From Across the Net – “Stop and See the Unseen”

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Eric Anderson, over at Nerd Chapel, wrote this excellent piece titled “Stop and See the Unseen“. I especially like the way he seamlessly works a conversation between Tony Stark and Dr. Strange into the mix.

Tony had no clue that the threats dealt with by the Sorcerer Supreme even existed. While the Avengers were publicly acknowledged and posted all over social media, popular media, and the news, nobody talked about what Strange and his fellow sorcerers do. Nobody knew that threats from other dimensions were coming; even Thor did not know about the Sanctum Sanctorums or the group that runs them on Earth until Strange invited him to come for a visit.

You can read more here

Dr. Strange

An Update: Week 18 of the 5 Day Bible Reading Program

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Photo by Elvis Bekmanis on Unsplash

Drove to work this morning in the rain. As I watched cloud-to-ground lightning, I listened to a list of names being read. I am currently in Week 18 of the 5 Day Bible Reading Program. Lost in the overwhelming tide of genealogies that has been 1 Chronicles. Learning about how “Phinehas fathered Abishua; Abishua fathered Bukki”. If one was looking for a unique baby name, 1 Chronicles would prove to be a valuable resource.

“Hey Bukki, it’s time to come inside for dinner!”

One of the best things about The Bible App, is that you have the option to have the Bible read to you. I find myself marveling over the narrator, as he skillfully pronounces strange Biblical names. The dude is good at what he does. The reading option has made passages, where I’d normally find myself skimming, easier to digest.

The Bible App - 1 Chronicles

As I’ve read through Scripture this year, God has been teaching me that it is easy to read the Bible (gain knowledge) and miss out on the relationship (engaging with God through prayer, etc.). I’m working on the engagement part and trying to overcome my “check off the list” tendency.

How about you? What tools, resources, or apps, do you use, as you read the Bible?

My Church Is Not A Ministry Competitor

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I was recently listening to a podcast when the host presented a thought:

The Church is more concerned with getting people plugged into the organization’s ministries (children’s ministry, youth ministry, greeter ministry, etc.). And is far less concerned about equipping believers to minister in their everyday lives.

This thought of competing ministries, the Church versus the believer, floored me. Made me shake my head for a moment. You see, by serving within the local church, we have a safe place to learn how to minister to others. As we learn how to minister to others in the church, we can take that experience and apply it to our lives. Think of it as building spiritual service muscle memory. I then use this muscle memory as I go throughout my week.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Service has taught me a few things:

  • That no task, big or small, is beneath me.
  • To slow down and listen even when it feels inconvenient.

I do not see my church as a ministry competitor. I see my church as a partner, a group of people God is using to develop me. He uses situations that arise to challenge my ways of thinking. Situations that cause me to pray and ask discernment. God uses our churches to grow us in the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

What about you? Do you think that the Church is more concerned about itself versus helping/equipping believers? AND/OR What has God taught you about serving in the church that you then take into your daily life?

Controlling Devotional Time – You’re Doing It Wrong

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I am not sure why but talking about what one does for their devotional time can get weird. Have you ever noticed how a discussion can go from a simple conversation such as:

  • “For my personal time with God, I’ve been reading a few verses a day and then praying.”
  • “For my personal time, I’ve been reading through a devotional book.”
  • “For me, I’ve been reading through a read the Bible in a year plan.”

To more of:

  • “Dude, you should slow down, savor but a few verses a day.”
  • “You’re not reading enough. I read 15 chapters yesterday. Gold star for me.”
  • “Devotional books are for babies. Man up, read the Bible!”

We Christians can be a controlling lot. We love to tell fellow brothers and sisters in Christ what their devotional time with God should look like. Instead of pushing our own way, why can’t we practice encouragement instead?

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

An obvious question

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Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you    – Matthew 6:33

I have been reading through a devotional book for awhile now; A devotional book that I have quoted numerous times on this blog. I haven’t been happy while reading about grace for what seems like the millionth time. Nothing wrong with reading about grace. I need grace. You need grace. Grace is good. But I feel like I have been going through the motions during my morning quiet time. Bored with the daily:

  • Read – Check
  • Pray – Check
  • Move onto the next thing – YUP!

I often feel like I am not doing enough. As if reading a single daily entry is lacking. Distracting thoughts…

Photo by Joel Filipe on Unsplash

Talked with a good friend this morning. Maybe more like I dumped a load of thoughts on him (thankful for you, Travis). At one point, in my jumble of texts, he offered: Have you asked God for direction with your quiet time?

“No”, I replied.

What a question. So obvious and yet something I haven’t done.

Gotta fix that.

As Matthew 6:33 says, seek the kingdom first, and everything else will fall into place.

What do you do for a personal time with God?

What has God been teaching you?

Adoption Update – Level One A

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I was telling Tabitha last night that if adoption were a video game, we have finally reached the first level. The tutorial and character creation process were the initial first steps:

  • PRIDE Training (40 hours of state-mandated classes)
  • FBI Database Fingerprinting
  • Fire Inspection
  • Health Inspection
  • Home Study

With our home study approved, we are now certified by the State of Texas to adopt. We can now put in interest requests through the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE); we can also now go to meet up events (where you can interact with kids available for adoption) as well as have our caseworker alert us to children available for adoption who are not listed online.

The adoption process is weird. A mixture of buying a home and speed dating. Level One A, of the adoption game, looks like:

  • Looking through pictures of children in an online database
  • Going to a meet up event
  • Our caseworker notifying us of a potential match

After initial inquiries are made, which includes our caseworker “selling” another caseworker on our family via telephone conference (home buying), we then enter the speed dating phase. Level One B includes:

  • Our family driving to whichever region the potential child is located in and then going on a day outing with the child.
  • The following weekend, a follow up over night visit (probably in a hotel room, especially if the child lives out of town) with the child.
  • The following weekend after that, a day trip/overnight visit again?
  • Eventually these visits shift from being on neutral ground to the child coming to our house.

The biggest hurdle of Level One A is going to be finding a match. We have to agree on the match; our caseworker has to agree on the match. Already, we are learning that:

  • It’s good to have a caseworker who says no and is looking out for our family (versus just trying to place a child and move on).
  • That descriptions of children, on TARE, do not include all the details. Sometimes even surprising our caseworker…
  • That there are not a lot of younger kids (ages 7 and younger) up for adoption online.

Bottom Line: We know that God has a child in mind for us. We just have to wait, trust, and talk, as a family, through the adoption process.

I’ll keep y’all updated. Maybe not so much in this Level One A stage… but more IF we make it to Level One B. Prayers are appreciated.

Bryan

Adoption Update – Home Study Completed

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During our PRIDE Training, Tabitha and I were told that the interview/home study was going to be:

  • Thorough (expect 4 hours, at least)
  • Invasive (questions could/would be asked about things like frequency of marital relations, etc.)
  • Deep (we were warned that every one of our drawers could be opened/inspected)

Once we found out that our home study was going to be scheduled for this past Saturday, Tabitha and I kicked into cleaning overdrive… even though the house already looked great.

Saturday morning arrived blanketed with heat and humidity. Our Independent Home Screening Assessor pulled into the driveway 30 minutes early. Tabitha and I were nervous. We had no idea what to expect nor what questions were about to be asked of us.

Our interview ended up covering basics such as:

  • Upbringing
  • Discipline
  • Family
  • And what types of things Tab and I can and cannot handle when it comes to an adoptive child (the gamut ran from learning disabilities to types of abuse)

An hour later, we were finished with the interview. Our Home Screening Assessor took a few pictures, told us that we were great, and that she would text us when she turned in her report to our caseworker with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. And with that, we were done.

Not all monsters are cute.

I cannot stress enough how God showed up in this moment. I was sick to my stomach. And yet what I am learning, through this adoption process, is obedience. When God calls us to something, we have to be obedient and step out in faith. It is through that process of obedience that we see God work. Seeing Him fight our monsters, our giants, and stretch us in our faith.

I am excited to see what happens next. Our Home Study is due to CPS July 10. We should hear more soon! Will keep ya’ll posted.

Bryan