finding my sweet spot…

31381164_10155359850217327_2674765949316046679_nThis past couple of years of switching from one ministry to a new one and moving to a new area of Kentucky have been crazy.  Throw in my wife having breast cancer, my son being put on the autism spectrum, and my daughter being diagnosed with Celiac Disease it’s taken a while to really feel settled and where I sort of know what I am doing.  To be honest there have been times where I definitely have felt unqualified for what I have been doing and just wondering how God can use me.

The past few months though I finally feel like I am hitting my sweet spot and really finally doing what I believe God has called me to do in ministry.  I’ve been able to go into high schools and middle schools and train coaches and teacher sponsors on how to do FCA on their campuses.  Even though, I used be petrified of speaking, I’ve been blessed to share on several occasions with students and challenge them to grow in their walk with Christ.  Perhaps that most exciting part of ministry for me over the past few months has been the launch of our FCA ministry on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University.  To get the chance to work with the college athletes has truly been a blessing.  Building relationships with the students, Seeing them grow in their walk with Christ, want to go deeper in Bible study, making commitments to faithfully participate in the local church, have all just been so confirming that I am right where God wants me to me be.

Don’t get me wrong, I know God has used me in various ministries, church activities, and other outreaches over the years.  And I know there is a time and a place for everything.  Yet, there are those passions and gifts that God has given that I don’t feel that I have always been able to use for Him.  I know that I still have much to learn and much more to do for God, but to finally be in a place where I am able to serve, and use the passion for ministry to coaches and athletes He gave, is just a wonderful place to be.  I am so excited to see how God is going to continue to just take that passion for sports ministry and FCA and use it for His Glory!  Just keep praying for me as I seek to serve.

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speaking in public…

microphoneI have always been what most people would consider an outgoing guy.  I can go in and talk to people and joke and have fun.  The truth is though that while I can do those things, it’s not really me.  Going into a group of people and having to mingle petrifies me with anxiety and then take it another step further an have to speak to everyone and I get even more anxious.  The biggest anxiety of all though is when I am charged with sharing a devotion or preaching a sermon.  The pressure of making sure that not only am I communicating well, but also handling the truth of God’s Word properly very much overwhelms me.

Yet, I am in full time ministry where I have to do all those things that cause my anxiety.  From 2005-middle of 2016 I was in a ministry where I may only have to speak in front of a group a handful of times a year.  That all changed last year when I went full time with FCA.  Since that time I have had to share in churches, civic organizations, schools, and lots of other places.  In just a little over a year I have had more opportunities to speak than I have had in the 11 years prior.

All this is to say, I am so thankful that I have a God who encourages me and gives me strength to over come, or at least ignore the anxieties that attack me about speaking.  Where once I had a sense of dread when someone asked me to speak, now I am open to it and sometime find myself excited for the opportunity.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still scared and worried, but too many times has God showed himself faithful for me to be held back by those feelings.

This Sunday, I will be speaking at a church that I have never spoken at before. I am blessed to have the opportunity to not only share about our ministry with FCA but to also share a message from God’s Word.  The nerves and fears will come, but I have a great God who will give me strength and allow me to do all things through Him!

Forced R & R…

BedrestManThe past week and a half has definitely not gone the way that I had envisioned it would.   I hoped that I would be in the middle of a whirlwind of ministry, traveling to various schools training students and coaches to do FCA, and leading Bible studies.  However, that has not been the case and I have pretty much been confined to my house, the doctors office of the hospital.

For about two weeks I have been having a lot of pain that gradually got worse and worse.  Pain when I sat and pain when I moved.  Friday night a week ago I was in bad enough pain that went to urgent care.  Unfortunately they misdiagnosed and the meds they gave me did nothing to help me.  By Sunday, a week ago today, I was in such bad pain that I had my wife take me to the emergency room where I spent most of the day.  While the ER was not able to totally fix me up they were able to give me pain meds and make it a lot easier for me to deal.  Finally, on Tuesday I met with a surgeon who diagnosed my issue and set up surgery on Wednesday.  It turns out I had a problem called a fistula.  I’ll let you google that and find out what all that means, but I warn you not to look at the pictures.    So Wednesday, I had outpatient surgery which went well, but now I have to go back and meet with the surgeon again, set up a time for a colonoscopy, and make a plan for what comes next.

Since Wednesday evening, I have been at home on bedrest.  The good news is that I am slowly starting to feel a little better and move around some.  While there is still pain, I am in nowhere near the amount of pain that I was in before the surgery.  And hopefully this week I will be able to get out among the living and while not at 100% at least be able to do some things.

The good thing to come out of this is first of all that I have been forced to get some rest.  When you are stuck in bed and on pain meds that make you sleepy, you sleep.  So for the first time in awhile I feel refreshed as far as sleep goes.  The second good thing that has actually been the best thing is once again being forced to rely more on God.  This first came into play with just being in pain and having to pray and pray and pray to be delivered from the pain I was in.  Then more prayer for doctors, surgery, healing and everything going on in my body that I don’t fully understand right now.

I have also been forced to depend on God through all the worry, discouragement, and depression that Satan has been throwing at me.  Worries such as worry about how I am going to pay for all these medical bills and what am I going to do about our family’s financial support for ministry which is not at 100%.  Worries  about important meetings and Bible studies that I am missing while being stuck at home.  In times when I should be encouraged by the awesome friends that God has given me me that have called and texted to check on me, I’ve found Satan trying to discourage me with the fact that I am stuck inside and had no friends visit.  Depressed that I just haven’t been able to be up interacting and enjoying my family.  I don’t list these things to be whiney or to elicit sympathy, but to be honest about lots of the things going on in my mind right now.  And then to also let you know that my God is bigger than all these issues. neverleaveyou He will meet all my medical and financial needs.  He has given me great friends and will give me more.  God will take care of all my meetings and Bible studies.  Whether that being letting them go on without me or rescheduling them.  He will allow me to be a good Dad and Husband to my family.  Instead of letting the stillness and forced time of rest drive me nuts with discouragement from Satan, I have to remind myself that God says I need to be still and know He is is God.  Nothing is to big or small for Him.  He will never leave me nor forsake me.

So please pray for me that I will seek God deeper each day, even when this health issue is over.  Pray that I will get healthy soon and get back to just being able to do and enjoy life without pain.  Pray for the issues that Satan has thrown at me to worry about, that God would meet those needs and I would continue to trust He will do so.  And lastly that even though it’s hard I would enjoy being able to rest!

Time for another school year…

The summer has officially flown by and my baby girl is heading back to school tomorrow for her first day of the First Grade. On Facebook I received one of the throw back pictures of her when she was so very tiny, and now here she his tall, beautiful, and full of high energy starting her second year of school. Not only, does it make me feel old, but it’s depressing to realize how short the time God has given me to be a Dad really is. My constant prayer to God is that I am the type of father who reflects Christ to my kids in all that I do and say. Looking at how fast that time is going, really makes me want to be sure that I am reflecting Him well. My time as an example is short and I want to have maximum impact for Christ on my kids. I can’t imagine all the things that my daughter is going to have to face in school and life, so helping her get a Godly base now is so important. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:16 (ESV), “Making the best use of time, because the days are evil.” I have to make the best use of time with my sweet girl so that she can face all that life throws at her, both good and evil. That’s my prayer as a father and I hope that if you are a parent it’s your prayer too!

praying to parent better…

ParentingI’m a Dad and all too often I am reminded by the actions and words of my kiddos that I am still figuring this whole parenting thing out.  I have two wonderful kids.  My six year old girl is a firecracker who is full of life and does everything full speed ahead.  Sometimes this leads to her being overly persistent even after she has been told no to something and losing doesn’t always go over that well with her.  My five year old little boy is as sweet as they come, but he does struggle with some speech and learning/developmental delays.  These issues definitely give him his own struggles and issues to overcome.

Each day, I realize that each of my children have their own issues and struggles and that as unique little individuals I have to respond to them in ways to unique to each child.  My daughter is fiercely independent and my son is not.  She needs more words of affirmation and he needs more quality time.  With my daughter sometimes you have to be louder to get her attention, that same volume though can break my son’s little spirit so he needs a quieter gentler tone of correction.

The problem with dealing with my kids and meeting their individual unique needs is that I am a sinner.  As a Dad I don’t always respond the way I should.  I let my own issues, fatigue, and life in general all too often color the way I parent.  Too often my responses have more to do with me than that of what my child is doing or needs.  This is an issue that God has definitely been dealing with me about one the past few months and it has led me to a simple prayer that I pray daily, if not several times a day.  I pray and ask  God to allow me and my wife to be the type of parents that point our kids to Christ in all that we do and say, and that we show His love to them in all that we do and say.

This prayer convicting to me, because it points out the times that day I have failed to do what I’m asking.  Also, it comes to my mind when I am in the middle of some form of parenting my children and helps me slow down and think about the love, kindness, discipline, and guidance that I may be about to give.  I know I am a fallen sinner, but I want to seek my God so that my kids see Christ in me and want a deeper relationship with Him.  I never want to be the parent that breaks his kids down and drives them away from Christ.

I am praying to be a parent who is reflecting Christ well and ask that you pray for me in this area to!

giving gifts that matter…

fcabibleLast week, I had the pleasure of visiting two new schools (new to me) that were either wanting to start an FCA Huddle or have been going with no FCA staff presence.  In both of these situations I was blessed to meet teachers that genuinely care for their students and want to see them come to know Christ.  In both situations I was able to leave one of our FCA Coaches Bibles with the teacher and it was great to see how they were so appreciative to not only have a copy of God’s Word, but one specifically designed to help them grow in their walk as coaches/teachers and reach their students.  Coming out of the Christmas season I have given many gifts lately.  However, it was so refreshing and just a blessing to me to see true joy that comes from giving and receiving gifts that will make an impact on eternity for Christ.  I pray that God will give me more and more opportunities to share gifts of the Gospel!

starting off my year right…

I know, I know, I know that New Year’s resolutions are usually those things that we say we are going to to do and then we never keep up with them.  If we are good we keep them for a week and if we are lucky sometimes maybe a month.  And yet we still keep trying to do them.  That’s where I find myself this year, back at trying to keep resolutions.

in_the_store_giftThe first resolution that I wanted to do this year was to find a devotional that I could work through during my quiet time throughout the year.  Thankfully for Christmas I was given a copy of New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp.  It’s a year long devotional that has a new thought for you to read each morning, then expands on that thought, and then sends you to scripture to reflect on what God says.  This devotional has been a huge blessing in my walk with Christ and is something that I honestly can’t wait to jump into each morning.  If you are looking for a good devotional to work through this year I highly recommend this one.

As always, my second resolution is to start taking better care of myself physically.  Erin and I were blessed with a gift at Christmas that allowed us to join our local YMCA.  We have been trying to do things as a family there to be healthy like swimming, but I’m also trying to get up early enough to go workout and get myself to a healthier weight and state of mind.  So far things are going well, and I am committed to really taking the necessary steps.  For some reason going to the gym isn’t as daunting when you don’t work there all the time!

There are many days left in 2017, but I am committed to becoming both spiritually and physically fit in the days, weeks, and months ahead!