Posted in My Thoughts

Tomorrow

I like to know what’s going on. I like to be able to control what is happening, how it’s happening, when it’s happening, and even why it’s happening. I’m a planner, and I like to have a plan as well as see that plan come to fruition.

Perhaps that is why I’ve spent so much time wrestling with God in my prayers lately; why my prayers have included more questions asked, concerns expressed, fears shared, and tears shed than is the norm for my prayer time. Maybe it’s my desire to be in control and plan for what’s coming tomorrow that has me struggling more lately.

The past couple of months have been both very exciting and very difficult…it’s been quite a whirlwind. After more than a year’s hiatus from ministry, I was able to get back into doing what I love. After not having steady work and income for a few months, I had steady income because I had 2 steady jobs. After a while of struggling to pay basic bills, I finally saw light at the end of the tunnel with being able to start climbing back onto steady ground. Important relationships in my life were growing stronger, and even difficult relationships seemed to be getting better as well.

BUT…

Even though I was back in ministry doing what I love to do, I was quickly reminded just how difficult ministry can be when some major hardships took place at my church. Even though I now had 2 steady jobs that could provide me steady income, an old medical issue showed up again and made it impossible to work one of my jobs, so I wasn’t able to work as I needed. Because of that, the light I thought I saw at the end of the tunnel faded out of view again because of my inability to work the hours I needed. Important relationships didn’t end up as I had hoped (it’s a part of life…no hard feelings, but it’s still tough), and difficult relationships were still much harder for me than I was hoping they’d be at this point.

It’s been both an exciting and exhausting past couple of months with all that has been going on. None of it is how I would have planned it to be. And, with how things have been going these past couple of months, I have no idea what to expect in the months to come. I have no idea what tomorrow holds. And I don’t like that.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1

“Hoped for” and “not seen”. In this verse which gives us a definition of what faith is, it says that faith does not include knowing what’s coming tomorrow and being in control. Faith involves the things “hoped for”…meaning it’s in the future and it hasn’t happened yet, so we have to have faith. Faith involves things “not seen”…meaning it’s not something we can see or control, so again we have to have faith.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6

This life is a journey. And on this journey, we are constantly seeking to know where our next step will be. We can plan for what we would like to see happen, but along this journey of life there are way too many variables over which we have no control that can change the course of our journey. In this very popular verse, we are told that while we walk along the path of our life journey, we must trust in the Lord rather than in our own ideas and understanding. When we trust him, he will guide us along the path.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:34

Jesus is speaking here, and he tells us to not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow…the future. Jesus tells us to just focus on today and let go of worrying about tomorrow. As one who likes to plan and know what is coming next, that’s not so easy. I want to take care of things today, but also have a solid plan for what is coming tomorrow as well as the next day…and the day after that too.

In these 3 verses, we are told to trust, have faith, and not be anxious (worry). Those are contradictory to my desire to know, control, and plan.

I say I have faith in God. I say I trust him. And I want to not worry about the future. The question is, do I really? Do I really have faith in God? Do I really trust him? Do I really want to not worry about the future?

You see, I can say that I have all those things and that I want to live according to those verses. But unfortunately, words only count for so much when it comes to faith and trust and not worrying. Actions are what really prove my faith, show my trust, and reveal if I’m really not worrying.

Despite how difficult things are and potentially will be, I must be willing to let go of my desire to control things, and I must act in faith that I know God is trustworthy and has a plan for my tomorrow.

Despite not knowing how I’ll cover bills on a weekly basis, I must be willing to keep working hard at the jobs the Lord has provided for me (being smart with how I spend money of course), and then have faith that God will provide for any needs that arise tomorrow.

Despite not understanding why my life is the way it is right now, I must be willing to keep seeking to live for God and be faithful, and then trust that God has a plan for all that is happening now and for my tomorrow.

Despite not being able to be in control, despite not being able to plan for all scenarios, and despite not being happy with some of the things that are going on, I must be willing to let go of worry and place my faith and trust in a God who is in control and has a plan, even when I can’t see it or don’t understand it.

“Lord, give me strength to put action behind my words; words that say I trust you and have faith in you. Give me strength to not worry about tomorrow, no matter how difficult today is, because I know that you have a plan and are in control of all the things I have no control over. Help me to not just say I know you have a plan, but help me live like I know it.”

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Posted in My Books

“Enough” Reviews

Below are a few online reviews of my book “Enough”, as well as the link to where they can be found. If you’ve read it, please consider writing a review as well.

If you have not read it, please consider purchasing a copy. The ebook version of it is around only $4, and the paperback is  10. You can purchase it by clicking here.

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Well written and appreciate the honesty and thorough facts presented. For the Christian reader, it is convicting and a must read. I highly recommend that all Christians read this whether a new believer in Christ or a seasoned Christian….. we can all take God’s word for granite and be neglectful of his gift to us. This book will motivate to read your bible more faithfully.

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This book was written by the author’s heart. A real blessing and encouragement.

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A really good read, which speaks to Aaron’s heart and passion. Very encouraging and a must read!

 

Posted in My Thoughts

The legacy we leave

What kind of legacy do you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered? When people speak of you, what would you like them to say?

And, I’m not just talking about after we are gone from this earth…we also leave legacies while we are still here on the earth. Legacies of how we handled a certain situation(s), legacies of how we lived our life during a particular time-period, etc. We are continually leaving legacies.

The legacies we leave while we are still around are able to be changed. We can seek to right our wrongs, learn from our mistakes, and make the necessary changes for moving forward. However, our ultimate legacy that is left once we’ve passed on cannot be changed. That legacy will be set, and the kind of legacy we leave once we are gone will be determined by how we spent our time here.

Reality is, everyone will leave a legacy of some kind. That is a truth we cannot escape. Those who watched us live our lives will remember us in some way, good or bad. The question is, what kind of legacies are we leaving now, and what will our ultimate legacy be once we are gone?

There are 3 main measurements that will determine the type of legacies we leave. 3 aspects of our lives that those around us watch the most. Our actions, reactions, and words.

1- Actions

What we choose to do. The things we stand for and fight for. How we choose to spend our time and energy…and even our money if it’s obvious. What we choose to believe in, because our actions are dictated by our beliefs since we will make choices based on what we believe is right or wrong. Where we go, who we choose hang out with, and even the type of things we choose to post on social media. All of those actions speak volumes about who we are. These actions are all things we choose to do, and those who see them will take our actions into account when they are forming what our legacy is in their mind.

2- Reactions

When life hits us, how do we respond? In the midst of difficulty, what is our reaction? If someone says or does something to us that we don’t like, how do we react? Our reactions are often an indication of our heart. We can work to do things that look good in front of other people, but in moments when something happens that is hard or that we don’t like, we will often react before we have time to think through what will look best to the people around us. Our actions are an indication of what we choose to do, but our reactions are an indication of the condition of our heart at that moment. For example, if anger is in our heart, we will react with anger in that moment. And those who see our reactions will take them into account when they are forming what our legacy is in their mind.

3-Words

Words are very important. We can hurt someone very deeply by our words, as well as encourage them in amazing ways. With our words we can guide someone in the right or wrong direction, give good or bad advice, lie or tell the truth, and either help or hurt another person. Words are important and carry a lot of weight. The saying, ‘actions speak louder than words’ is completely true, and we must remember that. It is for that reason that I put words third on this list. But that does not give us a pass on what we say…our words are very powerful and important, and those who hear our words will take them into account when they are forming what our legacy is in their mind.

Our chosen actions, our initial reactions, and the words we speak = our legacy.

 

But as I said earlier, the legacies we leave now while we are still around can be changed. If our words or actions have somehow tarnished our legacy, know that we can still work to right our wrongs and leave a better legacy. So…

If you have chosen an action that you know wasn’t the best decision, or was blatantly wrong, work on fixing it. Correct the mistakes you made, apologize to those you hurt or were somehow affected by our actions, and then change your choices moving forward to show that you were sincere in your acknowledgement of wrong doing. Prove you have changed by the actions you make moving forward…and you’ll be able to change your legacy in the mind of some (not all…because let’s be honest, some people won’t forgive or want to change their thinking…but do the best you can)

If you reacted in a way that was not the way you should have reacted, or in a way that caused pain in those who watched your reactions, then work on mending those relationships. Apologize to those who saw your wrong reaction, work on yourself to determine what led you to have that kind of reaction, and move forward with resolve to learn to not react that way. Work on your patience in difficult situations so that you learn to react properly. Realize that your reactions begin with your heart, so seek to have peace and humility rather than pride or anger in your heart. Prove you are working to change, and you’ll be able to change your legacy in the minds of some (again, not all, that will always be true to a degree…but don’t let that keep you from doing what you can)

If you said something that caused damage in any way, be it a lie or a hurtful statement or anything else that you should not have said, then find those that your words affected and say you are sorry. Learn to apologize and admit you were wrong. Begin to work to restore your relationships that were hurt by your words. Work on what you say and how you say it. Seek to speak less and listen more, and when you do speak to have your words be more uplifting than negative. Prove you are changing how you speak to others, and you’ll be able to change your legacy in the minds of some.

Perhaps you noticed a common concept in how to begin repairing your legacy. Apologize. Learning to admit our wrongs and say we are sorry goes SUCH A LONG WAY! Pride on the other hand will keep us from being willing to admit any wrong on our part, and can even lead us to try to defend what we have done rather than working to correct it. Apologizing takes humility…pride refuses humility.

Our actions, reactions, and words will be what determines the legacy we leave.

What is the legacy you want to leave?

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…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves… But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22, 25)

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  (1 Peter 5:5)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:16-18)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

…Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith… (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

*if you know of another verse/passage that could accompany this, please feel free to share.

Posted in Bible Study

Devotion part 2: the right focus

Part 1 of this blog talked about how we can easily make our time with God something that is a checklist item…something we do because we feel like we have to or because we will feel like a failure if we don’t. That is not what God wants. God is more concerned with our heart, life, and devotion than whether or not we do the right rituals and check them off our list each day.

So how do we move beyond spending time reading God’s Word and praying because we feel like we have to or so that we don’t feel like a failure? How do we move it to where we are focused on doing it out of our devotion to God and a desire in our heart, because we want to learn how to live our entire life for him?

Here are a few practical steps that can help us change our thinking and focus when it comes to having a time set aside that is devoted to hearing from God and speaking to God.

1 – Start somewhere – Don’t assume you have to go from struggling to have a consistent devotion time to having the greatest devotion time ever. It takes time to grow and build. Just like any relationship, you start small and grow. So start somewhere. Figure out when and how long you’ll set aside and begin with that. It doesn’t have to be hours long either…start somewhere and be consistent. It will grow over time. And if you miss a day or two, let it go and work to make sure you have it the next day.

2 – Make a plan – Plan when you’ll have your time, what you’ll read, and how you’ll pray. It may seem a bit unnatural at first, but making a plan will help you be consistent. At first you’ll have to work to stick to the plan, but over time it will become natural. Pick a time of the day you know you’ll consistently have the ability to devote some time to reading and praying. Pick a devotional book or book of the Bible to begin reading through, and each day do some reading. Pick up a journal and write down some prayer requests, and when you pray begin praying through those items.

3 – Ask for help – Find a friend or someone you know whom you would consider a strong Follower of Christ, and ask them for help and advice in getting started. Ask them where they suggest you begin reading in the Bible, or what devotional book they would recommend. Ask them to share with you how they go about having their time with God. Let them share with you their struggles and victories as they were developing this time in their life. And allow them to keep you accountable by asking you from time to time how you are doing.

4 – Embrace God’s grace – We are not perfect, never will be. God knows that. Jesus died for us because we aren’t perfect. God’s grace is incredible, and we need to learn to start embracing it and living according to it. That doesn’t mean we intentionally do what is wrong because we presume upon his grace (Romans 6)…but it does mean we stop thinking and acting like we must be perfect or else we are a failure. If you miss a day or two, let it go and just focus on making it a priority the next day.

5 – Realize it’s an all-day thing – Yes, we set aside a time during the day to focus on reading God’s Word and praying. But, that doesn’t mean the rest of the day we don’t think about or focus on God and his Word. No! All day long, think about and pray for what you last read. When a verse pops in your head that you’ve read before, think about it for a moment. If someone or something pops into your head, pray for that real quick. Always be focused on God’s Word and prayer, and you’ll find out it becomes a lot easier to give God your heart, life, and devotion.

6 – Help someone else – As you develop a strong and consistent time devoted to reading God’s Word and praying, and your devotion for God grows in your heart and you seek to live your life for God, begin to help others who are struggling themselves. Give them pointers. Share verses with them that mean a lot to you. Encourage them. Help them…and watch how you continue to grow yourself as you help them as well.

The ultimate reality is that we will devote our time and energy and focus to what we care about. But the hard part is that it’s often not known how to best go about devoting time to read God’s Word and pray. It takes work, especially in the beginning. Like any relationship we value, we have to put the time into it. So make sure to do that.

Follow these steps here, continually pray and ask God to develop in you a love for him and his Word, and it will help you get to the place where it is no longer be about a checklist you must keep so you don’t feel like a failure. Rather, it will become something you love and long for and crave and honestly miss when you don’t have it one day. It will become a part of your life, something your heart desires, and something that you will want to be devoted to.

God wants our heart, life, and devotion. He doesn’t want to just be reduced to a ritual we check off our list.

Posted in Bible Study

Devotion part 1: the wrong focus

Devotions. Quite Time. Time with the Lord. Reading my Bible and Praying.

Whatever term or phrase you use, it is referring to the idea of a time we set aside to read either a devotional book or the Bible and then pray. A time during the day where we put everything else away and devote time hear from God as well as speak to God through prayer.

As Followers of Christ, having this time is important. If we want to be able to live for God, we have to know what he tells us in his Word. And prayer is how we communicate with God about what we are thinking/feeling as well as ask him to help us with things such as applying what we’ve just read in our devotion time. So having a time set aside that is devoted to hearing from God and speaking to God is obviously important.

HOWEVER…

Far too often, it can easily become something that we can feel we are either expected, forced, or obligated to do. We may have been told that we have to do this to be able to truly follow Christ, that we must make sure we have this time in our life each day if we want to grow closer to Christ, or that we have to do it because it’s part of being a Christian.

I’m not saying all of those ideas don’t contain some truth. There is truth in each of those ideas. But when all we hear is what we must do, what we need to do, and what we have to, eventually we can begin to believe that if don’t then we aren’t a good Christian. It starts to put into our head the thought that if I miss one day…just ONE DAY…then we are failing God and aren’t being a good Follower of Christ, so maybe we need to repent and try harder to not miss a day. But then when we miss another day down the road, we begin to beat our self up, and we feel like less of a good Christian and more of a failure in our relationship with Christ.

That can quickly become a vicious cycle of making sure we can check that off our list of things we must do to be a good Christian.

Each time we can check it off, we breathe a sigh of relief for not being a failure…and each time we can’t check it off, we sigh for feeling like a failure that day. The entire focus of our devotion time becomes “don’t be a failure”.

THAT’S NOT GOOD!

Being a Follower of Christ should not be reduced to a checklist of things to do or things to avoid each day. Being a Follower of Christ is so much more than that. It’s about living our entire life for Christ, our Lord and Savior. Not just certain times of our day or aspects of our life…ALL of our life.

A checklist of what we need to do today or not do today reduces it to something less than what it should be. It reduces it to being more about following certain rituals or doing certain things each day out of obligation. Whether it’s having a devotion time each day or praying at certain times each day, or whatever feel we need to add to our list, reducing our relationship with God into a checklist at all is not healthy.

God himself even tells us that is not what he wants…

And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

‘To obey is better than sacrifice’. The Israelites had several sacrifices they were to make for different reasons (won’t get into details here). They were aspects of living for God at that time, things that they knew they needed to do, rituals they had. And while those sacrifices were given to them by God and were important for them to do as God intended, we see here that God cared more about their obedience…living their lives according to his Word…than them only doing the rituals they were supposed to do. He wants our life.

“…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

‘But the Lord looks at the heart’. We as people often focus more on the external than the internal. We want to look good, do the right thing, and give off the appearance that all is right and we are successful and doing well. That is one main reason we can easily allow ourselves to make our relationship with Christ a checklist type of relationship. We want to feel like we are succeeding…and appear to others as though we are succeeding. But as we see here, God is much more concerned about who we are inside than how we appear outside. He wants our heart.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”(Mark 12:41-44)

‘She…has put in everything she had, all she had to live on’. This story is not so much about money, but really more about devotion to God. Jesus does not say that those who gave a lot because they were rich did anything wrong, he simply pointed out that they had a lot to give. The widow, however, did not have much and yet she gave all she did have. She, more than the others, showed her total devotion to God, because she gave all she had. He wants our devotion.

Is having a time set aside to spend reading God’s Word and praying important? Absolutely! It is how we learn what God says and what it means to live righteously and how we grow closer Christ. But God wants it to be done out of our devotion to him, out of a desire in our heart to hear from him and speak to him, because we want to learn how to live our entire life for him.

We shouldn’t have in our heads the idea that if we do it today we are not a failure, and if we miss it today we are a failure. That’s putting all the focus on ourselves and how we think we will appear (to ourselves, to God, or to others), and that is not the right focus.

Question is, how do we get past the thinking that it’s a checklist item we must do each day or we will feel like a failure that day? In part 2 of this blog, I’ll share practical steps that will help us have the right focus…

Posted in Bible Study, My Thoughts, Parenting

What I want my kids to know about hate

White Supremacy. KKK. Free Speech. Violent Protests. Hate.

Those words have been seen and heard all over the media this past week since the events in Charlottesville, VA on August 12. You can’t turn on the news without it being talked about, can’t visit social media sites without seeing someone posting their thoughts about it, and honestly can’t be anywhere that the media can be accessed without hearing about it. It’s all around us.

Today there is a rally/protest planned in Boston. I was actually driving through Boston early this morning, and I started thinking about what it might be like to be in Boston during that time. If I had nothing going on and nowhere to be, perhaps I would have ventured into Boston to observe and see what would happen. But, today I get to see my kids. First time in a week since I’ve seen them…so that takes precedence for my day today!

As I was driving and thinking about that, I began to think through what I would want to say to my kids about what is happening in our society right now. My kids have TV, and my oldest is on social media, so I guarantee they’ve heard at least something about Charlottesville, White Supremacy, KKK, Free Speech, Protests, or Hate this week. They might not understand much of what is happening, but I’m sure they’ve at least heard about it.

So what would I want my kids to know about all that is going on? What would I want to tell them and teach them regarding this? I want my kids to know right from wrong and to live to do what is right…so what do I want them to know about all of this hate?

I want my kids to know that acting in hate toward other people simply because they are different than us is NEVER right. 

I want my kids to know that believing you are better than someone else…anyone else…is NEVER right. 

I want my kids to know that every human being is valuable, so treating them as inferior or believing they are less valuable than you is NEVER right. 

That is what I want my kids to know about hate. That is what I want to teach my kids as they grow up.

But I want to do more than just tell them this…I want to teach them to be able to know why this is true. I don’t want to just give them the ability to simply recite truths that I passed on to them (yes, I do want them to listen to what I say…and I’d be proud if they every quoted me), but I also want to instill in them the ability to think critically about things and understand the why behind something being right or wrong. I want them to grow up knowing how to know if something is right or wrong on their own, because I won’t always be here to tell them what is right and what is wrong.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” John 3:16

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love… If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:7-8, 20-21

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:14-18

I want my kids to know and understand that God loves everyone, regardless of whether or not they believe in him or love him, what they look like, or where they are from. I want them to know that God loved all of us so much that he was willing to send his son to die for all of us…not just certain people. I want them to know and understand that God calls us to love others, and that we are even told in 1 John that if we hate someone but say we love God, we are a liar. I want them to realize that we are commanded to love our neighbors, and that we are even told to love our enemies. I want them to begin to put into practice now the fact that we are challenged to not be conceited but rather put others before ourselves. And I want them to strive to live peaceably with all people, seeking to promote peace by living in harmony with others.

When my kids know what God says in his word about how we are to treat others, they will be able to understand that they are not better than other people who are different, and that will lead them to realize that any form of hate toward another person for that reason is NEVER right.

What do I want my kids to know about hate? I want them to know that hate is wrong, including why it is wrong. I want them to know that treating others who are different in any way that is degrading is wrong. I want them to know that thinking they are better than others who might be different is wrong. And I want them to know that anyone who promotes hate toward a group of people that are different is wrong.

Posted in Broken Thoughts, My Thoughts

When God allows our dreams to die

This Sunday is a big day. This coming Sunday my second child will start going to the Jr High youth group at church. My son has been in youth group for a couple of years now, and now my oldest daughter has also reached youth group age. So starting this coming Sunday, I will officially have 2 kids involved in the Student Ministry!

I have always loved Student Ministry; my youth pastor was one of the biggest influences in my life, I had some incredible experiences and memories from my years in youth group, and for 13 years I was a youth pastor myself…so I have a huge passion for Student Ministry. And because of my love for Student Ministry, I am excited for my daughter to begin this next chapter in her life journey.

But…

While I’m excited, I’m also struggling. I’m not struggling so much with the fact that I’m now old enough to have 2 kids in the Student Ministry, nor am I struggling with being worried that my daughter might not enjoy her experience. Rather, I’m struggling with the reminder that a dream of mine has died. The dream of getting to be my kids’ youth pastor.

When I was 12 (the age of my son and only 1 year older than my oldest daughter) God developed in me a passion for Student Ministry. I knew from the time I was 12 that I wanted to become a Youth Pastor, and I did what was needed to direct my life in that direction. After I graduated from Bible College, I started my first full-time job in Student Ministry, and for 13 years I was living my dream.

When I had kids, another dream developed. The dream that one day I would get to experience youth group with my kids because I would be their youth pastor. They would get to see my passion for Student Ministry first hand by being involved in my ministry, and I would get to watch first hand as the Student Ministry provided them with experiences and memories of their own.

But…

God allowed my dream to die. I’m not blaming him or anything like that, don’t get me wrong here. I just know that God is sovereign over all and ultimately in control, so he knows what will happen and he allows things to happen for a reason…even if we don’t understand those reasons.

When my life took a left turn and I was suddenly thrust into the world of divorce, my life as a youth pastor also came to an end at that time. My son was starting to attend youth group when I stopped being the youth pastor, and that was hard for me because I didn’t get to be my son’s youth pastor. And now 2 years later, I’m being reminded of that feeling again as I watch my daughter start attending youth group.

My dream of being a youth pastor is not dead…I know that. It has just taken a break, but I am still just as passionate about Student Ministry as I was before, and I know that at some point in the future I can be involved in Student Ministry again. So that dream has not died. But the dream of being my kids’ youth pastor has.

It has died because when I do become a youth pastor again, it will be at a different church than the church my kids call their home church and where my kids are involved in the Student Ministry. Even if they occasionally attend my youth group in this scenario, they will do so as visitors and I still won’t be their youth pastor. At best, I will be their dad who is a youth pastor.

So that dream has died. When God chose to not miraculously save my marriage, which I spent countless hours begging him to do, he was allowing my dream of being my kids youth pastor to die.

But…

I also know that God is sovereign and in control, and he has a plan for things that I don’t see or understand. God allows things to happen in our life that we don’t understand, even really difficult and bad things. Yet he does so for a purpose that we don’t know in that moment.

God is at work. God is in control. God has a plan. God is doing things in my life to prepare me for the plans he has for me. I may not always get it or know why…or even be happy about it…but I can still trust that God is at work. I can know that, while my dream might have died, his dreams and plans for me are even greater than my dreams for myself.

Consider Joseph. He had no idea why he went through everything he went through (and man did he go through a lot!), but God had a plan for him that so much bigger than Joseph could have even imagined.

Do I wish I could be my kids’ youth pastor? Yes. It was a dream of mine. But I know that God is faithful and in control, so I can also trust that if he let that dream of mine die, it is because he has a better plan…both for me and for my kids. All I need to do is to continue to trust him and follow where he leads, and I can have full confidence that his plans are greater than any of my dreams.

When God allows our dreams to die, it is because he has something bigger and better planned.

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. – Genesis 50:19-20