Over a year in the making, our miracle, and Hadassah’s seven month birthday present. Glory to God, the giver of all good gifts.
Here’s another interesting dream I had a couple of weeks ago.
From what I can remember I was getting on a plane, but it wasn’t a normal plane it was more like an egg carton that could fly. The seats didn’t really look like seats but like a bench with little troughs as a place to put your feet and either a straight metal back or no back at all. After I found my seat the person in front of me turned around to talk to me, it turned out to be Tori-Da-Great from church. She looked straight at me and said, “This is what the God says:…..” (for the life of me I can’t remember what she said, it had something to do with God being pleased with me or not being pleased with me). I was so shocked that TDG was talking to me like a prophet and then the flight attendant came up and confirmed what she had just said.
Once the flight landed we had to make a connecting flight that wasn’t at the same airport. We had to walk from one airport to the other, I was walking a bit ahead of TDG but came to an intersection and wasn’t sure which way to go. After I started going to the right I realized that Tori had gone to the left, as I walking Tori’s dad pulls up and offers me a lift. As we’re driving to the airport the thought occurred that we should have stopped and picked up Tori, but we never did and when I got there I felt bad that we hadn’t. Going through security was pretty cool, think full body scanners 2.0, once inside I headed up to the lounge where I found Tori waiting. We hung out and ate some food while waiting on our next flight.
This post is long overdue. It’s been on my heart for awhile to detail one of the most amazing months of my life, not that it always appeared that way.
On Friday (July 31) we had an emergency meeting at work, where it was announced that the company had run out of funds and had failed to procure a loan to keep us a float long enough for more to come in. My former employers were forced to lay off probably 80% of the workforce (about 25 people). To say the least it hit some of us pretty hard. It’s hard to say goodbye to people you have battled impossible deadlines with or stayed up all night at work with to fix a bug or a problem for a customer. What made it worse was that we were so very close to having a shippable new product that would have brought in quite a bit of new business. Despite our hard work and dedication it was hard not to walk with a sense of failure. But the overwhelming feeling was fear and not failure, walking into the unknown can be a scary thing for some. For me though I only saw this as an opportunity, an opportunity for God to do something awesome in my life.
The next day (August 1st) two very interesting things from God began in my life. The first was discipleship with a great group of men, we started studying a book by Seth Barnes the Art of Listening to God. Their prayers and encouraging words (and those of my church family) kept me anchored in the Lord during a time when many drift away into despair and fear.
The second was the beginning of a week in the Florida keys with the rest of my church that we had been looking forward to, we were expecting to meet God in new ways, a time of separating our selves out from the rest of the world and seeking after Him.
The devil intended this lay-off to be a distraction during the week we were there, something for me to be constantly worried about. But God used it for the exact opposite getting laid off released a huge burden off my life and allowed me undistributed time with Him. Typically when I’m in prayer time or bible study time I allow problems at work or a pending deadline distract me from hearing God’s voice, but this week was different only a few fleeting thoughts of worry for my friends and former colleagues crossed my mind. I was able to experience God in a whole new way over that week. Taking time each morning to separate myself and open my ears to hear the Lord’s voice is something that I carried with me throughout the whole time I was unemployed. Keeping close to God with open ears and an open heart is the best way to spend time.
Here’s what God spoke to me:
Day 1: This day was a real struggle for me to hear God’s voice, the distractions of being in a house with 40 people really got to me and I allowed the devil to rob me of my alone time with God. I also struggled with trying to figure out what my original motive for being in the keys was, was it fun, to please my wife, or was I really there to seek after God with my whole heart. The prayer of my heart ended up asking God to forgive me if my original intentions were not right, and thanking him for forgetting that and starting me a fresh with new intentions that were pleasing to him.
Day 2: This day was much better, God helped me to wake up early before the rest of the house, and I was able to go out by the water to sit and enjoy my time with him in peace and quiet. What God and I talked about were expectations, the day before my wife and I had wrestled with the issue. She had the expectation that I would come and talk with her before I ran off to some adventure (such as going for a ride in the boat or going fishing) it wasn’t an expectation I was aware of until that moment. I felt the Lord saying pretty much the same thing back to me, that just as my relationship with my wife comes with certain expectations when it comes to communication my relationship with Jesus has some expectations, to ask him what should I be doing or what are you trying to tell me.
Day 3: The message I felt God communicated with me on this day was that, if I would put my heart before him, my walk with him, my hunger for him, my ability to hear his voice, and etc would all grow. I’m not sure if that made sense on this day, but it certainly made sense on day 4 (and it was nice to look back in my journal on day 4 and see it, lol I might get used to this journaling thing yet).
Day 4: Was an interesting day. This ended up being on Friday Aug 7 for me. The same day that our group went down to the ocean to be baptized. It really was the exclamation mark on the whole week of studying God’s word, hearing his voice, and just spending time in his presence. Prior to the baptism, I got up nice and early to spend my personal time with Jesus. The day’s lesson was about pursuing God with all my heart, and like I said that really reminded me of what God had told me on day 3. But I really struggled with understanding what it all meant, and my cry/prayer to God was to soften my heart. I feel like I’ve built up emotional protectors around my heart which might make me feel more secure from ever being hurt emotionally, which it doesn’t, all it really does is hinder me from feeling the emotions that I should feel and being able to express those emotions, love for God as an example. So writing my love letter to God was certainly a challenge, but I pressed on and just kept writing till I got to the end. As I was closing the letter I felt led to write “Love, Your Son Andy” something I never would have thought to write on my own.
A couple hours later my wife and I went out together to be baptized, to recommit our lives to God, to leave behind the junk that we had accumulated over the past year or so, to be reborn fresh in the Holy Spirit. As we walked I to prayed that the old me, the fearful, doubting, quiet, people pleasing, person would be left dead in the water and only the new Christ focused man would come up out of the water. It was amazing, when we reached where our Pastors were standing in the water, I could smell the anointing oil, and feel God’s presence. As I went under God reminded me of something, that when my Father had died I promised him that I would begin to live the life he had always wanted me to live to be the man that he wanted me to be, beginning with turning back to God. God was saying to me that it was time to start living as my life as the man my heavenly Father wanted me to be. It’s funny how God brought these words back to me on the side of snowy mountain, such extremes. Which tied back the way he led me to sign the letter (awesome right?). So now that’s the promise that I am living under, my promise to live my life as God wants me to live it. I no longer have a relationship for the sake of my father or my wife, but one that’s personal.
After coming back from that week on the beach, life wasn’t easy. I struggled at times with doubt, but God held on tight to me. It’s funny how at times we think we are holding on to God, but it’s really he that holds on to us. I didn’t have to wait long, it was almost a month to the day when I got another job. He has blessed me so much.
I’m really just so thankful that Jesus, loves me and wants to communicate with me. And he’s working with me and growing inside of me a wonderful and eternal relationship with him. I pray that this coming week is an awesome time with our savior learning more about him and hearing his voice even better. I know that God has something awesome planned for me, it’s all in his timing for his glory!
We live in an increasingly virtual world. We talk to each other through email, IM, and Facebook. I work all day on computers and programs that someday someone might use and hopefully it will make their lives easier, but more than likely I will never meet them. I don’t know my neighbors, I barely know my co-workers, and I struggle to connect to close friends and family through everyday conversation.
At times I feel like I don’t live in the real world.
I live a very comfortable life. I’m blessed with a good job, a loving family, and a wonderful wife. Sure I have my fair share of problems and difficulties, but if I’m hungry it’s cause there’s 30 minutes till lunch, if I’m in pain it’s cause I did too much at the gym, and if I’m worried it’s cause I’m not sure if my favorite TV series will be back next season. Now I’m simplifying here for the sake of making a point.
I feel at times like a live in my ivory tower of more-holier-than-though-christianity or I’m hiding behind my computer monitor thinking I’m making a difference because I write down my thoughts on blog for the world to see, when just outside my door is world full of real need.
I really feel this tug on my heart to reach out and touch the real world.
I don’t know what God has planned for my life, but I do know the things he’s pu on my heart. To see the nation of Israel, my family, and my country on fire for God the likes of which this world has never seen before. To see men living more like real men and not the neutered versions we see now. To take a stand against abortion. I don’t know my role in these things, and I don’t know how to accomplish them. But I do know that these things are on God’s heart as well.
While I may not know the full path ahead of me, but I do know the starting point.
Prayer – This is one area I really need to grow in. I’m not sure why it’s a weak point for me, but it really is. Prayer will draw me closer to God and his will. And that’s where I want to be. In the comming moths and years prayer will be a very important part of my family life and raising my children. I’ve started with learning to pray for my wife using a book that she gave me :-).
Mentor/Disciplship – Another thing God has really put on my heart to find a mentor or someone who will disciple me. To keep me accountable, to encourage me, or just give some wise counsel. This is especially important since my Dad passed away, I’ve grown to recognize God as my true father and Pastor Joe as a spiritual father, but I need someone in my daily life to stand in the gap.
Start Here and Now – I don’t think God’s call on my life is one that starts years in the future, but rather something that I should start working on now. By being a better witness at work, at the gym, or anywhere else I might go. The wrong thing here is to present my self as some perfect being, and the extreme of sinning along with the other person is just as wrong. But rather minister as Jesus did loving the sinner and not the sin.
This is a lot. A lot to explain and a lot to take in. And as I’ve said I’m not sure where all this is taking me, but what I do know is that God is slowly (in God’s perfect timing of course) answering one of my oldest prayers. And that is “what is my place in life”.
Have you ever had perfect timing with a stop light? I mean that light turns green just before you start to step on your breaks, instead of the usual where the light turns red and you have to stomp on your breaks to make sure you don’t run a red light. It’s a beautiful thing when it happens.
I’ve had more than one crappy day in my life. Days where I’m driving home or somewhere else, I’m already irritable, and I come up to that intersection where the light is always red (you know the one), and it has to be the longest red light ever created. Wow you should hear the grumbling that goes through my mind as I approach that light. But this time I see that beautiful shade of green, the worries and troubles of the day just seem to melt away. I’m reminded of God’s grace and love. I tell God thank you for this small bit of grace that has suddenly turned into a modern day miracle. I know it’s not parting the Red Sea, but on a day like that it might as well be.
Immediately the thought hits my mind, “Does God really care about you getting that light?”. And from the perspective of the universe as a whole it’s not that big of a deal (neither is my day for that matter). So the natural, logical side of me wins, and I go back to by dreary day. It’s not as bad as before, but that light doesn’t mean the same thing.
At least until the other day.
I was running a bit late for work, which is not the norm (just in case my boss is reading, I wanted to clarify that :)), and I had perfect timing for catching the elevator. Once inside the elevator, I said a quiet thank you to God for blessing me with the elevator. And like normal, the thought hits me about does God really care, but this time was different. The Holy Spirit asked me a simple question, “Don’t you want God to care about the small stuff?”. My reply went something along the lines of “Ummm yeah”. I wish I could articulate what followed, but I just can’t. The Holy Spirit showed me that the relationship that God wants with us is one where even the little things in my life are interesting to him. He doesn’t just want me to share the big things in my life with him, but everything in it, my plans, my feelings, everything. And like wise He wants to share everything with me. Isn’t that wonderful, and doesn’t that challenge us to lead a different kind of life?
The short answer: Yes!
You have to understand, I’ve been a Christian since the age of 5, and I’ve been through classes where we focused on the book of John, so I’m assuming that someone just added the 17th chapter of John. Cause I don’t remember reading anything like this before*:
The Prayer of Jesus
1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.
6 “I have revealed you[a] to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.
9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;[b] now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.[c] I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”
I know it’s a lot to read and take in all at once, but for some reason this chapter really struck me today. I’ve had friends, family, and pastors pray for me throughout my life, but the thought never occurred to me that while on this Earth Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Prayed for me, and if that weren’t enough, if you read the next chapter you’ll find that He prayed this prayer right before being arrested, tried, and crucified. I know if that were me, some jerk a few thousand years off in the future wouldn’t have been the focus of my prayers right then.
Jesus prayed for me. Now that brings a smile to my face.
I don’t know, but something about this passage really struck me today and really lifted me up. And I wanted to share. 🙂
*Footnote: Yes I know that the Bible is the immutable word of God. I was merely trying to give you an understanding of how this chapter came out of left field and smacked my heart.
Sometimes it takes awhile for me to catch on to what God is telling me. It wasn’t until I read this article over on boundless that I really realized what people mean when they say that hard times show you who you really are underneath. When things are hunky dorry, it’s easy to put a mask on, it’s easy to lie to yourself and others, when things are good we can take little problems like a champ.
But’s the hard times when the walls fall down, it’s those times that the masks come off. It’s hard to put up a front and deal with serious issues at the same time. It’s hard to smile when you beyond fustrated. It’s hard to take on those little annoyneces when you’ve reached the end of your rope or had it up to here.
I had one of those experiences, I had a rough day at work and I was really fustrated with one of my collegues. I said something I shouldn’t have, not to him or her directly but infront of several other collegues. I’ve repented. And I’ve asked God to help me deal with that problem in my life. But this experience really helped me to see that God can allow fustrating things to happen in our lives to show us that we are not the perfect people we try to pretend to be.
God used this situation to reveal to me who I really am. He revealed to me the level to which I was relying on my natural self, when I should have been relying on him, casting my burdens on him rather than trying to carry everything myself. If I had been doing that I wouldn’t have gotten, so easily fustrated and I wouldn’t have let me tongue say something that should never have been said.
As I briefly mentioned before our Church is watching John Bevere’s Breaking Intimidation movies and while they’ve been very deep and thought provoking I think God is trying to say something specific to me.
From my daily scripture readings this week:
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble? Psalms 27:1
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Romans 8:31-34
I started reading Romans 8 after listening to one of my dad’s old sermons that Brit had posted on the web. (Isn’t amazing that God can still use him to minister to me even after he’s gone home to be with the Lord? My dad would love to hear that.)
From the plaque I received today as part of raffle (lol God so doesn’t do random or coisedence does he?)
“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
I think God is trying to tell me something here. All of this really struck home when Pastor Michelle was telling Arielle and I about a conversation she had with someone, and in the midst of that conversation she told the person that he/she had a “Man Pleasing Spirit” and needed to deal with it. What is a man pleasing spirit but a spirit of fear/intimidation? (exactly what everything up above deals with) And while I know that PM wasn’t saying that to me, it felt like it. It really hit my heart. And I realized that this is what God has been trying to get through to me these past couple of weeks. With God’s help I will conquer this spirit and step into the place God has called me to be. (I know beyond a doubt that I couldn’t conquer this without his help)
I’m not worthy of worship.
My favorite tv shows are not worthy of worship.
My problems are not worthy of worship.
My job is not worthy of worship.
Only my God, the one true God of heaven and earth is worthy of worship.
So why do I spend more time meditating on how awesome I am, why my favorite character did that, or how I’m going to do to fix this problem at work, than I do meditating on God, praying, reading the word, and worshiping God in spirit and in truth? In essence I’ve been worshiping myself.
Forgive me Lord for my arrogance and pride.
“Not of this world”, is a popular Christian statement, but it is very hard to walk out. It’s hard to pick up our crosses daily and sacrifice our wants, our desires, our problems it’s hard to let go, but we have to if we really want to live free in Jesus.
Satan is called the great deceiver and he certainly earns that name when it comes to legalism. It can be so subtle, it makes you think that you are doing something pleasing to God when in reality you couldn’t be farther from the truth. This article over on boundless really brings that idea home. Here’s an excerpt that really made me think about how I view God’s commands.
Lately, God has been convicting me about living by conviction. I want to live my life according to His ways. David wrote, “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved” (Ps. 119:47, KJV). As I live in the reality of salvation and grace, earnestly desiring to draw closer to my Father in heaven, God’s commands should be not just my standard, but my heart’s delight.
later on she says…
It’s interesting that the world defines Christians by several outward standards that are not strictly Christian at all — Christians, I’ve heard, don’t drink or swear, for example. Is it wrong to hold such standards? No, especially if we understand where they are rooted in God’s commands — be filled with the Spirit, not with wine; let your speech be edifying and pure. But it’s important to keep the lines clear between God’s words and human choices concerning them. God has not forbidden drink or the use of rude words in every circumstance.
The words ring in my heart: “I will delight myself in thy commandments.” I can’t delight in God’s Word if I am continually replacing it with my own. God guards few things so jealously as He guards His message to us. After delivering it to His people, He bound them to keep it intact and unembellished: “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it” (Deut. 4:2).
Oh Lord teach me how to delight myself in thy commandments.