Archives For faith

Remember when you were a kid and you just wanted to play hide ’n seek… like all the time?

I remember playing different variations on that game. Monsters in the dark, Kick-the-can, Tag, Spy, and their are so many more. My kids love playing hide ’n seek. And they’re terrible at it.

They always give up their positioning even before I finish counting. They do the classic thing where they cover their eyes and think that as long as they can’t see me, I can’t see them and I think it’s adorable. My favorite is when they simply slide under a blanket on the bed and don’t realize they’ve made a huge human-shaped lump on top of the bed.

I love playing with them but sometimes I hide a little too long and stay a little too quiet, it freaks them out.

Do you ever feel like God hides from you? Like he’s stayed a little too quiet? Like, is he just playing a huge game of hide ’n seek? Or do you ever wonder if you can you actually find him?

In the Old Testament of the Bible, we find a great deal of rich history, from which Jesus was birthed. It’s the historical backdrop of the narrative of Jesus and there seems to be a ton of hide ’n seek between God and the nation of Israel. At one point most of the nation is taken away as captives, as exiles to Babylon, a foreign ancient-world-power.

God writes a letter to the exiled nation of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah. And here’s part of that letter as it’s translated in the Message version of the Bible…

This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” – Jeremiah 29:10-14 MSG

And then later in Jesus’ ministry he’s speaking to a bunch of people in his famous inaugural all-day sermon called, The Sermon on the Mount and in chapter 7 of Matthew he says this

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

So, if you really want to find God, seek him out with your whole heart, hold nothing back for fear of failure because both the prophet Jeremiah and Jesus both indicate that God will be found by you.

In mid-July I spent a day with my family at Wild Water Adventure Park, or as you long-time Clovis people would say, Clovis Lakes. The park has changed a lot since I was a kid, but some things remain pretty much the same… like the big family tube ride, The Rapids.

This is the first time we’ve been, that my oldest, Josiah, was not only big enough to ride the big rides, but he actually wanted to try a few.

So I took him on The Rapids. First off, let me just say, carrying that gigantic raft up the hill by yourself is a tall order, but once I caught my breath and we got in the raft, I could see the excitement in Josiah’s eyes.

But have you ever done something that you thought looked really fun and then in the middle of it, you realized, it’s kind of terrifying too?

Well, that’s what happened for him. As we approached the drops, he realized he was going down backwards, and his face changed. His screams got louder and higher pitched. Now, of course, that made me laugh really hard because I knew he was going to be fine and that feeling when your stomach drops… that’s all part of the fun.

Do you ever feel like God is laughing when you think you need saving?

I don’t know if he ever does that, but if he does, maybe it’s because he knows exactly what’s ahead… and what’s ahead, past the fear, is absolute joy. And we can be sure that our best fatherhood or parenting moments are not even close to how great our Heavenly Father is. Just listen to what Jesus has to say about that:

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11 NIV

Now, if there’s one thing the scriptures teach us about joy, it’s that the most joyful people go through some of the hardest things before they find that joy.

Sometimes you’ve got to go through it, to get to it.

So what happened with Josiah? Well, like you might expect… after the screams, came the laughter and he went again with mom. Now, mom on the other hand, she said, “Those drops are a lot bigger than I remember!” 😂

I hope today, if you face any fear, you’ll be able to face it head on, knowing your heavenly father is right there with you. If you can do that, you’ll find the peace and joy that surpasses any earthly understanding.

Watch Josiah’s fear turn to joy in our family vlog at Wild Water Adventure Park.

This post first appeared on the Two Cities Church blog.

Today marks the end of a significant part of our family story.

We have shut the door on an incredible season of personal and family growth. And we have opened a new chapter.

On July 3, 2017 we welcomed a little boy into our home as our foster son. Elijah came to us at just the right time. He hit the ground running, growing, learning, and yes, screaming too. And it’s been a big process adjusting to life with three kids and it’s been especially challenging because he came to us at 3-years-old.

Erica and I have always felt called to do for one what we wish we could do for all, through fostering to adopt or fos-adopt. Even before we were married we talked about adoption and always knew it was something we wanted to do down the road. We started seriously looking into it close to two and a half years ago when someone called us out of the blue asking if we would think about adopting their grand-daughter’s baby. That threw us for a loop and forced us to begin having conversations. We determined it wasn’t the right time or situation. But we began a process.

In that process, even before we welcome Elijah to our home, there were plenty of ups and downs. We were “submitted” for a lot of kids. But we were never chosen. We were praying fo the right child, at the right time, for the right reasons and God did not disappoint. When we were brought to a “disclosure” meeting with the county of Fresno department of social services, we were handed a huge redacted packet of Eli’s history. We asked questions and we were presented with all of the data. And then we had to leave and think and pray about it.

The next day our social worker called us and said, “So, what do you think?” All I could say was, “I’m running out of excuses. Let’s do it.” And I don’t regret any of it.

Today marks the end of that process.

Today, February 23, 2018, we went from fostering Elijah to welcoming him as our newest Foster. If you track with our social accounts, you’ve missed a lot of what’s been happening because we could only post certain things and we couldn’t show his face. But now, as Elijah James Foster, and our son, we can show his face.

I’d like to invite you to enjoy this montage video of some highlights from the last 7 and a half months.

Our experience with Elijah has revealed to me, even more, the depth of God’s love for us. I can’t wait to share some of those things with you. Stay tuned.

“Coming to Two Cities was a big change and I realized that God was always with me whether I believe it or not. That he would always be by my side and that he loved me no matter what.” – Madison McKenna, Baptism, Nov 2017

“It’s okay to be how I am because God made me this way and he created a purpose for me and I just need to find that purpose and pursue it.” – Jessica McGrail, Baptism, Nov 2017

In the wake of so much tragedy, my best friend, Paul Haugen has released a song that he wrote a few months ago. It is meant to bring hope and inspire and I pray it does those things for you. Enjoy.

“I wrote this song a few months ago after the divisiveness on my Facebook feed had reached a high point. I had this sense in me that in spite of all of our differences and strongly held beliefs there was and is a connective tissue that holds us together; that there’s this thing inside of us that makes us so much better together than we could ever be apart. I believe that connective tissue is hope. I think we all want better. We all want change. We just are really bad at listening sometimes. I remembered a time in my life where I felt safe and I really want that for my kids. What really scared me was thinking about how long it had been since I felt that way and the thought that my kids might grow up in a world without that feeling of safety. I wanted to write this as my stake in the ground declaring that I believe we can be more; that we can be better. So this is me hoping that we find a way to love one another and maybe find a little bit of hope.” – Paul Haugen

 

At Two Cities Church, when we say our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, what you’ve got to understand is that’s not an easy thing. There’s often pain involved.

It’s like learning to swim. This summer we welcomed a foster-son into our home. This little 3-year-old boy, in the month and a half he’s been with us, has learned to swim! He wore floaties a handful of times, but doesn’t want them anymore. He actually never really did want them. He would get into the water and immediately want them off. So I’d take them off and he’d shove off from the step. Well, what happened?

He sank.

Thankfully, he held his breath and I was right there with him. I can always see when his eyes go from, “I’m doing it!” and transition to “Uh oh!” And that’s when I’d bring him up and he gasped for air. But he learned quick!

My point is, before we grow, we often experience some sort of pain and we might even have a panic in our yes, but God is right there and he knows when we need to be pulled out and when to push us a little so that we can grow our capacity for holding our breath.

Whatever pain your experiencing, God is growing you in some way. He’s growing your…
  • capacity for empathy
  • trust
  • skills in managing something small, so you can handle something bigger
  • parenting patience (Am I right?)
  • and many other things

And the amazing thing is, one day what you’re struggling so hard with, if you face it again, you’ll fly through it with greater ease.

I mean, when you finally learned to swim, it was amazing… it’s like flying, through water. It’s gliding, it’s smooth and easy movement… you’re no longer frantic or flailing. You understand physics, buoyancy, and the mechanics of how to move through the water with minimal effort.

Think of it this way. God gives you more than you can currently handle, contrary to popular belief, so that you will lean on Him and he’ll grow you.

Timothy was baptized at Two Cities on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 by his father, Gilbert.

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Trisha was baptized at Two Cities on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 by her ex-sister-in-law. She shares her beautiful story and baptism in the video below.

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Baptism: Allison Schindler

October 29, 2016 — 2 Comments

Allison was baptized at Two Cities on October 16, 2016. She is a student at Clovis High School and a volunteer with our UpStreet kids.

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