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Archive for the ‘Life Group’ Category

I only know a few people in this Experiencing God small group (I would hardly call 25 people small..) that I am in. But tonight I shared my testimony with them so they could get to know me. A lot of them go to Cornerstone and to meet someone who had Pastor Linn as a youth Pastor and then to also meet someone who was a part of the beginning days of the church was interesting to them. They of course had lots of questions for me. For me, it was a time of reflection of my roller coaster life. Not that it has been bad, but I can see where God has always been present and how he has always been calling me back to him all throughout my life.

This week’s study has been focused on joining God where he is working and to be a servant for him. For me, I have always interpreted that as a service project or an event, etc. I have had so many opportunities that have come my way lately that I could easily jump on board with. I have been very careful about not keeping myself too busy or ignore where I am at in life. So I just commit to pray about each opportunity and to make sure it is part of Gods plan. Other than be father to my kids, God keeps telling me to be still. He doesn’t mean to just sit and do nothing, but to really take the time and build my relationship with him. I know it is because he is molding me for something bigger and better in my life. I have experienced things the past six years that only I can attribute to God, but I truly feel he has something even bigger than my puny brain can ever come up with. My relationship with the Lord is so rich right now, I can’t ever imagine walking away from it.

God has taught me so much about his sovereignty and the power of prayer. I always find myself in situations where I want to control my environment. But I am in a place right now that I know praying is more than enough for God to do his work and I don’t have to anything more. It takes the power out of my hands and teaches me to trust God. Last year, I left my last church looking for community to apply the gospel to my life. At that church, my life was mainly about me and my accomplishments (not to say there wasn’t good things.. but this was my idolatry issue there). There are a lot of people who like to pat themselves on the back there and I got caught up with that. I have learned the importance of community at my current church and I now have that and it has become a big part of my life. But now God is teaching me another part of the gospel – the cosmic part of it. This is the part where we look at all creation and trust God is in charge and that he is at work. This is huge because we all want to do things our way because our faith and trust in God is weak. This is where in my Experiencing God study that I feel God is wanting me to look at and join with him.

At church today they nominated Mark Durban to be a deacon. You know, Mark has stuck to me like glue these past few months. I have had many great mentors (I can’t tell you how important having older wiser people in your life is for growth. You will never get that from younger people or people your age), but Mark seeks me out each week to see how I am doing. My last counselor was great and he helped me with a lot of things. But what I have learned is counseling is a process that process needs to keep going, even when things are great. Mark has been counseling me each week for the past few months with the material from CCEF. This stuff is so rich with the gospel and is truly material for life long change. I have taken some courses myself, but to have is applied has been amazing. I’m not going to lie to you, I fought God long and hard my first month of counseling. Our tendency is to finger-point, blame everyone for our problems and simply to avoid them all together (I hate it when I fall into this trap). It is such an exhausting way to live and one will simply carry those burdens their whole life and look to quick fixes to get by. True change doesn’t even begin until you have a desire to change first and that you are willing only to look at yourself and your own heart issues and not anyone elses. We spent a lot of time re-visiting my childhood and I did not like seeing myself as that scared little boy in the corner watching my parents fight and my father abusing me. Or being picked on in school or going through divorce. But after a few weeks, I finally gave in and repented my crap to God and I have experienced so much freedom since. I quit blaming all these people and circumstances for who I am today and remembered who I was in Christ. Just learning about the gospel and my need for a Savior has so enriched my life. I have never had this much peace in my heart and I feel the changes going on in me will be life long changes. I am so thankful for Mark, my church, my MC and the scores of support from friends for their commitment to me and the changes God is doing.

So today the plan is to be still and allow God to mold me. I’m growing, learning and I love my life! I am so thankful I am choosing to go through the fire and trusting God as I face my problems and not side-step or hide from them. God has something huge in store and I want to be ready for it. And the glory part of it comes with how he used this broken guy who loves Jesus for his purposes.

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“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

This comes from Day 1 of Experiencing God. Tonight was the first night of our small group (over 25 people – praise God!). I am excited to go through this workbook as I feel this study is perfect for this period of my life. Both my boys are doing the same study in their groups too. Last week I started reading Galatians to deepen my understanding of God’s Grace. I have been following along with Redemption church’s study guide and also been attending here and there to listen to the messages. My home church is studying the book of Hebrews for the year starting next week and we are going through the gospel of John in my men’s study group. I’m really excited to draw closer to God in my walk with these studies and to see what exciting things God has in store for me.

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Tonight I watched the movie “Courageous“. Sometimes these faith-based films can be a little cheesy, but they carry a powerful message. “Fireproof” and “Soul Surfer” were great movies too. I have had several men tell me I should see this movie. It’s about four law enforcement officers going through some tough trials in their family. They end up putting their faith in God and he works through all them despite their shortcomings. It really hit me hard as a man because I carry the responsibility to be the leader of my family. I have failed in so many ways over the years in this. I’m thankful to God that he continues to stick with me and work in me to grow stronger in this area.

I have been praying a lot lately to be a better example to my family. I pray every morning for an opportunity to be a better man and husband to my wife. But for now, I can be an example to my kids. Both of my kids have really got involved with their discipleship groups. I am blessed that they both have good Godly men leading their groups. Cornerstone is doing this church-wide study of Experiencing God. I started this study awhile back and never finished it. A small group contacted me and asked me to join them in their study and I have decided to do so knowing my kids will be doing the study in their own group. I have been praying for an opportunity to step up and lead my own kids in devotions. So we are going to spend each week discussing what we are learning in our groups together. I loved sitting down with Ty tonight and helping him look up verses in his Bible for his homework. I have spent so much time trying to find the courage to be a Godly example to my kids and now he had blessed me with that. God is working in my family – He is so amazing!

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A pretty God-filled week for me. God continues to reassure me in all I do. He blesses me so much with my Bible studies and the people he puts in my life. He continues to provide for me.
I had a fun week with the boys. Its been great having things back to normal with them. We saw Iron Man. I’m a huge sucker for summer action movies. Its fun when you have boys to go see them. They are wrapping up school and I’m now in the process of planning out my summer with them. We have lots of camping trips and California trips in the works.
We started to read Daniel in my men’s group. Its been great so far. I love reading about the faith that Daniel and his companions have in God. So encouraging. We have it made when it comes to persecution for our faith compared to back then. Pastor Royce gave a message on spiritual warefare the next night. It was an amazing message. I am sad that the Mine is ending for a break soon. I started a study on Discovering God’s Will in my Lifegroup. I’m very excited for it! Then I heard a message from Ron Habermas the following night. Probably one of the top Christian theologians of our time.
I did some volunteer work at Liberty House Saturday for our Second Saturday event. I love the heart of the people that come out for this. Crossroads Youth Intervention is such an amazing ministry. They take in intercity kids from the surrounding neighborhood (very dark and violent) and give them a safe place to hang out. They tutor them and share the love of Jesus at the same time. They even take them on camping trips over the summer as well. My good friend Mike Bhatti has been doing amaing stuff there as an intern.
I took my mom out for breakfast Sunday morning for mother’s day. My mom has been good to me. She lets me vent when I need to and helps me finanially during tough times when I need it. She has helped a lot in helping me raise my kids when I need a night off. She kept me in church as a child. It was that planted seed that brought me back to Christ recently. I appreciate her.
World Vision was at the church later that day. I’m a huge supporter of them. World Vision is making a difference in the world. I have been supporting their ministry in Uganda for some time. My heart goes out to the people who work for them and what God is doing in the world through them.
My very good friend Rob got baptized Sunday as well. Love that guy. A man who admits his struggles and just has a heart and passion for Christ. He got baptized with his sister. Just an all around encouraging moment for me.
I started a new group outside of church for some men at church that afternoon. Its just a purity group for men who have been through divorce. My hope is that some of these guys will take their situations and become better men of God through it. I had a good turn out for it and I look forward to meeting these guys every month.
That evening was my last Sunday teaching 4th grade Sunday school. I’ve been blessed to do that for 2 years now. It was the first ministry I signed up for after turning my life over to Christ. I will miss those kids. I am apppreciative of the staff for believing in me and allowing me to do that. It has given me the passion to share the word to others.
I capped off my long attending Praxis church that evening. I’m really loving that church. I leave spiritually filled everytime. Pastor Justin is so passionate about the word. We just finished a series on 1 John. A pretty straight forward message to Christians on the Christian walk. I’m considering taking them up on their leadership program this summer.
So that’s what is up with me right now. Counseling sessions with da ex and da boyz this week. Praying to God that was right decsion on my part. But for the most part just going to relax and enjoy my week some friends. Hit me up…

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Our church started a series on communication between men and females. Its more geared toward married couples, but still informative for those that are not. My lifegroup is also doing a similar series. We have had some very good conversations arise out of that group. Except our conversation is more based ..experience because we are all divorced. There are many ’if I had known’ and ’maybe next time’ comments.

As Pastor Linn spoke on stage and described the differences of how men and women communicate and listen to each other, it was like deja vu to me. I started to think of some of the fights and miscommunications within my own marriage. I honestly don’t think much of my marriage or my ex-wife anymore. Its pretty much in my past. So spending time thinking about those events kinda freaked me out. We were never good at arguing. We weren’t that nice to each other when we did. Those are situations I don’t ever want to be a part of again.

But the thing that scared me the most was the question.. can I do marriage again? Do I want to do marriage again? I have learned so much about myself and just relationships in general after going through divorce. I know what I can bring to a relationship. But it’s not always that easy or simple. It takes two people to be on the same page. Communication is huge. How we talk to each other is important.  I don’t really date and I love single life. I’ve only had feelings for one person since my divorce. So I really haven’t had the opportunity to experience or apply what I have learned.

Yet… I want so bad for things to be different next time…

I had dinner with three other divorced guys after the sermon. We spent a couple of hours discussing women and how they operate. But most importantly we spent time discussing how we can be better husbands next time. It was such an amazing conversation with fellow brothers in Christ. I’m glad I have guys like this in my life for me to lean on and learn from.

I’m a person that will give his all to his mate. I will work my butt off for that person. I at times will give tough love when needed, yet I’m pretty caring and compassionate (and a little romantic). But I also know I’m not perfect. I know I have a lot to learn. I know I can be better. I am blessed to have people and resources to help me out on this learning path. But it does take equal effort from both parties.

But most important is God. Without a God-centered relationship, its doomed from the get-go. It’s why my marriage failed. It’s why many marriages are failing. And sadly, it’s why my divorce group is so big. Problems, hard-times and disagreements need to be taken to Christ. Prayer is so vital to marriage and relationships. It needs to occur daily and often. God HAS to be the focus.

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I wrote a pretty long blog yesterday about my divorce group and then accidentally deleted it. So here is the short version…

I was challenged a year ago to start a group for divorce people. I laughed it off. But then God weighed it on me. So I started one with the help two other ladies. Today it has grown to 26 people. Sad that there is such a need for a divorce group, yet awesome because these people come to grow and fellowship with others. It has been a huge part of my healing process.

In the past couple of months my heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t sure if God wanted me to be a part of it anymore. A couple of people were complaining about the material. The social events outside of group always had to involve alcohol. We had a new guy show up just to pick up women. It just wasn’t there for me anymore.

I prayed about it and wrote a long email this week voicing my concerns. A few people responded with praise. One person was angry with me. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was driving to group. The awesome thing is that we ended all having a heart to heart talk. Not just about the email, but just about the everyday struggles of having gone through divorce. There was sharing, tears, and a huge amount of support being shown. It was an awesome night.

For the first time I felt this group got it. The biggest topic was how we can take this horrible situation called divorce and become more Christlike. I felt everyone wanted to stop worrying about who their next potential mate was going to be and just concentrate on living a life for Christ. The awesome thing about this mix guy/girl group was the amount of trust there was shown in discussing some of the intimate topics.

I woke up the next day with a very full email inbox. My phone rang all day. Everyone was on a spiritual high. The lady that was angry with me called me and we had an amazing heart to heart talk. I feel so blessed to be a part of this amazing group of people. They encourage me so much.

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