A Letter To My Church Family

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Dear Church Family,

Back in February, during the Life Action Conference, God spoke to Tabitha and I. He told us that it was time to move on from the grieving process of not being able to have more children. After 9 years of trying to conceive, we felt Him calling us to adoption. So we stepped out of the boat, out of our comfort zone, just like Peter in Matthew 14.

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

In obedience to God’s call, we have completed:

  • 40 hours of state-mandated PRIDE Training (for foster and adoption families)
  • Numerous forms and have submitted an ant mound of paperwork
  • A home study interview that delved into our backgrounds, relationships, and family structure

Through all of the above, we have continued forward, waiting for the day that we will bring a child into our home. But like Peter, we do have days where we question; days where we freak out a little.

30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

I was telling Dr. Kelley (our pastor), who recently resigned, that even on our worst days, I still have God-given peace. A deep knowledge that God is in control, no matter how unknown (timing, age of child, etc.) the adoption process is moving forward.

I want to take a moment to encourage my church family. We are voting on an interim pastor this upcoming Sunday. I want to encourage you to:

  • Think about where we are as a church. We are not the same church that we were seven years ago when Dr. Kelley was hired.
  • Think about where we are going as a church. What does it mean to live out the Gospel in Longview, Texas.

I want to encourage you, church family, not to retreat to what is comfortable. Please do not grasp at what has worked before because someone is available OR because popular people say we should vote a certain way.

If God has been teaching Tabitha and I anything, He has been teaching us to let go of the boat and grab onto Him. I pray that our church would be able to do that, even if that means taking a deep breath, a moment, and searching for a different interim pastor.

Change is hard… but He is good.

Your brother in Christ,

Bryan

Stepping Out of the Boat

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Life has become all about stepping out the boat. Go ahead and read Matthew 14:22-36 (NLT) and then join me below.

Jesus Walks on Water

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning[b] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![c]

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong[d] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

34 After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. 36 They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.

The new adventures of the Hall Family have required action. Stepping away from the comfortable and out into the unknown. In our first few steps on this new adventure, this has meant being exposed to decisions and situations completely foreign to us. Exploring scenarios that we were not raised around but have only vaguely heard of. Overall learning not to be quick to judge due to what might be lurking below the surface.

Our first few steps on this new adventure have made me reflect upon many things. Making me thankful for my parents, for how they raised me and my siblings. I’m also thankful for my siblings, for relationships that haven’t been blown apart with time.

Photo by Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash

Like Peter, we’ve been encountering waves as we step out of the boat. I was telling Tab, over lunch today, that it is interesting what form these waves take. God is definitely preparing us for the future.

Got thinking Sunday morning about how good it feels to be obedient to God’s calling. And maybe “feels” isn’t the best way to express this thought. Praying Sunday morning, I thanked God for my family’s obedience to His calling. I’m thankful that like Jesus in the above story with Peter, He is there walking with us through the waves.

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![c]

From Across the Net – “It is well…”

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I did not know this… sometimes we want people and even history to be “real” up until a point.

His own ship, breached by disaster, was sinking. Rather than confess his failures and start repaying his debts, Spafford abandoned his faithful church and embraced the fervent millenarianism and spiritualism of his day. Jesus must be coming soon, and His sinful, broken, yet obedient servant must be on hand to meet Him. With Anna beside him, Spafford gathered a band of followers in their Chicago home, preached a message of purity and self-sacrifice, and launched a pilgrimage to Palestine, where they would celebrate the Lord’s return. No one else would die.

You can read more here

Playing Videogames Like a Christian

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To play videogames as a Christian, however, requires being honest and discerning not just about their content, but about their value. The entertainment games provide is just one of the many values intrinsic to interactive media. Let’s play games responsibly, with discernment and moderation, but let’s dig deeper. Let’s tap into the many values of games, and ask the Lord to open our eyes to values we’ve failed to see. In playing games Christianly, we may just become more self aware, more mindful of our neighbor, and more in love with our God.

Thought Drew Dixon did an excellent job on this piece. Read the full article here