My role in all this

My hearts desire and prayer to God for America is that they will be saved. For we have been blessed by God greatly and we have the truth widely proclaimed throughout our land, but we have like all sheep gone astray. Our sin has separated us from a holy God. We call good evil and evil good. We slaughter the innocent and we condemn the just and there is no fear of God before our eyes. It is cause for weeping. It is cause for prayer. It is cause to stand up for truth and to speak out against sin.

But we have never lacked cause. We have had cause for these things our entire lives. In the last days perilous times will come. Evil men will wax worse and worse. Wolves will sneak into the flock. Temptations will abound and many who claimed the name of Christ will wax cold in their love. But this, also, is not new.

What does God require of us? What does God require of our nation? What does God require of me (and of you)? To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. We cannot all march on New York this week, this month, this year – God does not call us too. We cannot all run for a political office, we cannot all pastor, we cannot all go down to abortion clinics and adopt, we cannot all do any of these things.

We can all pray. We can all obey the commands given to us. We can all fear God and keep his commandments for this is our sole duty. We are not meant to bring about the revival of America, for we cannot do it. And as God does not call each of us to go to do each of these different things, God does call us to pray for laborers. God’s expectation on us is not the impossible. God can do it all. God can end abortion, stop sin, bring revival, save a nation – He can do it all. We can do what is our duty to do.

Sin is an atrocity. Unfortunately and shamefully we have (often times) shielded our eyes from the atrocity because we would rather be comfortable in our American Christianity. (I speak from personal experience.) This wickedness that is flaunted before us daily is not new and should drive us only to God. The sweetness of heaven should appear, oh, so much sweeter. The devastation of sin should not seem theoretical but instead a daily practical vision of evil before us to drive us to God.

Some may say, “What then can be done?” I’ve already quoted the answer to that. As you walk with God and as God leads you, you may be convicted to do something more or different than you are now. Or you may not. But the plain truth of Scripture does require something if you claim Christ.

God used people to abolish slavery. God used people to defeat the Nazis and put a stop to the holocaust. God can use people to end abortion, to end this attack on biblical marriage and biblical sexuality. We must be willing to do what God requires of us. That may never be more than praying on these two particular issues. Or it may mean becoming the face of a movement and sacrificing our current jobs, ambitions, and desires to God’s will as we embark on a life changing course. Only God knows, but we must be willing. We must be praying. We must be sensitive to His leading and we must walk with Him.

We must be careful to guard our hearts. Our hope must be only in God. The faith that is divided is a faith that will fail. When we begin to trust in something else we will have discouragement, fear, frustration, anger, and bitterness. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. It is not in a political party, a president, a Supreme Court, a movement, great preachers, etc. Our hope is in Jesus Christ.

The things we say affect our minds and hearts. If we are not careful what we are posting or speaking about, we can easily begin to shift our focus from Christ to anything else. As we do this, we will pray less, we will walk with God less, and we will do more damage to our cause – the gospel – then we would have to remain silent and prayerful in our closets. Seek the Lord while He may be found.

A tragedy within the church is that we say it is about a relationship and we ignore the relationship. We sing about Christ alone and we ignore Christ. We sing the power of Jesus name, and live in the powerless fear of our flesh.

Seek the Lord!

15 minutes of prayer is 1% of your day. 1%! Can you not spend 15 minutes praying to our Savior, our Friend? Can we not spend 15 minutes listening to Him in His Word? That’s a whole 2% we are giving Him. Maybe 3 hours of service each week (if you attend three hours), gives you another 2%. So 4% of your week, your life – that’s what God gets when He gives you His name, His family, His peace, His strength, His love, and His life?

Seek the Lord!

My heart’s desire and prayer to God for His church is that we might know Jesus. That we might pursue Him personally, individually, and with total abandon of everything else (including ourself, our families, and this country).

May God give us conviction and desire that we might know Him.

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No words

Sometimes there are no words, (to aid in any sense.)

Sometimes there are only tears, (to pour out our soul.)

Sometimes there are only feelings, (and we wish ourselves numb.)

Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, (our minds struggle for reason.)

Sometimes the sense doesn’t help, (for we are just mortal man.)

Sometimes we cry out, (how can anyone refrain?)

Sometimes we sit in silence, (we sit, oh, so very empty.)

“Weep with those that weep.”

In memory of Nick Benigni – godly man, husband, father, missionary, entrepreneur, and friend.

Do

As the year comes to a close, there is much we can talk about. But the question that has been driving me (in different variations of wording) is, “Why not do it?” The question is not, “why?”

There are two types of people: those who do and those who do not. Unfortunately, I’d say the latter is the larger group. Doers take chances, step out, face failure, fall again and again, push the envelope, and think outside the box. Those who don’t, don’t. They pursue the status quo. They are afraid of failure and will not push themselves beyond their boundaries. Often, our boundaries are self imposed more than anything else. 

I have a friend who once worked full time as a construction worker, then cleaned parking lots overnight sleeping briefly in each lot before going back home to get his construction gear again and go back to work. How many would make that sacrifice?

I have another friend who worked 80-120 hour weeks over and over to support his family – doing road construction. It wasn’t like he was sitting in AC at a desk. He was working hard – harder than most people I know would even be able to imagine. I’ve been in the food industry for some years now and many of these “kids” are what might be referred to as “girly men.” They don’t know how to work hard or what that means. 

And the list goes on of those that did – you could google search startups, businesses that started in garages, etc. Those who do, create. They push limits. They excel. They drive innovation and advancement. Those who are willing to fall so they can get back up. If you see where you want to go, you will probably fall quite a bit on the way there, but you will get there if you keep moving forward. As soon as you stop, well, you stop. You are no longer a doer.

Yes, I get it. There is fear. There is the unknown. There is pain and loss each time there is failure/falling. But isn’t that the way of life? It is with pain and travail that a child is born. The time, the process, the labor all have a natural outcome – a child. Starting a business, pursuing a degree, working for the promotion, making the pitch, pursuing your passion – none of them are supposed to be easy. Instead, they should require work (some more than others).

Proverbs 24:16 [16] For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

Go be a doer. Don’t wait for next year. Do it now.

Click here for your presidential election discussion

Not voting for Trump is a vote for Hillary.

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Just kidding. That’s not true.

If you read my last post on why I wanted Trump to win, you know I don’t like either of the candidates.
But let’s forget that part and take a Biblical approach to this…have you heard that one yet? I mean, seriously, haven’t we all heard all of it and both sides from a million different real life friends and facebook friends? How many times have we seen people that “don’t normally post about this” post about politics with that disclaimer? How many people have gotten so fed up they must now say something? 

I mean, here I am blogging about it now! For real. I can’t even. (My favorite site on the whole internet, btw)

So, why am I blogging about this? It’s because this is a medium Gods given me to use. There are things being said and others not being said well. And this particular approach is not one I’ve seen often if at all. (Kinda scary posting “new” perspective)

I have considered approaching this post from so many angles it has taken me months to write it. But here we are. 6 days away, unless you’ve already voted and then, how about that. You can all feel good or guilty right now!

I feel I am a balanced person when it comes to weighing things. I’m not stubborn, but willing to weigh and discern. I have listened to people solely for who they were, and others solely because they wanted me to. I have done reading requested by others and have given my best towards understand where they are coming from.

I work not towards a winning argument but an apologetic. I am the one on the outskirts. I am the one not mainstream. Therefore, I will defend my position to the best of my ability. 

A priority in this, in both my mindset and words, is that we must not allow this issue to divide the body of Christ. Paul asks the Corinthians if Christ is divided, and that was over spiritual leaders – not two wicked people. 

(Both Trump and Hillary are wicked people, bad choices for president, a disgrace to our nation, a blight in our future with great potential to destroy all we hold to be dear in America. This is pretty much agreed upon all around, even those voting for both sides – and if it isn’t you are ignoring the obvious.)

This issue should not divide us. We are to have a bond of peace. We are to pursue unity. We are to be known by our love for the brethren. None of these things are put on hold for election year or election results. This is not an issue where you can discern another’s heart like God sees it. With many (do a google search) people of repute within conservative Envangelicalism saying different things, we need to be bakery careful how we draw our lines of judgment based on a political matter. That is a focal point on my mind.

How to approach this topic has been a wrestling point though. I have recently spoken with some people very close to me on this issue. These are people I haven’t engaged with on these topics in probably four years – last presidential election. They have presented me with less flawed logic or straw men then others, and pointed out a question of considerable consistency to me. 

Then I held a conversation with someone with many years of voting. And the statement made was, “I can’t ever recall the Bible being a factor in the voting.” It was made regarding whether or not our candidates are Christian or whether or not they seem to truly follow the Lord. It was made saying the Bible was not talked about at election time. To paraphrase: We voted for the person who would do a good job, protect our freedom, and keep us safe.

And I said “aha!” … in my mind. I stood speechless for a bit.

And that is the angle I will take.

We, as Christians, claim to follow the Bibke in everything. We believe we should. We believe it pertains to all things. It is profitable and therefore necessary. I’m not going to try to give a summary of Bibliology here.

When it comes to this issue, the Bible plainly talks about government. We don’t have to argue really about our responsibility as citizens within our government. If I have a responsibility to be a good citizen who cares for and seeks the welfare of my nation there are things I will do.

What I don’t have in Scripture are two things:

1. A Biblical reason I should give my vote to either Trump or Hillary – specifically, why should I vote for Trump, from Bible?

2. A Biblical reason I should not vote for Trump from Bible?

All answers I’ve had thus far speak subjectively. That is, no one can tell me from Scripture that I should vote for Trump. Voting is itself an undefined variable from Scripture. Must I vote to be a good citizen? Scripture doesn’t say, but we’ve been preaching it for generations. Is a vote for a person, a ticket, policies, a party, a platform? Depending on the answer the different people get very different results on what they l, having sought the Lord and counsel, will do in this election. Some will not vote. Some will not vote for Trump but write-in a name. Others will vote without peace for Trump because he’s better than Hillary. Others will vote excitedly for Trump.

As a citizen seeking my nations well-being, I know people in all boats. I know those voting for Trump with excitement.

I know those voting for Trump with reservations – hoping he does more good for freedom and life than the other candidates and at the very least doesn’t do as much damage as we anticipate Clinton doing.

I know those who will not vote – they believe their voice as citizen is important but they do not believe they should give it to someone who cannot and will not fulfill those requirements. In their mind it is right to not vote.

Finally, you have people similar to the above group who will write in a name. Some will to provide testimony and not offend others. Some will because they think it best affects the political process in a macro view though they understand it is efectively a nonvote anyway.

And I’m ok with all those views and perspectives. I don’t think any are right more so than others. I’m not here to tell you how to vote before God. I’m here to love the brethren and seek the Lord. If we are seeking the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace then we are on the right track. I think these other options are just options.

Why I want Trump to win (click bait)

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This is not a post about my political leanings, my reasons for my conclusions, etc.

Instead, this is me explaining why I (and I think others, at least partly whether they admit it or not) want Trump to win.

I grew up in a conservative Christian home. As with many things with kids, I was a republican before I knew why or cared. Like I grew up a duel fan of the Lions and Vikings with an extreme dislike for the Packers, so I was a Republican. 

With all the political rhetoric abounding today, there are discussions happening everywhere. Often at work we will find ourselves discussing one aspect or another. And in these discussions I begin to feel something – I want Trump to win. 

Now, without the reasons why, I’ll state what those that know me already know. I won’t vote for Trump and I won’t vote for Hillary. I feel giving my support in the form of a vote would be wrong – certainly for me and I might argue for others as well. My next post will get into the why. (It’s been a while since I wrote a political blog :))

Earlier, I used the sports analogy purposefully. Many love their team. Whatever their team is and for whatever reason, they love their team. It is this love of team that for me generally evokes a feeling that I want Trump to beat Hillary – though I don’t want either one, cannot lend my one precious vote to either one, and why I find it incredible when one  says that “__________ will destroy America.” 
An early grounded love of team is a strong thing. It brings belonging and attachment. The stronger it is imparted the greater the tie. My wife grew up a Packer fan. Her family lived sports and the Packers were a primary focus of that. It didn’t matter that I came along on my white horse and rescued her. It didn’t matter that I have an extreme dislike for the Packers (in a Viking and Lion house one thing is certain – no one likes the Packers). In the end she loves the Packers and so our children are now cheering for them too.

I don’t love the Republican Party. I am not even a republican. I am a libertarian in republican form. I dislike the two party system and only align myself to convert the GOP to something better – I’m a puritan not a separatist, in this case. My parents weren’t die hard republicans. It wasn’t something I was indoctrinated in. It was just something I was.

But the reality is, the feeling comes. And I ask myself, “Why? Why do I feel this way of someone I have spoken openly against, feel is a wicked choice, and would not vote for?” The answer, for me, is relatively simple now that it is discovered. I’m used to being a republican and I want my side to win.

This is a horrible reason to vote one way or to justify a vote. 

I don’t want either of the candidates. I believe they are both the “wicked ruler” the Bible speaks of. But anyway, that’s why I find myself wanting Trump to win – because I’ve been conditioned (in the way many have without intentionality or blame) that way.

Six month goal update

I have not done as well these past three months. What I’ve learned this segment is that when you set goals that require more consistency, it becomes exponentially more difficult.

My physical goals were actually pretty modest for where I have been and could be, yet my percentage with those is extremely low. I did not achieve 10 pull-ups, nor 10 handstand push-ups, nor 1 minute frog stand (think 47sec was closest I got). I have picked the marathon I was going to sign up for and need to finish that before the day ends here but my other goals’ results are scaring me that I might not follow through enough.

My mental goals are all accomplished. I have set time for reading. Memorizing and language replaced most my facebook/news time- which has worked out fine. 

Financial goals did not work out with the published one. I did have one unpublished goal for the end of the next three months which I have achieved. That was exciting.

Spiritual goals I have completed except for the passing out of tracts again. Another habit I have not created, and so have no plan for success on that one.

My total for this segment was 6/11 or 55%.

Interesting that I hit 6 each time. Hmmm.

Total so far is 12/20 or 60%

Friendship

I had the opportunity to study through and teach a series on friendship in these past few months. It has been something I’ve been wanting to do for some time, and that I’ve talked with many about. The reality of a study like this is that there is much to read, plenty to study, and hard conclusions to draw. Below I summarize my study in the same way I summarized my series. I hope it is both an encouragement and challenge to you.

Descriptions

The Bible has many descriptions with few prescriptions regarding friendships – “A man that hath friends, must show himself friendly.”
Many of the descriptions are commanded of Christians – Gen 38:20;1 Sam 30:26; 2 Sam 13:3,16:16; Job 6:14; Pro 17:17,18:24, 27:6,9,10,17, 18:24; Deut 13:6; Job 42:10, Luke 11:5-8, 15:6; John 15:13; 3 John 1:14; Ex 33:11

Personal Circles

Here is a picture we discussed and filled in as a class. The circles represent friendship ( based on Jesus life where he had Peter, James, and John in his inner circles, then the twelve, then 70, etc) and the reality that most descriptions of friendships can apply to far outer circles and not just the inner circles. 


The described circles demonstrate that the actions are different for many people, many types of friends, and that the reality of our circles is subjective to us and not a matter of right and wrong. – my circles differ from yours, and the way I am willing to share/sacrifice/etc is different from others.

Reality of Friends

Good or great friends can be a huge help and blessing – Jonathan and David: help, encourage, strengthen, support, uphold, etc

God doesn’t require us to have good or great friends, nor promise that we will ever have them (Jesus had close friends for three years and was betrayed when it mattered most)

Friendships are not often equal in giving and receiving – David and Jonathan(Jonathan was almost exclusively the actor in their entire relationship), Hushai

Friendships may or may not be permanent – David and Jonathan, David and Abiathar

Application of Reality

We are NOT expected, commanded, or guaranteed to have friends in any particular circle ever, let alone for most or much of our lives, or through our most difficult seasons – Jesus, Joseph, Moses, Job, Noah, etc 

Accept and be grateful for who you have – don’t look at what you don’t have

Be the friend you want to have without expecting it to be reciprocated. (Recognize, you cannot be perfect-inner-circle friends to everyone. God cares for people, sometimes He uses us, sometimes others.)

The Perfect Friend

Lean on the Lord. He is always there. – He will never leave you or forsake you. Heb 13:5

He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. – Pro 18:24

He demonstrated the greatest love there is. – John 15:13

He portrays the positive characteristics we see described of friends

What Next?

Consider yourself – are you friendly? To anyone? To your friends?

Who are your friends? Why are they your friends?

Do you expect more from people you consider your friends than they are giving? Consider, without being hurt and self-pity, that they might have different circles than you, or different behaviors within those circles.

Be the friend you desire

Develop a strong friendship with the Lord

Update 1.3

I have completed the first quarter as of last month’s end, and need to provide an update and recap.

Physical goals: recover elbow, run 13.1, and 9% body fat. I already posted how I moved 9% fat to a future goal due to it being unrealistic based on my ignorance, so I’m not counting that one. I did in fact recover my elbows. I did not achieve my run. My family packed, then postponed, then closed and moved all in the end of the month when it was planned for earlier. End result I did not complete that goal, though I feel physically I was capable. 1/2

Mental goals: read two books, blog three times, duolingo section 1. Completed all the above. The second book took much longer than anticipated, but I made it. 3/3

Financial goals: earn $10 through online business. I did not accomplish this. I am not sure where I’ll end up on these. I have not prioritized it at all and have found my time limited to such an extent that I’m honestly not sure where this one will go. 0/1

Spiritual: memorize chapter, pass out 30 tracts, read NT, pray each day for 15. In that order, I did accomplish the memorizing. I decided to go with 1 Timothy for this year and finished the first chapter.mi have a good app called Remember Me. It hits all the things I’m aware that our brain requires for good memory work. I did not pass out 30 tracts. I was woefully short. I started strong but had an incident where my stash of tracts got wet and never got back on track. With the prayer, I have decided that this goal is not well suited for this type of thing. It is hard to gauge a relationship on 15min a day for certain. I don’t want to be timing myself per say and I started low purposefully to build up. Further, if I missed a day  at that time limit or in that fragment of the day, does that mean the goal was a failure even if my relationship with the Lord stays strong? I’m evaluating the best way to continue this goal for recorded purposes. Personally, my goal is still an hour, though I’m currently working at closer to 30-45 minutes of set apart time. 2/3
Total 6/9 = 67%. Meh. First quarter down. I have found I’m often using my time better when i have smaller increments. Instead of more surfing or news reading I’m working on language or a book or a memory chapter. So that’s good. The feeling of a deadline is more consistent now, which isn’t a good feeling but I’m doing better about channeling it into productivity. All in all, I am encouraged with where I am yet I recognize that a 67% is too low and needs to be better.

Praise the Lord

My family has just gone through a story worth telling. It is a story that has been powerful in our lives and for us should be shared. We see this pattern through Scripture when we see the testimony of the historical books. We see the instruction to Israel to continue to do these things to pass on the goodness of the Lord. Finally, christians in the church are to recount the blessings of the Lord as well as recall them. So in order to follow wisdom and glorify the Lord I will boast in Him and what He has done.

This story goes back two years. When my wife was pregnant with our twins, I had a low-ish paying job and we were running out of time on our lease. Due to circumstances (of another story) we were looking for a place to live.

We couldn’t find anything. We stayed in a friend’s house as she went out of town for a month. We moved in to family’s house where we brought the twins from the hospital. We struggled through a continuously delayed closing process to buy a house we didn’t really want per se but would fit for a short time. We feared getting stuck but felt it was the best thing to do.

About a year later we meet with an agent to try to sell. She tells us we aren’t likely to make any money and breaking even could be hard too.

A few months later we decided that we believed God had something else for us. We had been following him, living right, and praying. We figured God could and prayed He would say no if He wanted and so we met another agent to get our house on the market. We had an offer in three days, the negotiating done in a week, and we were under contract in 10. A quick answer to prayer!!

We began the process of planning. My wife wisely decided not to pack and live out of boxes early since we had about two months. But we did start looking for houses – and found nothing. We looked daily on multiple apps and sites. Still nothing. Oddly, we rarely even received return calls/emails/texts. It got closer and closer.

(And while the glory of God might be seen regardless of these further details, these are the things that we have seen to grow us and our faith.

We were looking within a certain price range, because all landlords were requiring us to verify three times the rent. This lead us to finding nothing.

Then, out of no where, a friend got my sister-in-law a job. She was living with us and so now her income counted regardless of if our budget needed it, It counted.

We began to look and had an application on one we wanted. The process here took quite a long time and lead to further disappointment. While we waited through this process, the temp agency that hired my sister-in-law got released from their contract and that verifiable income was gone. We now had a week left.

We were turned down on that application, and were left with no options.)

As I began the story you read we had already lived with others and been in their houses. We had some offers, from family and friends to do that again. But who wants to do that? However this time it was less of a “who wants that?” and an impracticality. We went from 4 people living with another family to 7.

Further, my wife is planning to leave for India on her first missions trip in just 2 weeks. We have no place to live, a life changing trip just ahead, and 4 kids six and under.

God worked it out to so we could extend our closing date by one week. One more week.

The reality is, I pause here, that God gave more grace and faith to us during this time. We were, by His Grace, able to maintain a hope in Him. We were both able to truly rely on Him and, just as important, to be content with whatever end He had for us. In all the trials of our eight years, God allowed in this one that we would be able to be victorious through it.

We saw ourselves at the red sea. We saw ourselves at the fiery furnace. We were ready to move forward – we didn’t stagnate in fear, we didn’t try to return to Egypt, we didn’t settle for something God dis not have for us. We were ready to move in with friends and trust that if it was so, we would still trust in God.

(The advice and comments from others varied greatly. However, even in this we found ourselves praying for God’s glory to be manifest to these others because He already showed it to us in this. Those that doubted God could. Those hesitant to say God would – understandably so. [No one can predict God, but so should none judge God or a person by the outcome. Nebuchadnezzar would have said they were fools had they died. He still would have been wrong.])

Saturday arrives. We were waiting for the final answer on a house we were praying for. I had called earlier that morning and was told we would know by that afternoon. We waited and waited. 5:30, Kaylynn leaves to go celebrate a birthday with a friend and we conclude that we will put our stuff in storage. Ten minutes later I get a text:

“You have been selected and approved.”

A short little text and God opened the door. We signed papers after class Sunday morning. We packed the truck late Sunday night. We unloaded Monday morning. Tuesday the water was turned on and we were home.

Today we sold our house.

God is good and does what pleases Him. We tell our kids that. We told them God is the one who takes care of us abd who will give us a house. We heard our eldest pray “God, I know you have just the right house for us.” It is amazing to see Him answer for us and for our kids and for everyone else. That is why we share this story – because He is great and greatly to be praised!

Praise Him for his goodness!

Update 1.2

Two months have passed. I am now in the final stretch for accomplishing my first tier of goals, and I’m still learning things about myself.

I like to complete things rather than stretch multiple things out. For example, the time I have for memory and reading the NT is shared. So instead of alternating, I found it easier for me to read the NT and now I’m into the memorizing. The downside of course, is that this gives me less time to gauge on the latter goal and less time to reorganize time slots to accomplish if necessary.

I had further broken my goals down into sections to be completed each month. I’m glad I didn’t post these as I believe the smaller pieces need to be more flexible. I have not completed all of these, though I have completed some. Nevertheless, I feel confident of hitting most of my goals by the end of this month. Discipline must continue and so must the consistent reminder, but we shall see in a month’s time.

The language work is enjoyable. The app I’m using works well with this style of goal, though because I’m getting less structure I’m feeling I not excelling as I could. I may end up supplementing the app just to deepen my understanding.

I’m looking forward to my memory work. I’m curious to see how my mind retains now, and also to dig into the book of 1 Timothy. I recall my studying it during Bible quizzing but don’t recall much of the text so am excited to get back into it.

My elbows are getting stronger but the break from everything else to strengthen them has left me feeling weak. I’m quite anxious to dig into my other exercise routine though I recognize the time commitment on the physical goals is about to jump drastically.

I feel there is a good deal of ignorant chance as to whether I will make $10 by the end of this month. Ignorant because I’m learning and trying and am sure I don’t know exactly what I’m doing with some of it.

Well, I’m off to learn some more animals in Spanish. 
Until next time.