Pray for Iraqi Christians

10599503_10152706273714673_6529960756093892030_nThings are pretty dark over in Iraq. Christians are being killed are persecuted for their faith.  I feel so helpless but I think its good to remember that the best thing we can do is to remember them in our prayers.

You can see more HERE

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Dealing With Loss

Last week, my wife and I experienced the pain and loss of our fourth miscarriage.

To be honest, I’m still coming to grips with it.  I was just starting to get excited about the idea of child #3 and then…and then my wife tells me she is spotting…and since we’ve been down this road before, I know exactly what that means.  Then the doctor confirms that the HCG levels have dropped dramatically and that dream of a third child is gone.  For now.  I still cling to hope that God will bless us with another child.  I also know that we are incredibly blessed with two amazing, beautiful, funny, strong willed children.  And if our family continues to be just the four of us, I will continue to thank God for the wonderful blessings he has given us. But man, it still hurts.  It hurts so much.

This past year we have lost so much.  Friendships, possible futures, a community that we were a part of.  Sometimes that pain of all those losses literally knocks me down and I just collapse on the floor or the couch or my bed or wherever.  I will have trouble breathing and feel like there is a huge rock in my stomach. My heart will start to race and my mind will start racing even faster.  Often this happens at night- which probably explains why sometimes I lie in bed for hours before falling asleep.

So what do we do when we experience such terrible suffering? Do we give up? Give in to bitterness? Some do.

But Paul tells us in Philippians 4:7 that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” and in Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  That word “guard” is the idea of a fortress or citadel.  God wants to be our castle of hope and guard us against the arrows of the enemy dripping with the poison of worry and anxiety.   And then God wants to fill us with his Holy Spirit so that we can overflow with hope.  Not a natural hope that we conjure up; instead, a supernatural hope that can only come from God.

And so I run to my heavenly Father.  I let him be my fortress and strong tower.  Daily, I ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me up with his HOPE and PEACE.

ShalomBut its not easy.  In fact, its so tough that my wife has HOPE (tikvah) tattooed her wrist and I have PEACE (shalom) tattooed on my wrist!  Its so that every time we look down, we are reminded to find our HOPE and PEACE in God alone.  To look beyond our circumstances and our losses and know that our Father loves us and grieves with us.  And we make it through another day.  And God continues to give us HOPE and PEACE and to heal our hearts.  And someday, he WILL wipe away every tear and there will be no more pain or loss or suffering.  You can bank on that.

 

EL

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5 Reasons I love My Church

Me adjusting my pedals LOL

Me adjusting my pedals LOL

Yesterday I was thinking about some of the reasons why I love my church (Blackhawk Church).  Here’s what I came up with:

  1. We kicked off a new book study yesterday on Proverbs. One of our worship pastors, Paul, taught the congregation a worship song he had written based on Proverbs. I love Blackhawk’s appreciation of the arts!
  2. Pastor Chris ended his sermon by having everyone repeat Proverbs 1:7 over and over and then had us all memorize it and repeat it together (he’s big on scripture memorization). Super cool to memorize scripture with a few thousand other people.
  3. Blackhawk is asking the whole church to read a chapter of Proverbs a day for July while we go through the different themes of book on Sunday mornings. Pastor Chris is also a huge fan of daily Bible reading. Its cool knowing so many of us will be studying the same book.
  4. They announced that Blackhawk is doing a blood drive on July 13 and a food drive on July 14 as well as the community garden we have that is to for our food pantry. I love how Blackhawk wants to be the tangible hands and feet of Christ to meet local needs!
  5. This weekend we celebrated Pastor Chris being at Blackhawk for 20 years! Man- that’s pretty awesome!

Just a few reasons why I love my church! What do you love about your church?

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Current Top 10 Favorite U2 Songs

Because U2 is without a doubt the GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME, my list of favorite songs continually changes because they just have so many great songs!

So- here’s my (current) list of top 10 favorite U2 songs.  Some you would expect and some might surprise you.  (Since I can’t really place these in order of what I like best, I’ll just list them chronologically)

U2TCD029

  1. “A Sort of Homecoming” from The Unforgettable Fire
  2. “Bad” from The Unforgettable Fire
  3. “In God’s Country” from The Joshua Tree
  4. “One Tree Hill” from The Joshua Tree
  5. “All I Want is You” from Rattle and Hum
  6. “One” from Achtung Baby
  7. “Walk On” from All That You Can’t Leave Behind
  8. “Kite” from All That You Can’t Leave Behind
  9. “Yahweh” from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
  10. “City of Blinding Lights” from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
  11. “Window in the Skies” from U218
  12. “Invisible”- the free single they gave away during the Super Bowl.

OK- so its actually my top 12 songs.  So sue me.  What are you favorite U2 songs?

 

 

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God’s Guidance

Things don’t always go the way that we think they will!  Isn’t life like that though?  We make plans and then life throws us a curve ball.  We don’t get into the college of our dreams.  That guy or girl you thought was “the one” laughs at you when you ask them out.  Out of nowhere, you get handed a pink slip and you are left wondering what to do next.  We wonder, where is God in all of this?

One thing you can be sure of is that there are few things you can be sure of.

So the question is: how do we have faith when we are facing a crisis, when we are looking up at those hills of life- those mountains we have to face?  What do we do when the weight is just too much and we just can’t deal with everything that is going on in our world?

ropes-on-the-tall-shipWell, the Bible has a lot to say about God’s guidance.  The Hebrew word for guidance (tachbulah) is same word for “rope”.  Back then, sailers used ropes to guide and navigate their ships.  They used ropes to raise or drop the sails and to tell the ship where to go and how fast to get there.

God’s guidance is the same way.  Here’s what I’ve been learning these last few months: God’s guidance is more something he DOES than something he GIVES. I’ve prayed and prayed- “God, show me what you want for my life!”.  That prayer has mostly been met with silence.  Silence.

BUT.

But what God does is shape and mold and guide me where to go…and how fast to get there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the life of Joseph from the Old Testament.  He was falsely accused and thrown in prison.  And that was AFTER being thrown in a pit and then sold into slavery.  For years and years, Joseph waited on God’s plan.  But in the midst of that seeming inactivity, God was moving and shaping and molding Joseph so that he was ready to lead when the time came.

These past several months have been really tough as we’ve waited on God.  But I can see that God has been working on my heart and preparing me for whatever is next.  And for that, I can be thankful.

If life has thrown you a curve or if you are facing uncertain times- you are not alone! Your story shares a lot with many people’s stories we find in the Bible.  And in all of those stories, God was moving and shaping and molding.  Even when it seemed like he was distant or silent.  We can trust that God is good and God is great and he has good things planned for his children.

Stay strong.  Stay the course.  Trust God.

EL

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Trust in the LORD

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 (ESV)

Its a Bible verse I’ve had memorized for almost 3 decades.  However, actually living out the truth of it is a whole other matter! Its an easy verse to quote to your friends who are going through a tough time.  When YOU are the one in the dark valley, when YOU are the one that is confused, frustrated, and running out of patience, it is much harder to believe that God will make your paths straight.

And yet… And yet I look back and I see God’s hand on my life and I know that He WILL make my paths straight and He WILL lead and guide me to the right place.

When Kristin and I were engaged and I didn’t know where I was going to be working or where we would live, God led us to Colorado.  And in Colorado he helped us lay the foundation for our marriage and led us to friends who will always be there for us- wherever we live or do ministry.

When we desperately wanted to be parents and we kept experiencing the pain of miscarriage, God was there with us for those 3 long, empty years.  And now we have two beautiful children!

When our daughter Rebecca was born not breathing and we heard the doctors say the words “brain damage”, God was there.  And he healed our little girl and she is perfectly healthy and a joy to all she meets!

And so, I know that God is moving and working- even in the silence.  Even in this desert season.  And someday we will look back and see how God was there with us-even when we feel so alone.  And so I will choose not to lean on my own understanding but to trust God will all of my heart.  Its not easy-not but any stretch.  But its a daily choice I will continue to make.

2012---trust

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Great Song and Video

Totally digging this song and video:

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