Tuesday, May 28, 2013

George Muller; Man of Faith and Miracles /// Book Review

Title: George Muller; Man of Faith and Miracles

Author: Basil Miller

Pages: 159

Recommend: YES

Quotable: "I have served Satan much in my younger years, and I desire now with all my might to serve God during the remaining days of my earthly pilgrimage."

It seems safe for one to ask something like: "Neal are you really reading a book about a man from Europe who was born over 200 years ago?"  To which I would answer something like: "Why, yes I am!"

This is a book that I have read a few times and every time I read it I am encouraged.  The short story goes something like this:  George Muller lived a life uncommitted to God until one day God radically grabbed his heart.  George was attending seminary and preparing to lead a church.  Seeing the state of the local church he decided to pray and see what God could do through a life fully surrendered to Him.  George then founded an organization that helped thousands of orphans (yep, thousands).  He sent millions to missions and got millions of Bibles into the hands of people who were far from God.  The best part is George never asked for a penny from anyone and prayed in every dollar.  After he died (over 90 years of age) the ministry continued because he empowered leaders to lead.  This is a man who really trusted in the Lord for everything!
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight" Proverbs 3:5-6 
My take-a-way from this book is something different.  This book encourages me to seek the face of God for all my needs.  When I live in a culture that doesn't respect trusting in God it makes me want to see God show up more than ever.  George reminds me that God loves to answer the requests of those who are fully devoted to Him.  I want to be more devoted to Him.  I want to live a life that requires faith; a life that is not answerable by human intellect.

If you're looking for a book that shows a life devoted to God in prayer and faith order this right now!  Next time you think you're prayers don't matter to God think again.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Confessions of a Pastor: I got acceptance issues

This is obviously a tough one to write about because it hits a core need I believe we all have.  You can call it whatever you want to call it: being connected, fitting in, having a place to belong, being cared for and the list goes on.  The bottom line is we all want to be accepted.  I want to be accepted.
I'm not completely sure when my acceptance issues started but I would initially venture to guess it has something to do with childhood.  It could have been: my parents divorce when I was young.  Maybe it happened in Junior High when I desperately tried to fit in with everyone else so everyone wouldn't realize how messed up we are were.  Did it happen in High School when I wanted to be like people who I thought were cool.

I spent hours trying to locate the exact time in my life my acceptance issues began.  As much as I tried to figure out the problem on my own, I decided it was time to turn to Scripture to solve my issues.  Then I found this:
'This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord.
I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,"
declared the Lord.  Jeremiah 31:33,34
After hours, days, weeks, even months of searching I'm pretty sure I found the problem.  The problem that I face with acceptance is I am constantly looking to my left and right for acceptance.  For so long I tried to find acceptance from people who could never meet my needs.  The people I was looking to be accepted by were also looking to be accepted by other imperfect people.

I was looking at the things around me to accept me and I fail to look to the God who created me.

Now I wish that I could say every day I remember this truth... but there are days I fail to remember.  There are days I fail to remember how much God loves me.  I fail to remember that Jesus died on a cross for my sins.  I fail to remember that because He died I don't have to look for acceptance from others but that He accepts me for who I am.

My acceptance issues now lay in the hands of a caring God who accepts me for who I am.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Left Knee

My left knee has hurt for probably the last ten years.  I've seen a few doctors but never had any conclusive results.  About 10 days ago I saw an Orthopedist to get some answers because it has been hurting again.  As I was in the office she said: "I think you have a torn ACL."  I was pretty shocked.  The next day I went in for an MRI (it was a Friday).  On Monday she called me back to let me know that I have a: torn meniscus, a partially torn ACL and a partially torn PCL. 

The ACL and PCL are the two ligaments in your knee that keep you stable (if I heard correctly).  When I got the results I was pretty bummed and super discouraged.  Last Friday I met with an Orthopedic surgeon who took some time reviewing the MRI closely and working hands on with my knee.  He affirmed the results of the MRI but with the hyperextension and pain in my knee he doesn't think surgery is the answer.  Normally he could go in the clean up my meniscus helping with the pain but since there is tearing in my ACL and PCL he thinks I would be less stable (not good when you have two little kids).

There are exercises I can do to help strengthen my knee which I was encouraged by.  When we left the doctor Charity summed it up pretty good: Basically we're waiting for my ACL or PCL to snap and then I will get surgery to fix it.  Now this kinda sucks because I'm still really young and its messing with me mentally.  I can still snowboard, ride bikes, wakeboard, etc… but in the back of my mind I know its sketchy.  

I share all that to ask a specific prayer I'm praying daily for the next year (longer if it takes):
God will you please heal my ligaments and make my knee stable for the rest of my life.

Its a short prayer that I've been praying a lot of versions of for the last couple days.  I appreciate your prayers for my knee, which I know God can heal.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Beyond Blessed /// I have a truck

Lately I've been processing how truly blessed I am so I figured I would write about it to remind myself of God's faithfulness in my life!

I have a truck!

Not everyone can say that... in fact I could have been in a place where I couldn't say that.  For the last year I've been thinking about selling my truck.  I've had my Tundra for about 6 years now and its been nothing but a blessing to me.  Some times you get a truck that sucks all your money away and sometimes you get a truck that takes you where you wanna be; my truck is the latter.  

Near the end of 2006 I called a great friend and asked him to pray for me; I needed a new truck.  The truck I was driving was having some issues (that is an understatement).  I would it somewhere but when I went to leave it wouldn't start.  Now this didn't happen all the time but only at random times (like when I needed to leave and sit in the Verizon parking lot at 9pm).  I began praying for God to provide me a new truck.  When I called my buddy to tell him what I was praying for he said: "I'm selling my truck and its exactly what you just described you're looking for."

Honestly I was a bit shocked and knew I could never afford it.  So I kept praying for God to give me a truck.  Well God didn't give me a truck but he did put someone in my life who gave me the money to buy the truck of my dreams from my good buddy.  I really like God has given me my truck; that He has blessed me with it.  There are times I complain about gas milage being so bad and times I wish it was a little newer.  I've contemplated selling it many times but in the end it doesn't make sense.  My truck runs great and I feel blessed to have such a reliable truck! 

Thank you Lord for all your provision in my life!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Social Media Break

Lately I've been struggling with the impact social media is having on me.  I have an addictive personality and I know!

I wake up and check Facebook.  I look to see what's going on on Instagram.  I check to see if anyone likes my new video on Vine.  I scroll through Twitter to see what's happening there.  I found myself in a place in life where social media was doing more than taking more time; it was consuming my thoughts.

(Before and after)
When I was meeting with my accountability partner I shared this struggle and asked if he wanted to take a social media break with me.  We agreed to take a break.  Then we agreed to start with a week off.  The next morning I woke up and deleted: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vine from my iPhone.  It was relieving, it was freeing, it felt good!

Its been just over a week now since I've ventured into the realm of Social Media and I'm ready to wade back into the kiddie pool.  I'm not going to jump back into it full force like I once had.  In all honesty I probably wouldn't be back on today except I synced my phone and it put all my social media apps back on my phone.

Here's the deal: a break without a lesson is pointless.  Let me shared what I learned.

When I fixate on Social Media I miss out
I enjoy people watching and it last couple years I've seen a trend.  People don't talk to people as much as we once did; we spend more time on our phone.  I frequently see groups of people out to a meal and no one is talking, they are all staring at their screen and that makes me sad.  I think I have missed out on things in life because of fixating on Social Media.  Now it may not be big things but when you add all the little things up they become a big thing!

Social Media can become an idol
Don't believe me?  Take a week off Social Media but leave the apps on your phone and you will see.  Its tough to not be on there.  Many of us it has become an involuntary response to scroll the newsfeed.  When you're bored you jump on Facebook or Instagram without even thinking!  Delete Facebook from your phone for a week and let me know where your focus is at; Scripture is very clear we are not to have any gods before God.

I like spending more time with my family than with my phone
When I took time off Social Media I found myself more engaged with my family.  As I write this I'm actually thinking about deleting Facebook and Instagram from my phone again.  I like Twitter but it doesn't consume me so I could keep that; Vine I'm not convinced on yet.  I want to be a present dad.  I want to be a dad who is engaged with his children.  I want to take my wife on a date and not care who comments on our picture.  My family is more important to me than my phone or any Social Media platform out there and I'm going to prove it to them.

Now you have to know these are my thoughts.  You may be a person who is blessed with checking Facebook once a month and not care what's happening on there.  I hope my thoughts are challenging to you as you process your involvement in Social Media.
"You shall have no other gods before me"
Exodus 20:3