A Great Journey Still Fresh As New

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A word of warning, this post is much longer than my normal posts. Even longer than my extra posts that I do every so often. May you be blessed as you read it.

I have been on a great journey in this life that started twenty-five years ago today. It was May 16, 1992 that my wife and I said “I do” to each other and were married. It has been an amazing journey that many stated would never survive.

I was a young man who went to Trinity Bible college, a small bible college in a very small town in North Dakota. The college made up nearly half of the town’s population. The town only had one stoplight in town.

At the end of the Fall Semester of 1989, I felt God lead me to drop out of college for a time. I was a member of the ND National Guard at the time. The very next year, the war in Kuwait came up. I had volunteered to go over in the battle. I returned home in July 1991 and returned back to my job as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home.

In August, my boss asked me to help train in a new worker on a shift I normally did not work. I met this new worker and noticed that I liked something about her, but was not sure. As I trained her in and worked with her, I started to get to know her.

The more I knew her, the more I liked her. Without telling anyone that I liked her, I proceeded to get to know who she was by talking with her and others who knew her.

On October 10, which just happened to be my birthday, she went with me to a Christian comedian concert. There were supposed to be three other friends going that night, but the night before the concert each one had to back out for various reasons. She was still willing to go.

We spent a good portion of the day together. Everywhere we went people thought we were a couple already. This even included some of my own friends who knew me. Yet, at this point we were not going together.

At the end of the day, I knew that I really liked, no loved her. I prayed very hard all that night. I did not want to just date another girl. If I went into a relationship, I wanted it to be for marriage and for life. I needed to know if she was the lady God wanted me to marry. I felt in my spirit that she was the one, but I needed God to confirm it.

The following morning as I was walking on campus of the college, God chose to confirm it. He did it through three different friends of mine, none of whom knew that I was even interested in her. They had no clue what they were saying or talking about when they told me what they felt God wanted them to tell me, but I knew what it was about.

At that point I went to the campus bookstore and purchased a card that basically asked her to go with me for life. Indirectly it was a proposal. Amazingly, she said yes!

Over the next two months we started dating each other. By the middle of November, we knew that we would get married, but I did not want to officially propose to her until I talked with her father. Right before Christmas break I proposed and made it known to everyone. We set a wedding date for May 16, 1992, six months later.

During the time of engagement, my wife-to-be got very sick. Doctors could not determine what was wrong. We went to many doctors building up a very large medical debt. My small paying job was not enough to really cover the expenses of two houses. I had chosen to provide for all of her needs, besides I was going to be marrying her.

Many people were trying to tell us that the marriage would not work out. This included people in and out of the church. It was a difficult time because we both knew that God had called us together.

Right before the wedding, her health had returned, unexplained. God had blessed us with a very beautiful wedding and a two week honeymoon.

After a year of extreme financial hardship, in a town with no economy or jobs at all, I decided to join the army to get a better paying job. This moved us to Colorado. While there our first daughter was born. Shortly after the Army moved us to Germany. We stayed there for four and half years, and two of our boys were born there.

While in Germany God had blessed my wife with many Godly women to help and guide her in her life. She made several friends there that she is still friends with to this day.

The Army then chose to move us to Texas. We did not want to go there at all, and fought it hard, but God had His reasons. We finally gave in to God’s will and went. Before getting out of the Army, one more son was born.

During the time in Texas I had to be gone for several weeks to a month at a time, many times for trainings. It was a difficult time being separated. God held us together and kept us going forward despite all the challenges. God opened the door for me to get my ministerial certification shortly after getting to Texas.

In 2001, right before the 9-1-1 incident, God allowed me to get out of the army. God had blessed us with getting out, since a month later our country was under war again.

In our church I had become the children’s pastor shortly after getting out of the Army. It was a fun time, though there were some difficulties. The hardest part was financial stress. I could not seem to get a job that paid very well. Somehow God helped us survive and blessed us with two more children.

Later I felt God lead me to become a full pastor of a small church in Central Texas. It was a very difficult move for my wife because she had made a lot of friends where we were and did not want to leave them again. Leaving friends was something that seemed to keep happening in our life.

The move became even more difficult when half the church left right after I took it over. I found out that the church was not doing as well as they had appeared on the outside. After struggling to help it grow and keep the doors open for two years we closed the doors and left the ministry. I could not find another position at all. I felt like God closed the doors on us. I believe that maybe someday God will re-open those doors.

My wife struggled with that because she wanted to be a pastor’s wife. She was also struggling hard to raise our six children, at that time.

After working at it for twenty years, God allowed me to finally graduate college with a General Church Ministries degree from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas. It was a long, at times difficult road, but God had blessed it.

I started working several different jobs and kept getting laid off. Finances were extremely difficult to manage. Somehow God provided for our needs and kept us going. The one thing that was always very strong for us, was our love for each other. My wife supported me in whatever I felt God was leading me or us to do. I supported her in homeschooling our children.

Although my wife has never really worked a job for pay since we have been married (with exception to a couple of short time work jobs), she has worked very hard. The process of taking children to different events or trainings on a regular basis. The work of determining meals for a large family, that half will choose not to eat. The work of ensuring chores are done. And many other things keep her busy and working extremely hard.

Since then God has blessed us with two more wonderful children and a house with some land. We still have some struggles financially, but God has been amazing in providing for our needs. We have had vehicle breakdowns, sickness too numerous to count, injuries, loss of jobs, death in extended family members, false accusations, and many other challenges. The two things that gives sense to why we have survived is love and God, and both of those are one and the same. God is described as love. When we have God, we will have love. When we have love, we will have God.

We have kept a strong love and commitment to each other and to God. Both of us are constantly talking about each other and about God. Our relationship with God comes first, then our relationship together, and finally our relationship with our children.

God has blessed us with our children. Three of them are now adults but are active in the church and in ministry. The next three down are old enough now to be active in ministry in our church also.  The youngest two, I expect, will be active some day in ministry when they get old enough.

As I look back on this journey that started twenty-five years ago today, it often seems as if it just started yesterday or at least just a few days ago. My love for my wife has grown over the years. It has not diminished as many claimed it would. We have never entertained the thought that we should not be together or that someone else would be better. My wife, nor I have ever thought it was better when the other was gone away.

I want to encourage you, that if you are in a relationship or already in a marriage, keep that commitment to love each other and God as God loves you. Do not entertain thoughts of being with someone else. When you say, “I do,” say it for life, no matter what comes up or what happens.

God is with you and will never leave you. With God all things are possible. A marriage that lasts for a lifetime, though uncommon in this world, is not impossible with God at the center.

I can say with Solomon: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22

God has given me what is good and I have found favor with Him in my wonderful marriage of twenty-five years and counting!

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I have been blessed with these twenty-five years and will be blessed for the next hundred and twenty-five on this great journey of marriage and family.

 

Waiting For The Best

Back in 2014, I was laid off from a very well paying job that I had been at for several years. It was devastating to lose the job and was unsure of what to do next. I had lots of experience in many different areas, but was not great at any of them.

Several other challenges were also present in the process of searching for a new job. One was my age, I am not exactly a young person any more. Another was that I have a large family. At the time I had seven children, since then I have been blessed to have eight total…so far.

With the large family and not great skills, it made it very challenging to find a job that would provide for my family. My wife is unable to work, since we homeschool our children. I knocked on many doors, had several interviews, but will still coming up with no job at all. No one was willing to hire me for various reasons, some of which I knew, many of which I had no clue as to why they would not hire me.

Prior to all of this happening, I have worked with children at various levels and was told that I was good with them. I have also been told that I should be a teacher multiple times. I do love to work with children and I also love to teach people.

Around 2003 I did look into becoming a teacher, but did not have the required degree at the time. That option was not open to me at that time. Since then I did finish out my schooling and received a bachelor’s degree.

A couple of months after being laid off, a friend of mine called me up saying he heard I was searching for a job. He worked at the district level of a local school district. He told me he wanted me to be a teacher in his school district. He told me to get hired as a substitute and then how to proceed to get my alternate certification as a teacher.

After praying about it, I felt that was what God wanted me to do. I was immediately hired as a substitute teacher for the district. Each day I would sub in different schools for different teachers of all grades. The more I did it, the more I enjoyed working with the children. The challenge was that the pay was still very low, making it difficult to support my family’s needs. God was faithful during this time to meet all of those needs in His way.

About 5 months later, one of the schools (which by God’s favor was my favorite), asked me to become their permanent substitute teacher. It did raise the pay some and provided very secure paychecks. The biggest challenge was that when there was no school, there was no pay either.

Last year, I was able to take the certification tests for core subjects and pass them. This was after a lot of studying and tears, remember I am no longer a young man.

Once I passed those tests, I started to apply for a teaching job. I had several interviews, but nothing would open up. I was not really positive that I wanted to teach any of these subjects, especially with the pressure on teachers to get the children to succeed. Yet, that was all I could see open before me and God had not pointed me in any other direction.

My wife and I often prayed if maybe I was supposed to go down another road, but God kept all other doors closed. I did not have a peace about anything else. And nothing else really presented itself. During this time, I often questioned myself as to whether I had heard from God clearly or not, but I know that I did and was unable to turn to a different path.

This school year presented a new path for me in the school I was at. About three weeks into the school year, I was placed in a Theatre classroom and told I would do all the teaching. I was given the lesson plans on what to teach and how to teach it.

I was game to do it, because I am willing to try anything. But I had no real clue as to how to teach theater. I had been in many plays (years ago), but had never taken or given a drama class at all. I questioned on what and how to do it.

Two weeks into it, the principle asked me if I was certified to teach theater. I told her I was not. She said I needed to be, because several parent’s liked what I was doing and wanted me as the permanent teacher. The other teacher was being removed. She then told me I was to do all the grading, lesson planning, parent-teacher conferences and anything else needed.

I was actually having fun working with the students. It was scary to start lesson planning because I still did not really know what I was doing. Over the time I have learned a lot about lesson planning and teaching theater. I am still learning, but I have having fun at it.

I am also able to be a witness for God to the students in the school. One of the things that I really enjoy being able to do is control what plays are being done. I can have them do plays that are in line with the ways of God.

I began to work on getting certified in theater. It was a very tough test. There were a lot of things I had to know that I had never even heard of before. I took the test in December, 2016 and failed by several points. I retook the test in Feb of this year and was able to pass it.

Almost immediately after passing the Theatre Teacher Certification Test I was hired as the full teacher for the class. I am still learning a lot in how to teach the students, but I am enjoying it.

One of the things that I realized in teaching theater is that I do not have to be concerned about the students having to pass the STAAR test. That is a Texas test to determine if the students are learning or not. It is a rigorous test that challenges every teacher with students who have to take it. This test is only for the core subjects classes.

Even though it took several years to get to where I now am, I am very glad that I trusted God. I had originally thought I would be teaching a core subject. God had other plans. He gave me something that was better.

Not only do I love acting, I have a son who is very active in acting, even as an adult. It made a great connection with my son in doing this.

God has blessed my family and myself in this field.

I want to encourage everyone to trust God’s plan for your life. Wait on Him for His blessing and walk the path He has for you. It will be worth it.

There were times I was scared and questioned God, but in the end it was worth it. God provided all along the way in miraculous ways. It will be worth it for you also.

Psalm 69:6 To Not Be A Disgrace To Others

Lord, the LORD Almighty, may those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me; God of Israel, may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me. Psalm 69:6

Families are often torn apart and shamed by the actions of one person. In some cultures, honor is held at such a high level in the family, that if a child does something wrong, the family will disown the child for life. That child will be considered dead in the eyes of the parents.

There are some cultures that if certain things are done by a family member, it is acceptable to kill that family member because of the extreme disgrace brought onto the family.

Disobedient children in a store often bring shame on the parent, who is attempting to control or calm them down. Parents who are called by the school teacher, are often ashamed of the actions of their child.

David had done some type of great sin right before he had written this psalm. He was asking God that all those who believed in Him, would not be disgraced or shamed because of what he had done wrong. He realized that his sin would reflect on others and have an effect on them.

It is often thought that a person’s own personal sin only affects himself and no one else. The reality is that it can bring disgrace upon other believers. When the world sees one believer sin, then they often  apply that sin to the whole community of believers. They try to say that God is not real and all believers are fake.

Along with not trying to disgrace God by sinning, try not to bring disgrace upon the community of believers by your actions. Live your life in a way that will bring honor to other believers, rather than disgrace.

As you live your life for God, it will bring strength and honor to other believers. It will lift them up as they see you living for God.

Will God or other believers be disgraced or ashamed by what you are saying or doing?

Or will God and other believers be honored with how you are living your life?

I pray today that you will live your life for Jesus; that you will bring honor to God; that you will not bring shame to God’s community of believers; and that you will be a shining light for Jesus in this world.

Being Grateful

I work as a substitute teacher in a local public school. It is a very rewarding job to work with the students, however, when there is no school I have no job. This creates a great concern to be living without a paycheck and having a large family.

In the past, I have been able to secure short-term temporary jobs for the break time. This last break, however, I was unable to get one for the entire break. My wife and I did a lot of praying about it and were still very concerned, ok, very worried about it. In spite of what we saw, God had a different plan for us.

During the break I did get to work for a couple of days for someone for a little pay that did help a lot, but not enough. It also was hard to not be able to do any big family trip during this time, at least that is what we thought would happen.

On the Wednesday right after Christmas, my oldest daughter (an adult who lives with us), had won a pack of four tickets to a Six Flags park in Arlington, Texas. On Thursday, she was then given a four pack of tickets to the San Antonio Zoo.

Since I have a very large family, eight children, we had chosen to split up to use all the tickets we were given. My daughter brought herself and three other siblings with her to the Six Flags Park on that Friday. While she went north, my wife and I brought the three youngest to the zoo.

Both of these trips were a blessing to everyone that was able to go to the place they went. The older ones did not want to go to a zoo, and the younger would not have been able to do much at the park.

As my wife and I left for the zoo, we planned to be back home about 7pm. It was a three-hour drive to the zoo and we planned to leave the zoo when it closed at four.

The younger children had a great time at the zoo seeing all the different animals.

We left as planned to go home. We expected to be home several hours before my daughter and other children would get home.

As we were driving home, we got to about 30 miles from home, when the traffic came to a dead halt. There had been a major accident up ahead. I had decided to sit and wait for the road to open up, since it would have been about a 40 mile turn around to go a different direction around the accident.

As we sat there waiting, we did not know how long it would take. Time kept passing and nothing seemed to be happening. After about 30 minutes of sitting, we saw a helicopter come in and land. It was a medical emergency helicopter. At that point we knew that whatever happened, it had to have been very bad.

It was getting very frustrating to be sitting there, so close to home and, yet, not be able to get home. In just the time we had been sitting there, we could have been home already. The children were starting to get very hungry and tired of sitting.

While waiting there, we saw several people come running up from behind our vehicle to where the accident was. A few moments later, several men and ladies came back wailing very loudly. They stopped just near our vehicle and were holding each other crying.

My wife’s and my heart went out to those people. We did not know what happened, but knew it had to have been bad. (The news the following day, stated that it had been a head on collision of two vehicles, and two others were also hit. One person was killed, and all the rest were hospitalized, several were children. Several were in severe critical condition.)

It was at that point, when we saw the people crying, that we started to be grateful for our own lives and protection. We ended up sitting at that one spot for about 1 1/2 hours. When we did get home, we were home only about 40 minutes or so before my daughter got home.

As difficult as it was to sit there, being very tired and hungry from a long day on the road, it was better than what the other people were going through. Several were in the hospital and one never made it home. Families were destroyed. Loved ones were lost. Lives were changed, and not for what seemed the better.

Instead of complaining about having to sit there, we prayed for those people. We prayed God’s touch in their lives. And we gave God praise for taking care of us and allowing us to make it back home safely. If we had been just a few seconds faster on that road, we could have been the ones in that accident.

In our lives, there a times that things will occur that will be a major inconvenience or disruption in our lives. In those times we need to look at how the lives of others are going. We need to be grateful for what God has given us, instead of complaining or worrying about what we cannot have or what we are going through. Things can always be better or they can be worse.

During that Christmas break, I was able to spend a lot of time with my family, since I could not work anywhere else. Along with that, money came in from different sources that totaled up to almost exactly what I would have made at my normal job. God had a plan that was to support us and meet all of our needs. We were blessed in many more ways than having a temporary job would have been.

Give God praise today for what He has blessed you with. Be grateful for what God has given you or spared you from.

Nehemiah 4:14 Fighting For Your Family

After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14

As the Israelites were working at rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, there were other groups of people who wanted to stop them. They tried to discourage them and threatened them. Nehemiah posted the people all around the wall with weapons to protect everyone from the enemies coming against them. He reminded them to not be afraid because God is awesome and then encouraged them to fight for their families.

During the Old Testament times, people had to physically fight for their lives and to protect their families. When Jesus came, He changed the fighting status from physical fighting to spiritual fighting. Now a person is to love his  physical enemies and do good to them.

The fight today is now a spiritual fight. Every believer in Jesus must fight against spiritual forces that are in this world. These forces are the forces of greed, theft, lust, hatred, jealousy, violence, and the list goes on. Everywhere a believer looks, one will see these forces trying to grab him and take him captive into the world’s ways of sin.

Jesus has overcome this world and all the dark spiritual forces in it. As a believer, you also have His strength and victory over these forces.

You, like every believer, has some family somewhere. They may be in your immediate home, or a long way off. Some may even be separate to where you do not really know them, but you do have family.

Having a family, means that you must fight for their spiritual lives. Daily fight for them in prayer that God will draw their hearts to Him and protect them from the attacks and lies of the enemy. Talk with your family daily about God’s love, mercy, rules, and protection.

Do not be afraid of the enemy, God is greater. Do not allow the world to win your family over. Fight for your family. Allow God to win the spiritual battles for their souls.

I pray today that God will show you how the enemy is attacking your family; that you will stand in prayer to God against the enemy; that you will live for God as a witness to your family; and that God will protect you and your family from the attacks of the enemy.

2 Samuel 18:33 Family Is Still Family

The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you–O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Samuel 18:33

Absalom, son of David, tried to usurp the throne of Israel from David. In the process he slept with David’s concubines, and then gathered men to fight against David. David allowed his men to go out and capture Absalom, but told them to not harm him at all. In the process of getting chased down, Absalom gets caught in a tree and dies. When the message of his death is brought back to David, he weeps and cries out for his son, wishing he was the one to die instead.

Family fights are very common seen in the world today, as have been since Cain and Abel. One family member does another something wrong, and hatred for each other follows them to the grave.

Children are often bitter against a parent for the way they were brought up or a harm the parent did to them at one point in their life. They refuse to speak to their parents or have anything to do with them.

A child does something wrong against a parent, and the parent often removes them from their will. Again, they do not want anything to do with them.

Absalom had tried to kill David and take his throne, yet, David still loved him. He loved him so much he was wished he could have died instead of Absalom dying.

This same love is seen in Jesus for you. He took your punishment and died for your sins. God does not want to see you die.

You also must have this same love for others. Especially for family. No one, except God, should be closer to you than family. Regardless of how a family member treats you, they are still family.

How do you treat your family?

Is there God’s love, or the world’s hatred to your family?

I pray today that you will know God’s love for you and your family; that God will fill you with His love for others; that you will forgive others for wrong’s done to you; and that your love for others will be a witness of the love of God.

Loving Your Spouse When You Are Single

My 22 year old, single daughter, Brittany wrote this article recently. I felt it would touch someone’s heart and life. She gave me permission to post it here.

There are times when I have been discouraged about being single. Third wheeling, no date to bring to a wedding, all your friends being married, all the questions about WHEN you’ll find the right one, I have been there – am still there. (single, that is)

The Lord has spoken to me some words, and figured I would share it and maybe some of my single friends will feel encouraged. Not everyone will get married, but I am speaking to those with the desire to be married. I haven’t mastered all of these, and I am still clay at the Potter’s wheel.

How I love my spouse (when I am still single):
1. I love my spouse my remembering it’s not just about the ring on the finger. I wear a purity ring that will be replaced by a wedding ring one day. But, it’s about my WHOLE LIFE, not just the span of my life when I am married. How am I bringing good things NOW? Tomorrow morning? Next month?

Proverbs 31:12, “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

2. I love my spouse by crucifying the flesh so that Christ reigns. This goes into so many areas, but one I will mention is abstaining from sex, and pornography. My body is the Lord’s, and treating it as sacred is important. This honors God and my spouse. (If you are seeking help with this area, look up Fight the New Drug)

Psalm 101:3, “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile.”

Romans 13:14, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

3. I love my spouse by not letting bitterness and impatience take hold. It’s easy to see all your friends as happy couples and be bitter towards God. But, taking a step back and remembering that He has GOOD plans, at the PERFECT timing sets your mind in the right place.
Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

4. I love my spouse by being thankful in every circumstance. Did you know that when you get married life problems don’t go away? Loved ones die, people get sick, you can lose your job, tragedies HAPPEN. But, when your soul is founded on something SOLID, Jesus Christ, nothing shakes you. You have joy in places where only “darkness was supposed to reign”. Also, there are a MILLION things to be grateful for, just ask God to open your eyes to see the gifts He gives.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

5. I love my spouse by learning life skills. It’s fun to think of some knight in shining armor slaying the dragon. But, cooking, cleaning, changing a tire, etc are important skills that will benefit your spouse.
Luke 16:10,”One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.”

6. I love my spouse by waiting on God’s permission. Choosing your own timing, person, and situation may seem beneficial. But, I know from experience that it’s BETTER to wait on God to bless a relationship. Having to say no to dates seems completely backwards in my season. Yet, waiting for God’s timing is so much more worth it than all the comments and sideways glances I get.

Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

7. I love my spouse by praying for them. I pray for his safety, the development of his character, the relationship he has with The Father, that he would be wise about life, that he would say no to temptation, etc. Pray for your spouse the way you would want to be prayed for.
Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”

This season isn’t easy, but the next season won’t be either. The Lord refines us like gold in every life marker. I pray that you would use your single years wisely, because it’s for a short season (big picture wise).

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.”