Friday, October 31, 2008

Politics

As we near election day, I decided that instead of giving my own thoughts, I would turn to some bright minds to share much of what I feel.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress.
But I repeat myself. --Mark Twain

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. --Mark Twain

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it
costs when it's free. --P.J. O'Rourke

We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like
a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
--Winston Churchill

In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. --Voltaire

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
--Edward Langley

Alaska? "Small"? Man, your V.P.'s state is so small, it's a question! Dela...where? Oh right, next to Pennsyl-who now? - Bucky the Cat

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Megan Ruth Miller

I'm proud to announce the birth of Megan Ruth Miller. Born Friday, September 12 at 11:16 am, she weighed in at 8 pounds 8 ounces, and measured 19 1/2 inches.









Megan being held by big sister, Carlee.





Megan getting dressed to come home from the hospital.



Coming home!



Home, and ready for the game!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ready for football!!!

I'm not a big AC/DC fan, but it seemed fitting. I'm so ready for football season to start. The real football season starts today!


Still waiting

My wife and I celebrated our fifth anniversary yesterday. It has been an amazing five years. When we got married, and were very much in love, I can remember countless people telling me to “just wait ‘till the honeymoon is over.” Everyone has their deadline to when that is. For some it’s after year one, yet when we were still going strong, that wasn’t enough. Then it became two, and then three years. Maybe it was supposed to end when we began having children. Yet, for us, the “honeymoon” may be over, but we are still in love, with a stronger marriage than ever.

Don’t misunderstand. There have been tough times. Just a month after our marriage we found out Deanna’s mom’s breast cancer had returned. This time, though, it was in her lungs, her bones and putting a lot of pressure on her brain. They gave her two years, and she made it a year and a half. We celebrated her life, and still mourn her death.

There was a lot of fear over children. We both wanted a family, yet it took two and a half years for Deanna to get pregnant. During that pregnancy my wife started growing another child. At least that’s what we called it. It was actually a fibroid tumor, bringing a lot of fear to our home. With her mom dying from cancer, we were grateful to find out that it wasn’t cancerous. For reasons I won’t get into, there was still the fear of not having any more children. Praise the Lord, we are expecting number two any time now!

There have, of course, been financial struggles. Isn’t that always the way it goes? We returned from our honeymoon to Florida with checks bounced and not a lick of sense. Sound familiar? We had it pretty easy some of the time, while other times it felt like just one more bill would be the end of us.

Through all of these things, which all the “experts” tell you can be the end of a marriage, we managed to stay strong. Tragedy, financial hardship and children; are there any more difficult struggles for a new marriage? Yet instead of it making us drift, it caused us to draw closer together. Through the love and mercy of God, we are stronger, closer and more ready than ever for the years to come.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Exhibiting a Risky Faith

I had said I might give some examples on a risky faith, so I will give one. It has to do with a financial risk my wife and I took a couple of years ago. Understand a couple of things before I continue. First, faith that risks isn’t always financial. I believe it often is in our world today, because we live in a wealthy country, and money is something we tend to cling to. Secondly, faith that risks simply because of risk is foolish. The decision we made was on based solely on the fact that God told us to do it. We weren’t throwing caution to the wind because of some whim of seeming spiritual. So, here goes…

When I returned home from college, I began working with a church as a youth pastor. While there, knowing at some point God was going to lead me into the position of a head pastor, I wanted to get some opportunities to learn under a pastor working as his assistant. God opened the doors for me to go to Indiana and work with a pastor there for two years. In that time, He taught my wife and I many lessons, and some of them had to do with finances.

Let me tell you that moving in the first place cost us money. It wasn’t a major amount, but I took a pretty heavy pay cut, and on top of that, I had less time to work extra hours because of the time I was working with the church. My wife was able to keep her wage, but didn’t get quite as many hours. She worked at a Cracker Barrel, and we enjoyed the benefits that came with that. All in all, our income was probably cut by about a quarter when we moved. Still, it wasn’t the end of the world. We began to cut here and there, and were still able to make the payments needed.

During this time, Deanna and I wanted to move to the place where she was able to stay at home. We believed this was the direction God was moving us, but assumed it wouldn’t need to happen until we started growing as a family. Up to this point, it was just the two of us, but it seemed to us as if God was leading us to go ahead and have her quit. Understand that if Deanna quit, we would lose our health insurance, and around a third of our income. Not good, really, but we figured if Deanna could keep the insurance through at least our first child’s birth, it would really help.

God had different ideas. I was having my quiet time one morning, and I was telling God that if He wanted Deanna to quit her job, all He had to do was provide for us another source of finances to make up for what we would lose if she quit. Then she could quit her job, and we would remain financially secure. Again, God had different ideas. It was like He came down into the room, and asked me one question; “Haven’t I already told you what My will is?” In other words, here I am telling God that I will obey Him when He provides for us. Suddenly, I saw the ridiculousness of the whole concept.

That night I told Deanna to quit her job. She did so, with much “fear and trembling.” A month later, we found out Deanna was pregnant. Then for about a month I went without getting a full week’s worth of work at my job. In fact, I went for over two months only getting one week with over thirty hours in a single week. Also during this time, we probably had car trouble about every month or so. We had taken a financial risk, and it seemed as if the finances couldn’t get any worse. Yet they did, and continued to do so. Yet we knew we were in God’s will and purpose, so we did as God had called us to do.

God taught us a lot of lessons through that time. Our faith is stronger, our marriage better, and our ministry much better because of this. Yes, it was risk, and there were times we had no idea where the money was going to come from. I could tell you some stories about that time which had us very, very worried, yet each time God came through and proved to us how foolish we were for worrying.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vampire Bat

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Word of God

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Faith that Risks pt 2

Risk: “exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance.”

"Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith." Paul Borthwick.

To be honest, I never have to worry about personal injury or dangers within my Christianity. I am thankful for a country where I can serve and worship my God in the way I feel is Biblical without the need for fear of life. But this doesn’t mean I shouldn’t risk. If I live without risk, where is the need for faith? I must risk, or I cannot claim to be trusting. It’s easy to trust when there’s nothing to fear. It's easy to have faith when there's no danger. It’s when I climb out of the boat that I must have faith in spite of risk.

So what is a spiritual risk? First, spiritual risk is always something beyond me. If I can do it on my own, in my power, with my resources and/or talents, then it’s not going to require the help of God. It won’t require me to trust in something or Someone bigger than me. For it to be a true spiritual risk I must have to get outside of my comfort zone, away from the things which calm me, and be willing to step into the storm.

Spiritual risk is also something God tells me to do. Faith for the sake of faith is useless. If I’m just trying to prove that I have faith, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to prove it to myself or anyone else. The purpose of faith is to see God work in and through me. The purpose of fatih is to bring glory to my Heavenly Father. Some have said faith is like going down stairs only seeing the next step. I disagree. That doesn’t require faith. Faith is like going down stairs when you can’t see the next step. You step despite the fact that for all you know, there's nothing to step onto. True faith is not about the step; it’s about the One telling you to take that step. If I am going to take spiritual risks, I must make sure I am following the God who calls me to have faith.

Finally, spiritual risk must come at the potential cost of loss. I step out of the boat knowing that if God doesn’t allow me to walk on water, I will drown. I face the giant knowing that if the LORD of Hosts doesn’t give me His strength and power, I will die.

In my estimation, then, spiritual risk is a God given task or command that I obey blindly, knowing the consequences could be devastating. Knowing that if I put my trust in God instead of something or someone else, I could quite literally lose it all, whatever “all” is to you.

Perhaps some personal examples to follow…

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Faith that Risks

"Someone has said that faith has three distinct stages:
the faith that reckons,
the faith that rests,
the faith that risks."
- Leonard Ravenhill

It is this faith which I desire. As I look back on my life, I can see the way each has been a part of my life.

The faith that reckons; this faith was a gift from God, which brought me close to Him almost twenty years ago. It is this faith which I still have to go back to in the times when belief is hard, when my soul is tried.

The faith that rests; interestingly, this is the faith I've never struggled with. Since becoming a Christian, resting faith has almost come naturally to me. Yes, I've had times when the resting was interrupted by the winds and waves about me, but for the most part, I "rest easy."

It is the faith that risks which has me challenged. Certainly there have been times in my life when I've taken great risks, and seen God come through. Mostly these have fallen into the financial category. I wonder, though, how much this has affected my spiritual life? Do I take great spiritual risks, and if so, how have they changed me? What have been the results?