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Posts Tagged ‘trials’

Sometimes you hear a God story that just blows you away. My friends the Totra’s are a family that are living out their lives missionally. They get the gospel and they are all about Jesus. Even during some financial hardships they have been trusting God that He will provide. I have been in community with them for some time and Dallas has become a solid brother in Christ to me. Dallas and Sofia have two kids and are trying for a third. They thought they lost the baby until Dallas brought this prayer request to our group tonight. We all laid had hands on him in prayer and got this news the next day about baby Anya:

So at the beginning of January, Sophia had what we thought was the miscarriage of our third child. Three days prior to that we felt God had highlighted a name that we would use for our baby if it was a girl. Her name would be Anya meaning Resurrection. So three days afterward we were pretty shocked to think that we no longer had this baby. Not having gone to the Doctor’s since she wasn’t having any medical problems we decided that it was over and time to move on. Well Sophia’s belly was not getting smaller, but the opposite. I kept saying…”your belly is growing and it isn’t because of what you ate!” Before long God was leading us through some friends to really be fighting for our baby in prayer and have it checked when we can. So that was what we did and this morning we found our that indeed we have a 17 week old baby Anya Joy Totra growing very well! So whether it never was a miscarriage or a resurrection, God is always good and we thank Him because He is awesome! Anya Joy Totra coming mid July 2013

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Josh Riebock

Life is a field. You aren’t alone.

I won’t forget tonight. Not only was it Election night, it was PhoenixONE and they had a special treat for us. Josh Riebock is a writer. He wrote a book called Heroes and Monsters and I had the chance to read it over the summer. The book tore me up. It’s a story about Josh’s relationship with his dad who was his hero. Despite the fact that his dad was his hero, he had a dark side to him. His dad was an alcoholic and Josh writes a book on how he couldn’t comprehend knowing who this guy was when he started drinking. His dad was his hero and yet he was a monster to him. It’s a great book on how the events of our lives and how they shape us. It’s about how we can be loving people and then switch and be the ugliest people in the world. It’s about the struggle inside us and how we can find hope in Christ through our trials and pain.

Josh talked about how God wants to take us to the depths of pain so we can learn and heal from it. We like to hide and stuff our junk and God wants to release us from it. He wants to give us freedom from the things we are scared of. I’m so thankful Josh came tonight and thankful to my former Pastor Ron for recommending his book to me. I had been corresponding with Josh before he came and he gave me a big hug when I introduced myself to him afterwards. I loved that I felt like an buddy of his and how welcoming he was. I’m a huge fan of transparent real guys and Josh’s story has been a blessing to me as I have experienced the same father pains as he has.

Andy Cherry led worship and I was able to bring a bunch of my friends with me. We were all impacted by Josh’s talk. But most of all, tonight was special because I got to bring my son. And for him him to hear a talk about father/son relationship while sitting with me was special. He got to hang out with me and my friends afterwards and I even let him stay up a little late even though he had school the next day. I am so thankful to the Lord for this special night for getting a chance to meet Josh and hang out with my son.

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With my bros and my son

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Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Mark 12:30

In this chapter we focus on God’s amazing and unconditional love for us. But it also asks us to reflect on our earthly father and how that relationship shaped our view of God. For me, my Dad was a provider. He worked long hard hours to make sure we had what we needed. But what he missed out on was being there for us. I learned many lessons of life on my own through trial and error. So for me to fathom knowing God is always there for me when I need Him is hard for me. I have always relied on myself to get things done and for the most part found myself in some jams because of it.

I know I can never fully understand God’s love for us. But I experience it by spending time focusing on how good He is and how He is always there for me. Even through the trials of life, God has been there and has restored me and gotten me through some difficult times. He blesses me and uses me for His purposes. But what always awes me the most is when He chases me when I drift away from Him. God has never given up on me even when I screw up.

God doesn’t have to love us, but He does. And nothing can separate that love He has for us.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

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I first met Nathan Holscher 6 years ago in a men’s Bible study that we held on Monday nights at a Coffee Rush with 4 other guys. We met for almost 2 years and we would pick a chapter of scripture and spend a couple of hours discussing it. I was always impressed with Nate’s Bible knowledge and his evangelistic ways of approaching Mormons. We have been good friends since. I was also present at his father’s funeral when he gave the eulogy. Nate and I have the dubious distinction of being known among our group of friends as the ‘modern-day’ Jobs. We have both experienced trial-filled lives filled with accusations and trauma. Yet we have both stood up to them and clinged to Christ. I still meet with him every once and awhile and he recently gave me this verse that he uses during tough times that has helped me out a lot.

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”; keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.     1 Peter 3:13-14;16

Nate shared with the Mission Young Adults group about how to share the gospel with someone tonight at Mission church. I caught a part of it and was excited to hear the interaction back and forth about how we as Christians should be a witness to others. I love how God uses Nate and blessed to have him as a friend in my life.

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I took my youngest son to Jr High orientation tonight and I realized that I have 6 more years till he is 18. The clock is dwindling down to when I will be an empty nester (even though I know my kids will probably live with me well into their 20’s – haha. Then I charge rent!). This didn’t make me sad, but it made me think how amazing God is and how powerful prayer is. The past 2 years have been such a difficult time for both my kids and I have praying that God would provide the help I need with my trials as a single dad. I have been listening to this podcast by Louie Giglio called “Unusual” and how God works in unusual ways. When he says unusual, he means out of the ordinary. He says that our lives should be about revelation and not information. Paul spent his whole life studying the Word of God, but it wasn’t till Christ’s revelation to him that his life was radically changed. Louie says we need to go through our trials even though they may be unusual (not the way we envisioned them) and not side-step them because it is through trusting God that his glory gets revealed and true growth and change happen in our lives.

I had dinner with my oldest son tonight. We had a fun night of talking about our Experiencing God study, girls, sports and his future. He has been doing so well. I love walking by his room and seeing him with his school books out and studying. He has really been working hard at school now that he has ditched the video games. He told me tonight he now wants to look into photography. I guess I am either rubbing off on him or he knows that all the girls take photo class. I know I’m one of few guys in my class at Chandler-Gilbert. But overall, I’m just enjoying the blessing of having peace in my home and seeing so much growth in all of us. The Experiencing God study has been huge in all this and I have been living my life day-by-day for Christ. I broke down and prayed that difficult night in the summer of ’10 for God to provide help for me as a single dad because my back was against the wall and things felt hopeless.  Now I am seeing that prayer being answered and I’m trusting God’s unusual ways of doing things for his glory.

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Joy in Trials

One year ago I was in ministry serving at a high level in a large mega church. There was a point of my life that I would flash that resume around to others to gain approval. Today it means absolutely nothing to me anymore. This past year I have been through one of the most turbulent, trial filled periods of my life.  Twelve months full of uncertainty, accusations, relationship issues, brokeness, etc. Yet I can say that this was also twelve months of the most spiritual growth that I have ever experienced. In this time God landed me in a gospel rich church, gave me a community to grow in, put me through both a break-up and marriage to an amazing woman, and used both old and new friendships to refine me for his purposes. Even though I’ve been through the fire, I am able to smile and say that I am excited to see what God has in store next.

The biggest thing I have learned about is God’s sovereignty. God is huge. I have been learning to keep an eternity perspective on life and not live in the circumstances of the moment. I am more and more embracing my trials and looking at them with joy and as teachable moments. In India, I saw God do huge things in a spiritually dark country through the faith and prayers of a team of Christians there. God has used my trials to help me see the big overall picture of him using these small difficult moments to develop me into the person he has in store for me.

God has shown me that I need a redeemer. Where I falter is when I give into taking control of situations and God is teaching me to trust him. His plans are better than mine and mine generally never work out my way. Christ is the only way. Even after spending years in the church, I have just recently discovered what the gospel means and what it means to need a Savior. He is my example and my hope.

Grace. I have always struggled with grace. In a world full of finger-pointing, accusations and blame, God gives us grace to let us know who we are in him. God gives us grace so we can find repentance and freedom from our sins. But he also gives us grace so we can model grace to others. This has been a big teaching lesson for me. It’s so easy to blame others when we are hurt. Yet Christ exhibited grace to those that accused and tortured him. He showed grace to those that weren’t perfect. God please continue to teach me about grace as I need it and need to show it to others.

I embraced community for the first time. I’ve always had friends and a large network of people to fellowship with. But to dive into a gospel centered community that I can be transparent with has been something totally new for me. I have never been received with such warmth and hospitality. They have taught me both grace and love. It’s the perfect image of Christ and how he calls us to love one another. The level of honesty and humility shown has really allowed me to have a group of people to see as an example for my own walk in how to treat others.

Tonight I spent my evening with my buddy downloading life over a couple of cigars. I was able to be a part of his life when he gave his life to Christ. In turn, he has been able to be a part of my life during my trials during this past year. He has been encouraged by how God has been working in me during these times and told me how I have been an example to him in his own life. We spent the evening laughing, crying, praying and talking about God. He told me that he didn’t have any theological spiritual wisdom for me. I in turn told him that’s ok because I see Christ when I look at him because of the love he has shown me despite my shortcomings. God put my friend in my life for this moment to be on this journey with me. We both prayed for strength with our trials in the upcoming days and celebrated our excitement to see how God is going to use us both in this next stage of our lives.

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