is a good mix of ages, I'm probably the oldest person there unless the church's pastor is there.  A lot of the guys have had a rough time with drugs and alcohol, the teens and 20's guys are dealing with the usual issues that come at that age.  It's just a great time of fellowship, sharing a meal, worship, and either a message presented by a member of the group or testimonies.  I've enjoyed being a part of this group and taking part in discipleship with them.

My wife and I attended the annual youth retreat to Camp Greenville at the beginning of November.  The picture above was taken at the chapel at the camp.  Eric, the young musician from the discipleship group acted as our praise leader and the youth pastor delivered 5 messages over two and a half days.  It was amazing!  We did two baptisms in the very cold lake while we were there, and three more when we returned... the Spirit was moving on this retreat.

I was asked by our youth pastor if I could present the message for the entire youth group one Wednesday night. I was more than happy to do it, though, a bit unsure how I would be received.  The week after we returned from the retreat I gave my message.  I got some positive feedback afterwords from a couple of the youth group members which was good, let me know that I reached them.  To my surprise, the youth pastor approached me a week later and said he had gotten a lot of positive feedback and wanted to know if I could cover a couple of nights in December for him.  It's very humbling to be used like this.  It feels good to be used for His purpose.

Last, my wife and I have been married just over 5 months.  After 6 months we will be eligible to apply with Operation Mobilization to become missionaries. We have talked about this for a couple of years and prayed about it together and with our pastor and we are ready, spiritually at least.  Last Sunday the pastor preached on missions and we decided to go forward during the alter call.  Pastor of course knew our minds, but we wanted to share our plans with the congregation and ask for their prayers.  Pastor said a few words and I explained our calling to the congregation.  We were greeted with applause, hugs, and lots of support.  Some of it was bittersweet in that they did not want to see us leave.  But, as the pastor said in his sermon; there are 16 Baptist churches within a 2 mile radius of us, yet, there are places in this world with people who have never heard the message of Christ. How can we stay?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Truth, what is Truth?

Check out this podcast by Steve Runner:

For more on running from me, check out LightFighter's Ramblings.  Like the podcast?  Hear more at Phedippidations.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Is Running a Religion?

Is Running a Religion?
(thanks to Steve of for introducing me to Dr. Sheehan's writing)

George Sheehan's article really moved me when I read it yesterday. As I was reading it several applications of his work came to mind. You don't have to be a runner to take away a profound message from this work.

In his article he writes about Father Nouwen retreating to a monastery to escape from a hectic life and refocus on God. he spent some period of time there, probably weeks if not months. When he was getting ready to leave he realized that his time there was really just a lull in the constant battle we all fight, and that if he wanted to retain some of the peace he had found there he would have to do something to maintain it. The Abbot tells him he must put aside 90 minutes a day for prayer.

You may see the differences between this Catholic priest's experience than your own. Think of it like this... We attend church once or twice a week. We try to leave behind life and concentrate on worshiping God. But, like Father Nouwen, we all know it's just a lull. When we walk out those doors the world is waiting for us with all of it's demands. The Abbot's advice is just as applicable to us, spend time with God every day in order to maintain that relationship and the peace that comes with it.

For me, running provides some of that time. I get out there early in the morning and just run. Once I get warmed up I have my mind all to myself, no distractions, no demands. I can talk with God, think things over, listen for his guidance.

Where/how do you find time to spend with God?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Having faith is hard

I have not written in a while.  Part of my PTSD is that i sometime feel very anti-social, and I have been feeling that way a lot lately.  I know you may be thinking that writing a blog entry is not being social, it's just me sitting at a keyboard.  But, it is social, it's my voice that I'm writing, even if no one is reading it is still me voicing my thoughts.  Anyways, that's where I've been, in the dark recesses of my own mind, unwilling to give my thoughts up for others to look at.

Faith.  It seems like a pretty simple concept, it's just your own belief in something.  In this case the belief in Christ and his message, in God, the Bible and what it tells us.  Simple enough that a child can do it.  As a matter of fact, we are told that we must, "...receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." (Mark 10:15)  But it's not mere belief that we need to have, for, "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder" (James 2:19) Faith also includes believing in the whole message of the Bible.  The part of that message I have been struggling with is that god cares for us individually, has a plan for each of us, and that he will always provide what we need. That is a lot to have faith in when things aren't going well for you.

I have to admit that us Christians sometimes sound like a bunch of Pollyanna's.  When feeling down and lost we invariably try to point the way upward with Biblical anectotes or quotes that are ment to be uplifting.  Unfortunately when I am struggling with depression and anxiety they often just sound like hollow platitudes or greeting card slogans.  I guess it's my cynical nature that gets the best of me at these times.  I feel like Job.

In the past three years I have gone from having a good paying job, to having a poor paying job, to spending the past two years mostly with no job.  Everything I have is old and wearing out and I have no way to pay to repair or replace them.  I have learned new levels of survival that I never expected to experience.  Getting by on temp jobs, unemployment, and odd jobs I've managed to hang in here longer than I would have expected without becoming homeless.  But I now find myself once again out of options, no place to turn, the future looking like a gaping hole that will swallow me up.  Facing this abyss has started to crush me physically, psychologically, and spiritually. 

For me, faith comes from deep inside.  It's not something that can be shored up by others, at least for me.  It is intensely personal and at the core of my being.  I've been broken before, and I'm sure I will be again.  But, I think it's necessary for us to be broken, to have our spirit crushed, to be so out of control that we can no longer fool ourselves.  This is how character is built and how we learn that we must trust God for everything.  We are hopeless and helpless sinners who are beholden to Him for everything, even the air we breath.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thoughts on our government

If, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."(Mark 10:25) And, at least 237 member of Congress are multimillionaires.  Then perhaps we need to take a closer look at who we trust with running our government.  Now, I know that all things are possible through God, but Christ didn't make that statement for no reason.  We also need to take into account the context of the statement.  It was made right after the encounter known as The Rich Young Ruler.

When you take this abstract thought, and then look at some examples of how our representatives act it becomes a little clearer to me:
She is earning $174,000 per year and won't be able to make ends meet if she misses a pay check.  If that weren't enough, we also have an example of what our representatives think of us, the unwashed public:
Now, when it come time to get re-elected we will hear all the things we want to hear from our representatives.  We will hear about their faith, caring, how they fight for us in Washington, how they are just like us.  I think we need to go further than listening to their words and look at who they are and what they do.  Beyond that we need to look at the entire political system and how polluted it is with money.  In an environment like that it would be darn near impossible for even the best person to maintain their moral compass.

In our culture we now venerate the rich, we hold them up as better than us, somehow more trustworthy than us.  The idea that if they are rich they are beyond being bribed or tempted by financial gain.  In fact, if they are wealthy they have already been bribed.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Church & State

In Washington D.C. for the weekend for the National Epilepsy Foundation Walk.  While at the Lincoln Memorial I read his Second Innaugural Address.  Take a few minutes and Google it.  Pretty clear where he stood on the seperation of church and state.

Location : 5784 Westchester St, Alexandria, VA 22310,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Study of the Book of Revelation

I have been working through a study of the Book of Revelation with my Wednesday night Middle School bible study group.  After spending a couple of weeks going over the letters to the churches in chapter 1-3 I covered Chapters 4-5 last week which set the stage for John's apocalyptic visions of the end of time.  Beginning with chapter 6 I plan on using the following timeline from this site.  All about Popular Issues has produced a pretty good timeline with citations that I'm going to use as a guideline for reading and teaching.  For tonight I'm going to cover:

  • The First Seal (Revelation 6:1-2), likely the coming of the antichrist.

  • The Beasts and Mark of the Beast (Revelation chapter 13), the antichrist enforces loyalty.

  • The 144,000 (Revelation chapter 7:1-8), evangelists sent out into the world.

  • The First Seal is opened, "1 Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, "Come!"2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer." (Revelation 6:1-2)  The "Lamb" is Christ, as we learned in chapters 4-5.  At the opening of the Seal the command, "Come" is given and a rider on a white horse comes forward with a bow.  It is commonly thought that this is the antichrist who will conquer the world and reign over it.  This also most likely lines up with the last week of Daniel's 70 weeks and with the "Prince who is to come." (Daniel 9:27)

    The Beasts and the Mark of the Beast are introduced in chapter 13.  There are dozens, if not hundreds of possible interpretations for this chapter, so I will just give the most basic interpretations.  The first Beast that rises from the sea with 10 horns and 7 heads is commonly held to be the anticrist and the dragon who gives him authority is Satan.  The second Beast rises from the land and has two horns like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon.  This is generally thought to be the false prophet.  This false prophet will perform miracles and lead worship of the first Beast.  The mark of the Beast is given to us as 666, a human number, repeated three times, perhaps representing humanism/secular philosophy.

    In chapter 7 we have the 144,000 sealed with a mark on their foreheads.  This also can be interpreted many ways both literally and figuratively.  From my reading this group is generally considered to be the remainder of the Church on earth.  This seal is the antithesis of the mark of the Beast.

    That's a quick overview and a very surface level look at this section of the Book of Revelation.  I look forward to teaching this tonight.