When God Becomes our Satisfaction

My heart hasn’t had much of a desire for God and His word for a while now. Many days I would only pray that God would help me to want Him at all.

It’s a strange type of faith when you wake up in the morning, hoping that your spark of joy in Christ will be ignited. It’s almost like the joy is laying dormant, not necessarily gone altogether.

I don’t know if anyone has experienced this in their walk with Jesus, but it can be very discouraging. Wondering if there’s something wrong with you, wondering if God has abandoned you, wondering if your different sin struggles could have caused this.

As I wrestled with drawing near to God, i knew already that I was the one who moved. I’m the sinner, I’m the law-breaker, God didn’t become less amazing in the past few months, my own fallen self just wasn’t appreciating his Glory.

Something has changed in the last few weeks though. As I wrestled with some personal struggles, God used a combination of a music artist, a preacher, and His Word to grab hold of my heart.

He read from Jeremiah 2:13:

 

“for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

We expect Jeremiah to give a laundry list of all the things they didn’t do right, all the things they need to work on, but instead we see something different. God says they have only committed two evils, they forsook God, and made cisterns of water that couldn’t hold any water.

hiking-2243850_1920.jpg

God’s using this powerful imagery to show them who the ultimate satisfaction is. The cisterns of false gods, food, money, power, sex, recognition, etc. were all cisterns that didn’t hold any water. In essence, even in the Old Testament we see God’s leading us to the heart of the issue: God and God alone can satisfy the deepest longings in our hearts. We can try to make relationships, money, and anything into a pseudo “cistern” but when we pour our satisfaction into it, it goes right through the bottom onto the floor. Left emptier than before.

And this has been my problem. As I’ve started my business, Iv’e felt a deep longing for financial stability, for recognition as a “business owner”, to have more freedom in my life. Though these can be good things, they’d slowly evolved into things I’d become obsessed with.

As my insecurity grew, and my idolatry turned to other things, I found myself medicating my idolatry with more idolatry, a broken cistern smashed into another. Many of us understand this vicious cycle, whether struggles with lust medicated with more lust, or desire for money medicated with visions of future financial success, or even personal insecurity turning to athletic races to gain self-worth.

All these things are worthless. They don’t satisfy. There are many more sins that I struggle with, but they’re all born of these two sins found in Jeremiah 2.

We forsake God. Whenever I want something more than Jesus, it’s an idol. Whenever I place my whole life into something other than Jesus, I become an idolater.

And God designed us this way, we were created for Him, we were created to enjoy Him above all things, and when we realize that nothing else satisfies our souls like pursuing and loving Jesus, we then find balance in the rest of our lives.

I’m slowly learning this on an upward climb to joy. I’m beginning to grasp it in little ways: being freed from worrying about clients because Jesus has purchased my eternal security on the cross, being freed of lust because God is far more beautiful than anything else in this created world, being freed of self-doubt, because God has my steps in His hands and has created me in His perfect purpose to accomplish His ultimate will.

These are only a few examples, and i haven’t lived them out perfectly, but God is working on my heart!

 

Writing a More Effective Blog

I’m finding that as I write more, the more I realize how easy it is to just write about anything and everything and forget the purpose of this blog. Namely to help people pursue Jesus better, to have better theology, and to have better marriages as a result.

So I’ve finally figured out some general categories that i will be starting to post in:

      1. Life’s Pursuit

Life’s Pursuit will be a retelling of the past week (or month) of my life and what God has been teaching me through it. It will be filled with struggles, great times, ministry updates, work updates, etc. Why call it “Life’s Pursuit”? Well, because the Christian life isn’t just lived two hours on Sunday. It’s pursuing Jesus in the midst of all of life.

    2. Marriage

There’s no catchy name for this category of post. Just like it sounds, marriage! It could be what I’m learning in marriage, or something iv’e learned and want to pass to my two readers. Whether how to handle money together, or how not to say things, it will be a fun time writing!

3. Theology 

Having good Theology is something I’m very passionate about. As the great Dr. James White has coined “Theology matters”. And this is why I love writing about it, it effects every area of our lives. Our marriages, how we view God, how we view nature, how we view ethics, etc. Theology touches every single person on this planet because like Romans 1 says, they suppress the truth in unrighteousness. So theology tells us about literally everything.


Anyhow, this is how I’m going to segment each post each week. Keep a lookout!

My Trophies

Ever gone to that conference and got a ton of free books? Or perhaps your friends have some fantastic new titles that you really want to read. 20160430_120023.jpgI can relate to both. A couple of years ago my wife (then girlfriend) and I went to a counseling conference in Lafayette Indiana (read about here!). Of course I purchased many great books that are still sitting on my shelf collecting dust (besides one I’m currently reading).

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a slow reader, or perhaps I just don’t take the time to read each day, but I walked into my apartment and realized I’d only read about 10% of them. I had turned my Christian books into trophies, not tools. They had become pseudo status symbols of my walk with Christ, hoping people would assume that I’m an avid reader who devours great Christian authors.

God really convicted me on this and I’ve begun to be more diligent to read more. Self-discipline is something I need more of. Whether it be to stop watching Netflix and read, or take my work break to open the scriptures, I’m trying to commit to use my time in a more profitable way.

And I’m not saying owning books you don’t read is bad, I’m just saying for me, I found that I had become lazy and just bought them for a sub-conscience (now conscious) want to feel more spiritual or godly. But God’s shown me (quite obviously) that the only way they can help me grow in godliness is if I actually sit down and open the pages.

 

 

Where Am I Called?

The question of calling is something i wrestle with on a daily basis. Though I’m still quite young, I find myself stressing over where and what God is calling me to. For instance, am I called to where I am now, or am I called to somewhere else?  Or should I ditch that line of thinking entirely and just do something, hoping something will come out of it? Either way, this deep uncertainty is something that’s been heavy upon my soul.roadway-1081736.jpg

The first two things I know God has for us is to pay off debt and serve our Church (the latter will be a never-ending calling according to scripture!). What happens after gets a little foggier. For instance I’m considering doing online schooling for ministry training, but my only reservation is I don’t know in what capacity of ministry I would be best to serve in. All I know is I want to faithfully serve a local Church until the day I die, whether vocationally or layperson.

Along with uncertainties about my lifelong vocation, I’m uncertain about where that will be fleshed out. Will it be where I am now? Somewhere else? I do feel a certain pull towards somewhere in this moment, but discerning whether it’s the “right” way is the difficult part.

Amidst uncertainties, my greatest comfort is God’s perfect sovereignty. He does have me right where I am for a reason, I may never know that reason, but according to Romans 8, there is one. Whether I make the “right” or “wrong” decision, God will be working in it for my good and His Glory.

 

Choosing a Christian Healthcare Provider (Cost Comparison)

One of the things that I wrote about recently was the stress of things that pop medical-563427_1920.jpgup in life (and my lack of trust in God to show for it!). That event was termination of my health insurance.

I’ve been looking into alternatives because I found that federal programs are way too expensive (for us) and I don’t put a ton of stock in a 74 year-old promising that my free health care will grow on (someone else’s) trees.

Because i was on my parents plan, and both of us moved away to different states, I can’t be enrolled in their insurance based on state law and the like (i used to be covered until I was 26). My wife, on the other hand is still covered under her parents. So that’s a huge praise!

Anyhow I’m going to be breaking down my top three picks for christian solutions to high health-care costs. The three ministries are:

1: Christian Healthcare Ministries logo.png

 

The first option, CHM, has three different “levels” of sharing which are priced for one person or unit as follows (as of February 2016):

  • Bronze
    -$45/month
    -$5000 personal responsibility
    -$125,000 per illness
  • Silver
    -$85/month
    -$1000 personal responsibility
    -$125,000 per illness
  • Gold
    -$150/month
    -$500 personal responsibility
    -$125,000 per illness

The gold plan sticks out to me the most due to it’s $500 responsibility. For example (if i understand it correctly) if have to go to the ER for a broken arm, and it runs me $2000, I would receive the bill, send it to CHM, and they would in turn send me a check $2000 minus my $500 deductible. I would then deposit the $1500 check into my bank and pay the full $2000 to the hospital.

After that $500/year has been used, if i theoretically break the other arm (hopefully i’m not that dumb!) then the full $2000 would be covered by CHM because i already paid my responsibility.

The only downside is that anything under $500 (a doctors visit, etc.) I have to pay for out of pocket no matter how much of my personal responsibility has been met if it’s under $500.

Also, there’s not a joining fee or annual fee, so that’s a plus!

2: Samaritan MinistriesSMi_Corp_ID_PMS2613 rgb.jpg

The first thing i noticed with Samaritan is the $200 fee for joining. Health care is certainly worth far more, but it is definitely a small commitment.

The prices are fixed based on family size, so one-person is $180/month. In my case because I’m under 25, i would get a discount for a total of $140/month. This would save me $10/month against CHM.

What’s great about Samaritan is that they have set sharing amounts. No deductibles. The only way you pay from your pocket is if the medical need is under $300. Anything over that amount is published monthly to certain members so they can send their share amounts (in my case, $140) to a certain person directly.

Family rates are less expensive also, a good incentive to stay with them in the future. Also, Maternity is fully covered as long as my wife enrolls before she’s pregnant.

3: Medi-Sharenational_businessLogo_mediShare_0614-1.png

Speaking of maternity, Medi-Share only covers maternity with  deductible of $1250 or higher at a rate of $144/month.

Basically this health care service is similar to CHM, just significantly more expensive for family, so this is definitely not my choice. Plus the fact that maternity is a significantly more expensive deductible deters me a little in contrast to the other options.


I’m currently torn between Samaritan and CHM, but leaning more towards Samaritan at the moment.

I’ll be prayerfully considering a health-care choice in the next few days so be praying with us as we make this important decision.

No Condemnation In Christ

When life changes and seasons begin and end, there’s a sense of insecurity that goes along with it. Though new adventures may be fun, they are to me often daunting.

As someone who doesn’t particularly take well to change, directory-235079.jpgI enjoy my routines and schedules. I like knowing what I’m doing and when to a certain extent. I guess i just like direction in my life.

As I’ve struggled with being overwhelmed and hopeless, I’m reminded in my study of Romans eight that there is no condemnation for me in Christ (Rom 8:1).

I have an anchor. I do have hope. I have something that will never change. God sees me through the lens of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through that lens I’m seen as spotless and my sin is imputed to Christ on the Cross.

Self-condemnation is certainly a struggle when you feel no life direction. I know first-hand. The only way to combat that is to stop seeing me the way I do.

I have to see myself in light of what Christ has done on the cross. And only then can I have peace knowing that God is pleased with me in Christ.

So when i feel overwhelmed, I have an advocate. When I struggle, God doesn’t condemn me. And this is true for everyone who is in Christ Jesus.

 

What I’d Love to Do

As the weeks go on I get a little discouraged about the hunt for a job for many different reasons.

Firstly because it takes forever for people to get back to you. Even after an interview there’s over a week layover time for a response. I know this is how it goes, but it can be a restless experience to say the least.

The second reason being locality. We certainly chose to be down here in Virginia. But back in Vermont I could make a couple calls and get side work or full-time work if i really needed it. tool-384740_1920.jpgI had many connections in that small world.

Third reason being pay. We can live off minimum wage if both of us work full time. That’s not the issue. It’s more that we have skills in certain areas but don’t know people here so we settle for something we may not be interested in or skilled in. We will do what needs to be done, but this is certainly a draw-back.

Fourth and last reason, flexibility. I would consider myself to be an entrepreneur. I love to make something profitable and expand it in an honest way. I did this back in Vermont with a landscaping business and an Etsy shop. I worked odd jobs around the area and it all added up and payed the bills.

Some wouldn’t like this “insecure” type of work, but i thrived on it. I love to make my own schedule to be able to do the things i love. I loved to create new products that are useful. If i had a workshop, i would certainly start those things up again, and maybe i will soon!

Anyhow, this is just me. There’s nothing wrong with a “normal” job, we need jobs and we need people to work them. I’m just putting forward my heart and preference when it comes to work.

Anyways, in any work, we must “work heartily as for the Lord and not for men” (Col 3:23). This applies to every job, both self-made and hired into.

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to support this blog, click here.